Home Forums Horse and Musket General Horse and Musket Shako or Kilmarnock forage caps ?

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    Hello everyone,

    In the M.A.A. 219, page 21, Ian Knight wrote for the Sepoys’ uniform:

    ” In 1847 the tall leather shako with ball plume and regimental helmet-plate was replaced fo most duties by a dark blue Kilmarnock cap with the regimental number on the front.It was often worn with a white cover which the sepoys were expected to provide themselves “.

    But someone told me that it was wrong and that Kilmarnock forage caps were well worn before 1847, and yet here is what I just read on page 15 of the MA. # 268 written by Michael Barthorp:

    “Shako had been abolished in favor of Kilmarnock forage cap for indian ranks in the Bengal and Bombay Native Infantry in 1847 and 1854 respectively.”

    So Ian Knight and Michael Barthorp seem to agree?

    Does anyone have sources to claim that Kilmarnock forage caps were put into action (and existed) before 1847?

    My last problem with uniforms  of the sikh wars is the one owned by the BNI rifle companies, that they sometimes owned in addition to their light company.

    British battalions also had rifle companies in addition to their light companies?


    It seems,the cap was in use prior to 1847 and was popular- which is why the Shako was “abolished” for all but full dress parades. The official regulations are merely catching up with actual practice in the field.

    Its rare for a uniform change to appear as if by magic, its usually something that has been around and adopted so I suspect the cap was used before it officially replaced the shako, it was in use by the British army from the 1830’s and thus would be available…


    B Barthorp – page37 of “The North West Frontier- shows a water colour of 26thBNI at the Battle of Tezin 12 sept 1842 in caps

    Boris Mollo – The Indian Army p75 a print of 35th BNI- blessing the colours- show men in the Blue cap without the white cover- dated 1843

    Both of these pictures are copies of contemporary prints not secondary sources such a Barthorps Osprey- which whilst a useful starting point does not have the space for too much detail.

    I would also add W Y Carmen’s excellent 2 volume book on uniforms of the Indian Army .

    The Bombay and Madras armies did not see nearly as much active service so tended to keep dull dress for longer though there are prints of their cavalry in caps…

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 1 month ago by Paskal.

    The Kilmarnock forage cap was first issued in 1847 but replaced an earlier forage cap of similar designwhich can cause confusion …
    Carman says- Undress caps were introduced in 1844, but it was not the Kilmarnock forage cap introduced in 1847 in the Bengal army and in 1854 in the Bombay army.

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