I found the passage below in the 1969 book Rogers Rangers: The First Green Berets by Burt Garfield Loescher. Like you, I was spending my Thursday looking for spruce beer references. The book covers the span of the Rangers operations in the French and Indian War against New France and then later during the American Revolution from April 1758 to December 1783. This passage at page 106 describes two beer related scenes in the summer of 1760 as British and Anglo-American local forces are in camp at Crown Point, New York making preparations to move on Quebec to the north.
…The month of July and the first two weeks of August were a period of bustling activity at Crown Point as Haviland’s army prepared to advance. To encourage the temperance of the men Haviland ordered the Sutlers to put all of their barrels of Rum in the Fort’s Casemate and they were allowed to withdraw a barrel at a time only with an order from the Colonel of each Corps, in the case of Rogers Rangers, Major Rogers. This excellent practice was observed with “good effects” for over a month until July 3rd. The previous day Haviland had decreed that no Sutler should sell any spirits after the evening gun, but two enterprising Sutlers sold the men Beer and Wine. This was revealed when several of the men became hilariously drunk and started a small riot. Upon which the Sutlers’ casks were stove in exciting the following remark from a Provincial witness. “So we have wine and strong beer running down our street. . . ” Unfortunately one of the two Sutlers was one of those attached to Rogers Rangers and he was ordered “To quit Crown Point Emediately and if he, or the other Sutler miscrepeant, George Morris, were found” in the camp or in any Post between Crown Point or Albany they will be whipt and Drum’d out…
On June 17, Captain Brewer “piloted” Captain Jenks of the Provincials with 200 men across the Lake to a Spruce grove that he had previously discovered. Brewer and his detachment of Rangers instructed Jenks’ 200 Provincials in the Rangers’ method of march, thus making the expedition serve a dual purpose – to protect their march to obtain Spruce for Beer, and to make them more effective fighting force for the campaign. Brewer and Jenks returned laden with Spruce, and without meeting any scalping parties.
I have a thing for Major Robert Rogers who lived from 1731 to 1795. Despite remaining loyal to the Crown, he is rightly credited with being the founder of the US Army’s Rangers. “Rogers’ Standing Orders” are still used and his unit is the namesake of the New York Rangers. After Quebec falls, he passes though my town in the autumn of 1760 on something of a commando mission to alert the back country that the English are in charge. I have an annotated copy of Major Robert’s journal. Nerd.
There is more information in the journal on the sutler indecent. A “sutler” was a non-military food and drink vendor that followed an army which, as we mentioned in Ontario Beer, often set up in tents. They were basically small mobile taverns. So, having the civilian booze shack attached to your unit get out of line was pretty embarrassing – especially in the lead up to battle. The order of 3 July was broader that just the sutlers in question.
All sutlers and market people are desired to take notice that they will be served in the same way or worse if they are found to make soldiers drunk or do anything else contrary to orders.
Interestingly, Roger’s Rangers were soon ordered to be in charge of piling wood at the edge of camp all day and keeping it burning all night as sentries. That’ll keep you out of the sutler’s tent and away from the rum, wine and strong beer.
The spruce hunting expedition of 17 June is also pretty cool. Roger’s unit was out on patrol at the time, returning on the 21st with twenty-six prisoners. The less experienced troops who go off for the spruce are gathering the boughs for a healthier sort of beer that was brewed within the camp under orders. In 2008, I posted about the order of General Amherst that details out how it was made. Seven pounds of spruce to three gallons of molasses. Sending 200 soldiers out to gather boughs must have meant they were getting in maybe a few tons. Laden they were.
Spruce beer continues to have its fans well after the wars. Medcef Eden was brewing it in 1785 in what is now the Financial District of Manhattan. The last reference I can find is in a new report of a tavern brawl in 1885, like something you’d expect in a sutler’s tent.