Private 1742

The illustration is from the 1742 Representation of Cloathing Book depicting a private of the Royal North British Dragoons wearing a red mitre cap and red coat with blue facings and waistcoat. All the regular regiments are represented in the collection, mostly wearing tricorn hats. The only cavalry regiments wearing mitre caps are the two troops of Horse Grenadier Guards and the Scots Greys. In the infantry the three Fusilier regiments wear these caps. The early uniforms of the Scots Greys are examined in an article By Percy Sumner in the Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research vol XV no.59 (Autumn 1936). He gives a detailed description of the cap but does not state the source:

'Cloth Grenadier cap, red front, yellow edging, embroidered border of roses and thistles in yellow, green and pink; central device, a blue garter, with motto HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE in yellow letters, the centre white with a red cross, all placed upon a yellow Latin cross, and in the angles of this cross appear the arms of St Andrew's cross in white embroidery. The little flap blue, edged yellow; device, a thistle in the centre with three leaves on each side, and over it a white scroll with motto NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT in black letters. The back of the cap is red, with yellow pipings up the angles; turn-up blue, apparently plain, with yellow edging.'

This conforms with the design of the officer's cap in the Musee de L'Armee in Paris (see photo) but the print here has little of the detail described and appears to show a White Horse of Hanover (which would be appropriate for the Greys) on the blue front flap instead of the Scottish thistle. It might be fair to assume that all the regiments were ordered to conform to having the Horse, but the Scots Fusiliers figure clearly shows the Thistle on a blue flap, and the Horse Grenadiers have indistinct devices.

The origin of this cap for the Scots Greys is unclear. The order of 1751 states that the whole regiment wore them so it is safe to assume that in 1742 the same order applied. In the early days of the British dragoons there were grenadier companies (or Troops) as there were in the infantry. So while the majority of the regiment wore a tricorn hat the grenadiers wore, at first, a fur cap, and later c1700 a mitre cap. One source (Grose) claimed that the whole regiment were granted the distinction of wearing grenadier caps after the Battle of Ramillies (23 May 1706) along with the 5th Royal Irish Dragoons, after the two regiments defeated three regiments of French Grenadiers. The mitre cap was worn by grenadier companies and drummers throughout the army, as well as the Greys, and these changed to fur caps c1770.

The shoulder belt is drawn in a very unsatisfactory way, especially when it is compared with the other prints in the collection. The belt seems to spread over his left side, with the flask cord being unfixed, as it should be, to the centre of the belt. We have to assume that this is sloppy draughtsmanship. He holds a musket in the way that was stipulated by the Duke of Cumberland for cavalry parading at Reviews. The butt is supported in a leather bucket and held upright in the first motion of "Advance your Muskets". The dragoons carried these longer firearms while the Regiments of Horse had carbines.

Regimental Details | Uniforms

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by Stephen Luscombe