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"HESSIAN Campaign Dress" Topic

16 Posts

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18th Century

784 hits since 8 Feb 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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MiniPigs08 Feb 2019 2:07 p.m. PST

Seems like all the soldiers of the revolution wore things like cut down coats or campaign-y hats or other mixed clothing articles that made their units a somewhat homeless appearance, but did the Hessians, apart from the ticking trousers, always maintain a relatively full dress appearance? Or did they also appear in units with a variety of headgear etc?

jurgenation Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2019 6:06 a.m. PST

I don't think head gear changed ,pants maybe more in the southern campaigns.Like Von Bose ,they were stubborn germans afterall.

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2019 6:10 a.m. PST

If British uniform issues failed to arrive in time for the 1777 campaign season, due to interruptions on the high seas, I wonder how the Germans were affected. Presumably their coats wore out at the same rate more or less.

RudyNelson09 Feb 2019 11:00 a.m. PST

Uniforms tended to be serserved for wear on guard duty and on campaigns. So the uniform was the campaign dress. Everyday dress is where you get variety.
Uniform coats or regimental were kept by the Quartermaster and issued when duty was needed. Men in the hospital or on leave did not have regimental issued to them at those times. This is one reason when the number of coats and men did not match. It is also why deserter notices might highlight that a deserter was wearing regimental or civilian dress.

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP10 Feb 2019 5:42 a.m. PST

Doesn't that depend on which army you are talking about? For British soldiers, items described as 'Necessaries' were issued at their expense and were their property. Hence the preference for keeping last year's issue for working dress to protect their current regimentals, etc. Other items such as Grenadier and L.I. Caps, and accoutrements,etc. were the Colonel's property.

Shouldn't there be some evidence relating to the Germans in Burgoyne's expedition?

RNSulentic10 Feb 2019 6:19 p.m. PST

This question is totally dependent upon time and place.

The Germans on Burgoyne's expedition were issued overall trousers "American trousers", "Gaiter trousers" and there are contemporary illustrations showing them wearing the things. Also contemporary illustrations showing them not wearing the things.

The Germans in New York, PA and Rhode Island all kept closely to what they were issued, as far as I have been able to find. They didn't start wearing gaiter trousers until June of 1781 when ordered to do so in New York City. Von Krafft's memoirs mention being issued coat, vest, hat, neckstock, sword and gaiters in Philadelphia in 1777 (but not breeches or shoes). He later mentions getting socks in New York city and his gaiters in 1779. He also is carrying a kurzgewehr while marching through New Jersey in 1778 and while out with the Jagers around New York in 1779.

The units at Savannah and Charleston appear also have made no special changes. There are letters from the Landgraf forbidding any changes to the uniform.

The von Bose regiment with Cornwallis is a special case, and frankly, I have no idea what they might have looked like, other than worn out. Their Hessian muskets were turned in at one point and they were issued new British ones.

There are at least two instances in Ewalds memoirs where he mentions getting new uniforms as gifts from the British, so what those looked like, I have no idea, but Green coats were issued to American loyalists, so go figure.

Winston Smith10 Feb 2019 7:13 p.m. PST

There are letters from the Landgraf forbidding any changes to the uniform.

Yes. He was very "hands on", even from 4000 miles away. He even forbade the use of the more open British system.

AICUSV11 Feb 2019 7:23 p.m. PST

I remember read about them stealing the mattresses form farm houses to use the ticking to cover alls.

Virginia Tory13 Feb 2019 9:22 a.m. PST

The Brunswickers did, however, use the "more open system" as is recorded by Riedesel and Burgoyne.

MiniPigs13 Feb 2019 10:05 a.m. PST

They dont seem to have worn rags or radically altered uniforms though like other troops did. It's funny how people go on ad infinitum about whether only British light troops or all British troops (Including Loyalist militias) wore round-abouts based on sleeves sewn onto colors of vests etc. but no one ever wonders why the Hessians wore their mitres and mustaches throughout the war?

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2019 10:58 a.m. PST

Because they were ordered to do so? That, and they weren't supplied with any other options by their princes.

They were not mercenaries, they were auxiliaries from other countries, under contract.

To the previous point, I seem to recall reading that one of the commanders of one of the British converged grenadier battalions was frustrated when he couldn't dictate uniform changes to the different gren companies under his command. He could not change them as each gren company belonged to their colonel, just like the Germans belonged to their princes (and not even their colonels).

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2019 8:35 a.m. PST

So reading "the" book on Hesse Kassel troops. It mentions that at one point some of the Jaegers' and von Bose's uniforms were in tatters. Supposedly the Brits bought new uniforms for the Jaegers. Not clear about von Bose, though they exchanged their own muskets for British muskets right after GCH battle. The Hessians could do virtually nothing without the Landgraf's permission, though apparently they did adopt the two rank formation in 1776. It is unclear how von Bose fought at GCH.

Largely after 1778, they mainly served as garrison troops, so field modifications would have been even less likely after that point. The Hessians were roughly 2/3rds of the German auxiliaries serving.

If you read the reasons why they engaged them in the first place, it makes sense. The Crown viewed the upcoming war as short in duration. They had no time to raise additional troops, train them, and ship them over in time for 1776. They had a previous arrangement with some of the German states -including Hesse Kassel, in the previous war. In fact, the princes in these stated counted on lending out their troops to allied countries as a source of income.

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2019 3:27 a.m. PST

Largely after 1778, they mainly served as garrison troops, so field modifications would have been even less likely after that point.

Interesting point. Hg.

FWIW, as far as the British flank battalions were concerned, it seems battalion commanders had some leeway over troops' netherwear, specifying breeches and leggings for winter and 'trowzers'for summer, with material sourced from parent regiments, while coats or their equivalent would seem to have remained a regimental matter.

Bill N07 Mar 2019 12:49 p.m. PST

What do you consider to be ' "the" book on Hesse Kassel troops'?

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2019 2:10 p.m. PST

Rodney Atwood. The Hesdians.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2019 8:13 p.m. PST

Hesdians? Ugh. Sorry, hurried message on way to a meeting. Of course that should be "The Hessians."

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