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"tricornes other than black?" Topic

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Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP07 Dec 2021 8:53 a.m. PST

One almost never sees an AWI tricorne except black, though other hats come in all shades of brown etc. Is this just a convention? or is there some reason only black hats get pinned up to make a tricorne? I'm painting a bunch of militia now . . . .

rustymusket07 Dec 2021 9:01 a.m. PST

They came in many colors and if you are doing non-uniformed militia, you could do browns and grays in addition to black. I would think there could be other colors, also, but I am less sure of that.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP07 Dec 2021 9:40 a.m. PST

Rusty, that makes sense, but the illustrations surely don't show it.

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP07 Dec 2021 9:50 a.m. PST

An urban militia might have a more uniform appearence, i.e.hats, coats, etc., but a unit from a more rural area/town would be much more diverse in appearence.

Which brings me to bayonets. I've read in several sources(one was a college text which I no longer own) that certain more "professionsl" militia units were armed and trained with the pointy things. I would assume these might also be from a more urban unit. Any help?

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP07 Dec 2021 9:57 a.m. PST

Some of the minute companies in the Concord fight had bayonets.

lucky1oldman07 Dec 2021 10:00 a.m. PST

I don't see why not. My Rebel militia & Continentals wear all three – but that's just my 2 cents.

historygamer07 Dec 2021 10:34 a.m. PST

Cocked hats the most prevalent color was black. Various shades of brown might be acceptable as well, not sure about grey. Not all of the hats would have been cocked, as militia, but definition, usually wore their own (civilian) clothing. Smaller round hats would also be found among the civilian population. Hats and clothing would vary depending on where the militia was mustered from.

Bayonets were more problematic. Since the militiamen were supposed to supply their own firearms (a logistical nightmare), by definition any bayonet would have to fit their weapon. Plug bayonets were not unknown during this period, but many of the weapons brought to the muster were often fowling pieces, not military firearms. Also, many of the men in a given area didn't even have a weapon to bring, let alone a bayonet.

The "fancy" pre-war militia units, mainly found in cities, didn't long last the circumstances. Arms had to be supplied by the colony/state, and most were smuggled in from the Caribbean. The new states were perpetually short of stands of arms (musket, bayonet, cartridge pouch).

Royal Air Force07 Dec 2021 10:44 a.m. PST

For 'tricornes', check out link 'generally dark in color' I'll not be pedantic and say that troops in the AWI wore cocked hats and not tricornes

epturner07 Dec 2021 11:09 a.m. PST

The Acton minute company has bayonets at Concord. This was due in part to the Captain, Isaac Davis, being a gunsmith or blacksmith by trade.

As far as colours of hats, my understanding of the process of hatmaking and dyeing, was that black was the cheapest and easiest to create, followed by various shades of brown.

My militia tend to parade in whatever colour paint I have at hand when I paint them.

"Oh, you get to wear Spice Brown for your breeches today, lucky you…"


historygamer07 Dec 2021 11:51 a.m. PST


You should. LoL

historygamer07 Dec 2021 12:16 p.m. PST

Costumers tend to call them tricornes, but museums, re-enactors, and collectors call them cocked hats. Who am I to correct Colonial Williamsburg?


Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP07 Dec 2021 12:38 p.m. PST

Never mind what to call 'em; what color are they?

historygamer07 Dec 2021 3:19 p.m. PST

I thought that was covered. Black and some shades of brown for militia.

Major Bloodnok07 Dec 2021 3:46 p.m. PST

Civilian cocked hats can be black, tan, brown, grey, cocked in a variety of styles and methods. Some sailors are depicted in cocked hats with the crown painted red. As to bayonets it will depend upon the laws of the province they reside in, many of which were based upon (and modified) the 1696 militia law of William & Mary. Gov. Tryon of N.Y. is quoted as saying that since the N.Y. most of milita don't have bayonets there is no point in teaching them how to fix bayonets when drilling. There are some surviving "locally" made bayonets where socket is split so that you can force it on a wider barrel or have squeezed down to fit a narrower barrel. Others have been found with a wing-nut to attach them and tighten them in place.

GamesPoet Supporting Member of TMP07 Dec 2021 5:47 p.m. PST

Thanks for all the info gentlemen. : )

historygamer07 Dec 2021 8:58 p.m. PST

Wing-nut? Do you mean, the French bayonets with the rear rotating ring (1763-1773), or the 1777 new design that introduced a rotating locking ring?

Major Bloodnok08 Dec 2021 12:14 p.m. PST

Neither, an actual wing-nut that screws in from one side of the socket against the barrel; rather like a Xmas tree stand.

historygamer08 Dec 2021 3:22 p.m. PST

Picture? Never heard of it.

DHautpol18 Dec 2021 4:54 a.m. PST

Returning to the colour of tricornes. I recently visited the "Hogarth & Europe" exhibition at Tate Modern in London.

It features a large number of paintings alongside the engravings one generally associates with Hogarth. These paintings date from the mid-eighteenth century, so a little before the AWI period, but it is very noticeable that, with very few exceptions, that all the tricornes are black.

The hats are black irrespective of the colour of the clothes being worn, so one sees black tricornes with blue coats or light brown suits.

The tricornes also seem to be black irrespective of the social class of the wearer. Some of the higher status wearers have a lace edging in white, gold or, more commonly, black. A few of the lower status wearers are shown wearing dark grey tricornes but it is unclear whether this is a lighting effect or just denotes an old hat.

Just my observations on having viewed quite a number of near contemporary paintings; I hope this helps.

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