Revision Date: 1/10/2006
Intro: Project Goals & Objectives, Overview of Project Work, Advancing into the Past, Tools of the Trade

Soldier Hut Rehabilitation:

Volunteering at the Pennsylvania Line

   Everyone who participates in the activities at the Pennsylvania Line does so under the Volunteer in Parks (ViP) program. Volunteers may assist as either individuals or as a group. Organizations who have particpated include the AT&T Pioneers, AT&T Cares, Second NJ Regiment, Youth Conservation Corp, and Prudential Global Volunteers. In general, groups come out and help for one or two days to accomplish a specific task. But you do not have to be a member of a group to join in. Many folks, some who also have partipated in group activities, come out and work with staff as individuals on a regular basis. To start the process, one simply needs to request an application.

Amongst the living history volunteers, the same holds true as described above. However, the threshold to be able to participate is higher. The living history guidelines for the Park's 1st Pa. Regiment are stricter than most recreated units, an ability to work with the public is critical, and in general it requires additional commitment.

Prudential Global Volunteer Day 2003
This corporate supported day reaped multiple dividends because a variety of activities and contingencies had been prepared for.  Two floors were brought to grade, annual roof maintanance was performed (below), interior wall chinking was finished on one hut (right), and disassembly was begun on another.
. - photos thanks to Scott Shepherd 

Morristown NHP Volunteers Build a Hut
Big efforts (like the Pru Volunteer Day) were succesful because our regular park volunteers helped with prep and follow up.  They helped unload the jury rigged dump truck, completed dissasembly of hut 4, then seperated unusable logs and stacked the good ones, removed nails and spikes, kept the work site safe, answered questions, and much more. They worked with re-enactment groups one weekend to re-erect the walls (see Into the Past) and then helped complete the job the next weekend.
(above: left to right)Logs piles, Disassembled to foundation, Walls raised during living history event, Walls finished and roof begun the following weekend.

One of the objectives of this project was to build in sustainability by developing a cadre of trained staff and volunteers. Some of the more intrepid volunteers have proved their skills by returning on several weekends to continue work on the huts.

Dan Meharg and John Samtak completing the outside chinking on hut 1.

Will Armstrong helping build the chimney stack or "funnel" inside the rebuilt hut. Other volunteers organized by members of the 2nd NJ Regiment helped bring the roof structure to completion.

Same hut with first course of oak shingles and weight poles in place. (Fall 2005)

Notes Regarding Living History at the Pennsylvania Line
Park staff and volunteers at the Pennsylvania Line represent members of the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment, one of the eight regiments at that location the winter of 1779-80. In general, the Park supplies the basic clothing and equipment for use in the park and therefore expects a regular commitment to participate. Some members supply there own clothing and equipment in whole or part. This is permissible as long as the items correctly represent what was used by the Pennsylvania troops at Morristown 1779-80.

The reenactment groups that we invite do not neccessarily represent the Pennsylvania Line or even the winter of 1779-80. They may represent Continental units from other states and a different period of the war. If they do a good job, that is perfectly acceptable. Most important are their ability to tell the Morristown story and to work with others and the public. Participation is by invitation only.

The main reason Pennsylvania troops are represented by the Park staff and volunteers is because the reconstructed huts are located on the hillside occupied by those brigades. Additionally, the Wick house also happens to have been the quarters for the Division's commanding officer. However, it should be recognized that the Pennsylvania troops made up only about 20% of the army present at Morristown during the winter of 1779-80.

The 1st Pennsylvania Regiment, Winter of 1779-80
In the November of 1779, the Pennsylvania Line marched from the lower Hudson Valley towards Morristown NJ. By December 3, they had arrived at their camp site in what is now called Jockey Hollow. The 1st Pa. Regiment's "light" Company had been detatched earlier that year to serve as rifle troops for the Sullivan Expedition. Before winter, this company was re-armed with muskets and rejoined their regiment.

 Inspection returns for October and November show over 2400 men and officers in the eight Pennsylvania Regiments making up Gen'l. St. Clair's Division. They are all wearing blue faced red regimental coats received the previous year. Most men had a linen vest, two linen overalls, and a many also had a pair of breeches. But most of the clothing was in need of repair; especially shirts, hats, and shoes. There were virtually no hunting shirts, and no woolen small clothes. In January 1780, the men started to receive their issue of woolen overalls and vests for the winter, but apparently no shirts, shoes or hats.

When 1st Pennsylvania Regiment arrived at Morristown in December, it was considered understrength with roughly 220 men and officers total. Inspection returns for Spring 1780 describe the Regiment as well disciplined and fully armed.

Trussel's study of Pennsylvania Line found that many of the soldiers of the Regiment had been soldiers since 1775; first in Thompson's Rifle Battalion and then the subsequent 1 Continental Regiment, same as most of the Regiment's officers. He also found that in general, the enlisted men from Pennsylvania included a large percentage of foreign born. The largest percentage of these were from German speaking countries and Irish and Scot.

More info Contact:
Mathew Grubel
Morristown National Historical Park (973) 539-2016
Note: My direct involvement in the project ended when my term was over in Dec. 2004
You are still welcome to contact me via direct e-mail here.

Some park volunteers have continued the program of maintenance and repair.
For Information on all Volunteer in Park opportunities go to the Morristown National Historical Park Website.

Back to:
Project Goals & Objectives (intro)
Overview of Initial Work (page 1)
Advancing into the Past (page 2)
Tools to Build a Log City (page 3)