"...the two companies quitted the road for this purpose to gain an orchard on the flanks; received a fire from about 200 men in the orchard..."
"Sleeves of the jacket sewed to the waistcoat; shell laid aside.
One or two pockets in the waistcoat below the breast."
Among the many documents contained within the Sol Feinstone Collection that are unique and vital, none is so absolutely fundamental to our understanding of the Battle of Brandywine and of the British Light Infantry as document number 111. This item consists of two parts: a memorandum describing the battle of Brandywine from an officer in the 1st Battalion of British Light Infantry (probably Lt. Wetherell of the 17th Regiment of Foot) and notes on the conduct and equipment of the British Light Infantry in the field. The former is a vivid blow-by-blow account, covering the experience of several British Light Infantry Companies from the opening salvos of the battle to its conclusion, filled with detailed remarks on the other British forces engaged as well as their American opposition. It provides an eye-opening glimpse into the experience of combat in North America during the Revolution, shattering the well-worn stereotype of lines of British regulars marching against American riflemen hiding behind trees.
The second part is vital to our knowledge of how the British Light Infantry operated in principle during the war and the sorts of equipment they carried. Appearing on pages 2-3 of the document, this set of memorandums begins with a side-by-side comparison of the war-time practice of the 1st Battalion, British Light Infantry, and the system created by Colonel Dundas, which was used from the 1790s through the Napoleonic Wars. Following this section in a series of notes covering the proper way to carry ammunition, how light infantry needed to be outfitted for service in warm climates (in this case, the West Indies) and some general notes on the movements of armies.
Our thanks goes out to David Library Research Assistant David Swain, who transcribed this invaluable document. Please read below to see the entire transcript
Dundass answered according to the
Company changes its name to Platoon. practice of 1st Battn. Light Infy.
On peace establishment it is one in war it is
Each company is a Platoon. A company is a company;
weak or strong a company.
When the battalion is on a war establishment
each company will be divided into Two Platoons
Company to be sized from flanks to center. Upon service the front rank man to
be permitted to choose his comrade and
do all duties with him, and always
to cover him; This will prevent the exact
sizing of the men, which certainly adds
to the appearance of the company. The
front rank may be sized.
Number of ranks
Company to form three deep Usual order two men. Men
instructed to form single rank
Distance of Files as four deep.
Files lightly to touch Files by day always loose; usual order
11 inches; open order arms length
extended order from five yards to fifty.
In danger men like all animals
Division of company There seems an error to begin by
Company divided into two subdivisions subdividing—before there can be
four sections. a subdivision there must be a division.
The company to be divided in plain
familiar language;—in half Quarters
and if this is not sufficient; into eights; or
[Note: A diagonal line is drawn through
the text from “Usual order…” through
“…into eights; or subdivisions.”.]
Companies in battalion The precedency of companies being each
Companies in battalion to draw up understood to be established as
according to seniority, from flanks the parade order.—but in formation of line
to center. from column convening or rapidity of
movement to supersede seniority.
Powder horn and shot bag__ saves cartridges; a broken cartridge for priming
and paper cut for loading.__ or accident is lost—man going on duty to load
with loose powder
Hammer caps preserve the hammer from rust, and prevent the piece going off by accident___
Sixty rounds for service.
Light infantry Soldiers necessaries.___West Indies:
Sleeves of the jacket sewed to the waistcoat; shell laid aside.
One or two pockets in the waistcoat below the breast.
Linen Trowser and socks.—on[e] pr. trowsers died uniform, Two, or three
pr socks;--2 flannel shirts; 1 pr drawers do.--1 pr shoes off 1 on
in a bag rolled in blanket; carried up and down; if across men cannot get through Thickets.
Haversack for provisions; Tomahawk; Camp kettle for each mess.
Movement as a general rule.—
To advance from the center; To retreat from the flanks.
On coming to a position
The army having come to its ground, before the whole is posted, each
Corps to take charge of what is most continuous, until pickets
Turning out before day.
All Guards and Pickets to get under arms an hour before day beak, and Patroles to be sent out.—At sunrise or after the day is well broke and patroles returned.