Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby jf42 » 21 Jan 2015 01:26

Yes, Mike, as far as I know, both officers and OR's of the CameronIans wore caps with dicing, from at least the 1820s.
Last edited by jf42 on 03 Aug 2015 23:46, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby jf42 » 21 Jan 2015 09:44

Just to expand, Mike, on the post of last night. According to Wilkinson Latham, who I now have open in front of me, although "the 26th were treated, dressed and accoutred as a line regiment, there was a diced band on the forage cap of both officers and men" (p.79).

On 15th January 1858, an enquiry was received at the Depot of the 26th from the Deputy Adjutant General requesting "whether any written authority exists for any deviation from the established pattern forage cap"- (obviously, there was nothing much of importance going on elsewhere in the world just then).

The CO, writing from Bermuda where the 26th were stationed, replied that no written authority existed but added "the Bandmaster (a man of the highest respectability) states that the officers and men wore the same pattern Forage cap as they do now when he joined the Cameronians in 1827." Colonel Hempill requested permission for the practice to continue and this was granted in March 1858.

The yellow squares in the dicing on the forage caps of the 26th presumably derived from the Regiment's Pale Yellow facings. In the 1830s and 40s, the dicing was {generally} referred to as "regimental bonnet tartan." Later it would be referred to as "the Regimental National band or border."
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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby mike snook » 21 Jan 2015 15:02

jf

That's interesting. What I take from that is the necessity for the books to be in order (as one would expect): for regulations to effect practice and vice versa. I also infer, permission having been granted quickly and on the say so of an old soldier, that there was no particular difficulty about diced bands, provided they were authorised. If the 91st had irregularly maintained diced bands they would surely have been challenged in similar vein by Horse Guards and would similarly have been given permission to continue the practice in a time frame somewhat pre-dating the Bertie Gordon reference of the early 1860s, when there was a much more substantive issue around highland status, at which point we get a sudden reference to diced bands becoming (as I see it) part of the dress. Pte Butt for his part proves that formerly they were not worn during the period of his service at the Cape. In order for the 91st to have worn them in the 7th War, it would have to be the case that they were told to take them off at some point between 1848 and 1854-5, which I cannot see happening. There would have a polite enquiry about authority, not a peremptory order to remove them. On receipt of any such peremptory order, the 91st would have stated their case in the same way as the 26th, and (it would seem on the basis of the 26th Regt precedent) most likely have been granted permission to maintain the 'tradition', on the basis of the authority derived from the exchange of correspondence with the Adjutant General's office. I can't think that any such exchange with AG (whether ending in victory or defeat for the diced band), would have gone unremarked in both Goff and Dunn-Pattison, which, alike. are big chunky histories with annexes on dress. Does that sound a reasonable hypothesis?

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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby jf42 » 21 Jan 2015 18:49

mike snook wrote:jf

That's interesting. What I take from that is the necessity for the books to be in order (as one would expect): for regulations to effect practice and vice versa. I also infer, permission having been granted quickly and on the say so of an old soldier, that there was no particular difficulty about diced bands, provided they were authorised. If the 91st had irregularly maintained diced bands they would surely have been challenged in similar vein by Horse Guards and would similarly have been given permission to continue the practice in a time frame somewhat pre-dating the Bertie Gordon reference of the early 1860s, when there was a much more substantive issue around highland status, at which point we get a sudden reference to diced bands becoming (as I see it) part of the dress. Pte Butt for his part proves that formerly they were not worn during the period of his service at the Cape. In order for the 91st to have worn them in the 7th War, it would have to be the case that they were told to take them off at some point between 1848 and 1854-5, which I cannot see happening. There would have a polite enquiry about authority, not a peremptory order to remove them. On receipt of any such peremptory order, the 91st would have stated their case in the same way as the 26th, and (it would seem on the basis of the 26th Regt precedent) most likely have been granted permission to maintain the 'tradition', on the basis of the authority derived from the exchange of correspondence with the Adjutant General's office. I can't think that any such exchange with AG (whether ending in victory or defeat for the diced band), would have gone unremarked in both Goff and Dunn-Pattison, which, alike. are big chunky histories with annexes on dress. Does that sound a reasonable hypothesis?

As ever

Mike


Mike, in short, I would say - yes.

As I was typing out the excerpts from the correspondence between the AG department and the 26th, I idly reflected on how many times now I have copied similar polite requests to regiments from the AG for "written evidence of authority" for deviation from established patterns etc.etc. Each time the written authority was not forthcoming. Instead a tale of derring-do was told, with an explanation that the deviant distinction was worn to commemorate the regiment's exploits- (5th White Feather, 28th Back Badge, 46th Red Feather); either that, or the regiment in question replied with the equivalent of a shrug, possibly a wink, and an explanation that "We've done that for as long as anyone remembers" and perhaps with the underlying threat that- "regimental morale will collapse if you forbid it now."-( 42nd Red Hackle, 23rd 'Flash', 26th bonnet dicing).

When faced with a fait accompli, it seems that, as long as the point had been made and a principle established, the AG were prepared to let these deviant practices continue, especially if the distinction had been christened in battle and then overlooked for so long that it would make the authorities look ridiculous if they pressed the issue.

Difficulties arose when former Highland regiments appealed to the AG for a change in the status quo - or, indeed, a return to a status quo ante. In those cases, they could be more obstructive.

According to Dunn-Pattinson, when in 1826 Colonel Macdonald returned to London to press the matter of the 91st's Highland status and was offered "trews and the Highland scarf", he rejected the offer, demanding full Highland status or nothing, and then resigned his command. That offer, if accepted, would presumably have included dicing on the forage caps, if not the shako. Why dicing hadn't been adopted 'illegally' after the restoration of the 'Argyllshire' title in 1820, given regimental feeling on the matter and the 91st's prolonged absence from authority's gaze on foreign shores, I couldn't say.

Given what we have gleaned of the intervening years, it seems reasonable to conclude, therefore, that the dicing mentioned in the order of 1864 that restored Highland status to the 91st Argyllshire Regiment had not been worn by the Regiment since 1809. Unless Michael Barthorp and Pierre Turner do indeed know better!

The notion of the 91st wearing diced bands on their headgear in the 1840s and then relinquishing them seems very unlikely, and certainly not without it being mentioned somewhere, as you say.

On another detail that you were pondering, did you see the reference in Dunn-Pattinson's Appendix to a "Statement of McGregor in 1884" re. the Reserve Battalion on service in South Africa… "the forage cap had a peak, with the number 91 on it in plain figure. The men wore a laced swallow-tail coat …”; is that an avenue that you have explored already?
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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby mike snook » 21 Jan 2015 22:06

Interesting.

Yes saw that.

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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby jf42 » 22 Jan 2015 09:12

I'll look forward to seeing the grand conclusion.
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