Who shaved the soldiers? Not surgeons...
- "If the soldier was not competent with a razor, the regimental surgeon did the dirty work."
It is true that soldiers were required to be clean-shaven (British and American soldiers, that is; some exceptions in French, German and Spanish armies. British pioneers were required to be clean-shaven just like their fellow soldiers).
But it is not true that regimental surgeons did the shaving.
The mistake that reenactors make with the answer to the question of "Who did the shaving" is that they try to correlate that skill with some unrelated role, such as Corporal, surgeon, pioneer, etc. In reality the men who did the shaving were the ones that knew how to do shaving, just like tailoring was done by men who knew how to do tailoring, etc. In the 22d Regiment of Foot, there was at least one private soldier who was a barber, and another who was a hairdresser. The orderly books of the 4th New York regiment make at least two mentions of regimental barbers:
Regimental orders, Aug. 27, 1780:
"The Orderly Sergts of Each Company are to furnish the Regimental barber with A Sufficient Quantity of Soape for Shaveing, takeing it from Every mans allowance whenever the Soape is Drawn to the amount of half a pound pr Company pr Month."
Brigade orders, Oct. 13, 1780:
"The Commandt Judges it proper to alter the mode heretofore adopted of
delivering to the barbers of the different Regiments a Large allowance of flour &c. he therefore directs that in future two lbs of flour, one lb of soape, and half a lb of Tallow, pr Company pr Month be delivered till further Orders."
A good book to look for is "The Adventures of Ebenezer Fox in the
Revolutionary War". Fox was a young Bostonian who served briefly in the militia, then went on a privateer. After being captured at sea, he was sent to the West Indies where he was forced to join a British foot regiment and, since he had been apprenticed to a barber in Boston, shaved and dressed the hair of the officers.
A very interesting "slice of life" in the British camps in Rhode Island comes from a court martial of three soldiers in the 38th Regiment (WO 71/87 p. 209). Check out the testimony of witnesses called by soldiers John Love, Thomas Manning, and John Clements, as they sought to prove that they had not left the camp:
The Prisoners John Love, Thomas Manning, and John Clements, being duly
called to, and put on their Defences, deny every part of the Charge against them.
1st Evidence. James Buckley of the same Company with the Prisoners, being called on by Thomas Manning, and duly sworn, was questioned by him as follows.
Q. from Manning- Did you shave me on the Evening of the 11th Instant?
A. Yes, about half an hour before Roll calling, and I saw you about a
quarter of an hour before Parade, at which you was present, standing in the Streets of the Encampment.
Q. from J. Clements- Do you sleep in the same Tent with me, and did you miss me out of it the Night of the 11th Instant?
A. You Sleep in the same Tent with me, and lay down, undressed in it at 9 o'Clock that night, in which situation you were in at Day break, nor did I miss you out of it during that time.
Q. from J. Clements- To the best of your belief do you think I could have gone out and come into the Tent, as also dress and undress myself without your knowing it?
A. I think you could not as you lay on the inside of me.
Q. from J. Love- Did you lend me a pair of Trowsers and shave me on the 11th Instant?
A. I lent yo a pair of Trowsers about five o'Clock that Evening and shaved you when I finished Manning.
2d. Evidence William Ryan, of the same Company with the Prisoners being duly sworn, deposes, that he belongs to the same Tent with the Prisoner Manning, that the Night of the 11th Instant, between nine and ten he was with him laying down in it to Sleep, that he never missed him out of it during the night, though he awoke once in it, and got up at daybreak at both which times Manning was there.
3d Evidence William Shields, of the same Company, being duly sworn, deposes, that he likewise slept in the same Tent with the Prisoner Manning, that they lay down at half past nine o'Clock on the Night of the 11th Instant, that he had Occasion to get up about 12, when he was present, as also at Daybreak, and further deposes, that about half an hour before Roll calling that Evening, he saw the Prisoners Manning and Love shaved, and tied the Hair of the last after his being shaved.
Don N. Hagist
- From the 40th of foot fb site a small collection of fuzzy chins.
Been scouring pictures of the 18thC for beardy types; in addition to the above there's 3 in Mayday by Nollekens all 'older gentlmen',
one in Chairing the member by Hogarth, blind possibly Jewish too,
one wee goatee in the Enraged Musician,
Grant of Lurg's painted 1760 summat at age 80+
and this from 1760
"Twenty pounds reward
Run away from... Alexandria, Fairfax County Virginia, a convict servant man, named John Murphy, born in Ireland, about 28 Years of Age, by trade a joiner, a low set fellow, about 5 feet 4 inches high, struts in his walk, has a pale complexion, large black beard and eyebrows, wide mouth, and pleasant countenance, sings extraordinarily well, having followed it in playhouses in London, talks proper English, and that in a polite manner... It is imagined he has forged a pass and likely will deny his name, trade and place of nativity.
NB All Masters of Vessels are forbid to take him off at their Peril. (August 1760)"
One on a sailor in a trade card first half of the 18thc
Old, mad, foreign, certain religious groups and occasionally sailors are the ones mentioned or portrayed with beards, even Highlanders are beardless, some 'tasches' in the Morier painting but no beardys. There are some stubble chinned types in various paintings and etchings gypsies, criminals, and beggars usually the implication is that they are 'bad sorts'.
The exception rather than the norm.