Infantry 1660-1790

The infantry forms the bulk of the British army. The British infantryman was remembered in the many countries of the world where he had been stationed. The Lalkurti (Redcoat) bazaars in the old garrison towns of India and Pakistan are a memorial to his presence. Infantrymen walk on their own two feet and are more concerned with comfort and utility than the cavalry whose dress was flamboyant. The infantryman clothed himself in a serviceable kit. At the Restoration in 1660 clothing followed the severe, utilitarian style of the New Model Army. Clothing was provided by the regiment, and was uniform, but was governed by no regulations. Regiments were not identified by clothing. Pikemen still wore armour, but musketeers abandoned it. As the pike faded out, armour went too. Scarlet became the universal colour by 1700. Facing colours were blue, buff, yellow or white, and green. The cut of coats and waistcoats followed the fashion of the day. Although they look cumbersome and ornate to us, they were the clothes men wore in civilian life. That they were similar in cut and material within a regiment was because they were made by contract and a distinctive colour helped to make recognition easier in a melee. Individual officers introduced their own ideas, and officers of a regiment had freedom to decide what to wear as a regiment. In some regiments officers were reluctant to wear uniform at all. In 1742 and 1751 the first comprehensive regulations for dress were issued and drawings were made of the clothes to be worn.

The prints measure 24 cm wide x 37 cm high (9 ½ ″ x 14 ½ ″). Minor variation in size is possible based on the actual guillotine cut made by the printer over 50 years ago. Shown here are photographs which have been carefully corrected to remove most distortion. Published in 1965 by © Hugh Evelyn Limited, London; drawn by Colonel P.H. Smitherman.

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