Uniforms and Equipment of the 2nd NH
To portray soldiers of the NH line during the war, we require members to wear the prescribed clothing and equipment that reflects the 2nd NH regiment through the war. But, no one is required to gather all of the uniforms and variations, as there were many.
The 'basic uniform' is suggested for new members, which consists largely of the standard Army-issue "rifle frock" made of natural-grey "osnaburg" linen, and linen trousers or overalls.
While the 2nd NH received a different uniform coat, or issued clothing, for every year of the war, the one consistant item throughout nearly every campaign is the use of the linen "rifle frock".
These were at times issued "in lieu of" a regimental coat, and in the later years were worn with linen overalls as a summer fatigue uniform.
The frocks we use are patterned upon surviving rifle frocks and select images from the period, along with a host of descriptions and reference material which point to several common features: short (just long enough to cover the waistcoat), single cape, simple-pattern, and natural "osnaburg" linen. Later in the war white frocks became more prevailent, but those made of Osnaburg (natural, unbleached linen) were always common.
For all new members who are men-at-arms, Cherry's Company will provide a hand-made linen frock, based upon our standard pattern, free of charge.
Within our group we are also lucky to have several long-standing members expert in making correct reproductions of clothing (from trousers to coats, shirts and hats), and the best equipment available ('Benjamin Warner' knapsacks, linen haversack, bayonet belts and scabbards, canteens, cartridge boxes, and more).
We request that new members contact the group with any clothing or equipment needs or questions, rather than buy from the main-stream vendors or sutlers, as off-the-rack clothing that can be bought is usually made with improper patterns or inaccurate materials.
We'll be happy to answer any questions on the uniforms, equipment, organizations, or other information on the company or regiment. Our members have compiled the most comprehensive collection of information available on how the NH troops would have appeared during each campaign, which is constantly updated.
Uniforms of the 2nd NH:
A brief summary of the uniforms and impressions which Cherry's Co. portrays.
1775 New England Militia
1776: Col. Poor's 8th Continental Regiment [2nd NH Rgt.]
-Carr's 4th Company, Col Hale's 2nd NH regiment, Ft. Ticonderoga - Saratoga
-Osnaburg linen hunting frocks,
-Gen. Stark's NH militia
1778: Carr's 4th Company, Lt. Cherry Commanding, Lt. Col Ried's 2nd NH Regiment
Sky-blue faced-red coats, white wool belted waistcoats, or red square-cut waistcoats. Leather breeches, linen overalls, linen rifle frocks. 1st issue of NH-made Black neck-stocks.
Brown faced-Red "Lottery" Coats. White wool waistcoat (Short-tail French '78 style), white wool breeches, natural linen overalls, linen hunting frocks. Black neck-stocks. Felt cocked hats or cut-down jockey caps.
"New model" 29-hole American cartridge boxes.
1780: [Blue army-issue coat with white facings and/or linen hunting frock, white wool waistcoat, linen overalls or white wool breeches, black neck-stock, felt LI cap.
2nd NH LI company, Capt. Cherry, commanding; Col. ---'s Battalion, Gen. Poor's 1st Brigade, Corps of Light Infantry
-2nd NH LI company, Capt. Rowell [Lafayette's campaign], Barber's Btn., ;
-Capt Cherry's Co., Col. Scammell's Btn., [Yorktown]
Blue-faced white army-issue coats, tails cut short, white wing added to shoulder. White wool small-clothes, or blue wool overalls. Linen hunting frocks [White], linen overalls, linen shirts. Felt LI caps, or battalion hats cut down into jockey-caps. Black neck stocks.
1782: 2nd NH LI Company, Capt. Cherry, commanding.
Captured British Marine Coats, bodies dyed brown, facings and lacing unchanged. White British Small Clothes, linen overalls, linen frocks. Leather or Felt LI caps. Black Stocks.
1783: NH Battalion, LI Co.
Blue coats faced red, white wool small clothes, Russia drill overalls, linen hunting frocks, Leather LI caps. Black neck stocks.
"Basic Uniform" Guidelines:
-Linen Hunting Frock (natural or white linen.) -- hip-length, open front pattern.
A hand-made osnaburg frock is offered for free to each new member.
The open front frocks seem to have been much more common during the war, and are the preferrred style.
-Waistcoat or Vest
-Most single-breasted styles are okay: tailed, square cut, or belted.
White wool is preferred for a basic or late-war waistcoat. Other period colors or materials can be used for an early war event.
-Trousers, Overalls, or Breeches
-Overalls of unbleached osnaburg linen or Russia Drill are ideal.
-Breeches, made of Leather or wool were most common, but linen is fine. They should be well fit to the legs, and tight buttoned or buckled under the knees.
-Trousers are fine for 1775-1778 events. They are acceptable but not historically accurate for the common late-war Continental Army impressions.
Checked or striped linen (of period woven patterns), or white or plain linen.
We can provide information on a period correct shirt pattern, and can offer shirt kits at the cost of materials.
-Black Felt 'Cut-down' Cap, or Black felt cocked Hat.
-Jockey caps (cut down from hats), were seen in the ranks in early and late periods of the war.
They could be considered a make-shift Light Infantry cap, though infantry also wore them.
In summer 1781, Lafayette ordered any man in his LI corps without a LI cap to cut his hat down into a simple cap of this style.
These are best made plain, but the cap can also be trimmed with 1” white tape binding on the edges. If you use a thread or a cord to keep the front up, it’s best to use black thread or tape.
-Black leather ot horsehair Neck-Stock, with brass clasp or ties at the back.
-White linen 'rollers' were common-most among troops early in the war. Sometimes civilian neck-cloths were worn in lieu of the military stock.
-Whether wearing a neck-stock, handkerchief or roller, common military etiquette dictated that only officers be allowed to turn their collar down over the neck-cloth.
Enlisted men should wrap a neck cloth over the collar several times, or wear roller or neck-stock over the collar, showing no more than ½” of collar. This is evident in many period paintings and sketches, and as Cuthbertson states:
“[the shirt collar] should not be allowed to turn over the stock, above half an inch;”
-Black Low-quarter shoes, or half-boots
Rough-out "low-quarter" straight last shoes are best, and would have been most common throughout the war.
Half-boots (Hi-lo's) are acceptable, but were never a mass-issued item.
-French Charleville Musket with bayonet is ideal. Other British or American arms are acceptable.
-No sidearms other than a bayonet for Continental Army impressions.
-For early-war militia a hunting sword or hatchet can be carried.
-Leather Cartride Box (with shoulder belt)
Black leather with 17 to 30 hole wood block. Shoulder belt made of Linen, white- buff leather, Black dyed leather, or white painted rough-out leather.
Black painted or tarred Tin Cartridge boxes were in use, but since they were expensive to make, and in limited supply, Washington ordered that they be reserved for NCO’s or senior privates.
-Bayonet belt (Shoulder belt of linen, hemp, or white-buff leather).
-"Single-frog" bayonet belts are best for early or late-war.
-We use black leather shoulder belts for early war, but a linen or hemp belt is acceptable for early or late-war.
-Painted Knapsack or Linen ‘bushel pack’
The ideal knapsack for a Continental Army impression is the red painted linen pack in the style of the original Benjamin Warner pack. Kits, and at times finished packs, can be offered to new members.
For militia, or in lieu of a Warner pack, a single pocket linen "bushel pack" (similar to a large line haversack with two straps) is acceptable.
-Wood or tin Canteen
-Natural linen haversack
Made of unbleached osnaburg linen. Used to carry pre-cooked rations.
-Civilian or military blanket
Heavy, felted “Dutch” blankets (white with a solid blue line at each end - similar to a Hudson Bay blanket), and similar French blankets were typical imported military blankets. Two-panel domestic-made civilian blankets might have often been seen as well.
JP Martin mentions being issued ‘blankets’ from army stores that were simply pieces of bays coat lining sewn together. The men who served in Canada and other campaigns in 76 also had chances of taking British issue blankets (from battlefields like Trenton, Princeton, also stores captured from military posts, or from materiel captured on supply ships, many of which were bought into Portsmouth, NH).
Historically, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence for military issuances of ground cloths, or painted tarps. A practical alternative for extra covering could be to use a piece of heavy hemp or linen canvas that a soldier might have cut from an old tent, sail, or wagon cover to use as a ground cloth. It could also be stitched to the back of a thin blanket. A spare blanket could also be used for a ground cloth. When in a fixed camp/garrison, linen “bed-sacks” were likely found in use. These are blanket size linen sacks that can be filled with hay to keep you of the ground, and can then be emptied and packed into the knapsack without adding much weight. You can also felt a thin blanket by soaking it in hot water, then putting it damp into the dryer, which makes for a standard weather-resistant military blanket (roughly 5lb weight).