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Re: American LIghts

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  • machewr
    Yes, I was curious about this, too. Been reading Smyth s regs of 1812 and he mentions two companies of Grenadiers with each battalion. I fear I am still in
    Message 1 of 10 , Jun 2, 2005
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      Yes, I was curious about this, too. Been reading Smyth's regs of 1812 and he mentions
      two companies of Grenadiers with each battalion. I fear I am still in research 101 and
      hopefully can glean the expertise of this group.

      Were the Grenadiers distinguished from the regular line companies in any way, in uniform,
      function and the like? Were they detached and converged into "light" battalions? Did they
      do any skirmishing like the lights of the British battalions? Or were they indistinguishable
      from the line companies?
    • Brian Howard
      Dave, Davy Crockett aside, Virginia did maintain militia companies that were designated Light Infantry . Governor Barbour in Jan of 1812 specified a Light
      Message 2 of 10 , Jun 6, 2005
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        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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      • md5_yager
        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
        Message 3 of 10 , Jun 7, 2005
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          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 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
          > >
          > >
          > >
          >
          >
          > __________________________________________________
          > Do You Yahoo!?
          > Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
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        • Brian Howard
          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
          Message 4 of 10 , 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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          • md5_yager
            Brian, No apology needed. Between us I hope we cleared some of the fog of war for readers concerning light infantry and rifle companies of the militia. What
            Message 5 of 10 , Jun 8, 2005
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              Brian,
              No apology needed. Between us I hope we cleared some of the "fog
              of war" for readers concerning light infantry and rifle companies of
              the militia. What is sometimes called the "second British War"
              or "second war of Independence" was briefer, but undoubtedly more
              hotly fought, and over a much bigger piece of the continent.

              If you are associated with Ft. Norfolk, I'll beg the indulgence
              of the List, to mention Charles Sexton, who had the honor to serve
              your State's Governor (probably Barbour's successor Nelson). Drafted
              August 2,1814 at Russell County Court House into Captain John
              Hammon's Co'y, 5th Reg't, Virginia Militia. Discharged at Ft. Nelson
              March 20, 1815. His widow applied in 1872 for a pension in his name,
              for his 231 days service. But only after attesting "that at no time
              during the late rebellion against the authority of the United States
              did he adhere to the cause of the enemies of the Government giving
              them aid or comfort"

              ... But that "late rebellion" is another story and one for another
              list.

              I have the pleasure to be
              your Mo: ob: servt,
              Dave Welch
              5th Reg't, Maryland Militia



              --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, Brian Howard <chippokes@y...> wrote:
              > 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
              >
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