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25346Re: [WarOf1812] Re: American Light Infantry

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  • Brian Howard
    Jun 7, 2005
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      Dave,
      Did not mean to cause you any discomfort and my
      appologies if I did so with my response. Your
      Hollywood analogy is correct when it comes to the
      rifleman image. I remember the movie "The Buccaneer"
      with Yul Brenner as John Lafeet. Gotta love those
      early movies especially with Charleton Heston as
      Jackson.

      You are on the mark with the variation of the
      uniforms. Seemed that by the end of the war the
      militia of Virginia was wearing the uniform of the US
      army. Governor Barbour issued an order in April of
      1813 that the militia was to adopt the regular
      infantry uniform. Seems that this was largely ignored
      in that the Adjutant General reinterated this order in
      orders dated March of 1814.

      By the way, I think my parents still have my coonskin
      cap in a trunk in their attic. Wonder how much it
      would go for on Ebay?

      Brian

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

      > Brian,
      > Your example of the Mathews County company is a good
      > example of what
      > I described as an independent, uniformed company.
      > This "Volunteer
      > Rifles" company even had their own constitution. The
      > silver
      > epaulettes of their officers must have been
      > splendid. Mathews County
      > on the Chesapeake Bay is a pretty far piece from the
      > piedmont and
      > mountain counties of Virginia, where the militia
      > rifle companies and
      > mounted volunteers were not so fashionably dressed.
      >
      > One could devote many pages to the colorful
      > variations of uniform to
      > be found among many such companies across the
      > States. Many on this
      > list probably are familiar with several excellent
      > published sources
      > on such. Variety in militia dress stemmed from many
      > factors. North
      > Carolina had a volunteer cavalry with with blue
      > round jackets, and
      > white pantaloons. But at the start of the war, there
      > was no
      > regulation uniform, leading Governor Hawkins had to
      > draw up a design.
      > Major William Hamilton was placed in charge of
      > recruiting in North
      > Carolina and promised to equip volunteers in "RIFLE
      > DRESS and give
      > you your FAVORITE WEAPON". (I daresay the latter was
      > not a Bess or
      > Charleville, subject to the limits of supply from US
      > depots and
      > contrators.) Hollywood notwithstanding, the dress of
      > Tennessee and
      > Kentucky mounted volunteers is legendary.
      >
      > As noted in earlier posting, State militias, both
      > volunteers and
      > draftees, were heavily relied upon to augment US
      > Forces. A reader had
      > asked what became of American light infantry units
      > of the RevWar
      > period. I was suggesting that the role of light
      > infantry units among
      > State forces was, by 1812, made unremarkable by
      > sheer weight of
      > overall militia quotas States were directed to
      > provide.
      >
      > I don't think I implied that light infantry units
      > did not exist, or
      > see combat. In fact, several in Maryland were
      > employed like quick-
      > reaction teams to respond to British landing parties
      > in the
      > Chesapeake. But across the spectrum of State units,
      > both volunteer
      > and drafted, the record and tactics suggest to me
      > that it was
      > frequently ad hoc, "come as you are" campaigns -- by
      > combatants with
      > little-to-no formal military training. But as
      > Horseshoe Bend, New
      > Orleans and other battles demonstrate, to borrow a
      > phrase they didn't
      > have to "dress for success".
      >
      > (Now what did I do with that old coonskin cap, it
      > was here
      > someplace... <grin>)
      > Dave
      >
      > --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, Brian Howard
      > <chippokes@y...> wrote:
      > > 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@y...> 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
      === message truncated ===




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