Tradesmen also played an important part in war

During the American Revolutionary War reenactments, Rob Gorrell, 48, of Parkersburg, turns into a mild-mannered civilian tradesman that makes buckets – The Cooper.

The Cooper was among a group of tradesmen crucial to colonial life: tailors, weavers, shoemakers saddle- and harness makers, carpenters, basket makers, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, silversmiths, gunsmiths and printers.

They’ll tend to set up shop wherever the soldiers and militia establish a camp, he said.

As for his buckets, The Cooper said it takes a while to spit the parts out from a log. The individual staves have to be curved and fitted together to keep it watertight.

“You’re in camp, and it’s cold and wet, trying to eat breakfast or waiting for the officer to decide what to do,” he said.

“Why is the smoke in my face? Why is it taking so long?” Gorrell imagines the soldiers would have thought.

The Cooper said he often is reminded of the description of his men when George Washington took command of the Continental Army,

Washington found his men drunken, dirty, foul mouthed and sick. He knew something had to change so he took charge and put an end to all that.

Because he’s just getting started, The Cooper said he not quite up to the level of other tradesmen, who, at some of the larger events, set up a colonial “shopping mall,” where they sell clothing, tool, weapons and more.