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Re: [AmRevolution] British Marines

Thanks for the response. Of course we are very aware of the Fields' work and secured a copy a long time ago. It was useful, but not complete by any means. We also worked with the Royal Marine museum, but like many such British museums, there documentation before the Napoleonic period is somewhat weak. In fact, they gave us copies from Fields.

Mr. Kochan has been aware of our unit since 1992, where I think he first told us our uniforms were wrong, though provided no specifics or futher help unless we were willing to pay him. As to his book, it may indeed be coming out but we have heard about that for several years as well too.

In my experience, the best factual research on British Marines of the Rev War period has been conducted by re-enactor Doug Chase, who delved into the PRO for documentation. His findings to date (posted on his unit's website) have been great, but the question on lace still remains something of a mystery. There is no reference to such in the uniform contracts. Doug was able to find some very interesting watercolors done by a then serving Marine officer in 1775 which showed a bewildering array of uniforms serving on board ship. Perhaps the most tantalizing was one called "Centinal on the gangway of the Pallus", showing a rear view of a soldier (marine?) in breeches, a hat with a black plume or feather, a spanish musket, no epaulettes, perhaps grenades on his turnbacks, and bastion loop lace (although backwards) on his coat rear and sleeves. Now is this a marine? I don't know, and it is the one watercolor where the painter does not say that, only that he is a Centinal on the gangway.

To my knowledge, there is no other credible source of documentation from that period (paintings done then, letters, orderly books, etc.) showing or indicating about the lace. It is true there are later paintings showing marines in lace, but again, they are at least ten or more years after the fact. Some have lace, some do not.

This is what sparked my inquiry into the gentlemen from CMH who did the plate back in the early 80's as to why they put squared lace (not in pairs as I recall) on their work. Alas, that information may be lost forever, if they indeed had any to begin with. I don't know.

It is not unreasonable to assume that like virtually every army regiment of the time, the marines did indeed have lace. But as you know, from your own work, all of the known officer portraits are portrayed without lace (we know this from orders to take it off, then later put it back on) and paired buttons. But this is hardly definitive either, as there are many army officers shown in period paintings without lace on their coats, paired buttons, yet we know that the regiments (enlisted) had lace and the buttons were not always paired like the officers. So that leaves us back at square one.

I indeed look forward to Mr. Kochan's book when it is finally published. I will be anxous to see what documentation he provides for enlisted uniforms, coming from the period and not latter nor conjecture. Having said that, I realize that as historians, that is often the only thing we have, at least till the next great find anyway.

Best Regards,

Jim

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[AmRevolution] British Marines
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