Bengal Native infantry in the Mutiny

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Bengal Native infantry in the Mutiny

Postby WillieB » 15 Dec 2016 13:36

Almost finished my 'core' army for the Indian Mutiny and now beginning to doubt about some things.
The cap pouches worn by the Bengal Native Infantry were...
1) white Often shown and described as white
2) brown as shown in an Osprey, described by French
3) both. As for example in the Iron Duke gallery

Thanks for any help! :D
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Re: Bengal Native infantry in the Mutiny

Postby mike snook » 15 Dec 2016 20:22

Willie,

They were white.

The only brown ones you've seen on the IDM site are independently painted by somebody who was not doing it for me or to my directions.

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Re: Bengal Native infantry in the Mutiny

Postby WillieB » 15 Dec 2016 21:34

Thanks very much again Mike!
I had painted them white when I suddenly started to doubt. First brigade (all in off- white) as good as finished. Next one (with red coatees) 3/4 done.


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Re: Bengal Native infantry in the Mutiny

Postby mike snook » 15 Dec 2016 22:00

It's a pleasure Willie. You were right all along. You're ahead of me. I could manage 4 battalions presently. I must have another surge before the cavalry come along.

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Re: Bengal Native infantry in the Mutiny

Postby WillieB » 09 Jan 2017 02:07

And then I found this. Even more interesting than the obvious ( and most probably incorrect) brown pouches are the white undress uniforms worn by the sepoys. Is this the 'undress' uniform I keep reading about?
The title 'rifle' training is also somewhat misleading as they are using P1842s
https://yooniqimages.blob.core.windows. ... 047842.jpg

Image
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Re: Bengal Native infantry in the Mutiny

Postby mike snook » 12 Jan 2017 11:04

Hi Willie

This is an Atkinson I think. One always has to be careful with the colouring of lithographs - they are done by people working for the printer, not uncommonly from an un-coloured pencil sketch supplied by an officer, so it doesn't necessarily constitute proof in and of itself. Better a spread of sources to be sure. I'm not saying there were no brown cap pouches in the Bengal Army, just that the weight of evidence would incline me to think that white was commonplace by 1857, (as was the case in the Home Army, which likewise started with brown but transitioned to white).

As to white shells (if they are shells and not just a plain short tailed coatee), yes, certainly all the troops, Indian included, had hot weather kit. We are just more used to seeing red because all the campaigning tended to be done in the colder weather. It's interesting to see flank coy wings on a shell jkt (or is it), because my understanding was that wings were not generally worn on shells - in the Home Army at least.

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Re: Bengal Native infantry in the Mutiny

Postby WillieB » 15 Jan 2017 18:00

HI Mike,

Thanks again very much. I'm beginning to feel slightly embarrassed by taking up so much of your time.

It's indeed a very interesting litho but as always a bit vague on details. One of the figures in the foreground (probably wearing a coatee) has cuffs that look more like a French Fusiliers' than anything I've ever seen on a British or HEIC uniform. The seated one on the left also has a cuff with two parallel buttons, not something you expect to see on a sepoy.
Those in the back ( I'm assuming the two on the right are supposed to be officers) seem to be wearing red shell jackets but with contrasting cuffs and collars. Can't see any white loops on their chests as they are turned away from the viewer, and no coat tails, so I'm assuming he was portraying shell jackets.

Buy yes, that white summer dress is very interesting. Would make a nice change from the normal coatee and/or the off- white mutineer clothes. I too think that the wings wouldn't be worn on a shell jacket, same as the fringed epaulettes weren't worn by the centre companies. At least not in the field. But of course you never know how much 'peacock element' a particular regiment has, and they might be just showing of at the range. :D

All in all an interesting and very nice print, but as you suggested not something I'd use as a hard reference.
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Re: Bengal Native infantry in the Mutiny

Postby WillieB » 15 Jan 2017 21:21

That said that 'French' cuff looks a bit like the old 1830 officers' cuff ornament.
Image
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Re: Bengal Native infantry in the Mutiny

Postby mike snook » 16 Jan 2017 00:15

Willie

I don't know about that being a French cuff - it's not a term I know, not that I doubt its legitimacy. I think I would be inclined to call that a slashed cuff (ordinarily with a white [for ORs] lace trim running along the top of the facing colour). There are other VWF members far more expert than I in the close detail of 'uniformology'. Anyway that was the sort of cuff used in the Home Army's coatees in the 1850s and earlier - haven't checked the precise dates. In the Home Army both officers and NCOs & men had that sort of cuff, though laced differently by rank of course. Additionally, being the British Army, there were differences in the detail according to regiment, not just the one standard variant. You don't need me to tell you that Company India is always complicated by the fact of there being three armies, each with its own regulations. As far as I can tell the sepoys of the Bengal Army had the old style cuff - let's call it the old British Napoleonic style for the want of a better descriptor (inside my head anyway (!), though no doubt it has a proper name) - but the officers including the Native officers had slashed cuffs like the one above. I have a picture, certainly, (which I would date around the time of the 2nd Anglo-Sikh War), that shows a native ensign and sepoys of the same regiment, with the two types of cuff as described. As always these things are open to discussion because we have no great reference tome to turn to instinctively. But that's where I would put my money presently - old style for NCOs and sepoys, slashed for officers. Arguably the lithograph suggests a process of transition being underway, but of itself I don't think we should rush to trust it for the reasons you and I have both described, at least not without good corroborating evidence. I'm not sure anybody could say whether Atkinson definitely drew it like that or whether it might have come from the artist who took on his sketch subsequently. I should imagine London artists could be influenced by what they saw in the Home Army and assumed that it must be the same out there in the empire. I can think of at least one printed work purporting to show an officer's artwork from the field that I have come to distrust, having seen some of said officer's original watercolours and done side by side comparison.

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