GLIThe Glengary Light Infantry Fencibles
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2006 7:51 pm 
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The Big Three Controversies: Tunics, Buttons, and Lace.

I think that these are a worthwhile discussion and that all of us within the military recreation unit should explore the documentation available in order to render a final conclusion on these three matters.

What is it about the tunics? I have often said in the past that during the war it seemed that the Glengarrys wore three different types of tunics. My readings over the years have led me to believe that the Glengarrys throughout most of the year of 1812 were likely clad in their barracks jackets/tunics. There also seems to be evidence pointing to the fact that over the winter of 1812 and 1813 some Glengarrys received cast off tunics from the British rifle unit known as the 95th rifles. Evidence continues to prove that by the year 1814 some Glengarrys were now clad in their very own uniform/tunic. It is the 1814 version of the Glengarrys that I attempted to re/construct in 1993 when I started the recreation unit known as the Niagara Military Historical Society/Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles.

The next issue is that of the buttons that should be used on the Glengarry tunic in Canada. So, we could drive ourselves absolutely crazy and say "which of the three tunics are we talking about?" Or we could merely concentrate on the 1814 version of the tunic, in which case; are the buttons to be plain domed buttons? Or should they be the Canadian Fencible button of which there was a tremendous abundance and documented as having likely been used on the Glengarrys tunics as well?

Finally the white lace issue. Should it be half inch flat white lace or should it be white piping?

Let's all take our turns at exploring these three issues over the next little while.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2006 10:56 pm 
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pud wrote:
What is it about the tunics? I have often said in the past that during the war it seemed that the Glengarrys wore three different types of tunics. My readings over the years have led me to believe that the Glengarrys throughout most of the year of 1812 were likely clad in their barracks jackets/tunics.


This is confirmed in an inspection by Sir George Prevost on July 2nd 1812. "The Corps is presently clothed in white cloth jackets with green cuffs, a cape and green foraging caps; -- green cloth is daily expected, commissioned by Colonel Baynes in March last; -- every equipment and allthe suitable green cloth which could be procured in this country has been affordrd by this officer."

pud wrote:
There also seems to be evidence pointing to the fact that over the winter of 1812 and 1813 some Glengarrys received cast off tunics from the British rifle unit known as the 95th rifles.


Is there a source for this?

pud wrote:
The next issue is that of the buttons that should be used on the Glengarry tunic in Canada. So, we could drive ourselves absolutely crazy and say "which of the three tunics are we talking about?" Or we could merely concentrate on the 1814 version of the tunic, in which case; are the buttons to be plain domed buttons? Or should they be the Canadian Fencible button of which there was a tremendous abundance and documented as having likely been used on the Glengarrys tunics as well?


I 've only ever only heard one reference to the buttons, and that was in a letter by a former Glen named Jonathan Phillips. "Our uniform was of bottle green coloured cloth, with three rows of white metal bell-buttons on the coat. The buttons bore the arms and rose, shamrock and thistle, and the words "Canadian Light Infantry Fencibles, RG". He further describes the uniform. "In the summer, we wore bucket-shaped hats, with peaks and a green cockade. In winter we wore fur caps, with a long green cloth thanging (hanging) from the top over the left shoulder, and at the end of this green cloth was a green tassel."

A while back, I asked Kevin about the buttons, and he thought he had some as described in the Lundy's Lane Museum.

It's interesting that he referred to the hat as a "bucket-shaped hat" rather than a shako. Also, in recruiting ads, they referred to them as "regimental caps", but that's another issue.

pud wrote:
Finally the white lace issue. Should it be half inch flat white lace or should it be white piping?

I have no idea about this one... We'd better start banging on doors in the Niagara area or SD&G, and see if we can poke around in some attics. :P


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2006 11:15 am 
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Bill, thanks for getting this discussion going.

The "bucket" reference seems to be directed toward the fact that the Glens wore 'stovepipe' shakos and never 'belgiques" (spelling??). The winter cap has often been thought to have been modeled after the Canadian (in Quebec) cappy,...rather like an old style 'night cap' as I have often heard it referred to. I attempted to reconstruct one several years ago after conversing with Don Graves at our natioanl archives based on a piece of research he did for me. Just as I had finished it and was about to make more for the unit he sent me a letter advising me not to use the design because he thought his original description might infact be wrong based on another scholar of the time period he had been talking to. So, it went no where.

As for the Glens using cast-off 95th rifle jackets,....I'm on the hunt for some of that evidence and will post it as soon as possible. In fact, what I have read over the years has convinced me that that is the case, and what strengthens my notion about "tunic #2" of three versions is the fact that the artists rendering of the old tattered "Glengarry" tunics that are stashed away in the archives of our national museum are showing what appears to be 95th riflemen jackets that were, perhaps, slightly modified for use by non-riflemen Glengarrys. Why, because the back (the seams) of the 'privates' jacket/tunic has cording on it (almost like a cast-off 95th officers tunic) and it is a rifle-jacket cut. Also, the rendering shows riflemens cuffs (split with buttons). I have never seen these tunics myself, but some day I intend to get in there and have a look at them. The other thing about the artists rendering is just that, it's a sketch and not a picture, and the book that these are in is dated 1967.

As for the buttons, through word of mouth years ago (1993 when I started the Glens) the thought was that although the evidence clearly said that the Canadian Fencible button was or had been used on at least one Glengarry tunic (as per the quotation you used in your initial reply) because it was from 1813 that perhaps these were the surplus buttons that were used on the 'cast-off' riflemen tunics that the Glengarrys were using. And, that perhaps those buttons were not used on the Glengarrys 'final version' of the tunic which we see by 1814 (the one which all of us are generally sporting at current day military re-enactments). The other thing to note about the "Glengarry Tunics" at our national archives/museum is that they do NOT have black 'tufts' on them denoting 'lgiht infantry' status. Rather, they have "cloth wings" which drape over the edge of the shoulder and, according to the atrists rendering they seem to be piped at the edges, and even the rest of the tunic seems to be showing 'white piping' and not white lace. All this says to me, that it's a riflemens jacket, in which case it's a 'cast-off' jacket of the 95th Rifles. Why 95th Rifles, because even the Canadienne Voltigeurs of Lower Canada used the jacket of the 95th rifles as their guide for tunic design, especially Voltigeur Officers.

So, why cast-off tunics at all. Well, I think, that based on the quotation that I previously posted (see "Prevost to Bathurst") that the Prince Regent made it happen and since the Glengarrys were so desperate for tunics by the end of 1812 that "old" tunics, or perhaps "surplus tunics" from the 95th were sent to Canada quickly in order to outfit the Glengarrys.

Thanks Bill. Let's keep this one, and the others going. It would be nice if some of the other guys/gals would join in. Besides there is also a fourth issue of the "pantaloons" (pants) being worn. We might as well touch on that one too.

Cheers,
Pud


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