Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Mississippi Project: American Service Dress 1792-1807

My Mississippi Project took a brief detour as I took a couple of weeks to work on figures for an upcoming Martian game. Before my trip to Mars however, I painted the fifteen unpainted Wayne's Legion figures I still had hanging around.  For some reason, I thought I had more, but no such luck.  I looked everywhere and dope-slapped myself when I realized I'd painted some of them for War of 1812 Virginia militia.  Doh!
Old Glory Wayne's Legion Line skirmishing.  Quite serviceable figures though the necks often seem a bit too long.  Posing with muskets is also a bit dicey.

A few of these figures sport the blue wool winter service trousers.  They would serve well as American infantry from 1792-1810

One might wonder why the heck Virginia militia would be dressed similar to Wayne's Legion, whose uniforms were designed in 1792.  The fact of the matter is that American uniforms changed very little from the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794 up until the eve of that other great Indian fight nobody knows anything about, the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811.

Though the uniform went through several permutations, the uniform of the period was adopted with Congressional authorization of the Legion of the United States in 1792. Built on the wreckage of the army butchered at the Battle of the Wabash, the Legion was composed of four sub-units, each of 1,280 composed of dragoons, artillery, light infantry, and line troops.  Wearing a distinctive round hat with bearskin crest, each of the four sub-legions wore red facings, but distinctive markings-a colored hat band and plume.
1792 Regulation Uniforms.  Note the colored plume and hat band of the sub-legion.  They would be gone with the passing of the Legion.  Note the knee length coat. Charles McBarron illustration
After the victory at Fallen Timbers in 1794 and the triumphant Treaty of Greenville in 1795, Congress downsized the army and eliminated the Legion, reducing the army from 5,120 to 3,000 troops, discarding the light troops and forming the remainder into four regiments.  These regiments dressed alike with red facing and those troops wearing white bearskin crests changed to dark crests.

Though the uniform went through the minor changes, such as the addition or subtraction of lace here and there, and the lengthening and shortening of uniform coats allowing turnbacks or not, the United States infantry changed its dress very little.  The round hat with bearskin crest became the standard headdress for infantry and artillery, with the cavalry wearing a Tarleton helmet.
Later dress.  The infantryman wears blue trousers as part of his winter dress.  The green dragoon uniform is evident.  From MAA 352 by James Kochan and David Rickman.
There was one major  change during this time and that was for dragoons.  In 1799 they adopted green uniforms, mostly through the work of a contractor waiting on authorization from the War Department.  In 1801, the dragoons were unhorsed and became foot soldiers unless mounted troops were required.  A cost saving measure.  In 1808 the dragoons received another new uniform, this time blue with white trim and a helmet similar to those worn in the War of 1812.

In 1810, with the country preparing for war, the infantry received altogether new uniforms, one familiar to War of 1812 buffs.  They would see use in the victory at Tippecanoe and the embarrassment of Queenston Heights.


DeanM said...

Nice work and background. I like the look of those OG figures too. Interesting period and characters. Best, Dean

Dogstar said...

Speaking of Tippecanoe, the bicentennial is less than a month away.