Monday, August 22, 2016

Guards Hatt Caps

 I have gotten a number of questions off line concerning the Guards flank company hart caps.  Here is some additional research.

   It is not certain when the Grenadier and Light Infantry companies received the hat caps. An order of 11 March required that the detachment's 1776 new clothing be packed up and delivered to the regimental Quarter Masters with the exception of "the Hatt caps of the Grenadier & Light Infantry Companys which are to be delivered Separately."  The delivery was probably prior to 26 March, since the Middlesex Journal announced that at that time part of the detachment had marched out: "The men had felt caps with black feathers delivered to them before they set off, to wear instead of hats."  Since there is no record of any hats or caps with feathers being worn by the battalion companies of the detachment while in England, this possibly refers to the hat caps of the Grenadiers and Light Infantry companies.

Light infantry hat cap based on Andre's 1777 drawing.

In addition to the newspaper reports a rather intriguing hint was left behind by Major John Andre on his map of a skirmish which was part of the Battle of Whitemarsh on 6 December 1777.  On one side of the title he drew a cap, and on the other side he drew a light infantry horn and bayonet. The cap has no brim other than a small visor in front. There is a turban around the base of the crown with a bow at the back. Feathers arch over the top. A frontlet with a white edge and the letters "L.I." on it complete the cap. The engagement depicted is one which involved only the Queen's Rangers, the e Light Infantry of the Guards, and a company of Jaegers. The cap is not associated with the Jaegers or Rangers, nor is it the standard light infantry cap of the period. Did Andre drew the hat cap worn by the Guards Light Infantry Company in 1776-1777?  The Grenadiers' hat caps were based on the same pattern; but they would not have carried the "L.I." on the frontlet, perhaps a grenade.

   The hat caps were almost certainly felt rather than leather, as indicated by the inclusion of the word "hatt" in the name. The report in the Middlesex Journal reinforces that conclusion, since it mentions that the caps with feathers were made of felt.


  1. Interesting hat sleuthing. What is the source of the pen and ink cap illustration?

  2. It is a modern reconstruction based on Andre's drawings.