In some ways the uniforms of Loyalist units were just as diverse as their Patriot counterparts. In other ways, there was some standardization. Many of the early militia units wore civilian clothes with armbands and cockades used to identify them as pro-Crown forces. On the frontier, the Loyalist who fought with the Indians were identified in Patriot reports as having something white in their hats. Examples from the reports included feathers, cloth and deer tails.
In 1777 the initial shipment of cloth sent to the Americas for uniforms were various shades of dark green. Exerts from quartermaster reports list the following items being sent to America for use by Provincial (Loyalist) units : Late 1776, 5000 uniforms of green coats lined with white, white waistcoats and breeches, white buttons, plus cloth for facings in the colors of 40% white, 40% green and 20% blue. Other items sent included 5000 round hats, woolen cloth for leggings and 6000 yards of red cloth.
A later shipment in 1776 included brown linen to line pockets, dark brown cloth for leggings, 3000 hats and other uniform items such as shoes, buckles and stockings. It is possible that these brown items were requested for the units who would be on the frontier, since white leggings would expose their location. The next issue of uniforms in 1778 changed the majority of uniforms issued from green to red, but several units, especially Ranger units retained green uniforms for campaigning.
In 1778, warehouses in New York had stored both red coats and complete green unifonns (suits). Blue greatcoats are listed for mounted infantry. In 1780 a clothing inventory included the following comments: "Provincial facings of white, buff, blue, black, orange, and green (listed in order of quantity ?) Provincial cavalry regiments have one faced green and one faced blue. Delancey's NY Volunteers have green coats, white waistcoats and breeches, velvet stocks. Queen's Rangers have green jackets, white waistcoats and breeches, velvet stocks. British Legion have green jackets, white waistcoats and breeches with its drummers being in green suits. Volunteers of Ireland Regiment have red coats, white waistcoats and breeches, velvet stocks" A later inventory comment notes red cloaks for provincial cavalry (1781). Velvet stocks were black. Light Dragoon caps with a black bearskin crest became known as the Tarleton helmet.
This is a partial list of uniform descriptions for selected units. They are based on material which is available to me. A Hessian officer, Bernhard de Wiederhold, was stationed in New York during 1783 and has listed facing colors which differ from other sources. However his notes cannot be discounted since he was contemporary and there.
Further research, especially if you live on the east coast, may produce additional uniform information. As a result I have listed some units without notes so additional notes could be added later. Temporary militia and volunteer units will wear mainly civilian clothes. As a common sense rule, men from the coastal region would wear jackets, hats and breeches found in many towns. Likewise men from the western frontier and Florida would wear hunting coats, trousers, a variety of headgear and buckskins. Units assigned to garrison after 1778 would appear very much like other British units clothed in red. The term facings indicates that the cuffs, collar and lapels were all in that color. If only one or two of the three are listed as a specific color, then the remainder will be the basic coat color.
AMERICAN LEGION: Red coats, white waistcoats, turnbacks and pants, Blue collar and cuffs
BAYARD'S RANGERS: ? Hunting frocks and frontier mix
BRITISH LEGION:. Cavalry - green jackets, black collar, lapels and cuffs, white and buff
pants; Infantry = green jackets, white waistcoats and breeches. Drummers in green jackets, pants
and waistcoats. Clothed in white while in the South (as they were reported as being clad in the
same manner as Lee's Legion and the 3rd Continental Lgt Dragoons who both wore white).
BRYAN'S CORPS: ?
BUCK'S COUNTY LGT DRAGOONS: Red jackets w/ Buff pants and small clothes '76-'78;
Dark green jackets while attached to Queen's Rangers; ? changed back to red when transferred
to British army in '80
BUCK'S COUNTY VOLUNTEERS: ?
BUTLER'S RANGERS : Dark green coats and waistcoats, scarlet facings, leather overalls or
buckskin leggings; black leather skullcaps with brass front and black cockade on the left side;
belts were buff, also green dyed hunting shirts with mid blue dyed fringe
CALEDONIAN VOLUNTEERS: ?
CAMPBELL'S BROADSWORD COMPANY: mix of frontier and highland dress
CANADIAN VOLUNTEER BOATMAN AND AXEMEN: French Canadian frontier dress
CLAY'S SOUTH CAROLINA LOYALIST: ?
CHESTER COUNTY LGT DRAGOONS: British Light Dragoon uniforms
CONNECTICUT LOYALIST VOLUNTEERS: ?
CORPS OF BLACK PIONEERS: Green coats in 1778; later Red coat with black facings
CUNNINGHAM'S SOUTH CAROLINA LOYALIST MILITIA: frontier and town mix
DE DIEMAR HUSSARS : (Queen's Rangers Hussars) Hussar dress: issued both Black and Buff
coats. Buff coats may have been altered to make pelisses or small clothes.
DELANCEY'S BRIGADE OF NEW YORK LOYALIST: each battalion will have the number
of buttons in a row on their coat equaling its battalion number; red coats, white waistcoats and linen trousers, blue facings but a Hessian officers recorded their facings as Green in 1783;
tricornes with white hat band; Winter dress consisted of brown trousers and leather caps (light
inf or Hessian fusilier caps but more likely an animal skin/fur cap which was issued and worn
only during winter months); while in the South those battalions are reported to have worn white
and black round hats with black feathers
DELANCEY'S REFUGEES : Infantry co - green coats, white waistcoat and breeches, brown
leggings, white facings,tricome. Lgt Dragoons - '76-79 dressed as infantry; '80-83 red or green
jackets, black collar and cuffs, leather helmet with bearskin crest, other items as per British Lgt dragoons
EAST FLORIDA VOLUNTEERS: frontier dress
EAST FLORIDA MILITIA: mix of town and frontier dress; included ex-slaves
EMMERICH'S CHASSEURS : Grey coats in 1778, later- Infantry - dark green jackets, white
waistcoats and breeches, facings olive green ?; Lgt Drgns dressed as infantry ?
FERGUSON'S RIFLE CORPS: mixture of men from several units
FLORIDA RANGERS: frontier dress
GENTLEMEN VOLUNTEERS OF NEW YORK: Red coats
GEORGIA LGT DRAGOONS: Lgt Dragoon uniform with green jackets or buckskins for
campaigns; for garrison red jackets, ? facings
GEORGIA LOYALISTS : frontier dress OR Red coats with white pants and waistcoats
GUIDES AND PIONEERS : Short red jackets, red lapels, black collar and cuffs
HALIFAX MILITIA: town dress for Canada
HIERLIHY'S CORPS: ?
JESSUPS LOYALIST CORPS: ?
KING'S AMERICAN REGIMENT : Red coats, white waistcoats and breeches, initially olive
green facings but reported as blue in 1783
KING'S AMERICAN DRAGOONS: Red jackets, blue facings, helmeted caps (1gt drgn caps)
KING'S CAROLINA RANGERS : Green jackets and lapels, buff/buckskin trousers, crimson
collar and cuffs
KING'S ORANGE RANGERS: 1777-78 Green coats; 1778-83 Red coats, white waistcoats and
breeches; bright yellow facings (faded orange ?)
KING'S ROYAL REGIMENT of NEW YORK: (Royal Greens) Dark green coats, white
waistcoats and breeches, white facings, brown leggings, buff belts, tricorne with white hatbands; light company identified by green wings; coat was changed in 1778 to red with blue facings; detachments assigned to raids often wore frontier dress
LORD DUNMORE'S ETHIOPIANS: Ex-negro slaves with a mix of town militia hats and
frontier stocking caps
LOYAL AMERICAN ASSOCIATION: town militia, white scarf on left arm
LOYAL AMERICAN RANGERS: ?
LOYAL AMERICAN REGIMENT: 1777-78 Green coats; 1778-83 Red coats, white waistcoats
and breeches, buff facings ( ? or green facings as reported in 1783)
LOYAL FORESTERS: ?
LOYAL IRISH VOLUNTEERS: town militia; white cockade on their hats
LOYAL KING'S COUNTY MILITIA: town militia
LOYAL NEWPORT ASSOCIATORS: town militia
LOYAL NEW ENGLANDERS: town militia
LOYAL NOVA SCOTIA VOLUNTEERS: Red coats, green (or Buff ? reported in 1783 by a
Hessian officer) facings
LOYAL QUEEN'S COUNTY REGIMENT: Red coat, white waistcoat and breeches, blue
facings, tricorne with silver band, silver buttons; independent troops of Light Dragoons
LOYAL SUFFOLK COUNTY MILITIA: town militia
LOYAL WESTCHESTER VOLUNTEERS: town militia
MARYLAND LOYALIST: Red coats, white waistcoats and breeches, olive green facings
McGIRTH'S LOYALISTS: frontier and town mix?
NASSAU BLUES: ?
NEW HAMPSHIRE LOYALIST- REGIMENT : Red coats, White waistcoats and pants, ? facings
NEW JERSEY VOLUNTEERS : 4 battalions with each battalion having the number of buttons
in a row on their jacket equaling its battalion number; 1777 Green coats with white pants and
small clothes. 1778 Red coats, white waistcoats and breeches, royal blue facings
NEW YORK RANGERS: Redjacket, blue lapels, white cuffs, cape lined with white, buck hat
with a black feather.
NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS : Red coats, white waistcoats and breeches, buff facings (or blue
facings as reported by a Hessian officer in 1783)
NEWPORT LIGHT INFANTRY COMPANY: Red coats and waistcoats, white breeches, Light
NORTH CAROLINA DRAGOONS: ?
NORTH CAROLINA HIGHLAND REGIMENT: Blue coat without facings, kilts provided by
the 71st British Regiment, Highland blue bonnet, red and white checked leggings
NORTH CAROLINA HIGHLANDER VOLUNTEERS: frontier and highland mix
NORTH CAROLINA HIGHLANDERS : frontier and highland mix
NORTH CAROLINA HIGHLAND MILITIA: frontier and highland mix
NORTH CAROLINA INDEPENDENT COMPANY;
NORTH CAROLINA LOYALIST: frontier and highland mix; Red coats by 1783
PHILADELPHIA FIRST TROOP LIGHT DRAGOONS: Red jackets in '77-'78; changed to
green jackets while attached to the Queen's Rangers
PFISTER'S LOYALIST MILITIA: mix of frontier and town militia
PENNSYLVANIA DRAGOONS: ? Attached to the Queen's Rangers, Green coats with black
PENNSYLVANIA LOYALIST: garrison; Red coats, white waistcoats and breeches, olive green
PRINCE OF WALE'S AMERICAN REGIMENT: Red coats, white waistcoats and breeches,
blue facings (green facings are reported by a Hessian officer in 1783)
PROVINCIAL LIGHT INFANTRY: Converged units wearing uniforms of their parent unit
QUEEN'S AMERICAN RANGERS: ?
QUEEN'S OWN LOYAL VIRGR41ANS: Town militia and frontier mix
QUEEN'S RANGERS : Rifle companies - green jackets, green waistcoat, green and later white
pants, black collar and cuffs , tricorne hats with white hatband (exchanged for light infantry caps when sent south in '80; Grenadier co dressed as rifles but with an oversized black light infantry style hat; Light co dressed as rifles but with light infantry caps with crescent moon device and 1 Highland co green jackets with kilts; infantry winter dress included brown gaiters; Hussar troops - green jackets, black collar and cuffs, Hussar cap (or Mirliton ?) with green bag plus a crescent moon device; 3 Lgt Dragoon troops as hussars but with light dragoon Tarleton caps
REGULATORS: frontier dress
ROMAN CATHOLIC VOLUNTEERS: Red coats, white pants and waistcoats, ? facings
ROYAL AMERICAN REFORMEES : frontier dress
ROYAL GARRISON BATTALION: Red coats, white waistcoats and breeches, green collar and cuffs.
ROYAL HIGHLAND EMIGRANTS : Highland dress; uniformed like the 42nd Highland Rgt
including facings when adopted into British army as the 84th; Garrison companies wore kilts,
Field companies or kilts or trews or white breeches
ROYAL NORTH BRITISH VOLUNTEERS : Highland, town militia mix, blue bonnets
ROYAL FENCIBLE AMERICANS : Red coats, white waistcoats and breeches, black lapels
ROYAL NORTH CAROLINA REGIMENT: Red coats, blue facings, white waistcoats and
breeches, black round hats with black feathers
SAINT JOHN'S MILITIA: frontier dress
SAVANNAH'S LOYALIST X41LITIA: town militia-
SAVANNAH'S ARMED NEGROES: town militia with some stocking caps
SOUTH CAROLINA DRAGOONS : Red jackets, Yellow facings, white turnbacks, pants and
waistcoats. Light Dragoon headgear
SOUTH CAROLINA LOYAL MILITIA: town militia and frontier dress mix, may have been
provided red coats ?
SOUTH CAROLINA RANGERS: ? frontier dress with mainly green coats
SOUTH CAROLINA ROYALIST: Red coats, Yellow facings, white turnbacks and pants
STARCKLOFF'S HESSIAN TROOP OF LIGHT DRAGOONS: Green Coats
TRYON'S VOLUNTEERS: red coats
VOLUNTEERS OF NEW ENGLAND: Red coats, ? facings
VOLUNTEERS OF IRELAND: Red coats, white waistcoat and breeches, ? facings, tricorne and
issued Light Infantry caps 1780
WENTWORTH'S VOLUNTEERS: Red coats
WESTCHESTER COUNTY TORY MILITIA: town militia
WEST FLORIDA ROYAL FORESTERS: probably frontier dress on campaigns or a Lgt Drgn
uniform with a Green Jacket; garrison dress may have been a red coat with blue, royal. facings
WEST JERSEY VOLUNTEERS: town militia
YORK VOLUNTEER RIFLE COMPANY: Green coats with all three units
Copyright 1999 by Rudy Scott Nelson
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