Helmets and headgear
|The helmet above represents one worn during the southern campaign with a white sheepskin turban.|
Unquestionably the most unique and distinctive part of our uniform, the helmets worn by our mounted members are copied from the only know helmet that exists from the American Revolution. The helmet was taken from an officer at the Siege of Yorktown, and now resides in the Musee D'lemperie in France. The molds we use to make all the metal parts of our helmets were taken from the existing helmet. We handstamp out the parts which is a long and laborious process, then solder the parts together if needed. The helmet skull is made from black hardened leather, with a linin lining. The brass crest has a red horsehair plume. The turban around the skull of the helmet is red silk adorned with chain. Occasionally additional chain or metal straps were added to increase protection. During the southern campaign, the 17th wore a white wool or sheepskin turban on their helmet instead of red. The reason for this is not known.
The dismounted troops were issued " a leathern helmet similar to that of the light infantry". The helmet we use is much lighter and more practical for the dismounted dragoons to use. The whole helmet, including the crest and front plate are made of leather, and show the crossed bones above the skull, which was also used as the regimental badge.
When in and around camp during off time, or when performing other duties, dragoons wore forage caps. These were usually made from discarded or used regimental coats. We also allow members to wear woolen caps and linen work caps, if period and appropriate.
Small clothes refers to items worn under the regimental coat, and includes shirts, waistcoats - "weskits", and breeches.
Shirts were linen and issued shirts were white. Most dragoons had 2 or 3 shirts. In America when supplies were harder to obtain, soldiers wore shirts of other colors, including checked patterns. As long as the pattern and material are correct, we allow colored shirts in addition to the standard white shirt. Ruffles on shirts are not acceptable for Private Soldiers.
Troops wore a black horse hair neck stock around the collar of their shirt. A back silk, linen or cotton neck cloth is also acceptable.
Weskits were made of white wool usually with a linen lining and back. They had pewter regimental buttons to fasten it.
Breeches were made from Russia Drilling, a sturdy Linen. They were drop front breeches. Mounted troops also had leather breeches, which are also acceptable if pattern and material is correct.
Soldiers also wore white wool stockings that went up to the knee, and kept up with leather garter straps.
Period leather soled, buckled shoes are required for dismounted troops. It is also recommended that mounted also have a pair instead of having to wear boots all the time. Rubber soles and modern footwear are not accepted.
Mounted troops should have round toed, black leather soled, period boots that go up to the knee. Side stitching as on civil war era boots and square toes are not acceptable footwear.
Soldiers also wore white stockings that went up to the knee, and kept up with leather garter straps.
Dismounted troops wore brown wool gaiters with horn buttons that went up to the knee over their shoes.
Black canvas half gaiters, or spatterdashes were also issued to mounted and dismounted troops. It is important that the gaiters are fitted correctly and follow the contour of the leg.
The regimental coat is one of the more costly and time consuming items of uniform that we have. The material and patterns are period authentic, and all visible stitching is done by hand. Privates and corporals coats have plain white lacing, and sergeants and officers have silver lace. All coats have the distinctive chevrons on the sleeve denoting them as cavalry. Musicians wore white coats , red facings, and had white lace with black edging.
Mounted dragoon coats have longer tails than the dismounts which are cut more in a light infantry style.
Linen smocks were also worn for camp and stable duties to protect the uniform, and was also worn during the hot weather of the southern campaign.
Also carried by both mounted and dismounted soldiers would be a haversack and canteen. Both items were standard British Army issue, however the dragoons equipment had leather straps for added durability. The haversack would hold food and personal items.
Dragoons also carried a cartridge box. Mounted soldiers carried the box on a belt around their waist for easy access whilst on a horse. The dismounts carried a similar pattern box but carried over the shoulder and hanging on the right side.
Dismounted dragoons also carried a hatchet or fascine knife. They were issued knapsacks that they carried on their backs. Attached to the top of the knapsack was a short cloak. Mounted dragoons carried much of their equipment on the horse, including a full length cloak attached to the front of the saddle.
Light dragoons were arguably the best armed soldiers on the battlefield. Along with their saber, they carried a pair of pistols and a carbine, which is a musket with a shorter barrel for ease of use on horseback.
2 types of saber were carried. The 17th were issued long straight bladed sabers with a clipped point before they came to America. It appears that during the American Revolution, that they were being issued blades similar to the ones that the loyalist cavalry were carrying. Commonly known as a Potter saber, these swords had a curved slashing blade, along with a sharp clipped point for stabbing or thrusting.
Light dragoons were issued a pair of Elliot pattern flintlock pistols. From documentation however it appears that later in the war, it was common to only carry 1 pistol, and have a hatchet and horseshoe case carried on the other side from the pistol.
Finally they carried a carbine. A flintlock musket carried either attached to the saddle, or on a cross belt on the dragoon, which enabled him to load and fire the weapon and drop it to his side if needed. The barrel for the carbine was shorter than a standard infantry musket to enable the dragoon to load and fire more easily.
Modern authentic firing reproductions of all these weapons are available to members of the unit.
Tack and Horse Equipment
All the tack we use is researched and made using all hand stitching and period hardware. Bridles had double reins which used a Pelham style curb bit. Most bridles included a bridoon or snaffle bit that could be used to lead or ride the horses when exercising, or leading or riding the horses to water.
Saddles of the time were an English type with a light dragoon saddle being designed and used by general Elliot who was responsible for the advancement of British Light Dragoons in equipment and weaponry. A beautifully reproduced Elliot saddle is available from Stuart Lillie. Due to the cost of these saddles, we allow members to use modern English saddles or British Army UP saddles. Our criteria however is that they must be brown leather, not have knee rolls or additional padding, and chromed hardware must be replace with iron or brass. Adapting the saddles is an simple job. Bits and stirrups should not be chromed either, and modern additions like rubber treads or rubber bits are not permitted. Girths should be either a simple brown leather without elastic, or a white webbed linen. Webbed linen surcingles were also used.
Under the saddle, there should be a plain white wool blanket. The 17th were issued housings, or saddle cloths that went over the saddle. As these were an expensive and heavy item, they were not used on the field during campaign, and were likely kept in storage.
Attached to the saddle are pistol buckets, holsters to hold the pistol, which was covered with a white goatskin, or black bearskin flounce. A rolled up cloak would be also attached to the saddle, along with other personal gear.
A breast plate would prevent the saddle from sliding back, and a crupper around the tail prevented the saddle slipping too far forward. Equipment was carried on a pillion pad, attached to the back of the saddle. A carbine bucket was carried on the right side of the horse.
The horse wore a simple brown leather halter with a leather lead shank attached. White buff halters were used for parade purposes. The halter stayed on the horse after the bridle was put on.
Brown Leather halter and lead shank
Double bridle with bridoon and curb bit, and 2 sets of reins. Bearskin flounce covers the pistols
Double bridle. White goatskin flounce over the pistols. The leather lead shank can be seen attached to the front of the saddle.