33rd Foot both at home and on campaign.
On its return form India in 1811 the regiment came back both low in numbers and in much need of new clothing and equipment. Volunteers and drafts from the militia came in, so it was important to get the battalion re-issued with new clothes and equipment as soon as possible. It is very probable that the 33rd were one of the first battalions to be re-clothed in the new regulations of 1812, ie new cap (the so-called Belgic shako), regimental coat – square fronted – grey trousers and short grey gaiters.
That was fine for 1812 but how do we operate now in a re-enactment context? Well, we don’t expect a new recruit to get everything straight away. We have instead within the 33rd a system of “uniform priority” on all items of clothing and equipment: a minimum, which more or less consists of the basic clothing you would a have received on joining your regimental depot; a basic, which is what is required to take the field; and optional, the nice-to-have items, but a low priority! Uniform and equipment is centrally ordered though the regiments’ quartermaster. Full details and current prices of all 33rd uniform and equipment are available on request.
Forage cap – knitted wool type
Linen shirt – other ranks
1812 pattern cap – the so-called Belgic shako
Regimental coat – other ranks red wool, faced red with pockets, fully-laced & buttoned
Cartridge pouch & belt – 60-round pouch with whitened buff leather belt
Bayonet belt – regimental pattern cross belt in whitened buff leather
(other ranks pattern cross belt plate – brass with regimental device)
Bayonet & scabbard
India pattern Brown Bess musket
Buff leather sling for firelock
Water bottle with carrying strap
Leather neck stock and clasp
Brush and pricker – for maintenance of lock of the firelock
Grey trousers – grey wool
Braces – early C19 high-waisted trousers can’t be worn without them
Shoes – there’s an old saying in re-enactment, “you can tell a good unit by what it has on its feet.” We in the 33rd tend to agree with this, but we also know how difficult it is to get suitable footwear straight away
Shotgun certificate and black powder licences – if new to re-enactment full help and advice is given in applying for these. They are a legal requirement in the UK for black powder re-enactment
Drill jacket – white wool, red faced. Sometimes known as the waistcoat
Necessaries – numerous! Brushes, buffing stick etc. Basic period cleaning items
Greatcoat – grey wool
Knee breeches – white wool, for full dress and home service
Knee gaiters – black wool, worn with the knee breeches
White duck overalls
Wool flannel shirt
Mess tin – 1812 ‘D’ tin.
Home service mess kit – tin mug, bowl & pewter spoon
Personal items – hand towel, razor, soap etc
Additional shirts – more than one is highly recommended. Three were the norm.
The 33rd does not compromise or cut corners on our historical impression. Good re-enactment is about being able to constantly evaluate one’s historical impression.