Private 1868

This image of a private of the 55th is one of a group of infantrymen from different regiments in a print by G H Thomas published in 1869. The shako worn by this, and the other men in the print, was changed in 1869 to a lower pattern type. The pattern of shako seen here worn from 1861 to 1869 type and was made of cork and covered with blue cloth. It did not have a peak at the back like the former type and had a simple leather chin strap worn just below the mouth. The soldier who modelled for this artist seems to have a shako that is too small for his head. The ball tuft on the top was two thirds white and the lower third was red. This was worn by the whole regiment as flank companies had been abolished in 1862.

The tunic is the 1856 pattern, single breasted and having slash flaps on the cuffs and on the skirts at the back. The collar, cuffs and shoulder straps were of the facing colour which was at this time Lincoln Green, a colour that was worn by seven regiments up until 1881. The number 55 was embroidered in white on the shoulder strap. There was a change of style in 1868 when the cuffs were altered to a pointed type, ornamented with lace and braid.

He is in full marching order with equipment that was very similar to that worn in the Crimean War, and only slightly smaller and lighter than the infantryman's burden worn in the Peninsular War. The knapsack was a squared wooden framed box covered with waterproofed canvas. The greatcoat was carefully folded and strapped on the outside of this, with the mess tins placed on top. The army made an effort to improve the design and introduced new equipment in 1871.

His rifle is the Snider Enfield of 1860 which had a 39 inch barrel and weighed 9 lb 5 oz. it was capable of firing 10 rounds a minute, an improvement on 2 rounds a min fired by the previous issue rifle. The soldier carried 70 rounds of brass cased ammunition in the pouch slung from his shoulder belt and the pouch at the front of his waist belt. He kept percussion caps in the small white leather pouch attached to the front of his shoulder ammunition belt.

Uniforms | Regimental Details


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by Stephen Luscombe