This article contains fast facts and information about the Redcoats. Who were the British Redcoats who fought during the American Revolutionary War? What did the uniforms of different Redcoats look like? Definition of Redcoats: The Redcoats refer to British soldiers, especially during the American Revolutionary War, who were so-called because of their red coats and uniforms that were worn by the majority of regiments.
The British Redcoats - The King's Shilling...
The common soldiers who made up the majority of British Redcoats had a hard life in the British army. The pay was so poor that most of the regulars had been 'persuaded' to join the army by recruiting squads. Every regiment in the British Army had a recruiting squad whose job was to increase the numbers of soldier in their regiment. They used any method they could think of to accept the 'King's shilling'. The King's Shilling was the bonus given by the crown for enlisting in the British army. The favorite haunt of the recruiters, dressed in ordinary clothes, were the pubs and inns. They would get unsuspecting young men totally intoxicated. The next day they would find they had accepted the 'King's Shilling' - they were to join the regiment as one of the new redcoats. There are stories that the "King's shilling" was hidden in the bottom of pewter tankards and having drunk his pint, the poor man found that he had unwittingly accepted the King's offer - this gave rise to the introduction of glass-bottomed tankards. These new redcoats had no choice in the matter - the alternative was the death sentence. Another source for new supplies of Redcoats were the British courts - for many offences a judge would commute a prisoner's sentence to enlistment with the Redcoats. Acceptance of the 'King's Shilling' meant enlistment for life!
The British Redcoats - Pay
The Redcoats pay was extremely poor. After stoppages or deductions they were left with about 8 pence per day - the equivalent pay at today's rate would be about 25 cents. The stoppages included deductions for food, their uniforms, for washing, for the paymaster, for the surgeon and for a host of useless and unmilitary fopperies.
The British Redcoats - Discipline
The new Redcoats were understandably resentful - the British Army addressed this issue but instigating a strict regime of discipline. Even the most minor infringements were treated with severe corporal punishment such as public flogging - the number of lashes were determined by the commander of the redcoats regiment. To be found guilty of stealing or desertion had only one sentence - death by hanging.
The British Redcoats - Morale
The imposition of strict discipline ensured that the British Redcoats 'toed to the line'. But their commanders and officers had to address the question of morale. They did this by instilling a deep sense of pride in the regiment and a strong sense of identity and comradeship. Every one of the Redcoats learnt about the history and victories of their regiment. They knew the names of the heroes of previous battles and the deeds of bravery and valor. Morale was also boosted by the wives of the Redcoats who were allowed to accompany their husbands. The women of the Redcoats supported their men and helped with cooking, sewing, mending, washing and nursing the soldiers.
The British Redcoats - The Uniforms of the Redcoats
The uniforms of the Redcoats were kept in the very best of order at all times. Hours were spent each day ensuring that the Uniforms of the Recoats were spotless. The uniforms of the Redcoats were inspected on a daily basis and each commander ensured his soldiers were immaculate when they went into battle. Just as soldiers in today's armies their boost had to be highly polished, as were the brass buttons on the uniforms and their arms. All white facings which included the cross belt, waist belt, carriage box and gaiters had to be whitened with pipe clay. The pipe clay was applied to the white gaiters which were put on whilst they were still wet to insure they fit tight as they dried.
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