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British Colours (5) -- Patterns 1801-1815

King's Colour, 1st Battalion, 93d Foot, the Sutherland Highlanders, carried at Battle of New Orleans, 1815.  This colour was presented in 1811 with yellow regimental shown below.  It would be expected that as the center of the colour does not show the number or rank of the regiment, it would be in the upper left canton near the staff.  There is no evidence, however, that colour was altered, as was the regimental, on creation of a Second Battalion of the 93d in 1813.

 

Left:  Illustration from the old regimental history, with oversized central design, misrepresentations of St George's cross, white fimbriations, and crosses of St Andrew and St Patrick, all typical of Milne's drawings.  Note also that the spear is not to scale--the flag is six feet on the staff, the spear as pictured must be over twelve inches high instead of the 6-8 inches that it would be in life.

Right:  The King's colour reconstructed as it would have looked in life.  The wreath, crown and thistle are all drawn from the original, which still exists at the Regimental museum and can be seen on the website of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders.


Throughout the period 1790 to 1815 the heart, or "Chippendale" style shield was used on the colours of most English and Welsh regiments.  There were a few variations, but all were neat, regular, and symetrical--quite different from the earlier rococo style.  There were also several slight variations in the patterns of wreath.  Generally they featured only two roses on each side and were almost perfectly symetrical.  Painted wreaths tended to be a bit more full or dense than the embroidered.   One pattern was especially light in appearance and featured several smallish roses on each side.  

Scottish regiments, particularly the Highland regiments raised in the last years of the eighteenth century, tended to be a bit more flamboyant.  Several sported the thistle as their central device, with or without garter and motto, with or without crown.  The wreaths were often made to close completely at the top so as to be more of a circle than a horse-shoe shape.

But the general patterns set in 1743 and standardized by Col. Napier's drawings of 1747, continued to be made until mid-ninteenth century.  Throughout the period encompassing the French and Indian Wars, the War for American Independence, and the War of 1812, British colours displayed a remarkable regularity and quality control that has, unfortunately, been misunderstood and misrepresented almost ever since.

 

 


Regimental colour, 1st Battalion, 93d Foot, the Sutherland Highlanders, carried at the Battle of New Orleans, 1815.  This colour was originally presented in 1811; it had the rank of the regiment, XCIII, in the center of the small union, as the central shield common to most English regiments was replaced with the crown and thistle.  The original union was apparently replaced and the scroll added in 1813, when a second Battalion was created.

Left:  Illustration from the old regimental history, with oversized central design typical of Milne's drawings.  The small union is also drawn according to preconceived notion rather than actual flag--the union still exists and can be seen on the website of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders.

Right:  The regimental colour reconstructed as it would have looked in life.  The central wreath is exactly like that on the King's colour made and presented at the same time, the union is drawn from the original at Regimental museum.