Sunday, 3 August 2008

22nd Continental Regiment

As I mentioned before, the new Perry Southern Militia/Continental packs allow one to build up "hot weather" regiments, with soldiers in coats and hunting shirts alongside others in shirt sleeves and waistcoats. I've always thought that Alan Perry perhaps missed a trick when releasing his first Continental packs a few years ago in not adding a couple of packs of figures in shirt sleeve order. But now it's possible to recreate the look of regiments marching under the hot sun and this is the first of 2 or 3 units that I want to paint up in this fashion. The direct inspiration is the painting by Don Troiani of George Washington (here).

I like to give my regiments names. I originally selected the 6th Virginia, on the basis of it filling a gap in the Brandywine orbat that I generally work to. Der Alte Fritz posted a comment to the effect that the uniform of the 6th Virginia is known as being a light hunting shirt with red cuffs; i.e. not at all what we have here. The post and my response can be seen in the comments. Whilst not entirely convinced, I realised that the 6th Virginia is probably best left for another day. A quick bit of research and consultation with Ronan the Librarian/Supercilius Maximus resulted in the re-naming of this unit the 22nd Continental Regiment. This unit is reported as having worn blue faced red coats in the 1776 period. The flag is the "Grand Union Flag", which seems to have originally started off as a naval flag in December 1775 but was then used by Washington's army in the 1776-77 period. All the figures are Perry save for the officer, who is a Foundry British sculpt that works perfectly well as a Continental officer (he also appears in my otherwise Eureka-figure 10th Virginia). Hopefully this regiment will see action at November's Long Island game. Thanks to Fritz for his comments - ultimately, the purpose of blogs like this is to prompt an exchange of knowledge.

16 figures. Painted June/July 2008. Flag from GMB.


Der Alte Fritz said...

Oh dear, I hate to be one of those pseudo-know-it-alls that come along and tell a person that the uniform is all wrong. FYI, the 6th VA is one of the more well-documented regiments in the Continental army. They are traditionally depicted as wearing light grey hunting shirts with red cuffs and collars. Their hat is a "round hat cocked (turned up) on the left side" Breeches would have been made from ticking stripe cloth and leggings were dark blue.

From the "Orderly Book of That Portion of the American Army Stationed Near Williamsburg, Va, Under the Command of General Andrew Lewis" comes the following description and orders:

"The captains of the 6th battalion, together with other officers, are immediately to provide themselves with Hunting Shirts, short and fringed; the men's shirts to be short and plain, the Sergeants' shirts to have a small white cuffs and plain; the Drummers shirts to be with dark cuffs. Both officers and Soldiers to have Hatts cut round and bound with black; the brims of their Hatts to be two inches deep and cocked to one side, with a button and loop and cockades, which is to be worn on the left. Neither man nor officers to do duty in any other uniform. The officers and soldiers are to wear their hair short and as near a like as possible." - written order from Colonel Buckner.

Flags can be highly speculative in this war. Most of the Virginia regiments that I have seen use a single color field with nothing but a white scroll in the middle of the field. The scroll has the regiment's name on it:


An example of this can be found on page 223 (plate 45) of Richardson's "Standards and Colors of the American Revolution".

While it doesn't have an exact copy of the 6th VA, the flags for 8th and 11th VA regiments use this pattern, so the speculation is that the other Virginia regiments would have used the same motif on their flags. When I painted the unit, I used a red field because this is the color of the cuffs and collars. Then I used a white scroll with the name of the regiment painted in black. I picked up this idea from re-enactor units here in the States that were portraying Virginia regiments.

At any rate, I hope that you read this information in the spirit of good will that was intended, as it was not my intention to be one of those rude uniform know it alls.

That said, it is a finely painted wargame unit that meets your usual high standards and I thank you for sharing it with us.

best regards,


Allan (AJ) Wright said...

Nicely painted unit. I like the figure mix. I'm sure it won't be a problem to re-name the unit to something that fits Fritz's research.

Giles said...


Thanks for your comments, and particularly Jim for taking the trouble to pass on his research.

The choice of nomenclature for this unit was pretty random, as I said in the post. The 6th Virginia seemed to fit, given the orbats I work to, and the first volume of the Osprey on George Washington's army states that the regiment was reported as wearing "blue coats". Now, that reference admittedly isn't referenced by any footnote; but then again I'm sure the author didn't just make it up.

Which of course illustrates the problem of stating with certainty what any Continental Army regiment wore at any particular time. The fact that an order exists stating that a regiment should wear a certain uniform (whether shirts or coats) is not evidence that the regiment (or every company in it) actually wore that uniform. Given ongoing problems of supply there is no way of telling whether an order for cloth for 300 brown coats or whatever actually materialised. Further, if we have evidence that one company wore a certain unifor, we cannot guarantee that every company in the battalion followed suite - the 2nd New Hampshire in their "traditional" sky-blue coats is an example of how very sketchy information is inflated to be proof as to what an entire regiment wore.

In short, we don't really know about anything in the AWI with any degree of certainty. And that is one of the reasons why I like the period so much. 5 years of researching this period has shown me that the question "where does it say you can do this?" is legitimately answered by "show me where it says that I can't". Of course we must all strive for accuracy where possible, and it seems in this instance that I missed some reasonably clear evidence.

Flags are another example. Yes, there are recorded examples of 2 Virginian regiments having a scroll motif. But that doesn't necessarily mean that every Virginian regiment had a similar design. In the AWI, it's tempting to over-emphasise whatever evidence we do have, when in fact the lack of evidence justifies a more flexible and creative approach.

That said, as it happens old Fritz seems to be right here and I am grateful for his advice (although I understand that there is evidence that the 6th's hunting shirts were dark brown as opposed to light grey - illustrating the difficulties of interpreting 18th century colours and dyes perhaps). After consultation with RtL, who has researched in depth the Continental army of 1776, it would seem that this particular unit is more happily described as the 22nd Continental, and I have amended the post accordingly. The 6th Virginia is dead - long live the 22nd Continentals!


Allan (AJ) Wright said...

Long live the 22nd Continentals!