Help support TMP

"British pioneers in the AWI " Topic

13 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the American Revolution Message Board

633 hits since 28 Mar 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP28 Mar 2017 10:34 a.m. PST

I have 5 of them. The Old Glory command pack has a grand total of one. grin
Does anyone else make them? It seems a rather expensive way to build a unit.

Mollo has a nice plate of one with glorious purple facings.

Anyway. How were they used?
Would they only come in handy in a skirmish game, like the TSATF games I'm running now?
Would they be in a converged unit, with rainbow array of facings, or would they be all from one regiment?

Btw, if anyone has any they can't find a use for, I'll take them off your hands. grin

42flanker28 Mar 2017 11:58 a.m. PST

They were principally employed on the march and in camp. I read in 'Fatal Sunday'that on Clinton's march from Philadelphia to the sea, a squad of 20 pioneers marched in the van of the column behind the advance troops; ready to deal with obstacles to onward progress. This could involve repairing damaged bridges under fire.

20- is that more than a battalion's worth? Were there two pioneers on the strength of each infantry company? If so, was that still the case in June 1778. I am not qualified to say.

I am fairly sure, however that, on any given day, the Pioneers were probably no more bearded than any other soldier in the army.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP28 Mar 2017 12:23 p.m. PST

I have 5 figures in search of a scenario.
Won't be the first time. Won't be the last. grin
Sounds like I can use all the facing colors I want.

historygamer28 Mar 2017 12:47 p.m. PST

I believe they are clean shaven (see Morier painting) and in the AWI period often converged. IIRC they were often part of the Guides and Pioneer detachment – I want to say for the march out of MD in 1777.

vtsaogames28 Mar 2017 2:43 p.m. PST

If attacking a position that had an abatis, they would be called on to hack an opening. Some folks had to do that at Stony Point while the Light Infantry waited in column.

Or they might be called on to rip a bridge apart while others held off the enemy. Or dismantle a road block on the way south from Ticonderoga.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP28 Mar 2017 3:06 p.m. PST

At this time, not all British infantry units had pioneers; and those that did, did not necessarily have the "1 per company" arrangement that was the norm for the Napoleonic era. A unit of 20 of them sounds like it might be a brigade's worth (3-4 battalions).

Perry do British pioneers in their Saratoga range – packs AW66 and 70 (Grenadier Command standing and advancing). Note that infantry pioneers did NOT have facial hair at this time, according to EVERY contemporary depiction of them.

The Guides & Pioneers (which incorporated the Black Pioneers in 1778), was a Loyalist unit, albeit occasionally commanded by Regular officers. In addition to their more obvious duties, they also contained officers who were spies.


historygamer28 Mar 2017 3:14 p.m. PST

IIRC the regimental pioneers formed with the Guides on the march toward Philly.


42flanker29 Mar 2017 6:33 a.m. PST

IIRC the regimental pioneers formed with the Guides on the march toward Philly. McGuire?

"At the front of the army's line of march was another special unit, the Corps of Guides and Pioneers, troops who moved ahead of the army to clear obstructions. Maj. Samuel Holland commanded this special corps, which consisted of 172 men equipped with axes, saws and shovels, in addition to their muskets. Heavy leather aprons and gloves were also part of the unit's gear, along with peculiar leather caps. The Pioneers were distinct in that the men were allowed to grow beards and enlisted Africans made up a significant portion of the troops."

The Philadephia Campaign: Vol One p.140

McGuire, whose work is in general admirably thorough, is not 100% reliable with regards to some of the minutiae of military clothing and equipment that we like to discuss here on TMP. This might be one of those occasions. His only citation for this passage is in relation to the number of men in Holland's unit.

I wonder whether the pioneers referred to were men raised separately or assigned from the infantry battalions. Possibly they were a mixture of both, given the African element.

historygamer29 Mar 2017 8:14 a.m. PST

The whole Corps of Guides and Pioneers is kind of fascinating.

Shifting theaters, I wonder how Burgoyne dealt with the blocked roads problems and who cleared them?

Virginia Tory29 Mar 2017 8:54 a.m. PST

Lots of guys with axes, though much of what I read would indicate they either had Loyalists doing the clearing or just details from the hat companies.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2017 9:28 a.m. PST

Burgoyne had a force of axemen recruited from the "Canadien" population. Whether this was "as well as" or "instead of" I'm afraid I couldn't tell you.

Just came across this from 2011; apart from my (then) imperfect knowledge of the Guides & Pioneers, we seem to have successfully rehashed just about every comment/fact!

TMP link

42flanker29 Mar 2017 12:15 p.m. PST

So, SM, regarding the Pioneers and Guides McGuire describes marching at the head of the army in September 1777, these were artisans armed with shovels and rakes and implements of destruction, rather than intelligence gatherers?

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2017 2:34 p.m. PST

The unit seems to have consisted of labourers/artisans who fulfilled the "pioneer" side of the title, and a group of men given commissions who performed the "guide" part, leading advance guards, raiding parties, etc and reconnoitering. They seem to have been almost all Loyalists.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.