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Haslet’s 1st Delaware Regiment and the “Dandy Fifth” Marylanders, the latter referred to as “macaronis” by the rest of the American soldiers. John Lasher’s New York City, the “Battalion of Independent Companies of Foot,” was said to be extravagantly outfitted, and composed of young men “of respectability and wealth.” Other units were dressed in civilian garb, or at best hunting shirts. Morale was an issue—it soared with success, and desertion and insubordination followed even minor setbacks. The American soldiers were paid more than their British counterparts, but they were paid in Continental bills, often not accepted by merchants. Israel Putnam, a colorful character and the subject of many a legend and anecdote. Greene fell ill to typhus, Putnam was appointed to his command as late as Aug. He did not know Long Island, neither demographically nor geographically.Early in 1776, General John Sullivan complained that “not near half of the Massachusetts militia could be prevailed upon to tarry and many of them went off one day before their time was out.” Yet for many recruits, service provided clothing and food they otherwise couldn’t afford. It is said that Putnam was almost burnt at the stake by Indians in 1758, was previously shipwrecked off Cuba, and later opened a tavern and married a wealthy widow. Apparently he did very little to improve upon his lack of knowledge before the English attacked a few days later.The excavation and construction of the forts was hard and dirty work.Officers complained about their inability to keep their men in clothes; garments wore out in very little time, and the officer in charge asked for a double supply of soap for the troops.
Other Long Island Loyalists acted as informers and guides for the British. His units marched through the night and were ready to engage the Americans on a hot Tuesday morning, Aug. ** Our neighborhoods did, of course, look somewhat different in 1776.The furniture in them is in the best taste, nothing like which is to be seen with us, and besides so clean and neat, that altogether it surpasses every description.The female sex is universally beautiful and delicately reared, and is finely dressed in the latest European fashion, particularly in India laces, white cotton, and silk gauzes.” The new American soldiers The American soldiers that fought the Battle of Brooklyn were to a significant extent inexperienced recruits from all walks of life, many of them drawn in by promises of cash or land grants: fortune seekers, farmers, freed slaves and paid substitutes, or “the young, the inexperienced, the unemployed, the socially expendable,” as history books put it.Eight of the 13 colonies sent contingents to New York, with Connecticut providing the most men.
Few units wore anything that looked like uniforms, but there were exceptions such as Col. Diarist Joseph Plumb Martin of the 8th Connecticut Regiment wrote that he “would rather serve alongside Indians” than men from Pennsylvania, whom were regarded as “mostly foreigners.” The backwoods ways and habits of some of the riflemen from frontier states may have been embarrassing to their urban New York cousins, just as they had been to the pious New Englanders during the battles around Boston the previous year.There were some veterans and a few officers that had served previously under the British, but few of the troops that fought with Washington in Boston re-enlisted.