Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby red25847 » 09 Jun 2014 22:28

While we are waiting for some news on reproduction shakos, I'll share some pics of the Ridgeway event of 1 June.


RHLI a.jpg
RHLI Guard
RHLI a.jpg (75.17 KiB) Viewed 2871 times



QORofC a.jpg
QORofC
QORofC a.jpg (53.88 KiB) Viewed 2871 times


QORof C Erichsen a.jpg
von Erichsen of QOR
QORof C Erichsen a.jpg (94.48 KiB) Viewed 2871 times


The von Erichsen sketches, a witness to the Battle of Ridgeway, appear to show red piped skirt flaps in the rear. And the shakos look like they might have leather crowns, maybe like this one below, but it's just too hard to tell.

c1855-british-1st-middlesex-rifle-vol-officers-shako a.jpg
Middlesex Rifle Officer Shako 1855
c1855-british-1st-middlesex-rifle-vol-officers-shako a.jpg (45.28 KiB) Viewed 2871 times
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby GrantRCanada » 10 Jun 2014 02:36

Interesting photos .... thanks for posting them!

I would assume that the object of the officer's salute (I.e. flag or superior) in the HLI picture was oriented at least somewhat to his left, as he is (correctly for the period, in that case) saluting with his left hand ....

As for shakos, the more I see (including the various examples shown in Clive Law's recent "Fuss & Fashion: 200 Years of Canadian Military Headdress") there was a decided lack of uniformity in actual appearance - even among shakos supposedly of the same "Pattern" .... to such an extent that it can be quite difficult deciding just what pattern a particular one is supposed to be!

That said, so far as I am aware the correct shako for 1866 Militia in Canada - keeping firmly in mind that shakos were "optional" and purchased by the units themselves at their own expense, rather than being issued by the Militia Department - would be the Pattern 1861 ("Quilted Pattern") shako .... such as is worn by the Fort Henry Guard -
Image
I can't recall seeing any images of a Quilted Pattern shako with either a leather top or upper leather band on the body .... although Officer's shakos did often have upper adornment of braid or the like, such as seen on the left above. It does appear that both the HLI and QOR Rifleman in your photos are wearing that general style - albeit (at least in the case of the QOR chap) lacking the trademark "cross-hatch" stitching on the body which gave this pattern its unique appearance and its nickname.

However, to the extent that a Canadian Militia unit might have equipped itself with shakos, it seems entirely possible that in 1866 they could well still be wearing an earlier pattern, rather than the Pattern 1861 .... as suggested by the von Erichson sketch and also, possibly, the studio photo of the the QOR rifleman with Spencer rifle I posted above.

From what I have seen, both the earlier shako design (the Pattern 1855 or "Second Albert Pattern") and the later one (Pattern 1869 or "Last Pattern) frequently did have leather bands encircling the top of the body and also often a leather crown .... although not always by any means! Also, the body height of shakos (particularly the P'55 and P'69, not so much the P'61) seems to have varied significantly - from the relatively short "kepi-like" appearance of the P'1855 Middlesex Rifles officer's shako you posted to noticeably higher bodies like these -

Canadian Militia Officer's 1855 shako -
Image

Canadian Militia OR's 1869 shako -
Image

Both of these examples come from Clive Law's book - note both have a leather crown and upper band, but other examples of both patterns shown in the book are lower in the body and lack the leather uppers.

Besides the body height and finish of the crown of the shako, other noticeable variations are obvious - such as the shape of the "bill", width of the lower leather band, even absence of body stitching on some examples of what are supposed to be P'1861 shakos, etc. - so, as I see it, there is definitely no "hard and fast" pattern that must be adhered to!
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby Waggoner » 10 Jun 2014 02:57

Then there was the unique New Brunswick pattern shako! All part of British North America militia dress!,

All the best,

Gary
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby rd72 » 11 Jun 2014 20:06

GrantRCanada wrote:Interesting photos .... thanks for posting them!

I would assume that the object of the officer's salute (I.e. flag or superior) in the HLI picture was oriented at least somewhat to his left, as he is (correctly for the period, in that case) saluting with his left hand ....


Hi Grant,

The Officer's salute is part of the movement executed on the word "Present Arms".... The sword (in his right hand) is down at his side and off to his right (where it was moved after it was brought to the recover, or up with the guard at his mouth... The movement of the day had both the sword and arm components.....
Cheers,
Rob
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby GrantRCanada » 11 Jun 2014 23:27

Aahhh! I learn something new yet again ..... :D
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby red25847 » 13 Jun 2014 12:58

Still no response from any queries. Here are a couple of more details from von Erichsen's sketches.

I'm intrigued at the possibility that the QOR may have worn earlier pattern shakos.
Attachments
DSCN5183.JPG
Von Erichsen has omitted the Austrian knots from the sleeves??
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QORof C Erichsen b.jpg
The shako plate is too dark to identify any details.
QORof C Erichsen b.jpg (62.88 KiB) Viewed 2838 times
19862.jpg
An officer's version 1861
19862.jpg (47.71 KiB) Viewed 2838 times
DSCN3494.JPG
The officer's shako at the CWM Ottawa
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby GrantRCanada » 14 Jun 2014 00:27

It is hard to say whether von Erichsen was exercising some 'artistic license', or if he was indeed rendering the shakos as he saw them .... perhaps a bit of both?

The shako worn by the QOR Rifleman posed with his Spencer rifle is clearly on the taller end of the range for Pattern 1855 shakos, so who knows?

Image

The QOR maple leaf headdress badge has changed little since 1870 (or earlier?) - when it was their glengarry badge - to the present day .... with the exception of the words "of Canada" being added to the unit name in 1882. The chap in the photo, which I assume dates to no later than 1867 or 1868, definitely has the maple leaf badge on his shako .....

Image

Mind you, Mazeas also shows a relatively generic-looking QOR shako plate, albeit with a numeral 2 in the center, attributed to 1866 .....

Image

We can only speculate which of these von Erichsen was depicting on the shakos in his sketch. Mind you, the dark colour of whatever it was is appropriate, since they would undoubtedly have had "blackened" badges ....

The quality of the image details you have posted makes me think you have pretty good copies of the von Erichsen sketches .... any chance of getting scans or other digital versions of them from you?
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby GrantRCanada » 14 Jun 2014 01:55

I missed your question about von Erichsen omitting Austrian knots from the tunic sleeves. Some Canadian Militia units of that period had "field frocks" like the British Army - i.e. simpler, and looser than a tunic - usually with fewer buttons (only five or so, spaced a bit further apart) and usually lacking the "embellishments" such as piping and shoulder cords/straps -

Image

Compare the frock worn by the Private from the 50th Battalion, Huntingdon Borderers, to the regular Pattern 1863 tunic on the other chap. There is certainly unequivocal evidence of such frocks in use, and I believe that the choice of the 50th for the above artist's depiction was based on this relatively well known photograph taken following the Battle of Eccle's Hill in 1870 -

Image

I have no idea whether the QOR had such frocks ,,,, and it is hard to tell from von Erichsen's sketches just what he was showing. However, I suspect that the apparent absence of the Austrian knots is more likely attributable to the fact that the colour for piping/braid on Rifles uniforms was specified as black in the relevant Militia regulations, and it simply doesn't show up well against the very dark green (almost black) of the uniform -

Image

Image

As was often the case with such monochromatic images, note in the above photo that the red facings on collar and cuffs are virtually indistinguishable from the colour of the tunic .... much the same effect is seen with the red tunics and deep blue facings of Infantry Battalions .... although of course their white piping stands out well.
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby red25847 » 14 Jun 2014 12:31

The photos of von Erichsen's depictions were taken from information panels on the Ridgeway battlefield site itself. I have seen several others in black and white, but these are the only I've seen in their original colour. I have a book of the B&W copies.
Erichsen was with the Fenians during the raid and made several sketches immediately after the battle of the details he witnessed himself. It appears most of the Fenians wore civilian clothing, much of it "drab" (or an off white), but there were some US army items here and there, and even a few Confederate pieces of uniform as some Fenians came from the deep south.
I agree with you on all the above; I think von Erichsen simply omited the Austrian knots, (based on the number of buttons on the tunics, and the piping on the rear skirt flaps).
That's a nice picture of the fellow in the pillbox cap, his tunic has that 1860's look with full, curved sleeves. Can you tell what his belt buckle is? It isn't a snake buckle.
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby GrantRCanada » 14 Jun 2014 17:24

The "spoon and locket" type belt buckle is very likely the Canada Militia general service pattern -

Image

Apparently that pattern (or a similar, less common version with the words "Canada Militia" around the locket) is what the 3rd Victoria Rifles used at that time, judging from this other studio portrait of two more OR's from that unit, taken in 1865 (undoubtedly about the same time as the photo posted above) -

Image

The Victoria Rifles went to the snake buckle a bit later, again judging from a number of portraits taken in about 1870 -

Image

Image

The tunic in these later portraits appears to be the Canada Militia Pattern 1870 (equivalent to the British pattern 1868) which had a plainer cuff - peak usually bordered with a simple band of piping and/or braid. The tunics look fairly new in these photos .... perhaps some of them had their portraits done when they were first issued with the new pattern ....

Here is the regular infantry version -

Image

The above photo (Canadian War Museum collection, if I recall correctly) shows a feature I have noted on a number of original tunics of the general era: the bottom button of the eight is spaced slightly farther from its neighbour than the spacing between all of the others .... undoubtedly to better accommodate the waistbelt, worn just above the lowest button, at the seam line.
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby GrantRCanada » 21 Jun 2014 17:13

For what it may be worth, I have pretty much finished my shako .... as close as I could get, with what I had to work with, to a "Last Pattern Shako" (P'1867/8 not introduced in Canada until 1869) -

Image

The top leather band is not present in most period photographs, but the juncture of body and top on my effort was quite unsightly, so I added it in this case. Clive Law's "Fuss and Fashion: 200 Years of Canadian Military Headdress" shows original examples of all three of the "French Pattern" shako patterns with an upper leather band .... and with a considerable range of individual characteristics (height, shape, etc.) .... so I feel I am on reasonably secure ground with this result, for my purposes in any event!
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby Waggoner » 21 Jun 2014 17:35

Grant,

Great work!

All the best,

Gary
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby rd72 » 21 Jun 2014 20:43

The only thing wrong, Grant, is the fact that it won't be used at Richard's this year.... Other than that, fantastic!

Well done. How does it look on the old noggin.....? And the whole uniform?
Cheers,
Rob
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby GrantRCanada » 21 Jun 2014 21:58

Yes .... I am sticking with my decision to risk death by tornado in Nebraska rather than by drowning in Alberta ..... :lol:
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Re: Canada Militia Shako Plate (General Service Pattern)

Postby red25847 » 24 Jun 2014 11:53

That shako looks great! A nice piece of work.

I did hear back from the RHLI ceremonial guard unit who dress in 1866 era costume. The shakos they wear are made by PATEY HATS in London UK. They are a custom order and run (hold on to your shako) 310 pounds each.

The Lt at the Hamilton armory said Patey Hats made their originals in 1864, or so it goes.

There is another Ontario group, the Brockville Rifles, who also use the same era costume, and have equally nice shakos. I've sent them a line about them as well.
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