Fusilier 1812

Simkin's illustration of a 7th Royal Fusilier of the period is surprising in that the soldier is wearing a shako instead of the distinctive fur cap which was reserved for parades and ceremonials; the hard wear of campaigning fell on the more expendable shako. The equipment carried by the infantryman is well shown here. The box-like valise was called 'Mr Trotter's' knapsack, introduced in 1805 and became a troublesome burden. Rifleman Harris who experienced the Peninsula War wrote, "Our knapsacks too were a bitter enemy on this prolonged march. Many a man died, I am convinced, who would have borne up well to the end of the retreat but for the infernal load we carried on our backs."

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by Stephen Luscombe