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History and Uniform of the 60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot, 1755-1760
by Jack L. Summers and Rene Chartrand

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Soldier of the 60th Regiment in campaign dress.
(artist: R.J. Marrion - copyright:Canadian War Museum)

The following is an extract from the book Military Uniforms in Canada, 1665-1970 by Jack L. Summers and Rene Chartrand (Ottawa: Canadian War Museum, 1981) and is reproduced here by the kind permission of the Canadian War Museum. Reprinting or duplication of the text or illustration without permission from the Canadian War Museum is prohibited.

HISTORY

The 60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot, better known under its later name, The King's Royal Rifle Corps, has long been associated with Canada After Braddock's defeat by the French and Indians in 1755, authority was granted to raise a regiment of four battalions to be recruited in Germany and from German colonists in North America. The regiment was named the 62nd, or Royal American, Regiment of Foot; but it was redesignated the 60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot in February 1757. Recruiting for the Royal Americans in North America was disappointing, and more than half its strength was drafted from men rejected by British regiments in Ireland. From this unlikely collection of foreigners and cast-offs was fashioned one of the most renowned corps of the British Army.

Among the officers recruited in Europe were two able Swiss soldiers, Henri Bouquet and Frederick Haldimand, who commanded respectively the 1st and 2nd battalions of the new regiment. Bouquet trained his battalion as light infantry, emphasizing the skills required for forest warfare. Haldimand also adapted his European experience to war in the American wilderness.

The 1st and 4th battalions of the 60th accompanied General Abercromby's advance up Lake Champlain in 1758, and participated in the disastrous assault on the Ticonderoga position the following July. In November, Bouquet's 1st Battalion played a major role in the successful advance to Fort Duquesne, which secured the western border of New England against the incursions of France's savage Indian allies.

In 1758, the 2nd and 3rd battalions were assigned to the forces of General Amherst for operations in eastern Canada. Both battalions were present at the capture of Louisbourg, and moved on to Quebec with Wolfe the following year. The performance of the 60th at Montmorency Falls on 31 July 1753 won the regimental motto Celer et Audax (Swift and Bold) from General Wolfe.

The 2nd and 3rd battalions fought at the battle of the Plains of Abraham on 13 September 1759. The following year elements of all four battalions participated in the final advance to Montreal.

From the date of its raising in 1755, at least one battalion of the 60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot served in North America until 1824, when the name was discontinued and the unit was redesignated The 60th (The Duke of York's Own Rifle Corps and Light Infantry) Regiment. This title was changed to The 60th (Duke of York's Own Rifle Corps) and, in 1830, the regiment was renamed The 60th (The King's Royal Rifle Corps).

In 1844, the 60th returned to Canada, and garrisoned the Quebec and Montreal area until 1847. The 1st and 4th Battalions were sent to Canada during the threatened Fenian invasions; the 4th arrived in 1866, and the 1st in 1867. The 1st Battalion accompanied Sir Garnet Wolseley's expedition to Fort Carry to crush the First Riel Rebellion in 1870.

In November 1871, the 1st Battalion marched from the Quebec Citadel to a waiting transport, with its departure, the only British troops remaining in Canada were those manning the naval bases at Halifax and Esquimalt, which remained British garrison stations until early in the twentieth century.

Although the 60th Rifles withdrew from the land of its origin, the memory of this distinguished regiment’s North American service was perpetuated in a unique fashion. A large number of the original infantry units comprising the Canadian Volunteer Active Militia - many of which still exist - were designated as Rifles, and wore the green jackets and red facings of The 60th (The King's Royal Rifle Corps).

UNIFORM

When the corps was raised in December 1755, the 62nd, or Royal American, Regiment of Foot was ordered to dress exactly like a regiment of the British Army, except that the uniform was to have no regimental lace, in recognition of the regiment's proposed role in the forest warfare of North America.

By 1755, British infantry dress had been standardized to a degree The outer garment was a long red collarless coat falling to just above the knee. The front had wide lapels to the waist, which could be buttoned across in double-breasted fashion when campaigning or in cold weather, The corners of the skirt were hooked up to give the soldier greater freedom of movement. The large turned-back cuff had a deep cleft, above which was set a slashed panel with three buttons. A plain red shoulder strap on the left shoulder held in place the cross-belt, a transverse pointed pocket flap was set on each hip.

Lapels and cuffs of the 60th were blue, the traditional facing colour of Royal regiments. As the red coats were usually, but not always, lined with the regimental facing colour, the turn-backs on the coats of the 60rh were probably blue. A thigh-length sleeved red waistcoat was worn under the red coat. The breeches for Royal regiments were blue, although the Royal Americans also wore leather breeches on some occasions.

Long white gaiters reaching to mid-thigh were strapped under the instep, and fastened below the knee by a black strap. On campaign, the white gaiters were replaced by brown marching gaiters of similar pattern.

Men of the grenadier company wore the tall grenadier cap seen in the illustration of the Louisbourg Grenadiers [mitre cap]. Other companies wore a black felt tricorn with black cockade; its brim was edged with white tape for men and silver lace for officers.

A white stock and white shirt completed the soldier's dress.

A wide buff leather belt crossed over the left shoulder to support a black ammunition pouch on the right hip. A narrower buff leather waist-belt, worn over the waistcoat, sup-ported a double frog on the left side, from which hung a bayonet and short brass-hilted hanger. The waist-belt was worn over the closed coat, but under the coat when it was open. A smaller black ammunition pouch was sometimes worn on the middle of the waist-belt.

British troops in North America during this period normally carried the .75-calibre Long Land Musket, popularly known as the Brown Bess.

The private soldier of the 60th depicted in the illustration [see above] wears an improvised campaign service dress. The sleeved red waistcoat without lace is worn as an outer garment. Over his blue regimental breeches are green cloth Indian leggings (mitasses) fastened at the ankles and below the knee. Moccasins have replaced regulation shoes. his black felt tricorn has been cut down, leaving only the crown and a narrow brim, which offers some protection without being cumbersome.

The useless brass-hilted infantry hanger has been replaced by a hatchet. He wears the pack high on his back, Indian fashion, as recommended by General Wolfe for his ad hoc battalion of light infantry.

In an effort to reduce the conspicuousness of the contemporary uniform, some soldiers of the light troops wore jackets of blue or green; but these early attempts at camouflage were quite unofficial, and the red coat of the British Army remained the prescribed dress of the 60th for almost half a century.

In December 1797, the 5th Battalion of the 60th, raised in England, was armed with rifles and dressed in green jackets with red facings. This was the introduction of the green jacket that was to become the outstanding feature of regimental dress of the 60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot.

Copyright: Canadian War Museum


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