German-authored accounts of the Revolutionary War frequently include derisive comments about the clothes worn by their enemies. Many were dressed in torn rags of different colors or miserable outfits typically worn by poor farmers. The obvious lack of neatness and uniformity contrasted starkly with the outfits worn by men belonging to German regiments, at least in the first phase of the war. From the Germans’ perspective, the rebels hardly looked like soldiers.
German soldiers took great pride in their appearance. They wore distinctive uniforms and accessories that identified them as belonging to a particular regiment. The outfits tended to be quite colorful. For example, these were the uniforms of officers and privates belonging to the Hessian Regiment von Mirbach:
The document included with this post lists the material and items needed to complete the outfit worn by drummers belonging to the Braunschweig Regiment von Riedesel. The men wore yellow coats with red lining, white buttons, and light blue lapel facings and collars. Various ribbons, braids and tassels adorned the clothing as well as their drums. Here is a modern rendering of what they would have looked like:
The cloth required to tailor the uniforms was measured in ells (“Ellen”), a unit that was originally based on the length of one of the long bones in the forearm. Late eighteenth century German-English dictionaries give the length of one English ell as 1 1/4 yards (1.143 m or 45 inches) (Johann Ebers, Vollständiges Wörterbuch der Englischen Sprache für die Deutschen: nach den neuesten und besten Hülfsmitteln mit richtig bezeichneter Aussprache eines jeden Wortes [Leipzig, 1793-1794].) The document also includes the cost for material required to make one uniform, including tailor’s wages, as well as the total cost of ten uniforms. The currency is listed in pound, shilling, and pence.
Citation: “Mondierungs Anschlag von des General Major von Riedesel Regiment excl. der Augmentation Anno 1776,” in folder labeled “Amerika,” Stadtarchiv Braunschweig, H V: 9.