Uniforms

One of the most deeply rooted misconceptions concerning the Civil War is that military uniforms did not exist until the creation of the New Model Army, and that they were the first to wear the traditional British red coat. In actual fact, it had long been the custom for companies or regiments to be clothed in a uniform manner, though as colouring was at the discretion of the commander or proprietor there was little standardization. As early as 1539 the London militia wore uniform white coats; in 1569 the Gloucester levies wore 'blue capps w'h yalowc sylke rybands, and ... slopps of blewe clothe gardede with yallowe, and yallowe nether stockins'and in 1587 the Doncaster Trained Band wore uniform steel caps, fustian doublets, grey woollen Triezeland' coats and light blue coarse cloth stockings*, for example.

Monck advised officers that, 'You must be careful before you march with your Army into the Field to see your Soldiers well Cloathed, well Armed, and well Disciplined; and that you be stored with Shooes and Stockings for the March'J; though officers were usually advised against trimming their men's uniforms with their own livery colours:

.. .11 desire you /hid to put your colours upon your coats for the better knotting of your men ... in mine opinion would much wrong the coat. The differences that Captains use in turn is in the arming of his pikes for the pikemen, which is to be of his colours, and likewise the fringe of his headpiece of the shot /musketeers f. The daubing of a coat wtth lace of sundry colours, as same do use them, I do neither take to be soldierlike nor profitable for die coat. If a Captain miscarry, he that cometh in his room, his colours being contrary, tears off the former and puts in his own, and by this means often times tears coat and all.. .*

Provision of clothing was undertaken by the central command or at regimental or unit level. For example, on 6 March 1642 Thomas Bushell undertook to procure 'for the King's Souldiers Cassocks. Breeches, Stockings & Capps at reasonable rates'*, presumably the 'suites, stockings, shoes and mounteroes* for the 'liefe Guard and three regiments more' noted three months later". In January 1643 tailors in the Oxford area were ordered to produce 5,000 coats, so that in July 'all the common soldiers then at Oxford were newe apparrelled, some all in red, coates, breeches iv mounteers; & some all in blewe*7. Such contracts given to local tailors are ex-

Royal Thai Marines Uniform
William Barriffe, showing the use of gorget with buff-coat. Note the taces at the front ol the coat (portrait from Bartiffe's Military Discipline)

cmplified by an appeal made to Charles II by the Company of Drapers of Worcester, for £453 for red cloth, before the settlement of which 'the army was defeated and then miserably plundered'Parliamentary uniform provision was similar; for example, on 6 August 1642 the Committee of Lords and Commons for the Safety of the Kingdom ordered that soldiers should receive coats, shoes, shins and caps to the value of 17S. cach man. but the lack of a centralized purchasing system always caused problems. Within the Eastern Association, the Cambridge Committee had great difficulty in getting Essex to equip its levies correctly, and eventually had to buy coats themselves, hoping (in vain) that the county would reimburse them. Conscripts clothed at the expense of their parish were frequently ill-clad; in August 1643. for example, Essex conscripts were described as 'worse tattered soldiers' than ever before seen, and in the following year Silas Titus took command of his new Hertfordshire company but found them "extreamlic ill provided for ... without shooes, stockings, coates ... they wanted nothing but all' *.

'Uniform' usually consisted of a coat and sometimes matching breeches, though frequently the latter might be of a different colour or even provided by the individual. Coats were probably mostly of the short-skirted variety, as described by the contract books of the New Model (noted below), though frequent mention is made of the 'cassock*, which may describe the ordinary, skirted coat (as distinct from a doublet 1 or a longer coat as shown in Plate 13. The cassock is noted as early as '599, worn by troops in Ireland, 'of Kentish broad cloth, lined with cotton, and trimmed, with buttons and loops', or 'of broad cloth with bays, and trimmed with silk lace' for officers'0; this was probably the greatcoatlike garment used in winter, which originally could be transformed into a cloak with open, hanging sleeves,

Pikeman's corselet and helmet (engraving from Grose's Ant rent Armour)

Pikeman's corselet and helmet (engraving from Grose's Ant rent Armour)

Old Fashion Lancer Weapons

76 Lancer. Scottish army

77 Pikeman, Scottish army

The Scottish cavalry, due to the small si*e and poor quality ot their horses, was usually regarded as greatly inferior to that of the English, a somewhat unfair judgement as Ihey performed well on occasion, as at Preston when lancers of tha Scottish rearguard killed thecommander of the English pursuit. Colonel Thornhaugh The Scots were the only ones to use lances to any degree, the weapon being largely redundant even on the comment The lancer illustrated wears a loather jerkin and an old-fashioned burgonet, ihe steiii bonnett' beloved of the reivers of Ihe Borders during the previous century In addition to a lance he is armed with a broadsword and carries baggage and fodder on his saddle; the wooden canteen is privately acquired

Hodden grey' appears to have been worn by the Scottish dragoons even after red had been adapted by the remainder of the army, when in 1684 the Privy Council passed en act to allow the importation of English red cloth. General Dayell objected to that colour being worn by dragoons, and an extra act was required to permit the impon of grey cloth When the Royal Scots Dragoons' were raised in 1678 they wore grey coats, not adopting red until about 1684-7, the tille Scots Greys' perhaps refemng originally to the colour of Iheir uniforms. not (as later) to their horses

The pikeman here wears the 'hodden grey' uniform shown in Plate 28. with the addition of an old-fashioned cabasset helmet with its backward-pointing pear-stalk* al the lop. He cames a leather satchel instead of the sack shown in Plate 28. and has a long knife in his girdle, a common weapon in the Scottish atmy. His blue bonnet is tucked behind his belt, though it may have been possible 10 wear it under the helmet.

which Turner termed 'frocks' and recommended should have a hood, 'to keep them from rain, snow and cold'11 Another overcoat was the "rocket*, presumably a secular version of the ecclesiastical 'rochet', with skins so long that Colonel Edward Apsley of Sussex was captured in 1643 when some Royalists 'caught hold of my rocket coat, and threw it over my head'

Uniform colouring was governed by the availability of material, the colonel's preference or his livery; for example, Essex's Regiment wore his own 'orange-tawny' colour and in at least two cases around this period, black 'facings' were adopted as a sign of mourning; Richard Cromwell issued red coats 'guarded with black' for his father's funeral1', and in 1667 Lord Chesterfield clothed his regiment in red coats lined black, 'because 1 was at that time in mourning for my mother" u. It is uncenain exactly how 'facing colours* were displayed during the Civil War, but such references probably indicate the lining visible when the sleeve was turned back off the wrist, though in the case of the New Model, facing colours were apparently also

Uniforms The Battle NasebyCivil War Drummer Uniforms

Morion' helmet, a design predating the Civil War by more than a century, bui still in use green as a national colour, though there is nocvidcncc to support this. As may he imagined, similarly coloured uniforms on both sides led to great confusion!

Listed below are those regiments for which uniform colours are known, though due to changes of command and the practice of naming a regiment after its colonel, the same regiments arc sometimes listed more than once. For example, the Ycllowcoats of Sir Charles Vavasour became Sir Matthew Appleyard's Regiment after Vavasour's death; and Prince Rupert's Blue coats was a Somerset regiment, raised by Colonel Sir Thomas Lunsford who was captured at Edgchill, and when his brother Colonel Henry Lunsford was fatally wounded at the storm of Bristol (26 July 1643) the regiment became Prince Rupert's, being commanded by Colonel John Rnssell until it was destroyed at Naseby.

Morion' helmet, a design predating the Civil War by more than a century, bui still in use displayed in the 'tape strings' which fastened the coats instead of buttons. Until the New Model, records of facing colours are sparse, though the Eastern Association certainly used them; in October 1643 Manchester ordered green coats lined with red for his own regiment, and in 1645 the Committee of Both Kingdoms ordered the county of Essex to send their recruits 'commo-diousty provided,as hath formerly been practised, with tooo red coats lined with blue'1*, The colour of a regiment's uniform often gave it a sobriquet; thus in 1642 when disturbances between regiments in Oxford developed into faction fights, the units involved were described as Lord S aye's Oxfordshire Bluecoats and their opponents as Russet-coats. Thus it was usual for regiments to be known by their coat colour, be it the Gloucester Bluecoats (Stamford's Regiment) or Newcastle's renowned Whitecoats.

Red uniforms were popular long before the New-Model; an Elizabethan example is the instruction to William Chalderton, Bishop of Chester, to provide 1,000 men 'furnished of redd clokes, without sleeves, and of the length to the knee' and a letter of 1638 suggests that by that date, red breeches had become the mark of a soldier; * It would be good if Vr. Lordship's men had red breeches to their buff coats, because otherwise being country fellows they will not be so neatly habited as the other Lord's men''1. Colour mattered more than style; an example of how colonels endeavoured to keep their troops uniformly clad is found in a letter of 1644 from Sir T. liai 11 son to Prince Rupert reporting that *I have had 113 coats and caps for foot soldiers in the house of my Lord Powis, an too of which are blue which will well serve your Highness' Regiment of Foot' the remainder being green serving for *Col. TylyerV (Tillier's) and regiments from Ireland which, like Brough ton's, it has been suggested may have worn

Royalist foot

Queen's Lifeguard

King's Lifeguard

Prince Rupert's Firelocks

Sir Allan Aptky

Col. Edward Hopton

Prince Charles (C.O. Sir Michael

Woodhouse) Lord Hopton Prince Rupert Thomas Lunsford Henry Lunsford Charles Gerard Sir William Pennyman Sir Stephen Hawkins Lord Percy Marquis of Newcastle Sir Ralph Dutton Col. Thomas Pinchbeck Col. Sir Henry Bard Sir Gilbert Talbot Sir Charles Vavasour Sir Matthew Appleyard Sir John Paulct Earl of Northampton Col. Robert Broughion Col. Henry Tillier Sir Thomas Blackwall * though Newcastle's seven divisions are usually described as Whitecoats wore grey.

Parliamentary foot Lord Robartes Col. Denzil Holies Sir Thomas Fairfax Edward Montague Norfolk Regt, Essex Regis.

red red red red red blue blue blue blue blue blue blue (or red?) white white white* white grey grey yellow yellow yellow yellow-green green green black of northern foot , probably some red red red lined blue red lined white red red lined blue

Lord Halifax red lined blue

Earl of Stamford blue

Col. Henry Cholmlcy blue

Sir William Constable blue

Lord Save &. Sclc blue

Sir Arthur Haselrig blue Lord Mandeville (later Earl of

Manchester) blue

Sir William Springate white (?)

Sir John Gell grey

Simon Rugcley grey

Sir John Merrick grey

Col.' I "ho mas Ballard grey-

Major William Ryves (company) grey

Earl of Manchester green lined red

Samuel Jones green

Col. Byng green

John Hampden green*

Col. Thomas Grantham russet

Earl of Essex orange

Lord Brooke purple

*I)und is in error in slating that Hampden's wore grev".

Details of the uniform of horse are scarcer, perhaps because the buff-coat and defensive armour precluded the necessity for recognizable uniform: nevertheless, among existing references are notes that the Prince of Wales' Regiment chose red as their main colour, that in May 1644 a quartermaster probably from the Earl of Denbigh's Regiment was issued with yards (7.8 metres) of grev cloth, in which colour Denbigh (previously Lord Eeilding) may have dressed his men as early as Edgehtll.that Captain John Moor of Northampton's Horse in 1645 captured some red cloth and reported that he intended to cloLhe his troop in it, that Lord Hastings dressed his three troops in blue coats underlaid with leather, and that Sir Thomas Dallison commanding Prince Rupert's) mentioned that he had 300 or 400 yards ■ 275 to 365 metres) of red cloth to make into cloaks. Godwin's Civil War m Hampshire 1642-45 (19041 mentions that Sir Michael Livesey's Kentish Parliamentary regiment wore red coats with blue facings, but as facings was a later term the reference is perhaps questionable. Much cavalry uniform involved small units, perhaps even less than troops; for example, before Edgehill Francis Russell of Essex's Lifeguard was observed with 12 armed servants, all wearing red cloaks; one Royalist troop accoutred, it was said, by the Earl of Newcastle, rode 'fifty great horses ofadarke Bay, handsomely set out with ash-colour'd rihbins, every man gentilely accoutred"10, and a further example is provided by the troop raised in 1639 bv the poet and gambler Sir John Suckling, 'a Troope of 100 very handsome young proper men, whom he clad in white doublets and scarlet breeches, and scarlet! Coatcs. hatts and feathers, well horsed and armed. They say 'twas one of the finest sights in those days'11. A similar 'personal' unit was the bodyguard of halbardiers dressed in long red cassocks formed by Sir Arthur Aston, Governor of Oxford, following an attempt on his life.

Hats were not always of the broad-brimmed, 'cavalier' style beloved of later generations of artists, but also existed in other guises, with narrower brims and taller crowns. Two varieties of cap were used extensively, the 'Monmouth* and the 'montero*. The former (also mentioned in lists of seamen's slop clothing) was apparently a knitted woollen cap, shaped either like a ski-cap or like a fisherman's 'stocking' cap; Richard Symonds' Diarv notes of Bewdley in 1644 that 'The only manufacture of this towne is making of capps called Monmouth capps. Knitted by poore people for 2d, apiece, ordinary ones sold for 2s., 3s., 4s. First they are knitt, then they mill them, then block them, then they worke them with tasells, then they sheere them*. In 1642 Parliament paid 23s, a dozen for 'Monmouth caps' for troops serving in Ulster, but when Colonel Richard Bagot bought caps for the 300 foot he raised in April 1643 to garrison Lichfield Close for the King, he paid only 6d. each.

The montero is enigmatic, as the term (originally

Pikeman's breast- and backplates with riveted skirts' attached, bearing armourers' marks of reign of James I and Commonwealth (Wallis & Wallis)

Pikeman's breast- and backplates with riveted skirts' attached, bearing armourers' marks of reign of James I and Commonwealth (Wallis & Wallis)

English Pikeman Helmet

Spanish simply means a cap as worn by horsemen, and its use was probably so common that no-one bothered io describe it. Probably il was similar to the peaked, cloth cap used in France from around 1625, reputedly copied from troops of the Duke of Buckingham, hence its French name of'boukinkan*. It became so popular as to be adopted by the Gardes du Roi, and is shown in an engraving of 1642 upon which the drummer shown on the window of Farndon Church is based. Whether this teas the montero is uncertain, as surviving descriptions are unclear: Thomas Ellwood wrote of'a large montero cap of black velvet, the skirt of which was turned up in folds'1', whilst Sterne's Tristram Shandy notes one of 'scarlet, of a superfine Spanish cloth, dyed in grain, and mounted all round with fur, except about four inches in front, which was faced with a light blue, slightlv embroidered' At Nascby a Royalist officer was described 'somewhat in habit like our general, in a red montero as the General had' and in 1645 an attorney was hanged as a spy by Sir Richard Grenville, being 'disguised' bv a montero, perhaps implying that it was the recognized mark of a soldier, though as Grenville bore a grudge against the man it may have been merely a convenient excuse. Certainly, it seems that caps were regarded as much an item of uniform as coats, and may even have been in matching colours.

'Linen' consisted of the loose shin and its appendages, with elaborate lace cuffs (for officers), though very often it was ofa more practical style for use in the field The white linen collar or 'falling band* was usually loose and tied on with strings, though knotted neckcloths seem to have been popular, both to prevent the armour or buff-coat from chafing the skin and as added protection; the lives of at least two members of the 1637 expedition against the Pequod Indians in America were saved by the knots of their neckerchiefs deflecting blows. Stockings were frequently worn two pairs at a time, the inner pair (often of finer material; being drawn up and the outer or 'rowling' pair, which originally protected the inner, rolled down or drawn only partway up the calf, thus creating a deliberately casual appearance which may have originated with the German fandsknecha. Shoes had bucklcsor laces, sometimes tied with a bunch of ribbon.

Officers' uniforms were provided individually and thus based on civilian styles, though some uniformity in colouring may have been attempted. Some of these uniforms were very fine, including prodigious quantities of lace; despite an earlier exhortation to the Hertfordshire trained bands 10 'forbcare their fyne coort-lyke sutes during the tvme of musters' J\ many officers affected elaborate dress, such as Sir Richard Grenville who received from Parliament *a great sum of money for the making his equipage, in which he always affected more than ordinary lustre'15, or Colonel Jordan Prideaux, killed at Mars ton Moor, who was said to wear a diamond buckle in his hat Prince Rupert, the archetype cavalier,

78. 79. 80 Highlanders

The Highland troops wore their ordinary clothes, of which a number ol descriptions, but few pictures, survive from the mid seventeenth century, though 3 well-known print by Koler shows mercenaries of the Thirty Years War wearing Highland 'military" dress The principal garment was the Breacan-an fheritdh or belted plaid', s lortg strip ol plaid cloth which could be wound around the waisl, held in place by a belt and with one end pulled up over one shoulder, or used as a shawl or cloak, as shown by Koler The legs were either left bare or covered with stockings of plaid or other cloth, or with one-piecc trousers-and-stockings, forerunners of the Scottish ttutbhs (trews), worn either instead of, or underneath, the Bteacan an (hcilidh A linen shin was usually worn, the tradi-Honal saffron' type probably still to use, and a leather jerkin. At Kilsyth the day was so hot that Montrose ordered his Highlanders to lay aside their plaids and fight in their shirts, knotting the long tails beneath their tegs. Footwear consisted of mocassin-type shoes, though many went barefoot, and the common headdress was a blue cloth bonnet worn square upon the head As clan tartans had not evolved, (he patterns ol ptaicf worn by Highlanders were dependent upon personal taste, though certain areas are believed to have had more or less distinctive setts; the colouring ol most was probably subdued, and many were probably of simple checks. A legend explaining the traditional white spats of later Highland regiments is probably apocryphal, but records how the Highlanders wrapped (he torn remnants of their shirts around their feet during the march through the snow to Inverlochy

Highland weaponry was traditional and prolific, a roll taken by the Earl of Atholl of four parishes in 1638 records 523 men who between them possessed 112 guns. 11 pistols, 149 bows. 9 poleaxes. 2 halberds, 3 claymores, 448 swords 125 targes, 8 headpieces, 2 'steel bonnets', a pair or plate sleeves. 11 breastplates and one jack (mail coat): only 21 men were returned as unarmed The two-handed claidheamh-mhor or great sword' was largely redundant by this period, the broadsword being the commonest weapon, though the traditional type with decorated basket hilt probably had not evolved fully, some had curved blades resembling a hanger Unlike the European rondel', the Highland shield or large was flat, mode of wood covered with leather and often decorated with brass studs, and had a central boss into which a nine-inch (23-centimetre) spike could be screwed, turning it into a weapon of offence. Simple dirks would be worn at the waist: the predominant staff weapon was the lochaber axe. characterized by a cleaver-like blade and a hook welded to ihe upper staff socket The longbow remained a poteni weapon in Scotland (probably retained because of shortages of firearms). with arrows carried in a quiver Slung over the shoulder Highland dress was probably restricted to those unable to afford conventional military clolhing, which chieftains and officers might be expected 10 have worn, though Montrose is mentioned as wearing Highland dress on one occasion, almost certainly with trews to enable him 10 ride in comfort.

Montero Cap Musketeer

78 79 80 Highlanders

A. Hill of rapier with ornately-decorated pommel, quillonsand guard (after Wagner)

B Cavalry backsword with basket hilt of Schiavona' style, a Venetian pattern used throughout Europe

C. Sword with simple hilt, including ring to protect thumb: probably lypical of the 'stiff tuck' favoured during the Civil War (after Wagner)

□ Sword with simple hitt and grip bound with wire or metal strip

E Backsword as used by cavalry was noted in a London newsletter of 1645 dressed as befitting his reputation, 'clad in scarlet, very richly laid in silver lace, mounted upon a very gallant black Harbary horse" but such references are as deceptive as the ponrai ts which show officers wearing magnificently-decorated armour. Such ornamentation could only lead to their being singled out by the enemy, to prevent which, for example, Rupert at Brentford 'took off his scarlet coat which was very rich and gave it to his man and buckled on his arms and put a grey coat over it so that he might not be discovered'1T. Colonel George Lisle at Second Newbury led his men wearing a white shirt and was mistaken by the Parliamentarians for a white w'itch running up and down the King's army! Adherents to the more austere religious sects usually favoured more sombre clothing, but even this is something of a misconception; for example, Colonel Thomas Harrison, who commanded the King's escort on the way to his trial, was described as wearing a velvet montero, a buff-coat and a crimson silk waist-sash, richly fringed (which at one time would have indicated Royalist

Musketeer armed with caliver and costumed in style predating the Civil War (engraving by N C. Goodnight after de Gheyn)

Musketeer armed with caliver and costumed in style predating the Civil War (engraving by N C. Goodnight after de Gheyn)

Cavaliers And Roundheads Musketeer

sympathy), and in 1650 he wore a scarlet cloak and coat so covered W'ith gold and silver lace that the fabric was barely visible!

The rigours of campaign and shortage of materiel resulted in many Civil War armies going barefoot and almost in rags. Contemporary sources note many examples, such as Sir Samuel Luke's statement that, There were 2 in my company that had but one pair of breeches between them so that when one was up, the other must of necessity be in his bed'-1*, and a typical cri dc coeur is found in a letter from Bartholomew Ver-muyden, commander of the Norfolk horse, pleading for settlement of his men's arrears of pay, for 'to see our troops goc barefoot and naked this winter wether, and thire horses unshodd for want of your assistance makes me write thus earnestly'1®. Some troops even began their service in a state of wretchedness, such as those sent by the Essex committee to the Earl of Manchester in September 1643, wfith 'noe armes, noe clothes, noe coulors. noe drums ... in so naked a posture, thai to imploye them were to murther them'10.

With no universal uniform, recognition in the field was ever a problem: two aids to recognition were adopted, the 'field sign' and the 'field word*. The former, a visible proclamation of the wearer's allegiance, varied from coloured sashes to scraps of paper stuck in the hat. Such practices were not new; for example, Robert Gary, Earl of Monmouth, recalled an assault during the English campaigning in Flanders under the liar! of Essex in the previous century" 'One night there were scaling ladders prepared . , We were all commanded to wear shirts above the armour (I lost many shirts that 1 lent that night)

Coloured sashes were restricted largely to officers and horse, for, 'Every horseman must weare a skarf of the

0 0

Responses

  • semhar
    How were the new model army coats closed?
    6 years ago

Post a comment