Abolition of the Shako in the Bengal Native Infantry

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Abolition of the Shako in the Bengal Native Infantry

Postby mike snook » 25 Aug 2015 11:41

Morning all,

I have come across contradictions in secondary sources about the status of the shako in the Bengal Native Infantry regiments in 1857. By some accounts it had been abolished prior to 1857, by others it was still in use, but substantially for 'ceremonial' purposes - which might be a way of saying that it was still part of the full dress rig. The situation vis a vis shakoes also appears not to have been standardized across the three HEIC presidencies. But Bengal is the primary interest. Does anybody have any thoughts/knowledge/items of evidence on this matter? '

Regards

Mike
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Re: Abolition of the Shako in the Bengal Native Infantry

Postby johnpreece » 25 Aug 2015 13:27

I pretty well always go to Bill Carman for the Indian Army and just take what he says as gospel. In 'Indian Army uniforms: Infantry 1969' pp100 he quotes General Order for 2nd Nov 1847. introducing the Kilmarnock for Bengal Native Infantry. as saying:

" The head-dress for the native infantry of the line is henceforth to be a dark blue Kilmarnock cap, encircled by a white band (woven in the cap) with the number of the regiment in front; the numbers to be one inch and a half long. Light infantry regiments and rifle corps will wear a dark green band and bugle above the number of the regiment.
Regiments having a badge are to wear the badge instead of a number.
The cap to be stiffened round the top and at the sides with a piece of cane or wire to preserve the shape.
Each soldier of cavalry or infantry is to provide himself, as articles of half mounting, with two white cotton cap covers. The white cap cover is worn by the native infantry, the number is to be placed outside it, so as to be visible.

The European officers of Native Infantry will continue to wear the chaco and forage cap as formerly prescribed. "

I leave it to others to say what was actually worn but Mr Carman does not give any examples of anything but the Kilmarnock worn in the field after this date. So this may be a good starting place for discussion.

John
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Re: Abolition of the Shako in the Bengal Native Infantry

Postby mike snook » 25 Aug 2015 14:33

Thanks John. Such a general order is an extremely useful piece of data.

Best wishes

Mike
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Re: Abolition of the Shako in the Bengal Native Infantry

Postby Frogsmile » 25 Aug 2015 18:14

I have a rather good book by Boris Mollo (when deputy director of the NAM) titled "The Indian Army" ISBN 1 85079 085 X. It is profusely illustrated and good value, with many pictures by contemporary 'native artists' employed by the HEIC. In it Mollo states that in 1847, the peakless shako was replaced by the Kilmarnock "for most occasions", which I take to be for all but review order. Described as dark blue with the regimental number on the front, he further states that it was often worn with a white cover. It is striking that all the paintings depicting mutineer period native troops, including mutineers, show the Kilmarnock being worn. The book is a good buy (I find it indispensable), as it lists all regimental uniforms for the three presidencies in detailed tables and covers dress from formation to partition. There is also an extensive and useful bibliography. http://www.abebooks.co.uk/book-search/t ... ris-mollo/
Last edited by Frogsmile on 26 Aug 2015 14:29, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Abolition of the Shako in the Bengal Native Infantry

Postby mike snook » 26 Aug 2015 11:49

Thanks old chap. I think I have it somewhere and if I don't I'll invest on the strength of your commendation.

As ever

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Re: Abolition of the Shako in the Bengal Native Infantry

Postby Frogsmile » 26 Aug 2015 12:11

mike snook wrote:Thanks old chap. I think I have it somewhere and if I don't I'll invest on the strength of your commendation.

As ever

M


It is a kind of poor man's Carman, although none the worse for that, as it is packed to the gunnels with useful, relevant information and many colour, as well as black and white illustrations and litho/photographs.
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Re: Abolition of the Shako in the Bengal Native Infantry

Postby johnpreece » 26 Aug 2015 14:32

While I have a great liking for the Mollo book (not least the illustrations) it was to Carman that I returned last night to dig around the Bombay and Madras Infantry.

Bombay :
pp164
"According to Tugwell the shako was abolished in 1854 and the forage cap was worn, with leather straps for undress and brass chain ones for full dress. " (History of the Bombay Pioneers. B P Tugwell. 1938"

"Gen order 11th May 1863. substituted the pugri for the white cotton cap cover 'in regiments where the former head-dress has been introduced'. Actually pugris are rare in the Bombay infantry and photographs circa 1864-9 show the round Kilmarnock cap "

Madras :
pp 152
The hard black turban had been seen during the mutiny but the emphasis was on more comfortable apparel and the Kilmarnock cap was favoured. It would appear that attempts were made to give the sepoys a more native form of dress. Thus the long pugri or turban worn by civilians was taken into use. 'On the 3rd March 1860, the introduction of a new headdress for the native ranks was sanctioned by the home government. It was to consist of a plain native turban'. "

The pre mutiny turban referred to appears to be the bulbous hard cloth headgear usually illustrated black decorated with chain or topped with a ball.

I also noticed that the latest illustration I could find of Bengal NI in shako was 1846. (you can look at these things a hundred times without seeing the significance).

As a result of all this activity I finally bestirred myself and after 50 years of coveting it have bought the Carman volume on Cavalry to complete my set. The bad news is I have spent next months allowance and my bullock transport will have to be postponed to October. :cry:

John
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Re: Abolition of the Shako in the Bengal Native Infantry

Postby Frogsmile » 26 Aug 2015 16:22

johnpreece wrote:While I have a great liking for the Mollo book (not least the illustrations) it was to Carman that I returned last night to dig around the Bombay and Madras Infantry.

Bombay :
pp164
"According to Tugwell the shako was abolished in 1854 and the forage cap was worn, with leather straps for undress and brass chain ones for full dress. " (History of the Bombay Pioneers. B P Tugwell. 1938"

"Gen order 11th May 1863. substituted the pugri for the white cotton cap cover 'in regiments where the former head-dress has been introduced'. Actually pugris are rare in the Bombay infantry and photographs circa 1864-9 show the round Kilmarnock cap "

Madras :
pp 152
The hard black turban had been seen during the mutiny but the emphasis was on more comfortable apparel and the Kilmarnock cap was favoured. It would appear that attempts were made to give the sepoys a more native form of dress. Thus the long pugri or turban worn by civilians was taken into use. 'On the 3rd March 1860, the introduction of a new headdress for the native ranks was sanctioned by the home government. It was to consist of a plain native turban'. "

The pre mutiny turban referred to appears to be the bulbous hard cloth headgear usually illustrated black decorated with chain or topped with a ball.

I also noticed that the latest illustration I could find of Bengal NI in shako was 1846. (you can look at these things a hundred times without seeing the significance).

As a result of all this activity I finally bestirred myself and after 50 years of coveting it have bought the Carman volume on Cavalry to complete my set. The bad news is I have spent next months allowance and my bullock transport will have to be postponed to October. :cry:

John


I agree with you that Carman is the most comprehensive reference John. It is just that his books are hard to source and exorbitantly expensive, whereas Mollo's book is affordable for even the most modest purse, full of visual and written information, and thus jolly good value for money.
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Re: Abolition of the Shako in the Bengal Native Infantry

Postby mike snook » 26 Aug 2015 21:15

Very useful John. PM me with your postal address and if any surplus transport falls into my hands over the next couple of weeks, (don't have any in hand presently), I'll send you some by way of a small thank you.

As ever

Mike
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Re: Abolition of the Shako in the Bengal Native Infantry

Postby johnpreece » 26 Aug 2015 22:36

Mike, I am almost lost for words. That is an extraordinarily generous gesture.

Apart from the pleasure of actually having some reason to use books that had just sat there for many years, I was delighted to be able to contribute something. To be honest I am a little in awe of the levels of expertise demonstrated here and had resigned myself to being an enthusiastic recipient. It was great to be able to contribute some small thing of use.

None of the above should be taken as in any way refusing your kind offer. I am completely delighted and am straight off to discover how to carry out a PM.

Many thanks and regards
John
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Re: Abolition of the Shako in the Bengal Native Infantry

Postby mike snook » 26 Aug 2015 22:54

Or failing that John...email us at irondukeminis@aol.com

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