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silver shilling

ex soldiers in uniform?

any reference to ex-soldiers in the napoleonic period continuing to wear their uniform jackets?
Was it an offence to wear such in civvy street?

I've heard stories of ex-soldiers begging, but would they be in uniform?

Of course it would depend on whether all uniform was handed in after their time was finished.


Hi Mike. Yes I belieive they did. I have a copy of a period image showing a man working but wearing his old uniform jacket. He's wearing open so the regimental buttons may have been removed? I would have posted the image but I can't cut and paste it from the document it's in. Old soldiers begging would have been quite common especially if they had been wounded etc so if they had their old jackets this would have helped their plite.

Ben Townsend

Items the soldier has paid for through deductions are his to keep on discharge. I think Dave is referring to the image from George Walkers Costume of Yorkshire. The ex-soldier begging in his old red rags was almost a genre subject in itself in the early C19th, often appearing in the background of a 'recruitimg party' genre painting as a counterpoint to the recruiting sjt's jolly depiction of army life. Heres one in the corner of a recruiting party pic, 1822, Rippingill. (original in Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.)

After the end of the wars with France, Great Britain was not in a good state of health and lots of soldiers who were discharged from the Army after Waterloo were finding it difficult to find jobs.
A lot of ex-soldiers joined in the radical movement in desperation.

In the run up to Peterloo in August 1819 there were numerous gatherings of radicals, one such gathering was at Tandle Hill, Oldham.

'In the early hours of the morning of 8th August around 2000 men again mustered on Tandle Hill:

‘The front rank was said to be composed entirely of men who have been in the army, the pivot men of non-commissioned officers. There was a separate rifle company of about 85 young men who continued to practice the rifle movements, and what is remarkable there was a discharged rifle man in uniform upon each of the pivots.’   '

From HISTORY OF OLDHAM VOLUNTEER CORPS 1798 – 1908 By Iain Wilkinson q2
silver shilling

Thanks guys!Really useful information.  At the ripe old age of 64 I shall continue to wear my uniform jacket with impunity!!!

Ben Townsend

Had forgotten what a great book that Oldham one is!
Here is the image I think Dave was referring to, from Walker's Costumes of Yorkshire.


Yepe, that's the one laddie. I've only got a black and white copy of it and it's apart of the MI article of the Redcoat.

Cheer's my lover.


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