Help support TMP

"Question on British drummers and buglers. " Topic

30 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Napoleonic Discussion Message Board

Back to the Napoleonic Painting Guides Message Board

959 hits since 18 May 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Captain Sensible18 May 2018 7:35 p.m. PST

I'm paitning a Napoleonic British line infantry battalion and have a question on uniforms. I've seen some pictures of drummers wearing a yellow coat with red facings. Would this be appropriate at the time of Waterloo? Same question for a buglar. I haven't seen buglers minis before, but the set(GHQ N Scale) has one and I'd like to add some colour variety if it is correct.


Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2018 1:32 a.m. PST

Alas no.

Buglers and drummers in facing colours "reversed" look far better, but redcoat with wings and appropriate lace was right for Waterloo.

The Bugler will be light infantry so he is either light company (green cap ornaments) to the left of the Line regt……or he could even belong to a Light Infantry regt. Cap style should give you a clue

Artilleryman19 May 2018 3:24 a.m. PST

As Deadhead says, by 1815, the regulations had abolished the reversed facings and introduced a red, laced jacket with regimental facings for drummers and buglers who wore the same uniform. However, it is not impossible, the British Army being the British Army, that some reversed facings were still around at Waterloo.

Garde de Paris19 May 2018 4:22 a.m. PST

I seem to recall on earlier topics that the reversed colours may have been re-instated at the Colonel's whim, especially after Napoleon went into exile on St. Helena.

Here is an illustration of the 28th Foot – South Glosters – with drummer in yellow:


In the 1960's I converted 20 Austrian fusiliers by Willie, 30mm, to this regiment in a uniform just back from Eqypt. Just a bare stovepipe (could not them sculpt the from shako plate), but French-style back packs taken in Eqypt. We had to make do with what we had!


Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2018 2:10 p.m. PST

G de P, interesting….

Mt St Jean site is usually very reliable. This link, you have given us, is to 30th Cambridgeshire Regt, but then the 28th of Foot, the Glorious Gloucesters, also show the musicians in reversed colours for 1815.

I confess I have my doubts. The issue was expense for the Colonel of the Regt….other than parade dress, where he might still shell out.

Garde de Paris19 May 2018 2:28 p.m. PST

Sorry, I did not notice this was the 30Th! 81, and have to start being more careful in my typing and reading!


Captain Sensible19 May 2018 9:02 p.m. PST

I wish the whole world worked like this. Thanks all.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2018 11:34 p.m. PST

Checked CE Franklin.

Very definite in the text about the change to red coat for all drummers, but scarlet for Guards and Royal regts.

and yet

Legends to illustrations show reversed coats up to 1815 for 6th, 20th, 26th, 28th, 29th, 32nd, 38th, 39th, 44th, 68th! Most of these use varying shades of yellow facings

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2018 6:52 a.m. PST

I came across the following image of a drummer of the Gordon Highlanders. I've never seen this arrangement before, with reversed colors but retaining red sleeves. Does anyone know if this is accurate?


42flanker20 May 2018 10:36 a.m. PST

I wouldn't place too much reliance on Franklin.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2018 10:46 a.m. PST

Now that is interesting re Franklin.

There is much that is confusing/even contradictory in the text…

But I had imagined very authoritative. Tell us more please!

The red sleeves and reversed colour coat is certainly new to me….and seems unlikely.

42flanker20 May 2018 2:05 p.m. PST

Franklin's books are laid out very authoritively but it seems the closer you look the more errors there are. The two works that I know (not the Artillery volume) have been compiled, one might say thrown together, rather carelessly drawing on other secondary sources, without any depth of knowledge to validate the evidence, if evidence there be. He doesn't provide a bibliography. He claims to have examined archives. If so, it would appear not very well. The editing and captioning also leave a great deal to be desired. As you say, some of the text is barely coherent.

My main beef is with the later book on uniforms of the Seven Years War & AWI, however the section on Highland regiments in the Napoleonic book is a good example of how poor the Franklin books can be.

The review of Franklin's Napoleonic Uniforms book in the Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research (2010, Autumn, No. 355) borders on the hilarious. It begins:

"It is with great regret that this reviewer feels obliged to condemn this book as being truly dreadful, but it is and there are no two ways round that. The complete inability of the author to match the ambitions of his intention with a truly thoughtful approach, assisted by clarity of expression
and the logical condensing and marshalling of his material, thereby avoiding tedious repetition and meaningless phrases, is fully matched by the failure of the publisher to exercise any quality control over the book, either editorially or in terms of production…Inaccuracies, infelicities of expression, and confusions appear on almost every page."

And so he rages on for six more bile-filled paragraphs. I can report that the words 'disgrace' and 'travesty' do make an appearance.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2018 8:16 a.m. PST

At risk of highjacking this thread…..what an interesting posting on Franklin's book. There is almost no competition for it, so I have just learnt to rely on it without questioning….and, yet, I always thought (at a brainstem level) that there were contradictions, much repetition and much that was missing. OK, the horses' tack is not "uniform" I guess, but, when every infantry belt is described and illustrated in such detail, I would like to have seen better coverage.

I tried to get the reference above but it is subscription only. I suspect one of my lads will have institutional access and would love to know more about what raised such ire.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP24 May 2018 9:40 a.m. PST

So, Captain Sensible, the general impression is the vast majority (if not all) drummers (and buglers for Light Infantry, whether Light Regt or just Light Company of a Line Regt) dressed in red with very ornate lacework for Waterloo.

But heck, if you want to put them in reversed colours, they will indeed look far better. You can bet d'Erlon's lads will be waving eagles with lozenge style flags, when you first game against them. Folk forgive such details usually.

You can add so much colour with the King's and Regt Colour of course (dead centre, front rank)

God help you, though, if you start on Guards drummers etc…I know. I spent today doing the double lace.

Even worse. The drummers, strictly speaking, have to go behind the line, with the pioneers etc, in a third row, so are hardly seen…after all your work.

42flanker24 May 2018 11:02 a.m. PST

But heck if you want to……

I never understand the point of these discussion when they take this turn.

To be fair, your man did ask: "…Would this be appropriate at the time of Waterloo?…."

"I'd like to add some colour variety if it is correct."

Lambert Supporting Member of TMP24 May 2018 12:56 p.m. PST

And the answer is, we can't be certain. So heck, if you want to…

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP24 May 2018 2:26 p.m. PST

Yes, let me say again…

All the evidence (we can be fairly certain actually) is that redcoats, with some fancy and individualistic regimental lace, would be correct for most (if not all) drummers at Waterloo…..but not reversed colours.

That is the science.

But you guys who throw dice do not line up 600 plus figures to represent British soldiers in two lines, for a battalion. You maybe have two officers with standards, maybe two drummers, an officer or two, chuck in an NCO, maybe a pioneer. Maybe all then with two dozen infantry, hopefully with grenadiers and light cos, correctly placed. This is not remotely the correct proportion for such a unit. But it looks right….it is a compromise.

This unit will probably face some very pre Bardin uniformed units trying to seize Hgmt or LHS on 18th June. They may well carry the old lozenge shaped flag under the eagle. Your British (KGL) may form square against French cavalry, who are turned out in full dress, plus carrying an eagle………

I think the answers above are very definite. All I was trying to do was to say that there is an element of compromise here. THERE HAS TO BE……..this is a modelling attempt. It is a sampling exercise.

Heck, if he wants drummers in cerise pink, bless him…….

We can only present some very amateur evidence, based on limited published sources (with some very professional, expert, evidence, occasionally, of course….but that is rare. Most of us go to our bookshelves and pronounce with great authority)

4th Cuirassier24 May 2018 2:40 p.m. PST

There's an argument for uniforms of doubtful authenticity as unit identifiers.

Eg the one with the yellow facings and reversed drummer is the 44th, the (otherwise indistinguishable) one with the yellow facings and red-coated drummer is the 88th (or whichever).

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP26 May 2018 3:46 a.m. PST

and again on the subject of drummers. CE Franklin shows the sleeve chevrons for drummer of Coldstream Guards with the point down. I was just about to sand down my three pairs of arms, when I checked other sources.

Everyone else agrees the modellers have it right. I think chevrons down might be right for laced cavalry, but pointing up for infantry certainly. Turns out (almost) every drummer in the book has this wrong. Even then, there are a couple shown points upward………….now I am curious.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2018 9:23 a.m. PST

Spent today doing three drummers for the 2nd Guards. Lace, wings, drums etc. All three drums are finished with coat of arms, lions rampant, unicorn, scroll setc……..

All painted on upside down………..AAAAAAAAAAAARGH

The V bit of the rope tensioners goes on the lower half…..obviously. Weep


Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2018 12:59 p.m. PST

There is no "2nd Guards" in the British Army, nor was there at Waterloo. 1st Foot Guards, Coldstream Guards, and 3rd Foot Guards, but no 2nd Guards.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2018 2:53 p.m. PST

That is very interesting. Obviously 2nd Guards was just a careless error, to compare with inverted drums!

bit like talking of Napoleon's 1st Regt Imperial Guard without specifying Grenadiers or Chasseurs.

Checked their website and think it should have been Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards for 1815 and Coldstream Guards only after 1855. But are you saying "2nd Foot Guards" cannot apply? I have every volume of Fosten's work on their uniforms and several other sources using that title….but that does not mean they are right!

Love to learn more!

Since read further and now everyone else backs you up. Adkin, Fletcher, CE Franklin et al all talk about Coldstream Regt of Foot Guards rather than 2nd Foot Guards. The things you learn! Many thanks indeed.

Greystreak31 May 2018 2:31 a.m. PST

Liam, if you are ever in the Coldstream's Mess, you'll read the Regimental motto: Nulli Secundus (Second to None), which rather hints at why they dislike being referred to as the '2nd Foot Guards'.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP31 May 2018 5:44 a.m. PST

I have now read that they predated the 1st Foot Guards anyway, so should have been the senior regiment. Not quite Pontius Pilate's Bodyguard, but certainly longstanding.

Thanks again to all for what has been very instructive. Now where do I stick my drummers with their upside down drums?

Marc at work31 May 2018 6:06 a.m. PST

You could put them in a ZZ Top diorama, I recall their drummer used to spin his drum (or is that back to teh Future reference?)

But I have learnt something today, so shall henceforth always refer to them as the 2nd Guards, if only to upset their mess

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP02 Jun 2018 1:08 p.m. PST

The drums I used are massive and could simply not be carried, let alone played. But they gave me enough space to reproduce the paintwork that went onto the drums. Scrolls, lion rampant, unicorn, Royal Cipher….all represented as tiny blobs of colour. (Your brain does the rest….it has to)

Except upside down…….

Folks. You can reverse the colours on your drummers and they will look sensational. Your can lace their chevron sleeves up, or down (rarely). But learn from me. The V bit of the rope tensioners is on the lower half of the drum. The Three Armies figure has it right…of course…vomit….

I have moaned about errors in Grenadiers right, Light Co left…about spongeman right of the gun, loader left …about King's colour right of regt colour…

OK humble pie…and they simply will not separate, now glued with the right adhesive. Weep

von Winterfeldt03 Jun 2018 3:24 a.m. PST

the drums don't look at all massive and certainly you can play them, compare to the much bigger drums as in the 7YW

Footslogger03 Jun 2018 8:17 a.m. PST

DH, if anyone has the skill set to surgically remove two drums and reattach them, it's you.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP03 Jun 2018 10:12 a.m. PST

Transplant surgery ain't my thing. Implant yes, (done loads of that) but the harvesting thing is what is hard work….any fool can stick in what is offered, the challenge is to provide summat that can be used…….

My three drummers are almost ready for basing, behind the fifth co of the "Coldstream Regt of Foot Guards" ….

Here is a thing. Drummers should not be shown in front rank of the the firing line. Which is how we feel we must show them. Think of the work that went into their rig? We want them seen.

Sadly….. a third rank. Behind the extreme right and left centre companies. Back with the pioneers. (Even worse, so much work to create them….and no one will see them)

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.