The 64th Foot were involved against the rebel colonists from
the very start of the war and had been stationed in America since 1773 and
soldiers from this regiment were amongst those who fired the first shots
of the war at Lexington.
The ‘redcoat’ illustrated is a Corporal of a battalion company of the
regiment and his rank is marked by the white worsted knot hanging from his
white shoulder. The practice of using stripes to mark NCOs' rank was not
adopted until several years later.
He wears the ubiquitous red coat in a duller shade of red than the scarlet
of his officers, a colour which would fade even more on campaign. Beneath
the coat he wears a white waistcoat and knee breeches, with short calf
length gaiters, although the longer patters reaching above the knee were
also still worn. On his head is a black tricorn hat bound in white lace
and with a black cockade held in place by a single regimental button.
This is the basic uniform of many of the soldiers engaged in action in
America; however each regiment had a different pattern of lace around the
buttonholes of the uniform. In this instance the regimental lace had a red
and black stripe. Soldiers of the flank companies, grenadiers and light
troops wore distinctive ‘wings’ on their shoulders and different headgear
to differentiate them from the ‘hat’ companies.
The corporal is armed with the ‘Brown Bess’ musket, the standard weapon in
various forms for the British Infantryman for well over a century. A
smoothbore flintlock musket capable of perhaps 4 to 5 rounds a minute in
the best trained hands and generally fired in volleys, devastating at
close range against formed up bodies of enemy troops.
However, in many
cases the colonial rebels would not play the game and stand there to be
shot at, instead firing from cover and moving off before the English could
close with the bayonet.