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25330Re: [WarOf1812] Re: American Light Infantry

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  • Brian Howard
    Jun 6, 2005
      Dave,
      Davy Crockett aside, Virginia did maintain militia
      companies that were designated "Light Infantry".
      Governor Barbour in Jan of 1812 specified a Light
      Infantry uniform of a blue coat with white collar,
      cuffs, half-lapels, and turnbacks. A white waist coat,
      blue trousers with white seams, and a black round hat
      with a black cockade. Many of the more well to do
      companies designated themsleves as light infantry and
      adopted variations of this uniform regulation.

      As for riflemen, I must say you are incorrect with the
      hunting shirt being the uniform of the rifleman. Yes,
      the 1812 regulation called for a purple hunting shirt
      and purple trousers. The Mathews County Rifle companie
      adopted a uniform of a blue coat with black vest and
      black trousers. The hat was odd but I don't recall
      the exact configuration.

      It's late and I could go into more detail once I get
      my facts together. I will post more at a later time.

      Brian Howard
      2nd Virginia Regt., 1813-1815


      --- md5_yager <md5_yager@...> wrote:

      > Dan,
      > I'd hazard that an answer to your question could
      > almost fill a small
      > book. But to take a very general overview, here are
      > some personal
      > opinions.
      >
      > As for light infantry companies in regular US
      > regiments, I'll leave
      > that for rep's/historians of those recreated units.
      >
      > As for State militias up to the War of 1812, I offer
      > some
      > observations from personal study. The short answer
      > is that
      > one could make a claim that all of the state
      > militias were "light"
      > infantry, in that their military training (drill,
      > maneuver
      > evolutions, etc.), where there was any, was never on
      > a par with
      > regular infantry. State militia service traced back
      > to the earliest
      > colonial periods, being a requirement for
      > able-bodied males in the
      > designated age range, which varied over time, but
      > often from 16-50.
      > For the vast majority, this meant nothing more than
      > being a name on
      > the company commander's muster role, and maybe
      > showing up at
      > infrequent drills.
      >
      > Virginia for a time used militia districts to
      > determine who was in a
      > company, based on census location. The numbers I
      > have seen in
      > Virginia the post-RevWar period suggested a variable
      > 60-80 men per
      > company. If a militia draft occurred, it usually did
      > not mean
      > everyone reported due to hardship that would result
      > in agrarian
      > culture. Attempts were made to get enough of the
      > company to
      > volunteer, to meet quotas. And there was a process
      > for substitutes.
      >
      > No companies in southwest Virginia or western North
      > Carolina, for
      > example were designated 'light infantry', since many
      > of these were
      > (for historical and weapons reasons) designated
      > rifle companies. This
      > was economical, as a hunting frock was often the
      > official State
      > uniform. And it capitalized on long-standing
      > familiarity with rifles,
      > and hunting dress. (I know some may think this
      > sounds like its from a
      > Davy Crockett movie script, but know that there were
      > small Indian war-
      > party raids in east Tennessee, albeit infrequent,
      > into the mid 1790s.)
      >
      > In most areas, it appears that men were also free to
      > constitute their
      > own independent, uniformed companies. Incredibly,
      > there was no public
      > fear or shock at the sight of organized groups of
      > men carrying and
      > drilling with guns in public in those times. People
      > actually welcomed
      > it. But I digress... Uniformed companies could be
      > found in Baltimore,
      > Maryland, and some other cities. Maryland had
      > companies which
      > retained the name "Light Infantry" from the RevWar
      > period right up to
      > the time of the War of 1812. Baltimore also had a
      > independent "Yager"
      > company. (you Prussian fans spelled it as "Jager" or
      > "Jaeger"). At
      > the battle of North Point, Baltimore, Maryland in
      > 1814, historical
      > records show they functioned as skirmishers,
      > although evidently armed
      > with muskets. There was a independent, uniformed
      > "First Baltimore
      > Light Infantry Company" at the same battle, that
      > traced back to the
      > Revolutionary War. But I have not yet seen evidence
      > they fought
      > independently from other line infantry companies in
      > the 5th Regiment,
      > Maryland Militia they were attached to. Local
      > military commanders
      > attached rifle units to at least a couple of the
      > infantry regiments
      > at that battle. But organizationally, a Rifle
      > Battalion was a
      > separate entity.
      >
      > ... This only gives a few details about variation
      > from State to
      > State, and within each State. (As I said, you could
      > fill a small
      > book.) US law mandated State militias, but their
      > organization,
      > uniforms, training, and fighting quality was a
      > proverbial 'patchwork-
      > quilt'. The War of 1812 certainly brought to light
      > many of the
      > organizational and political management problems of
      > the US Government
      > relying on augmenting US forces with State militias.
      >
      > Dave Welch
      > Sadtler's Baltimore Yagers Company
      > 5th Reg't, Maryland Militia
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "dan_055"
      > <dan_055@y...> wrote:
      > > This may be a dumb question, but did the American
      > > regular regiments have light companies? How about
      >
      > > the State or militia regiments?
      > >
      > > If not, what happened to all the light infantry
      > > made famous during the revolution?
      > >
      > > Thanks,
      > > Dan
      >
      >
      >


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