Clothing And Equipment


Spalding wrote that 'Upon Frydday, 16th of Februar Captane Strathauchin out of Abirdene with sex scoire ten soldiouris, capitanes, and comma nderis, furneshit out by the said burghe upone their owne charges and expensis. Ilk soldiour wes furneshit with hut sarkis, cot, breikis, hoiss and bonet, bandis, and schone; cine suord, ane muscat, pulder and ball, for so mony; and utheris sum ane suord, and ane pik, according to the ardour; and ilk soldiour to have sex schillinges ilk day, during the space of 40 dayes, of loan silver. Ilk tuelff of thame had ane baggage horse worth Jyftie pundis, ane stoup, ane pan, ane pot, for their meat and drink, togidder also with thair hyre or levie or loan money, ilk soldiour estimat to ten dollaris, and in furneshing and all to 100 merkis.'

By any standard the Earl Marischal's men described above were extremely well equipped. Nevertheless, the provision of 'ane stand of gray clothes, tua sarkis (shirts), tua pair of schois' also recorded by Spalding in 1640 was txpical of the early Scots armies. Although no sealed patterns have survived - if indeed they ever existed - the evidence clearly points to their being clothed fairly similarly to their English counterparts. Clothing ordered for English soldiers serving in Ireland in 1646, for example, was to be made up using 2.5 yards of woollen cloth per suit together with a quantity of canvas for lining and pockets. This is sufficient for a simple pair of knee breeches and the foure-tailed coate mentioned in a 1651 petition from Fife. Coats ordered for the English New Model Army were specified to be three quarters and a nail long, i.e. 29 and one quarter inches; while this might at first appear an odd measurement it is in fact a half width of broadcloth. Buttons are nowhere mentioned but were almost certainly made by the soldiers themselves from twists of cloth. Archaeological evidence suggests that such buttons were universally used in Scotland at this time.

Scots soldiers also received pieces of lining or linen from time to time. This was presumably in order to make themselves pairs of drawers. In February and March 1645, for instance, some men of Colonel William Stewart's and the Earl of Cassillis' Regiments received a cash allowance in lieu of the half yard of linings to which they were entitled; and a cargo of French linings was consigned to the troops in Aberdeen in October 1646.

Shirts were normally made of harden, a very coarse form of linen. Just how coarse it was may be gauged by the fact that in 1640 Major General Robert Monro ordered a quantity of this material for tentage. Before it could actually be delivered the weather must have improved, for he had it made up into shirts instead.

Generally speaking hose or stockings were cut from woollen cloth -usuallv kersey, tojudge from purchases. However, since knitted stockings became a staple export from Aberdeen in the 17th century it would be reasonable to expect their widespread use by Scots soldiers, particularly if raised in the area. Incidentally, the bandis mentioned in Spalding's account were not lawn collars, but garters for the stockings.

The low shoes worn by infantrymen tended to be lightly constructed bv modern standards. Those made in Aberdeen for the Master of Forbes' Regiment in 1640 were onlv single-soled. Some attempt was made to ensure a reasonable fit. and another 1640 requisition specified that they should be 10 and 11 insche al the least. This was very much in line with contemporary English contracts, and corresponds to the modern British shoe sizes 7 and 8 (US 8 and 9).

The famous Scots bonnet, or Scotch blew cafyp as it is frequently referred to in English documents, was almost invariably knitted and felted - rather in the manner of the contemporary Monmouth cap - although there is some archaeological evidence for cheaper ones made up from scraps of woven cloth.

These bonnets were almost universally worn bv both officers and men. When the officers of Robert Monro's Regiment were made Freemen of Aberdeen they were reported to have marched out of the town with their burgess tickets stuck in their bonnets. Indeed, so universal was their use throughout Scotland that most soldiers wore their own, and the possible issue of bonnets to the Earl Marischal's Regiment in 1644 was exceptional.

Another characteristically Scottish item carried by soldiers but not generally included in clothing issues was the plaid. This was not necessarily the voluminous article associated with Highlanders, but was generally of more modest dimensions and could just as easily be woven in a tweed pattern as tartan. A typical example 18 excavated from Quintfall

Musketeer as depicted by de Gehyn (1607). While the clothing styles are inappropriate, this provides a very useful illustration of his equipment. There is no evidence that musket rests were used after 1639-40.

16th Century Musket Drill

Hill in Caithness measured only 8 feet 6 inches by 5 feet - very much in line with sizes quoted in contemporary commercial documents. The plaid served as a mantle or cloak by day and bedding by night, and was generally agreed to be inseparable from its owner. One English traveller commented with some astonishment that he had even seen men wearing them while ploughing!


The arming of the Scots infantry was quite straightforward and, with the exception of the detachments of halberdiers formed in 1647, none of them were ever issued with armour. All soldiers carried swords, generally referred to as whingers or hangers. These were usually either curved-bladed weapons with birds-head hilts of native manufacture, or else cheap straight-bladed Dutch imports of dubious qualitv.

The primary weapons were of course the matchlock musket and long pike described by Spalding. The 1644 levies for the Earl Marischal's and Lord Gordon's regiments had the two musketeers for every pikeman prescribed in the mustering instructions, but not all units may have been so well equipped. When the Earl of Tullibardine's Regiment was mustered outside Newark early in 1646. for example, there were three musketeers to even,7 two pikemen in the ranks.

Some locally raised units were even less well provided for. In 1639 Sir William Forbes of Craigievar raised a regiment in the Aberdeen area; but while the men were found easilv enough, arming them was a different matter. In desperation he ordered the local inhabitants to surrender their own weapons under pain of death. The resultant haul may not have been all that he hoped: 'The oldtoun people trembling with fear of this uncouth charge came all running to Mr. Thomas Leslie's house with some few muskets and hagbutts, others with a rusty sword, others with cine headless spear. The Laird of Craigievar took up all, both good and bad and divided them amongst his own armless soldiers.'

Even in later years there were shortages; in July of 1645, for instance, the Inverness-shire levies raised by the Earl of Seaforth had to be content with a single shipload of 150 pikes and 150 muskets sent up from Edinburgh. Nevertheless, the fact that the shipment was made at all underlines the point that Highlanders were frequently expected to be properly equipped rather than relying on the buccolic collection of swords and axes with which they are popularly depicted.

Other weapons were in use, besides those carried by some temporary Highland levies. Detachments of halberdiers were authorized in 1647 (see Plate G); Lochaber axes were considered an acceptable substitute for pikes in units levied for local defence; and in 1648 baggage men, each charged with looking after two pack horses, were ordered to be armed with a sword and half-pike.

As to other equipment, the Scots ordnance papers reveal that the individual musketeer carried his ammunition in a 'collar of bandoliers' or powder chargers. Famously these were sometimes nicknamed the 'Twelve Apostles', as originally there were twelve chargers suspended from the collar. In actual fact the number of chargers should have corresponded to the bore of the musket. The ordinary ammunition scale for all musketeers during the Civil War period was a pound apiece of powder and ball, which made up 12 rounds for a soldier armed with a

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