A Story of the Revolution” was intended to emphasize the strength and determination of average New Englanders, a common theme in Robert Merry’s Museum. It also points up how much work was involved in clothing a family: 40 hours of concentrated effort by several people, to make one pair of trousers.

“A Story of the Revolution” (from Robert Merry’s Museum, August, 1844: pp. 57-58)

The following story, related by a mother to her children, a few years since, will show the spirit which existed among the people of New England at that trying period:

“Late in the afternoon of one of the last days in May, ’76, when I was a few months short of fifteen years old, notice came to Townsend, Massachusetts, where my father used to live, that fifteen soldiers were wanted.

“The training band was instantly called out, and my brother, next older than I, was one that was selected. He did not return till late at night, when all were in bed. When I rose in the morning I found my mother in tears, who informed me that my brother John was to march the day after to-morrow morning at sunrise. My father was at Boston, in the Massachusetts Assembly. Mother said that though John was supplied with summer clothes, he must be away seven or eight months, and would suffer for want of winter garments. There were at this time no stores and no articles to be had except such as each family would make itself. The sight of mother’s tears always brought all the hidden strength of the body and mind to action. I immediately asked what garment was needful. She replied, ‘pantaloons.’

“ ‘O! if that is all,’ said I, ‘we will spin and weave him a pair before he goes.’

“ ‘Tut,’ said my mother, ‘the wool is on the sheep’s back, and the sheep are in the pasture.’

“I immediately turned to a younger brother, and bade him take a salt dish and call them to the yard.

“Mother replied, ‘Poor child, there are no sheep shears within three miles and a half.’

“ ‘I have some small shears at the loom,’ said I.

“ ‘But we can’t spin and weave it in so short a time.’

“ ‘I am certain we can, mother.’

“ ‘How can you weave it?—there is a long web of linen in the loom.’

“ ‘No matter; I can find an empty loom.’ By this time the sound of the sheep made me quicken my steps towards the yard. I requested my sister to bring me the wheel and cards, while I went for the wool. I went into the yard with my brother, and secured a white sheep, from which I sheared, with my loom shears, half enough for a web; we then let her go with the rest of the fleece. I sent the wool in with my sister. Luther ran for a black sheep, and held her while I cut off wool for my filling and half the warp, and then we allowed her to go with the remaining part of her fleece.

“The wool thus obtained was duly carded and spun, washed, sized, and dried; a loom was found a few doors off, the web got in, woven, and prepared, cut and made two or three hours before my brother’s departure—that is to say, in forty hours from the commencement, without help from any modern improvement.”

The good old lady closed by saying, “I felt no weariness, I wept not, I was serving my country. I was assisting poor mother, I was preparing a garment for my darling brother.

“The garment being finished, I retired and wept, till my overcharged and bursting heart was relieved.”

p. 58

This brother was, perhaps, one of Gen. Stark’s soldiers, and with such a spirit to cope with, need we wonder that Burgoyne did not execute his threat of marching through the heart of America?

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