Sunday, 15 January 2017

American Cavalry Uniforms and Models for the Battle of Bladensburg 1814

Cavalry at the Battle of Bladensburg 1814

American Militia Cavalry during the War of 1812 were wealthier men that could afford to equip themselves. The cavalry from Kentucky and Illinois wore hunting shirts, most other states had a variety of uniforms, we know the uniforms of about half of these. Overall, most uniformed cavalry had tartelans, stovepipe shakos, or a horse hair crest similar to the American line dragoons. All of the head gear used by cavalry in Europe were probably used by militia cavalry units somewhere in the United States. Companies were typically 30 to 50 men, units larger than that were almost always combined from 2 to 6 volunteer companies often all with different uniforms.

The plates shown below were created by "The War of 1812 Uniform Blog", that are relevant to the the Battle of Bladensburg. I have also included some plates from Osprey and Renee Chartrand. At the end of this post I will list what numbers I would use for 1 man equals 15 for this battle.

Bladensburg; Second Line (Forward Left)

Maryland Cavalry; Possibly 240 (possibly up to 300) Cavalry Total 4 (or more) companies
 All / most of the bits you need to make these are in the Perry British Light Dragoons plastic boxed set! It is a fantastic set.

Most of their uniforms are unknown. Maryland state rules were that cavalry were to have a fur covered tartelan, and a dark blue jacket with braiding. Though at North Point, the majority seemed to be wearing stovepipe type shakos (as were many of the Maryland militia infantry). Militia cavalry often came up with their own uniforms.

This is my conjecture based on the fact the the "1st Harford County Light Dragoons" had their standard captured at the battle.
7th Maryland Cavalry District; Harford County-Lt. Col. / Major Unknown
Unknown Type; Captain Smith's Troop
Unknown Type; Captain Jenkin's Troop
Unknown Type; Captain Lee's Troop
Unknown Type; Unknown if 4th Troop existed
*The 1st Harford County Light Dragoons definitely had their standard captured by the British at the Battle of Bladensburg, this leads me to believe that these were troops were present. Some sources specify that it was the 7th Harford County District that was present at the battle.

*Since the uniforms for the Maryland cavalry at Bladensburg are mostly unknown, I would use the uniforms that are known for Maryland from North Point combined with state regulations.

The above two illustrations from "A Most Warlike Appearance" by Renee Chartrand, show the standard militia uniform for Maryland as well as for the the 1st Baltimore Hussars (Maryland). 

This Baltimore Maryland Hussar seems to have a fur busby. 

This painting of the Battle of North Point was created in 1814, and was considered accurate by the American General. Three of the 4 troops have stovepipe type cylindrical stove pipe type shakos, the 4th company (bottom left) seems to have a US Light Dragoon style cavalry helmet with a horse hair plume. 

Here is another contemporary drawing from the Battle of North Point showing the cavalry present. The majority are wearing stove pipe type shakos, with one company having horse hair plumes. Many companies from Maryland also would have worn Tartelans. I have not seen a contemporary drawing of the Maryland Cavalry at Bladensburg. The 5th Maryland Cavalry at North Point consisted of; the 1st Baltimore Hussars, Independent Light Dragoons, Maryland Chasseurs and Fells Point Light Dragoons. They were 140 strong. 

Perry British Light Dragoons; Use these torsos for all Maryland cavalry. Some companies had tartelans as above.

Perry British Light Dragoons; With modification, you could use the shakos above for some Maryland companies but trim off as needed. Green stuff could be used to increase the size of the plume. Alternatively, British infantry stovepipe shakos from the Perry British infantry boxed set could be used as headgear (with some additions to the plume as well).

The black uniform above shows the uniform of the Alexandria Dragoons. I would use the Perry 4th Continental Dragoons from their American War of Independence line to create these. The state regulated uniforms are at left. Black may have been a common state colour, since the District of Columbia Riflemen had black hunting frocks.

District of Columbia Dragoons; Lt.Col.John Tayloe *40 to 50 men 
Alexandria Dragoons (seen above)
The Alexandria Dragoons are named in many sources, I think they were probably the only DC troop present. One source stated that they were being used as couriers and scouts so were not much of a force at the battle.

Cavalry in Reserve
Colonel Jacinct Laval 

2nd Light Dragoons 125 to 140 men
To create these, I would use either Knuckleduster American Light Dragoons, or Brigade Games American Light Dragoons (but trim off the incorrect plume!).

Virginian Light Dragoons 100 men *Amalgamated during the battle with the 2nd Light Dragoons at the Battle
I would use the Perry American War of Independence 16th Light Dragoons

A Summary of the Cavalry Present at 1 model equals 15

Second Line; 280 to 350 Cavalry (21 models plus a command figure)
Maryland 1st, 2nd and 5th Districts; 240 to 300 men 4 Companies (18 models)
1st Harford County Light Dragoons, plus 3 unknown troops
*X 6 Perry Plastic British Light Dragoons (Baltimore Hussars Uniform)
*X 6 Perry Plastic British Light Dragoons (Maryland Light Dragoons Uniform with Tartelons)
*X 6 Perry Plastic British Light Dragoons (Maryland Light Dragoon Uniform with Stove Pipe type hat)

District of Columbia Cavalry; 40 to 50 men; 1 Companies (3 models)
*X 3 Perry 3rd Continental Dragoons AWI (DC Alexandria Dragoons Uniform)

Reserve; 225 to 240 Cavalry (16 models plus a command figure)
2nd Light Dragoons 125 to 140 men; 
*X 9 Brigade Games or Knuckleduster American Light Dragoons plus a command figure. (10 total)

Virginian Light Dragoons; 100 men;
*X 6  Perry 16th Light Dragoon American War of Independence Models

*It is unclear, but it's possibly the reserve cavalry may have been combined in the second line as well.

Here are 3 of the Sources;