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"British 16th Light Dragoon Helmet" Topic

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18th Century

841 hits since 14 May 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Normal Guy Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2019 4:46 p.m. PST


I am working on a unit of 28mm Old Glory Dragoons to be painted as the 16th Lights. My question is: the helmet shows trim around the front piece and an emblem on the front piece as well. What color is that trim work (apologies for lack of correct term)? Is it silver? White? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

cavcrazy14 May 2019 6:00 p.m. PST

I did mine silver

Normal Guy Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2019 7:57 a.m. PST


historygamer Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2019 1:17 p.m. PST

The 16th wore Tarleton helmets with fake leopard skin around the lower portion. The 17th wore their regulation helmet with skull and crossbones motif.

Normal Guy Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2019 5:46 p.m. PST

Thanks for the additional information, hg.

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2019 3:57 a.m. PST

Normal Guy, it sounds like you have figures with the earlier style of 'helmet cap' of copper with Neo-Classical 'comb' and a frontal plate displaying the Royal cipher and regimental emblems, associated with the early ears of the Light Dragoon regiments 1750s-1760s. The 'turban' on these would have been of a dark cloth either black, or perhaps blue (for a Royal Regiment). I believe the Queen's cipher on the front plate would have been in white for the men and silver for officers.

Historygamer has described the peaked leather cap with a bearskin crest, which the 16th Light Dragoons adopted round the time they embarked for America in 1776, later referred to as a 'Tarleton.' This is supposed to have had a turban painted to look like leopard skin. Any emblems had to be mounted on the side of the cap

So it depends on which type of helmet your figures are supplied with.

Lots of enthusiastic discussion here:

TMP link
and here
TMP link

Normal Guy Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2019 12:24 p.m. PST

Thanks for all the input, folks, 42nd, your comments described where I have been at. Have been painting 28mm AWI for a number of years but always trying to make things better. I have a number of books, Mollo and Troiani included, and I couldn't find any definite answers. And the castings i do have are from the earlier helmet. Interesting. Curious to see that there are no definite answers, like so much of the AWI uniforms research. Anyway, this is what i so appreciate TMP for providing: lots of knowledge, information, and encouragement. THANKS!

Fridericus27 May 2019 12:10 p.m. PST

I doubt very much that the 16th LD did really have Tarleton helmets. The type of helmet came into use in der British army well after the war. There is only one illustration, as far as I know, that shows the dragoos in green jackets and Tarleton helmets – but this was done much later, the artist depicting the uniforms of his day.
I have dragoons with both types of helmets on the table. After all, it's only gaming and not historical reconstruction ;-)

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP28 May 2019 7:40 a.m. PST

"I doubt very much that the 16th LD did really have Tarleton helmets."

Mmm, actually it is well accepted. Unless you think Don Troiani, Jim Kochan, Brendan Morrissey and of course, the recreated re-enactment unit:


Your figures though, do you as you like. :-)

Fridericus28 May 2019 8:10 a.m. PST

I have learned from 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant not to believe in authorities but to use your own intellegence: "sapere aude".
Thus I always have a look at primary sources, and have a critical look at them.
I know quite well that the Tarleton helmets for 16th LD are widely accepted. But even if an overwhelming majority of experts would say that two plus two was five, I wouls say "No, it's four".
I have not found any trustworthy source for this type of helmet for British light dragoons. I am still waiting for someone to show me one. I'm 85 now.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP28 May 2019 8:52 a.m. PST

Have you contacted the re-enactment unit to ask? They would be the ones most likely to answer you. Brendan might on FB.

Fridericus28 May 2019 11:22 a.m. PST

Unfortunately their website does not contain an e-mail link.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP28 May 2019 11:39 a.m. PST

Actually, it does on the enlist page.

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP28 May 2019 11:47 a.m. PST

Brendan's views are pretty well laid out in the links from 2004 & 2009. It seems that since then the picture has not changed radically either way.

Bill N29 May 2019 3:15 p.m. PST

Helmets substantially similar to the one informed opinion believes the 16th Light Dragoons wore were also worn by the British Legion and Armand's Legion during the AWI before later being adopted by the British Light Dragoons generally. It may also have been used by others, including the 4th Continental Light Dragoons.

It is possible that informed opinion is wrong about the headdress worn by these units. It is possible that the helmet was designed by the British for use in North America by the loyalist British Legion, was then adopted by Armand's Legion and possibly others and later was adopted by the British Light Dragoons generally. However Fridericus I find the more plausible explanation was that it was a helmet used by the 16th LD in North America that was later adopted by the British Legion and Armand's Legion and possibly others before ultimately being adopted by the British Light Dragoons generally.

I have no real interest in the 16th's helmet, but since the headdress of British Legion and Armand's Legion is of interest I'd love to see what you have on this Fridericus. Remember though when it comes to the AWI mere lack of proof of presence is not necessarily proof of absence.

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP29 May 2019 5:29 p.m. PST

I miss SM, he was such a wealth of knowledge. Why do all the good ones get exiled?

Virginia Tory29 May 2019 6:21 p.m. PST

SM was exiled??!!

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2019 12:04 a.m. PST

There is also the possibility that the "Tarleton' style of light cavalry cap- bearing in mind that light dragoons and helmet-caps of any kind were a comparitive novelty in the British Army- a possibility of some connection with Germany.

In the 1750s, Colonel Bouquet of the newly raised Royal American Regiment [62nd, later 60th] mused on the the merits of accoutering his men in 'German caps' of boiled leather (cuir boulli). These never materialised as far as I am aware but are a reasonable description of the so-called 'Keppel' model of cap suggested for British light infantry companies in 1770-71.

It may be significant that German miners wore similar caps of leather with a turned up frontal flap to protect their heads.

We might think of the bearskin crest as an American refinement, but clearly bearskin was around both as a concept and as a resource in mid/late C18th Europe. Whether the fur decoration was merely an echo of Neo-Classical helmet forms or was intended to serve some practical purpose as I have seen suggested, could be debated endlessly but it seems as likely that the 'Tarleton' style was introduced by the Colonel of the 16th as it was by a loyalist officer in the colonies.

The fact that a similar style of cap was adopted by Continental light dragoons at roughly the same time may be significant or may just be a reflection of the endearing military habit of adopting uniforms of other armies- whether allied or the enemy.

I was under the impression that SM had withdrawn voluntarily.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2019 5:00 a.m. PST

Yes, I believe SM did withdraw for reasons of his own.

42nd – Interesting stuff regarding Bouquet. Do you recall where he says that? Kind of ironic that the leather caps for Lights ended up being a kind of dress uniform, with the caps put away and roundhats worn instead.

The Leather cap of the Dragoons hat least offered some protection, and had to be worn with the chin strap to keep it on when moving fast.

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2019 11:57 a.m. PST

Hg- My internal search engine is not co-operating, and I am unabe to find where I have squirreled the relevant file. IIRC, the reference comes from a letter to Prevost when Bouquet was forming the 1st Battalion of the Royal Americans.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP30 May 2019 3:27 p.m. PST

I'll see what I can find. :-)

Milton Waddams31 May 2019 6:34 p.m. PST

SM can be found on the Fife and Drum forum. Winston Smith and 23rdFusilier also.

Milton Waddams01 Jun 2019 7:10 a.m. PST

Also Bill from Kings Mountain miniatures.

And no none left on their own.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP06 Jun 2019 6:26 a.m. PST

SM requested that I let everyone know that he was indeed locked out, but I am not sure why as I didn't have time to ask him last night.

Virginia Tory06 Jun 2019 9:48 a.m. PST


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