A Living History Skills series by Colonel Jerry Tubbs

How many times has someone pointed to something hanging off of your shoulder or tucked in your belt and asked, " What's that?" "That", being your possible bag, haversack, knife, powder horn or belt bag. The use of a portion of these things is easy to explain, while others can prove to be awkward if not careful. The possible bag, (also called a hunting bag) and haversack can become an interesting teaching device or a source of embarrassment simply by what you carry in it. It is best not to carry anything considered modern or not representative to this part of the country during the 19th century. Reaching into your possible bag and pulling out a 20th century butane lighter along with your 19th century flint and steel can create an awkward situation and destroys your persona. Leave all of your modern trappings in your camp and instead concentrate on carrying only items that the Colonial Texian would have had with him. This suggestion can also pertain to the female re-enactor. Having only historically correct items on your person will further add to the believability of your character. There are many objects available that you can choose from and the option as to what to carry will vary by the character you are portraying. Carrying the items that you would have been familiar with will make explaining their use to the public easier to do. Practice using the items you carry so your skills will become honed and second nature, and then share those skills with the public.

The common man carried with him items that would have helped him survived when away from home, in the field or on the march. In his possible bag there would be found items to service his weapon. These items might consist of a bullet mold, one or two small bars of lead, a small ladle for melting the lead in, extra flints or percussion caps, a small screwdriver, a cleaning jag, a small tin of tallow, a hank of tow for swabbing the bore, and if fortunate enough, extra parts for his gun. These items would have been separated into small packages wrapped in leather. By doing this, the leather would keep things from rattling together and the leather could be used for emergency repairs to his clothes or shoes.
The haversack would have been used in conjunction with the possible bag for extended stays in the field. There are two basic styles. The "haversack" and the "new invented haversack." The first being a simple bag carried over one shoulder, the latter being an improved version capable of being carried over the shoulder or used as a backpack. Extra straps for carrying a blanket was attached to the bottom making this version more suited for trekking. In his haversack there would have been carried items for starting a campfire. These items would include a flint and steel set, 2 or 3 extra hanks of tow, charcloth or woodchar, pitch pine slivers and a small candle stub. Other items in it would have his food, plus things to sharpen a cutting edge, mend clothing, utensils for eating, extra bullets and perhaps a bar of lard or Castile soap. The items listed above are an example as what to carry. Although you may not want to carry some of these items on you all the time, having just a few to bring forth to show and demonstrate their use to the public will help explain the hardships of the time and how a person had to be ready for anything. Preparedness was the key to survival for our forefathers. Keep this in mind when choosing what to carry in your possible bag or haversack.

Creating a Character

Is That Gun Real?

What's in the Bag?

You need an Edge

What's Cooking?

Lighting up the Night

Keeping an Eye on the Sky

Getting Started

Then & Now

What type of Primitive Shelter is best for you?


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