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A History of The Clothing Worn by the NCO’s & Private Men of the 5th Battn. 60th Regt. (Rifles)
In December 1797, an Act of Parliament was passed to augment the 60th Regt. to 5 battalions (from 4). This 5th battalion was to be formed from two Émigrés units currently serving in the British Army – Lowenstein’s Chasseurs, and Hompesch’s Mounted riflemen. The former unit wore a drab grey uniform, and the latter wore a green jacket with scarlet facings.
This battalion became the first Rifle Corps in the British Army. There had been limited use of the rifle in the hands of British soldiers such as Fergusons Rifle Corps & the York Rangers; but their numbers were paled in contrast to this new battalion which was to be 1,000 men strong – and most importantly trained specifically how to use the rifle. The Lt. Col. of the battalion – Francis de Rottenburg – actually wrote the first rifle drill manual the British Army ever used, and this formed the basis of Sir John Moore’s thinking when training the Light Division at Shorncliffe.
Above – A Print by Charles Hamilton Smith, 1797-1803. 5/60th on left, Rifle Coy. 6th Battn. on right.
The first muster roll for the battalion was sworn in on the Isle of Wight in July of this year at Newport Magistrates. The muster roll tells us that 400 men were present, under the command of Baron Francis de Rottenburg. A further 600 men were present on Barbados.
No official reg. or warrant exists for this period (the last one being dated to 1768) which depicts the clothing worn by the corps; however we are blessed with a print made by Charles Hamilton Schimdt (Smith) in 1797, which depicts a private in what would most likely have been a bottle green jacket (Rifle Green as it is known today, but back then the chosen colour used was Bottle Green) with mock scarlet (a slightly different shade to madder red which was the shade line infantry used – Hamilton Smith also observed that the 7/60th wore ‘green jackets with scarlet facings in 1813) facings, which sloped away at the back into short tails, with a red edging all the way around, and adorned in red and green ‘wings’ on the shoulders. Blue pantaloons were issued to the men with red feathering on the outside seam & also along the edges of the fall front of the pantaloon – black continental style gaiters were also worn, which had red feathering across the top edge also. Black leather cross belts were worn, with a brass plate holding the two together at the front (On Hamilton-Smiths print it shows the plate with ’60’). A Regimental cap – which was by the look of it shallac’d- was worn which was furnished in a silver bugle horn (so we are told however this is a research target) with a green plume and red cockade. No cords are visible on Hamilton-Smiths print.
In 1802 a number of warrants & reg’s were drafted, ready for the 1803 Warrant. W.Y. Carmen brought these together in one place in the mid 20th Century. Many observations and questions were pencilled in, which tells us that they were not formally published in this year, but served as a basis for the formal 1803 regs. The draft regulations do tell us the following specifically about the 5th Battalion:
“5th Battn. Of the 60th Regt.—The jackets of the Private Men of the Battn. are of
green cloth, without lapels or lining, but the fronts of the jacket faced with green cloth, and made to button over the body down to the waist with 9 buttons. The Skirts rather short and lined with green serge. The hind skirts fold over between the hip buttons and also turned back to meet the front skirts, with a button in the joining, and each have a slip of red cloth along the edged of the skirt lining. 6 darts of lace on each wing, which with a red standing collar are laced round. The cuffs red cloth made pointed and to open at the wrist with 2 buttons. The shoulder straps of green cloth with a red feathered edge. No pocket flaps, and the pockets to open at the Plait. The whole of the buttons small. The lace a Scarlet worsted Binding. A white milled serge waistcoat with sleeves and blue cloth pantaloons.”
This passage tells us that the jackets are unlined, except for the fronts of the jacket – and it will have one row of 9 buttons. The facings are pointed and scarlet in colour, with the bottom edge of the jacket being feathered in scarlet. In the paragraph before this excerpt above; a regulation is issued for Coote Manningham’s Corps (soon to be the 95th Regiment) which describes three rows of buttons, with 12 in each row. Importantly, a regulation is also issued explaining the dress of the rifle companies of the 60th’s other battalions, which depicts:
“The Rifle Corps of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 6th Battns. Of the 60th Regt.—The Jackets
for the Rifle Corps of the above Battns. are of Green Cloth without Lappels or Lining
except the Sleeves. The Inside of the Breast Fronts [faced] with Red Cloth, and made to
48 Appended to E in the same writing, but in ink, is the note which follows. These noted in E are not reproduced in Z.
Button over the Body down to the Waist with 10 Buttons, Short Skirts, not turned back,
but cut to slop off behinds, with the Pocket Flaps sloping like Lt. Infantry & the Pockets
in the Plait. Round Cuffs with 4 Buttons on each and without Slits. The Cuffs, Shoulder
Straps and a standing Collar of Green Cloth, No Wings or Lace, but the Edges of the
whole jacket feathered with Red Cloth. The Back Skirts to fold well over between the
Hip Buttons, and all the Buttons on the Jacket small.
A White milled Serge Waistcoat with Sleeves. Green Cloth Breeches, and Black
Cloth Woollen Gaiters.”
This tells us that the dress of the 5th battalion was very specific and also unique in comparison to the Experimental Rifle Corps & also the rifle armed companies of the 60th. Most importantly of all – the dress of the 60th Rifle Companies depicts a jacket with no turn back – whereas the 5th battalion description does not say this. From this we can summarise that the 5th battalion did indeed have a jacket with turn backs, which were edged in scarlet feathering.
On April 22nd of this year, an order entitled ‘Regulation for the clothing and appointments of the army’ was published. This warrant was the first formal one since 1768, and built on the draft 1802 regulations. The regulations cover uniforms for Cavalry, Artillery & infantry – and especially the clothing of Guards, people of colour and most importantly to us – the Rifle Corps.
Item number VIII under the infantry heading of the above regulation reads as follows:
“In a Regiment of Infantry serving in the West In
dies, (except the 5th Battalion of our 60th Regiment, and the
Regiments composed of People of Colour) each. Serjeant
shall have for clothing ANNUALY”
This order specifically shows us that the 5th Battalion had a distinct uniform, which was viewed as being unique to the rest of the infantry. Moving on to the next paragraph – IX, the regulation for dress for BOTH the 95th & the 5th Battalion 60th reads as follows (Very important as in conflict with the 1802 draft regs. both corps are treated as one entity):
“In the 5th Battalion of the 60th Regiment, and the
95th Regiment of Foot, (or Rifle Corps,) each Serjeant shall
have for clothing,
A jacket, the sleeves unlined :
A waistcoat, with serge sleeves ;
A pair of pantaloons ; and
A pair of military shoes ; and
Once in every Two Years,
A cap, as above ;
Each Corporal, Drummer, and Private Man, shall have
A jacket lined, but not laced ; the sleeves unlined ;
A kersey waistcoat, with serge sleeves ;
A pair of blue pantaloons, made of cloth of the same
quality as the jacket ; and
A pair of military shoes ; and
Once in every Two years,
A cap, as above;
The men are to be stopped the extraordinary charge of
two shillings and threepence on this clothing, in consequence
of receiving pantaloons instead of breeches.”
This regulation can be viewed to those learned in this subject as fairly confusing to say the least. The fact that drummers are mentioned instead of buglers tells us that the person writing this order either knew little about the corps in question, or more than likely made a mistake when writing. Furthermore, the fact that buttons are not mentioned nor the number of rows or indeed the allocation in each row can tell us two things – either the 95th conformed to the 5/60th’s allocation of one row with 9 buttons for a short while, or more likely that the 5/60th conformed to the 95th’s allocation of three rows of buttons with 12 in each row. Primary source evidence from artists such as Charles Hamilton smith & J A Atkinson certainly confirm the latter theory; not to mention the fact that surviving officers jackets in the RGJ Museum have three rows of buttons among others.
Questions are begged to be answered such as – Did the 95th receive blue pantaloons like the regulation above suggests, or did the 5/60th convert to green pantaloons at this point (keeping the blue pantaloons for full dress?)? and Did the 5th Battalion retain turn backs on their jacket, or did they go for the same style jacket as the 95th – without turn backs?
Also published in 1803, on the 14th July, was the regulation which introduced chevrons for NCO’s into the British Army. The order included the following guidance on how the chevrons should be composed:
“In the Heavy Cavalry and Infantry, the Chevrons are to be formed of a double
Row of the Lace of the Regiments…
The Bars of the Chevrons are to be edged with a very narrow edging of Cloth of
the Colour of the Facing of the Regiment, and are to be fixed on a piece of Cloth the
Colour of the Coat, and worn on the Right arm at an equal distance from the elbow and the shoulder…
The Bars are to be placed at Right angles with the points downwards, the distance
between the Bars is to be half and inch and their extremities are to extend to within half an inch of the seams of the sleeve.”
So based on this regulation, the chevrons would be comprised of bottle green cloth at the base, with mock scarlet cloth on top and the regimental lace – which for the 60th was white with blue worming- over the top of that. Even though the 5th Battalion was deemed a rifle corps, there is no distinction we have found which exempts them from following this order (and if there was an order it would’ve been included in the 1807 book produced by the war office which accumulates all regulations for clothing etc). It has been mooted around often in text and practice that the NCO’s chevrons were scarlet/red for the 5th Battalion, but no primary solid evidence exists to back this up. The decision for the re-enactment group has been taken to implement the use of the 60th Regimental Lace for NCO chevrons; with serjeants mirroring line infantry serjeants and using 3/8inch plain white tape; and serjeant majors to use 3/8 inch silver lace (as worn by officers). This decision was made in consultation with numerous learned personalities as well as the RGJ Museum in Winchester.
As a group we were recently afforded a source from Ben Townsend. This source is a print made by J A Atkinson in or before 1807. His original print is available in black and white on the British Museum website; however the print we were given access to from Ben Townsend shows the same print but ‘coloured in’ with what would seem the colours of the 5/60th. The print shows blue pantaloons with scarlet feathering; black half gaiters, mustache (unique to the 5/60th at the time) & turn backs which are green with scarlet feathering. It is important to add now that the black and white print does not show a mustache, but does clearly show a turn back on the jacket, with feathering along the edge, & also pantaloons with feathering also. The inclusion of a mustache on the ‘coloured in’ print is highly important as it shows it was added to the original and almost certainly means the print has been coloured in to depict the 5/60th. Furthermore, the 95th never had turn backs on their jackets – if you take the 1802 & 1803 warrants into account, which further compounds the reasoning this print is of the 5/60th.
Also shown in the Atkinson print is the use of Queues. These were formally abolished in July 1808, one month before the expeditionary force landed at Mondego Bay, Portugal (there is a ref. to this in Kincaid which shows how popular this order was – however my copy is on loan at present). That means the print must be dated somewhere between 1803-1808.
Above – A ‘coloured-in’ print by J A Atkinson. 1803-1808.
In 1807, the following book was produced in print, which included the 22nd April 1803 regulations – which proves that they were still in use by the army at that time, and had not changed between those years as this book was produced on order by the secretary of war, and authorised by the War Office –
‘A COLLECTION OF ORDERS, REGULATIONS, AND INSTRUCTIONS, TOR THE ARMY; ON MATTERS OF FINANCE AND POINTS OF DISCIPLINE IMMEDIATELY CONNECTED THEREWITH.”
The Annals of the KRRC Appendix, which outlines the uniforms worn by the 5th Battalion & rifle companies of the 60th does indeed prove to be a helpful companion when tracking the clothing worn; but does throw up some discrepancies (such as the date the 1803 regulation was given). This book alludes to the point that the jacket for the 5th battn. was changed in 1808, and had ‘three rows of buttons instead of one, the tails were made wider and looped at the back, but their former shape was resumed before 1812, when shoulder straps were worn instead of wings’. No source or regulation is offered up to support this assumption that the jacket was changed in 1808 -and if it was then that means the men who sailed to Portugal in August 1808 did so in their jackets with one row of buttons, then received their annual issue on Christmas Day 1808, where they received their jackets with three rows of buttons. In contrast to this is the Atkinson Print, which clearly shows three rows of buttons on the jacket, and the hair in a queue (yes the print may potentially be for the 95th, but the fact a turn back is clearly shown, as well as the feathering on the trousers and half gaiters throws much more weight behind the point it is in fact defined as a rifleman of the 5th battalion 60th).
A neglected piece of the rifleman’s uniform of the battalion is the belt plate. Neglected mainly as little evidence survives that they were used; however with the discovery of a belt plated inscribed ”Rifle-Men 5th LX 5th Battn.” having been discovered in the Pyrenees (Maya, where there was a battle in 1813), the subject has been re-visited. Furthermore, the print by Atkinson clearly shows a belt plate, and so too does the 1797 print by Hamilton Smith. The 1797 print shows the belt plate clearly having ’60’ etched into it (and the fact they wore them made sense as at the time they wore cross belts, and was the way line infantry held their belts together using the plate) – the Atkinson print however is un-distinguishable (although does clearly show the men with a waist belt & one cross belt instead of two cross belts), but with the discovery of this plate in the Pyrenees clearly showing ”Rifle-Men 5th LX 5th Battn.”, it therefore alludes to the fact that at some point the belt plates were changed from their original style, hence supporting the argument that belt plates continued to be worn, even after cross belts had been phased out – and proven even more so by the point that one was found in the Pyrenees in 1813. This belt plate could’ve and most likely was dropped by a 5/60th riflemen, but we cannot cancel out the fact it may have been looted or dropped by a deserter.
There is a print made in 1812 by C. Hamilton Smith which depicts a rifleman of the 95th and a riflemen of the 5/60th. There are a few discrepancies pointed out in this famous print( which will be forever contested – but one has to remember he had a foot in the door of the War Office trial board for new clothing so perhaps he did paint of what might be, rather than what is). His picture shows the 5/60th rifleman most importantly in a jacket with three rows of buttons, blue pantaloons (supposedly phased out in 1812), black gaiters & also without a belt plate. Again, was he painting from what is, or what could be (for instance he painted a print of the Coldstream Guards wearing black haversacks, which they never received nor used in our chosen period)?
In 1812, the 5th Battalion was ordered to wear green pantaloons, the same time that the rest of the army were ordered to wear grey trousers.
With the success of riflemen and in turn the equipment and armament they enjoyed, the whole regiment was recommended to convert into a Light Infantry regiment in 1814, and wholly clothed in green with scarlet facings, with two rifle battalions (5th & 8th), and the rest as Light Infantry Battalions. This order was ratified in 1815.
Three years later in 1818, the 5th Battn. was reduced and absorbed into the 2nd Battalion, with all of it’s battle honours and traditions therein.
Above – ‘British Riflemen’ By, Charles Hamilton Smith. C.1812.