EQUIPPING AND CLOTHING THE ROYAL YORKERS’ PRIVATE SOLDIERS
Cap-hat (see Grenadier Company distinctions)
Made from a black felt hat blank. The cap has a short, squarish bill with its edge bound in black tape and a front shield with vertical sides and a slightly rounded top edge which rises not much above the crown. The exposed edges of the shield are bordered with white, wool twill tape with about 5/8″ showing from the front.
The shell of the hat is adorned with a black silk roller or scarf wound as a ‘turban’ around the crown; (a horsehair cockade is mounted on the left side). The turban may have an optional bow knotted in the back which can be untied and its tails let down to protect the neck from sun.
Any contemporary feather adornment is welcome. (note – pheasant is anachronistic, and peacock and ostrich are unlikely for Privates, but turkey seems most fitting. Natural feather colours are preferred rather than dyed)
Temporary Expedient Head Coverings
In keeping with 18th Century practice, a soldier is not allowed to appear without a head covering. As cap-hats are custom-made to size, a recruit might not be able to obtain one as soon as he joins. As a temporary measure, he may wear a slouch hat; a civilian cocked hat; a wedge-style fatigue cap or a black silk roller as a bandana.
Shirts are designed to be very loose in the body with long tails, dropped shoulders and ‘blousy’ arms.
Privates’ shirts have unruffled cuffs and neck opening and are made preferably of linen in white, natural, or brown, red, blue or black checks. Cotton is acceptable.
Neckstock (see Grenadier Company distinctions)
A stiff black leather or woven horsehair collar about 1½” wide which is either tied with ribbon, or buckled with a brass clasp at the back of the neck,
An alternative is a black, silk roller worn wound around the neck and tied in front or back to taste.
The shirt collar is folded down over the neckstock or roller.
All waistcoats are meant to fit skin tight to the body. The body of the waistcoat should come down below the belly and no gap should show between the bottom of the waistcoat and the top of the trousers.
There are three acceptable types.
Newly-made in the Light Infantry 1771 pattern in buff wool (only from wool) with plain pewter buttons.
Used ‘swallow-tail’ pattern in white wool with RP buttons. Linen is an acceptable, but uncommon alternate.
Or, ‘swallow-tail’ civilian type in ‘off-the-farm’ earthy colours in wool or linen with pewter, horn, or bone buttons.
Regimental jacket (see Grenadier and Light Company distinctions)
The jacket should fit tightly across the chest and be just able to fasten with a hook and eye set, of which there are supposed to be three sets; however, only the middle set is usually fastened. The arms are supposed to be stovepipe tight.
Most jackets have ‘working’ facings and cuffs, meaning that the facings (lapels) can be unbuttoned down their full length, then folded across and buttoned on one side only, usually leaving undone the top two buttons and the bottom button. This procedure is done, either as a rakish fashion statement, or to increase warmth in cold weather and usually only when off-duty. Similarly, the cuffs can be unbuttoned and folded down to act as crude mittens and the cape (collar) turned up to protect the neck.
The jacket is made with an all wool shell with lightweight linen or factory cotton lining in the upper body and inside the sleeves.
Newly-made jackets are green faced blue with lightweight, buff turnbacks and plain pewter buttons
Used jackets are green faced blue with lightweight, white woollen turnbacks and pewter RP buttons.
All types of trousers should be tailored to rise high in the crotch, and the waistband should rest across the belly, not under it.
Made of white/off-white/brown, robust cotton or linen canvas, linen or Russia drilling (should fit quite tight to the leg, not loose or baggy)
Made of white/off-white cotton or linen canvas, linen or Russia drilling with leather (not elastic) instep straps. This type of trouser should fit skin-tight to the calf and the gaiter should fit closely over the top of the shoe, not flop around.
May be made from either white or buff wool, or white or natural linen or Russia drilling (blend of hemp and linen), or brown leather. Drop front preferable, but fly front acceptable.
NB: if you wear breeches and buckled shoes, you should have either tightly-fitting black spatterdashes (short gaiters) in wool or canvas. The correct pattern is made with an arrow point up the calf muscle.
Green- or blue-wool leggings (see Light Company distinctions) tailored tight to the leg and tight over the shoe and rising about 2″ above the knee, mid- thigh length is also acceptable. The shorter leggings are held in place by garters, which may be made of a captive strip of the same-coloured wool, or by buckled, black leather straps, or tied with black & white wampum straps, or finger-woven. native or Quebec-style woollen garters, all of which are secured immediately below the knee. Mid-thigh leggings are often held in place by a cloth strip looped through a waistbelt and tied or buttoned.
Leggings should be the very simple, with/or without a front ‘V’-insert to cover the buckles or laces and not buttoned on the sides. Almost any contemporary variant is approved, as originally the soldiers made these themselves. Leggings always have a 1-1½” wide, flapped seam down the outside of the leg which can be edged in ribbon lace of a sensible contemporary colour. Note well: sky-blue, pink, lemon yellow, orange, etc… ribbon colours are not acceptable. Leggings should not be garish.
Either black, buckled or laced, latchet-type shoes, or ‘Hi-Lo’ calf-high boots. These two types of contemporary footwear should have leather soles and heels. For longer wear, leather heels usually mount steel horseshoe plates.
For Private soldiers, buckles should be of plain design, not elaborate.
Until the member is ready to purchase correct pattern footwear, very plain, black shoes or ankle-height, Army Parade or Police boots are acceptable with the goal that every member eventually purchases a correct pattern.
The laces of modern footwear must be hidden by gaitered trousers, or leggings, or spatterdashes.
The haversack was originally used to hold food only – bread, meat, etc… Current use is to carry keys, wallet, cash, spare flints, etc… which is deeply frowned upon by the hobby’s zealots.
The haversack’s strap should be adjusted so that the sack’s body lays on top of the man’s hip and does not hang down on his buttock.
New, natural linen, buttonless type preferred
Or, new natural linen, two- or three-button closure type.
Used, white, cotton canvas with buttons acceptable
Canteen design – either kidney or half-moon shaped made of tinned iron or dulled/brushed stainless steel. Stainless canteens are preferred, as they do not rust and form leaks. Ideally, every man’s canteen should be covered in gray, brown, green or blue wool or felt to prevent glare in the woods.
The cord length should be adjusted so that the canteen rests on top of the haversack. i.e. on the hip.
The stopper should be a plain, tapered, hardwood cylinder attached to the canteen by a cord. For ease of removal, hardwood stoppers should be periodically waxed. A cork stopper is acceptable, but not preferred.
Note: wooden canteens are not acceptable.
Stand of Arms
A Stand is comprised of a black leather 1″ waistbelt; a black leather, sewn and riveted, sliding bayonet frog which carries a black leather bayonet scabbard. The scabbard attaches to the frog by a brass hook and has a brass ‘button’ finial at its tip. The Stand’s fourth item is a Belly Box (see Light Company distinctions) for carrying cartridges. It has a black leather flap nailed to an 18-hole wooden box and the box has two leather loops nailed to it through which the 1″ waistbelt is slid.
For carrying the bayonet scabbard, it is acceptable, but not preferred, to use a variety of used buff, black or oil-tan leatherwaistbelts with integral frogs sewn to it. Those men wanting to use a Belly Box with this style of waistbelt will very likely need a second belt for that purpose alone.
Those carrying a belt axe, often use a waistbelt with an integral double frog, one for the bayonet scabbard, the second for the axe. An alternate method of carrying the axe is a second sliding bayonet frog. Another technique is to slip the axe handle through the waistbelt, usually at the small of the back, but the axe is often lost by this method of carriage.
Shoulder Mounted Cartridge Pouch
The pouch has an all black leather body with a large, flap that latches shut, and a lightweight, internal leather or painted linen flap as a secondary protection. Some pouches have a 24-, 28-hole wooden box to hold the paper cartridges.
However, the most common pouch has a 36-hole, flip-wooden box with 18 holes drilled into both the top and bottom. This box has the lightweight leather or painted linen flaps tacked to the edge of the top and bottom.
Shoulder pouches are suspended on the man’s right side by a buff or oil-tanned leather sling. A black sling is acceptable, but not preferred.
Some men use both a Stand of Arms and a shoulder Cartridge Pouch, especially when a heavy action is anticipated.
Another method of supplementing your cartridge supply is to employ a Ball Bag and Powder Horn. This is to simulate a recruit bringing his hunting kit from home or privately purchasing one in Quebec; however, the two items cannot be employed as originally intended as loose powder is not allowed in reenactments.
The ball bag is a simplistic, custom-designed item (i.e. no two bags are exactly the same) made of various types of natural or dyed leather. The bag may carry a fitted, drilled wooden block to hold additional cartridges, or safe containers of spare cartridges for replenishing the Belly Box.
The Ball Bag is worn in conjunction with a large powder horn (the horn is purely decorative, i.e. not for use.) The horn’s surface may be left plain, or scrimshawed to taste after very careful research of contemporary image styles.
The Ball Bag hangs on the right side with the powder horn above it so that it doesn’t interfere with access to the bag’s flap.
Musket (see Light Company distinctions)
Any pattern of British, Dutch (Belgian,) American or German firelock in carbine or musket bore (with bayonet to fit) is acceptable. Also acceptable are American or German rifles providing you have your captain’s permission.
Trade muskets, fowlers and French-made battlefield pick-ups are also acceptable, but not encouraged. Of course, the disadvantage of carrying a rifle, trade musket or fowler is that none of them will mount a bayonet.
To ensure safe operation as line infantry, all Privates’ firelocks, no matter what the type, should have a barrel length not less than 39″.
Firelocks are to be transported to and from events or drills in a canvas sheath to comply with Canadian law governing the movement of firearms.
Although bayonets are usually only mounted to the musket on ceremonial occasions, they were the most important and critical arm carried by 18th Century infantry. So every soldier should be equipped with one.
There are many suppliers of reproduction bayonets and they are not interchangeable because the diameters of musket barrels vary. So, like original bayonets, each must be tested for fit to your specific musket. Also, as blade shapes and lengths vary, each bayonet must be checked for fit with a scabbard.
The blade of the bayonet should be kept sparkling clean. The socket may be discoloured, but should be free of rust.
Belt Axe/Tomahawk (see company distinctions)
Contemporary military styles are preferred. Before buying, do some research. If you want to carry an Indian trade brass or iron axe with pipe bowl, etc…, discuss with your officer and/or NCO before buying, as there are many incorrect designs being offered on the market.
The blades of all axes are to be protected by a leather guard, or a cloth wrapping. See methods of carriage above.
There are two common screwdriver designs. The first is known as a ‘triangular’ tool. As some Italian screws have extremely narrow slots, the screwdriver has to be checked with each musket for proper fit, or, as an alternative, many members squirrel away a modern screwdriver to fit those narrow slots.
The triangular tool also has a post which can be inserted into a transverse hole drilled through the Italian musket’s top jaw screw to tighten the flint.
The “church-key” screwdriver has a single blade which fits most screws of Japanese- or Indian-made muskets, but does not have a post.
Both of these original screwdriver types can be used for re-sharpening the flint while it is clamped in the cock’s jaws by striking the tool’s edge against the front of the flint.
Clearly, the particular type of screwdriver tool you purchase must be chosen to match your musket.
The second tool is the whisk & pick. It is used for brushing out caked black powder residue from the musket’s pan and under the hammer after repeated firing, and/or picking out a plugged touchhole, problems which are intensified by damp weather.
The whisk and pick tool can be suspended from a button on the front of the jacket, or from the sling of your cartridge pouch or ball bag.
The third ‘tool’ is a frizzen-cover or hammer stall which is made of leather and slips tightly over the hammer to prevent sparking in case of an accidental discharge should your musket slip off half cock. The stall ties to the musket, usually to the lower sling swivel. The leather should be thick enough to prevent the flint from striking steel.
The stall is a mandatory safety accessory. Soldiers are not permitted on the field without one.
Stalls are readily torn loose from the musket during action, so it is wise to carry a spare. Stalls are available through the regiment or from sutlers.
Twisted, folded, glued or tied, plain paper cylinders (using no tape or staples) which hold 90-100 grains of FF, FFF powder, or a blend of FF/FFF.
This hat is wedge shaped with a green wool body and a flash of blue at the left front. At no time did men in the late 18th century go about without head coverings, so this hat may be worn when off-duty.
Cotton “Goomba” craftsman’s cap
A rather goofy looking, lightweight, soft cap for off-duty wear. Can be made from white or printed cotton. Officers, or other rich persons, often had their caps embroidered with leaf and flower patterns.
A major advantage of this cap is that it may be soaked and worn wet during very hot weather as an excellent method of cooling down.
Made of cotton or linen canvas in the Trotter pattern with red ochre painted on the outside flap as waterproofing. When laid out flat with the inside turned up, the pack can be seen to have a large internal pocket which is accessed through a central, oval opening. At either end, there are buttoned-flap pockets for additional storage.
The pack is carried by a pair of over-the-shoulder leather straps with an across-the-chest buckled strap. The sides of the folded pack are secured shut by cloth or fine-leather ties.
Belt knife & Scabbard
Only proven contemporary designs are acceptable. Do your research BEFORE you buy! NB: Bowie knives are anachronistic.
The scales of the grips were normally hardwood, although antler and bone were also used. Original scabbards did not have a belt loop, but were carried by tucking through the waistbelt and at times secured by a thong, or, for small knives, suspended by a thong around the neck.
An excellent, general purpose knife of contemporary-design. They are large, single-blade clasp knives with bone or horn scales and brass or steel bolsters.
In plain natural or earth tones or check-patterned linen. Worn over the waistcoat and shirt, or on very hot days, over the shirt only. Intended to save wear and tear of your uniform jacket. Very useful to have, especially when we have to represent the opposition.
Made from dark brown, lightweight oiled canvas. Usually comes with a hood and does not have ties or buttons, so it is worn as a wrap-around. Really useful for nasty days.
The proper Army pattern is a white bodied, hooded blanket coat with one or two wide blue stripes as ornament near to the bottom of the coat and close to the leading edge of the hood. The garment’s edges are bound in blue twill tape and the front opening is closed with blue tape ties. The army pattern has two gussets in the rear which flare out from blue tape rosettes which are sewn to the garment’s body at the top of each hip.
Variations from the Army pattern should be thoroughly researched and discussed before you proceed to buy or have made.
Mittens or Gloves
In cold weather, woollen hand coverings are best and should be in a solid colour such as natural, gray or brown. Mittens are most effective for warmth, but do not work well when handling the musket. Trigger-finger mittens are a compromise.
A cylindrical plug which fits into your firelock’s muzzle to keep out moisture. The bulbous grip end is often elaborately turned on a lathe for decoration. The end to be inserted into the barrel is split twice at 90° so the tompion will compress on insertion, grip the barrel and resist falling out. Usually available from sutlers at events, but must be tested with your musket’s bore for fit.
Troops were told to make lock covers for wet weather to keep the pan and hammer dry. These can be fashioned in lightweight leather or oiled linen canvas and tied with a captive or loose thong. In an emergency, any piece of plain cloth can be wrapped around the lock and tied into place; however, in a downpour, simple cloth coverings are ineffective.
JOHN MCDONELL’S GRENADIER COMPANY
- Has a tuft of black bear fur in place of the horsehair cockade and no horsehair plume.
- Grenadiers wear a black, linen roller.
- Has green woollen shoulder wings adorned with white woven mohair tape and a plain green shoulder epaulette which attaches to a small pewter button under the cape.
- Has blue woollen bombs on the turnbacks.
- Grenadiers are encouraged to carry a belt axe.
WATTS’S LIGHT INFANTRY COMPANY
- Has a red horsehair plume behind the shield and hanging over the left side of the cap.
- Has green woollen shoulder wings adorned with white woven mohair tape.
- Has blue woollen hearts on the turnbacks.
- All Lights wear Leggings regardless of the type of trousers being worn.
- All light bobs employ a belly box, whether as part of the Stand of Arms or on a separate waistbelt.
- The carrying of rifles or lightweight pieces such as fowlers is more common in the Light Company than the others.
- Light Bobs carry a belt axe.
DUNCAN’S LINE COMPANY
- Has a red horsehair plume behind the shield and hanging over the left side of the cap.
- Has one or two “Baker’s Hawk” feathers stuck into the turban behind, or ahead of, the cockade. These feathers are supplied by the company.
- Has blue woollen hearts on the turnbacks.
ANGUS MCDONELL’S LINE COMPANY
- Members continue to wear the uniform with its distinctions from their earlier company if they wish, but without any rank insignia.