“...and half naked...”

August 07, 2021 Posted by: Ranger Kelly
“You have inclosed a Return of Cloathing wanting for my Regiment. I hope our Legislature will turn their Attention towards their Troops... Troops not paid and half naked can be but little expected from. This is our Case in the northern... Department.”

These were the words of Colonel Peter Gansevoort to Governor George Clinton of New York State in January 1777. Gansevoort was tasked with creating what would become known as the Third New York Regiment of Fort Schuyler (Stanwix), and already these men were suffering for lack of supply. A year later, in March of 1778, Gansevoort echoed almost the same sentiments to his commander, General Horatio Gates:

“Dear General: I have the Honor to transmit you... a Return of Cloathing wanting for the third N. York Regiment. It gives me pain to inform you, that we, my Regiment, is almost naked, insomuch that not more than half have shirts, which is terrible which is exceeding discouraging in so [civilized] a Country let me beg you, Sir, to interpose and interest yourself in their behalf...”

A typical looking Continental uniform jacket. It has gold edging along the button holes and cuffs.

The regimental displayed above, made of blue and red wool that so many believe all American Continentals wore, is on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. It was the property of Peter Gansevoort. Though there is evidence in support of New York Regiments using this design, unlike the soldiers under his command, Gansevoort would have purchased his own regimental and had it tailored to fit him properly.

The man, pictured to the below, gives you a better idea what of many Third New York Regiment regulars looked like during all seasons for their two years of enlistment at the fort. They would have had to make due in their own clothing until receiving uniforms issued to them from supply stores kept across New York State. Unfortunately, for the Third New York, these were often inadequate or empty. In the winter of 1778, 677 shirts and 516 pairs of shoes alone were requested just to keep the men in basic clothing.

A man with a checked shirt and plain white small clothes over top. He wears no jacket and a hat not in a military style.

Men from the lower Hudson and Mohawk Valleys enlisted in this regiment on the promise of pay, food, and clothing. Three basic items needed to help one survive the war. Once they moved to the fort, despite their hard work, basic pay and rationing never bettered and mostly worsened. Though this day to day existence was difficult to survive they stayed and fought on; though there was little promise of material reward in the end.

Would you?

The soldier's pictured below are wearing all of the uniform parts that most Continental soldiers were promised. The next photo above shows soldiers in various pieces of personal clothing and uniform parts. This scene looks much more like the soldiers of Fort Schuyler during the Revolution.

Four Continental Soldiers stand shoulder to shoulder. One has his arms crossed, the other three hold muskets by their sides.


• Clinton, George. (January 22, 1778). “A Return of Cothing wanting the Third Battalion of New York Forces, Fort Schuyler.” Public papers of George Clinton, first Governor of New York, 1777-1795, 1801-1804 ..” State of New York Archives.
• Gansevoort, Peter. (January 26, 1777). Gansevoort Papers: Gansevoort to George Clinton.(March 12, 1778). Gansevoort Papers: Gansevoort to Horatio Gates.New York Public Library.
• Martin, Joeseph Plumb. (1962). Private Yankee Doodle: Being a Narrative of Some the Adventures,Dangers and Sufferings of a Revolutionary Soldier. Little, Brown and Company.
• Willett, Marinus. (1777-1778). “Third New York Orderly Book,” Tomlinson Collection.
New York Public Library.
• Smithsonian Division of Military History and Dipolmacy, National Museum of American History

FortStanwix, AmericanRevolution, militaryhistory

Last updated: August 4, 2021

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