During the course of the season, I was happy to learn that it’s main characters Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills, when not battling the forces of the Apocalypse, enjoyed a little down time with some rum. In the episode “Sanctuary,” Abbie tries to cheer up Ichabod with some liquor. I like Abbie.
Abbie: “There will be rum. It’s your favorite”
Ichabod: “Barbadian Best Amber. I believe I would not have survived Valley Forge without it.”
At first, I glazed over the scene, but I scratched my head. Wait, rum at Valley Forge? This is where I decided to do some spirituous homework and what I found was quite interesting.
During the American Revolutionary War, a soldier’s ration, stated by Congress, included, bread, meat, beans and a gill of spirits. A gill of spirits is between 4 and 5 ounces, and they got this daily. This may be shocking by today’s military standards but remember that back then a clean water supply was never assured, especially in war. An outbreak of diarrhea or dysentery could destroy an army and George Washington knew this. At his camp in Valley Forge it was recorded that his beleaguered troops got their daily ration of rum first before the officers did.
Why rum? Rum was the beverage of choice in the American colonies. It was made from molasses (sugarcane) from the Caribbean and shipped to distilleries located mostly in the Northeast. We liked our rum and we had close to 150 rum distilleries to prove it. Because American rum was so readily made, it was also very cheap; so cheap that everybody could afford and drink it.
This all changed during the Revolution. As the war dragged on, The British Royal Navy made sure it became very difficult for molasses to get to the colonies. Soon whiskey, made from our own grain, began to grow in demand and was used when supplies of rum were extremely limited. After the war, rum’s popularity faded and whiskey became the new drink of choice in America.
Going back to “Sleepy Hollow” and Ichabod’s statement, there is a good chance that the rum he was drinking by that time was not from Barbados, but from America. Then again, he was hanging with G.W. George probably had the good stuff.
It’s good to be the general.