Recent Find Were kilts practical uniforms for campaigning?

7thWisconsin

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
The typical Irish garment was the léine of linen, which typically fell to a hand-width above the knee, or below the knee. Over the linen tunic a cow hide or woolen cloak or woolen brat secured with brooch or pins. The triubhas or trews were known, but as is readily apparent in this sixteenth-century image of Hapsburg mercenaries, not necessarily worn. The size of the zweihändschwert or great-sword is apparently exaggerated. The two figures on the right are kern, the three more heavily armed and armored men galloglass. Some of these virtuosos of violence hailed from the Hebrides and were of Norse descent.

We now return to the regularly scheduled U.S. Civil War discussion of how people of Irish and Scottish and Scots Irish or Ulster Scot descent wore the same garments and clothing of the time period of the mid-19th century...

So, for Civil War impressions: keep your pants on!
The Irish adoption of the kilt was part of the home rule movement, and they were divided on the issue. Some of the home rule politicians embraced it in sort of a "pan Gael" attitude, others said it would be better to go out without pants at all! Ireland was poor, and never really developed a historical folkloric costume. Going barefoot without hose was called "Irish style" as far back as the reign of Elizabeth I. The Irish brogan was recognized as distinctive, but face it, crude sandals made by wrapping rawhide around your feet and lacing them is not attractive. In the 18th century, it seems to have been an Irish distinctive to wear clothes that didn't fit very well - either too big or too small (probably owning to them being second hand to the wearer). By the 19th century, the caricature of the Irishman in a green tailcoat and top hat or bowler - like on the Lucky Charms box - became cemented in the popular memory.
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Recall that the hapless Irishry, by which I mean the mere Irish e.g. Gaelic-speaking, Catholic-worshipping-the-Pope-what-wears-his-pointy-hat-in-Rome were rather ruthlessly lampooned in much Anglo-American popular culture by Ulster Scot Protestants and nativist Anglo-Dutch descended Americans.

So, for example, vaudeville loved the Irish as henpecked clods, violent, drunk, domestic violence-prone, semi-literates as the "stage Irish" schtick, before the Irish took over certain institutions like machine politics and police departments. By 1855 some 28% of NY police were actually Irish born not just Irish Americans... In 1860, on the eve of the civil war 309 Irish-born New Yorkers listed their profession as "police" while only 84 German-born did... And after the Civil War, by 1869 there were something like 32+ Irish-born PD captains and no Germans.

We can thank Puck magazine for doing much to deal in negative Irish Catholic stereotyping, viz.:
American (Know-Nothing) Party questionnaire, July 1854

Joseph Ferdinand Keppler (1838–1894) / Public domain
Joseph_F._Keppler_-_Uncle_Sam's_lodging-house.jpg
 

WJC

Major General
Judge Adv. Genl.
Thread Medic
Answered the Call for Reinforcements
Joined
Aug 16, 2015
Although a unit or two many have worn kilts for dress, I am not sure a single unit wore kilts on campaign or in battle. So I have to wonder if kilts would have made practical campaign or combat items. Would the feileadh mor (big kilt) been more practical or the Philabeg (little kilt) more practical?

If you would like to discuss this in real time I will be in the Chat Room at 9PM EST.
I only wear my kilt on formal occasions. I do not believe that they were practical since perhaps the early 1800s and certainly not in the ACW.
 

WJC

Major General
Judge Adv. Genl.
Thread Medic
Answered the Call for Reinforcements
Joined
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I don't know why my clan even wears kilts; we were lowland Scots and border rievers, and would have worn trews (pants), and probably spoke English and not gaelic. But at Highland games, every clan dresses as if they were Highland Scots and in a clan plaid that wasn't even invented until Victorian times.
So true! Everyone with Scots ancestry (and some with Irish ancestry) automatically decides to wear a kilt in a plaid that their ancestors likely never wore or even saw.
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
I'm just a skirmisher, not a full-blown authentic campaigner or Civil War living historian. Skirmishers are rather notorious, I think, for overly-personalizing the uniform or not hewing to the actual uniforms worn. That said, allow me to add that there were pretty serious regulations and disciplinary measures for wearing the uniform, and such changes made for the sake of esprit de corps would have been throughout a given regiment, no?

In my humble and opinionated opinion, most CSA living historians look like a rabble. It's as if there was no oversight in what a specific regiment would have worn, having drawn their uniforms, clothing, etc. from the same depot or source of supply or resupply... More like "anything goes!"

On the other hand, I do Texas Revolution impressions a time or two, and I once wore a bonnet to honor some of the Scots, but absolutely no crazy modern-era stuff like clan badges or what-have-you. Doubtless some people were appalled, but polite enough not to say anything, and one person recommended I wear the kilt! I scoffed at the farby suggestion thank-you-very-much!
 

Rusk County Avengers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
In my humble and opinionated opinion, most CSA living historians look like a rabble. It's as if there was no oversight in what a specific regiment would have worn, having drawn their uniforms, clothing, etc. from the same depot or source of supply or resupply... More like "anything goes!"

Here in Texas I can say besides myself and my attempts, I've only seen ONE other person come out to a reenactment in proper Trans-Mississippi Confederate attire at mainstream events. Wahmaker pants, brown jean sack coats that bear no resemblance to any true Confederate sack coat are the norm. The drill tends to be good though.

Good Lord above it gets on my nerves, along with some Louisiana friends who insist on trews that I suspect are really plaid pajama pants. I still love those guys, but My God! its annoying to see.
 

mofederal

Major
Joined
Jun 27, 2017
Location
Southeast Missouri
Romans, Greeks and many other peoples campaigned well enough bare legged in skirt like tunics. Romans considered trousers effeminate.

Spatiates and a Roman legionary

View attachment 364935View attachment 364936
The Romans were also know to wear woolen leggings on campaign. In WWI the kilts had a khaki covering worn over them, but I think given the barb wire then and other obstacles one's legs got cut up badly in action.
 

Llewellyn

Corporal
Joined
Feb 17, 2020
Location
Britain
WARNING. PHOTOGRAPH OF BATTLE CASUALTY POSTED BELOW


The Romans were also know to wear woolen leggings on campaign. In WWI the kilts had a khaki covering worn over them, but I think given the barb wire then and other obstacles one's legs got cut up badly in action.

Mustard gas was introduced by the Germans in 1917. The earlier gasses introduced from early 1915 were primarily chlorine and phosgene, were asphyxiants but mustard attacked the skin as well, causing dreadful blistering. Kilted Scots, Canadians and South Africans were particularly susceptible.

1594238267879.png


This shows the effect of mustard gas. The photograph was taken after he had reached a hospital set up at the Trent Bridge Cricket Ground in Nottingham, England in 1918. I am sorry if it causes upset, but . . . Lest We Forget.

The good news is that the man recovered and lived until 1973.
 
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C.W. Roden

Formerly: SouthernFriedOtaku
Joined
Dec 3, 2019
Location
South Carolina, USA, Earth
In America the only accounts that I have been able to find of Scottish soldiers wearing kilts was during the American Revolutionary War during the Southern Campaign in 1780-81 by members of the 71st Regiment of Foot "Frazer's Highlanders" but only during the summer months -- the rest of the time they wore trews made of the standard Black Watch "Government" tartan.
Scots wore kilts during World War 1 in the trenches. This was noted in accounts early in the war, including by German eye witnesses during the famous Christmas Truce of 1914.

Private 71st Highlanders British Army.jpg


71st Highlander British Army.jpg
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
My understanding of the jocks in Fraser's highlanders, the 71st Regt. of Foot has it that they had to replace ragged kilts with trousers and wore those for the majority of their campaigning. Hence the overalls in the Dan Troiani picture... Sort of a "before" and "after."
 

7thWisconsin

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
Those are different regiments. I'm not up on my facings, but I think the 2nd is the "forty twa."
@ Llewellyn: My dad's uncle (that would make him my great uncle, though we never met) was gassed on November 10, 1918. But it was phosgene. He was in 13 different hospitals and it took him 19 months before he got home.
 

Kurt G

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 23, 2018
The 42nd (Royal Highland Regiment) , the 77th ( Montgomery's) and the 78th ( Fraser's , not to be confused with 71st of the ARW ) all wore kilts during the French and Indian War.
 

rebelatsea

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 30, 2013
Location
Kent ,England.
Just to add a note of fun. Colin Green, who was the Pace Master to be seen for many years leading the Light Division massed bands was a family friend. He had a dreadful sense of humour and prone to get the giggles. At one Royal Tournament, the Light Division and a massed bagpipe band finished a display by marching into the centre of the arena from opposite ends and wheeling to face the Royal Box. As they made the turn the Pipe Major who was in Colin's words "a ***** giant" proceeded to display his Scottish assets to the leading ranks of the Light Division. Colin said he couldn't keep a straight face and got the giggles. More so when he realised the sequence had been caught by the TV crew in front of him. Fortunately (or not ) it was recorded to be shown later and was edited out.
There was a sequel because the Queen was in the box that night, and on meeting Colin at a Buckingham Palace reception, told him with a big smile, she had seen the whole thing, and congratulated him for not missing a step.
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
There is the old lewd joke about Jock, snoozing in the grass after a bout of heavy drinking. Two lassies encounter him and decide to see "what is wearing under the kilt" and lift his kilt up for an inspection. One of the pair removes a blue ribbon from her tresses and ties it around. The pair leave. Eventually Jock wakes up and goes to relieve himself. On finding the ribbon, he says "ach aye, I dinna ken where ye've been... But I kin see ye've won first prize!" :nah disagree: :giggle::redcarded:
 

Llewellyn

Corporal
Joined
Feb 17, 2020
Location
Britain
Just to add a note of fun. Colin Green, who was the Pace Master to be seen for many years leading the Light Division massed bands was a family friend. He had a dreadful sense of humour and prone to get the giggles. At one Royal Tournament, the Light Division and a massed bagpipe band finished a display by marching into the centre of the arena from opposite ends and wheeling to face the Royal Box. As they made the turn the Pipe Major who was in Colin's words "a ***** giant" proceeded to display his Scottish assets to the leading ranks of the Light Division. Colin said he couldn't keep a straight face and got the giggles. More so when he realised the sequence had been caught by the TV crew in front of him. Fortunately (or not ) it was recorded to be shown later and was edited out.
There was a sequel because the Queen was in the box that night, and on meeting Colin at a Buckingham Palace reception, told him with a big smile, she had seen the whole thing, and congratulated him for not missing a step.

I met Colin Green on several occasions, but he was such a character in the British Army from the 50s through to the 80s that many people can say the same. To me he was Bugle Major, and I have never heard the title "Pace Master" used, though I can understand it. Seeing him and his magnificent whiskers and "statuesque" physique whizz past at Rifle Pace plus - about 160 to the minute - was a grand sight.

1594303310914.png


I guess this photo was taken at the old Rifle Depot in Winchester ?

Interesting cannon there - seems to have a hexagonal bore.
 

rebelatsea

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 30, 2013
Location
Kent ,England.
I met Colin Green on several occasions, but he was such a character in the British Army from the 50s through to the 80s that many people can say the same. To me he was Bugle Major, and I have never heard the title "Pace Master" used, though I can understand it. Seeing him and his magnificent whiskers and "statuesque" physique whizz past at Rifle Pace plus - about 160 to the minute - was a grand sight.

View attachment 365792

I guess this photo was taken at the old Rifle Depot in Winchester ?

Interesting cannon there - seems to have a hexagonal bore.
That's Colin ! My connection was by way of my Uncle (Dad's Brother) who introduced my Grandmother and Mother to him. They were much taken with him, but to be honest I found him a tad frightening until I got to know him, I was only a youngster then. Indeed a character and highly respected by all who knew him. It is the Winchester depot and the gun is a Whitworth hexagonal bore howitzer, in original form used as mountain guns. You are correct, his rank was Bugle Major but his role with the bands was "Pace Master" as it was from him that they took pace and guidance. The Band pace was 144. Colin was given the BEM and died in August 2010, two months after my Mother.
 
Joined
Jun 27, 2017
If you'll remember after Culloden the British outlawed 2 gr things--the bagpipe and the kilt. Both were considered weapons of war. Rightly so. Without going into greater detail the bagpipe was extremely dangerous in instilling panic in its opponents with its unearthly noise.

On the other hand (and I really didn't comprehend this until 15 years ago when I bought a kilt) a kilt is not just clothing its a tool. From time immemorial the Scots were sheep hearders. As such they followed the sheep. When the sheep stopped for the day they stopped. They took off their kilt and immediately had a ready made sleeping bag. When they arose and had to follow the sheep through hip high grass, if they were wearin trousers they would have immediately gotten wet and stayed that way all day long. Having a kilt they simply got up and continued on bare from the waist down. When the grass dried they put the kilt on dry from the head down. If they'd been wearing trousers they would hve been wet almost all day long and miserable.

The benefit of wearing the kilt is apparent when the torches came through the fields summoning them to war. All the Scot had to do was grab his scythe or scycle and head toward the gathering place. As a result the Scots could immediatly summon an army, while their opponents had to call up militia, summon up reserves, open up armouries, distribute weapons, essentially start from scratch. As a result the Scots always had an immediate advantage over the English opponents--unfortunately one that would not last long.

Ever since Culloden, allowing a Scot to wear a kilt was a huge advantage to soliciting Scottish enlistment as it was the only way a Scot could legally wear a kilt without risking the death penalty. Given the fact that it was what they were used to wearing I cannot see how wearing a kilt would have been a tactical disadvantage whether we're talking about Blendheim, Waterloo, the Somme or D-Day. What they wore would have been what they wore.
 
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