Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Redcoat Uniforms, Part 2: corporals, sergeants and officers

Non-commissioned officers
“Good sergeants and Corporals being so very essential for the support of discipline and order in a Regiment, their merit must be well considered…honesty, sobriety, and a remarkable attention to every point of duty, with a neatness in their dress and a quickness in their understanding, above the common run of Soldiers…”(Cuthbertson: 5)
Among the qualifications of good non-commissioned officers, corporal or sergeant, was attention to proper dress. The uniform distinction for a corporal was a shoulder knot of white cord on the right shoulder, a vestige of the extra slow match carried in earlier days. By the 1780s, regiments shifted to a single white silk epaulette. Other than the knot/epaulette, corporals wore the same uniforms as privates. Sergeants wore coats of slightly better cloth than privates, scarlet not dull madder red. Sergeants’ wore hats trimmed with silver lace and their coats trimmed with plain white lace instead of the regimental pattern. They also wore a red wool sash with a stripe of the regiment’s facing color woven in the middle. Regiments with red facings wore a white stripe. For duty on more formal occasions a sergeants carried a halberd and short sword, but for most duty in America, sergeants carried a musket with bayonet.
“A good figure (at least a genteel one) is a circumstance to be also considered in the young gentleman…as it must be allowed, that a well-looking Corps of Officers are as striking to the eye, as a fine body of private men…” (Cuthbertson: 2)
Officers wore coats of fine scarlet faced with their regiments' color. Officers had their coats and hats trimmed in either gold or silver metallic lace depending on their regiment’s designated metal. On duty, officers carried a sword and wore a matching metal gorget around their neck. Officers tied the gorget, a vestige of medieval armor, with a silk ribbon of the facing color. Company-level officers, up to captain, wore a metallic lace epaulette on their right shoulder. Officers above captain, as well as grenadier and light company officers, wore two. Many officers in America wore plain unlaced coats and hats on duty, often carrying a light musket, or fusil.