How do we know the uniform?

Runaway Advertisements

Virginia Gazette (Published by Purdie): Williamsburg, January 17, 1777 (Page 3, Column 2)

DESERTED from Trenton, New Jersey, December 4, 1776, JOHN WAGSTAFF, a soldier belonging to capt. Thomas Nelson’s company of regulars of the first Virginia regiment; he is a stout young lad, about 20 years of age, has light hair, his uniform was blue, turned up with red. The said Wagstaff was enlisted near York town, in Virginia. Whoever takes up the said deserter, and delivers him to capt. Nelson in York town, or the subscriber now with the company in Pennsylvania, shall receive TWELVE DOLLARS reward. JOHN MOSS, lieutenant.

Virginia Gazette (Published by Dixon and Hunter): Williamsburg, October 24, 1777 (Page 2, Column 2)

YORK, October 16,1777. DESERTED on Thursday the 9th of this Instant, JAMES KING, 5 Feet 10 Inches high, black Hair, blue Eyes, had on a blue Coat, white Waistcoat and Breeches, and white Hat. He purchased from John Gibbs a black Stud Horse about 13 1/2 Hands high. I will give TWENTY DOLLARS to any Person that will deliver him to any continental Officer. FRANCIS MENNIS, Lieut. 1st Virg. Regt.

The 1779 Uniform Regulations

On 23 March 1779, the Continental Congress stated the following (retrieved from the Library of Congress, Journals of the Continental Congress, Tuesday, March 23, 1779):

And whereas discretionary changes of the uniforms of regiments have proved inconvenient and expensive: the Commander in Chief is therefore hereby authorized and directed, according to the circumstances of supplies of cloathing, to fix and prescribe the uniform, as well with regard to the color and facings, as the cut or fashions of the cloathes to be worn by the troops of the respective States and regiments, which shall, as far as possible, be complied with by all purchasing agents employed by the Congress, as well as particular States. And where materials can be purchased instead of ready made cloathes, it shall always be preferred, in order that they may be made up by the taylors of the several regiments, to save expence and prevent the disadvantages which the soldiers frequently suffer from their unfitness; and instead of breeches, woollen overalls for the winter, and linnen for the summer, are to be substituted.

To which General Washington replied in his General Orders on 2 October of the same year (retrieved from the George Washington Papers, General Orders, October 2, 1779):

The following are the Uniforms that have been determined for the troops of these States respectively as soon as the state of the public supplies will permit their being furnished accordingly, and in the mean time it is recommended to the Officers to endeavor to accommodate their Uniforms to this Standard, that when the men come to be supplied there may be a proper uniformity.

Pennsylvania/Delaware/Maryland/Virginia – Blue faced with Red, Buttons and Linings White