Peninsular War Painting Guide: British Foot

This covers all the infantry that wore British uniform, including:

Foot

This section covers all British foot (Foot Guards, Line, Light Infantry, Fusiliers, Highlander) plus the foreign regiments wearing British uniforms. Main sources are Rafferty (1988a), Sapherson (1991), Haythornthwaite (1995)

Item Default Light Infantry Rifles
Headgear Default: Black Shako with Brass plate and Black cockade * Captains and lieutenants wore the same shako as the men, Officer’s above Captain: Black Bicorn.

Highlanders: As default with red and white check band at base.

Fusiliers: Fur cap with a peak. Small Brass plate on front
Small red patch at the back

Black Stovepipe Shako with Brass bugle horn
Regimental number
Black Stovepipe Shako with Brass bugle horn
Regimental number
Plume Centre: white-over-red
Grenadier: white
Light: Green
Dark Green Dark Green

Cords
and tassels (used on Belgic but unusual on Stovepipe Shako)

Centre Coy: White
Grenadier Coy: White
Light Coy: Dark Green
Officers: Gold with crimson thread
Dark Green Dark Green
Jacket Other Ranks: Red
Sergeants and Officers: Scarlet
Long tailed coats for officers otherwise short tailed jacket
Other Ranks: Red
Sergeants and Officers: Scarlet. Officers of 43rd wore a Pelisse over the jacket.
Very dark Green.
Officer’s Pelisse had brown or dark grey fur trim.
Collar, Cuff Regimental Facing
piped in Regimental Lace
Turnbacks White
Chest Lace White
Regimental pattern
Epaulettes Centre Coy: Straps
Grenadier Coy: Red wings
Light Coy: Green wings
Fusiliers: Red wings
Guards: Red wings
Sergeants: Silver Epaulettes
Officers: Regimental Epaulettes
Other ranks: Green wings
Officers: Regimental Epaulettes
Buttons White White
Overalls / trousers Grey overalls; white or brown trousers. 95th: Very dark Green
5/60th: Grey or blue
Officers: Grey
Waist sash Sergeants: Crimson Officers: Scarlet. Highland officers wore it from left shoulder to right hip instead.
Footwear Black Shoes Black Shoes
Webbing/Straps White White Black
Bayonet or Sword Scabbard Black with brass tip Black with brass tip
Cartridge box Black Black
Knapsack Black, light brown, dirty white, fawn. Black, light brown, dirty white, fawn. Black, light brown, dirty white, fawn.
Water bottle Greyish-blue with light brown strap
Haversack (left hip) White Light Brown, dirty white, fawn
Greatcoat (often rolled at top of Knapsack) Grey Grey
Gun barrel Browned Browned
Drummers Red-over-white plume.
Reversed colours until 1812.
Drum in facing colour.

* Originally the British Infantry wore the Stovepipe Shako (Haythornthwaite, 1995; Sapherson, 1991). In 1812 the Belgic Shako began to replace the Stovepipe, but even then several units retained the older model to the end of the war. It is probable that few Belgic Shakos were actually used in the Peninsular.

The regimental list below is those that served in the Peninsular (Haythornthwaite, 1995; Sapherson, 1991). I have only put references if they disagree. Bastion lace had the ends sewn to a point. The number of battalions comes from Sapherson (1991).

Foot Guards Regiment Name Facing Lace Officer’s Lace Type Remarks
1st dark blue single gold Guard Flank company wings
2nd Coldstream Guard dark blue pairs gold Guard Flank company wings
3rd Scots Guard dark blue threes gold Guard Flank company wings
Line / Foot Regiment Name Facing Lace Officer’s Lace Type Remarks
1st Royal Scots blue square, pairs gold Line
2nd Queen’s Royal blue square, single silver Line
3rd East Kent, Buffs buff square, pairs silver Line
4th King’s Own blue bastion, single gold Line
5th Northumberland gosling green bastion, single silver Line
6th 1st Warwickshire Deep yellow square, pairs silver Line
7th Royal Fusiliers blue square, pairs gold Fusiliers
9th East Norfolk Bright yellow square, pairs silver Line
10th North Lincolnshire Bright yellow square, single silver Line
11th North Devonshire deep green bastion, pairs gold Line
14th Buckinghamshire
Bedfordshire until 1809
buff bastion, pairs silver Line
20th East Devonshire yellow square, pairs silver Line Sapherson (1991) says dark yellow facing, but Haythornthwaite (1995) says pale yellow.
23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers blue bastion, single gold Fusiliers
24th Warwickshire green square, pairs silver Line
26th Cameronian Pale yellow square, pairs silver Line Haythornthwaite (1995) says square, pairs but Sapherson (1991) say bastion, single.
27th Inniskilling buff square, single gold Line
28th North Gloucestershire Bright yellow square, pairs silver Line
29th Worcestershire buff square, single gold Line Haythornthwaite (1995) says buff but Sapherson (1991) says yellow.
30th Cambridgeshire pale yellow bastion, single silver Line
31st Huntingdonshire buff square, single silver Line Haythornthwaite (1995) says buff but Sapherson (1991) says brown.
32nd Cornwall white square, pairs gold Line
34th Cumberland Bright yellow square, pairs silver Line
36th Herefordshire gosling green square, pairs gold Line
37th North Hampshire Bright yellow square, pairs silver Line
38th 1st Staffordshire Bright yellow square, single silver Line Haythornthwaite (1995) says square but Sapherson (1991) says bastion.
39th Dorsetshire pea green square, single gold Line
40th 2nd Somersetshire buff square, pairs gold Line
42nd Royal Highlanders blue bastion, single gold Highland Government pattern tartan (Rafferty, 1988a)
43rd Monmouthshire Light Infantry white square, pairs silver Light
44th East Essex yellow square, single silver Line
45th 1st Nottinghamshire dark green bastion, pairs silver Line
47th Lancashire white square, pairs silver Line
48th Northamptonshire buff square, pairs gold Line
50th West Kent black square, pairs gold Line Haythornthwaite (1995) says gold but Sapherson (1991) says silver.
51st 2nd Yorkshire Light Infantry grass green square, pairs gold Light
52nd Oxfordshire Light Infantry buff square, pairs silver Light
53rd Shropshire red square, pairs gold Line
57th West Middlesex Bright yellow square, pairs gold Line
58th Rutlandshire black square, single gold Line
59th 2nd Nottinghamshire white bastion, single gold Line
5/60th Royal American red square, pairs Silver Rifle Rifle armed. (Sapherson, 1991). Sapherson says the facings were Red with grey trousers but Rafftery (1988a) says dark green facings and dark blue trousers.
61st South Gloustershire buff square, single silver Line
62nd Wiltshire buff square, pairs silver Line
66th Berkshire gosling green square, single silver Line
67th South Hampshire Pale Yellow square, pairs silver Line Sapherson (1991) says served in the Peninsular.
68th Durham Light Infantry bottle green square, pairs silver Light
71st Highland Light Infantry buff square, single silver Light Being Scottish had a red and white chequered band around the base of the Shako (Rafferty, 1988a)
74th Highlanders white square, single gold Highland What tartan?
76th Hindostan red square, pairs silver Line
77th East Middlesex yellow square, single silver Line
79th Cameron Highlanders dark green square, pairs gold Highland Cameron pattern tartan (Rafferty, 1988a).
81st buff square, pairs silver Line Haythornthwaite (1995) says square but Sapherson (1991) says bastion.
82nd Prince of Wales’s Volunteers yellow bastion, pairs silver Line
83rd yellow square, pairs gold Line
84th York and Lancaster yellow square, pairs silver Line Haythornthwaite (1995) says served in the Peninsular.
85th Bucks Volunteers Light Infantry yellow square, pairs silver Light
87th Prince of Wales’s Own Irish Dark green square, pairs gold Line
88th Connaught Rangers yellow square, pairs silver Line
89th black square, pairs gold Line Haythornthwaite (1995) says served in the Peninsular.
90th Perth Volunteers buff square, pairs gold Line Sapherson (1991) says served in the Peninsular.
91st yellow square, pairs silver Line
92nd Gordon Highlanders yellow square, pairs silver Highland Government pattern tartan (Rafferty, 1988a)
94th Dark green square, pairs gold Line
95th Rifles black silver Rifle
97th Queen’s Own blue square, pairs silver Line Haythornthwaite (1995) says square, pairs but Sapherson (1991) says bastion, single.
Foreign Regiment Name Facing Lace Officer’s Lace Type Remarks
King’s German Legion Line Battalions Dark Blue ?? Black Line All officers wore white gloves and their trousers had a broad silver stripe (Sapherson, 1991). All light companies carried rifles.
King’s German Legion Light Battalions Black Black Light Dark green coats and turnbacks, grey overalls, silver shako badge (Sapherson, 1991). All officers wore white gloves and their trousers had a broad silver stripe. Officer’s of 2nd battalion wore a Mirliton cap.
Dillon’s Yellow ?? ?? Line
De Watteville’s Black ?? Silver Line Wore white trousers or breeches rather than grey overalls (Sapherson, 1991).
De Roll’s Light Blue tufted, pairs Silver Line Centre company wore white trousers and had red-over-white plumes (Sapherson, 1991). The light company wore dark green coats faced black with white-edged wings, and grey trousers, and carried rifles (Haythornthwaite, 1995).
Chasseurs Britannique Light Blue ?? Silver Line
Batallón Blandengues de Buenos Aires A Spanish regiment formed from prisoners of war and equipped by the British (Partridge & Oliver, 1998). A Their nickname was the “Russets” (Los Colorados) because of the brick-red British tunics they wore.
Majorca Cazadores black silver Rifle Haythornthwaite (1995) says they were uniformed as the British 95th in 1812.

Gosling-green was a yellowish-brown shade of green – see Fig 7c in Haythornthwaite (1995).

Light Infantry

British Light infantry wore a standard uniform, however, their Stovepipe shako had a green plume and cords and a bugle-horn badge (they never adopted the Belgic shako), and all men had green wings on their shoulders (Haythornthwaite, 1995). All companies in a battalion wore the same uniform.

Officers of the 43rd Monmouthshire Light Infantry adopted a scarlet pelisse (Haythornthwaite, 1995). At least one of these officers had a turban on their shako, and this may have been generally matched with the pelisse.

Rifles

The 95th Rifles had a distinctive “rifle-green” jacket and trousers with black facings and piped white, no lace, the light infantry stovepipe shako with green plume and bugle-horn badge, and black leather equipment ( Haythornthwaite, 1995). The cockade was white except for marksmen whose had a green cockade. As in other light infantry units some officers would wear hussar style uniforms including dolman, pelisse, corded sash and ‘sugar-loaf’ cap. Some men, perhaps only officers, adopted grey overalls.

The 5/60th Royal Americans had a similar uniform including a rifle-green jacket and light infantry stovepipe shako, however the men wore either grey overalls or dark blue breaches (Haythornthwaite, 1995; Rafferty, 1988a, Sapherson, 1991). Facings were red (although Rafferty says dark green facings).

The Rifle company of De Roll’s Regiment wore a green jacket faced black with white edged wings, grey trousers, and a shako with green cords and plume and white metal bugle-horn badge (Haythornthwaite, 1995; Sapherson, 1991, says light blue facings). Unusually for light infantry some men adopted the Belgic shako.

The two light battalions of the KGL wore rifle-green uniforms with black facings (Haythornthwaite, 1995). Dark green coats and turnbacks, no lace, grey overalls, silver shako badge (Sapherson, 1991). All officers wore white gloves and their trousers had a broad silver stripe. Officer’s of 2nd battalion wore a Mirliton cap.

In 1812 the Spanish Majorca Cazadores were uniformed like the British 95th (Haythornthwaite, 1995).

Fusilier

7th Royal Fusiliers and 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers served in the Peninsular (Haythornthwaite, 1995; Sapherson, 1991). The Fusiliers wore the standard uniform, generally with the shako, but in the early campaigns some men wore a fur cap with a peak. The cap had a small brass plate on front and a small red patch at the back. Fusiliers also had red wings like the grenadier companies.

Highlander

According to Haythornthwaite (1995) the 42nd, 79th and 92nd Foot wore Highland uniform in the Peninsular. This comprised a kilt, stockings, and a bonnet (Sapherson, 1991). Sporrans were part of the dress uniform but were rarely taken on active service. Stockings were red with white diagonal checks at the top. The dress uniform had no gaiters, although short black gaiters were worn on campaign. The black bonnet had a red and white checked band at the base, and was decorated with black ostrich plumes, with additional plumes on the left side in company colours. The 79th and 92nd had plumes in the standard company colours, however, the plumes of the 42nd were red over white for grenadiers, red over green for light company, red over yellow for drummers, and red for centre company. Officers and Sergeants wore their sash from the left shoulder to the right hip rather than around their waist. Other equipment was standard.

Thanks

Thanks to Stephan Millam who brought the discussion on the 74th to my attention.

The 71st did not wear highland dress in the Peninsular (Haythornthwaite, 1995). In the Corunna campaign of 1809 they wore a mix of tartan trews and grey overalls . Their pipers, however, retained highland dress even when the the regiment converted to light infantry.

Similarly the 74th did not wear highland dress in the Peninsular (General de Brigade Discussion Forum: 74th Foot) They took their pipes with them but it is most likely the pipers wore normal line infantry uniforms like the rest of the unit.

The different units were assigned different tartans:

Unit Tartan Name Image from Tartans of Scotland
42nd Royal Highlanders
74th Highlanders (to 1809)
Government Tartan
Universal Tartan
Military Set
Black Watch
71st Highland Light Infantry 74th Highlanders (from 1809) Mackenzie
79th Cameron Highlanders Cameron of Erracht
92nd Gordon Highlanders Gordon

The grenadiers of the 42nd used the government set with a red over-stripe (Haythornthwaite, 1995)

When the 79th Cameron Highlanders were raised it was decided to use a new design instead of the red-based Cameron tartan (Wikipedia: Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders). The Cameron of Erracht tartan was based on the Macdonald sett with the addition of a yellow line from the Cameron tartan, and the omission of three red lines found in that of Macdonald.

The wear of campaign led the highland units to gradually abandon their kilts and adopt a variation on the standard uniform ( Haythornthwaite, 1995; Sapherson, 1991). This was not an even process. The 42nd still had kilts in 1814, although by then some men were wearing trews. Men of the 92nd were wearing trousers at Talavera (27-28 Jul 1809), although at least one officer was wearing a kilt at Vittoria (21 Jun 1813). Once a unit had abandoned highland dress their distinctive features were:

  • The shako had a red and white band at the base.
  • Some officers and men wore tartan trews rather than grey overalls
  • The officers and sergeants wore their sashes over the left shoulder to the right hip, rather than around their waist.
  • Pipers retained highland dress.

Foreign

Kings German Legion

The line battalions of the KGL wore British infantry uniform with dark blue facings, gold officers’ lace and white lace for other ranks (Haythornthwaite, 1995; Sapherson, 1991).

The two light battalions of the KGL wore rifle-green uniforms with black facings (Haythornthwaite, 1995). Dark green coats and turnbacks, no lace, grey overalls, silver shako badge (Sapherson, 1991). All officers wore white gloves and their trousers had a broad silver stripe. Officer’s of 2nd battalion wore a Mirliton cap.

De Roll’s Regiment

Uniform was the generally standard British Line Infantry uniform (Haythornthwaite, 1995). The centre companies wore red coat with light blue facings, white trousers, and red-over-white plumes (the reverse of the British standard). The silver officers lace had tasselled ends; other ranks had white lace with tufted ends and a blue stripe (in pairs). The light (rifle) company wore green faced black (from Haythornthwaite, although Sapherson says light blue facings), ‘Belgic’ shako with green cords and plume, and grey trousers. See Haythornthwaite (1995), fig 16a for painting details

Dillon’s Regiment

They wore standard British Line uniform with gold/yellow facings (Haythornthwaite, 1995). See Haythornthwaite, fig 16a for painting details.

Roll Dillon’s Provisional Battalion

Roll Dillon’s Provisional Battalion comprised three companies of de Roll’s regiment and five of Dillon’s (Haythornthwaite, 1995).

Chasseurs Britanniques

Chasseurs Britanniques wore the British line infantry uniform with light blue facings, silver lace for officers and light blue and red stripes for others (Haythornthwaite, 1995; Sapherson, 1991). See Haythornthwaite, fig 16b for painting details.

References

General de Brigade Discussion Forum: 74th Foot

Haythornthwaite, P. (1995). Uniforms of the Peninsular Wars 1807 – 1814. London: Arms and Armour Press.

Kannik, P. (1968). Military Uniforms in Colour. London: Blandford.

Rafferty, J. (1988a). Painting Guide to Napoleonics (Part One): British Infantry. Active Service Press.

Rafferty, J. (1988b). Painting Guide to Napoleonics (Part Two): British Cavalry. Active Service Press.

Rafferty, J. (1989a). Painting Guide to Napoleonics (Part Nine): French & British Artillery. Active Service Press.

Sapherson, C. A. (1991). Peninsular Armies 1808 – 1814. Leeds, UK: Raider Books.

Scottish Tartans Authority: Regimental Tartans

Tartans of Scotland

Wikipedia: Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders

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