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silver shilling

Curiosity rules OK?

Bearing in mind that i am starting out to learn about this period of time, i have the following (stupid?) questions!

1 Officers were issued with pistols; Where did they carry them and how?

2. If in 1813, should my canteen be engraved,painted,or branded B' arrow' O
or G 'arrow' R and a date?

3 Would all my equipment be marked with a broad arrow (if not provided by government sources)?

4 What was the strength of a Rifle Battalion and would riflemen be attached to infantry regiments (a la Sharpe)?

5What would I mostly be drinking from my pewter tankard ( or some other material?)

I think this will do for starters. All responses will be accepted as given unless stated as opinion!!!  q2

Hi Mike.

Here goes answering your questions.

1. Yes some Officers did carry pistols. If your talking about Rifle officers they carried a small pistol in the pouch on their coss belt. Though when you think about it why would an Officer need a pistol when he has a bunch of guys with him armed with rifles and muskets. There are holsters for pistols worn on a waist belt.

2. During our period the canteens were be marked with the broad arrow and G R. This would have been branded on rather than painted. After 1821 the G R was replaced with B O. Just a point of interest, it seams that most canteens were never painted with regimental markings.

3. Yes. All issued kit would marked with the broad arrow and the mans name or number and company number or letter. The 33rd {re-enactment unit} are lucky enough to have a original stamp that they have copied to mark their kit.

4. A full strengh battalion would about a 1000 men but on active service this would be some what reduced through losses, recruiting, training etc. A company could be anywhere from 50 to 80 in strengh. The 5th Battalion 60th Rifles had it's companies distributed among the different Brigades to give them all rifle capabilities. The 95th battalions tended to kept together and used in different Divisions, i,e like the Light Division.

5. Tin was used to make mess kit etc. At first men were issed seperate tin plates and mugs and later on a combined mess tin. I don't doub't men would have also have picked up other items to drink and eat from whilst on campaign.

Hope this helps.

silver shilling

Thanks Dave for your prompt and detailed reply. I hope all my questions (and i have lots) are answered in the same way!!

Paul Durrant


Just to expand a little on Dave's points.

On BO markings; have a read of the posts on this thread:

On Pistols:
The 1802 Clothing Regs for the army talks of "Officers of the Rifle Corps besides their Swords are to carry a small Pistol in a Pouch worn with a Black Leather Belt across the left Shoulder..." However, we have found a few things that appear in equipment lists for this new-fangled Corps of Riflemen in their early conception that vanish later on. Joking aside, Dave made a very valid point on this. In the heat of battle an officer should have plenty of other things to worry about rather than fumbling about with pistols;

           "...for officers, in general, have too much to attend to, while in action, and therefore could not, were they inclined to do so, indulge their fancy in that way." - Adventures with the Dirty Half Hundred, John Patterson, Leonaur 2009 p.177. (Albeit he's talking about an officer picking up a musket on this one.)

We have accounts of officers getting pistols ready and using them in siege occasions;

         1812, storming Ciudad Rodrigo."I mounted with the most furious intent, carrying a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other". - Kincaid, Adventures in the Rifle Brigade, Pen and sword, 2005, p.55

         1813, "A detachment of ours had joined the evening before (2/95th).. one of them, a lieutenant was all in a bustle getting his pistols put in fighting order."- Twenty five years in the Rifle Brigade, William Surtees, Greenhill, 1996. p.234

We also have Board of General Officers (BGO) report June 1811 stating Mounted captains of rifles to carry two pistols, subs 1. and Quartermaster Surtees of the 95th mentions;

          ""...but I could no longer accompany or precede the troops, my leg was now so bad. I was therefore obliged to get a pillow laid on my holsters, and then ride with my leg resting upon it, (a most uncomfortable position...)"- Surtees of the 95th (Rifles), William Surtees, Leonaur 2006, p184[/i]

On marking up kit:
"Every Article of Regimental Accoutrements and Appointments is to be marked with the number or Appellation of the battallion and Regiment to which it belongs, as well as the number or letter of the troop or company. The marks are to be carefully and legibly placed on the insides of the belts, pouches and slings." - General Order from Horseguards, 16th Jan, 1812

On being attached to infantry; In the early days of Coote Manningham's Experimental Corps of Riflemen, I recall they were attached to/part of regiments (still wore their red uniforms of the regts they came from I believe). However, once they proved their worth they quickly became, as Dave said, regiments in their own right.

On "What's in your cup?": Preferably alcohol! Seriously! No soldier would snub a chance to drink booze. In Spain and Portugal at the time, if not alcohol, then coffee or chocolate. Tea was still a fairly expensive commodity and our research seems to suggest it appearing with officers rather than with the other rank & file. See what you think;

Hope this is of interest. Other than that, whereabouts are you in France? Are you any good with a camera?
silver shilling

thanks for that Paul. All provenanced, authentic quotes!! you cant do better than that.

I was born in Walthamstow before moving to tottenham. We have lived here in the Dordogne (St Paul Lizonne) for the last 11 years. Yes i can use a camera ( will post some shots of my donkey and me a bit later (when i can find them on the PC).

Just as a matter of interest we (thats the wife, not the donkey) are having a hoilday next june at Fouras on the west coast of France. Its where Napoleon
wished to live after the wars. He had a mansion built befitting an Emperor and there is a good museum with both British and french replics. Looking forward to that


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