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Uniforms in musket days

 
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Uniforms in musket days - 3/26/2008 5:05:33 AM   
ilovestrategy


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I heard that the reason armies had bright colored uniforms back in the ball and musket days was becasue the muskets made so much smoke that the generals on each side had to have a way to tell who was who on the battlefield.
Would anyone happen to know if this is an urban myth or is it fact?
Thanks!

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RE: Uniforms in musket days - 3/26/2008 7:38:03 PM   
Joshuatree

 

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AFAIK yes. Generals had to identify their troops by the uniforms they were wearing. So bright red and blue and what not.
Camouflage isn't much use when your commanding officer too can't see you
I don't know if it was solely because of the gunsmoke though, I doubt that.

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RE: Uniforms in musket days - 3/26/2008 10:10:21 PM   
andym


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Uniforms were originally developed from the Heraldic devices used by Medieval Knights to show their alleigiences,but no "formal" uniform cme into being untill they were  issued to Militias in England  by the "owning" Colonel in the 17th Cent.This mainly occured in the "New Model Army" years of the English Civil War.Some, but not all Colonels tried to out do each other with the uniforms they issued to their Militias,leading to some quite flamboyant and totally impractical uniforms.Eventually these became the basis for the Regiemental Uniforms in the British Army.Some units even "borrowed" bits of uniform off their beaten foes(some still use these bits of kit,for example the boots and Breastplates of the Household Cavalry,borrowed of the French)The Guards "Busby" being a notable one.It wasnt untill the Boer war that Khaki(urdu for dusty) was introduced.Scottish regiments used their clan Tartans in their Uniforms,and still do.Give the short range that Muskets were effective at,i dont really think it made much of a difference.If someone in front of you is firing a Musket,i think you would find hes not being very freindly!It was really the advent of the Rifled weapon and the change from lining up in front if each other and letting go at each other to the use of skirmishers and the need for concealment that they slowly evolved into darker colours such as Rifle Green used by the Rifles.

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RE: Uniforms in musket days - 3/26/2008 11:12:19 PM   
Grell

 

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Thank you for the information.

Regards,

Grell

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RE: Uniforms in musket days - 3/27/2008 12:20:51 AM   
andym


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Of course Naval Uniforms are a different matter all together.

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RE: Uniforms in musket days - 3/27/2008 1:50:36 AM   
ilovestrategy


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Thanks for the info! I was wondering about that for a while!

You have me curious about the naval uniforms though!

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RE: Uniforms in musket days - 3/27/2008 11:08:44 PM   
andym


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Suprisingly the RN uniform is relatively new in concept.
Before 1857, it had been the practice to sell 'slop' or ready made clothing to seamen on board HM Ships. This clothing lacked uniformity and its fashion and colour varied with the period and whim of the contractor. In the reign of Queen Anne for instance, seamen tended to be dressed in red and grey but by the middle of the eighteenth century blue had become the commonest colour.This came about as only indigo based dyes offered a reasonable degree of colour fastness to sunlight and wear at a time when the range of available dyes was limited and when adequate means of assessing colour fastness did not exist. Now, indigo, which is extracted from a topical plant, appeared in the UK as trade with India expanded in the eighteenth century and it is no coincidence that this is when blue uniforms became the most common - replacing a motley collection of colours and shades in use before then.
                                               During the French Revolutionary wars from 1778 to 1815, commanding officers began to pay more attention to their men's' clothing requirements and by 1800 it was common for ships companies to be mustered at divisions 'all in blue' or 'all in white' so giving a fair degree of uniformity between ships as the men made their clothes from the 'standard' blue, white or 'fancy' cloth sold by the Pusser. (The latter might be tartan, check, gingham etc. and all have been worn at sea at some stage).The Pusser being Naval slang for the Royal NAvy.There was still plenty of room for variations, however, and in the 1830s the captain of HMS Vernon ordered his seamen to wear red serge frocks and comforters. After some time in commission the stock ran out and red garments were then allocated to the port watch, the starboard wearing blue (not green which was significantly more difficult and thus expensive to dye). The captain of HMS Blazer ordered his men to wear blue and white striped Guernsey's and the captain of HMS Trincomalee followed with red shirts and 'fancy' hats. Most eccentric of all was Captain Wilmott of HMS Harlequin who, as recently as 1853, paid for his boat's crew to be dressed as harlequins. This attracted ribald comments from the press and, no doubt, his boat's crew and may have prompted the Admiralty to issue its circular on ratings uniform in 1857.Since 1859 the sailor's uniform has undergone a number of changes, perhaps the most surprising being the removal of the blue jacket, which had given rise to the nickname 'bluejacket' for a sailor, in 1890. At the same time the 'frock', which used to be tucked into the trousers, gave way to the 'jumper' which was not. CPOs and first-class POs moved into fore and aft rig from 1859 onwards.

Ships names on the Cap Tallies was an aid when fighting in a Boarding party and also to identify the Name of the Ship the sailor belonged to,esp Sea boats crew which were a direct refelction on the ship and Its Captain.

< Message edited by andym -- 3/27/2008 11:11:45 PM >


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RE: Uniforms in musket days - 3/28/2008 12:33:25 AM   
ilovestrategy


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andym, thank you so much for this information. I really enjoyed it!

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