More militia wear for1812
- Thanks for cutting to the chase, Larry ;-)
My (thinly veiled) purpose in my response was to promote a discussion on
proper militia wear for 1812 as I know many re-enactors from outside the
time period are planning to join us for the bicentennial and I hoped my
learned colleagues on the list (such as yourself) could provide some
valuable opinions and advice.
For most of the events I have attended, the "blue" team (US forces) have
been outnumbered by the "red" team and the irregulars (indeed, even
regiments with uniforms other than red in colour) are asked to play on the
"dark side". Some red units dress down to civilian garb and offer their
support. This leads to a number of units on the field that are labelled
"militia" but is this accurate? As this discussion continues, we are
learning that many if not all US militia units had a uniform consisting of
coatees and shakos.
I've now learned that it is likely safe to suggest that militia on campaign
would be of the uniformed variety while those defending their homes may
comprise the civilian soldier type.
Should we follow this to its logical conclusion, then our re-enactment
armies would take on a more regular appearance unless involved in a raid
where the defenders would have a higher component of armed townsfolk.
So then, the nature of the re-enactment should dictate what our militia
should wear and depending on how they're garbed; in fact, whose side they'd
So, have we decided on rifle frocks for militia?
BTW, I have seen the NY militia officer's uniform coat you describe (want
one myself!) and it's quite lovely. I believe there is a McBarron print
around of a militia officer wearing it.
I leave it to the Riflemen to describe how and where they were recruited.
Long Live the Republic!
From: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com [mailto:WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
Sent: February 3, 2010 2:40 PM
Subject: Militia wear for1812
Were there any Rifle Regiments from New York State?
(original question: "We are getting together a militia kit and are finding
differing opinions about the style of hat worn by The New York militia.")
When researching the 27th United State Infantry Regiment at Carlyle Barracks
they stated that all New York Militia Units were to be issued Regimentals of
blue faced red.
Fort Malden (Amherstburg Ontario) displays a New York Militia Officer's tail
coat and Chapeau Bras, the coat is blue faced red. Peter Twist now owns a
reproduction of this coat.
Many re-enactors wear Rev Hunting Frocks when doing 1812. A learned tailor
who supplies uniforms to museums has shown me the difference, one difference
between a Rev Hunting Frock and an 1812 Hunting Frock is in 1812 the USA
Rifle Regiments wore a collar similar to a Regimental coat.
I do agree with you of a "... militia company made up of people wearing the
common dress of the village they purport to come from. Say the owner of the
local newspaper wears a tailcoat of good quality, the farmer's son wears
trousers and worker's jacket of homespun stuff, the judge/magistrate is the
officer and dresses as the educated fashionable gentleman he is ..."
There was a re-enactor who was going to raise such a company but alas he has
left the hobby.
The original question was "We are getting together a militia kit and are
finding differing opinions about the style of hat worn by The New York
The answer is "Mr. Thurston a US style shako"
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- ---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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