George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Peter Scull, 25 May 1779

From Peter Scull

War-Office [Philadelphia] 25th May 1779


The Board herewith transmit your Excellency a copy of an estimate of cloathing, & proposed plan of an uniform for the army.1 They beg your sentiments on the propriety of adopting it, and that you would point out any additions or alteration that you think necessary to render it more complete. An Estimate of the quantity of cloth, trimmings &c. for the regimentals of officers shall be made out and submitted to your Excellency’s inspection as soon as possible. The Board would be glad to have your opinion on the inclosed, that they may lose no time in forwarding the orders requisite to carry it into effect. I have the honour to be with the highest sentiments of respect Your Excellency’s most obed. Servant

P. Scull Secry


1The enclosed “Estimate of cloathing 104,048 Soldiers,” in Scull’s writing, had been prepared as part of an ongoing effort to standardize uniforms and standards in the Continental army in conjunction with Major General Steuben’s new regulations for the army (see the Board of War to GW, 10 May, n.2). The uniforms, it was assumed, would be supplied from France. “The ground of the whole” of the uniforms, Scull indicated, would be “a strong deep blue, except for the waggoners.” The uniforms would then have several variations. Infantry from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut would wear coats with white facing, lining, and buttons; drummers and fifers would wear white coats faced with blue. Infantry from New York and New Jersey would wear uniforms with buff facing, and white lining and buttons; drummers and fifers would wear buff coats faced with blue. Infantry from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia would wear coats with scarlet facing, and white lining and buttons; drummers and fifers would wear scarlet coats faced with blue. Infantry from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia would wear coats with blue facing, “button holes edged with narrow white lace or tape,” and white lining and buttons; drummers and fifers would wear blue coats laced with white, and sergeants’ coats would be “a little more ornamented than those of the Soldiers.” Scull also specified that all noncommissioned officers would wear white epaulets, and that all sergeants’ coats would be of “a better cloth,” with epaulets, while corporals would wear “privates coats” with epaulets.

Artillerymen and artillery artificers would wear blue coats with scarlet lining and facing, and yellow buttons and binding. They would also have “yellow bound hats—coats to be edged with narrow yellow worsted lace or tape, and button holes bound with the same.” Noncommissioned officers would have yellow epaulets, and drummers and fifers would wear red coats faced with blue. Sergeants would wear coats of “a better cloth,” while corporals, gunners, and bombardiers would wear privates’ coats with epaulets.

Light dragoons would wear blue coats with white facings. Noncommissioned officers would have blue epaulets, with sergeants’ coats of “a better cloth”, and corporals, farriers, and saddlers wearing privates’ coats with epaulets. Trumpeters would wear blue coats faced with white. Scull also called for a supply of “Blue cloaks with white capes,” and green “stable jackets” for the cavalry.

For wagoners, Scull specified “Brown or grey Uniforms” with brown or gray lining, vests, and breeches, and white buttons marked “U.S.A.” They would also have “Small hats, narrow brimmed—narrow white binding or edging—not to be cock’d.” Scull also noted that “The whole number of Vests and Breeches to be white, for the Infantry, Cavalry, & Artillery.”

The numbers of uniforms that Scull suggested should be provided “are calculated,” he wrote, “upon the numbers of men necessary to complete the establishment of May 17. 1778. We have doubled the Estimate, to make an allowance for the danger of the Seas, & losses by the enemy—If more arrived than will be necessary for one years’ cloathing, ’twill serve for the succeeding year” (DLC:GW). So much of this estimate as respected uniforms for the infantry, artillery, artificers, and light dragoons appeared in general orders on 2 Oct. 1779.

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