Coat Colours Part 4: Others - NMA, Dragoons & Horse

Welcome to part 4 of my coat colours series. I had originally planned to write blog entries on the New Model Army, Regiments of Dragoons, and Regiments of Horse but, as you'll see those pages would be pretty sparse and barren.

The rest of my coat colour posts are here:
Part 1 Parliamentarian coat colours
Part 2 Royalist coat colours
Part 3 Scots coat colours
Part 3B Montrose and the Irish Brigade
The Trained Bands

And if you are stuck wondering how to convert this information into what colours to use and what model paint colours, the links might help you start.

Parliamentarian Regiments of Dragoons

Colonel Richard Browne
Red November 1642 (National Archive SP28/144/pt2/28-35)
Grey 1645 (National Archive 144/2 f30r; British Library MS Add 18982 f409v)

Parliamentarian Regiments of Horse

 There are a number of records detailing the issue of helmets, back and breastplates and coats of buff, and oddities such as Colonel John Barker’s Troop of Horse being issued feathers at the town’s expense.

The issue of riding coats appears to be a ideal with which many regiments aspired to: the Earl of Bedford arguing in 1642 that as well a s a buff coat, troopers should have a coat of cloth to protect their equipment and saddlery as well as to keep the trooper warm. For example, there are a number of references to riding coats being issued to troopers in Brereton's army, mostly these were to be made of 'frieze' a rough woollen cloth best suited for winter, but no colours are recorded.(National Archive SP28/49/1, SP28/8, SP28/128/10)

Sir John Hotham, who was the Parliamentarian governor of Hull, raised a Regiment of Horse, who were part of the Hull garrison. Some of these troopers acted as his lifeguard and wore red coats “as being like the Earl of Strafford’s lifeguard”. (Andrew Hopper, The papers of the Hothams, Governors of Hull during the Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), p.110; A True Relation of the discovery of a most desperate and dangerous plot, for the delivering up, and surprising the townes of Hull and Beverley (London:1643))

Peachey and Turton (War In The West: The Fall of The West Vol 7 p750) state that Colonel Tom Essex’s Troop of Horse was known to have red coats, but alas, does not cite the reference for this.

Royalist Regiments of Dragoons

Sir Thomas Aston
Blue - double-dyed woad April 1644 (National Archive SP28/185 ff438r-478r, SP28/136 unfol.)

Colonel James Ussher later Sir Henry Washington’s also known as Prince Maurice’s
The regiment might have received the 1643 Oxford army clothing issue of suits of Souldiers Cassocks, Breeches, Stockings and Capps either all in blue or all in red (Luke's Journal p119; Wood's diary p103)

Royalist Regiments of Horse

As with Parliamentarian horse, there are a number of records of troopers being issued riding coats, only one colour is recorded: Sir Thomas Aston's men were issued double-dyed woad (blue) riding coats in April 1644 (National Archive SP28/185 ff438r-478r, SP28/136 unfol.). Apart from the mention of Strafford's lifeguard as a reference point for Hotham's lifeguard, a similar state of affairs to the Parliamentarian Horse. A few instances of full cuirassier suits being issued (very early, usually accompanied by references relating to conversion to harquebusiers soon after).

A note for those of you wondering how to paint trumpeters: there is some evidence from both sides of the war that elements of cornet design were transferred to trumpet banners: Captain Richard Astley of Loughborough's Horse (Royalist) is depicted upon his memorial at the head of his troop of horse: they carry a cornet and trumpet banner which both bear a cinquefoil. Sir William Brereton (Parliamentarian) bought two black taffeta trumpet banners for his troop (National Archive SP28/8/16).

 New Model Army Regiments of Foot

Artillery Guard of the New Model Army
Tawny lined White (National Archive SP28/29/209)

'On paper' all of the NMA Regiments of Foot were issued coats of Venetian red in 1645, in reality it would be very hard to pinpoint exactly when the NMA regiments actually received their coats. Suppliers to the NMA were able to supply clothing, in large quantities, very quickly. By June 1645 approximately 9000 red coats had been supplied. 

The regiments were distinguishable "by several facings of their coats" (Perfect Passages 30th April - 7th May 1645). Contracts for coat supply in April 1645 specify  that coats were to be supplied with coloured tapes (white, blue, green, yellow and orange) - were these coloured tapes the facings that Perfect Passages mention? (Contracts for coat supply do not stipulate linings, as the contracts are very thorough in their descriptions it can be assumed that coats were unlined.)

County Committees were ordered to supply conscripts from their county with coats: recruits from Essex were to be issued red coats lined blue "as has formerly been the practice". (Calendar of State Papers Domestic 1644-5 pp358-9)

It is often assumed that Fairfax's (the Lord General's) Regiment wore red coats lined blue, but it is just that - an assumption based upon Fairfax's colour being blue. There is no clear statement that this is the case. 

They were also issued "breeches... of grey or other good colours, of Reading or other good cloth" (Calendar of State Papers Domestic Interregnum 1649 Volume 3: October 16th)

There was an order for the supply of a number of bandoliers for the New Model Army - the charges to be blue, and on blue and white string (Museum of London Tangye Collection MS 46 78/708: transcribed by Gerald Mungeam ‘Contracts for the supply of equipment to the ‘New Model’ Army in 1645’, Journal of the Arms and Armour Society vol.6 no.3 (Sept 1968))

New Model Army Regiments of Dragoons

In theory the dragoons of the NMA would also have been issued red coats, but there are no specific mentions of this.

New Model Army Regiments of Horse

I can find no references to coloured cloth coats being issued to any Regiments of Horse, only references to issues of helmets, back and breastplates, buff coats and riding coats.

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  1. Great post. One of the fun things with this as well which we often forget in the modern world is that a red or blue description can cover a whole heap of actual colours. Without colourfast dyes and with the guaranteed lack of consistency between manufactures there would be a whole raft of different red uniforms. So there would definitely not be a consistent shade/colour between regiments (no wall of the same shade coats here yet), even if we know the coat colour was. Added to that after some time in the field there was bound to be a thousand different shades of any colour even if they started the same. So the NMA 'red' could be anything from candy apple red through to brown and anything in between! Just adds to the confusion of course but makes them look more unique on the table top IMO. :)

    1. Thank you Mellis.
      Absolutely, that's why I try and put a couple of shades in when I paint a regiment with a single coat colour. Must say there are times when I can't spot the variance in shades.

    2. My FoG:R Oxford Royalist army is composed of the "Roundhead" pike and shot in lobster helmets, but slightly filed away and painted to look like monteros with the helmet tails painted to look like long hair (I only mention this as a help to other readers puzzling over what to do with these ahistorically becapped figures). As Mellis states, their "red" and "blue" suits of clothing (I think "uniforms" is pushing it a bit!) are quite varied on each figure, let alone across the figures on each base.

    3. I really think that we should replace the term 'uniform' and replace it with 'clothing'.

  2. Quick question regarding the headgear. Is it true that the round head and cavalier head-wear is a myth? For example both sides would have worn the round head helmet and the hat or cap?

    1. Absolutely! Both sides would have been pretty indistinguishable from one another, so they used field signs, a sprig of holly for example. Problem was if both sides picked the same field sign - which did happen at least once in a major battle.

  3. Thank you for the great information! Dean

    1. You are very welcome Dean. Remember you saw all this here first 😉😉

      will be in a real book soon


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