Dress, Equipment & Weapons
Private 1st Bn. The Rifle Brigade
Plate painted by Alan Perry. Like the other watercolours shown below, it features in Dr Mike Snook's two volume book Cape Warriors, published by Perry Miniatures and available exclusively from that company; there is a link to their online shop further down the page. The plate might equally portray a member of 1st Rifle Brigade at Boomplaats in 1848, or at any point following the battalion's return to South Africa in 1852, to fight in the second year of the 8th Cape Frontier War and subsequently against the Basotho at the Battle of Berea (20 December 1852). The battalion was primarily armed with the Brunswick Rifle, but a small number of men in each company were also experimentally armed with the Lancaster rifle, which at that time was still under consideration as a replacement service rifle. In the event the replacement actually selected was the Minié Rifle. The battalion returned to South Africa still in possession of its small number of Lancaster rifles, but subsequently also received its due share, (six per company), of the consignment of Minié Rifles brought out by Lt-Gen. The Hon. George Cathcart, when he replaced Sir Harry Smith as Governor of Cape Colony in April 1852.
The Rifle Brigade wore swallow-tailed coatees of the double-breasted style, with black facings and buttons. The uncomfortable knapsack was largely given up in South Africa and replaced with an improvised blanket pack, whereby the greatcoat and blanket were either folded one inside the other - as seen in the plate above - or otherwise back to back. Like the 60th King's Royal Rifle Corps, the Rifle Brigade wore black leather equipment. The sword-bayonet provided with the Brunswick was straight-bladed and had a brass cross-hilt. Riflemen did not 'fix bayonets'; rather the word of command was, "Fix swords!" The Brunswick was accurate to 300 yards, safely three times the distance at which line infantrymen (including light regiments) could employ the smoothbore musket with the remotest degree of accuracy.
Only one company of the battalion, Number 9, participated in General Cathcart's Orange River Expedition of November 1852 to January 1853. The company played a very full part in the Battle of Berea, where it was commanded by Lieutenant Leicester Curzon and formed part of Colonel William Eyre's column.
Private 12th (The Prince of Wales’s) Royal Regiment of Lancers,
Artist: Michael Perry
The 43rd Regiment adhered more strictly to regulations than some of the other regiments serving in Africa at this time. They wore their coatees, but with the light infantry wings and shoulder straps removed. They also stuck more resolutely to the crossbelt equipment, generally eschewing locally manufactured 'belly box' pouches and the like. Although this man is shown in white summer trousers, the 43rd received at least two issues of trousers locally made up in a cloth called 'fustian', which came in a light tan or hessian type colour. Kilmarnock forage caps were green for light infantry of course and were fitted with a patent leather peak. The blanket and greatcoat are neatly folded back to back and carried on the misappropriated shoulder straps of the knapsack, with the mess tin, in its oilskin cover, fastened on top, although equally it was just as often positioned at the back of the pack. The men were armed with P1842 percussion lock muskets, but there were also six brand new Minie rifles per company, which were issued to the best shots. It was possible to shoot accurately to 600 yards with the Minie. The maximum range of the weapon was said to be 900 yards.
Two beautiful and highly accurate 1/6 scale models. The hand-made uniforms are the work of Eric Crepin-Leblond. They portray the 43rd (The Monmouthsire) Regiment (Light Infantry), clad in the coatee, (top row), and the 6th (Royal 1st Warwickshire) Regiment, clad in the shell jacket. With grateful thanks to Eric for his kind permission to make use of the images.
Party of the 43rd (The Monmouthshire) Regiment (Light Infantry) on operations in Southern Africa in 1852, drawn from life by a regimental officer.