|Early War Hunting Shirt|
Parole Virginia. Countersign Wales.
"...The General being sensible of the dificulty, and expence of providing Cloaths, of almost any kind, for the Troops, feels an unwillingness to recommend, much more to order, any kind of Uniform, but as it is absolutely necessary that men should have Cloaths and appear decent and tight, he earnestly encourages the use of Hunting Shirts, with long Breeches, made of the same Cloth, Gaiter fashion about the Legs, to all those yet unprovided. No Dress can be had cheaper, nor more convenient, as the Wearer may be cool in warm weather, and warm in cool weather by putting on under Cloaths which will not change the outward dress, Winter or Summer -- Besides which it is a dress justly supposed to carry no small terror to the enemy, who think every such person a complete Marksman."
Based on some feedback from the article I wanted to post some examples of my interpretations of the primary sources in the previous post. Washington was a proponent of the humble hunting shirt throughout the war, which hearkened back to his days as Colonel of the First Virginia where he had his men clothed in "Indian Walking Dress" (presumably trade shirt, leggings, breechclout, and matchcoat). The photo above depicts my interpretation of the shirt Washington was recommending in 1776, based off the evidence of Virginia orderly books and deserter notices. Split front, square cut, and sparsely fringed.
|Captain Samuel Blodget in Rifle Dress, ca. 1786, John Trumbull |
Even though the only extant shirts of the previous are EXTENSIVELY fringed, I believe, based on the time it takes to make the fringe for the collar (and I have made several), that the shirts would have been lightly fringed (in accordance with the information provided in the 2d and 6th Virginia orderly books of 1775, 76).
|Collar detail, button closure, and neck gusset.|
|Cuff, button hole, and shell button.|
|Detail of finished hem and seam.|
The following photos are of my son's early-war musician's hunting shirt. This would have been worn by the Musick of the First Virginia until such time as regimentals were procured (quartermasters receipts suggest as early as 1777).
|Drummer's Shirt and Accoutrements, circa 1775-76|
|Cape with company/section color|
|Cuff with facing|
|A simple body shirt and hunting accoutrements.|
|Rectangular gusseted collar, button-hole closure.|
|Horn button, gusseted shirt tails, and finished hems.|
Washington is absolutely correct about this being a very practical form of dress for all seasons. I have worn this as an overshirt with a wool sleeved weskit, a wool weskit, and body-shirt underneath. Wool breeches, leather leggings, and blanket-lined moccasins on my feet, monmouth cap on my head. My first attempt was in California's San Gorgonio Mountains in February, with snow on the ground. It was cold, but...tolerable, both on the move and at night with the addition of a thick wool matchcoat (blanket).
 General Orders, Washington Papers.
 Captain Samuel Blodget in Rifle Dress, ca. 1786, John Trumbull, (British American, 1756 - 1843), oil on canvas, 21 3/16 x 17 1/8 in. (53.8 x 43.5 cm.). The J. Harwood and Louise B. Cochrane Fund for American Art 2001.2 http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Trumbull+Paintings&view=detail&id=DB3C1D7872CB6D97146152C50A86E3130BF7947E&first=176
 Lewis, Andrew. The orderly book of that portion of the American army stationed at or near Williamsburg, Va., under the command of General Andrew Lewis, from March 18th, 1776, to August 28th, 1776, Yale Press 1860., pp13-14, http://archive.org/details/39002055099973.med.yale.edu accessed 24 Feb12.
 Travers, Raleigh, Ed., Journal of Captain Slaughter, as quoted in Notes on Culpeper County, Virginia; "Embracing a Revised and Enlarged Edition of Dr. Philip Slaughter's History of Saint Mark's Parish". Compiled and Published, Culpeper Va, 13.