I debated on whether to put this in the Over the Back Fence Forum, but I thought it may be more interesting here.
Folks, there has been discussion on this forum about how large the hunting/shot/ bags were in the 18th Century, how low on the body these bags hung, etc., etc. So out of curiosity, I decided to search for original portraits, drawings and images that might help make things a little more clear.
First, I began with the book, “Colonial Riflemen in the American Revolution,” by Joe. D. Huddleston at the lithograph of General Daniel Morgan seated in “Rifleman’s Dress.” Here’s a link showing it:http://www.gatling-gun.com/ColonialRiflemenintheAmericanRevolutionHuddlestonJoeD.htm
As many times as I have looked at the picture since I purchased the book in 1979, I always thought something was wrong with the sword hanger and scabbard. Well, it seems that lithograph came from a painting by the Artist Alonzo Chappel who painted it in the 1860’s. Since Dan Morgan died more than 25 years before Alonzo was born in 1828. I don’t know what Alonzo used as a reference for that painting in the 1860’s, but it seems we can‘t take too much from this illustration?
OK, so maybe a review of 18th century drawings. Well, some depict American Riflemen as virtually the same as American Musket Armed troops with the exception of stylized hunting shirts and breeches/overalls, so some maybe aren’t that good a reference such as this German drawing:http://www.nwta.com/Spy/summer/bearded.jpg
The next drawing is German and demonstrates what looks like some artistic training. The Infantryman is much more lifelike and wears “military overalls” instead of breeches, but overalls came into more common use in the later stages of the war. Please note the little white straps that go under around and under the shoes - that is the “give away” for military overalls. Notice how the Artist shows the Rifleman in the same “military overalls?” The Rifleman could have been wearing them, though the Artist may have used artistic license illustrating him that way. The round hat is correct and interesting that detail was made. However, it looks like the Artist also copied the Cartridge Box from the Infantryman to the Rifleman. The Rifleman’s coat looks like a combination of an earlier period coat with some fringing stuck on it and not something drawn from life. The really interesting thing is the Rifle is more accurately portrayed than the musket, though the rifle appears more Germanic or Jaeger than one might expect to find that late in Pennsylvania. I would not be surprised if the Artist never saw these men, but drew the illustration both from descriptions reported to him and his knowledge of then current military fashion in 1784. So again with the exception of the hat, this drawing doesn’t seem to offer us much.http://www.granger.com/results.asp?image=0119968&itemw=4&itemf=0001&itemstep=1&itemx=13
This next picture does not show as much artistic ability, BUT this time it was a drawing made by a French Officer who actually served here during the ARW. The Rifleman’s hat is round, though illustrated with somewhat fanciful plumes. The Rifleman’s shirt is perhaps one of the most lifelike from period drawings. The rifle shows the wood stock going almost all the way to the muzzle and an attempt was shown to show the butt plate. The rifle has a sling compared to the muskets not being shown with slings. Here again, it seems the French Officer drew it in a more lifelike manner than the muskets shown in the drawing, though the muskets would probably have had slings. Though all the soldiers appear to be dressed in military overalls or the artist just drew them that way due to lack of artistic skill, it is very interesting the Rifleman’s overalls are colored brown and perhaps/likely his attempt to differentiate them as buckskin and possibly “Indian style” leggings? Or maybe it was just a way to differentiate color? It seems to show the Rifleman wearing shoes, but again that may just be due to the Artist’s lack of artistic training. What is very interesting is it shows the hunting bag and, powder horn on fairly low on the body, not as high up as some suggest. http://www.granger.com/results.asp?image=0016499&itemw=4&itemf=0001&itemstep=1&itemx=17&screenwidth=1038
Here’s a link to the same drawing, but in this one the Rifleman’s overalls appear gray as opposed to brown. So perhaps it was indeed just to show a different color and material than the other soldiers and maybe not buckskin overalls or leggings?http://atlanticportal.hil.unb.ca/acva/blackloyalists/en/context/gallery/images/zoom/deverger.jpg
This next link shows “ Figure 1. A watercolor image of a Virginia Rifleman during the Philadelphia Campaign wearing a fringed hunting shirt (Richard St. George Collection, Harlen Crown Library.)” (You don’t need to download the PDF and can close that box if it shows on your screen and then scroll down to the illustration.) This drawing has been shown on at least the older version of this forum, but perhaps rates another look. Though drawing the rifle was beyond the artist’s ability, in this drawing the bag and horn are higher than in previous drawings, though still lower than the Rifleman’s elbow. (I intend to read this PDF at least three or four times as it goes into great detail on the period Hunting Shirt and I thought others may be interested.)http://www.academia.edu/3336557/_kind_of_armour_being_peculiar_to_America_The_American_Hunting_Shirt
I deliberately saved what I consider “the best” for last. Here is a portrait of Captain Samuel Blodget in Rifle Dress by the artist John Trumbull, painted in 1786 only a few years after the ARW. Accuracy and perspective in this portrait are far better than the earlier drawings. Note the rifle pictured is very lifelike. Here the bullet pouch and horn are shown further down the body, but this time the pouch is almost TINY. However, look at the left side of the portrait on what would be Captain Bodget’s right rear hip and you see what appears to be a LARGER pouch or belt bag. (It sort of reminds me of a modern day “fanny pack.”) I’ve seen this picture a few times before, but only recently realized this. Now this may supposed to be a haversack, but it looks fringed and haversacks were not fringed. There is also no suspension strap for this period “fanny pack.”
I found this Period “Fanny Pack” to be a revelation, if not a bit of an epiphany. If that is a larger belt bag, that it would appear to explain where Riflemen kept their bullet mold and other larger tools/supplies when they used such Tiny bags/pouches for bullets.
Since this has been a revelation to me, I thought others may also find it interesting.http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Trumbull_-_Portrait_of_Captain_Samuel_Blodget_in_Rifle_Dress_-_WGA23099.jpg
I hope everyone understands I am not trying to say anything about how the Hunting/Shot Bags should be made to be “correct” for the 18th century. These bags would have been as individual as the men who made and or used them and worn as they personally felt was best for them. If anything, I think it shows that there is no “set in stone” descriptions of period Hunting/Shot Bags and may be more diverse than we may expect.
I hope other forum members find this interesting and welcome comments/discussion on the drawings and portrait.