“Sprang interlinked:” The Construction of Eighteenth-Century British Army Sashes

This week we are thrilled to welcome Suzannah Emerson from Old Fort Niagara, who kicks off a new element in our continuing blog adventure: interviews. From time to time, we’ll be posting the results of questions asked remotely via email or in person to shed light on interesting things happening in the larger living history community. In today’s installment, Suzannah explains her recent research and experiments into spranging, opening a window into eighteenth-century fibre arts.

Will Tatum


 

Thanks for taking on this interview request, Suzannah. For starters, we hear people saying that sprang is the proper method for constructing officers and sergeants sashes during the eighteenth century, at least for the British Army. So what is sprang anyway?

Sprang has a fascinating history! Peter Collingwood’s The Techniques of Sprang (the bible on sprang construction) states it can be dated back as far as the early Danish Bronze age (1700-500BC). Several sprang clothing items were found on the numerous “bog people” who pop up in Northern European countries.

Okay, now mentally prepare yourself for some jargon! Let’s start simply, think of a 3- strand braid; there are only 3 pieces of yarn/hair/whatever (a warp), and there are no new perpendicular pieces (a weft) added to the warp like you see in a weave. Now think of sprang as a very fancy braiding process, one uses his or her fingers to manipulate a series of strands in a particular pattern to form a piece of cloth. Like the braid, there is no weft, only a warp. If you are familiar with some of the wonderful oblique finger-woven products used by Native American reenactors, these are made by a process closely related to sprang.

 

 

From The Techniques of Sprang, pg. 31 the structure of sprang (a) and oblique
finger-weaving (b)

 

Many people seem to confuse sprang with crocheting. Let’s get this straight right now people; Crochet was not around in the 18th century! The structure of sprang produces a very stretchy fabric. Ye olde spandex anyone? The technically correct term is not “sprang woven” but “sprang interlinked.” The structure of a chain linked fence looks very similar to sprang! It is this interlinking, that makes the stretch possible.

 

This royal blue striped sergeant sash shows off the stretch and structure of the
sprang

 

Up until the early 21st century, I had never seen a sprang sash for sale. Now we have a lady in Canada making them, and they seem to cost an arm and a leg. Does that have something to do with the difficulty of “spranging,” if that is the proper term? What kind of set-up is required to making sprang items?

Like many hand-made and finger-woven items, the cost is probably 95% labor. Manipulating over 150 strands to make 8-10ft. of sash takes a good deal of time, and one’s fingers can only move so quickly. There is one beauty to sprang that other  fingerweaving processes are not capable of implementing. With the correct setup, with one row of strand manipulation one can achieve two rows of textile. Yes folks, that is sprang one get one free.

Let’s go back to the braid example, if you have ever braided before, you might have noticed that the free ends of the braid can get tangled at the bottom. This tangle is actually the mirror image of the braid you are trying to produce. If your braid were secured at both ends while you were working it, you would find that the work meets in the middle. Sprang production often takes advantage of this two for one deal. If this were not the case, I don’t know if I would have the patience to complete an entire sash. There is one problem with this deal, one side of a sprang project is the mirror image of the other. Therefore, if a mistake is made it shows up twice on the sash. If there is a mirror image structure in a “finger-woven” type item, this is one way to identify sprang. There are three options when setting up (i.e warping) a sprang project, two of which allow for one row manipulation for two construction. The braiding example from earlier is using a “figure-8 warp.” The setup I use for sashes is called a “circular warp,” the advantage here is that I only need a “loom” a little over half the height of my desired project length. This comes in handy when my formidable 5’1” self is trying to make a 10 foot sash.

 

Please excuse my poor drawing skills, this image shows two warps used to
make sprang.

The image below shows the heavy duty frame I use. It’s made from two 7-foot tall 2x4s, various dowels, pipes and rods. The top PVC pipe can be moved depending on the desired length of the project, and the bottom pipe can be adjusted for project tension. I could easily make a 12 foot sash using this frame. The vast quantity of yarn necessary for a sash is wound around the two PVC pipes, creating one large yarn circle. After the warp is secured, it’s time to start making sprang!

 

Sprang “loom” set up for a shorter project, sprang is a very versatile textile.

 

Recall that one manipulation of the warp produces two rows of sprang. The first row created by a manipulation is pushed up and over the top PVC pipe, and then the second row is pushed down under the bottom. These rows meet in the middle back of the circular warp. The sash itself is actually made from the middle outward! On many original sashes you will see a line across the weave in about the middle of the sash.This is where the first two rows were pushed, and the body of the sash began to form. This is one sign that a textile could have been made using sprang.

 

The work begins from the middle and works out, the white strings are a safety
measure in case I mess up, I can take the work out to that point and try again. After I am
finished with the sash the strings are easily removed.

 

Here I am pointing to the center meeting line of the completed sergeant sash.

 

 

I understand you are combining your adventures in making sprang items with examining existing originals. Would you tell us a bit about your research to date: how does one study an original sash? Have you found any interesting insights in your research?

I had looked at one original sash before I began my sprang adventures. I noticed that there were some oddities in the products I made, and I had a very difficult time eradicating these issues from my work. Then, I began to have more opportunities to study originals. This is when I discovered that those “oddities” were perfectly normal in original sashes! Through these studies I have answered a great many questions which had come up during my sprang sash productions. Many of them are trivial in the grand scheme of things, but they have made the process more efficient.

One thing which seems to be repeated throughout the study of extant clothing items and accoutrements, and is the same for sprang: many things were not made perfectly. I find a great deal of charm in finding little hiccups in these items.

One of the first photos we saw of your sash work was a cat wearing a sash. Can you explain how cat help features in the your process?

If you have ever lived with a cat, you will quickly come to realize that they believe you should never be without supervision. My cats certainly follow through on this belief, not only supervising the process, but also checking for quality.

 

Waldo checking for yarn strength during the warping process.

 

Waldo continuing his work by making sure the first few rows are properly carried out. This also shows the circular warp right at the start of production.

 

Madam doing the final check while the sash is blocked. I no longer use this process to “set” the sprang, but it was an interesting experiment.

 

 

What are some of the greatest hurtles you’ve encountered so far in the research and replication processes?

There are two:

My first challenge was finding the materials of the appropriate color, weight, and fiber. I had a hard time finding a “crimson” wool yarn that wouldn’t pill and get fuzzy. Thanks to the weavers at Colonial Williamsburg, I was able to find the Jagger Spun line from Halcyon Yarn. The line is a long staple wool, that pills relatively little. As for silk, this was easier to find. I use the hand-dyed silk yarns from Treenway silks. I have compared the silk yarns from Treenway to several originals, and I believe I have found a near perfect match!

My second, and ever-ongoing challenge, is dating the sprang sashes I study, unless we are talking about the Braddock sash, which has “1709” emblazoned on it for all of time. This is unusual, and many sashes have little to no designs that might suggest from when they date. Sure, the curator/collections manager usually has some note on the provenance. Unfortunately, this is usually a statement from someone’s great-great-great Aunt Susie-May who claimed that her great-great Uncle’s 3rd cousin twice removed wore it at Yorktown. Who knows, Aunt Susie-May could be correct, but I have found sashes in collections that could not possibly date to the purported time period.

Therefore, I am cautious but, I believe it is safe to assume that a “crimson” silk plain sprang sash, with no designs is probably appropriate for most 18th British military officer interpretations. This claim also holds for British 1812 impressions.

Do you have any particularly exciting sprang projects on the drawing board?

At the moment, I am focusing on research and the 21st century job market. One question I would like to dive into is what 18th century sprang frames looked like. I have a descent hypothesis, but I would like some more evidence to support my ideas. Also, I hope that in the next few months I’ll be able to exactly reproduce some intricate details I have found throughout my sprang sash studies. Who knows, maybe I’ll make a cat equivalent of the Braddock sash.

 

Resident cat, Leopold, at Old Fort Niagara wearing my first sprang sash, and a
cocked hat found at Walmart.

 



SUZANNAH EMMERSON
currently serves as the Special Projects Coordinator and Field Music Supervisor at Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown, NY. She holds a BA in Mathematics from Gettysburg College. When not delving into the secrets and mysteries of numbers, she enjoys fibre arts and exploring eighteenth-century German culture.

A Layman’s Guide to Historic Research

This week after a few weeks of rather heavy research and unit development blogs, writer Kyle Timmons joins us again to welcome back the website with a light hearted research blog. If you’ve missed the blog, it is back! Thanks for standing by us.

Mary Sherlock – An attached follower of the 17th Regiment of Infantry.


Just a disclaimer to start off with: I AM NOT A HISTORIAN, HISTORY TEACHER, RESEARCHER, ARCHAEOLOGIST, OR ANYTHING LIKE IT. I am a simple person who enjoys history immensely and I’ve read and studied history much of my life. HOWEVER, I have the honor and privilege of being friend and acquaintance to many truly gifted and highly regarded Professional Historians. They’ve taught me so much about the 18th Century, the Revolution, and the British Army. But most importantly, they’ve given me the tools research on my own and to hunt down information that is of interest to me, and hopefully I can turn that information around and further benefit the hobby, the community, and our understanding of the 18th century. I’m going to take some time and share some of those tools with you.

  1. BE SUSPICIOUS. The moment that you read that previous statement is gone, and is never coming back. You can’t change it. But in an hour when you’re eating delicious food and playing on your phone you’ll likely forget about it. Maybe tomorrow you’ll share your memory of this blog with a friend, but you’ll share the points in your own words. You might get things wrong. 60 years from now when you’re telling your grandchildren how you first got into reenacting you’re memory of the antiquated computer or smart phone you used back then will be colored by nostalgia of the past.

girlinbonnetThat’s how history is written. It’s mis-remembered, its colored by the writer’s opinion, maybe inflated by his need to tell a good story, or he’s recording it through hazy lens of old age. Whenever you read a historic source, always keep in mind who is writing it, his goal when writing, and his frame of mind, and when he’s writing. A journal entry or letter written the same day is a great source but even then things can get jumbled, misrepresented, summarized, etc. Your solution to this problem? Find more sources. 1 guy saying the British marched at the open order in battle in 1777 is an anomaly. 2 sources is a little better. 3 is better. Finding details that agree from opposing sides is even better. General Orders recorded in an orderly book detailing how the army is to be deployed just adds more ammunition to your theory.

  1. YOU MAY BE WRONG BUT YOU MAY BE RIGHT. The modern age we live in is actually an exciting time for someone with a history interest. That’s because high definition imagery and the internet are making it easy for someone in the United States to view an artifact or painting housed in England, or Germany, or anywhere else in the world in detail from the comfort of their home. Books, journals, etc. that are no longer in print or are one of a kind have likewise been digitized and can be accessed around the world either as open domain files or through special archives. This means information that has either laid unseen in a private collector’s library, or has only been accessible to a select few can now be accessed by the entire world. This tidal wave of new information is changing how we see the 18th century in numerous ways. A good example of this is the silk bonnet. Earlier it was commonly believed by reenactors that a silk bonnet was something that would have been out of reach to the “lower sort” of women in the 18th Now however, after searching through runaway ads here in America, looking at artwork from England, it’s clear that these beautiful articles of clothing were available to a much wider range of women than was originally supposed. Our knowledge of the 18th century is largely a collection of theories; strong theories mind you, and ones back up with multiple bits of data to support them. But as the data changes, our conclusions must change as well.
  2. IMAGINATION IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR KNOWLEDGE. Even without photographs, film, or with the amount of material culture items industrial-age historians are accustomed to there is a very large amount of source material and artifacts from the 18th There is no excuse for not making use of this material. When you choose an impression, be specific about what it is you’re trying to do. Are you doing a civilian or military? What nationality? What year and where are they? What is their social class? All of this is important. Military clothing, though it follows the fashions of the time, is distinct in many ways from its civilian counterparts. You won’t find examples of civilians in 1777 Philadelphia wearing gaitered trousers. The nation is important because every nation has their own idiosyncrasies. Time and place also play a factor. Fashions, like today, change with time.

Death_of_Major_Peirson_Jersey_Museum_2012_22Most military units have to get new clothing from year to year because their clothing wears out, just like yours does (though I doubt you’re marching for miles every day or sleeping outside in the rain!). That means they’re style of clothing is likely to change, either from fashion or from lessons learned on the battlefield. If the unit you’re recreating DIDN’T get their clothing issue than that in itself will change how you represent that unit.

Social class is also of major importance. Some clothing item are compatible to some extent across the classes. For instance, men’s shirts of the day are universally of a good quality in terms of stitch work (though they are often made of different grades of material). In other ways they’re very different. A laborer isn’t likely to be wearing a silk coat and breeches. Likewise, a gentleman isn’t likely to have an osnabrig (a kind of course natural linen) shirt and the same clothing items as a private soldier in the army (any army). Doing any impression costs money. To do a higher class impression well costs more money, just like how it’s easier to get a suit from Boscov’s (like me!) than to have one tailored to your desires in London or L.A.

  1. QUALITY IS A QUANTITY ALL ITS OWN. This is the last point I want to make. I’m immensely proud of my impressions, of which I have two…and a half. I have a 17th Regiment soldier’s kit, a kit for the Philadelphia Associators, and a mostly finished civilian impression. I say “mostly finished” because my coat is sitting sleeveless and partially un-lined on a chair. The reason I’m immensely proud of my kit is that I’ve made much of the clothing items I possess. My 17th Regimental and its waistcoat were the first 2 sewing projects I’d ever done. The things that I didn’t make were made by friends of mine who are very skilled at their trades. That’s what makes a good 18th century impression. Clothing of the time was done by hand, not machine, and most men’s clothing is fitted. You can see this in the paintings and sketches of the time. Clothing was expensive for these people, and they took care of what they had. They also dressed as well as they could. You should, too. If you’re new to this period, or reenacting in general, my advice for you is this. If you’re thinking of buy “off the rack” clothing, don’t. Save your money. Reenacting isn’t going anywhere. There are people out there who will take your measurements and whip you up a set of period clothing. Many of them are really good, and naturally they charge for that service. It might take you time to get that money together but the quality will be worth it and you won’t have to go and buy a better piece of clothing down the road.

men at work

If you have an aptitude for sewing however, or you can get with a group of people who know how to sew and can teach you, then you’re life probably just got a lot easier. With the right patterns for your clothing, patience, and help, you can make your own clothing for a much more agreeable sum of money. On top of that, you learn a valuable skill. And once you can sew, you can make yourself into anyone!

The study of history and the recreation of it is a noble hobby. But to do it right takes work, research, money and commitment. But most importantly, it takes networking with good people. That’s how I have learned so much, and really it’s the people we hang out and work with that make this hobby so great.


KYLE TIMMONS
is a long time reenactor, a Combat Medic in the PA National Guard, and currently an employee of the National Park Service. His wife and cat think he’s pretty alright.

A Short Message from the Editor

After a short hiatus during this week, if you noticed; the website is back up and functioning once again. After a major update a few things are different with this update; it is still very much a work in progress. So if you are a regular visitor to look at pictures you’ll find that the gallery is not there. In the move the portfolio projects were not transferred over so they will have to be added once again, which will take time and will hopefully be up by the end of the day or Saturday at the latest. If you’ve previously subscribed to our blog via email notifications please consider subscribing again! There will still be working changes going on through out the week as I work to aim for perfection, but I promise not to disturb the viewing experience (that much).

Thanks for your patience.

Mary S.

– An attached follower of the 17th Regiment of Infantry


Update Notes:

  • Migrated from wordpress.com to wordpress.org
  • Changed Theme. Similar but different!
  • Updated Header. Still needs fixing…
  • Widgets and Sidebar still a mess.
  • Social Media links; no where to be seen! 😮
  • Updated Links. We’ll stay with you the whole time! (To the Top!)
  • Gallery Images still to come…
  • RIP old wordpress.com website.

 

Captain Robert Clayton: Officers of the 17th, Part 1

In today’s installment, we feature legendary eighteenth-century British Army Historian Mark Odintz, PhD.  Mark is the world’s foremost authority on the trials, tribulations, and civilian origins of Revolutionary War-era British officers. His doctoral dissertation remains the definitive work in the field. We look forward to his occasional dispatches detailing the service histories of the 17th’s officers and encourage him to prepare that dissertation for publication!

— Will Tatum 


Way back in 1988 I completed a dissertation on the British Officer Corps in the mid-18th century. It is a collective biographical study of some 395 officers who served in four regiments of foot, the 8th, 12th, 17th and 35th, between 1767 and 1783. I used the sample to explore the social backgrounds, careers, attitudes and service experiences of British officers for a somewhat wider period, from the Seven Years War to the end of the American Revolution. The past few years I have been revisiting the project, seeking out further biographical details, revising, etc. with the hopes of producing a book down the road. What I would like to do for the blog of the 17th is to run an occasional series of biographical portraits of the company level officers of the regiment from the period of the American Revolution. It was an active regiment that saw more than its share of combat and non-battle attrition and as part of larger organization that was expanding rapidly it also saw a fair amount of regiment hopping among its officer personnel. Some ninety officers served in the 17th Regiment of Foot between 1775 and 1781. Twenty of these either left the regiment in 1775 or did not join until 1782-83. A further eight served in regiment very briefly, if at all, as they promptly transferred to another regiment. Six were field officers or colonels of the regiment. Twenty-three served in the regiment for three years or less during the war, leaving it through promotion, death or retirement. This left a core of thirty-three men who spent most of the American Revolution officering the 17th. This entry will focus on fairly typical member of the thirty-three, Robert Clayton.

17th Regt belt plates and buttons

Robert Clayton had the kind of career a fairly well-connected member of the gentry (not as elite as some, but better than most) could expect to have in the army of George III. He was a younger son of a younger son, but the family used their wealth, political influence and connections in several professions to ensure successful careers for their male offspring.  The lottery of family demographics also played its usual part, leaving a childless Robert Clayton in possession of the estate as the last man standing at the time of his death in 1839.

By the early 18th century the Clayton family were landed gentry with several manors in Lancashire near Wigan and urban property in Liverpool, as well as considerable electoral interest in the borough of Wigan.  Robert’s grandfather Thomas inherited the family estate and had five sons. The youngest, Robert’s father John, was described as a “gentleman, of Cross Hall, near Chorley, Lancashire” when young Robert entered Manchester Grammar School in 1762, and was the only son to produce male heirs. Among Robert’s uncles were a Major Edward Clayton in the army and Richard, a Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in Ireland. The family continued to concentrate on the law and the military in Robert’s generation. His older brother, another Richard, was a successful barrister and diplomat and was created a baronet in 1774. Richard, as head of the family, periodically petitioned army administrators for higher rank and leave for his brother Robert. -family information derived from Henry Hepburn, The Clayton Family (1904), R. Stewart-Brown, The Tower of Liverpool (1910), The Admission Register of the Manchester School (1866).

Chorley.10

Our Robert purchased an ensigncy in the 17th regiment on Dec. 9, 1767, at the age of twenty-one. He received his Lieutenantcy in the regiment without purchase on July 19, 1771, following the death of Lieutenant William Byrd (or Bird), an American belonging to the well-known planter family of Virginia. Vacancies by death ordinarily could not be sold, and the promotion went to the senior ensign within the regiment. The next step in Robert’s career illustrates how officers attempted to use family connections to get ahead in the Georgian army. When a company became vacant for purchase in the 17th in 1774, brother Richard contacted General John Burgoyne (of future Saratoga fame and an acquaintance of Richard’s) and requested that he write to the secretary at war soliciting the promotion for Robert. Burgoyne wrote to Secretary Barrington describing Richard as “a gentleman of great fortune and worth, a steady supporter of Govt., & a friend to Lord Stanley and myself in Lancashire.” (Barrington Papers, J Burgoyne to Barrington, Dec. 26, 1774) This is classic patronage language of the time, offering political support in exchange for favors. In this case the letter was unsuccessful and the company went to an officer with considerably more service experience, but Robert was able to purchase the next vacant company (over the head of a senior lieutenant who lacked the money to purchase) six months later, on May 1, 1775, thus rising to command of a company after some seven and a half years of service. This was pretty fast promotion for peacetime service. In 1774, a look at the seven captains then serving with the 17th shows that five of them had reached the rank after thirteen or more years of service, one after ten years of service, and only one had been promoted about as rapidly as Clayton.

17th officer miniature full

Unknown officer of the 17th Regiment, possibly William Leslie, mourning miniature

Clayton served throughout the American Revolution with the regiment. In a memorial for promotion he submitted at the end of the war, he summarized, slightly out of order, his service: “went to America 1775 a Capt, was at Staten Is., Brooklyn, Brandy-Wine, White Plains,  German-Town, White-Marsh, and storm of Stoney Pt where taken Pris. On being exchanged had leave to go to Europe, but declined and went with regt to Virg. and did duty till Yorktown, again Pris.” (WO1:1021, f. 193, memorial of Robert Clayton enclosed in Richard Clayton to Secretary at War, 19 Jan 1784). Clayton’s commitment to the struggle was discussed in a September, 1781 letter from brother Richard petitioning leave for Robert. He apologized for bothering them with a second request for leave, but the first had arrived as Robert’s regiment was embarked for Virginia, and Robert had refused it, writing back “ the duty he owed to the King was superior with him to every other consideration and…he would willingly run any loss or suffer any inconvenience, rather than leave the Regiment situated as it then was.” Richard stated that his brother had been in no less than twelve actions,  and “that he was an Enthusiast of the American Service, in refusing to leave the Regt when they had any immediate objective in view…” (WO1:1010, f. 599, Richard Clayton to Jenkinson 30 Sept 1781).

The only glimpse of Robert Clayton on active service that I have found comes from the court-martial of Henry Johnson following the loss of Stoney Point. Clayton was serving as commander of three companies of the 17th that formed part of the garrison of the upper works of the position. Soon after the action began Lieutenant John Roberts of the artillery encountered “Clayton and a party of men lining the parapet; that Captain Clayton seeing that he (the witness) belonged to the Artillery (tho he believes he did not know him to be an officer, from the manner in which he spoke to him) said ‘For Gods sake, why are not the Artillery here made use of, as the Enemy are in the hollow, and crossing the Water’”.  Roberts answered that there was no ammunition for the guns, as it was not customarily stored with them, and these guns could not bear on the enemy in any case. Clayton clearly had a temper, and artillery lieutenants were not used to being yelled at by infantry captains. (WO71:93, Court Martial of Lieutenant Colonel Henry Johnson, Jan. 30, 1781, p. 55).

Stony Point

Map of Stony Point, courtesy of Mount Vernon

It is worth noting that at the time of his memorial in 1784 Robert Clayton was commanding the regiment, as he had at several points during the war when more senior officers were absent. Colonels did not generally serve with their regiments, and lieutenant colonels and majors were often absent commanding larger forces, on staff duties, or due to illness or leave, and it was quite common for regiments to be commanded by the senior captain present. The 1784 memorial was prompted by the attempt of William Scott, a more junior captain in the 17th, to purchase the majority of the regiment ahead of Robert Clayton. The following year Robert achieved his goal and purchased the majority of the 17th on July 27, 1785.

Robert retired in 1787 by exchanging with a half pay major of the 82nd Foot. This arrangement illustrates how officers overcame the absence of a formal retirement system by using what the army made available to them. The half pay system provided a stipend to officers who had been retired by the army when the forces were downsized at the end of a major conflict. A high numbered regiment like the 82nd was disbanded at the end of the Revolution and its officers were placed on half pay. If they wanted to get back onto active service, they would exchange with officers like Clayton who wanted to retire with some form of pension. According to a memorial Clayton submitted to the War Office when he was 80, they used an arrangement called “paying the difference.” The value of seven years of half-pay was subtracted from what Clayton had paid for the majority in 1785, and the officer of the 82nd paid the difference in cash to Clayton. This was probably a relatively small sum for the half-pay officer, and if Clayton lived for more than seven years on the half-pay (as he did, receiving half-pay for more than fifty years), the rest was gravy. (WO25:752 f, 121)

In 1786, near the end of his military career, he married Christophera Baldwin, daughter of a clergyman. They lived at the Larches, Wigan during the remainder of his long life. In 1828 the wheel of inheritance took another turn with the death of his brother, Sir Richard Clayton, Bt, who had already inherited the family estate on the death of their remaining uncles back in the 1770s. Robert inherited the family manors and his brother’s title of baronet, and was thus Sir Robert Clayton, bart. on his death in 1839. He died childless, and left his estate to his wife and to a niece, the daughter of his brother Richard. (PCC Will of Sir Robert Clayton Bart. Proved 1839)

100_6986

Opening page of Captain Clayton’s Orderly Book, Historical Society of Pennsylvania

An orderly book kept by Clayton in 1778-79 can be viewed on microfilm at the David Library, and excerpts have been published in The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, v. 25,(1901).


biopicDr. Mark Odintz

conducted his graduate work in history at the University of Michigan back in the 1980s and wrote his dissertation on “The British Officer Corps 1754-1783”. He became a public historian with the Texas State Historical Association in 1988, spending over twenty years as a writer, editor and finally managing editor of the New Handbook of Texas, an online encyclopedia of Texas history. Since retiring from the association he has been working on turning his dissertation into a book. He lives in Austin.