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"1768 Warrant and the Boston Massacre" Topic

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Son of William Pitt the Eldar Inactive Member07 May 2014 8:33 p.m. PST

I was browsing Brendan Morrissey's "The American Revolution" and noticed that Paul Revere's colored engraving of the Boston Massacre British uniforms had a very SYW look about them. From the cuffs to the the colored breeches to the belts. Very SYW. The other illustration showing the farby "grenadiers" adheres more closely to the Warrant.
I am curious how long the older style of uniform lasted. Could it have lasted until Lexington Concord?

Son of William Pitt the Eldar Inactive Member07 May 2014 8:39 p.m. PST

BTW this is a fine history. It pays a lot more attention to the "World War" aspect of the American Revution. (Not AWI, I might note. )
Nicely illustrated, it joins other worthy AWI coffee table books as the American Heritage volume and Curt Johnson's marvelous "Battles" with its huge Peter Gilder Hinchliffe armies.

Personal logo Ironwolf Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2014 9:41 p.m. PST

I'm no expert, but my understanding is up until 1776 some units were still following the Warrant on uniforms.

I have a copy of the above book and enjoy it along with Brendan's Osprey books.

gunnerphil08 May 2014 1:56 a.m. PST

I am no expert but if you look at photos from, Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan, will often see troop wearing uniform that is supposed to have been replaced or using equipment supposed to have been phased out. If modern armies with latest logistics systems are a bit mixed why would armies from earlier wars be able to keep to exact letter of warrant.

clibinarium08 May 2014 3:10 a.m. PST

I think Don Troiani used the engraving as part of his material to reconstruct this image of the 29th, In one of his books he goes into a bit of detail on it, but I don't have it to hand;

Major Bloodnok08 May 2014 3:12 a.m. PST

You will find that when a new Warrant comes out it doesn't mean that everyone scrambles in the next six months to meet the new warrant. If you had just issued new uniforms and accoutrements to your regiment and a new Warrant came out you often find that the regiment is grandfathered until it is time to replace those uniforms. Now you can find that if a unit keeps moving around it may take years for its new clothing to catch up with it.

There was one reg't. in Gilbralter that in 1781 still hadn't received its 1778 issue of clothing. They were wearing white linen jackets and trousers. Other reg'ts in N. America had the same problem. Another reg't. complained how they didn't have any haversacks and the soldiers were forced to carry their rations in their blankets.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member08 May 2014 3:16 a.m. PST

As I understand it, Revere took his details from someone else's work (allegations of plagiarism), but whoever was the originator, they would have had first-hand experience of what the typical redcoat looked like (I think I'm right in saying Preston's men WERE grenadiers, but just weren't wearing their caps for such a mundane duty).

The Warrant was only published in 1768 and it would have taken time to implement – patterns would have had to be distributed to contractors, who in turn would have to submit samples to prove they had assimilated the changes, then the items would have to be made, and finally transported to wherever the regiment was serving (which might involve a wide geographic dispersal, even within the British Isles). Cost (and the Colonel's level of pride in his regiment versus profits in his pocket) would often dictate how any changes were implemented – some regiments brought in the new style of grenadier cap by simply adding a fur cover to the old cloth mitres (which were themselves expensive and might only have been purchased in 1767). Given that the incident itself only took place in March 1770, it's quite likely that modified coats for 1769 had not arrived – or if they had, were being kept for "best" with old clothing of SYW style, being used for fatigues and other duties.

Broadly speaking, for something as fundamental as a new coat style, you could see the changes within 1-2 years (possibly nearer 2-3 for overseas garrisons) simply because coats were issued to each man every year – in theory at least, they might not arrive for some time. Items such as belts would be replaced less often, and regimental artisans would be tasked to alter them to the prevailing style/fashion, which would take time in a unit of 400+ men, some of whom might have been dispersed to remote outposts. That said, the style and method of wearing waistbelts was not mandated in the 1768 Warrant and was more of an unofficial adaptation, which, incidentally, also included the economy of removing the short sword from all but the grenadiers.

By 1775, pretty much everyone in America should have completed the transition to the 1768 Warrant in terms of clothing (possibly units stuck out on the frontier might not have); however, from early 1776 – possibly earlier – it seems that field mods (eg uncocked hats and one-piece gaitered overalls) were making even the official look a thing of the past. Uniforms, and certainly campaign dress, from 1783 onwards show the enormous influences that the AWI exerted on the British Army.

ironicon Inactive Member08 May 2014 9:45 a.m. PST

I have a hard time believing that say by 78 they were wearing 68 Warrant uniforms. The British army adjusted their dress and tactics to conditions in North America.

comte de malartic Inactive Member08 May 2014 11:04 a.m. PST

Some of the units that arrived later in the war may have followed the 68 warrant. Regarding hats, the slouch hat was very much a Howe thing, "father" of the British Light Infantry, etc. There is some evidence that when Clinton took over command in 1778 that units were ordered to recock their hats in conventional style. Clinton did not like slouch hats saying that a slouched hat begets a slouched soldier (lack of discipline) or something along those lines. The painting of the British surrendering at Yorktown (by the French Officer)show them in cocked hats (but I do understand that new uniforms were issued just prior to the surrender so this is uncertain.)

Hope this helps.



ironicon Inactive Member08 May 2014 12:31 p.m. PST

I'm new to the AWI and if I've learned anything so far, there seems to be differing opinions on dress and so forth. I would like my army to have the look that is "correct".I'm learning a lot from these discussions.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member08 May 2014 3:00 p.m. PST


Two points to bear in mind are that uniforms could change from year to year (not quite to the extent they did in the Continental Army, but definitely in style/cut), and that many field adaptations were local. Look at the differences between the Burgoyne/Saratoga uniforms in the von Germann watercolours


and the Howe/Philadelphia uniforms in the della Gatta paintings of Paoli and Germantown


same year, same army, but a noticeably different look, although both were aimed at dealing with the same things: clothing shortages* and terrain/climate.

[* To the hazards of clothing a regiment listed above, you can add American privateers capturing new issues en route to America. ]

The Troiani website is probably as good a source as any for AWI British uniforms, although there isn't quite the certainty that there is with his ACW paintings.

historygamer09 May 2014 1:21 p.m. PST

The round hats were practical and offered some use other than decorative. Unlike the cocked hat.

Revere saw soldiers on a daily basis, so I think he had a pretty good idea what they looked like, aside from the details of the incident.

The first rule of uniforms is that there are no rules. :-)

I work with our military every day and no two look alike, even in the same service.

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