Home Forums Horse and Musket 18th Century Campaign dress for German AWI troops

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  • #87192
    General SladeGeneral Slade
    Participant

    It seems pretty well established that the British did a lot of modifications to their uniforms to make them more fit for purpose during the AWI but I have never seen anything to suggest that the German troops did anything similar. Did they persist with their grenadier and fusilier caps and full-length uniform coats throughout the war?

    #87205
    Autodidact-O-SaurusAutodidact-O-Saurus
    Participant

    Like you, I’ve never come across a reference to alterations to the German uniforms. To me that suggests that if it was done, it wasn’t very significant or widespread. Though, it would not surprise me if many abandoned the mitres for tricornes.

    Self taught, persistently behind the times, never up to date. AKA ~ jeff
    More verbosity: http://petiteguerre.blogspot.com/

    #87211
    OB
    Participant

    I suspect they did not.

    OB
    http://withob.blogspot.co.uk/

    #87251
    General SladeGeneral Slade
    Participant

    Thanks guys.  I was reading up about Hessian jagers on TMP and in one thread Brendan Morrisey notes that when the jagers were in need of close-order support this was often provided by platoons of grenadiers.  I can’t help but feel that those poor grenadiers must have spent a lot of time getting their mitres knocked off by low-hanging branches when they were following the jagers through the woods.

    #89053
    Brendan Morrissey
    Participant

    Again, apologies for being slightly late to this one.

     

    As per my previous response to “rating” these troops, it depends on which “Germans/Hessians” you are talking about.

    The Hesse Cassel contingent appears to have kept their Prussian-style uniforms all through the war, with at least one of the units at Yorktown still wearing breeches and long black gaiters.  Fusiliers and Grenadiers also appear to have retained their “specialist” headgear.  It is possible that the von Bose musketeer regiment which served with Cornwallis was given British-style overalls to wear (Ewald’s jaeger company was given a load of blue-and-white striped material with which to make overalls as a special reward for their services during the siege of Charleston, SC); however, these two are the only examples of uniform variation that I have come across for the HC contingent.  To give people an idea of what sticklers the officers were (or rather the Elector was) for the regulations, there is an account of a sergeant in an ad hoc light infantry detachment retaining his polearm for field service!

     

    The Brunswick contingent was the complete opposite, and Riedesel appears to have used his autonomy to implement practical alterations to his men’s clothing for American service.  Principally, during the winter of 1776-1777, he utilised a supply of old sailcoth from the Royal Navy to produce overalls for his entire contingent (one assumes the Hesse Hanau troops serving with him also got them).  Whilst it is possible that the small dragoon unit availed itself of an appropriately-sized batch of blue-and-white striped cloth, as per the illustrations in several (modern) uniform books, it is much more like, looking at the (contemporary) von Germann watercolours, that they were all off-white and plain.  After the Saratoga campaign, the Hesse Hanau jaeger serving on the western frontier, appears to have adopted an almost ACW-style “sack” jacket and overalls with uncocked round hats (there was a re-enactment unit clothed this way, but it appears to have disbanded and its website is no longer accessible).

     

    The Anspach-Bayreuth and Waldeck units appear to have retained their European dress, but may have adopted overalls whilst serving in the South.  The Anhalt-Zerbst contingent had exotic, grenzer/pandour-style clothing, and would probably have retained this whilst in garrison.

     

    To deal with “General Slade’s” point, the HC grenadiers appear to have supported their jaeger this way during the NYC campaign, and it is possible that they continued doing so into the Philadelphia campaign the following year, whilst both formations were still “brigaded” together under von Donop.  After that, I think the jaeger began working more closely with the British light infantry (who had their own riflemen – about 2-5 per light company), who would have provided “musket-and-bayonet” support.  In the South, this co-operation would have extended to the better Loyalist units (specifically the Queen’s Rangers, some companies of which Ewald commanded in person during a counter-attack at Spencer’s Ordinary).  The other jaeger company which had grenadier support was the Brunswick company, which (as I refer to in the “rating” thread) was supported by platoons of grenadiers rather than the musket-armed companies of the Light Battalion von Barner.

    I hope that that helps.

    #89060
    General SladeGeneral Slade
    Participant

    Hi Brendan,

    Thanks for taking the time to give such a detailed reply.  I can’t help but feel sorry for those Hesse Cassel soldiers sweltering in breeches and gaiters at Yorktown.  Mind you, I don’t suppose overalls made of sailcloth were exactly lightweight.

    #89210
    Brendan Morrissey
    Participant

    If you need any further details, don’t hesitate to ask.  Unfortunately, the “von Donop Regiment” website, which was a mine of information on the Hesse Cassel contingent, and also to some extent on the other German troops, is no longer available, although you can contact “Hessian Bob” (R N Sulentic) via the unit’s Facebook site.

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