• Facebook App Icon
  • Twitter App Icon
  • YouTube Classic

UNDRESS

Beginning in 1811 the British Army began to slowly transition towards a generic undress uniform for the infantry in order to eliminate the preponderance of regimental patterns and to simplify the provision of clothing to its far-flung military forces. By 1812 authorities had decided upon a standard model of forage cap, which later sources indicate was a grey or blue-grey wool pillbox-style cap with a white band. At the same time, a generic white barracks jacket trimmed with the same blue-grey wool was introduced.

 

During 1813 at least 10,000 of these caps and jackets were sent to Canada principally for issue to local militia forces. Indeed, their use is confirmed by their depiction within a sketch of executions at La Prairie, Lower Canada later that year. They were also available to British regulars as replacements for clothing lost or worn out on campaign, prices for their purchase being set in 1813 at 9s 4d for jackets, and 2s 6d for caps. Drummers of the 100th Regiment, for example, who lost their knapsacks during several actions in Upper Canada would almost certainly have had their clothing replaced from this source. In fact, these garments were so successful that military commanders in British North America requested (and received) additional quantities in 1814. Combined with the grey wool trousers and short gaiters ordered for active service in 1812, they made for a comparatively inexpensive, comfortable and utilitarian fatigue uniform for the British and Canadian troops defending Upper and Lower Canada.

Nevertheless, use of regimental pattern caps and jackets in the colonies may have persisted in some cases until the generic garments achieved widespread (if not entirely universal) distribution towards late 1814 or early 1815. This certainly was the case during the Waterloo Campaign, by which time a range of contemporary artworks depict them in common use.