Monday, 8 January 2007

2nd Virginia Regiment








It is important to state at the beginning that the issue as to what uniforms were worn by American troops in the AWI is a historical minefield. In short, no one really knows. Much of the information about what certain regiments wore is taken from deserter descriptions and so may well be inaccurate or not representative of regiment as a whole. Uniforms also changed during the course of the war, dyes faded and varied from batch to batch and captured British uniforms were also employed. Some regiments would have been made up of companies that were probably each uniformed differently. Add consistent problems of supply and the only certainty is that the Continental Army, at least before the reforms of 1779, was not uniformed in a consistent or efficient manner.

It is therefore important to appreciate that 100% accuracy in modelling American troops is almost impossible to attain. For aesthetic reasons, I think that a certain amount of uniformity within a regiment is desirable but the large variety of figures currently available allows for units to be built which do not look as "uniform" as British regulars. The approach I have adopted with the Americans is to see whether the sources suggest that a particular uniform was worn and then "rough" the figures up a little with different coloured waistcoats and breeches. The Foundry and Perry ranges give you American troops in full uniform coat, shortened-down coat (in the Foundry "uniformed militia" packs), civilian clothes and hunting shirt, while Eureka Miniatures offer a range of battered-looking, "ragged" men. These ranges between them allow for plenty of variety.
So for this representation of the 2nd Virginia regiment, I have kept the figures in dark-blue faced light-blue coats and ensured the rest of the clothes are pretty grubby. The figures are all from Eureka Miniatures' "ragged Continentals" range, which shows the troops as they would have looked after a year or two in the field, desperately short of proper clothing and shoes but still determined to see off the British. Painted December 2006. 16 figures. Flag, bearing the legend "Virginia for Constitutional Liberty", by GMB.

2 comments:

Todd Post said...

The statement that the uniforms were worn by the Continental Army during the American Revolution are a "historical minefield", especially those of the 2d Virginia Regiment, is an overly broad generalization. In fact, regarding the 2d Virginia Regiment specifically, we know a great deal about the regiment's appearance throughout its existance, from 1775 to 1780.

While true that deserter descriptions may not be representative of the whole in all cases, in the case of the 2d Virginia Regiment, there is incredible consistency in its deserter descriptions from September 1777 to May 1778, with the same uniform details repeated in no less than four different accounts of different soldiers from different companies. Additionally, orderly books, quartermaster returns, and general orders round out the picture, giving us a fairly accurate account of what was worn.

By 1780, when the Waxhaws occurred, the 2d Virginia Regiment was dressed much like the rest of the Continental Army was in French-made "contract coats", erroneously called "Lottery Coats" which were issued from late 1778 through September 1780. These coats where produced in the thousands at a time that the Continental Army had been dwindling, resulting in a surplus of these unitforms that would last the Continental Army well over this period, and provide either a blue faced red or brown faced red coat to every Continental regiment excepting than South Carolina and Georgia.

It is also a misconception that the Continental Army was always mismatched. When the French coats were first issued in the fall of 1778, the Virginians had just received over one thousand red waistcoats and several hundred breeches coming in blue, green and red a month or two earlier. The French had also provided white waistcoats and breeches that were issued with the coats. Also, we know that for the summer campaign that the Virginia clothier general made up several thousands of linen overalls which were supplementally issued.

Also, the actual flag flown by the Virginians at the Waxhaws recently went for auction by the Tarleton family and match exactly the description of generic colors that were inventoried by Major Jonathan Gostelowe in 1778.

For more information on the uniform history of the 2d Virginia Regiment, go to:
http://www.secondvirginia.org/Impressions.html

For information on the extant Virginia flag from the Waxhaws, go to:
http://www.shareholder.com/bid/downloads/news/20051111-179534.pdf

Sincerely,
Todd Post

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that there is another 2nd Virginia Regiment flag, captured at Charleston, S.C. exhibited in pub somewhere in England as I was told by a retired British officer?
I would really like to know if this is not a hoax. The gentleman in question told me that the "captured colours" are 50% deteriorated.

Please contact me:
carval48@yahoo.com