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COLBURN'S

UNITED SERVICE MAGAZINE.

THE RED COAT; A FEW NOTES CONCERNING ITS

ORIGIN AND HISTORY. BY JAMES GRANT, AUTHOR OF THE ROMANCE OF wak.Red, of the colour of blood, one of the primitive colours," we are told by Walker; "red-coat, a name of contempt for a soldier," he adds unpleasantly below; but Colonel James in his Military Dictionary renders it more probably, as “the familiar term for a British soldier.

Colonel Mackinnon (in his “ History of the Coldstream Guards”) and other writers have attributed the introduction or adoption of the British uniform to William III. ; but there are sufficient proofs of its having been common alike to England and to Scotland long before the revolution in 1688.

LIPA That red was originally deemed a warlike colour, though now

unds abundant

, Bellona, the sister of Mars, is depicted by ancient painters and described by the poets, as being clad in garments stained with blood, and the planet which bears the name of the warlike god is known by its ruddy appearance. This hue arises simply from the atmosphere, and hence the bards of classical antiquity named the planet after the god of battles. To show that in savage lands some of those old ideas still prevail, Captain James Grant in his Walk across Africa, with the gallant and lamented Speke, mentions that his valet Uledi told him, “ that in his native country of Uhiao, the people imagined that all foreigners eat human flesh, and that cloth was dyed scarlet with human blood.”

In heraldry, gules is the vermillion colour in the arms of commovers; but without elaboration, our present object is to trace the origin, and the gradual adoption of our national uniform, « the old red rag (as our soldiers call it) that tells of England's glory.”

The colour was deemed eminently martial and warlike by the Romans, among whom the paludamentum, the military robe or cloak of

* The red of the Danish army is darker than ours. In 1702, their cavalry, line and militia wore iron grey, with green stockings; but there were some exceptions. The first named force had buff coats, and in warm weather rode with hats, their helmets hanging at their saddle bows. Lobat's dragoons were clad in red, lined with white; the regiment of Jutland wore white, lined with red, red breeches and black cravats; and the Queen's own Guards wore fine scarlet.-Travels in the Retinue of the English Envoy, in 1702. U.S. Mag. No. 446, Jan. 1866.

B

a general was scarlet, bordered with purple. Juvenal, (vol. vi..) mentions officers clad in a scarlet dress, and according to Livy, such was also the attire of the lictors who attended the consul in war.

Scarlet is mentioned among the colours used by the Britous for dying their skins in the time of Julius Cæsar; but their favourite herb was glastum, or woad, called glas by the Celts i.e. blue, that they might look dreadful in battle.

The red uniform of the British Army was adopted simply from the circumstance, that it was the royal colour of the kingdoms of Eng. land and Scotland, centuries before the union of the crowns or of the countries ; red and blue being the royal livery of England, red and yellow the royal livery of Scotland. In the latter country, red has ever been the judicial colour, worn by the Lords of Council and Session, the magistrates of Edinburgh and other cities, as well as by the students of some of the universities.

The Royal Crowns of England and Scotland were always lined with scarlet, though James IV. for a time adopted imperial purple. The surcoat of the Knights of the Garter is crimson ; and in the apparel of those of the Bath, we find the surcoat, breeches and stockings all red, as directed at the revival of the Order by George I. in 1725.

Scarlet faced with blue was the uniform of the City Guard of Edinburgh, a corps which existed from the days of Flodden until those of Waterloo.

In England, scarlet and blue bad long been the two chief colours of the cloth directed for the array of the king's troops ; in the time of the Crusades, the English wore white crosses ; but Henry VIII. had troops in white with a red cross. From the commencement of the 14th century, the Scots wore blue surcoats with white St. Andrew's crosses thereon. Scotch and English soldiers were wont in those days to taunt each other as blue-coat and white-coat.*

White and red were the colours worn by Richard II. as his livery, and during his reign they were favourites with his courtiers and the citizens of London, a large company of whom, headed by the mayor, all wearing these, the king's colours, met him and the queen on Blackheath, and conducted them in state to the Palace of Westminster. At the coronation of Henry IV., we find the English peers wearing a long scarlet tunic, called a houppelande with a cape above it; the knights and esquires present wore the same kind of tunic, but without the cape.

In 1432, when Henry IV. returned from France, he was met at Eltham by the Lord Mayor of London, who was arrayed in crimson velvet with a baldrick of gold, attended by three benchmen dressed in snits of red spangled with silver, and by the aldermen wearing gowns of scarlet with purple hoods. Then in 1535, we find Henry VIII., donning a crimson velvet jerkin with purple satin sleeves, and among the items of bis voluminous wardrobe are enumerated, “a cloke of skarlette with a brodegarde of right crymson velvette; a dublette of carnacion coloured sattin embrowdered with damaske gold; a jacquette of the same," and several other " dublettes” and “clokes" of similar sanguinary hues; and during his reign, we find the first decided approach to the uniform of the future British Army.

* See Kirkaldy's Memoirs, page 240.

"Henry VIII. passed to Bulloigne with an army divided into three battalions,” says a curious work, printed at London in 1630.* “In the vantguard were 12,000 footmen and 500 light-horsemen, cloathed in blew jackets, with red guards. The middleward (where the King was), consisted of 20,000 footmen, cloathed with red jackets and yellow guards. In the rereward was the Duke of Norfolk, and with him an army like in number and apparell to the first, saving that therein served 1,000 Irishmen, all naked, save their mantles and their thicke-gathered skirts." This indicates a costume like that of the Highlanders.

On this occasion, in 1544, Henry was attended by his BodyGuard of Pensioners, each of whom “was accompanied by three mounted men-at-arms, dressed in suits of red and yellow damask, the plumes of themselves and steeds being of a like colour." (Account of the Gentleinen-at-arms.) In battle they wore complete armour, their horses being " barded from counter to tail," i.e., with a spiked frontlet for the head, criniere to guard the mane, a poitrinal or breast-plate, and a croupiere or buttock-piece.

Contemporaneously we find liis nephew James V. of Scotland having a body-guard established in 1532, consisting of 300 men of Edinburgh, clad in scarlet doublets faced with blue, with blue bonnets, gilt partizans and daggers.

Henry's "Bulleners," as they were named, were conspicuous in their scarlet dress at the battle of Pinkie, in 1547, where they were commanded by the Lord Gray, and where they were driven back in confusion, leaving the staff of the royal standard in the hands of the Scots. In Patten's quaint account of this battle, he mentions, incidentally, that “Sir Miles Patrick being nigh, espied one in a red doublet, whom he took thereby to be an Englishman."

In a letter of Sir John Harrington's, we find the pay and clothing of Queen Elizabeth's troops in Ireland detailed at some length, but the colours are not stated. For an officer in winter, "a cassock of broad cloth, with bays, and trimmed with silk lace, 278. 6d. A doublet of canvas, with silk buttons, and lined with white linen, costing 14s. 5d. Two shirts, three pairs of kersey stockings, three pairs of shoes of neat's leather, at 2s. 4d. per pair, and one pair of Venetians, of broad Kentish cloth with silver lace, at 15s. 4d.”

On the 23rd July, 1601, 1,500 of her men arrived from England, clad in red cassocks, to share in the siege of Ostend. (Hist. of the Siege.) Of these, says Stowe, 1,000 were Londoners, * “Relations of the most famvos kingdoms, throwout the world.”

and they are now represented by Her Majesty's 3rd Foot, or Kentish Buffs.

We find no trace of the national colours at the coronation of Charles I. as King of Scotland, in 1633, at Edinburgh, where he was escorted by the Gentlemen Pensioners, under the Earl of Suffolk, and the Yeomen of the Guard, under the Earl of Holland. We are told by Spalding that he was accompanied by “his ordinary English Guards, clad in his livery, having brown velvet coats, side (i.e., close) to their hough, and beneath with boards of black velvet, and His Majesty's armes wrought in raised and embossed work of silver and gold upon the back and breast of ilk coat. This was the ordinary weed of His Majesty's Foot Guards.” Those furnished by Edinburgh were clad in a white sattin doublets, black velvet breeches, silk stockings, hats, feathers, and scarfs. These gallants had dainty muskets, pikes, and gilded partizans.” On this auspicious occasion, all the Scottish peerage wore their usual robes of crimson velvet. In this King's reign, David Ramsay, who was an officer of Gustavus Adolphus, when appearing to fight a duel with Lord Reay, wore a coat of scarlet (according to Sanderson's History of England), so thickly laced with silver that the ground of the cloth was scarcely visible.

Singularly enough, scarlet was early adopted among the grim Scottish Covenanters. At the battle of Kilsythe, where Montrose routed their troops with great slaughter, we find that “the red-coat musketeers” were cut to pieces by Viscount Aboyne and his Gordons. It may be worth mentioning here that the chequer on the bonnets of our Highland regiments was first adopted by the clans under Montrose, as significant of the fess-cheque of the House of Stuart. The great Marquis wore scarlet at his barbarous execution in Edinburgh, in 1650; and in the course of that year we find Sir James Balfour recording, in bis “ Memorialls of Church and Staite," that an English ship was made a prize by the Scots, who found in her “eleven hundred elles of broad clothe, seven hundred suttes of made clothes, and als many read cottes, 250 carabines, 500 muskets, with powder and matches,” being supplies for the troops of Cromwell, several of whose regiments, appear, however, to have been clad in blue.

Balfour, at this period, mentions on several occasions the "fourtailled” coats of the Scottish infantry and artillery, which must have been something like the old Highland doublet now worn by our Highland corps.

At the Restoration, when forces were established in England and Scotland, each country having its separate guards, line, and artillery, scarlet was the colour almost uniformly adopted, save in one instance, when the King clothed in blue, faced with red, the Royal Regiment of English Horse Guards, which was embodied on the 26th August, 1661, under Aubrey, Earl of Oxford. These colours it still retains; but a corps of marines raised about the same time, oddly enough, wore yellow coats—the old Dutch uniforip.*

On the 2nd April in the same year, 1661, the Scottish Life Guards rode through the city of Edinburgh" in gallant order," says Nicol the Diarist, “their carbines upon their saddles, and swords drawn in their hands. It pleased His Majesty to clothe their trumpeters and the master of the kettle-druin in very rich apparel.” Colours were presented, and soon after the King gave to each gentleman a buff coat.

In February, 1683, General Sir Thoinas Dalzell obtained from the Privy Council at Edinburgh a licence permitting the manufacturers at Newmills “to import 2,536 ells of stone-grey cloth from England,” for his dragoon regiment, the Scots Greys, which had been raised two years before—hence their costume, as well as their grey horses, may have led to their present well-known appellation. This grey cloth cost five shillings an ell.

In May of the same year, Colonel John Grahame of Claverhouse imported from England 150 ells of red cloth, 40 ells of white, and 550 dozen of buttons, for the use of the Life Guards, and the Council ordained that the uniform of the Scottish infantry should be" of such a dye as shall be thought fit to distinguish sojours from other skulking and vagrant persons, who have hitherto imitated the uniform of the King," and red was the dye so universally adopted that in 1685 we find 300 ells of it ordered by Captain Patrick Grahame for the City Guard of Edinburgh.

The Cavalier trooper, Captain Crichton, writes of the Scottish cavalry in red in 1676; and in 168+, we find the dress of the Coldstream Guards, was a red coat lined with green, red stockings, red breeches and white sashes.t “ The colonel and other officers, when on duty, to wear their gorgets."

In Sir Patrick Hume's account of Argyle's descent upon Scotland (printed in Rose's Observations upon the historical works of Mr. Fox) among the Scottish forces led by the Earl of Dumbarton,

wee saw in view a regiment of red-coat foot, too strong for us to attacque." This was the Scots Royals, or 1st Regiment of the Line. Before the victorious charge at Killycrankie, Viscount Dundee is said to have substituted a green for a scarlet uniform over his buff coat; and the former colour is yet considered ominous to those of his name who wear it. I

Some years before the Revolution, Grenadier companies had beeu added to the English and Scottish establishments.

Charles II. having resolved to introduce hand-grenades, on the 13th April, 1678, issued a warrant, for a company of one hundred

he says,

* William III. had a regiment of Dutch Horse in London, styled the Blue Horse Guards; they returned to Holland on the 20th March, 1689, after which the present Oxford Blues got that appellation permanently.

+ Royal Orders, &c.
I Browne's “ History of the Highlands."

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