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"The trouble with Cecil" Topic


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©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Tango0114 Apr 2017 11:12 a.m. PST

"Cecil C P Lawson's five volumes of A History of the Uniforms of the British Army: it's where I started, back as a kid in the local reference library, hunched over the vast wooden table before the high, glass fronted shelves on a summer afternoon, carefully studying each page of each volume. So I'm quite fond of the reactionary old buffer.

And yet … Nowadays, when I look at the murky, scratchy drawings of the later volumes, I'm painfully aware of the imperfections in Lawson's work. But it's not just the haziness of some of the specifics; sometimes there are odd, unaccountable errors of detail too.

A few previous posts on this blog have looked at the cavalry-influenced styles adopted by some light company officers of volunteers and militia. In a bid to find models for these among the regular regiments, I've recently been trawling period images, with near zero success. But I did come across one. In William Loftie's album of eyewitness images appears an officer of the 21st Foot or Royal North British Fuziliers in 1801. [Left below. Click to enlarge.] Given the wings and Tarleton (as opposed to a fur cap), this must be an officer of the light company. His jacket bears two rows of closely spaced buttons, extending well towards the shoulders a good match for that of the Berkeley Volunteers shown here, and a confirmation that such styling was not confined to the auxiliary forces…"
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Supercilius Maximus16 Apr 2017 2:13 a.m. PST

Poor old Cecil was also responsible for the confusion between (a) the sleeved waistcoat worn by British light infantry, and (b) the altered (to single-breasted) regimental coat worn by the 40th Foot, in the della Gatta painting of the Chew House action in the battle of Germantown. A mistake still being made by modern authors.

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