This information is contributed by Ron Tarburton
Author's note: The research that unearthed this data is ongoing and not considered by the author to be complete
The men of Francis Nash's brigade, like neighboring Virginians, were often armed as frontier farmers and Indian fighters often were---either with long rifles allowing them to be crack shots or else they toted muskets loaded with a mix of buckshot and solid one once lead ball. This is how they were equipped when they marched up to join Washington's central Army in the summer of 1777. Our Commander in Chief had just sadly said farewell to his prized Rifle Corps of 600 crack shots regimented under Daniel Morgan. Congress had ordered them to New York to help Gates defeat Burgoyne. Now he was without all those great marksmen. When Nash arrived with his undisciplined men, there were complaints from other units right away. Washington befriended Nash who defended the country bumpkin ways of his men. Company commanders still wore hunting shirts and could hardly be told apart from their men. Companies that should have had two hundred or more men in them might have only 50 or so. There was a rugged individualism there that did not surrender to strict discipline. Washington chose to cherish Nash and his men as a partial replacement for the absent Dan Morgan and to encourage him regarding the buckshot idea. Soon Washington would face the threat of British invasion in Chesapeake Bay by forming a "Light Corps" under General Maxwell. These would be men carrying rifles almost exclusively, from those companies of regiments still carrying such weapons. Maxwell was assigned the task of being a "reconnaissance in force" brigade supported by a few troops of cavalry as eyes for his vanguard. The Rear Guard and his "secret weapon" of Nash's mixed bag light brigade of Francis Nash , with their mix of rifles with buckshot---would be held in reserve for the task of covering the retreat if that became necessary. Nash was given the dirty job and he and his men were good at dirty dealing with an enemy---they were up to the task. Both at Brandywine and again at Germantown---Nash and his men cut the enemy to ribbons whenever they unleashed a volley. At Brandywine---after ripping up an already whittled down brigade of Guard and Grenadiers---they used an old Indian trick of baiting the British to reinforce a hill on their flanks--a hill behind which hundreds of men lay in ambush in the growing darkness. Two regiments walked right into the trap and were cut to pieces in just a minutes time---hundreds fell in moments and at least a hundred or more would die from the multiple wounds. The death toll of the British in their effort to capture Philadelphia gave Washington the body count of Brits he needed to get the French to recognize the newborn United States and support them fully on land and sea. That gave us the inevitable victory against a foe who was losing men faster than they could ever replace them. In the end---Nash paid for this with his life as it was his fashion to truly lead from the front and in that same battle another general---a Brit named Agnew, fell prey to another one of those Indian bait ambushes and was hit by two balls simultaneously---later dying of his wounds. Nash was a truly great man and only now is his true role in the war for our independence unfolding and becoming known. Presently, what I believe I am looking at is a man in one hell of a jam---not enough money---always begging and sometimes stealing or borrowing what he needs just to keep his Army going from day to day----corrupt businessmen supplying the troops with the blessing of Congress---and Congress itself never appreciating and often not fully supporting Washington. Then there is all the disloyalty around him, that extends even to the officers of real rank as well as the rank and file. Almost impossible to keep a secret . Bottom line is that Washington was truly a desperate man who developed a genius within himself for juggling the politics and business of feeding and supplying his army with the task of fighting an Army of well trained professional soldiers regularly dogging his trail. Washington was a man with few true friends that he could trust and rely upon and he knew those men and held close those men who proved their worth and loyalty. Francis Nash and his frontier brigade came along at just the right time to somewhat replace Dan Morgan's riflemen and he made the best possible use of them. Facing likely defeat from the British in the upcoming Philadelphia campaign , Washington had to look about for an equalizer---something that would help even the odds. He was facing a losing hand with the enemy. In a case like that you can only win if you do some Underhanded thing---some dirty dealing. Washington was a gentleman but he knew that in war there are no rules---that the first rule was that there are no real rules---that it was a cat and dog fight and nothing else. He bitterly and with difficulty faced the facts and played his cards close to his vest. Anything that Nash and his men did at Brandywine and again at Germantown could not have ben done without his nodding approval. No commander would do such a thing over the head of their commander in chief. That is another truism that helps to determine what happeneds between Wasington and Nash preceding the fight at Brandywine. They evidently decided on a strategy, a method of battle that was different than ever before. Buckshot would be used as well as selected targets for the riflemen. This made for a deadly combination that not even the deadly accurate Rifle Corps under Morgan had ever achieved. From the available facts I can determine much, as much from my knowledge of Rev War warfare and tactics on both sides and also from the standpoint of a re-enactor. Combined I can often interpret things that some historians simply overlook from lack of knowledge or hands on experience in the field. It is slowly but surely coming together, even the details of the circumstances of Nash's death are helpful in deterimingi things not given in the details but "easily discerned" or interpreted from the available information. For instance, it is noted that Nash was hit by a "spent ball" from an enemy cannon. This would suggest being hit by the solid shot of a light 3 pounder, a 6 pounder at the largest. This says that he was outside the musket range of the enemy but on or near the front line, that being "fluid" according to the way he directed the fight---supporting his fast moving infantry with light guns that covered the road of retreat, just as at Brandywine. Being the rear guard he would have at least 2 two gun sections or a light batery available for artillery support and the enemy opposing him would be using their handy light guns as well. However, the solid shot he was hit with carries with it a tell tale indicator of the situation. Both we and the enemy used cannister or grape shot for anti-personnel use in the field in close support of their front line troops. Great buckshot paterns of limited range, each ball in the package fired being about the size of a musket ball or larger. In the casde of Nash it sounds like he and his horse were laid low by a "solid shot" and that tells a tale. Solid shot was longer ranging and could be fired with greater accuracy if being fired by a skilled and crafty artillerist. Solid shot was usually employed for "counter battery fire" and was directed against the enemy guns for the purpose of silencing them as your own troops advanced. Therefore, it is very likely that Nash was somewhere near or alongside American guns set slightly to the rear of the maneuvering front line troops, where he w as comparatively safe from musket fire and could give directions. Such guns would also bew placed along the retreating road and more or less centrally placed. Bottom line is, Nash was a little to the rear--near his supporting light gun battery and was hit by an enemy solid shot that had already ricocheted or bounded off the ground nearby before striking his horse and mauling his leg---just a lucky shot for the enemy who were trying to shatter gun carriages and not dismount commanders. I have learned that even company commanders used rifles--possibly even buckskins or hunting shirts and that is confirmed with artifacts. The entire Nash Brigade was haphazardly dressed---mostly hunting shirts and only a few uniforms with a mix of brown and green---few shoes---most likely "Carolina hats" which is a plain black felt flat brimmed store stock hat turned up on left side for shouldering weapon and then decorated with a turkey feather, sprig of green (a Scottish thing from NC) or raccoon or buck's tail. Rifles were often Southern version of the Pa Long Rifle made by regional craftsmen or else Pa made rifles passed down in family by immigrants and prized as heirlooms. Muskets would be the Brown Bess British musket captured from their soldiers and arsenals etc or else American copies. French muskets recently smuggled in through the blockade would also be finding their way into the hands of Nash's men.