Cornet 1789

The cavalry officer in this painting is oddly posed as if trying to join in a conversation between his two sisters. He is Cornet William Stapleton of the 15th light Dragoons, aged 19. The painting is by Thomas Beech and, according to the Journal of the Society of Army Historical Research no. 172 (Dec.1964) it is to be found in the Holburne Museum in Bath.

The picture is valuable to the study of this regiment's uniform because it shows the new blue coat that replaced the red one worn by the light dragoons since the beginning. The date of the change from red to blue can be pin-pointed to 28th April 1784 when the Clothing Warrant was issued. Although the new coat had been taken into wear five years prior to this painting, the old style helmet is still in use. Other light dragoon regiments had adopted the Tarleton leather helmet with a black or brown fur crest, but the 15th retained their distinctive and dashing blackened copper version until later in 1789.

The coat is in fact a sleeveless shell worn over a sleeved jacket which has rows of horizontal silver braid from neck to waist. The collar is red although it cannot be seen here. The cuffs are also red but are hidden. The shoulder wings are red with a silver braid zig-zag. This was the subject of a reprimand by the Adjutant-General after his inspection in 1790. He ordered that the deviation should be discontinued, so they did not appear on the later jackets of the officers or the men.

Regimental Details | Uniforms

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by Stephen Luscombe