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I just begun to paint a battalion of British line infantry, but I have some doubts with the light company uniforms.
As I know, the lights only distinguished themselves from the rest of the battalion by wearing tufted shoulder wings instead of tufted shoulder straps and ocasionally light grey trousers instead of the usual dark blue ones. Is this right, and can this statement be applied for every battalion that went to the war?
Further, the British Light Infantry, Strelets is about to make... will they be men of the light companies of line battalions or men of the Light/Rifle Brigades? Or are there no differences at all?
I'm asking these just because I did not find any source on the internet mentioning
1. something about the battalion organization of the period,
2. the number of men in the light companies,
3. anything about grenadier companies as in the napoleonic wars.
Maybe I was not looking on the right places, so pls help me out here, and I promise you some nice fotos of those little fellows soon.
Many thanks for your answers
Light Infantry, a confusing term, could mean figures that have no backpacks and are lightly equipped and/or those organised into a light company. Some regiments had light infantry in their full names like the 68th (Durham) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry) but no difference in their uniforms.
I presume Strelets could also mean the Light Division. The name is a reference to the Peninsular War and has nothing to do with uniforms, equipment or weight of the soldiers in the Crimean War.
I sent some pics to Strelets over a week and a half ago which answer some of your questions. Had no reply yet.
I have prepared shoulder tabs, cuff markings and helmet badges as jpegs. Photographic examples are of five regiments of the Light Division at the Battle of the Alma applied to the Strelets figures.
The two main types of regiment are fusiliers and foot regiments( just known as regiment). For example 77th Regiment (East Middlesex) or 7th Royal Fusiliers.
Uniforms are identical for all infantry regiments ( except Guards and Highlanders) at our scale except for the helmet badges and
button spacing and lace spacing and type.
Colour of facings - collar and cuffs
The wings which were tufted were worn by flank companies and centre companies wore crescent shaped shoulder tufts (known as crescents). Light companies could be distinguished by the bugle shaped coatee tails turn back holder/button and fusiliers by a flaming grenade shaped one - far too small for our scale and the figures do not have them on any way.
If you want to do a light company then you have the figures already in the the Crimean British line infantry. Choose the figures with the better shoulder wings( I chose the poorest ones for my figure pics but they had the best positions of the cuffs).
The Rifle Brigade had uniforms identical to the "Line Infantry" but very dark green with black facings, lace,belts, haversack and so on. They normally wore the crescent, again in black.
The grey tweed trousers were summer issue and worn by all infantry but not all soldiers(1855).
Your next to last question maybe Strelets should answer that. To answer your last question - not no differences but too few to matter in our scale.
BTW the non-officers helmets have black leather straps not brass and the badges are more to the middle not like the illustration on the box.
Light Infantry regiments:
13th (Prince Albert's?) - blue facings
68th (Durham) - green
71st (Highland)- buff
90th (Perthshire Volunteers) - buff
Green ball tufts on shakos, and green undress caps with black band (though the 71st had blue with a diced band).
Trousers black ("Oxford mixture") with red side welt in winter, dark blue in summer (1 May - 14 October)
Trews for 71st (wonder how long they lasted) - Government with white overstripe.
Wings for all.
71st (along with the 74th) had an old-fashioned bell-top shako - 71st with dicing.
46th light company had red ball tufts. (Don't know if this isn't a legacy of the AWI)
Fusiliers all had white, and wings.
Forage caps blue for light companies in line regiments, not green.
This all from an old Osprey, so no guarantees that it's still correct!
I'd dearly like to see photographic evidence of the old-style shako for the 71st.
NB buttons could be white or yellow metal - white for the 68th, not sure about the rest, but probably the same as in the Napoleonic period.
You are right about the colours of the facings ( actually collars and cuffs ) but the lace is also important as a signifier. The uniforms are no different from those already released as line infantry when in their red brown plastic form.
The full titles in the 1850s
13th (1st Somersetshire Light Infantry)Regiment of Foot
71st (Glasgow Highland)Regiment of Foot
90th Regiment of Foot (Perthshire Volunteers)(Light Infantry)
The parentheses were normally dropped but all soldiers understood that the 90th was Scottish etc. Obviously the commanders knew which battalion or regiment consisted of more light companies than another.
The green ball tufts were for light companies. Red and white for centre companies, black for the Rifle Brigade.
8 companies made up a battalion with two sections per company. In some battles the light companies could come from for example a regiment's 2nd Battalion though many regiments had only one battalion. The battalion could attack or defend two deep or in a defensive square 4 deep with two companies at each side. A company varied depending on the period between 100 and 150 men. A company at the Alma could be about 80 -100 comprising of 4 sections of 20-25 each. In practice at the Alma the Light division's fighting was done in groups with individual fire or lined as skirmishers like the Rifle Brigade. They were all indeed, equipped with the Minie rifle and aimed shots were proving more devastating than volley fire.
Most of my uniform info comes from regt histories but most of all from Military Illustrated No 6 1987 The British Light Division at the Alma 1854. Osprey is good MAA 196 same author & illustrator as above but condensed and the battles in 1855 or Inkerman in '54 were fought in circumstances when the organisational niceties were not as clear as they were at the Alma or Balaclava.
Trousers were very dark blue almost black (Oxford mixture) not like the Strelets illustration.The grey ones worn in 1855 were the obsolete summer pattern tweeds often seen in sketches done on the spot. Buttons were silver.
If I can't get my photos on this site I will put them on the Najemo one.