Recent Find Were kilts practical uniforms for campaigning?

Scottish Rebel

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World War I. It may have carried over to the Second World War, but recall that the 51st Highland Division had to embark for France in 1939/1940 without the kilt-- not a good garment for expected use of blister agents like mustard gas, etc.--and that 10,000 of the division were captured and made PoWs after the French surrender in June 1940. The Highland Division then had to be reformed later in the war, albeit serving in North Africa, Sicily, the Normandy Campaign, and the Northwest of Europe and Germany.

My Great Uncle was with the Gordon Highlanders and was captured at St. Valery.
One rifle between the six of them.
He spent five years in a German P.O.W. Camp.
 

Nathanb1

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Right or not, I am afraid you guys are in for a plethora of kilts from now on...Outlander has been renewed for its sixth season and the main male character, James Frazier, has decided he likes fighting in the same thing he wore at Culloden, now that he's in the Colonies. It's become a national obsession, and you know what that means...
4dd392110e966925984775ae571b3ff4.jpg
 

Peace Society

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The only Federal unit I'm aware of to have kilts were the 79th NY "Highlanders" and they wore trews early in the war in the field, and saved the kilts for dress occasions.
... the 79th New York Highlanders, a Scottish infantry regiment that arrived for training in Washington wearing kilts, an ensemble derided by the New York Military Gazette as "short petticoats and bare knees, in poor taste and barbarous."

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy Karen Abbott, Harper Collins, NY, 2014 p.266
quoting from Don Troiani's Regiments and Uniforms of the Civil War, Mechanicsburg, PA; Stackpole, 2002
 

Peace Society

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The 79 NY in Washington (Camp Kalorama on Meridian Hill near Columbia College - August 1861):

Our Brigade is as well drilled as any I have seen, and is made up as follows: 2nd Wisconsin, 5th Wisconsin, 79th New York (Highlanders, uniformed in kilts), 32nd Pennsylvania, 2nd New York, (Fire Zoaves) and the 6th Wisconsin.

Rufus R Dawes
Service With the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers
1890
 

Waterloo50

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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.
Kilts were worn by highland regiments in both WW1 and WW2, in some respects kilts are more practical than pants/trousers. The highland regiments weren’t known as the ‘ladies from hell’ for nothing. There are reports that the kilted troops had less incidents of trench foot than the troops with trousers and putties, kilts also kept the groin area warmer and running in a kilt is easier. Absolutely no reason why CW soldiers wouldn’t have had the same benefits as their WW1 counterparts.
 

Greywolf

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Just for the record, to anyone reading here looking into a kilt for reenacting, DON'T YOU DARE!!!!!!

Any example of a Confederate in a kilt known would be a one off in all likelihood! Plus the most famous memoir by a Scot in Confederate ranks by William Watson makes no mention of them or trews from what I can recall, and yet there's folks who will hold him up as an example. The only Federal unit I'm aware of to have kilts were the 79th NY "Highlanders" and they wore trews early in the war in the field, and saved the kilts for dress occasions.

And ditch the "Celtic Confederate" nonsense I suspect born out of either myth or the film Braveheart because the vast majority of Southerners were and are English/Anglo-Saxon decent, and folks of Scottish decent had assimilated almost a century before the war. Heck the Charleston Mercury loved to extol the South's Anglo-Saxon heritage, yet there are a bunch of diehards who insist we're all Scottish because they love it and will hold on to the tiniest bit of evidence without the proper context. Scottish immigrants tended to get off boats up North because those were the closest, and cheapest ports to go to, and popular ones I imagine.

Heck the earliest members of my family to come to America did so before 1700 in the South and last before 1800, again in the South, and I only have a small drop of Scottish blood. All English with a smidgen of German, French, and Scottish, and somehow or other according to a certain big DNA test a smidgen of Russian.

The entire mess of folks coming to reenactments in kilts is something that needs to be nipped in the bud badly. I've also got a friend who wears trews into "battle" at reenactments and we've a lot of arguments on the matter, hence why when I hear about kilts in CW related stuff my blood boils, and my putting out this disclaimer.
NC I believe had the 4th highest % of scots among the 50 states. Many filtered down through the appalachians as well as through Wilmington and other ports, filtering out in the cape fear area onto the sandhills of NC.
My family is mostly english, coming down from Virginia. My wife's father is %30 scottish, family came into the cape fear area.
 

Llewellyn

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Kilts were worn by highland regiments in both WW1 and WW2, in some respects kilts are more practical than pants/trousers.

From Agincourt (1415) to the Chindit campaign in Burma in 1943/44 many English/British/Colonial troops are recorded as marching and fighting whilst naked from the waist down, due to dysentery, poor souls. Perhaps that's where a kilt may have come in handy.
 

111thNYSV

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Seems like there is always one at every reenactment. Funny part is they are always in the never mounted cavalry and have swords and pistols dangling off them. Not sure what look they are going for either, Scottish pirate with a broken down horse maybe?
 

Waterloo50

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We mustn’t forget that the Irish also wore Saffron Kilts. Certainly the London Irish were wearing kilts in battle.
 

Llewellyn

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Must admit that I never knew that Irish regiments ever wore the saffron kilt - I thought it was just the pipers.
1596646172126.png


London Irish were conventionally attired in WW1, khaki Service Dress with trousers, puttees and SD peaked cap. I can mentally see images of them at Loos in 1915 as they kicked their famous football towards the German trenches. Again, there is that famous painting of the 1st Bn Royal Munster Fusiliers being given General Absolution at Rue de Bois before moving up to the front line to attack at Aubers Ridge 9th May 1915. Everybody in standard SD.

1596646721667.png


24 hours after the scene painted (by Fortunino Matania) the Battalion had been reduced from a strength of 800 to 200.
 
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Waterloo50

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Must admit that I never knew that Irish regiments ever wore the saffron kilt - I thought it was just the pipers.
View attachment 368524

London Irish were conventionally attired in WW1, khaki Service Dress with trousers, puttees and SD peaked cap. I can mentally see images of them at Loos in 1915 as they kicked their famous football towards the German trenches. Again, there is that famous painting of the 1st Bn Royal Munster Fusiliers being given General Absolution at Rue de Bois before moving up to the front line to attack at Aubers Ridge 9th May 1915. Everybody in standard SD.

View attachment 368526

24 hours after the scene painted (by Fortunino Matania) the Battalion had been reduced from a strength of 800 to 200.
Yep, I don’t think that Saffron kilts were the norm, most likely khaki kilts, I’ve seen a few photographs of the London Irish wearing what looks like Saffron kilts but it’s hard to tell if they are saffron, khaki or just mud covered saffron. I’ve also seen photos of the 14th London’s wearing standard tartan kilts with what appears to be a khaki apron worn over the front of the kilt. I’d like to post a few pics but everything these days has a copyright.
That’s a great painting by the way.
 

Llewellyn

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14th London Regiment (London Scottish) are all kilted, but their kilts and plaids are single, solid colour. There is no Pattern. The colour is called Hodden Grey, though it is in reality a sort of mid brown tan. Prince Edward, the Queen’s youngest son, is Honorary Colonel Of the London Scottish and you sometimes see him in Hodden Grey, for example when standing on the balcony at Buckingham Palace after Trooping the Colour. The LS have always been a non-regular outfit. The Toronto Scottish also wear the Hodden Grey.

Kilt aprons to protect the kilt were worn in the Boer War and WW1. They are just a plain apron in light khaki linen or canvas. There is no call for them today, as kilts would not be worn if carrying out any task which might cause damage or soiling.
 
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Waterloo50

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14th London Regiment (London Scottish) are all kilted, but their kilts and plaids are single, solid colour. There is no Pattern. The colour is called Hodden Grey, though it is in reality a sort of mid brown tan. Prince Edward, the Queen’s youngest son, is Honorary Colonel Of the London Scottish and you sometimes see him in Hodden Grey, for example when standing on the balcony at Buckingham Palace after Trooping the Colour. The LS have always been a non-regular outfit. The Toronto Scottish also wear the Hodden Grey.

Kilt aprons to protect the kilt were worn in the Boer War and WW1. They are just a plain apron in light khaki linen or canvas. There is no call for them today, as kilts would not be worn if carrying out any task which might cause damage or soiling.
Thanks for that, it’s interesting to me because my great grandfather enlisted at Crystal Palace and served with the 5th London Btn and later the 1\18 London Irish, he joined in 1916 and was discharged March 1919 which is the year that the 18th finally left France, he was injured when he was shot through the right thigh, must have been a daisy cutter. His papers say that he saw action in Alsace France.
 

Llewellyn

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Thanks for that, it’s interesting to me because my great grandfather enlisted at Crystal Palace and served with the 5th London Btn and later the 1\18 London Irish, he joined in 1916 and was discharged March 1919 which is the year that the 18th finally left France, he was injured when he was shot through the right thigh, must have been a daisy cutter. His papers say that he saw action in Alsace France.

This pic shows 1/18 London Irish on 5 July 1919, marching from Buckingham Palace to the Tower. Note that band and pipers are all dressed in standard Service Dress http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Q31324.jpg

Both battalions in which your g/grandfather served saw considerable action, and both were at Arras in April 1917, then at Arras again in March 1918. I respectfully suggest that you may be confusing Alsace with Arras.
 
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rebelatsea

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At my senior school we had a Scottish religious education teacher who was very broad minded with a wicked sense of humour and included most common religions in his classes /discussions, however I digress, it was known that he served in a Scottish regiment so naturally at some stage the question of what if anything was / should be worn under the kilt came up. To everyone's surprise one day, he arrived in full dress - and proceeded to demonstrate - nothing ! He told us that his Commanding Officer used to check with a mirror on a stick on parade. When word got round, the Headmaster (ex RN Russian Convoys) thought it was funny, the Headmistress (old fart) was scandalised.
I found out much later at his funeral that he had volunteered for one of the clandestine units operating in Greece and the then Jugoslavia and had in fact been decorated, something he never disclosed.
 

Peace Society

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One person wore his kilt on march (from Alexandria to Fairfax Court House) - a captain of the 79th​ NY. But his experience ended all thought of doing so thereafter.



William C. Davis tells about it in his Battle at Bull Run, 1977,

Doubleday and Co, Garden City, NY, p. 96-97.



When he saw a loose pig, he drew his trusty saber and gave chase. The spectacle of a grown man in a skirt chasing a pig with a sword completely stopped the regiment…. For several minutes the captain chased the porker, his skirts flying in the air while the men called for him to “put on your drawers!” and “take off that petticoat!” Finally the hard-pressed pig raced for a rail fence and just managed to squeeze under the bottom rail. The enterprising captain, seeing his quarry about to escape, made a last desperate flying leap over the top rail, “and in the act made such an exhibition of his attenuated anatomy as to call forth a roar of laughter.”



His sources are:

Daniel Tyler, A Memorial Volume, Donald Mitchell, New Haven, Conn. 1883

“Wooden Nutmegs” at Bull Run, Elnathan B. Tyler, Hartford, Conn. 1872

“The Second Wisconsin at the Battle of Bull Run”, Thomas S. Allen, War Papers Read Before the Commandery of the State of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 1896

The Seventy-Ninth Highlanders, William Todd, Albany 1886
 
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