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"The Trained Bands" Topic


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KeepYourPowderDry28 May 2020 9:08 p.m. PST

The thought that spawned my coat colours blog posts finally makes it onto the blog. Why you really shouldn't paint your London Trained Bands Regiments with red coats, and an introduction to who and what the Trained Bands were: link

(And yes the irony of the Tower Hamlets re-enactors wearing red is not lost on me, find out why they do in the link above)

takeda33328 May 2020 9:17 p.m. PST

Wow I had no idea and have been 'red trapped' myself. Thanks for the clarification.

KeepYourPowderDry28 May 2020 9:21 p.m. PST

I got red trapped too. My Tower Hamlets LTB were painted in red coats because I blindly followed a 'list' on a wargames website (I shan't name the manufacturer).

My Tower Hamlets LTB have had a makeover and become Birch's Regiment, and the new Tower Hamlets are painted and awaiting a delivery of bases.

Timbo W29 May 2020 2:26 a.m. PST

That dashed Mainwaring has caused a lot of trouble over the years!

I'd generally agree that un-uniformed is most likely for the LTBs, but not 100% conclusively. Second most likely would be red as references to Mainwaring's redcoats in London could refer to his 'Warwick army' regiment or to his LTB, its not clear, but certainly not sufficient evidence that the LTBs wore red.

Some of the Auxiliaries were given blue coats over winter in garrison away from London, but seemingly as an emergency measure as their old clothes were worn out.

Trained bands had historically often been issued with uniforms, also in Tudor times the LTBs wore white sashes, but I've seen nothing to support or discredit this either way during the ECW.

Also worth noting that especially for the provincial trained bands evidence can be very thin even as to which regiments were in existence, and its not easy to distinguish whether a regiment was TB or 'volunteer' in many cases.

Timmo uk29 May 2020 4:06 a.m. PST

I can only echo what's been written above. No evidence either way with regards to LTB clothing. I have mine in civilian dress with some in buff coats and sleeveless buff jacks for good measure. When I do auxiliary LTB units I don't give them such good equipment as I understood they were generally raised from apprentices and those who might be less well-off. I tend to have my LTB pikemen well equipped. My take on it is probably inaccurate but I wanted an appearance, aside from the flags, to indicate that they were slightly different to other units in my army.

KeepYourPowderDry29 May 2020 5:21 a.m. PST

I'm not sure that the blame falls squarely on Mainwairing's shoulders – much of the blame has to lie with Symonds who reported on the Gloucester expedition second hand.

Mainwairing certainly doesn't help being a major in the red regiment, colonel of the red auxiliaries, and colonel of his own regiment at the same time (I think I have his respective ranks correct).

Whilst the evidence isn't 100% conclusive, the argument for civilian clothes is that much stronger – as Spring argues in Campaigns of William Waller why would Mainwairing's volunteer regiment be singled out to be called the London redcoats if all the LTB wore red? There are a number of State Papers references to Mainwairing's being issued red coats lined white, so we know that his 'personal' regiment wore red coats.

As the rather excellent PhD thesis on the LTB argues there is so minutiae recorded for the LTB that the absence of a clothing issue is a glaring omission. Peachey and Prince also state that there is no firm evidence for coloured coats being issued. There is no mention of clothing being loaned to soldiers, but there are records of weaponry being loaned. Why does Mercurius Aulicius specifically mention trained band buff for both of the Newbury battles being taken as spoils from the LTB and yet we have no records of trained band buff being issued? In many ways the absence of evidence is what strongly suggests that they wore civilian clothes. But until someone finds a manuscript which says "thou shalt wear thine own clothes" with a polaroid selfie of the LTB having a post battle beer we shall never know. If I'm wrong, I'm in very good esteemed company. ;-)

I do of course mention the possible blue coat issue to the auxiliaries, and how they were recruited and their role allowing the not-auxiliary LTB soldiers to carry on with their personal business interests.

My own Trained Band regiments sound very much like yours Timmo – in civilian clothes, a number of pikemen in trained band buff. Officers generally overdressed (thinking of the qualification to be in a trained band). Haven't got around to painting any auxiliaries yet, your take on them sounds a good one.

Timbo W29 May 2020 6:18 a.m. PST

You make a persuasive case KYPD!

On a gaming note I have LTBs in Buff jerkins with red sleeves. I figure at a pinch they will do for ordinary foot or NMA as the case may be. This is of course more about flexibity than following the historical evidence!

All the best Tim

KeepYourPowderDry29 May 2020 7:31 a.m. PST

That's the reasoning for the Tower Hamlets re-enactors wearing red, so they can double as a NMA regiment without double the wardrobe.

As I mentioned in a comment on the blog – the best we can aspire to is a pastiche.

takeda33329 May 2020 10:43 a.m. PST

KYPD38, you have no idea how helpful you work here is. There is a great resource here with your blog, Timmo,Timbo and so many others who've shared their insights and knowledge.
This has made my ECW collection come alive with a deeper appreciation for the units and their history.
Again, thanks to all.

KeepYourPowderDry29 May 2020 12:26 p.m. PST

<blushes>
Thank you

Timmo uk29 May 2020 1:14 p.m. PST

KYPD38
You make the excellent point that I think is sometimes overlooked. When a reference is made to a particular uniform or type of clothing it's often because it's unusual and thus worthy of comment and probably not because it's common.

The taking of LTB buff coats as the spoils of war has always interested me. LTB soldiers could chose if they wanted to be pikemen or musketeers and given they paid for their arms I can imagine they wanted the best protection they could afford. I can therefore see that a buff coat, even if it had thinner sleeves than best quality cavalry buff coats, would be desirable. However, I wonder if it would too movement restricting for the musketeers and hence why they may have adopted the sleeveless version, if they could afford it.

KeepYourPowderDry29 May 2020 1:54 p.m. PST

Sleeveless trained band buff heat/ease of movement theory fits nicely, and is probably most likely in combination with cost.

Buff coats are really interesting.

Looking at the buff coats in the Littlecote Collection, sleeves appear to be attached to the body with laces. Admittedly Littlecote buff coats might be a regional pattern, but other surviving examples look to have the same construction, so it looks like they are a common pattern.

If you look at portraits of the great and good, their buff coats have fancy sleeves possibly fabric, possibly ribbon sewn onto buff, fabric overlaid buff, embroidered. Great for portraits but probably unlikely to offer much protection in battle. Possible that they had sleeves for best and sleeves for war? Or did they have two coats fancy and utility?

Going back to the design of the Littlecote buff coats could mean that some of the 'trained band buff' could have had sleeves, but the user chose not to wear them heat/ease of movement would fit here. However, if you are splashing all that cash out you'd probably want to wear it for the protection that it provides (and the societal flaunting of wealth). Although the term 'Trained Band buff' probably knocks that hypothesis for six if it had sleeves that the owner chose not to use, surely it would be described as a buff coat?

Buff was also worn to protect the wearer from rubbing of pikemen's corselettes. Full buff coats were very pricey, sleeveless provides the protection at a reduced cost.

Then there's the societal wealth thing sleeveless = I'm rich enough to wear buff (even if it is budget buff).

The other argument for musketeers in buff jerkins… look at any group of blokes participating in a hobby. All the gear and no idea ring a bell? Here in the Peak District I regularly see walkers kitted out in all the latest equipment, but no clue how to orientate a map. And who hasn't sat in a line of traffic behind a cyclist with the latest blingy bike, but without the requisite skills or abilities?

Apologies for somewhat rambling response, I really do need some sleep.

takeda33329 May 2020 2:57 p.m. PST

Did the NMA pike wear only buff? Or armor?

KeepYourPowderDry29 May 2020 10:28 p.m. PST

Now there's a question, that doesn't have a definitive answer. You'd probably have to trawl through individual regimental histories looking at equipment supply records to come up with anything specific. Check out the listings at link as a starting point. I don't recall seeing any issuing of buff coats to pikemen, but then I haven't really delved into the NMA that much.

But quick guesstimate. Start of the wars the ideal was to equip pikemen with corselettes back and breastplates with tassets. Overtime tassets seem to have fallen out of favour due to weight (and probably cost, and availability). I imagine that you'd find a smorgasbord of attire for pikemen full corselets, no armour, just sleeveless buff, just back and breast plates, sleeveless buff and back and breastplates, helmets, hats. Cost, comfort and availability all playing their apart. As for the NMA I would possibly expect a little more uniformity within a regiment

Timmo uk30 May 2020 12:27 a.m. PST

Some used leather pieces in place of tassets and I'm fairly sure some armour had pieces of buff leather trimming to make it more comfortable. Given how expensive buff coats were I very much doubt any foot soldier was ever issued with one. Officers may of course have used or bought their own, ditto the better off LTB members.

By the NM period I think most pikemen would have used a helmet and breast plate and possibly a back plate. That is only my considered guess though.

Generally I think that when questions are asked about ECW uniforms I think it's best considered to be a period of a lack of uniformity. Partly due to expense and availability but also because it was a civil war in the main part fought by citizen soldiers who scrambled to get what arms and equipment they could lay their hands on. It's also worth considering that if if an entire regiment was reclothed that many suppliers would be needed to meet the demand and they might all cut their cloth differently to each other. Notions of matching colours have more to do with wargamers' sensibilities than the reality of what was a very bloody war. A higher percentage of the population perished, from all causes, than during WW1.

I've always wondered just how destroyed Hasslerigg's Lobsters were at Roundway Down. I've seen the bloody ditch and it must have been strewn with the dead and maimed and an awful lot of cuirasses. What happened to them?

KeepYourPowderDry30 May 2020 1:37 a.m. PST

I've been pondering the price of a buff coat, and have dug out my Littlecote Collection book. It looks at the prices of buff coats, and quotes the Hatfield House accounts book of 1688 5 buff coats for £11.00 GBP, (so £2.00 GBP 4s 0d per coat). Using the National Archive currency converter (1690 to 2017 is closest) gives a modern value of £263.00 GBP So not the equivalent price of a sports car that many internet commentators would argue. The NA converter also gives this as 24 days wages for a skilled tradesman. The same account book gives the individual cost of a carbine as £1.00 GBP 4sOd, just shy of modern £141.00 GBP modern Still a less than the price of a horse (about £6.00 GBP).The Earl of Shrewsbury (whose home Hatfield was) paid £6.00 GBP 15s 0d for his buff coat (800 modern), and £16.00 GBP 12s 0d for new armour (1800 modern).

That price for a carbine seems rather expensive, but I'm guessing that the wheelock mechanism is the pricey component. A matchlock musket with bandoleers was 16 shillings (95 modern).

Interesting stuff. Certainly looking at the price of an ordinary buff coat, you can see how LTB soldiers could afford buff jerkins (remember the requirements for being a member of a Trained Band). Maybe it is time to put the 'buff coats were very expensive' argument to bed, expensive yes, but less than the cost of a horse. Certainly not the same as buying a sports car, a second hand hatchback with heavy mileage might be a better analogy.

You could argue that no army would pay that much to equip a soldier, what's the cost of a helmet for the f35? $400,000 USD US?

KeepYourPowderDry30 May 2020 1:52 a.m. PST

Getting somewhat frustrated with the autoformatting messing up the monetary values!

Haven't found a price for a lobster troopers armour yet. Give me time

KeepYourPowderDry30 May 2020 2:04 a.m. PST

Armour for a harquebusier – back, breast and pot £1.00 GBP although this dropped to 17 shillings by April 1650.

takeda33330 May 2020 2:06 a.m. PST

Now that cost WILL be interesting. Again your data…most helpful and informative.

Timmo uk30 May 2020 3:30 a.m. PST

I've a feeling a buff coat is a shockingly high cost item in relative terms.

The other aspect on uniformity is the way the units were raised a troop of horse here, there and everywhere so even within one formation they probably wasn't much in the way of standardisation.

Timbo W30 May 2020 4:23 a.m. PST

There was quite a bit of Cuirassier armour in the hands of the Trained Bands in 1638, 1500 plus sets. Also I remember someone mentioning on TMP it was imported from the continent as well.

Buff coats varied a lot in cost from basic to ultrafancy!

Timmo uk31 May 2020 9:44 a.m. PST

If you take 24 days of a skilled caftsman as the cost and then translate that into todays money, you are into the several thousands of pounds' rather than the straight conversion to just £263.00 GBP

Today you can buy a reproduction WW2 B3 flying jacket. You can get a cheap pseudo copy for about £100.00 GBP but if you want a true copy you are looking at about £1,200.00 GBP+. A proper ECW cavalry buff coat had some leather sections that were 1/4" thick, presumably in several layers ie. much thicker than the B3 flying jacket.

If you add on some fancy detailing and metallic lace to the buff coat I could see it starting to increase in price dramatically.

I know that a modern exact reproduction of one of Lord Nelson's dress coats cost in the region of £8,000.00 GBP fifteen years ago.

What would be interesting is to get a quote from a craftsperson working today for an exact replica of a high quality cavalry ECW buff coat. I'd bet it would be many, many multiples of £263.00 GBP

KeepYourPowderDry31 May 2020 10:19 a.m. PST

I agree that the monetary comparison might not be the best comparison. The number of days for a skilled tradesman might be better benchmark. But who would constitute a skilled tradesman now? I would probably look at national average salary as the benchmark, which would probably put a trooper's buff coat in the realm of a cheap second hand car (2k ish), certainly not the sports car that many argue they would cost. The Earl's buffcoat an average brand new car perhaps?


Acurate reproduction kit poses a few conundrums – would a buff coat cost more now because buff leather isn't made, was it cheaper in the C17th due to it's wider availability? Interesting stuff.

Nelson's dress coat seems relatively reasonable (not in my budget though), what price a good made to measure suit from Saville Row/ Jermyn Street?

Timmo uk31 May 2020 3:10 p.m. PST

I think it's more useful to look at the cost then relative to other issued items than try to make comparisons to today. The sportscar analogy doesn't really work either since the price is so variable.

I'd suggest anything handmade with skill is expensive and has always been expensive.

I have got an ECW list of prices somewhere, I wish I could find it.

KeepYourPowderDry01 Jun 2020 12:16 a.m. PST

Gloucester issue to Essex's army was 16 shillings per man – shirt, coat, breeches, stockings, snapsack, and I can't remember if it included a cap.

GurKhan01 Jun 2020 3:31 a.m. PST

For New Model pikemen and armour, see link

Main points:

- There are no records for purchase of armour in 1645 (and I've seen no reference to any at later dates)
- In 1658 the infantry sent to Flanders initially had no armour
- Their commander asked for 12-1500 corselets to be issued, apparently from existing stocks
- He did receive 500; so as late as 1658 _some_ pikemen did end up armoured

Timmo uk01 Jun 2020 4:52 a.m. PST

Some prices:

Cavalry horse £7.00 GBP 10s

Buff coat with removable sleeves £1.00 GBP 15s

second set of sleeves 12s

metallic bands on sleeves 3s

Pair pistols £2.00 GBP £3.00 GBP

Snaphance carbine £1.00 GBP 16s

Carbine 12s 9d


Cavalry helmet 8s

Cavalry helmet, breast and back plate set 20s


One basic deduction is that the buff coat costs getting on for double what the helmet, breast and back plate cost or about the same as a pair of typical pistols. So expensive relative to firearms but not ridiculously so.


(20 shillings in a pound)

KeepYourPowderDry01 Jun 2020 10:00 a.m. PST

I seem to remember Monck requesting corselettes for his pike as well as the request from Thurloe that you mention GurKhan. He also made the suggestion of the leather strip in lieu of tassets.

In addition to the figures you quote Timmo, a dragoon nag was budgeted as £3.00 GBP (I've only seen the NMA budget of £6.00 GBP for a horse, not the £7.00 GBP 10s you mentioned)

Timmo uk03 Jun 2020 9:00 a.m. PST

I've seen a dragoon horse listed at £4.00 GBP, perhaps deflation was rife during the Civil Wars or the NMA were buying in bulk at a lower rate or less good horses than others. Just as today horse prices vary dramatically I suspect they probably did during the ECW, depending on the quality that was considered necessary.

I'd love to read a definitive account of this type of thing, rather than trying to glean odd bits of info.

Timmo uk03 Jun 2020 11:07 p.m. PST

I've found a couple more references that indicate that the NMA paid less than the usual going rate for clothing and weapons.

I have the information somewhere but it would be interesting to now compare these figures to the pay of the soldiers of the time.

Timmo uk04 Jun 2020 1:03 a.m. PST

Rate of pay for NMA foot soldier is quoted as 8d per day.

Cavalry 2s per day

This is for ORs not officers.

So a buff coat cost the equivalent of 2 1/2 weeks pay for the cavalry. Or nearly 2 months pay for a foot soldier.

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