Sergeant 1801

The Black Watch sergeant is a central figure in a large painting by P J de Loutherbourg RA. It depicts the mortally wounded Sir Ralph Abercromby at the Battle of Alexandria on 21 Mar 1801. Jackets which had been worn open or partially fastened during the 18th century were now buttoned down the front to the waist, with the skirt permanently turned back so that the turn-backs were visible at the front. The jacket in this painting has no lapels, and because the man is a sergeant he has silver lace instead of white lace like the men, or gold like the officers. The silver lace button loops are bastion-shaped like the white lace on the mens' jackets. The collar and cuffs are edged with silver lace and also have bastion loops. The shoulders have small silver epaulettes. The blue bonnet has the red hackle which was worn by the regiment since June 1795, and black ostrich feathers. The diced cap band has green squares in the middle row. The crimson sash with a blue central stripe is worn on the left shoulder indicating his rank as sergeant. This shoulder sash is correct as although officers and sergeants of other regiments had been wearing the sash round the waist for many years, the Highland regiments found that this was difficult because of the bulky plaid and continued to wear them this way. He carries a sword which is slung from a white belt on his right shoulder. The sporan is carefully painted and must have been correctly observed by de Loutherbourg.

Regimental Details | Uniforms

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by Stephen Luscombe