Fifth Fusiliers Mutiny campaign dress

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Fifth Fusiliers Mutiny campaign dress

Postby jf42 » 30 Jul 2015 23:54

Here is a curious little anomaly taken from The Fifth Fusiliers and its Badges, a study of the badges and insignia of the Northumberland Fusiliers (as they became) by Denis Wood (1988/2014).

Citing the Regimental journal St George’s Gazette for November 1884, the author Denis Wood records that during the Indian Mutiny the 1st Battalion were issued with "sepoys tunics[ the only type available as replacements] which had yellow facings" and were worn at Lucknow in 1858.

We know that regiments are not always the most reliable conduits of history and the reference to 'sepoy tunics' as the source of, we must assume, were khaki frocks, is not especially convincing. The reference to yellow facings is more specific. Is this probably a mare's nest too?
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Re: Fifth Fusiliers Mutiny campaign dress

Postby mike snook » 31 Jul 2015 02:28

The facing colour of HM 5th was green (if that helps). The fusiliers went into Lucknow in September 57 in white(ish) smocks and with no baggage and literally no spare clothing. They stayed there until relieved in November and then, having been extricated, formed part of Outram's garrison at the Alambagh, pending Campbell's return in March 58. Everybody in that force was notoriously ragged and verminous, so some sort of replacement clothing would have been desirable. In the meantime General Windham had lost much of the baggage of the forward troops during his unhappy 3-day rencontre with the Gwalior Contingent in and around Cawnpore in November 57. There could have been a clothing crisis as a result - but I have not heard of sepoy's tunics being worn...which is not to say it didn't happen.

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Re: Fifth Fusiliers Mutiny campaign dress

Postby jf42 » 31 Jul 2015 12:07

Mike, re. the facings, my guess is that the author of the article in the St George Gazette thought the resort to tunics with yellow facings worth mentioning because the Fifth prided themselves in their customary facings of Gosling Green. I was also curious because of the suggestion that at that date there were Sepoy tunics- tunics- of any description available in store somewhere to be supplied to the Fifth. That might be an assumption made by the author in 1884 in relation to some form of khaki frock which had no connection to clothing originally supplied for use of native soldiery.
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Re: Fifth Fusiliers Mutiny campaign dress

Postby mike snook » 31 Jul 2015 12:53

I'm not entirely clear jf whether or not you are you suggesting the existence of a khaki frock with yellow facings? I don't think you are: personally I think such a curiosity to be highly improbable.

I should think that there were fairly significant quantities of BNI tunics lying around in stock: the British held on to the vast majority, if not all, the significant logistic facilities and the Bengal Army was a very big force: 70 regiments of regular BNI, each of 1000 men, alone, without even worrying about the so-called 'irregular' contingents, the infantry components of which more often than not also wore red tunics and were to all intents and purposes as 'regular' as the rest. On the other hand, I cannot conceive that it would have been beyond the capacity of Cawnpore's merchants to re-clothe a regiment in the sort of smock clothing which had become fashionable by the autumn of 57, albeit with so many British regiments coming up the lines of communication in the winter 57/spring 58, I suppose it is possible that there was a shortage of suitable cloth, at one or more points. Equally HM 5th, which had come from Mauritius, in lightweight clothing, might just have been desperate to have red woolen cloth, as I understand that 57/58 winter was pretty cold by the average standard and of course everybody else had gone into red for the cold season. I cannot immediately recollect the regiment's movements after coming out of the Alambagh, in March 58, but if you'll permit me the conceit I'd be prepared to wager they were not wearing red inside the Alambagh without me knowing about it. If I had come upon such a reference I would have recorded it in my little black book - I'm off out now but I'll have a look later.

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Re: Fifth Fusiliers Mutiny campaign dress

Postby jf42 » 31 Jul 2015 19:09

No, Mike I am not suggesting that. I am curious as to what exactly was the state of affairs that the contributor to the Northumberland Fusiliers' regimental journal was reporting- or thought he was reporting.

I had assumed he was describing the adoption of some sort of khaki clothing but now I realise that the reference to yellow facings makes that unlikely. I was distracted by my belief that the Sepoys were still wearing coatees at that stage.- rather than tunics- and that the author mistakenly thougth that khaki clothing must have had a sepy origin. Given that a considerable numberof Queen's regiments in India at that time had yellow facings of one sort or another, if the Fifth went into red tunics intended for another corps, would it not have been more likely to be a Queen's regiment?
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Re: Fifth Fusiliers Mutiny campaign dress

Postby mike snook » 31 Jul 2015 22:27

Yes, coatees not tunics for BNI and irregular contingent counterparts. I was slack in using 'tunics'.

I'm now thoroughly confused as to what the question is!! Perhaps there isn't one! Everything I observed on was predicated on the possibility of the 5th being issued with red cloth sepoy coatees with yellow facings, in the absence of anything else. But as this was not your start point, the conversation seems to have taken a circular turn. Nothing further to add m'lud. May I be excused the witness box! :D

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Re: Fifth Fusiliers Mutiny campaign dress

Postby jf42 » 01 Aug 2015 00:16

My apologies.I had no wish to confuse. Let me rephrase-

What do we make of this reference, on the face of it from a regimental source, but possibly not first hand, that the Fifth were issued 'Sepoy tunics' with yellow facings worn at Lucknow in 1858?

We know the term 'sepoy tunic' as such must be innacurate. Is he describing in misleading terms something that was not a red cloth tunic as we might suppose but tunic length- e.g. a khaki frock of some sort? Does the reference to the facings mean it must have been a cloth tunic, in which case this could only have been winter clothing intended for use of some European Regiment or other?

Your analysis of the state of the Fifth when they emerged from Lucknow makes plain their need for new clothing and the temperatures of that particular winter season being particularly bitter, a consignment of somebody else's red coats would have been particularly welcome.

EIther the author meant to say the Fifth were wearing 'Sepoy XXXXX' or an 'XXXX tunic'. I don't think he can have meant both. The yellow facings suggest a red tunic- but in which case where did the 'sepoy' reference creep in from?

You are right. It is circular.

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