74th Highlander "Bush Fighters"

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Re: 74th Highlander "Bush Fighters"

Postby jf42 » 21 Nov 2014 17:59

Mike greetings, welcome back to the fray.

Your account of the attenuation of the Baines painting of the descent from the Waterkloofe from watercolour to aquatint to lithograph does explain the suspiciously neat outline of the 74th bonnets in the images most commonly published (or posted). Regarding the peaks attached to the undress bonnets, is it possible that these were removed from the uniform shakos, as it seems was done on occasion in India during the Mutiny (more research needed)? As for the colour of the leather, presumably after a period in the field the process of weathering might well reduce any blacking to a more 'natural' colour.

For my own satisfaction, and for those who like me have only a sketchy outline knowledge of the 1851 campaign at the Cape, I though it might be useful to post some images to put the discussion in context. All, apart from the Cunliffe painting, are taken from this website which for the ignorant provides a useful, concise summary of the 74th's ill-fated excursion into the Waterkloofe:
http://home.earthlink.net/~cyberkiwi/so ... rio11.html

Frustratingly, there appears to be no source recorded for the monochrome sketch of the single soldier adjusting his cap.

The undress bonnet worn by the 74th man wearing a white drill jacket in the Cunliffe painting is markedly different from most images we have of the undress bonnet worn in the Cape, which, apart from the unreliable Baines image as published, do tend to show a taller cap with a deeper band of dicing. The dicing on the officer's forage cap in the Cunliffe being deeper, however, corresponds more with the 'Cape bonnets.' The bonnets worn by the 92nd Highlanders in the photographs taken at Edinburgh Castle circa 1845 arguably correspond more closely to the taller profile of the Cape hats. I really don't know what to make of this.

Detail 74th 1846 (Cunliffe).jpg
Detail 74th 1846 (Cunliffe).jpg (120.58 KiB) Viewed 1460 times

74th Cape 1851.jpg
74th Cape 1851.jpg (29.07 KiB) Viewed 1460 times

'Death of Col Fordyce ' Baines.jpg
'Death of Col Fordyce ' Baines.jpg (58 KiB) Viewed 1460 times

'Death of Col Fordyce' ( W.R.King).jpg
'Death of Col Fordyce' ( W.R.King).jpg (86.15 KiB) Viewed 1460 times


Regarding your fluctuating faith in shoulder patches on the frocks/ smocks, having checked, the latest development was your discovery of the phrase 'the cuffs and shoulders were strapped with leather' in a late C19th memoir. Has something happened to undermine your enthusiasm for that reference? (I'd better say again that I have no vested interest in this detail one way or another but it would be nice to know!).
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Re: 74th Highlander "Bush Fighters"

Postby mike snook » 21 Nov 2014 23:26

Hello jf,

Strapped leather was not in a memoir, if you recall, but in a late Victorian history of Highland regiments in which the author had been advised by a 74th officer....but not specifically or necessarily in respect of the passage about adapted uniform. The reason it's not quite as compelling as formerly is the real, real, pucka, Baines oils which I will be reproducing in the book. Can't stick em here as that's not what my licence from the owner allows me to do. The view of the men of the 74th could not be clearer and Baines saw a good deal of the regiment at exactly the period in question. Never a man in 25 or so individual portrayals in the best of the Baines pictures has shoulder patches on his smock. All the peaks are black and the basic hat is a Kilmarnock. I think there is no need even to contemplate the idea of the peaks turning brown by bleaching, when there is not a single piece of evidence to say they were brown in the first place!

The peak is quite long in the paintings. Capt W R King uses the adjective 'broad' of them. One man's long is another man's broad? Of all the reliable images I have gathered in, I find a high preponderance of Kilmarnocks with peaks and I'm not talking about the odd figure who might be a sergeant, but the rank and file, so the 74th would in that respect be consistent with the rest and with the (almost) universal [!] regulation infantry forage cap for the period. There is some outside possibility if you would call the OR's forage cap in the first (Cunliffe) image you have posted something other than a Kilmarnock (an undress bonnet?) that it's one of those that Baines shows. But from where I sit that there 'undress bonnet' is either a Kilmarnock or so damned near a Kilmarnock as not to make any practical difference. Other evidence would suggest that the officers' forage cap in SA is exactly that worn in the Cunliffe. If you study the death of Fordyce image from King's book you will see that the caps there look like Kilmarnocks with peaks. I am not clear who drew King's illustrations - perhaps t'was himself - but they are sound to the extent that I can match a drawing of the camp in the Blinkwater Valley to a photo I took a couple of years ago. Clearly there are going to be some irregularities of shape on top of the hat because the weather was so dreadful during much of the Waterkloof fighting, but look anywhere other than the 3rd man from the left in the King and what you see is a Kilmarnock with a peak.

The big tall thing is spurious, save in so far as such an item was definitely worn by the 72nd in 1834-5, (I have seen a contemporaneous watercolour by an officer which proves it)....and might possibly have been worn by the 91st in 1846-7. Barthorp fields an Osprey plate which puts it on the heads of the 1st Bn 91st in 1846-7, citing as his reason a sketch by a Major Harvey. In his text he puts a diced band around the 1st Battalion's but not about the Reserve battalion's, which I have to say seems curious to me....same regiment. The reserve battalion is after all only an expanded group of four 'depot' companies which would certainly have had exactly the same uniform as the six 'service' companies (i.e. the 10 established companies of the same full strength fighting battalion). I have found one lithograph attributable to a Major Harvey, but it is too distant to see what is on people's heads....I presume therefore that it is not the item to which Barthorp refers. I can say that whatever the reserve battalion was wearing in 1846-7, it was wearing Kilmarnocks with peaks (no dicing) in the Waterkloof four years later (plus of course the usual assortment of irregular headdress). The big tall thing on the head of a 74th Highlander in Barthorp's British Infantry Uniforms book is just out and out wrong I fear.

A question to close with...leaving aside the curiosities of Guards and Scots can we out a definite date to the introduction of the Kilmarnock...by which I mean the pattern of infantry forage cap forever associated with the Crimean War?

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Re: 74th Highlander "Bush Fighters"

Postby jf42 » 28 Nov 2014 04:15

Mike, hello again.

I probably wasn't expressing myself clearly. I have no doubt that the 74th in the Cape were wearing their undress bonnets fitted with peaks. I was really only commenting on the variety of forms that we have in terms of the visual representations of those caps. It is perplexing that the one set of images of the 'diced' undress bonnet prior to 1850 whose authenticity we can rely on unequivocally, the photos of the 92nd at Edinburgh Castle, should lie so far towards one end of the spectrum in terms of shape and height. The fact of the 92nd being a kilted regiment may explain the height of their undress bonnets in 1846, which perhaps reflected the height of the mounted feather bonnet. We may never know for sure.

The soldier's undress bonnet in the Cunliffe painting of the 74th, while lying towards the other end of the scale, undoubtedly represents the standard felted woollen bonnet with Scottish dicing.

I say 'standard'. It's fair to say that in the period 1820 to 1870, there was a steady diminution in height and volume of the undress bonnet, from something like a peakless shako to something approaching the 'pill-box' form although not in a consistent or uniform way. It is not, therefore, possible to generalise. It seems we have to examine each case on its merits, regiment by regiment as it were. Nothing new there.

If the Baines images can be judged faithful observations, if somewhat stylised, then it seems to me that there you have the best approximation of how the 74th looked in the Cape in 1851, regardless of contemporary models we may look to elsewhere. If, for instance, you simply took the undress bonnet from the Cunliffe painting and stuck a peak on it, that might well be a valid 'mock up' of the 1851 adaptation at the Cape but such visualisations, it seems to me, can never be as authentic as the images recorded by an eye-witness, artistic licence and all.

As the various discussions on the topic of the 74th demonstrate rather well, once a modern illustrator interprets a contemporary image for publication, it can- possibly- obscure rather than clarify the issue. However, I read elsewhere that you will soon be offering us "the first ever accurate representation of the 74th Hldrs." I await that unveiling with enthusiastic anticipation!

In the end I think we may simply have to put down to artistic licence the apparent variations in dimensions of the undress cap , height of the diced bands, etc., even those we find recorded for this one regiment, the 74th. It occurs to me that, for artists drawing small figures, it might well have been necessary to depict the diced band on the bonnet in a slightly exaggerated form simply in order to show the tartan pattern but as the {CORRECTION:74th} 71st soldier's cap from 1854-55 shows perhaps there was just a certain degree of variation.

' Death of Col Fordyce' (Baines).png
' Death of Col Fordyce' (Baines).png (110.37 KiB) Viewed 1435 times

HLI Soldier in working dress Crimea.  .jpg
HLI Soldier in working dress Crimea. .jpg (64.67 KiB) Viewed 1435 times


Death of Col Fordyce (W.R. King 1851).jpg
Death of Col Fordyce (W.R. King 1851).jpg (101.95 KiB) Viewed 1435 times


Moreover, the C19th artists probably never expected military history enthusiasts a century and a half later to be examining their work with the proverbial nit-comb.

'Kilmarnock' - Michael Barthorp stated in a 1978 essay for JSAHR and repeated in 'Infantry Uniforms from 1660' (1982), that the model of undress bonnet for other ranks which saw the infantry through the Crimean war, the Mutiny and most of the 1860s, and which today we tend to refer to as a 'Kilmarnock'*, was introduced in 1834. This superceded a model that had a wider crown and a distinguishing band in colours that reflected Line regiment facings, Light Infantry/Rifle, or Royal regiment status, etc., as appropriate; a complete fruit salad.

68th Regt Forage caps  1844<.png
68th Regt Forage caps 1844<.png (53.12 KiB) Viewed 1435 times


As undress bonnets continued to be very much a regimental item, a change-over in form did not happen immediately, with some regiments on foreign stations, even as close to home as Gibraltar, wearing the broader crowned cap into the 1850s. Highland regiments continued with the form they had been using before, plain blue, with dicing as appropriate (See Below)

[*'Kilmarnock'- I haven't got round to researching the history of this term. As with the label hummle, it tends to be used as if referring to a specific model of headgear although over a considerable period of time bonnets of all shapes and sizes used to be made in Kilmarnock- and hummle is simply Scots for 'unadorned', often used to refer to a bull with its horns polled. I have suggested elsewhere that the term 'Kilmarnock' may have been applied to the bonnet introduced in 1834 (c.f Barthorp) as another way of saying 'Scotch'- given that hitherto it was a form favoured by Highland regiments, i.e. the bonnet some like to refer to as 'hummle'. I now prefer to avoid both unless quoting directly, but if 'Kilmarnock' works as a shorthand for what most people recognise as- to quote from your last post- "the pattern of infantry forage cap forever associated with the Crimean War" then I guess the term has its uses but it's perhaps best to recognise its limitations as well.]

As you probably know but I'll bang on anyway, the plain undress bonnet introduced in 1834 was of felted wool knit, blue for line infantry and green for LI & Rifles and with colour-coded touries reflecting arm, company role, etc. Sergeants' bonnets had a peak until 1849.

The undress bonnets of Scottish regiments designated 'Highland', i.e. including the 71st and 74th (from 1846) -but not the 42nd-, had a band of a dicing referred to as 'national' or 'regimental tartan.' This band does seem to have varied quite widely in depth from the bottom edge of the cap up toards the crown. From circa 1841, however, the 79th Cameron Highlanders wore a plain blue Glengarry bonnet. I believe soldiers of the 1st Royals, 21st 25th and 26th, all with Lowland Scottish associations, wore a plain undress bonnet in this period. The situation with officers varied. The 26th had dicing. The Scots Fusilier Guards, however, all had undress caps with a diced band. In 1851 all kilted regiments were ordered to wear the Glengarry bonnet in undress, some with dicing some not. The 42nd declined, soldiers retaining their plain blue bonnet until the Glengarry became universal undress headwear. Black Watch officers wore a band of 42nd tartan on their peaked caps.
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Re: 74th Highlander "Bush Fighters"

Postby mike snook » 28 Nov 2014 21:17

Thank you old chap. I always learn something from your posts. Tell me something about colour-coded touries, on the round forage cap, because this too seems to be a bit of a grey area.

Also what should I be calling the forage cap before the Kilmarnock? (apart from round....maybe round is the right answer).

When you talk about variations and the 74th, do you mean that chap captioned HLI, in the Crimea, bending forward in the greatcoat? If so that's not a variation. Soldiers still do that folding inwards thing to produce the appearance of a rim with their tropical hats, (colloquially known as bush hats). I also have proper bush hats (as in African Daktari hats) where I have done something similar to reduce the height of the crown and smarten up the hat. But it's the same hat and what I see there in the photo is a standard Kilmarnock...if indeed that's what you mean...?

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Re: 74th Highlander "Bush Fighters"

Postby jf42 » 29 Nov 2014 13:42

My apologies, Mike. It was late and I think I have a blind spot between 71st and 74th, for obvious reasons perhaps. That should have read "as the 71st soldier's cap from 1854-55 shows" and yes, that is a standard Crimea-era undress bonnet which, as you rightly say, tended to sink in at the crown with prolonged wear in the field as discussed at this point in a familiar thread from last year.

viewtopic.php?f=19&t=7898&hilit=bonnet&start=30

As for nomenclature, I now tend now to say 'undress bonnet', perhaps 'forage cap' if I'm feeling frisky, and then use the context to clarify.

Whether we are justified in saying something like '1834 model' following Barthorp, I am not sure. As it was not manufactured to strict specs or issued centrally, and had yet to be superceded on foreign stations as late as 1852, "model" might be pushing it.

"1834" might serve among us cognoscenti here at VWF but as "1834" neither references the Crimea- the campaign with which the cap is most associated- (not least because of Fenton's photos) nor is it descriptive as in "pork-pie", (which is a term I know some of us here dislike), I am not sure how useful the term might be generally speaking. It is at least historically accurate.

I don't have acccess to the 1846 Dress Regs at the minute. I should know this already, but if 'Kilmarnock' is actually used officially there or in other publications, well then, if put in inverted commas to indicate that it is historical parlance rather than truly descriptive then it is seems to me to be a fair term to use.

"Round" would not be inaccurate. As such....

With regard to touries, I don't have that in my head. I have a note from Barthorp's JSAHR article some where. Caught between two computers. Stand by.
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Re: 74th Highlander "Bush Fighters"

Postby mike snook » 29 Nov 2014 14:50

'1834 model/pattern' definitely does not work for me! Whether or not the year is 'technically' correct, I still think of it as a very, very early date for an item which seems to me only really to appear around 1848/49/50 (or 1845 in the Cunliffe, but that's in a Scottish context where all sorts of weird bonnets are going on in all sorts of decades).

'Undress bonnet' is very Scottish. You couldn't really use it in an English context, so that won't do! It has to be a 'Kilmarnock' or a 'forage cap'....or a 'Kilmarnock forage cap' perhaps...............but not, I agree, a 'Kilmarnock pork pie', though it does sound like a nice pub lunch.

Look forward to hearing the rest of your thoughts about what should be the proper name for the earlier version and on the vexed question of tourie colours. I am pretty cynical about the idea of flank company tourie colours, or facing colour touries, I have to say. But I'll listen and learn for sure!

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Re: 74th Highlander "Bush Fighters"

Postby jf42 » 30 Nov 2014 01:12

Well, I can only quote you Michael Barthorp, I am afraid. In his JSAHR article from 1978 he says that grenadiers wore white or red touries, light coys green and battalion or centre coys, black. Light infantry and Rifles wore green touries on green caps, possibly with a variation of black for some Rifles.

Barthorp also mentions that men serving in East or West Indies stations and the Mediterranean were to have peaks attached to their bonnets, as many illustrations show - although mainly in relation to the broad crowned crown that preceded the 1834 model. Adding a peak was a practice had been fairly common in hot weather postings before 1834.

Notwithstanding the impediments thrown up by your superstitious dread of Scottish military headgear, Barthop notes that the earliest image he was aware of in 1978 was of the 46th South Devonshire Regiment in paintings executed by Michael Angelo Hayes in 1837, which also happen to provide the earliest image of the red distinction of the 46th Light coy claimed in 1833, a red 'ball tuft' on the shako and a red tourie on the undress cap. I have seen these images. They were the subject of a study by a member of staff at the NAM Chelsea, IIRC.

There would seem to be a more accessible, (comparatively) early image of the 1834 cap in this painting of the 22nd at Meeanee (Sind) in 1843, on this occasion under a sun cover. There appears to be a modest peak

22nd Regt Meanee 1843.jpg
22nd Regt Meanee 1843.jpg (157.99 KiB) Viewed 1407 times
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Re: 74th Highlander "Bush Fighters"

Postby mike snook » 30 Nov 2014 01:59

http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/arts/yourpainti ... _large.jpg

...And if you cut and paste that into your browser you'll see the dear of 22nd in a completely different hat at the battle of Meanee and one which would be much more 'correct' for period than that shown above. Grand oils done in England don't really get us anywhere I fear!! (Except perhaps confused!).

Lots of peaks before 1834 says you....news to me says I. Officers and Sergeants have peaks for sure. But the rest? I should have thought it rare.

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Re: 74th Highlander "Bush Fighters"

Postby jf42 » 30 Nov 2014 18:16

"Lots of peaks before 1834 says you...."

Well, to be fair, what I said was:

"Adding a peak was a practice had been fairly common in hot weather postings before 1834."

However, I mispoke, because I should have said "seems to have been fairly common" and what Michael Barthorp actually wrote was:

Peak on Forage cap 1829 ii (Barthorp 1978).png
Peak on Forage cap 1829 ii (Barthorp 1978).png (145.41 KiB) Viewed 1402 times


in black and white to avoid any risk of misprision. Make of that what you will. Michael Barthorp remains the starting point on this matter until someone revisits it.

As for the paintings of the 22nd at Meeanee, point taken. As for which, if either, might on looking into the matter be taken to be more of an authentic image, I'll have to leave that to someone else. There is no denying that the one from which I posted a detail is the one executed with more vitality and with a more individual eye as opposed the other which is similar to the many formulaic images we see from the Sikh wars. It is also the one with which I more familiar, but that doesn't amount to a hill of beans in this world.

I wouldn't however say that the broad-crowned forage caps with peaks and white covers are more 'correct' for the period; au contraire, in fact. If the cylindrical, 'Kilmarnock' forage cap first appeared in the 1834 Regulations, then, however slowly it was taken into service, particularly abroad, a soldier shown wearing it in 1843 would surely be the one who was 'correctly' dressed.

By the way the 1834 Dress Regulations seem to refer to it as the 'forage-cap'. I am not sure about the 1846 DR.

Whether or not the uniform changes of circa 1844-46 brought about an increased take up of the 1834 forage-cap, or whether that perception is one fostered by the number of well known images that start being available from the mid-1840s leading us into the Crimean episode with its wealth of photos, I couldn't say.
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Re: 74th Highlander "Bush Fighters"

Postby JasonUbych » 03 Dec 2014 18:29

Item of the week from Fort George, Forage cap from the 79th, thought it was worth a link.
https://www.facebook.com/thehighlanders ... =1&theater

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Re: 74th Highlander "Bush Fighters"

Postby mike snook » 03 Dec 2014 18:36

Yes, nice item, Jason, and much like that worn by officers of the 74th at the period under discussion.

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Re: 74th Highlander "Bush Fighters"

Postby jf42 » 07 Dec 2014 13:29

Mike, I don't know whether you are familiar with this article re. the Cunliffe 1846 painting of the 74th, or whether it will offer any useful insights on the depiction of uniforms which the 74th took to the Cape, in particular their undress bonnet- had to get that in- but since I have come across the reference in an old file, I pass it on.

Major H. P. E. Pereira, "Colonel Eyre Crabbe of the 74th with some observations on D. Cunliffe as
a Military Painter", Journal of the Society for Army Historical
Researcho Winter 1955 Vol. XXXIII No. 136

Major Pereira, as I recall, also wrote a commentary on Indian Mutiny uniforms for JSAHR.
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Re: 74th Highlander "Bush Fighters"

Postby mike snook » 07 Dec 2014 19:07

Thank you.

Eyre Crabbe...that's odd. There was one of those in the Scots Guards...I can't imagine there were too many to the pound.

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Re: 74th Highlander "Bush Fighters"

Postby jf42 » 07 Dec 2014 21:23

Well, all I can tell you is that Crabbe of the 74th was the CO who succeeded in getting the 'Highland' designation of the 74th restored but in the unkilted branch. I understand that it was to celebrate this achievement that Cunliffe was commissioned to paint the canvas to which we have been referring. I believe Crabbe of the 74th, (Eyre John) retired soon after 1846. He married Elmina Stewart in 1851, I read, and died in 1859.

You don't by any chance mean Eyre Macdonnell Stewart Crabbe CB (1852-1905) of the Grenadier Guards? He was Crabbe of the 74th's son. The grandson, Campbell Tempest Eyre Crabbe died at Loos in September, aged 18.
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Re: 74th Highlander "Bush Fighters"

Postby mike snook » 23 Mar 2016 10:47

Two years late...! Sorry Jf, yes you have him...my mistake...Eyre Crabbe jnr was in the Grenadiers not the Scots. He was with the GCR and Desert Column 1884-5.

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