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"42nd Blackwatch in the Peninsula" Topic

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Stevelordc Inactive Member06 Apr 2017 8:45 a.m. PST

Hi Guys

I am in the process of painting some Blackwatch for the peninsula. I am going to use Victrix 28mm which are very nice however I have a query. The bonnets come with peaks and no peaks. I have looked for information with regards to these however I cannot find anything which says which they had or even if they used both.

Can anybody help please?

Thank you in advance.


Mick the Metalsmith06 Apr 2017 9:00 a.m. PST

No peaks if I recall correctly.

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member06 Apr 2017 9:12 a.m. PST

Early in the war, no peaks, then peaks gradually come into practice (like spats, and the loss of the sporran on campaign). Altho' some regiments did not customarily use the peak, like the 92nd, which IIRC, directly forbade it.

42flanker07 Apr 2017 1:12 a.m. PST

AFIK, images showing enlisted Highlanders in feather bonnets with peaks date from circa 1815.

Looking at the question from another angle, however useful a peak might have been in Spain, the fact that these were detachable, tied on to the Highland bonnet with a tape, raises the question of how long they would have survived under campaign circumstances.

We are told that, by the end of the fighting in Spain, the 42nd marched in an unadorned, so-called 'hummle' bonnet, more resembling a battered shako with a band of dicing. The regiment's 'red feather' emblem, later celebrated as the 'Red Hackle,' was also reduced to a remnant.

"When the Regiment returned from the Peninsula in 1814, from being so long in the field, the
[ostrich] feathers had disappeared from the bonnet, and a little red feather on the front, same as on the shako [ i.e. the 'tuft'], had been adopted."

This was reported in William Melven's 'History of the Highland Regiments,' part of "A History of The Scottish Highlands, highland clans and highland regiments…" edited by John Keltie.

Although published in 1875, the section on the 42nd drew on the 'Memoranda' of Lt Col John Wheatley (retd) who had enlisted in 1817, aged 17, and was been active in promoting *Black Watch* regimental history (*n.b. Two words- with an even emphasis, as in 'Red Menace'!)

Another soldier recorded "We had lost all we had in the world, except the buttons on our clothes, that told our regiments" (Narrative of a Private Soldier in the 42nd Hldrs 1821)

By the way, Wheatley's description of post-war uniforms circa 1821 seems to be the source for erronious depictions of the Black Watch flank companies wearing bi-coloured hackles during the the Napoleonic wars, e.g. Wollen's 1889 canvas 'The Black Watch at Bay.'

'At this time there were a variety of heckles worn in the bonnet, another piece of bad taste white for the grenadiers, green for the light company, the band white, and the drummers yellow, with each of them two inches of red at the top, and the other eight companies (called battalion companies) red.'

According to Wheatley, the regiment returned to all ranks wearing plain red hackles circa 1825

With regards to the Gordon Highlanders, the Regimental museum in Aberdeen depicts soldiers of the Waterloo period wearing bonnets with peaks. There is also a plain, shako-like peaked cap, surviving from the period, worn by a subaltern of the 92nd.

Clear as mud, eh?

Mick the Metalsmith07 Apr 2017 9:17 a.m. PST

Went back to Windrow and Embleton who said that they had them in as early as 1808 and the peaks were detachable so both configs are possible on a daily basis.

42flanker09 Apr 2017 9:38 a.m. PST

The Windrow & Embleton is a fairly old book now and it is possible that some detail is outdated. Embleton's illustrations showing feather bonnets with peaks seem to be dated to circa 1810-11: 42nd RHR, 79th, 92nd. FWIW, I couldn't find a reference to 1808.

However, in Reid's more recent 'Wellington's Highlanders', there is a Fosten illustration of an officer of 2/78th with a peak to his feather bonnet that is dated to 1806, which would have put him in Sicily or Italy.

It is interesting that contemporary illustrations don't seem to show peaks on bonnets until about 1815, but that could be for a number of reasons. It is the sort of detail one might not necessarily expect to see in memoirs, either.

I have never seen chapter and verse reference to the peaks. It would be interesting to pin it down. The innovation evidently did not impress the powers that be, as they were soon done away with. Unlike the new peaks on bearskin caps which lasted for another 30 years.

Anyway, it's not as if it's a detail that will interfere with the rolling of a dice

Stevelordc Inactive Member09 Apr 2017 10:02 a.m. PST

Thank you for your help. So I could do a bit of a mix.

42flanker09 Apr 2017 12:37 p.m. PST

Ha- ain't that the truth? No two men alike! Don't forget to put some of them in tartan 'trews,' as well….

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