The German troops that formed roughly half of General Burgoyne's army were from the Duchy of Brunswich. The uniforms and equipment of both states reflected the contemporary Prussian army.
The Prussian style uniform, with its narrow sleeves, full but shortened skirts, and tight fit influenced military uniforms across Europe by the time of the American War. The most notable aspect of the German uniforms may have been their color. Brunswick uniforms were identifiable to allies and even to European officers serving in the American army. One Brunswick officer noted that the Americans, “were fairly in ecstasies at the sight of our blue coats” when captured officers were brought to Philadelphia. Contrasting regimental facing colors on collar, lapels, and cuffs distinguished regiments. Following the Prussian practice uniforms were likely made with very few functional details, lacking working pockets or functional facings. Fortunately recreating the German auxiliaries in Burgoyne’s army is aided by the series of von Germann watercolors, showing the unique combination of adherence to Prussian standards and adaption to circumstances in America. Despite the considerable distance that uniforms and equipment had to travel from Germany, they arrived before the beginning of the 1777 campaign. However, these were worn by incessant campaigning and the eventual decision to leave all but essential baggage behind, leaving one officer dressed in only his “ragged coat and most pitiable-looking shirts.”
In the Prussian style, a soldier’s regiment was identifiable by the colored woolen puschels in their hats. These took the place of cockades worn by British or American troops. Likewise regimental and royal symbols adorned the metal fronted grenadier caps of the elite soldiers in Breymann’s Grenadier Battalion. Although not depicted in the von Germann series of watercolors, surviving captured examples and accounts bear witness to the retention of the identifiable metal fronted grenadier caps to the end of the campaign.
The delay that faced Burgoyne’s army in 1777 as it built up its invasion force allowed campaign uniform modifications to be completed before the army headed south. While the British regiments with Burgoyne made more substantive changes, the only modification for the German troops under General Friedrich Riedesel was the adoption of linen gaiter-trousers. Many of the German regiments made theirs from linen ticking. The stout, twilled linen used by many of these regiments carried the blue or red stripes associated with mattress ticking. However, the supply of cloth was limited, so units such as Captain Pausch’s Hessian artillery company wore in plain linen overalls. Other than this change, there appears to be no additional documentation that any other uniform modifications were made by the Germans.
|If their uniforms were no less suitable for campaigning in America than any others, their equipment was somewhat different. The German musketeer was loaded with cartridge box larger than any of his contemporaries, likely able to hold 60 rounds of ammunition, carried from a very wide buff shoulder strap and decorated with a large brass badge on its outer flap. Around his waist was girded a belt with a short saber in addition to his bayonet. Slung over their right shoulder these soldiers carried a tornister, the Germanic version of the knapsack, with a wide buff leather shoulder strap, and hair on calfskin body. As the army progressed south, some baggage was in the rear, so the men were ordered to live out of their tornisters and haversacks slung over their right shoulders. In 1776, these German Auxillieries received a large issue of blankets, watchcoats, and waterdecks. Blankets were issued to most soldiers, but the waterdecks and watchcoats were issued in smaller numbers to each company for the collective use of messes or guard detachments. Unlike for British soldiers, blankets seem to have been carried with the baggage along with tents and other equipment. These German soldiers seem to have generally enjoyed the comforts of the baggage train, but missed them very often as the train was abandoned late in the campaign.|
Best: Hand-finished, round blocked, black wool cocked hat, bound in white, set of three woolen Puschels and a button corresponding to the metal of the uniform buttons or brass or white metal Brunswick grenadier cap.
Acceptable: Black wool cocked hat, bound in white and white loop or other Germanic metal front grenadier’s caps with minor visible machine stitching.
Discouraged: Slouch hats, grey or brown wool felt hats, cut-down felt caps straw hats, fur caps.
Best: Hand-finished , English style shoes with short quarters and round toes or German short quarter, square toe shoes either made of black waxed calf uppers, fitted for buckles.
Acceptable: Machine made, black leather, shoes with buckles or ties,
Discouraged: Modern Footwear, moccasins, shoe boots, half-boots, high-lows, Civil War bootees, or riding boots.
Best: Ideally all Germans should be in gaitered trousers.
Acceptable: Well-fit canvas or wool full-gaiters hand finished or with minor machine finishing.Discouraged:Indian leggings, baggy gaiters.
Best: Hand-stitched white linen shirt narrow band cuffs with thread Dorset buttons or made for sleeve buttons (cuff links).
Acceptable: Machine stitched white linen shirts.
Discouraged: Cotton calico or plaid shirts.
Best: Black Worsted Wool over pasteboard neck stock.
Acceptable: Black wool neck stocks, Linen neck stocks, or linen rollers, well tied around the neck.
Discouraged: Red wool neck stocks, except for Hessian impressions.
Socks and Stockings
Best: White wool yarn or worsted stockings constructed with back seams.
Acceptable: White stockings or socks of wool yarn, worsted, linen or cotton.Discouraged: Colored or polyester stockings.
Best: Hand-finished, well-fit, wool broadcloth Brunswick regimental coat of blue wool with appropriate Regimental facings, with linen and bays lining.
Acceptable: Well-fit linen wool broadcloth ‘Other’ German regimental coat of blue wool with appropriate Regimental facings, linen and bays lining with minor visible machine stitching.
Best: Hand-finished, well-fit, white, straw, or yellow regimental broadcloth waistcoat, lined in linen.
Acceptable: Well-fit, straw, yellow, or white regimental waistcoat with minor visible machine stitching.
Discouraged: Extremely long or baggy waistcoats.
Breeches and Trousers
Best: Hand-finished, well-fit, linen ticking gaiter-trousers with blue or red stripes, uniform within each Regiment. Plain linen gaiter-trousers for Hesse-Hanau artillery.
Acceptable: Ticking and plain linen gaiter-trousers or white, straw or yellow regimental breeches, well-fit, hand finished or with minor visible stitching.Discouraged: Ill-fitting gaiter-trousers or regimental breeches.
Best: Brunswick cartridge pouch, on a whitened buff leather shoulder strap, with brass pouch badge and brass bombs for Grenadiers
Acceptable: Hessian or other German pouch on a whitened leather strap.
Discouraged: Hunting pouches, soft cartridge pouches, new model American pouches.
Best: Potsdam musket, long or short land pattern British muskets, with a well fit bayonet. Red Russia leather sling.
Discouraged: All others.
Best: Whitened buff waist belt with a belt buckle, holding a black leather scabbard, German style hanger and bayonet.
Acceptable: Whitened waist belt with a belt buckle, holding a black or brown leather scabbard, brass hilted hanger and bayonet
Unacceptable: Black leather belts, shoulder belts, horse pistols, naval pistols, unsheathed bayonets, tomahawks, or belt axes.
Best: German styled Tornister made of hair on calfskin with whitened buff straps and iron buckles.
Discouraged: Anything else.
Best: Hand-woven British issue blankets.
Acceptable: 2-3 Point, Dutch, Rose, and Plain White blankets.
Discouraged: Civil War grey or modern olive drab blankets.
Best: 6-foot square hemp sheeting with hand turned edges, waterproofed with black or Spanish brown linseed oil based paint.
Acceptable: The same with minor visible stitching or slight variations in canvas or paint
Best: Hand-sewn osnaburg linen haversack with a linen strap, roughly made to British specifications.
Acceptable: Hand-finished linen haversack with minor visible machine stitching
Discouraged: Machine sewn cotton haversacks.
Best: Larger Germanic Feldflasche, or British issue half-moon style tin canteens, carried on a hemp rope cord.
Discouraged: Anything Else.