Naval Brigade Organisation and Naval uniform 1860-65.

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Naval Brigade Organisation and Naval uniform 1860-65.

Postby Josh&Historyland » 16 Jun 2017 14:21

Could anyone help me, or explain to me a few things about the navy and its naval brigades. I've searched around with very unsatisfactory results.

Firstly, in this period what weapons were they using? Firearm and cutlass wise.
Secondly, what was the uniform? There's a photograph of sailors of the brigade in a captured battery and they seem to be wearing a mixture of white and blue clothes. These different orders of dress are not properly explained.
Thirdly. The naval brigade in this period went into action with colour's. And colour sergeants are mentioned, presumably these men were some sort of warrant officer? Again I've not found it explained how the brigade rank structure was organised.

All help welcome.
Josh.
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Re: Naval Brigade Organisation and Naval uniform 1860-65.

Postby mike snook » 16 Jun 2017 17:19

Hello Josh

The period pre-dates the acceptance of the Snider-Enfield, so the rifle in use would be the muzzle-loading P1853 Enfield. Colour-sergeants can only be RM, not RN, but RM and RN were often freely mixed in naval brigades and I imagine this is the case in whichever naval brigade you are looking at. White clothing tropical. Blue clothing temperate. Often mixed and matched fairly randomly in the field.

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Re: Naval Brigade Organisation and Naval uniform 1860-65.

Postby Josh&Historyland » 16 Jun 2017 18:01

Excellent information Mike, I shall now be a little less abstract in order to be sure of myself.

On the subject of "Colour Sergeants" what you say must be correct, and what follows may well be shorthand to explain the makeup of a naval brigade colour guard.

Citation to award Midshipman Boyes the VC.

"Duncan Gordon Boyes, Royal Navy, Midshipman of Her Majesty's Ship Euryalus

For the conspicuous gallantry, which, according to the testimony of Capt. Alexander CB, at that time Flag Captain to Vice-Admiral Sir Augustus Kuper KCB, Mr. Boyes displayed in the capture of the enemy's stockade. He carried a Colour with the leading company, kept it in advance of all, in the face of the thickest fire, his colour-sergeants having fallen, one mortally, the other dangerously wounded, and he was only detained from proceeding yet further by the orders of his superior officer. The Colour he carried was six times pierced by musket balls."

One of these underlined was Captain of Euryalus' afterguard Thomas Pride, who also won the VC during the action at the stockade at Shimonoseki. He was definitely not RM, who in this action (the last in which they took colour's into battle apparently) were operating in support to the Naval Brigade.

In terms of your helpful explanation of the whites and blues, would you then say that this niche but famous photograph of a variously identified group of sailors (which includes what appears to be at least one marine, with the white belt) shows a single British Naval Brigade, rather than as some think a group of British and allied sailors?
http://imageweb-cdn.magnoliasoft.net/nmm/supersize/c8583%2Dd.jpg

Any info on cutlass pattern in use?
Sorry to ask as many questions as you've given answers!

Josh.
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Re: Naval Brigade Organisation and Naval uniform 1860-65.

Postby Isandlwana » 17 Jun 2017 11:49

Josh,

Looking at the photograph there appear to be two Royal Navy junior officers in the foreground wearing what appear to be colour belts. I assume that one of those is Duncan Boyes V. C.

As to the mixture of uniforms, there appear to be at least three R.M.A. in group. In addition whilst conducting my own research in the uniforms of the Landing-Brigades during the Anglo-Zulu War, I discovered that each ship's brigades wore different orders of dress in order to distinguish one ship's company from another. I wonder if the same applied in the campaign in Japan?

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Re: Naval Brigade Organisation and Naval uniform 1860-65.

Postby Josh&Historyland » 17 Jun 2017 13:51

Most interesting, John.

It could be that this explains the differing clothing in the picture. Which when we compare to this ILN sketch of the VC action, shows the naval brigade, which one assumes is Euryalus', wearing the blue order of dress.

I had suspected that Boyes was one of the two middies in the foreground, one of them looks allot like him, there is a grainy image on Wikipedia. Of interest the officer holding the Union Jack is Captain Alexander of the Euryalus who was wounded in the action and rescued by Seaman Seeley, the first American to be awarded the VC.
http://www.antiqueprints-maps.com/mas_assets/full3/J6441892/J6441892703.jpg

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Re: Naval Brigade Organisation and Naval uniform 1860-65.

Postby zerostate » 17 Jun 2017 14:10

I don't believe "colour sergeants" was being used within the context of rank, but of function in this case, in that I think the term was being used to refer to the NCOs escorting a colour. The evidence I have for this is only based on Wiki references, but it shouldn't be impossible to check further if anyone has a mind to.

Wiki article for Midshipman Duncan Gordon Boyles: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duncan_Gordon_Boyes. This mentions one of the "colour sergeants" Thomas Pride - his Wiki article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Pride_(VC)

Being captain of the after guard would make him a first class petty officer.

EDIT: I just saw Pride has already been mentioned as being definitely RN - I must missed that when I first read the thread.

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Re: Naval Brigade Organisation and Naval uniform 1860-65.

Postby colsjt65 » 18 Jun 2017 04:09

As for weapons, I would assume the 1856 pattern Naval short Enfield, with the Cutlass bayonet.

A newspaper report listing the armament of HMS Curacoa, which provided most of the men of the Naval Brigade that fought at Rangiriri in New Zealand 20 Nov. 1863, includes "120 Enfields, 120 cutlasses", which doesn't prove much, but seems more than coincidental that the numbers match exactly.
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Re: Naval Brigade Organisation and Naval uniform 1860-65.

Postby Josh&Historyland » 18 Jun 2017 19:00

Interesting points Gentlemen.

Certainly it seems logical that the term "colour sergeant" is a duty rather than a rank, speaking of that what insignia might a Captian of the Afterguard wear on his sleeve? What is now messing me up is the sight of two midshipmen with colour belts. Yet most things seem to suggest only one Union colour. Did the naval brigades carry two colour's or are these probably two contingents?

A thought regarding cutlass bayonets as well. The image from the London News engraved from a sketch done by the artist in Japan shows the brigade with fixed triangular section socket bayonets, and cutlasses sheathed at their sides. Of course the photo, taken the same day as the event, shows the brigade before bayonets were fixed, and I don't know about anyone else but I can't see cutlasses. (I do see some interesting looking tubes being carried by some of the sailors.)

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Re: Naval Brigade Organisation and Naval uniform 1860-65.

Postby mike snook » 19 Jun 2017 10:54

Josh, I agree that 'colour sergeant' is being used here in some kind of irregular way and is not to be taken literally.

I'm prepared to believe that not all of these fellers are in the same navy. I have a book here which refers to the presence of some Dutch marines. I could also be persuaded to believe that the marines we can see are not RM. On the other hand if John has compelling reasons to identify the three as RMA I'd be strongly inclined to listen. I was thinking that one would expect to see an expense pouch on the right front of the waistbelt of Enfield-armed Royals, but I am not seeing such a pouch here, although whether this can be accounted for by identification as RMA I am less clear.

Count two guns back and move the gaze to the right along the barrel and there is a chap there with a cutlass over his shoulder.

Another interesting figure is to be seen counting seven along the line of the stockade, starting from the left, where there is a young midshipman. I'm no expert in naval uniform but the idea of a RN snotty in a shell jacket with waistcoat seems right, whereas there are more senior officers up on the rampart, a bit further back, who are also wearing shell jackets and don't look that 'right' as RN officer types to my inexpert eye. But I happily own I may be barking up the wrong tree with that observation.

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Re: Naval Brigade Organisation and Naval uniform 1860-65.

Postby Isandlwana » 20 Jun 2017 10:46

Mike,

The men who I think are R.M.A. are in the following positions: standing second from the left, the man holding his water-bottle in his right hand, with the broad stripe down his trousers clearly visible. Fourth from left with his sleeves turned back, holding an axe or a mattock in his right hand. He appears to have a cap pouch on his waist belt, if you look closely. The other one stands in the middle foreground to the right of the officer who stands next to the two officers wearing the colour belts.

I believe that the heavily bearded officer who is standing to the extreme right of the officer with Union Flag is R.M.L.I. officer who appears in the other photographs that Josh has previously referred to in the related posts on the subject.

The ones that are puzzling me are the men wearing the peakless caps with what appear to be white covers. One is standing in between the axe-carrying figure and the Middy, with a moustache. Another stands in front centre in front of the third man I believe to be a R.M.A. There are two other examples: a bearded man standing in between the front two cannon and the other stands on the raised ground in between the artillery pieces with a dark goatee beard.

These are just my thoughts.

John Y.
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Re: Naval Brigade Organisation and Naval uniform 1860-65.

Postby Isandlwana » 20 Jun 2017 13:09

Just to add to the confusion in the 1974 book Early War Photographs - 50 years of war photographs from the nineteenth century the photograph appears across pages 82-83. The compiler Pat Hodgson states the following on page 83:
...This rare photograph by Beato shows the French from the Seramis occupying the other battery on the following day...In the background some of the English officers look on. Captain Alexander of the Euryalus stands next to the man with the flag.


Personally, I had not even considered the French at all based on the lack of torrie on the of the sailors' caps.

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Re: Naval Brigade Organisation and Naval uniform 1860-65.

Postby mike snook » 20 Jun 2017 17:23

I've tried to imagine that the group around the Union Flag isn't there and that I don't know anything about the setting, apart from the year...then posed myself the exam question 'What nationality are those sailors?' I don't think that I would have immediately concluded that they were RN. So I'd be prepared at least to entertain the caption to which your refer John. I can believe French, but perhaps not any more strongly than almost any other European nation one might care to name. At the same time, I could I suppose be persuaded that they are RN, but it would need to be pretty well evidenced to convince me. Long way round of saying...far from convinced by an all-British identification. I'm just going to mention again the apparent presence of Dutch marines on the day of the attack, for the devilment if nothing else...

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Re: Naval Brigade Organisation and Naval uniform 1860-65.

Postby Josh&Historyland » 20 Jun 2017 19:33

The picture is devilled by vagaries regarding the nationality of the sailors.
For instance, the original is apparently in Holland & a Dutch gent swore blind to me that they were all Dutch.
Others give up & say "allied". Beato definitely took photos of French troops in a less crowded battery. The engraving which appeared in the ILN based on the photo doesn't add much except to identify the officer with the flag, I'll check on that though.

Engraving
https://ocw.mit.edu/ans7870/21f/21f.027/yokohama/yiln128.html
Photo of French battery.
https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FrenchAtShimonoseki.jpg#mw-jump-to-license

One of the midshipman is certainly Mr. Boyes. And others look right, though I too wouldn't have sworn they were all RN.
Last edited by Josh&Historyland on 20 Jun 2017 22:02, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Naval Brigade Organisation and Naval uniform 1860-65.

Postby Isandlwana » 20 Jun 2017 19:48

Mike,

I don't know if we can trust the artist Niels Møller Lund, especially as he was only born in 1863, but he produced a work entitled Attack on the Japanese Battery at Shimonoseki by a Naval Brigade, September 1864. The painting is held in the collection of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth.

There is a link to painting via https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/att ... 1864-25966

The Ratings are all dressed in Duck-Whites, leading the charge is an officer waving a very, very small Union Flag. I presume that he is meant to represent Duncan Boyes, V. C. (See below.) I obviously have no idea of the extent of Lund's research prior to producing the work.

Image
Midshipman Duncan Boyes, V. C.
John Young Collection.

Regards,

John Y.
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Re: Naval Brigade Organisation and Naval uniform 1860-65.

Postby Isandlwana » 20 Jun 2017 21:21

Josh,

I have chased up the text from a friend with an I.L.N. archive here's the text:

Image

I can see now where Pat Hodgson gleaned her text.

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