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Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse06 Dec 2018 7:58 a.m. PST

..did the officers commanding British and American light infantry carry. Muskets and swords? Swords only?

Winston Smith06 Dec 2018 8:10 a.m. PST

I believe that LI officers carried fusils. Light muskets.

NBATemplate06 Dec 2018 8:17 a.m. PST

Yes, it seems that British LI officers usually carried fusils and bayonets only. Swords were a useless encumbrance! They also made officers too easy to identify and target.

This was also true of British grenadier officers and even many battalion company officers from relatively early in the war.

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse06 Dec 2018 8:26 a.m. PST

Thanks, that was what I thought, but couldn't quickly locate a firm answer.

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP06 Dec 2018 9:06 a.m. PST

There was a lot of variation.

I am currently enjoying "Special Operations in the American Revolution"
by Robert L. Tonsetic which has lots of descriptions of small actions. In these cases officers up to Lt Col are carrying muskets, and there are swords as well. Of course, a lot of these are "Ranger" units and atypical British units. Maybe there was more uniformity in the line troops.

42flanker06 Dec 2018 10:10 a.m. PST

Here is a link to a TMP thread that includes a rather dim image of a rather nice portrait depicting Lieutenant James Stewart of the 42nd RHR light company circa 1778-81, shown in off-duty dress but with his fusil.

TMP link

historygamer07 Dec 2018 2:28 p.m. PST

According to Saratoga National Battlefield Park Historian, Light Infantry officers only carried a sword. Hat company and grenadine officers, along with some field officers, carried fusils.

Eric has said there was a big debate at this time what officers should be carrying, only resolved in the 1790s when all just carried swords.

Bill N07 Dec 2018 7:53 p.m. PST

According to Troiani, officers of the grenadier and light infantry companies were authorized to carry fusils before the authority was granted to officers of hat companies. Another source I saw said grenadier officers got the authorization first, then officers of light and fusilier companies and finally officers of hat companies. The Royal warrant of 1768 quoted in Lefferts has grenadier officers armed with fusils which is consistent with the above. Lefferts also says regarding the 40th regiment "officers and sergeants carried fusils and pouches". In 1771 the additional weapons authorized for the newly raised light infantry company of the 29th foot included fusils for sergeants. Then there are the period portraits showing light infantry officers with either fusils or muskets. I am not saying it is definitive that light infantry officers did carry fusils at times during the AWI, but there is evidence for it.

One mistake I made was to give a fusil to an officer who didn't have the appropriate belts. Depending on the regiment the officer should have a shoulder belt and waist belt or two shoulder belts if he is carrying a firearm. My bad.

Burgoyne was not a fan of officers carrying firearms from what I have read. He felt the temptation to use them distracted officers from performing their primary functions. He may have been less willing than Howe to allow officers carrying fusils.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2018 4:19 a.m. PST

Continental infantry officers, both line and light, carried a spontoon by Washington's direction. Washington believed that if infantry officers carried a firearm they would be more concentrating of firing than leading and commanding. They could, however, adequately defend themselves in close order combat with a sturdy polearm.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2018 4:20 a.m. PST

Continental infantry officers, both line and light, carried a spontoon by Washington's direction. Washington believed that if infantry officers carried a firearm they would be more concentrating of firing than leading and commanding.

Bill N08 Dec 2018 12:14 p.m. PST

One correction. It was supposed to say officers and sergeants of the 40th's light company.

historygamer08 Dec 2018 4:47 p.m. PST

Eric also stated it would not be correct for an officer to be carrying a pouch, as the fusil was more for personal protection. I don't think there were any dogmatic rules about this sort of thing as there were no regulations. Most officers likely owned a fusil. It is unclear if it was theirs or provided by the regiment.

historygamer08 Dec 2018 4:49 p.m. PST

As someone who has carried a spontoon at events when doing American, I'd be hard pressed to think of a more useless combat implement.

42flanker08 Dec 2018 5:01 p.m. PST

"it would not be correct for an officer to be carrying a pouch.'

I doubt a fusil would not provide much protection if the officer wasn't carrying any ammunition.

historygamer08 Dec 2018 10:22 p.m. PST

Again, according to NPS historian, the fusil was meant for self defense with perhaps a few cartridges on his person for reload. The officer was not supposed to be shooting. And again, the thought is Light officers did not generally carry a fusil, just a sword which is what the entire army supposedly move to post-war. I will provide artwork later tomorrow that he used to support his assertion.

historygamer08 Dec 2018 10:26 p.m. PST

On another note, two major historians are working on a book specifically on the Saratoga campaign which might address some of this topic about that particular army. The artwork will be Howe specific per Philly campaign.

42flanker09 Dec 2018 2:32 a.m. PST

In the interim, I thought it would be interesting to see three images of officers, two with firelock and fixed bayonet in hand, each with a strap over their left shoulder presumably supporting an ammunition pouch, albeit out of sight in each case..

Captain West, 4th Regiment grenadier coy, Philadelphia 1777.


Lieutenant and Captain Thomas Dowdeswell, 1st Foot Guards, c. 1778


A Lieutenant of the 4th Regiment, c.1776-1780.


Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP09 Dec 2018 3:36 p.m. PST

As someone who has carried a spontoon at events when doing American, I'd be hard pressed to think of a more useless combat implement.

How much actual close combat have you engaged in with it? Seems to me the Continental infantry officers did quite well with it.

It was also a badge of rank.

historygamer09 Dec 2018 9:04 p.m. PST

Sorry, still slammed, but let me throw a few things out there:


Hopefully this comes through. Shows a the 2nd Battalion Lights at Germantown, being led by a Light officer who is only armed with a sword. The subject was Lights. As I said, one can't be too dogmatic about this stuff.

Which is a close up of this painting, which shows regulars being led into a house by a field officer who is directing them into the house with a walking stick.


Note the artwork that 42nd posted show the officers pantaloons, not overalls. I'm not sure what all that shows as the leather gear is black, usually only worn by Lights and Highlanders. Hard to say if they are their weapons or they have picked up the arms of wounded soldiers. 42nd – you are often one to question art work I have posted. Point being, I could do the same about this as well. It is crude, and raises more questions than it answers in some cases.

Obviously the portrait of the IV regiment officer is a center company. Leather gear is white, only one shoulder epaulet on the right. My comment, or quote, was from Eric. I am a bit skeptical myself. The first rule of this stuff is, there are no rules.

Most/all British army officers owned, or were issued fusils – it is unclear which was the case. See De Witt Bailey's book on that subject. They were not numbered, and it does not appear they were issued a stand of arms like the enlisted men.

Spontoons – the British Army thought so much of them they ditched them in two consecutive wars – Rev War and F&I, then ditched them altogether after that. The British army seems equally conflicted on officers carrying fusils. See the Clinton papers when he criticizes a senior officer stopping to fire his fusil while neglecting his brigade.

I have seen the Dowdeswell painting many times, including in person, likely closer than any here has seen it. It is interesting, to say the least. Since the Guards had to create Light infantry and Grenadiers, it is hard to make too much of it one way or the other. It is a great painting though.

To Brecthel – can you cite me one incident of a Continental Officer using a spontoon in combat? I find them unwieldy, and apparently I share the same opinion as the British army of the time period since they put them in storage. I think Brunwell did an excellent job of describing how Washington made the American Continentals an image of the British than the British. Since the Americans always seemed short of weapons, and carrying an enlisted man's musket would be beneath an officer, carrying a spontoon perhaps was a stop-gap solution. That said, they are heavy and awkward – at least in my experience. Perhaps you can tell me how you felt carrying one for a weekend. :-)

historygamer09 Dec 2018 9:06 p.m. PST

One thing the portraits posted do show are officers wearing their gorgets and sashes – something that was questioned in an earlier thread.

Bill N09 Dec 2018 9:30 p.m. PST

The website "Finding the Marland 400" includes an account of one officer caught literally in hand to hand combat at Camden using his Spontoon to pin his British opponent to the ground.

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP09 Dec 2018 10:30 p.m. PST

I am just thinking out loud and with nothing to back this up with. As the war went on didn't officers carry just about anything they wanted? At least that is how I approach my figure selection. I have quite a few of my Continental and militia officers with muskets. Some of my British officers carry muskets.

42flanker10 Dec 2018 12:38 a.m. PST

hg, my intention in posting the images above was, as perhaps I failed to explain adequately, in relation to the question of how an officer might be carrying ammunition for his fusil (and ergo how much), rather than whether a fusil was or was not carried per se.

As for questioning artwork you have posted, hg, I am not quite sure what you're saying there but as far as I am concerned all art work should be interrogated regularly to prevent interpretations becoming fixed assumptions. This is never more true than in the case of della Gatta's Paoli and Germantown paintings, given that they sit at the heart of contemporary understanding of how British infantry may have looked in the field (even if only in the autumn of 1777).

The della Gatta works and the 'My triumphant entry into Philadelphia' cartoon would seem to be related, given that both are associated with the same officer, Lieutenant St George of the 52nd, and so are all at least based on one man's first hand observation.

Captain West is not carrying a weapon (perhaps the firelock on the ground at his feet is meant to be his) but the most likely interpretation of the black strap hanging from his left shoulder must be that it is an ammunition pouch. The fact that as a grenadier officer he is wearing black accoutrements doesn't affect that analysis. (The one LI officer visible in the della Gatta G'town painting appears to have a white sword belt!)

It is worth noting that the soldier in the foreground, apparently St George's servant following the waggon, would seem to be carrying his officer's hat and firelock. Now, St George was a light infantry officer.

It is interesting however that the infantry officers in both della Gatta's paintings (Paoli & G'town), whether in 2nd LI or line coys of the 40th, are all depicted wearing swordbelts (and swords) only.

That includes the three officers of the 40th at the Chew House who are shown carrying firelocks.

historygamer10 Dec 2018 7:50 a.m. PST


My point on artwork is that in the past I have posted stuff and you have sometimes been rather dismissive of it if it didn't support your own thoughts on the subject. That's all I was saying. Yes, I agree, we should view such stuff with a jaundice eyed approach. That said, much of the artwork we have both posted raises as many questions as it answers.

My own personal belief on much of this is that there were no rules, even when there were rules. Uniforms and what people did changed throughout the war, and from army to army. I personally don't like making dogmatic statements (not saying you are) that all officers did this or that. I do believe we can make some generalizations at times.

Now, back to the artwork.

In the della Gatta painting – hard to tell what the color of the LI Officer's belt is (did the artist paint it so as to show reflecting sunlight?). Might be white, might be black. Either way it is a single belt, no cartridge pouch strap or firearm in his hand. Agreed about all the other offices as pictured.

To the St. George artwork – many contradictions in it, including the black leather straps worn by what are supposed to be grenadiers. Also, the servant is wearing pantaloons, usually only associated with officers of the period, not enlisted men. The servant might also be carrying his own musket, not the fusil of his officer.

Some other thoughts raised by all the artwork – did officers wear a double frog that could carry both a bayonet for their fusils and their sword? Did they have carriages for both? Was the sword useful or cumbersome at that point, if carrying a bayonet for the fusil?

De Witt Bailey seems as perplexed as the rest of us on many of the details of fusils and officers – were they issued, were they privately owned, etc.? If issued, did they come with a pouch and bayonet (and sling)? No records on the subject have been found yet. Interestingly, the inventory of Brigadier General Henry Bouquet lists both a fusil and rifle in his personal inventory. No bayonet, sling, or pouch are listed. I suspect a fusil was a personal belonging of an officer of the period, whether purchased through the regiment, or somehow acquired on their own. Knox's Journals details how British officers were issued French fusils after the capture of Louisbourg.

Let me look at some more sources on the subject later.

Bill N – good find, but one instance hardly confirms that spontoons were a good thing to have. Not having read the quote, I wonder if he knocked his opponent to the ground, or was he already there? My own take is that if I were a serving officer of the time period, I'd prefer carrying a lighter fusil with a bayonet over a pole arm. Apparently the British Army agreed with that idea. I say that with all due respect to his Excellency, General Washington. :-)

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2018 11:47 a.m. PST

To Brecthel – can you cite me one incident of a Continental Officer using a spontoon in combat?

Bill N gave you one example and that is what you asked for, was it not? One example?

As you appear to want some more, here are two:

At Cowpens in 1781 Captain Anderson used his spontoon by putting it into the ground in order to leap upon a British field piece to capture it.

At Yorktown in October 1781 Captain Stephen Olney of the Rhode Island Regiment fought with his against used his spontoon to defend himself against British bayonet and musket armed British infantrymen during the assault on Redoubt Number 10.

So, that's now three examples of the use of spontoons, also called half-pikes, by Continental infantry officers.

In 1778 a general council of Continental brigade commanders recommended that spontoons be standardized…'the Quartermaster General be directed to cause spontoons or pikes made for the officers, the staff six feet long and one inch and one quarter diameter in the largest part, and that the iron part to be one foot long.'

Washington approved the recommendation and ordered it put into effect immediately. (General Orders, Valley Forge, 18 January 1778).

'Unlike the British, the Americans did not abandon their spontoons during the Revolution…Washington was a firm believer in the use of pole arms, as were Wayne and many others. Thus, throughout the war one finds frequent general orders to the effect that all platoon officers who did not have spontoons were to apply to the quartermaster immediately, and that no such officer or any other officer who was performing his duties on foot was to appear with his men without being so armed.' (The Book of the Continental Soldier by Harold Peterson, 99).

'As the arming of officers would add considerable strength to the Army, and the officers themselves derive great confidence from being armed in the time of action, the General orders every one of them to provide himself with a half-pike or spear as soon as possible-firearms, when made use of, withdrawing their attention too much from their men, and to be without either, has a very awkward and unofficer-like appearance.'-George Washington, General Orders, Valley Forge, 22 December 1777.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2018 11:50 a.m. PST

I have quite a few of my Continental and militia officers with muskets.

I don't believe that Washington's General Orders, or the practice of Continental infantry officers being armed with spontoons applies to the militia.

And at the beginning of the war up to Valley Forge and the advent of von Steuben, Continental infantry officers were sometimes armed with muskets.

42flanker10 Dec 2018 11:54 a.m. PST

"I have posted stuff and you have sometimes been rather dismissive of it if it didn't support your own thoughts"

-you might have been mistaking dismissive for a difference of opinion.

"hard to tell what the color of the LI Officer's belt is (did the artist paint it so as to show reflecting sunlight?)"

A curious detail, but wouldn't that indicate that black accoutrements for LI served no purpose?

" the black leather straps worn by what are supposed to be grenadiers.."

There are a number of explanations for the anomalous black strap on the grenadier, (just the one- and an officer) allowing for what was observed, what was remembered, and the fact that the artist had recently been shot in the head, but remained an eyewitness nonetheless.

"The servant might also be carrying his own musket, not the fusil of his officer."

The soldier in question is carrying two firearms; one at the trail and one on his shoulder.

As for differences in trousers, pantaloons etc, in another St George cartoon, a soldier attending St George is depicted wearing simple trousers over what appear to be short black gaiters, in Peninsula fashion.

If we accept that the cartoons and della Gatta's depictions both have St George as a source, then any apparent contradictions have to be taken on their own merits and might indicate a lack of uniformity on the ground.


I believe that in general officers were expected to clothe and equip themselves entirely at their own expense which would have included any firearm- be it regulation or non-regulation- and there is no reason to think they wouldnt be expected to provide their own ammunition pouches, too. This would be particularly so if official sanction for officers arming themselves in the field had not been given.

Perhaps, however, they could obtain a pouch and belt from the quarter-master, an item for which they would be answerable, especially should their own prove unservicable, be lost or damaged.

Sets of accoutrements in portraits tend to be matching and have the appearance of regulation sets. Then again, we have to allow for circumstances in the artist's studio when the sitter was back in Britain and far from the seat of war. It may be that not every detail in a portrait accurately depicted circumstances back in America.

Here is another well known portrait of an LI officer of the 10th Regt. in smart regimentals, with black equipment, and holding a firearm with fixed bayonet. He evidently has a pouch for ammunition on his right hip.

Were the lighter fusils able to accomodate the regulation bayonet? Did officers have to provide their own or would they obtain those from QM stores? Presumably this is one of the unknown factors.

In yet another St George cartoon,'Myself Conversing with Rebel Prisoners according to the Rules of Chivalry,' St George only has a dirk-like bayonet inserted in the frog on his left hip


historygamer13 Dec 2018 8:10 a.m. PST

42nd – please forgive me if I read "tone" into your past replies. The internet can be tricky that way. :-)

I would tend to agree that a firearm without a resupply of ammunition isn't of much value. That said, it was not the officer's job to engage and fire his weapon in the field – not that such behavior didn't happen at times.

De Witt Bailey seems unsure of how officers fusils were handled – private purchase or supplied by the regiment, as apparently not many records have been found on the subject one way or the other. I suspect, like all other regimental things, there might have been a pattern weapon for each unit. There are also examples of when officers exchanged or sold out their commission, of selling their entire kit to the new guy – meaning, such stuff could have turned over within the unit too.

Sorry, I missed the other firearm that man is carrying, as it blended into the background. He appears to be using it as a prop for his wounded arm. Hard to say what the weapons are representing, but not unreasonable to assume one is an officer's firearm. I'm not aware of any other artwork supporting enlisted men in pantaloons, and that may or may not be a mistake by the artist. We do know that Howe's army went into overalls in 1776, and continued that trend into 1777.

In regards to bayonets on fusils, most portraits show them to be smaller than those carried on the King's arm (First or Second Land pattern). In order to stay on a fusil, the firearm would require the "sight" that it attaches to (rectangular shaped), and the bayonet would have to fit the bore of the firearm – usually in the .62 or .65 caliber range – otherwise it would just fall off the barrel.

" …but wouldn't that indicate that black accoutrements for LI served no purpose"

I'm not sure what you mean by this, as I was not aware the black leather served any purpose other than to be a different color than the hats and grens. I believe that black leather gear was associated with troops performing light infantry duties – including the Highlanders. Highland black leather is well documented in the Morier painting of the 42nd Highlanders during the 1750s. I'd have to look to see what British Lights in the F&I period had, but that was only temporary and likely had a lot of variation.

Note to the Light officer portrait shows the Lights wore the smaller regimental buttons on their coat as well as their waistcoat. Kind of unique different there as well.

Brechtel198 – I never doubted that the American officers carried spontoons, I simply questioned their efficiency over a good firearm with a bayonet. I have carried one at times (most recently during the filming of the new visitor center movie for Valley Forge), and while they are handy to lean on, I simply question their value as a weapon – pole vaulting aside. :-)

42flanker13 Dec 2018 8:45 a.m. PST

Hg- all good.

Until the post-WW2 period when the SLR was carried by platoon cmdrs as a matter of course, I believe the standard policy was that the principal role of infantry officers was to command rather than engage the enemy.

I don't think we can read too much into the specifics of the firelocks as depicted by St George which I suspect are generic in form. As for the trousers tucked into gaiters, it is possible that the soldier servant was aping his officer, . I seem to recall reading something of the sort in either Stephen Gilbert's articles on della Gata or one of McGuire's books on the Philadelphia campaign. It seems unlikely St George would have gone to the trouble of drawing in that detail on his own servant if it hadn't been the case.

Re bayonets specific to the lighter fusil, roger that.

My assumption was that black acccoutrements were chosen for LI as being less conspicuous as well as requiring less maintenance than white, suitable for men operaating in the vanguard or on the flanks of the army. The latter quality would also have been more suitable for Highland troops spending time out 'watching the braes' (but also contributing to the shadowy image of the freiceadan dubh).

historygamer14 Dec 2018 9:04 a.m. PST

I just read a full story on the 4th Inf officer. Sad. I'll post later when I get a chance. This portrait you posted was done prior to his deploying to North America. He exchanged regiments once he got there – point being, this is what an officer looked like prior to shipping out.

42flanker15 Dec 2018 4:17 p.m. PST

'Officer of the 4th K.O.' Gainsborough's romantically posed young subaltern is depicted carrying a fusil and a regulation cartouche box. Does that suggest that even before arriving in America junior officers, at least unofficially, might on occasion expect to take the field with a personal firearm. He is covering his bets with a sword hanging at his side as well, according to regulation, as seen worn by company officers in the Della Gatta paintings.

Is the painting not thought to be a portrait of the same St George Mansergh St George, later of the 52nd (& 2nd LI), who painted 'My Triumphant Entry…' after being wounded in the head at Germantown (see above), and is presumed to have commissioned the della Gatta paintings of that battle and Paoli Tavern? Does your source suggest that?

Assuming the subject has been correctly identified, I'm not sure when St George joined the 4th K.O., who had been stationed in Boston since June 1774. Army Lists would help answer that. I don't have reliable internet where I am.

As always, we cannot be sure what criteria influenced how the subject chose to be depicted but it would seem that St George, wearing emblems of rank and duty but with his hair unpowdered and and wearing a field service 'frock' rather than his regimental coat, preferred to be shown as a fighting soldier about to take the field rather than a parade ground tailor's dummy.

With a silver plate screwed into his skull, covering the bullet hole in his shattered parietal, St George retired to his estate in Ireland, suffering pain and depression for the rest of his life. He attempted to better the lot of his tenants but was subsequently murdered by local insurgents during the 1798 rising in Ireland.

Bill N16 Dec 2018 6:44 a.m. PST

This site mirrors what little I know about this subject: link

historygamer16 Dec 2018 8:37 p.m. PST

Gregory J.W. Urwin, Ensign Richard St George Mansergh St George, 4th Regiment of Foot, 1776"

Thanks to the sharp eye and keen research skills of Tom Fitzpatrick, however, we now know the sitter's name and can share some details about his interesting and ultimately tragic history. Martin Myrone, a curator in the Exhibitions and Displays Department at Tate Britain, has identified this officer as Richard St. George Mansergh St. George, a member of the Anglo-Irish landed gentry. This worthy was born circa 1756 with a considerably shorter name – Richard St. George Mansergh. His family hailed from Headford, County Galway, Ireland. He received an education worthy of a scion of the Anglo-Irish ruling elite, which included studying at the Temple Bar. In 1771, while a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, he inherited property from his uncle, Richard
Mansergh St. George, and added the additional "St. George" to his name.

Part of St. George's preparation for a leadership role in the Protestant ascendancy included military service.
On December 24, 1775, he purchased a cornet's commission in the 8th Regiment of Light Dragoons, filling a vacancy created by a retirement. He retired himself on March 29, 1776. With war raging in the Thirteen Colonies, however, St. George could not stay out of uniform for long. He returned to service as a volunteer with the 4th
Regiment of Foot and purchased an ensigncy on April 15, 1776, after another retirement created a vacancy in that regiment. Before Ensign St. George sailed for America, he posed for this memorable full-length portrait by Thomas Gainsborough.

This work reveals much about St. George's personality.
He presents himself as both a warrior and a man of feeling. The setting is the English coast, and the ship waiting to carry the young ensign to America, war, and possibly a violent death sits waiting offshore. St. George strikes a thoughtful pose leaning against a rock, while his faithful dog sits at his feet, waiting to bid his master farewell. St. George served with the 4
the Foot for less than a year. On December 23, 1776, he purchased a lieutenant's commission in the 52nd Foot, advancing in rank thanks to another retirement. He was
assigned to the regiment's light infantry company, which was detached for service in the 2nd Battalion of Light Infantry in General Sir William Howe's army.

St. George served with the "light bobs" during the Philadelphia Campaign.

Lieutenant Martin Hunter, one of St. George's brother
officers, considered him "quite military mad."

St, George was accompanied by an Irish servant who
"copied his master in everything. . . . He wore one of his master's old regimental jackets, a set of
American accoutrements, a long rifle and sword, with a brace of horse pistols."

Whenever any fighting broke out, St. George behaved with utter recklessness. As Martin recounted:
"On a shot being fired at any of the advanced posts, master and man set off immediately. . . . I often thought that St George wished to be wounded, as he frequently said, ‘Tis very extraordinary that I don't get a clink, for I am certain I go as much in the way of it as anybody.'"

It almost seemed as if St. George harbored some romantic impulse to gain a red badge of courage. If that was indeed his wish, it was gratified in a most horrible fashion. When the Battle of Germantown opened on October 4, 1777, St. George took a bullet in the
head from one of the first volleys fired by Brigadier General Anthony Wayne's Pennsylvania Continentals.

A Private Peacock from St. George's Company carried the stricken lieutenant from the field on his back. This act of faithfulness and courage is featured in Xavier Della Gatta's famous painting of the battle, which St. George may have commissioned.

ed a large piece of bone from the side of his skull. The wound never healed properly. A silver plate was covered the hole, and St. George habitually hid it by wearing a black silk cap. Despite this painful and disfiguring wound, St. George attempted to remain in the army. He purchased a captaincy in the 44th Regiment of Foot on January 1, 1778. He exchanged that commission for the same rank in the 100th Regiment of Foot on May 4, 1785, only to finally retire from the regulars on May 18. By that time, he hardly resembled the healthy youth who had sailed from England in 1776. In a letter written in April 1783, Anna Seward recorded her observations of St. George:

"He now lives with a considerable part of his head shot away, and though feeble, emaciated, and in almost
constant pain, his imagination and his virtues have lost nothing of their vigour."

Cold and damp weather intensified St. George's discomfort, and he often took extended tours to the warmer parts of Europe. Consequently, his estates suffered from neglect until he finally returned to Ireland in the mid-1780s. His friends described him as a sort of 18th -century Don Quixote – an obsessive reader of Romances with a drive to live the life of a chivalric hero.

St. George married around 1788 to Anne Stepney of Durrow, Queen's Country (today County Laois). Despite St. George's wound, he fathered two sons within three years of his wedding – Richard James (1789-1857) and Stepney St. George (1791-1847). Marriage and fatherhood seemed to transform St. George for the better. He became an active magistrate and took something of an interest in the plight of the tenants on his Galway estate. He also revived his military career by assuming the colonelcy of a local regiment of militia light horse.

Unfortunately, St. George's happy little world coll
apsed when his wife died around 1795. Within the next two years, he commissioned Hugh Douglas Hamilton to paint his portrait. Hamilton depicted St. George as a man devastated by grief. Dressed in his light horse uniform, St. George leans disconsolately against his wife's sarcophagus, which bears the inscription " Non Immemor."

It is a portrait of melancholy and loneliness, and it perfectly mirrors the despair that clouded his life. In many ways, the portrait was prophetic. When rebellion swept over Ireland in 1798, a band of rebels hacked St. George to death with a rusty scythe
It is sad to think that the handsome and idealistic young soldier captured by Gainsborough in 1776 should lead such a tragic life and meet with such a horrible end. This is a story that could inspire a notable book. It would take the skills of a fine novelist to do it justice.

Many thanks to John Houlding for providing St. George's commission history and to Tom Fitzpatrick for revealing his identity.

42flanker21 Dec 2018 5:11 a.m. PST

A few more portraits of officers with fusils/fusees

Said to be Major Patrick Ferguson, 71st Regt- (although he appears to have blue facings, he wears his sash in the Highland fashion) att. to J.S. Copley. Painted before he left for America. He carries his ammunition in a buff leather pouch on his waist.


Another portrait of Fergusson, more securely att. to Copley:
is that a pouch on his belt?


Also, Lieutenant Robert Hamilton-Buchanan of the 21st Royal North British Fuzileers, by the Allan Studio. He carries a very light fusil with his cartridge pouch on a shoulder belt matching the belt from which his bayonet hangs. No sword.


historygamer21 Dec 2018 11:19 a.m. PST

Some of the links/pictures did not show up. Can you just post the links?

A bit off topic, but I have to wonder if that is a portrait of Ferguson. He was a Light Infantry Officer in the 70th rgt prior to the war – dark grey/black facings.

Hers is a link that contains a miniature portrait:


Note the lace is gold, not silver, as pictured in the portrait. The over the shoulder style was either pre-1768 regs, or was worn like that by cavalry units. But that officer is wearing gaiters, so that shoots the idea of cavalry. Also the pose beside the howitzer would imply he was involved in a siege.

The coat has no lace, which is interesting too, especially if in peace time. No bayonet and I don't see any pouch either.

historygamer21 Dec 2018 11:22 a.m. PST

I promised Eric I wouldn't say he was working on a book with Don, but now that it is out, I can say it. :-)


Bill N21 Dec 2018 2:08 p.m. PST

Says Eric was a reenactor with the 62nd. I wonder if he authored the site I linked above.

42flanker21 Dec 2018 4:45 p.m. PST

I posted the links and the website produced images 1 & 3 but not 2.

My abject apologies: the first two images are of Major Patrick Campbell not Fergusson. Ten hours on the road and sleep deprivation. I had been looking at a portrait of Fergusson and my fingers did the rest.

The first image, which you may not be able to see, shows the subject holding a fusil with bayonet fixed and a 'belly box' on his belt in white buff leather. His sowrd hangs from a shoulder belt which apears to be of a curious slate grey, perhaps meant to be black.

As for the coat without lace, it is interesting that a number of officers were depicted in undress or field 'frocks' with plain lapels and cuffs, not least our friend St George Mansergh St George.

Here's the link for that first image once again:


Here is a discussion of the two related images attributed to J.S. Copley:

historygamer21 Dec 2018 7:23 p.m. PST


Yes, that is Eric's unit's site and likely his writing.

42flanker21 Dec 2018 7:52 p.m. PST

It certainly covers the topic.

Virginia Tory02 Jan 2019 11:54 a.m. PST

"At Cowpens in 1781 Captain Anderson used his spontoon by putting it into the ground in order to leap upon a British field piece to capture it."

I saw that in Sweet Liberty.

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