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"AWI Continentals in the South" Topic

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Adam from Lancashire12 Jan 2011 7:52 a.m. PST

I was wondering if anybody could shed some light on something for me. I was flicking through Osprey's book on the continental infantry in town the other day and I saw a uniform that I liked, but there wasn't much info on it in the book. You can see it here on google books:


Anyway, it's of the Delaware-Maryland Continentals at Cowpens, and depicts them wearing off-white hunting shirts, striped overalls and light infantry-style caps. Unfortunately, the plate commentary says absolutely nothing about the uniforms, instead giving a short overview of the battle. In the main text the author states that when the American commander requested clothing from North Carolina in 1780 they supplied striped overalls and hunting shirts for his Continentals.

Another thread mentioned this on TMP:

TMP link

But from that it seems that the plate and commentary that supplied the info on hunting shirts and striped trousers, depicts the Delaware infantry in a cocked hat not a light infantry style cap. And it also seems there is no source cited for the Continental being issued with the hunting shirts and striped gaiters in October 1780.

Right, I'll stop waffling now and try to summarise what I'm trying to find out:

1. Did the Delaware/Maryland Continentals wear striped overralls, hunting shirts and (especially) light infantry style caps at Cowpens as depicted?

2. If yes, would this uniform have been worn at Guilford (by the Delaware company or anyone else) Courthouse 3 months later?

3. The Osprey says that the Continentals of Greene's army were supplied with this style of clothing, so would anyone else have been dressed like this other than the Delawares?

Basically, I'd like to convert these in 28mm as the uniforms are quite different to what I've seen so far (though I don't know that much about the AWI), though perhaps a bit more varied (so with some uniform coats mixed in as well has some cocked and slouched hates), and I'm wondering if I could get away with a small battalion dressed like this to provide a bit of variation. Perhaps I'm asking for a level of certainty that just can't be given when dealing with sources on uniforms in the South.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

RudyNelson12 Jan 2011 9:37 a.m. PST

I will check my records. I was at Cowpens a few years ago and I do not remember any artwork shopwing this style.

The maryland-Delaware unti was not brought with Greenes replacements after Camden. So I am not sure if they would have received new uniforms.

Maybe SM will answer before I get back.

95thRegt12 Jan 2011 10:41 a.m. PST

Thats a God awful book,please don't go by the terrible paintings in there! Don Troiani does a Cowpens print,and a single one of a Delaware Continental.
DE troops wore blue faced rad,with cocked hats with yellow tape. In the South,they were issued hunting shirts and blue striped overalls. In all my books and research,nowhere does it mention light infantry caps.
The MD/DE contingent were called light troops,but they didn't wear your typical light infantry uniform.


Thomas Mante12 Jan 2011 11:27 a.m. PST


Ah the plate in the Continental Infantryman of the American Revolution. Not the brightest star in the Osprey firmament!

The plate is probably derived at second hand from that by H Charles McBarron in volume 1 of Elting's Military Uniform in America which was originally published in Military Collector & Historian:

"Colonel David Hall's Regiment, Delaware Line, 1777-1783"
McBarron, H. Charles, Jr. and James P. Simpson
MCH, 18 (Summer 1966), pp. 48-50; (Spring 1967), p.27; (Spring 1974), p. 29. MUIA Plate 273.

The Osprey plate draws on the McBarron reconstruction in that it depicts the hunting shirt and stripy gaiter trousers. The Osprey author has construed that because the Maryland-Delaware battalion which served under Morgan at Cowpens was described as light infantry that they should be depicted in light infantry caps! An ill informed assumption I suspect.

However, evidence for much of this reconstruction is pretty thin. McBarron was a meticulous worker but quotes no direct source for the hunting shirt/stripy gaiter trousers. Reading between the lines he may be drawing on an article mentioned in his bibliography and published in the journal of the Pennsylvania Historical Society. However that is speculation on my part and I have not seen the article in question.

Previously I have looked in Ward's Delaware Continentals and could find no mention of any issue of hunting shirts nor indeed or stripy gaiter trousers. Katcher's Uniforms of the Continental Army references the McBarron/Elting plate and merely repeats it without source or cross check. I am not at home so I am unable to check either the Ward volume or the Greene papers to see what else may lurk concerning the equipping/uni forming of the continentals

Thus for my money there is no source material (save the putative Pa Historical Society article) to support this reconstruction. If anyone can unearth any evidence one way or another it would be most useful. As to the Osprey ignoring the rank & file the officer depicted is wearing a uniform or blue faced white. Interesting as the Delaware regt had been in blue faced red since the early days of the war so that is wide of the mark. The blue faced white colour scheme does not match anything that I have read of the uniform provisions of any of the Maryland or Virginia units that provided the bulk of Morgan's continentals. To my mind even more scope for doubting the authenticity of the uniform.

However that does not mean to say if you fancy a unit dressed like the Osprey or McBarron plate that you should not have one! Your money, your choice. Not one I would make but there again I am a sceptical old so & so.

Thomas Mante12 Jan 2011 11:29 a.m. PST

"Thats a God awful book,please don't go by the terrible paintings in there!"


Well said that man!


95thRegt12 Jan 2011 11:47 a.m. PST

Well said that man!
Unfortunately,had I seen that Osprey beforehand,I would not have wasted my hard earned money on it!
I also have the Military Uniforms in America book by the Company of military historians. Most of the info in that book is,at best,well over 35 years old,and a lot of info has come out in recent years to render some of them obsolete. I also have a number of AWI prints by The Company,that are 1.VERY bad artwork,and 2. WAY off the mark in terms of correctness.
Osprey's look pretty,but lately their artwork has slipped,and the info therein is very suspect.


95thRegt12 Jan 2011 11:48 a.m. PST

For anyone doing AWI gaming,this site is THE BEST as a uniform source.



Thomas Mante12 Jan 2011 3:58 p.m. PST

"For anyone doing AWI gaming,this site is THE BEST as a uniform source.


But even Troiani is guilty of the odd lapse or stretching the evidence. The McBarron plate was 10 years old when it appeared in Elting plus it maintains the fiction of the leather cap for the earlier iteration of Hall's regt.

Like you I felt cheated when I bought the wretched Osprey (thanks Amazon!), especially when there are authors and information around to do a much better job.


Adam from Lancashire12 Jan 2011 4:51 p.m. PST

Thanks for the clarification guys! I'd seen the site you suggested, Bob, but I wasn't sure who was telling the truth out of the two of them.

@Thomas Mante
Thanks for the explanation of how the mistake came to be in the first place. In cases where there are conflicting sources my usual action would be to just choose the one I like best, but in this case the uniform seems to be an out-and-out fiction.

It seems a shame to go to all that trouble painting such a pretty picture when its completely wrong. I suppose the hunting shirts and stripey pants are sort of understandable, but why just make up the hat completely?

Thanks again, Thomas, Bob and Rudy. I appreciate your help.


95thRegt12 Jan 2011 5:53 p.m. PST

ut even Troiani is guilty of the odd lapse or stretching the evidence. The McBarron plate was 10 years old when it appeared in Elting plus it maintains the fiction of the leather cap for the earlier iteration of Hall's regt.
That stupid 19th CENTURY leather cap! Reenactors out in Cal. STILL wear it as far as I know!
And don;t get me started on the Butlers Rangers brass cap…


Doug MSC Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2011 7:36 p.m. PST

I like the hunting shirt, striped trousers and cap. I think I will paint a unit up like that for my army.

nevinsrip12 Jan 2011 11:33 p.m. PST

I like it too, and I just cut the heads off a bag of Old Glory Light Infantry to place on my Perry Hunting Shirt bodies. Since there is no one left alive who was actually present at the battle, who's to say which uniform is ABSOLUTELY correct? It seems to me when it comes to AWI uniforms you can quote ten different sources for ten different answers.
Just because you were a re-enactor or artist doesn't mean you are the final word on anything. Since there is no video footage or photos, we can only be guided by drawings, artwork and what appears to me, to be an overabundant amount of deserter descriptions. How reliable are deserters, anyway?

Until somebody finds a complete uniform hanging in a closet somewhere, it's all just an educated guess. To say something is absolutely right or wrong, seems pretty silly to me.

Paint what makes you happy. When Mel Brooks' 2000 year old man tells you it's not right, then I'll believe it. Till then………….

doc mcb13 Jan 2011 6:51 a.m. PST

I'm with Bill. Being punctilious has its place -- I try with my Frederickian Prussians to get it all correct -- but when there are so many gaps in our knowledge, I think we can be flexible and go with what we prefer to a greater extent.

Dn Jackson13 Jan 2011 8:40 a.m. PST

"Until somebody finds a complete uniform hanging in a closet somewhere, it's all just an educated guess. To say something is absolutely right or wrong, seems pretty silly to me."

Well phooey on you. I'm going to go way out on a limb here and say that they did not wear woodland cammies with jungle boots at Camden and I believe myself to be 100% correct. :) Tounge firmly planted in cheek.

nevinsrip13 Jan 2011 3:02 p.m. PST

Dan, "Phooey"??

Dn Jackson13 Jan 2011 6:04 p.m. PST

"Dan, "Phooey"??"

I'm trying to be nice and somewhat polite. Plus I can't spell worth a darn. :)

95thRegt13 Jan 2011 10:21 p.m. PST

MAJOR face palm!

So I should basically throw all my books away and paint my figures,however I want,and with whatever flags,because,gosh darn,theres no proof they wore this or that,or carried this or that flag!
Oh,and this artist is WRONG,and that reenactor is WRONG,so what the hell right? they're all just making stuff up anyway!

Anybody want my research material??


nevinsrip14 Jan 2011 12:14 a.m. PST

Bob No one is saying that. But dealing in absolutes when no firm proof is forthcomming, is folly.

Oh ! and go back and reread my comments on artists and re- enactors. Do you see the world WRONG anywhere? I simply said that they are not the final word on anything, NOT that they were WRONG. It is all open to discussion. Isn't that what these boards are for?

"Anybody want my research material??"
Sure, I'll take it.
Remember that kid who took his ball and went home?

Tom Collins14 Jan 2011 8:22 a.m. PST

Yes, please don't get him started on Butler's Rangers.
They wore floppy pimp hats and kelvar vests, ask any reenactor. it feels right! Forget the ordely books, diary's and they were purchased by the King's money.

95thRegt14 Jan 2011 2:01 p.m. PST

Butlers Rangers



Bill N11 May 2018 6:17 p.m. PST

Sorry for reviving an old thread.

Many myths and mistakes start with a kernel of truth. The story was that after the Battle of Camden the Delaware Continentals were given hunting shirts and also overalls made from mattress ticking. In the Battle of Camden website Babits argues they were wearing blue faced red regimentals, and references his work Supplying the Southern Continental Army. Babits work does support his claim for the period between August 1780 and Cowpens.

However Babits also says that in June 1781 Greene had hunting shirts issued to his Continentals, which presumably included the troops from Delaware. This would have been shortly after the Battle of Hobkirk's Hill which some soldiers in their pension applications refer to as Camden. Someone reading about Continentals getting hunting shirts after "Camden" and not knowing that referred to Hobkirk's Hill could mistakenly assume that the Delawares were wearing hunting shirts in the fall-winter of 1780/81 rather than in the summer of 1781. No info on where the story about mattress ticking trousers came from. Perhaps some troops with worn out overalls acquired some on their own.

95thRegt05 Jun 2018 6:02 a.m. PST

I painted up DE Continentals. some in hunting shirts, others in blue faced red. The key is mixing up your continentala. Not EVERY got got what was issued.
I also happen to have Troiani's Cowpens print hanging right above me,so,there's that..

Never stop researching!

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