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Before the D tin

Hiya folks
My group portrays a county militia of around 1809 and I'm trying to find out about the individual soldier's mess gear.
I read somewhere that they'd have a mug, a plate and a lidded kettle and that the D tin replaced all these.
The problem is I can't find anything else about these items only that they were tinned steel.
Stuff like how large was the mug, what shape should the plate be and anything at all about the lidded kettle is just not mentioned

I know that your period is around Waterloo and the D tin was pretty much the only mess gear issued at that time but yours seems to be the only online resource I can find that is not trying to sell me their stuff.

Can anyone point me in the right direction ?

Try our Search box  put Mess AND Tin  - Here's one such result :

Paul Durrant

Hi Stonedog, welcome to the forum.

At first we found few mentions of mugs (below is from Leach of the 95th, an officer) thinking that perhaps they were more a barrack thing and the d-tin more likely to be used for everything; mug, tray, bowl. However, we'll likely revise that idea as one of our colleagues is finding quite a few orders mentioning them as necessaries.

p 54: "...the said dinner table being neither more nor less than the turf at the foot of a tree, with a soldier's knapsack by way of a camp-chair; a japanned* half-pint tin cup stood for wine glass, which, with pocket knife, fork and spoon, and a tin plate, constituted the whole of our dinner service."

p 76: On billeted in a convent; "...and as the weather was frosty, we had some trouble to counteract the effects of the easterly wind rushing through the long galleries, by a liberal allowance of mulled wine, brought up in camp-kettles, and drank out of half-pint tin cups, vulgarly denominated black jacks."

p 109: "The streets flowed with rum, many casks of which had been staved, and the contents spilt, that the French might not benefit by them. So inveterate is the propensity of drink in the soldier, that, in spite of every precaution, many of them contrived to get drunk by dipping the rum out of the streets, on our march through the town, in tin cups..."

Captain of the 95th (Rifles)
, Jonathan Leach. Leonaur 2005

* Japanning is a method of giving a high gloss finish to tin-plate using lamp-black, turpentine, oils, pitch, resin and wax. Japanning was a simple process mostly carried out by women and children, whilst men were employed to cut and shape the tin. The process imitated the shiny finish of Japanese lacquerware, which had become very fashionable.
Paul Durrant

From the Green Book, Article III, on Messes and mess-kit.

"Every man of a mess, if it be in camp, of a squad, of a platoon, or of a company, as may be required, if the corps be in barracks, is to cook in turn, excepting the Corporals, the Buglers and the chosen men. The duty of the cook is for twenty-four hours, commencing at sunset every evening. Each mess will have two table-cloths, and as many knives and forks as there are members in the mess; as also dishes and spoons where none are by government provided. Each company will also have as many cooking frocks as there are cooks employed; all which articles belonging to the messes are to be carefully placed in a mess chest, made with four compartments for the four squads, to be under the charge of the sergeant-major of the company, whenever the regiment is on a march, or the articles not in immediate use. The cooking frocks and mess chest are a general charge and property; but all other mess articles are the property of squads, and of individuals in those squads, and are to be so provided in the general accounts of the musters. Every company is to have rules established similar to the sergeant's mess rules, and confirmed by the captain. The Corporals and chosen men are always to be the presidents of the messes, and in their absence such men as by the messes shall be chosen".
Paul Durrant

June 1813

"The water, sparkling and running clear and beautiful, appeared very inviting. The day was hot, and soon as the soldiers got near they dipped their tots and began to swig away..."
Lt. Simmons of the 95th
. Leonaur 2007, p210

"On the early part of the 19th, we were fagging up the face of a mountain, under a sultry hot sun, until we came to a place where a beautiful clear stream was dashing down the face of it, when the divison was halted, to enable the men to refresh themselves. Every man carries a cup, and every man ran and swallowed a cupful of it."
Adventures in The Rifle Brigade
, Kincaid, Pen and Sword 2000, p.105
Ben Townsend

As luck would have it, I've just finished an article on mess tins for a French publication. But while you wait for that you could do worse than look at Robert Henderson's articles on messing on The Discriminating General website. Look under War of 1812 as well as Napoleonic- they take a bit of finding. There is also an excellent article on the C18th Material Culture resource centre. Their dating of the Napoleonic pieces is a little awry, but on the whole it's superb work.

As far as three part mess tins go, they appear on foreign service for brits from at least 1806 but come in several versions, only one of which is D shaped. For home service I think you are much safer with the larger mess kettles, which contrary to popular opinion were not replaced by the smaller individual tins, but co-existed with them.

Ben: Thank you, I'll go have a trawl. Will you be posting the article here?

Paul: Half pint mug, just what I needed. Japanned I wasn't expecting though.... Over the tinplating or instead of you think?  Instead would make it really cheap job, but the source does say tin mug (mind you, when people say "tin mug" nowadays they sometimes mean enamelled)

Most of my re-enactment is of earlier periods, where a Blackjack is a pitched leather vessel. Interesting that the same name was applied to something made differently but still used by the common man.
Paul Durrant

StoneDog wrote:
Japanned I wasn't expecting though.... Over the tinplating or instead of you think?

Remember, this is an officer talking.

Paul Durrant wrote:
StoneDog wrote:
Japanned I wasn't expecting though.... Over the tinplating or instead of you think?

Remember, this is an officer talking.

Ah, posh version then.
Easier for me to paint a steel mug then tin it.... Time for another think

Any idea of the correct period shape for a tin plate, my options are soup plate or pie dish... Might need to post pictures so you know what I mean
Ben Townsend

There will be some sort of English version of the article, yes. Sadly, French speakers are more interested in the minutiae of the Georgian army than English speakers. These subjects are too niche for English publishers. :(

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