Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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June 19, 2014

History Lesson

Corsicana — Bill Covington brought his particular brand of history to the Colonial Dames, Thomas Meredith Chapter, Wednesday, by showing up with some weapons, some clothes, and some household items that would have been typical of a Colonial soldier and his time.

Covington is an adjunct instructor at Navarro College, Waxahachie campus, and a teacher of social studies at Waxahachie Global High School.

Holding a “Brown Bess,” musket, Covington showed how to load and cock the gun, including the safety position, called the “half cock,” which led to the phrase “going off half-cocked,” in American slang.

Covington pointed out that in April 1775, the British had the best-trained army in the world, and the Americans had no standing army, only a disjointed series of militias. But the British generals’ confidence that they could squash the rebellion soon ran into trouble as the Americans surprised them with their vehemence and unconventional guerilla fighting.

Helping tie things together, even in terms of uniform styles, was General George Washington, who was chosen partly because of his physical presence, but probably not because he had distinguished himself in the French and Indian wars, where he lost every battle he fought, Covington pointed out.

It was Washington who designed the uniforms, which were the same for every militia except for the color of the cuffs, collars and lapels. Those differed for each colony and would allow a general to tell where a soldier came from just by his or her uniform.

The main body of the coats were blue, at Washington’s direction, because that was the color of revolution.

In his presentation, Covington also described the original meanings behind “flash in the pan,” and “lock, stock and barrel,” which were also musket terms.

He finished by telling the anecdote of Nancy Hart of Georgia, who killed two British-loyalists and held four others at bay with their own muskets.

They could have rushed her and ended the stand-off, but Hart was cross-eyed and they couldn’t tell where she was aiming to shoot next, Covington said.

The local Colonial Dames chapter will have its next meeting in August.

 

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