Today is the 4th of July. It has been 241 years since America declared its independence from the tyranny of the English monarch George III and his Parliament. The picture included is from the Department of Veterans Affairs listing what rations soldiers from the Flying Camp were entitled to each day. The Flying Camp was formed in June of 1776 by General George Washington and was made up of soldiers from Maryland (3400), Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania (totaling 10,000). They were placed under the command of Brigadier General Hugh Mercer. The mission of the Flying Camp was to protect the Mid-Atlantic coastline from the British and the secure the supply chain of the Continental Army.
This was a critical mission indeed as many soldiers enlisted for the daily rations they were promised once enlisted. The most important ration to many was the quart of Spruce beer (made from actual shed spruce) that each soldier would receive every single day. Protecting the supply chain meant the beer rations would reach the soldiers, sustaining morale in the oft perilous conditions they faced on and off of the battlefield. America may have been prepared in spirit for the War but we were ill equipped to fight it; short on uniforms fit for combat, boots that gave out in a day’s march, lack of weapons and ammunition, and little to no formal training for most enlisted men. The beer ration motivated men on to continue the fight despite the grave circumstances. A little help from France and Germany (with both training and supplies) eventually helped push us over the top (along with a fierce and successful siege of Yorktown) to victory and the establishment of America as an independent Nation!
As you celebrate today with your BBQ and fireworks take a moment and raise a toast to those that had the foresight to fight for our what could be- the United States of America. Oh and if you get a chance- make it a Spruce Beer in honor of the Flying Camp soldiers that kept the rations flowing to those brave men that sacrificed themselves for our freedoms!