Officer c1806

Robert Dighton Junior produced many prints of officers in the first decade of the 19th century. It was the age of the dandy, and Dighton caricatured the close-fitting, high waisted breeches, large hats and high-necked cravats. This print is undated but the long queue of hair indicates 1805 or '06. In the Royal Collection there are Dighton prints of groups of cavalry officers dated 1805, 1806 and 1808. Only the 1805 and 1806 prints show the long queue. In 1796 orders were given regulating the hair in the army. Powdering was abolished and instead of the clubbed hair at the back they were to have a queue or pigtail, the binding to extend 9 inches from just below the upper edge of the collar. One inch of hair was to show at the bottom of the binding. In 1804 the queue was shortened by one inch, and in 1808 the hair was to be cut short. The print shows a queue of around two and a half feet in length, so either it has been exaggerated in the caricature, or officers were free and easy with this rule.

The blue jacket with silver lace and braid, has yellow facings. This combination of colours was worn by 6 light dragoon regiments: 9th, 12th, 19th, 20th, 21st and 25th. The pouchbelt seen here is either white leather or silver lace, with a yellow pouch edged in silver lace. Dighton's 1806 print shows nearly all the officers wearing a pouch-belt whereas only a few wear it in the 1805 print. The bicorn hat is the most interesting part of the visible uniform. It was worn for levees and walking out and has a black silk cockade with a gilt scale overlaid. There is black silk edging to the hat, and gold tassels at the corners. A white plume can be seen on top which should have a red lower part. The prints show the hat worn fore and aft by the light cavalry, and side to side by the Household Cavalry.

Regimental Details | Uniforms


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by Stephen Luscombe