Honest and Sober: 4th Company Promotes Two New NCOs

While half of the May 4-5 Revolutionary War Weekend at George Washington's Mount Vernon will be remembered a washout, the periods without heavy rain did allow the 4th Company to celebrate the promotion of two of our soldiers to non-commissioned officer ranks. Bill Patchak and Andy Cook, who for several years have been portraying First Guard privates in the re-created Company, were elevated to serjeant and corporal in a ceremony momentously held on the lawn of America's first president.

Newly promoted Corporal Cook (left) and Serjeant Patchak (right) celebrate with some patriotic sweets.

As part of their promotion festivities, the Company's new NCOs were provided with the marks of their ranks as specified by the regulations of 1771 and 1773. Specifically, Coldstream and Third Guards serjeants were to wear single gold epaulette, and corporals in the Third Guards were to wear one of silver. With the historical record admittedly being full of holes, the 4th Company has chosen to apply these same distinctions to the recreated First Guards as well. 

Lt. Col. Theis presents Serjeant Patchak with his epaulette and sash.

Corporal Cook receives his epaulette.

And as the 4th Company takes great pains to faithfully recreate the Brigade of Guards during their service in North America, it is only fitting to commemorate two of the 4th (i.e., Brigade) Company's NCOs during this period. For that, we look to the Guards' April 1779 muster rolls.

The senior serjeant at the time, Francis Hunt, was also of the First Foot Guards. He was born in 1744/5 in Blaris Parish, County Down (Northern Ireland) and was a weaver by trade before enlisting in the army at the age of 19. Having arrived in America with the initial Guards detachment in 1776, Hunt had by 1779 served 14 and a half years as a soldier and was 34 years old.

The senior corporal, Geoff Fillis, was a First Guard as well. Born in 1750/51 in St. Thomas Parish in Wilt[shire], Fillis was a sadler by trade before enlisting in the army at the age of 25. He also arrived with the initial Guards detachment, and by early 1779 had served almost nine years as soldier and reached the age of 28.

To give us a sense of the roles Hunt and Fillis took on over 240 years ago, it's helpful as always to refer to the invaluable John Cuthbertson, who wrote in 1776 in his System for the Complete Interior Management and Economy of a Battalion of Infantry:
Good Serjeants and Corporals being so very efficient for the support of discipline and order in a Regiment, their merit must be well considered and their qualifications impartially examined, before they are preferred to such a trust; honesty, sobriety, and a remarkable attention to every point of duty, with a neatness in their dress, and a quickness in their understanding, above the common run of Soldiers, should only recommend them; an expertness in performing every part of the Exercise, and an ability to teach it, are absolutely necessary; nor can that Serjeant or Corporal be called thoroughly qualified, who does not read or write in a tolerable manner.
No doubt the 4th Company's new Serjeant and Corporal will live up to these duties and more as the recreated Guards continue their 2019 campaign season and beyond.