Monday, March 11, 2013


One day in January, having realized my boyhood dream of being able to create a Napoleonic army out of thin air in an afternoon with a few spins of the centrifugal casting machine, I sat down to figure out what I would need to put on the battle of Crysler's Farm using my Knuckleduster figures. Turns out, I needed a new type of uniform for most of my American troops, and I hadn't yet sculpted it.

Knuckleduster's new 1813 figures painted as a variety of units.
So, as is my wont, I sculpted it! Now I have filled this gap in the product line, and a colorful gap it is.

My American troops at that time all fell into three basic types; 1812, 1814, and various militia. But none of these were quite right for 1813. Turns out, the American army throughout the 1813 campaign season (a third of the war), wore a hybrid of the 1812 and 1814 uniform. On paper, the US Army had an entirely new uniform in 1813; a plain coatee without much of the lace adorning earlier incarnations of the garment, and a durable, smart new leather shako. But as any student of military history can tell you, the dictates from on high do not always translate into changes in the field; at least not right away.

Brown coatees. These troops wear the M1813 shako with
the large, brass shako plate issued the first year this new
headgear was distributed.
The leather shako was delivered very quickly to the front lines, and most units had them in hand for the 1813 campaign season. The coats were another story; the old laced 1812 coatee continued to be worn by a substantial number of units, and because of shortages of blue dye, it was delivered to units in various shades of grey,"drab" (which could theoretically be dyed blue at a later time), brown, and black. According to Chartrand, the Army specified that, "the mixed color coatees and garments were to be cut as prescribed in the February 1812 regulations, with red collars and cuffs, and white lace binding."

Drab coatees, which could be dyed blue if the unit happened to
capture an indigo dye factory somewhere in the Canadian wilderness.

Chartrand put together a listing of what was issued during the winter of 1812-1813. There is no guarantee that these were the uniforms worn at Crysler's (not "Chrysler's") Farm, but it is a decent guess. The units wearing this old coat/new cap (as we know, a shako is a "cap" and a bicorne or tricorne is a "hat") configuration, were as follows (coat color follows listing):

12th US: Drab, red facings
14th: Brown for some, Drab faced with Red for others.
21st: Blue, red facings
16th: Black, red facings

Black coatee (black is surprisingly difficult to photograph
so that it looks like black and not blue or grey!)

The 25th had the old felt shako and a blue coat faced with red (and with minimal lace). I have no information on the 13th or the 9th. Most would have black leather belting, however on the very dark uniforms, I have used white to make them stand out (for shame for shame). Also, apparently some units had black lace instead of white. If you'd like to track down that information, you are welcome to do so!

If you have corrections or additional information, please pass them along.

All the best,
Forrest Harris

Soure: A Most Warlike Appearance, Renee Chartrand, 2011