Hats for the Militia
--- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, Wayne Thurston <wthurston60@...> wrote:
"We are getting together a militia kit and are finding differing opinions about the style of hat worn by The NewYork militia."
I think that if you are presenting the active NY Militia at the beginning of the war you should have them in blue coats with red facings and a regulation shako. See Rene Chartrand's "Uniforms and Equipment of the US Forces in the War of 1812." If you are presenting some of the local lads at the local muster you should do civilian work clothes--probably stout trousers, waistcoat, woolen coats and a round hats or felt slouch hats etc. I think that the fringed hunting shirt would be a bit unusual in New York at the time but I could be wrong. I have a gut feeling that it would be as unusual in New York in 1812 as it would today if you called the lads from Poughkeepsie out and one of them showed up in a kilt or lederhausen.
However, others on this site may have researched this in detail and uncovered diaries or newspaper accounts that suggest some of the lads were in colourful frontier dress.
- ---The hunting shirt or riflemans frock is probably more correct as a rule for the Militia units from the Western States. We know with out a doubt the descriptions given the men from Kentucky who fought at the Battle of Tippicanoe in 1811, quite savage in appearance wearing hunting shirts, some even leather, wide belts with knives and tomahawks etc. Then again later at the River Raisin descibed the 600 or so militia as wearing riflemans frocks of a variety of colors, well worn slouch hats, long hair and unshaven, leather belts with enormous knifes and tomahawks, RIFLES... and the officers dressed the same except some had shorter rifles and daggers of some value. When Col Johnson went up to the Thames he took one thousand of the best riders of the 3000 man force and rode ahead to engage the Indians and the 41st. They were described as in a motley garb. Some say black riflemans frocks with red trim. The dragoon units wore top hots with cockades but the
majority of the mounted riflemen wore wide brim hats and carried rifles. They were ordered to dismount when they attacked the Indians. The officers were dressed the same.
When the 2500 men from Kentucky marched to New Orleans they were in a ragged state. The women of the local areas scrambled to put together blankets and extra clothes. One thousand showed up with out weapons at all. Andrew Jackson was quoted to have said," I have never met a Kentuckian with out a rifle, a deck or cards and a jug of whiskey!"
There has not been very much first hand descriptions of Kentucky Militia men wearing anything other than riflemans frocks... some perhaps, but not much.
So if you're fighting in battles that involved some of the 22,000 men from Kentucky who fought in their States Militia from the beginning of the war to the end you would likely be seeing many riflemans frocks of a variety of colors. Not much uniformity.
The terms of service for the men when they mustered up were about six months or so. The mustering papers told the men to provide their own cloths, gun and powder horns and sometimes even horses. They didn't require much because they weren't going to be gone for long. When they returned they would quite often muster back out again with the next Regiment being called out.
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