Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

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Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby mike snook » 16 Jan 2015 14:08

First I have a question for the medal enthusiasts, please, then a discussion point for those who know Scottish regimental headdress.

1. 1853 South Africa medal. Would I be right in thinking that this medal was issued only to those who lived through the wars and not to the families of the deceased?

2. Hats 91st (Argyllshire) Regiment.

It seems clear to me that the 91st had once been considered a highland regiment and later had that designation restored to it in the 1860s. However, there is a period prior to that, after the Napoleonic Wars and before the 1860s, when it was not a highland regiment. This period embraces the Cape Frontier Wars. I can trace the rise and fall of the Scottish, English and Irish elements of the regiment. The Scotsmen in South Africa are mostly lowlanders, albeit Argyllshire remains in the regiment's title throughout. What I am really interested in is dress. There is no suggestion of anything Scottish going on, other than some irregularly maintained pipers. No tartan trews and not a kilt in sight. I can find nothing to show that there would have been, or should have been, diced bands around forage caps, be they of the round-topped kind common in the 1840s, or the 'pork-pie' style (hate that, but at least it provides clarity) Kilmarnock which replaced it. The only place where such bands appear are in unreferenced plates drawn at Michael Barthorp's behest by Osprey. Lots of model makers have admired and copied the Barthorp plate. But heck...come on guys where is this diced band stuff coming from? Can anybody help here?

It's probably worth adding that whenever ones goes anywhere near the 74th (Highland) Regiment in 1851, one is positively tripping over contemporaneous images of forage caps with diced bands...but the clue is in the name to my mind. The 74th are highlanders, but the 91st are not. I can say with absolute certainty that the Reserve Battalion of the 91st did not have diced bands around its Kilmarnock in 1851, (at which time the 74th did), so by what possible miracle could the 1st Battalion 91st have had such in 1846-7? Same regiment. Same rig.

Also worth adding that the 72nd Highlanders (same principle applies) also definitely had diced bands around their big peaked South African forage cap in 1834-5.

I have already argued here that illustrators have been erroneously popping the 72nd hat of the 1830s onto the heads of the 74th in 1851-3, when what they should have been showing was a diced Kilmarnock with peak. Have they done the same thing with the 1st Bn 91st in 1846-7 or is there actually any evidence underpinning the Osprey portrayal and all the associated toy soldiers? Is this an urban myth, so to speak? I've looked and I've looked. Nothing.

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Mike
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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby Frogsmile » 16 Jan 2015 22:59

I am not sure if you have seen the 91st regiment's historical records archived here Mike: https://archive.org/stream/historicalre ... arch/Dress

At page 122 there is mention of a picture that includes a detachment of the 91st on campaign in 1846, which was commissioned by Major Hollway and in the possession of the regiment. If the picture survives I imagine it will show head dress.

At page 239 it makes clear that no Scottish dress was reinstituted until 1861.

From this I think that you are safe in your suggestion that no dicing was present on the forage caps.
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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby Banker » 17 Jan 2015 00:40

1853 South Africa medal. Would I be right in thinking that this medal was issued only to those who lived through the wars and not to the families of the deceased


Correct issued to those that survived and served in one of the Kaffir wars

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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby mike snook » 17 Jan 2015 00:53

What ho Frogsmile

Yes indeed, that's Colonel Goff's book, which is about a foot from my left hand as I type. (Poor chap was subsequently killed at Magersfontein I learned). The p. 122 reference is I believe a reference to a copy of the well known Martens oil of the 29 Jan 1846 indaba between Col Hare and Sandile at Block Drift. You'll know the one straight away and if it doesn't ring any immediate bells, you'd certainly recognize it if you saw it. It's the one in which the 7th DG and an RA crew are the main players, with amaNqgika horsemen in the right foreground. It's also not accurate, as there is a second portrayal of the same event done by Capt Sir Harry Darrell, (who led the charge of the Gwanga River), in which 7th DG is shown in its brass helmets. Martens wasn't there and has them in watering caps, so I place no great reliance on his painting in terms of detail.

Thanks for your observation. It will be interesting to see where this goes as others chip in.

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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby mike snook » 17 Jan 2015 00:53

Thanks Steve, that's useful confirmation.

Best wishes

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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby AMB » 18 Jan 2015 01:12

Mike,

Scottish Headdress. I note that Baines painted the 74th. I've had a quick trawl of the net to see if he also painted the 91st, but sadly have come to naught. I wonder if there is a Baines expert out there who may know more? Maybe the curator of the Cape Town Castle (I know that there is a significant Baines collection there) or the military museum in Jo'burg?

Keith Smith in Australia may have come across something during his research for his book.

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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby mike snook » 18 Jan 2015 12:30

AMB

It is as well that I know you as well as I do old man, or I might be tempted to point out that I managed to think of those ideas myself!! :roll: :lol:

As might reasonably be expected, I am 'all over' Baines, down to placing longitudes and latitudes on his paintings (as well as many other lost sites of the frontier wars). He did paint the 91st, which is how I know there were no diced bands in the Res Bn in 1851. I have been to both the museums you propose many times. I depart on a new expedition to them thar parts shortly.

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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby jf42 » 18 Jan 2015 22:50

Mike, first off, no chapter or verse to quote in order to ease your pain but a few thoughts to help with the process of extrapolation from what we do know.

I note from Goff that there is- or was- an archive of Colonel Bertie Gordon's correspondence between 1854 and 1864, recording his efforts to have the 91st's Highland status reinstated. This includes a letter he wrote to the Adjutant General in 1861 giving a history of the dress of the regiment. Whether or not letter that gives an account of the regimental forage cap, to which we possibly assign more importance than they did at the time, I couldn't say. Perhaps you have already approached the A&SH Museum at Stirling Castle.

When in 1864 Bertie Gordons efforts were rewarded with the 91st being given non-kilted Highland status, the authorisation included "Chaco, blue cloth with diced band and braid. Forage cap, Kilmarnock with diced band." Does that imply that previously the headgear had been worn without dicing?

I see there is an appendix to Goff that deals with Uniforms, for some reason missing from the Archive.com copy on-line (along with the illustration of the 91st's uniform in 1822) No hints at all there, I take it. Perhaps 1864 was year zero concerning any Scottish or Highland details in the uniforms of the 91st since they were done away with in 1809.

It is worth noting that diced decoration on the headgear was not restricted to Highland regiments. After the Napoleonic Wars the 26th Cameronians assumed non-regulation diced borders on their forage caps despite being a wholly Lowland corps. When in the 1860s the 73rd Perthshire and 75th Stirlingshire had their regional titles restored they resumed dicing. It's reasonable to speculate whether the restoration of the 91st Argyllshire's Scottish status in {EDIT CORRECTION: 1822} 1820 could have been accompanied by that least controversial emblem of Scottish identity, the border of 'National tartan' on the forage cap (The Cameronians weren't questioned about theirs until 1858).

We are told by Goff of persistent efforts on the part of the 91st to regaining their Highland status, particularly after 1833. Again, that might argue for the Regiment 'flying the flag' with dicing on their forage caps.

However, it seems to me that, despite the foregoing, if there is clear evidence that the Reserve battalion did not wear forage caps with dicing, unless there was some question of supply that had bearing on the matter, we have to wonder why they would have adopted different practice to that of the 1st Battalion. "Same regiment. Same rig." I suppose it is possible that the Barthorp-commissioned illustrations were predicated on assumptions similar to those I outlined above.

Goff gives one interesting detail, though. In 1848, when the younger soldiers were drafted from the 1st to the Reserve on the 1st being posted back to Britain, it was "a proceeding not appreciated by the men as they considered they were leaving their old regiment to go to a new one." (p.138) So perhaps we need to examine our assumptions in regard to common practice between the two battalions.

The author of the old Osprey book on the Argylls, William McElwee, makes an ambigous remark about the Reserve battalion arriving at the Cape "wearing the standard uniform of English line infantry, quite unsuited to hot climates, and for the 91st extremely damaging to morale." (p.16) The unsuitablity of tight woolen uniforms is obvious but why does he specify "English line"? Goff says nothing that might clarify. One wouldn't want to make too much of the remark but it did make me wonder what he was referring to. Not that bonnet dicing, or lack of, would make difference one way or the other in terms of climate.

According to McElwee, when the 1st Bn 91st returned to Gosport from the Cape in 1848, they got the only unfavourable Inspection Report in their history. If the report has survived, I wonder if there were any illuminating remarks on the state of their clothing.

Sorry not to be more help.
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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby mike snook » 19 Jan 2015 16:44

Thanks for the contribution jf. Interesting as ever.

Yes, onto the lowland thing, fear not.

The only thing notable thing about diced bands in the annexes of the two major histories of the 91st I have, (Goff and Dunn-Pattison) is the stubborn refusal of the authors to mention them, until precisely that little extract involving Bertie Gordon comes up, just as you have cited it. Much to my chagrin I note the booskeller's annotation on the fly leaves of my Goff : 'missing two plates', one of which is the 1822 uniform, dammit! Much more to the point however there is a plate of a named private solider in the Dunn-Pattison which certainly comes from the 1850s. It was clearly done from life. It has covered wagons in the background but irritatingly no date and no explanation. I am going to fiddle around with the name and medal rolls, to see if that gets me anywhere. He is wearing a coatee and slightly bizarrely, given the background setting, which is definitely 'the field' (and very possibly the veldt), looks like he's about to go on parade. On his head.....well let me tease you with that. The key thing is date and location. I might be able to progress that with the soldier's name. Will report back if I get anywhere,

There is a minor notation in the annex missing from the online version of Goff, as you observe, that talks about peaked forage caps being worn in South Africa. No mention of a diced band. Elsewhere we have discussed the word 'Kilmarnock'. I observed rd post a manual from the 1860s, I think it was, in which 'Kilmarnock' is used as a proper noun of a pork pie. Roger to that. But then there is the mystery date of 1834 for its introduction (which I struggle with). It seems clear to me that it was not widely worn until just before the Crimea - which (dammit again) is precisely the period I am working on: 7th CFW 1846-7 and 8th CFW 1850-53. Not uncommonly we have the same battalions serving in both wars. Being pinickity as I am, it is important to know which hats were used between which years. I have the impression that the Victorian officer did not call the Kilmarnock the Kilmarnock until later, and that mentions of 'forage caps' in the late 40s and early 50s are not uncommonly actually references to what later became termed the Kilmarnock.

I do not hesitate to dismiss any notion of there being different orders of dress between a 1st Battalion and a Reserve Battalion. Both battalions of the 91st were in South Africa at the time of the 7th CFW and were effectively wings of the same organization, the RB deploying somewhat later than the 1st. Only later was a second lieutenant colonel introduced into the RB 'system' - in truth a Treasury inspired 'con'. An RB had no colours. Until the second lt col was added, reserve battalions were commanded by the senior major, who up to that point would have been left in command of the regimental depot at home. This is the era of the battalion of six service companies and the four company depot. You will get the significance of the number 10. This is the old regimental organization, or wartime establishment, divvied up between two places. They are bound necessarily to be dressed identically. Same shove, different places. When a RB was formed sufficient men were trawled from across the infantry to raise the depot companies from 4 to 6 and still leave 120 men behind. It was the old soldiers who got left behind. The reference to transfers, which you cite, articulates the fact that a RB was full of 'foreigners' drafted in from other regiments. It has no bearing on dress and ethos etc. Also, as exciting a place as 19th century South Africa appears from a historical perspective, to many private soldiers it was a nasty hell hole which took all year to march over, where he was poorly fed and badly accommodated. These boys were not in Cape Town, but Fort Beaufort at best, or, God forbid, somewhere like Trompetter's Drift. These were also the days of the super-long tour of duty. They wanted to go home, not be left with some organization cobbled together as an operational expedient which was not manned by 'people like us' - in the tribal sense.

So my start point is that neither battalion had diced bands on their Kilmarnocks in 1851.The question is what did they have on their heads in 1846-7. Was it the round forage cap or a Kilmarnock? And where is this diced band stuff coming from?

The truth is out there....somewhere.

As ever

M
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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby mike snook » 19 Jan 2015 17:08

Found him. Pte Henry Butt. Served in the 8th CFW but not the 7th. Means necessarily he was in the RB (1st Bn gone home by then) and lived through to the end. The plate appears slap bang in the middle of the South Africa chapter (and there is the covered wagons). Doesn't further the date, with precision, other than not being as early as 1847 when the 7th War was on. He might have got off the troopship in 1848. He might have got off in 1851. The picture could post date the war altogether. If in SA, which I believe to be the case, it cannot be later than 1855, when the RB left too.

On his head...a Kilmarnock without a diced band! Nice collateral to Baines's portrayals from 1851, but doesn't help with any date prior to 1848. Even so, we have restoration of highland dress in the 1860s and a sudden Bertie Gordon reference to diced bands at that juncture. Together with evidence that diced bands were not worn in the 1850s. It is to my mind an even greater leap of faith than formerly to imagine they had been worn in the 1840s, n'est pas?

If I flashed Pte Butt past your eyes and asked you, 'what did you just see?' You would almost certainly reply, that was a private soldier in home service dress, and kilmarnock cap, from the grenadier or light company of an English line infantry regiment at the time of the Crimean War.

There was by the way a Samuel Butt who got the medal for the 7th War, but didn't serve in the 8th. I wonder whether he was a brother or a cousin. He might even have taken local discharge and stayed on.

Henry's cap does not have a peak.

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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby Frogsmile » 20 Jan 2015 01:27

This has been an extremely interesting thread with especially informative, detailed posts from jf42 and you Mike. Thank you. For what it's worth, I would have staked a good bottle of single malt on the forage cap being undiced, and am not surprised by your eventual conclusion.
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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby jf42 » 20 Jan 2015 10:22

mike snook wrote:Found him. Pte Henry Butt. Served in the 8th CFW but not the 7th. Means necessarily he was in the RB (1st Bn gone home by then) and lived through to the end. The plate appears slap bang in the middle of the South Africa chapter (and there is the covered wagons). Doesn't further the date, with precision, other than not being as early as 1847 when the 7th War was on. He might have got off the troopship in 1848. He might have got off in 1851. The picture could post date the war altogether. If in SA, which I believe to be the case, it cannot be later than 1855, when the RB left too.

On his head...a Kilmarnock without a diced band! Nice collateral to Baines's portrayals from 1851, but doesn't help with any date prior to 1848. Even so, we have restoration of highland dress in the 1860s and a sudden Bertie Gordon reference to diced bands at that juncture. Together with evidence that diced bands were not worn in the 1850s. It is to my mind an even greater leap of faith than formerly to imagine they had been worn in the 1840s, n'est pas?


I think Henry Butt combined with the Baines paintings provide fairly compelling evidence:

Pvt. H Butt Res. Bn. 91st.jpg
Pvt. H Butt Res. Bn. 91st.jpg (17.71 KiB) Viewed 929 times


As a clincher, perhaps, is this detail from later on in Dunn-Pattinson's 1910 history of the 91st, taken from the Regimental Digest of Service, describing dress worn during the Indian Mutiny:

"The ordinary blue forage cap is worn, and during the hotter part of the day with a white cover and curtain."

91st clothing worn in India 1858-59  .jpg
91st clothing worn in India 1858-59 .jpg (78.73 KiB) Viewed 929 times


One thing I think of which we can be fairly certain is that, if the 91st had been wearing forage caps with diced bands in the 1840s, it is unlikely that the practice would for some reason have ceased in the 1850s, at least not without a hoo-ha that we would have been told about, given the sensitivities of the Regiment on that subject.

The continuing use of the plain blue forage cap by the 91st in India confirms that the blue cap recorded in South Africa was not an anomaly to do with distinctions between the 1st and Reserve battalions of the 91st or with problems of supply.

All in all, it seems from the available evidence that, having been deprived of their Highland status in 1809, the 91st knuckled down and soldiered on as standard infantry of the line with narry a thistle nor a square of dicing to denote their origin. After the restoration of the regional ‘Argyllshire’ title in 1820, certain Scottish details were adopted in the Regiment’s appointments, for instance a wreath of thistles on the officer’s belt plate shown here. However, from the evidence we have, dicing on the forage cap appears not to have been one of those details- although it might be reasonable to have expected that addition.

Offrs belt plate 91st Argyllshire ca.1820-54.jpg
Offrs belt plate 91st Argyllshire ca.1820-54.jpg (55.37 KiB) Viewed 929 times


mike snook wrote: So my start point is that neither battalion had diced bands on their Kilmarnocks in 1851.The question is what did they have on their heads in 1846-7. Was it the round forage cap or a Kilmarnock? And where is this diced band stuff coming from?


Having now had a look at the illustration of the soldier of the 1st Bn. 91st in Michael Barthorp’s ‘BAoC’ Vol. One, it seems to me that EITHER

MB & Pierre Turner had access to a source of information of which we are unaware-

OR they made the assumption that the 91st, having lost all the trappings of Scots identity in 1809, once they regained their regional title in 1820, adopted diced bands on their forage caps to assert their Caledonian connection. The authors could point to the example of the 26th Cameronians, and also, I believe, the 21st Royal Scots Fusiliers.

In the absence of contemporary images (let’s assume), it looks as if MB/PT used as a model the tall diced undress bonnets shown in the Adamson photos of the 92nd at Edinburgh Castle taken in1846, perhaps deciding that other Scots regiments would have favoured the same rather archaic model of forage cap/undress bonnet (which might also explain the form of cap depicted in their illustrations of the 74th in the 1850s).

74th (1851) 91st (1846) (Girona).jpg
74th (1851) 91st (1846) (Girona).jpg (46.31 KiB) Viewed 929 times


We know that into the 1850s many non-Scottish regiments adhered to the equally superannuated broad-crowned, or ‘round’ if you like, forage cap, on foreign stations at least. We also have images of the Scots Fusilier Guards at home wearing the broader crowned, peaked cap ca. 1838-40; first plain blue then with a diced band (Order, December 1837) Perhaps that also informed their speculation.

It may be that the absence of the 91st abroad from 1819 until 1848 was also a factor in MB/PT's decision as to what form the Regiment's forage cap may have taken.

Assuming, that is, that the illustrations in question were indeed the result of informed speculation and not drawing on sources of which we are unaware. Would it be bad form to enquire?

As for the contradiction between Michael Barthorp's statement that the plain 'Kilmarnock'/'pork-pie' type of forage cap was introduced in 1834, and the continuing use into the 1850s of the previous broad-crowned, 'flared', 'round' type with distinguishing bands of colour- more research is needed!
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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby Frogsmile » 20 Jan 2015 12:42

All fascinating stuff jf42 and I think your conclusion is spot on, especially the need for further research regarding the transition from the bonnet style forage cap to the 'Kilmarnock' (pork pie type).
Just as an aside, my understanding is that the 21st (Royal North British) Fusiliers did not wear any Scottish apparel (including head-dress) until 1880 and were entirely content with just insignia. They even resisted taking Scottish dress, as it took them away from their brother Fusilier regiments, all of which, including the Irish regiments, had relatively standard dress (less facings and minor distinctions). In 1870 the 21st and 23rd were paired for depot company purposes because their frock, tunics, trousers and fur caps and plumes were the same, and so that there was some economy of effort for quartermasters.
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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby jf42 » 20 Jan 2015 14:28

Ah, yes. I did hesitate over including the 21st in that reference. I was aware of the importance of the Fusiliers distinction over the national, to the extent that the 21st declined to include a thistle motif in their early cap badge, despite being authorised to do so. The thistle had featured in the Regimental badge on the colours since at least 1747 (I seem to remember it was used on earlier cloth Fusilier caps). After 1815, the thistle motif started to re-appear on buttons, for instance, and apparently surviving examples of officers swords from circa 1825 bear a marking 'Royal Scots Fusliers' as opposed to 'Royal North British Fusiliers' (perhaps engravers charged by the letter).

In my fevered reading of the last couple of days, absorbing a mass of information on the non-kilted and Lowland regiments, I thought I read a reference to officers of the 21st adopting dicing on their forage caps quite early on, but couldn't find the reference when I looked back. Was that a fantasy? I can only bow to your fund of Fusilier lore.

Certainly the other ranks remained without dicing on their forage caps until 1866. According to the author of "Historical record and regimental memoir of the Royal Scots fusiliers, formerly known as the 21st Royal North British fusiliers. (etc etc) by JAMES CLARK, LATE SERGEANT ROYAL SCOTS FUSILIERS. (1885), when the 21st returned from India in 1848 the Regiment was inspected by the Adjutant General himself and "a thorough revolution was made in the clothing and all fancy regimental specialities were swept away." Amongst the changes inimical to regimental dandyism, was the imposition of "regulation forage caps of hideous shape and coarse quality."

That comment may explain to some extent the slow up take of the 'Kilmarnock'- type bonnet in the infantry after it was introduced in 1834.

CSgt  21st (Royal NB) Fusiliers 1855.jpg
CSgt 21st (Royal NB) Fusiliers 1855.jpg (54.52 KiB) Viewed 924 times


Here are a couple of images of Cameronians with dicing to compensate. The modern one is of uncertain provenance via the British Empire website and may well only serve to demonstrate another illustrator's speculative attempts regardng non-Highland Scottish forage caps.

26th 1835.jpg
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26thfoot1845.jpg
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Re: Scottish headdress and 1853 SA Medal

Postby mike snook » 21 Jan 2015 01:02

Jf

Don't the rank & file chaps in the right rear background of the upper image have diced bands? It is a bit difficult to see.

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