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"95th rifles Belgic shako " Topic

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©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Stevelordc09 Apr 2017 10:07 a.m. PST

I was on the internet the other day and was looking up details of the 95th. During my research I found a website for a reinactment group who are supposed to be 95th rifles BUT they are wearing 95th rifles. I didn't think the got Belgic shakos?

Camcleod09 Apr 2017 11:58 a.m. PST


I was under the impression that they wore the Peninsular style cylindrical caps at Waterloo and were re-equipped with Belgic style after in Paris.
The above site shows reenactors in both and the paintings show an odd shaped Belgic shako. The text seems to indicate that some companies received new Shakos in 1814, I assume the Belgic style.

42flanker09 Apr 2017 12:16 p.m. PST

Great link. Thanks for posting. Sites like these are a credit to their members.

42flanker09 Apr 2017 12:47 p.m. PST

P.S. I noticed footnote reference to the name used at the time for the so-called 'Belgic' ('Waterloo' etc).

"I have had caps enough in store to help the appearance of the 1st Batt. as it used to be but the 2nd and 3rd sport bang ups as the soldiers of the 52nd who were the first in the Division that put them on have christened them.."

(Barnard to Alexander Cameron,April 1, 1813)

I wish 'bang-up' could be adopted again.

Not long ago I came on another reference to contemporary names for the range of infantry caps worn during the war-

"This year the cocked hat worn since 1797 was superseded by the chaco similar in size and shape to the one commonly adopted in the army. So strange an alteration— from the sage-like cocked hat to its trim substitute— obtained for the new head-gear the cimmerian appelation of the "smoke-jack." [1800] The white heckle feather worn with the cocked hat was retained.. … As time wound up, this description of chaco lost its upright lines for one which, approaching a cone in shape, was called the "sugar-loaf cap."[1806] The latter again. was superseded by another in 1813, which, from its peculiar form was familiarly styled the "bang-up."

('History of the Royal Sappers and Miners…to 1856'T.W.J. Connolly)

Camcleod09 Apr 2017 6:10 p.m. PST

" …but the 2nd and 3rd sport bang ups as the soldiers of the 52nd who were the first in the Division that put them on have christened them.."

Interesting – it says the 52nd also wore the Belgic shako in 1813 !

4th Cuirassier10 Apr 2017 3:59 a.m. PST

If they'd worn Belgic shakoes in 1815, it would have made converting the Airfix plastics so much easier in 1977.

summerfield10 Apr 2017 6:09 a.m. PST

Dear All
There is no description as to what the bang-ups refer to. I have no evidence of the 52nd wearing the Belgic Shako. The 3rd/95th certainly did not get a new issue of uniforms or equipment when they left Shorncliffe in December 1813 for Holland. They finally recieved replacement uniforms in July 1815.

Remember that this was written by a person who makes shakos. Many of the illustrations are KGL Light and not 95th.

In 1816 the Rifle Brigade got a completely new uniform and a bell topped shako.

The Colonels of the Rifle Division were known to be very stingy in using "their" money for uniforms. Most being Scottish.

The evidence is not proven and the essay is very selective.

This is a re-enactment group and have been very agressive in their manner. Unwilling to properly share their evidence and their referencing is very very poor.

42flanker10 Apr 2017 8:58 a.m. PST

Stepehn, I am not in a position to comment on your experience of this re-enactment group(2/95th); nor, indeed, of the stinginess of my fellow Scotsmen. Many Regimental Colonels, however, regardless of their origin, could be reluctant to incurr what they saw as unnecessary costs.

As I understand it, you are saying that the essay on caps worn by the 95th (et al) is written by the man who, presumably, makes caps for the '2/95th' group. I am not sure why that should disqualify him from writing on the subject, as such. It obviously would explain his interest and detailed examination of the subject.

Are you saying the quoted excerpt from Bsrnard's letter to Cameron re 'bang-up' caps is not authentic? Has, for instance, the date been misquoted, or is the reference to the 52nd a contemporary error?

Taking a wider view of the matter, Captain Connolly, the author of the 'Miners and Sappers' history, in making his reference to 'bang up' as the nickname coined for the frontlet cap ('Belgic' 'Waterloo' etc), surely has no axe to grind.

Connolly states that he started researching his history in 1836, when he was about 21. It seems he was born in Paris in 1815. His father was in the 95th and presumably was part of the Army of Occupation. If so, Connolly may have been writing with some degree of authority with regard to the 'bang-up' caps.

link {Grange Road Cemetery,Monument No. 6}

Stevelordc10 Apr 2017 11:44 a.m. PST

How interesting I thought the light infantry units didn't get them until after Waterloo.

I must admit I prefer the look of the stove pipe on the light infantry.

summerfield11 Apr 2017 3:03 a.m. PST

Dear 42flanker
I have looked at the headwear of the light infantry and I cannot find an illustration of the 43rd, 52nd, 71st, or 90th in Belgic Shako. There are some standard woodcuts that were painted up and labelled.

Bank ups just mean new pattern whatever that is. It is the context that as ever is the issue. There are Riflemen in belgic shakos shown in Paris after Waterloo but these are Kings German Legion. The French and German artists referred to them as English.

The histories of uniforms for the 43rd and 52nd do not mention the Belgic Shako.

It is a complex and confusing area. Going simply on a name referred to that is not specific and ignoring all the drawings made at the time.

My comment would be a verdict of not proven. I do not know. This research has not been published in a pear reviewed journal and the manner of the unit to even inquire over their research has resulted in threats and trolling.

42flanker11 Apr 2017 6:19 a.m. PST

"Complex and confusing" indeed, and not an area of which I have made any detailed study, so I should tread carefully.

Your reference, Stephen, to 'bang up' simply meaning 'new pattern' intrigued me. I hadn't got as far as investigating what the term actually might mean. It occurred to me consult Gross's "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue" of 1811 (always time well spent).

For BANG UP he lists:
"BANG UP (WHIP.) Quite the thing, hellish fine. Well done. Compleat. Dashing. In a handsome stile. A bang up cove; a dashing fellow who spends his money freely.. To bang up prime: to bring your horses up in a dashing or fine style: as the swell's rattler and prads are bang up prime; the gentleman sports an elegant carriage and fine horses."

So there we are.

I suppose the key detail would be whether this term was only ever used to refer to the last pattern cap worn in the war, or whether it was also used in reference to earlier caps. Given the date of Barnard's letter, could he be referring to any other model of cap ( even his mention of the 52nd is erroneous)?

Perhaps the latest pattern shako was thought of as 'bang-up' in comparison to the battered caps worn in one form or another for the previous five years or more, regardless of whether one agrees that it was essentially a smarter, more showy piece of headgear.

One person evidently did not.

By the time the troops got to Paris, the horse gunner Cavalie Mercer was moved to observe:
"their cap is perhaps the meanest, ugliest thing ever invented."

summerfield11 Apr 2017 8:27 a.m. PST

Dear 42flanker
There are no extent Belgic Shako caps of the Light Infantry Regiments or 95th Rifles that have survived. Note I am not referring to light companies of Line Regiments.

There are a couple of contemporary illustrations showing what appears to be a Belgic Shako but these are later than Waterloo and are not from life in the style. These are dated post July 1815 and 1816. Also the couple that are well drawn are probably KGL Light Infantry or Hanoverian Jager that did receive the Belgic Shako. These were referred to by the French and German artists as English. Remember that Hanover was the personal fiefdom of the King of Great Britain.

All the other drawings show the Light Infantry Regiments and 95th Rifles in stovepipe shako.

None of the foreign regiments (Prussian, Portuguese or Spanish) that received British 95th Rifle Uniform recieved the Belgic Shako. I have not seen a Militia Rifleman with a Belgic Shako and extent shakos exist. The Militia and Yomanry were always the forefront of the changes in fashion.

The 2/95th and 3/95th did not recieve new uniforms until after Waterloo. This was about August 1815 much to the disgust of General Clinton. I am unclear about the 1/95th.

It is a complex area.

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