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"FIW British Light Infantry Uniforms" Topic

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Hollywood02 Aug 2017 2:25 p.m. PST

Hi all,

I have a print reference that says the breeches and waistcoat were red with everything else being brown, a PDF that states everything was brown except the jacket facings which could be orange brown or off white. Additionally I've read online that everything was brown.

Is there anything hard and fast here, or does the truth lie somewhere in between all of these? Or are there other possibilities?

Thanks in advance for any insight.


rvandusen Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2017 2:37 p.m. PST

The facing colors varied by parent battalion. Most appear in reconstructions to have red waistcoats and breeches worn with mitasses, moccasins,and a cut-down felt hat, but some at least had off-white or buckskin breeches and/or waistcoat and all had their coats cut down if they opted to wear them and not just the waistcoat.. The main exception to this was the 80th Foot that had brown uniforms and black leather "jockey caps."

And just as I finish this I find a source showing the 80th with brown short coats, red breeches, waistcoat, and a cut-down felt hats.

Much of the info is a little vague for this period.

historygamer02 Aug 2017 6:44 p.m. PST

Like anything, the answer is not simple.

I'll have to respectfully disagree with the above description of a British Light Infantryman – at least without further documentation.

Here is a good starting point:


historygamer02 Aug 2017 7:01 p.m. PST

The two soldiers in the background, behind Sir William, are likely two Lights. The Light companies were formed and fielded in 1759 – making the average battalion ten companies.

A rather general description of the uniform – the wool felt hat would be cut down (no official pattern, so it could vary) into a jockey like cap.

They either sewed their regimental coat sleaves onto their waistcoat, or modified their coat, or simply cut it down (skirts – the tails in the back of the coat) and left them unhooked, unlike the other soldiers.

Regimental facing colors (lapels, cuffs, and inside of coat skirts) varied – blue for Royal regiments, white, yellow, green, buff, black, etc. It is likely the Lights stripped off the lace from their coats, unlike the hat and grenadier companies.

The small clothes (waistcoats, breeches) were usually red, unless a Royal regiment – then they were blue. Or, if they had buff facings their small clothes would be buff.

The Lights also likely modified their kits, carrying powder horns for priming, and perhaps a belly box instead of the usual cartridge pouch (box).

They might have carried their spare clothing in a rolled up blanket, or perhaps a cowhide knapsack like the rest of the soldiers.

IN 1759 is became fashionable or practical to wear wool leggins, as pictures in the above painting. This was common for many of the troops, including hat companies as noted in Knox's Journal (43rd Regt). The Edward Penny painting of the Death of Wolfe also gives you a good idea what the soldiers (grenadiers) looked like as well.

It is possible some Lights were issued rifles. 15 were issued to one (?) of the battalions of 60th RAR. This was common practice in the next war (AWI) as well. Not sure what such a rifle looked like though as I'm not aware of an official pattern one like the 1776 Tower rifle.

Many Lights also likely carried a carbine – which looked like a skinner and shorter (42 inch?) version of the Kings arm – later called a Brown Bess. This carbine was a smaller caliber (.62?( and did mount a bayonet. If you ever seem one is looks like a skinnier version of the Bess.

Since there was no official Royal Clothing Warrant for Lights there is some latitude the colonel's could take with them. Same for the AWI period.

The Brown coats you refer to are Gage's 80th Light infantry. This was a six company battalion (IIRC) specifically raised for service in North America. They purposely kept the battalion to six companies – in part so they wouldn't have to promote Gage to a full colonel – and in part as it was viewed as a temporary war unit. This was a one off unit for the British Army.

There is all kinds of crap and speculative modern art work of Brit Lights. Likely the best books on the subject are Brumwell's "Redcoats" and Ryan Gale's "In a Soldier Like Way."

The Lights likely wore shoes like all British soldiers.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Hollywood03 Aug 2017 3:58 a.m. PST

Thanks so much to both of you.

historygamer03 Aug 2017 4:43 a.m. PST

Ugh – looked like a skinner? Auto correct problem. Skinnier version of the Second Land patter.

A common mistake of figure sculptors for the F&I period is the shortness of the British musket they model. Almost all soldiers carried the First Land pattern musket – a 46 inch barrel. They are big and heavy.

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