Friday, January 25, 2013


US M1813 Shako (missing its lefthand plume)
     In February, 1813, the US Army issued a new shako; one made of leather and featuring a false front, much like the British "Belgic" shako. This durable article became very popular in the Army and quickly supplanted the earlier simple felt design.
     There were two models of this shako issued. The M1813 was the first. Its front was fairly square in appearance, and was sometimes outlined in white paint. It featured a large shako plate, and the crown seems to have varied in height.

 The second model was the M1814. The examples I've seen are more conical in appearance than the M1813, and feature a crown that was considerably more rounded; I honestly don't know if this was a universal change for the 1814 model, or a case of different contractors interpreting the specifications differently, but every M1814 I've seen so far was of the conical type, and every M1813 example I've seen had a front that presented a more flat and square appearance. The 1814 model also featured a smaller and lighter shako plate.

US M1814 Shako
The subject of uniforms of the War of 1812 is very complex. Uniforms changed considerably throughout the war and units didn't always receive new items immediately when they became available. This shako is a good case in point; the 9th, 11th, 21st, 22nd, and 25th infantry, which comprised Scott's brigade, did not receive any supplies in the spring of 1814, except for the infamous grey roundabouts and pantaloons. Scott's bitter rival, General James Wilkinson, diverted all other clothing issues to his own command, which would have included the new 1814 shako. It can be surmised that Scott's command was wearing the 1813 model during the Niagara campaign.

Knuckleduster figures in M1813 shakos.
Chartrand, Rene. A Most Warlike Appearance: Uniforms, Flags and Equipment of the United States in the War of 1812. Ottawa: Service Publications, 2010.


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