Friday, June 9, 2017

American War of Independence Officers

Pictured are three "command" figures from the Perry brothers' American War of Independence (AWI) range of 28mm miniatures:

Fig.1 A trio of Perry AWI figures: two officers and a drummer. 

Fig. 2 Very smart-looking late 18th century uniforms. 
The coats of the 1770s have become closer-fitting than the larger coats of the 1750s, with smaller cuffs. "Small clothes" - waist coat and breeches - are now often white (really a linen off-white), and the long over-the-knee gaiters of the Seven Years War era have shrunk to "half gaiters" that leave the top halves of the stockings exposed. These shorter gaiters are lighter, have fewer buttons to fasten, and probably do just as good a job of keeping stones out of one's shoes.

Fig. 3 The drummer wears "reversed colors", red with blue facings.
The drummer in figure 3 wears "reversed colors": a coat of the regiment's red facing color, with facings (collar, cuffs, and lapels) of the regiment's "base" color (dark blue). This would have helped drummers to stand out from the rest of the soldiers, either as an aid to signalling, or merely as a decorative conceit.

Fig. 4 An epaulette on the right shoulder means this is a sergeant or corporal - the silver lace is my mistake. 
The epaulette in figure 4 should either be green (for a corporal) or red (for a sergeant). Only an officer would wear an epaulette of silver bullion, and it would be on the left shoulder.

Fig. 5 A proper Continental lieutenant, with a silver-laced epaulette on his right shoulder. 
I have read that George Washington ordered foot officers in the Continental Army not to carry muskets or fusils, but to carry a spontoon (half-pike) instead. The reasoning was that foot officers should pay attention to directing the actions of their soldiers, and not become distracted by loading and firing a weapon themselves. The lieutenant in figure 5 seems to have ignored this regulation, and equipped himself with a firearm and cartridge box. 

Fig. 6 Where did this cad come from? An officer or sergeant of the loyalist Queen's Rangers.
Lastly, an officer or a sergeant - hard to tell which - of the British loyalist regiment the Queen's Rangers. He wears a short "roundabout"-style jacket in hunter green, which was surely lighter and more comfortable than a full-length coat. As the war progressed, the British adopted more practical uniforms, so that by 1780 or so they don't look much like our conception of the "redcoat" in cocked hat and full gaiters.

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