Virginia State Garrison Fifer and Drummer 1770s
There is no better introduction to the era of the American Revolution than the sound of fifes and drums. The fife and drum were the essential musical instruments of the 18th Century military and were used by American, British, French and Hessian troops during the Revolutionary War.
In general practice, each company of 100 soldiers was assigned two fifers and two drummers. When the companies were formed into a regiment, the combined musicians became a band or corps performing field music under the direction of a drum major. Fifers and drummers were selected from youths between the ages of ten and eighteen.
The fife and drum had specific functions within the military. They were used to provide the proper cadence for marching, to announce the daily military ceremonies and hours such as assembly, and to provide battlefield communication between a commander and his troops over the noise of battle. On the parade ground, the regimental fifes and drums were usually augmented by the bass drum, which sounded the proper beat for marching. During off duty hours, the fifes and drums could be used for entertainment and dances.
Among the American military units that had a fife and drum corps during the Revolution was The Virginia State Garrison Regiment. The Virginia State Garrison Regiment was established in 1778 for the purpose of defending the capital of the colony from British attack. The State Garrison regiment was an infantry unit that wore blue uniforms with red facings (collars and cuffs), typical of other military formations in Virginia. The fifers and drummers, however, wore the characteristic musicians’ reverse colors. Therefore, the musicians’ coats were red with blue facings. This was done so that the musicians would stand out during battle and be easily spotted by commanders for signaling or as rallying points for the troops. The uniform was completed by a buff-colored waistcoat and breeches, white stockings, black leather shoes and a cocked hat. Fifers carried a tubular black leather instrument case hung over the hip by a shoulder strap.
So whether you fancy the tunes of “Yankee Doodle” or “The British Grenadier”, William Britain and The Toymaker of Williamsburg have now made available to collectors the key players of a typical fife and drum corps of the American Revolution.
Virginia State Garrison Ensign 1770s
An Ensign was a junior officer who was often charged with carrying the colors, or flag, of the Regiment. These particular colors became known as the Grand Union Flag; Washington referred to it as the “Great Union Flag”. Legend has it that George Washington asked Rebecca Young, a Philadelphia flag maker, to fashion a flag that his troops could use. Rebecca and her daughter would also make the “Star Spangled Banner” that flew over Fort McHenry years later.
Add some color to the growing collection of Virginia State Garrison musicians with this Ensign, made exclusively for The Toymaker of Williamsburg by W. Britain.