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18th Century

628 hits since 28 Apr 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Apr 2018 9:27 a.m. PST

I was looking through Katcher's "Armies Of The American Wars 1755-1815" today, attempting to locate information on a Provincial F&I War unit, when I came across this on PAGE 35.
Katcher does not disclose who the writer of this is, but simply refers to him as a surgeon, writing home. He is describing his time in the American theater:
"The Art of War is much changed and improved here. I suppose by the end of the summer it will hae gone a total Revolution. We are now literally an army of Round Heads.
Our hair is about an inch long. The flaps of our hats which are wore slouch, about two incjes and a half broad.
Our coats are docked rather shorter than the Highlanders… The Highlanders have put on breeches and Lord Howes Filabaegs. Some from an affectionto their Girgets still wear them. Swords and Sashesare degraded and many have taken up with the Hatchet and wear Tomahawks.
Further down Katcher continues with another unaccredited Officer writing home:
"You would laugh to see the droll figure we all cut. Regulars and Provincials are ordered to cut off the brims of their hats. The Regulars as well as Provincials have left off their proper Regimentals, that is, they have cut their coats so as to scarcely reach their waist. You would not distinguish us from a common plough man".

Granted that they are discussing this during the F&I War and not the AWI. However, if British troops had discovered that comfort and necessity far outweighed written regulations 20 years earlier, it would stand to reason that this instinct carried over into the AWI.

Here's the quote I was referencing from Washington concerning Hunting Shirts. Even GW himself knew that the British soldiers feared the Hunting Shirts
Washington would later write in a General Order dated July 24, 1776, "No dress can be cheaper, nor more convenient, as the wearer may be cool in the warm weather and warm in cool weather by putting on under-cloathes which will not change the outward dress, Winter or Summer besides which it is a dress justly supposed to carry no small terror to the enemy, who think every such person (so dressed) is a complete marksman."

Men in the field adapt. And the longer they are in the field, they understand what is really important and what is not.
HG, I'm not doubting your sincerity in thinking that soldiers followed the rules, therefore they should be wearing the prescribed accouterments, while attempting to stay alive during a raging battle.
Practical experience tells me otherwise.
You can portray you figures any way that you choose. I'm sure that they look great your way. Mine are my way.
I designed my figures to be clad in late "War in the South" campaign uniforms. Not completely ragged, like Eureka's great figures, but battle worn. No frills.
In my British Army, the Officers were smart enough not to advertise, when going into an engagement where Marksmen were going to be present.

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP28 Apr 2018 11:21 a.m. PST

The surgeon was Richard Huck, Lord Loudoun's former surgeon, who served on the frontier for several years, writing to Loudon from Albany on May 29, 1758. (Gleaned from 'The British Light Infantryman of the Seven Years' War -Osprey 2004)

The second letter was from an officer apparently in a Massachusets provincial corps, printed in a Boston newspaper on 12th June 1758, and quoted by Francis Parkman in his work 'Montcalm and Wolfe,' who we must assumed did the original research.

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Apr 2018 12:03 p.m. PST

There is an additional eyewitness account, along the same lines, written by a young girl who observed the army.

42 nd, How do you represent your armies? Campaign or regulation? And why?

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP28 Apr 2018 12:28 p.m. PST

You are mixing periods, which is not a very good research approach. And you are completely misrepresenting my position on the matter. No offense but you don't seem to know much about the F&I British army. Too bad you missed my packed lecture some years ago at Historicon.

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP28 Apr 2018 1:01 p.m. PST

Oh- come, come, Hg.

nevinsrip. If accuracy is not possible, I would always seek after authenticity. I have always been fascinated by the gap between the uniformity and decoration sought after by 'regulation' and the reality of campaign.

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Apr 2018 2:50 p.m. PST

No, I don't know much about the British Army in the F&I War. That's why I was reading the book. To learn more.
I have Provincials on deck and was looking for something other than the 60 th. Red and Blue colors.

I am sorry I missed your lecture. Is there a transcript available on the net?

I acknowledged right up front that this was a different period. But some thing are timeless. The tendency to adapt to conditions while on Campaign is one of them.

Explain how I am misrepresenting your position? You made several comments about my figures and I disagree with your position on all of them. Your position is that Officers went on Campaign and into battle all dolled up as per the Kings Regulations.

Based on what I've read and provided examples of here, I believe that they did not. And that they sometimes hid their rank, in order to survive. It's just common sense and human nature, along with the will to live.

Common sense doesn't need quotes to be true.

I'm still waiting to see examples of your Highlanders.

FlyXwire29 Apr 2018 5:52 a.m. PST

I like it.
I painted up my first 28mm Continental unit a few months ago, a dozen figs combining Eureka's 'ragged rebs' with a few Perry's thrown in inspired by the artwork Richard Scollins.
Looking forward to more 'wretched' things to come, and properly field-worn.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP30 Apr 2018 6:27 a.m. PST

"I am sorry I missed your lecture. Is there a transcript available on the net?"

To my knowledge HMGS does not record their speakers.

My point is, you cannot apply the lessons learned, after three years of war ('55 to '58), across the board to all British forces. There were huge differences between the different armies operating even within the same year e.g., (Amherst vs Wolfe). Few of those officers were in charge of the British Army in North America during the AWI period. Gage was shuffled out fast(and by most accounts, his troops were close to regulation uniforms up through Bunker Hill), Clinton, Burgoyne and Cornwallis all served in Europe during the SYW. Howe was gone by spring of 1778, yet the war went on for five more years. So applying lessons learned from the F&I war to the AWI must be done with a great deal of caution. Heck, the F&I armies were generally fighting over wilderness, while most of the large AWI battles were fought over long settled and fairly well cultivated areas.

"Explain how I am misrepresenting your position?"

Well, you seemed to have missed my entire point, but I'll attempt to one last time.

"You made several comments about my figures and I disagree with your position on all of them."

Well, to begin with, you have a HUGE conflict of interest there. Further, you provided no factual evidence from the period to back up your assumptions. The only thing I recall you provided was a quote from Spring's book that lacked any details from Howe's orders. I'm not saying he is wrong, but no one has been able to provide what exactly Howe ordered and how that affected officers' uniforms.

"Your position is that Officers went on Campaign and into battle all dolled up as per the Kings Regulations."

And this proves my point. I never said that. I said that what factual evidence we do have to date (details), does not support some of your assumptions. You seem to have a preconceived idea of how British officers modified their kits, but can't produce any factual evidence to support your assumptions. Since your figures are already sculpted, you want to defend the look you chose. I get that.

I, on the other hand, have no preconceived notions of what British officers looked like, other than what I can support with facts – and admittedly, there are huge gaps in the factual knowledge. I am loathe to fill in those gaps with opinion and assumptions, and unlike 42nd, I am more inclined to get credit to the thousands of period portraits that seem to portray officers in the uniforms they likely wore in the field.

Bunker Hill was the single highest incident of British Officer casualties suffered in the war. There were no known riflemen in the those works. While the British army assaulting the works was likely in near regulation kits, that is not likely why the officers suffered high casualties. If you read Spring a bit further he explains why – namely, when the British stopped to get into close range fire fights it generally didn't end well for them. The officers, by definition of their roles on the battlefield, were out front and leading. Pretty hard to miss them even if not aiming specifically at them.

If have read the newer book on Saratoga, you would have found out that the famed riflemen there were only recently issued rifles – undercutting the who idea of them possessing any special abilities with such weapons. The situation was ideal for them, and would never be repeated again. But even so, was the officer hit rate any higher there than any other close quarter and hard fought battle?

I would not generalize that a British officer with Howe's 1777 army looked like an officer with Burgoyne. I further would not generalize that an officer serving with Clinton in 1780 looked like an officer with Cornwallis in 1781.

But let me ask you this, if the trend in the army, as you suggestion, was to modify the British army for field campaign by simplifying the uniforms, how do you explain these units?:



Or the uniforms featured in this painting:


I have no doubt British army uniforms were adapted at different times in different ways. I'm just not prepared to take leaps until I see supporting evidence.

I note that no one made any comments on the uniforms of officers and men that were drawn during the time period, likely by eye witnesses.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP30 Apr 2018 7:02 a.m. PST

One more thought on gorgets. The history of gorgets in the British army is a bit mixed. There is little/no evidence that all British army (infantry) officers wore gorgets during the F&I/SYW period. What evidence there is tends to support that only the gold metal regiments's officers wore gorgets. There is no period portrait of an infantry officer during the SYW/F&I that shows any silver metal gorget being worn that I am aware of.

Note – I was not the one to observe this. It was commented on by the former director of Fort Ligonier and that no F&I extant silver officer's gorget has been identified.

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Apr 2018 9:55 a.m. PST

Paintings are not photographs and are worthless as most were painted years after. I give them very little creditably.

All that blather beside, this is what you said:

"Perhaps it's just me, but I'm not seeing a sergeant. The man on foot on the left wears an officer's sash, but does not appear to have any epaulets. Sergeant's have a red sash with the facing color of the unit in the center.

All officers should be wearing gorgets. Just what they wore while on duty, according to NPS Park historian at Saratoga battlefield."

"If that's a sergeant then why isn't he shown in just plain white lace?"

"Since the men on horses are sporting blue facing's, what unit are they? If 42nd, their lace should be gold. It's hard to tell from the photos."

Those are your direct quotes.

All of which are questioned by 3 real historians, Brendan, Strong and Katcher. I'll stick with them.

All 3 have written that uniform guidelines were not adhere to on Campaign.

By the way, I've yet to see supporting evidence that Highlander Officers and NCO's wore what you think at Cowpens.

You require written proof, so I will ask the same of you.

Do you have a direct quote from a Highlander officer saying "I'll be wearing my dress uniform, including Gorget and gold lace today, as we go into battle."

Because if you don't, then you have nothing but supposition.
I also require direct proof, also let's see some.

I guess we are never going to see YOUR mounted Highlanders, are we?

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Apr 2018 11:47 a.m. PST

You also seemed obsessed with a book about Saratoga being the bible of all things uniform.

Apples and Oranges to Cowpens.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP30 Apr 2018 12:03 p.m. PST

Let me know when you get any facts to add to the discussion.

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Apr 2018 12:51 p.m. PST

Let me know when your painted Highlanders are up.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2018 1:23 p.m. PST

Just exchanged some info with Don Hagist. He helped Spring with his book. I sent him to the section of the book and footnotes. Don gave further details on the footnotes and noted that he cannot find any orders from Howe ordering officers to modify their uniforms during that time period. The author says it, but the citation does not. Interesting too as the same reference to modifying is in Kemp's book, but no supporting reference either. Myth? Perhaps.

There are several portraits of period officers not wearing any lace (regiment specific?), but they continue to wear all the other trappings of an officer's kit sash, epaulet, bright scarlet coat.

I'm interested in the difference between official and field as well. But I have yet to see any period citation anyone has provided on the topic.

And yes Nevinsrip, you are right, I have no mounted Highland officers. My armies are 15/18mm, and battalion commanders mounted are not part of my force. I am unaware of any general officers fielding in Highland kit.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2018 5:50 p.m. PST

If British officers removed anything that shows them as an officer so as not to be an obvious target during the AWI. I wonder why it would be any different in Europe?

There were rifle units here and there. Jaegers and what not. I admit the SYW is not my period but I am just asking.

Why didn't it happen in the Napoleonic Wars? If I was a French officer during the Napoleonic wars and there were British Rifleman and Prussian Jaegers on the battlefield. I might think twice about wearing that bright sash around my waist.

Maybe they didn't try to hide their distinctiveness because it was against regulations. So as the men can identify their own officers.

I don't recall specific orders to hide ones rank until the 2nd Boer War. At least I believe there were. I would have to do some digging to find the order(s). Ordered or not, it was the wise officer that put on a privates coat and carried a rifle instead of a sword.

What about NCOs in the AWI? Weren't they almost as much a target as officers? Did they modify their uniforms as to look like a private?

I can easily see any uniform modification not being written down. Who wants their name associated with violating uniform regulations? It is usually passed by word of mouth or senior officers on campaign looked the other way and didn't acknowledge it.

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Jun 2018 12:08 a.m. PST

Wasn't it thought to be ungentlemanly among the Europeans to shoot Officers?
There is that whole tale of Ferguson not shooting Washington, because the British did not believe in it.

Come to think of it, perhaps the whole idea of sashes and gorgets were meant to distinguish the Officers, so they would not be shot at.

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