Uniforms: 42nd Highlanders esp. in the Crimea

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Uniforms: 42nd Highlanders esp. in the Crimea

Postby yelkcub » 16 Jul 2010 16:52

I've been trying to find online a description - better, an image - of the uniforms worn by private soldiers in this regiment during the Battle of Alma. I've seen one or two paintings, but am not convinced by the accuracy of the detail. Can anyone tell me, for instance, whether these men wore kilts? My ancestor was wounded at the battle and invalided out. He came from Stockport, England and had no real connection with Scotland. According to his service record he volunteered while stationed in Dublin with the 2nd (Qheen's) Infantry.
Also, according to his record, he was not awarded the Crimea Medal until 1902 - any idea why the award should have been so late?
Any help gratefully received
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Re: 42nd Royal Highland Regiment of Foot - uniforms?

Postby GrantRCanada » 20 Jul 2010 04:27

It is my understanding that the entire Highland Brigade was kilted at the Battle of Alma ....

It is not clear which paintings you have seen or, for that matter, why you doubt their accuracy. - unless it is because you are familiar with other images showing the "1855 Pattern" Highland Doublet (a sort of "double-breasted coatee with Inverness flaps) which was not introduced until after the Battle of Alma ......

I believe that the two best known paintings depicting the 42nd Regiment in this battle are "Alma: Forward the 42nd" (Robert Gibb) and "The Battle of Alma" (Felix Philippoteaux). So far as I am aware, they depict the uniforms quite accurately ..... as seen in this detail from Gibbs' painting -

Image

The next rather fuzzy image is a detail cropped from a small (and poor) reproduction of a WWI-era print depicting the uniforms of the Black Watch from 1742 through 1914. It depicts the uniform as of 1852, which was worn until the 1855 Pattern doublet was issued -

Image

Fortunately it is not necessary to rely entirely on artist's impressions. This very early photograph (reproduced in "The Black Watch Photographic Archive" published by the Regimental Trustees) shows officers and men of the 42nd Regiment in 1852, while stationed at the Citadel in Halifax -

Image

Detail - regarding this man, the caption notes "The figure leaning on his musket to the left is Charles Christie who was drowned in the Ganges during the Indian Mutiny."

Image

The distinction of wearing shoulder wings (normally reserved for Light Companies) had been granted to the whole of the 92nd Highlanders in 1822, and the same privilege was extended to all Highland Regiments in 1831.
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Re: 42nd Royal Highland Regiment of Foot - uniforms?

Postby yelkcub » 20 Jul 2010 10:27

Thanks for your detailed and very well illustrated reply. I had assumed that the Victorian (and later) paintings of the Highland regiments in battle were perhaps romanticized, given the later Victorian idealization of Scottishness - the cult of tartan and kilt. It seems, I'm more than happy to admit, that I was wrong. My ancestor, as I wrote, had no connection at all with Scotland until, stationed in Dublin with the 2nd Infantry he volunteered and was transferred to the 42nd Royal Highland who almost immediately embarked for Turkey. It seems they were some of the first Allied troops to land in the Crimea where only a few days later the Battle of the river Alma was fought. My ancestor was hit by a Russian bullet, which passed through his pubis and exited via his right buttock. For him, as they was, the war was over. Despite the eye-watering nature of his wound he went on to marry twice and to father six children.
Thanks again for settling my query.
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Re: 42nd Royal Highland Regiment of Foot - uniforms?

Postby DavidB » 20 Jul 2010 11:17

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Re: 42nd Royal Highland Regiment of Foot - uniforms?

Postby crimea1854 » 20 Jul 2010 13:17

These various images raise an interesting point, during what year was the 'bastion' lace removed?

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Re: 42nd Royal Highland Regiment of Foot - uniforms?

Postby GrantRCanada » 20 Jul 2010 16:36

The officer in the Roger Fenton photograph is Captain Cuninghame, who died at Malta in 1855, en route home. He is wearing the officer's version of the pre-1855 pattern coatee, which did not have the lace of the Other Ranks' coatees. (See the detail from Gibbs' painting, above, and the officers standing on the right in the 1852 photograph.)

The NCO and veterans in the next two photos are all wearing the Pattern 1855 doublet, with its "double-breasted" button arrangement and the Inverness flaps, from which the lace on the front had been eliminated. ...... (The 1855 pattern of tunic does, indeed, reflect the "romanticized Highland Scottishness" of the mid 19th Century. It was unpopular, and was replaced by the single-breasted Pattern 1856/57 doublet. Somewhere, I have a pictorial study I once did of the various patterns of Highland military coatees/doublets .....)

In fact, the coatee worn by Highland Regiments prior to 1855 was essentially the same as the coat worn by regular infantry of the same period (with the possible exception of shorter "tails" for a better appearance with the kilt.)
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Re: 42nd Royal Highland Regiment of Foot - uniforms?

Postby almaboy » 04 Aug 2010 09:52

Yelkcub,

out of interest, what was your ancestors name? I collect medals to Crimea casualties, specifically Alma ones, so I may well have a record of him somewhere. And if you don't have the medal, I'll keep an eye out for you.

If he didn't receive it until 1902, that would suggest he either applied for it very late (quite possible) or he applied for a duplicate having lost or damaged the original. I can check the roll for you as sometimes this information is noted.

Kind regards Tony.
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Re: 42nd Royal Highland Regiment of Foot - uniforms?

Postby balaklava » 10 Aug 2010 14:50

Greetings. GrantR is quite correct about uniform distinctions for the Highland Regiments. The shorter coat tails were decorated with the plain white tape and regimental buttons as were the sleeve cuffs, collar, epallettes and the 10 button front breast area of coat. Plain white cotton tape, or lace, replaced the former tape used on coats in which each regiment and the Royal Marines had white tape with a distinctive color line or two added in. Officers coats remained highly decorated. As the tape pattern stayed with Crimean period coats, the BW retained their bastion loops, the 93rd Sutherland highlanders had pointed lace ends, and so on. NCOs in the Highland Regiments and the Guards, too, I believe were permitted to wear rank distinctions on both sleeves where the other line regiments only wore rank chevrons only on the right (?) sleeve. The whole army in 1834 pattern coats had thick "wooly worms" on both shoulders like previously worn only in Light or Grenadier companys. The Osprey series books, "the British Army on Campaign no.2 Crimean War", has some excellent color illustrations in it and there are other reference books floating about. Period photographs are the best reference, however they are sans color. There is a photo I have seen where the BW are in double breasted coats at the end of the Crimean War, not good enough of a photo to see if they had the diamond shaped doublet buttons. The BW wore a kilmarnock cap vs a glengarry like other highland regiments.

Take a look at the items at http://www.highlandbrigade.com, he make specialized garments for this period. Might give you a bit of an idea as to coat construction and tape layout, etc.

Cheerio, Johnnie, 93rd Highlanders.
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Re: 42nd Royal Highland Regiment of Foot - uniforms?

Postby Pinkster16 » 03 Mar 2012 22:24

Just on the subject of non-Scots joining Highland Regiments, 2 men transferred from the Leicester Militia (which was recruited by ballot from the local population; it was possible to pay substitutes though in this case the names don't sound Scots) to the 42nd Foot (Black Watch) in 1813, and were consequently almost certainly at Waterloo with them. The 73rd Foot (nominally the 2nd Bn of the Black Watch I believe) were NOT a kilted Regiment (the Commanding Officer having chosen to abandon the Highland Garb as it was percieved to limit the pool of potential recruits) and the majority of the men serving in 1815 were from Worcestershire, having transferred from the Worcestershire Militia.

In Iraq in 2006 I was attached to the RHR for a while and met with them a soldier from Newcastle, who had a significant family history of service with the RHR, despite the fact the family's roots were firmly in the Newcastle area.
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Re: 42nd Royal Highland Regiment of Foot - uniforms?

Postby balaklava » 08 Mar 2012 18:15

Greetings. It is true that not all Scottish regiments wore kilts, lowland regiments with their recruiting depots oriented in coastal areas north of that Roman encumbrance, Hadrians Wall, wore the truighs trowsers mimicing the peoples South of them pairing their alligence to the British King.

During the Crimea, the 93rd started out in England with acquiring a sizable draft of Scottish volunteers to get them to full strength and some were Englishmen & Irishmen but mainly recruits were from the 79th, the 92nd, and yes, the 42nd. Losses to sickness & disease [cholera primarily - and they just could have just given Ms. Nightingale a listen and boiled the bloody water rations] reduced the 93rds number by half in the first year. Some fresh drafts from the highlands reached the 93rd late in the first winter as well as the needed clothing and uniform items, only too late, as many in all regiments, highland or no, in the theater were wearing uniforms to rags & suffering many privations. Prefabricated wooded huts arrived for the soldiers later in 1855, were assembled, sheltering the men from the elements. A steam lomotive was sent from England and a railway was constructed starting from Balaclava port and extending to the front lines to assist in moving goods, weapons for the seige bombardments of Sebastopol, artillery ordinance needed, etc., and other improvements came into existance. Rations improved. One of note was an improved main hostital in Constantinople (?). A soldier could be transported rather quickly once wounded or referred by regimental surgeon and his chances of survival were enhanced.

In 1834 there was a uniform reform going on in the Army, the long tail coatees of the 1804 (?) pattern being replaced by the less decorated shorter tail dress coats of the newer pattern. Decorative lacing was dropped for the simple arrangement of 10 rows of plaid white lace centered on button holes on the coat breast, with some of the same lace on collar and cuff edges. The Osprey book series is a good general reference to uniforms of the period. There is a better reference to uniforms in the Peterson (?) book on British Army Uniforms ... The Albert pattern shako replaced the stovepipe shako & tricorn. Crossed white slings for the cartridge box & bayonet were replaced with one sling for the 60 round cartridge box. The bayonet finding a new home on a waistbelt mounted in a scabbard secured to the belt by a leather frog attachment. The belt closure was a 2 piece spoon and locket buckle. Additionally the waistbelt carried a small cap pouch as the flintlock musket had been replaced by the 1840 (?) percussion minie rifle and then the 1851 pattern percussion Enfield rifle. The cap pouch was given an angular mount loop and moved to the cartridge box sling by late in the Crimea and was then the norm by the Mutiny campaign. Highland ostrich feather bonnets were changed from the hummel bonnet with the 3 row of colored diced patterning and loose ostrich feathers mounted behind regimental badge to a hummel bonnet same 3 row dicing but a tall cage of wire was added and ostrich feathers secured to the cage with as many as 6 long ostrich tails attached to the cage, depending on which regiment one refers to. I do hope that answers some of your questions.

As to medals being issued so late, it certainly was a beaurocratic gaff. There is a story of a transport carrying medals for the serving soldiers being on the way from England that had sunk in a huge Mediterreanian storm. The recipients were not given attention until much later. I read somewhere the veterans had Turkish service medals issued to them right at the end of the campaign.

Cheers, Johnnie, 93rd Highlanders 1812-1858, Reenactors & Living Historians
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Re: 42nd Royal Highland Regiment of Foot - uniforms?

Postby jf42 » 09 Mar 2012 10:21

Pinkster16 wrote: The 73rd Foot (nominally the 2nd Bn of the Black Watch I believe) were NOT a kilted Regiment (the Commanding Officer having chosen to abandon the Highland Garb as it was percieved to limit the pool of potential recruits) and the majority of the men serving in 1815 were from Worcestershire, having transferred from the Worcestershire Militia.


The 73rd were indeed formed when the 2nd Battalion, 42nd Royal Highland Regt in India were embodied as a separate regiment in 1787. There was great disappointment that they were not allowed to keep the blue facings of a royal regiment. The 73rd were formed as a Highland corps although, during twenty five years service in India, they generally wore white pantaloons and a round hat. There is speculation whether Arthur Wellesley who was commissioned a an Ensign in the 73rd but never joined the Regiment, ever wore the kilt.

It was after the Regiment had returned to Britain in 1806 that the 'Highland' designation was ordered to be dropped in order to promote enlistment of non-Highland recruits. This took place in 1809 shortly before the Regiment sailed for New South Wales. They would barely see sight of Britain for thirty odd years. At the same time, a second battalion of the 73rd Regt was formed at Nottingham from drafts of militia. It was this 2nd battalion that was present at Waterloo.


Pinkster16 wrote: In Iraq in 2006 I was attached to the RHR for a while and met with them a soldier from Newcastle, who had a significant family history of service with the RHR, despite the fact the family's roots were firmly in the Newcastle area.


As far as I know, The Tyneside Scottish territorials ( affiliated to the Northumberland Fusiliers in WW1) were affiliated to the Black Watch at the start of WW2 and remain so today.
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