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Uniforms From 1775-1783 American Revolution

Uniforms from 1775-1783 The American Revolutionary War
Uniforms from 1775-1783 The American Revolutionary War

Properly entitled An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Uniforms From 1775-1783 American Revolution: An expert in-depth reference on the armies of the War of the Independence in North America. That’s a mouthful.  This is one of the newer uniform references available to modelers these days.

I have been very happy with the purchase.  I was excited to finally get it, there was quite a delay from the intended shipping date.   The book caused quite a stir on the TMP boards when it was released, and the author dropped in to answer some of the (mostly) unfair critisisms.  It seems most of the posters there could have done a better job.  My only question is “Why don’t they?”

It is laid out in a somewhat weird manner that tries to get everything in.  There are some things that seem odd to the serious AWI buff, like treating Brunswick with the same number of pages as some of the extremely minor powers.  Others have noticed the wrong roman numerals on the drums of Brit drummers.  I have used it extensively while painting my troops for the Saratoga Campaign.  Most of the times, if it doesn’t have a color plate, it has a written description.

I think it is a fine book.  Does it have everything? No.  Is it perfect? No.  Will I be happy having added it to my Library? Hell yes.  When I put on the tool belt to fix something around the house, I have more than one tool in it.  I wouldn’t expect any one tool to do everything, but I do expect every tool to be useful.

3 thoughts on “Uniforms From 1775-1783 American Revolution

  1. Well said. I’m sure I’ll pick this up sometime later in the year.

  2. Sorry, but I have to respectfully disagree with the overall tenor of your review. As the main consultant on the AWI to the UK’s National Army Museum, I can tell you that there are over 100 errors in the British and Loyalist sections alone (in fairness to you, I suspect you weren’t aware of that – the authors were informed and suddenly went very quiet).

    I was particularly surprised that you are using it to paint up armies for Saratoga, given that the “expert” authors forgot to include any mention whatsoever of the unique British uniforms worn in that campaign. The two plates that (by pure accident, I suspect) do show this uniform are both wrongly dated “1772” and both show an exactly identical RA gunner! (Even more amusingly, the only other plate in the RA section is of an officer’s uniform that wasn’t worn in America, as it wasn’t authorised until late 1782!)

    The vast majority of the plates are simple copies – even down to the figure’s pose – of those in Lefferts, Mollo/McGregor, Elting, Chartrand and the Company of Military Historians. This includes errors that have been well known for years, in some cases decades, and should have been removed.
    The text is disjointed, and often repetitive – not least because of the need to “pad out” certain sections, due to the “one size fits all” format (which you correctly pointed out).

    As to why critics don’t do it themselves. Well, some people don’t have the time, the access to all the resources necessary, or the publishing contacts. However, the nature and identity of the critic don’t automatically make the criticism itself wrong. Apologies if I got the wrong impression, but your reference to the error of the Roman numerals on a British drum, sounded like a swipe at “anorakism” – and obviously for someone working in 6mm, it is a detail you don’t need. But wouldn’t you say that any book trumpeting itself as an “encyclopedia” – not to mention “expert” and “detailed” – really should get these little things right? I would suggest that your ananlogy with the tool belt is wrong – the individual plates are the tools, the book itself is the belt!

    As for one of the authors answering the “mostly unfair” criticisms on TMP – if you re-read his replies I think you’ll find that in most cases he either did nothing more than dismiss any adverse comments as “just plain wrong”, or else sidestepped responsibility (eg claiming the pictures and captions – which contain most, though by no means all, of the errors – were nothing to do with him).

    That said, if you can’t get hold of – or cannot afford – second-hand copies of Lefferts, Mollo/McGregor, etc then this book is not a complete waste of money (in fact, for the amount of colour in it, it is very good value). Sadly – and I was looking forward to it, too – that is the best I can say for it.

    1. Brendan,

      As I have stated in the blog, I use your article for the British and German troops. But until you write the sister American article, I’ll have to use what is available. 🙂

      I take my details very seriously, but I think I could work out the correct roman numerals for myself. I just don’t think you need throw out the baby with the bath water. I would say that if the book copies other well known sources and has an index, then it’s a winner for me. I have Mollo/McGregor and the lack of an index makes it more unfriendly than it should be.

      I’m sticking to my guns on my tool belt analogy. The project is the home repair job. A reference book is a single tool to help with it. But only one of many.

      I use TMP all the time and enjoy the wealth of knowledge contained there. But it can very quickly become a piling on of someone deemed “not worthy” by the regulars. There are also a great many contrarians on the boards that would love to take pot shots at “authorities” from the anonymity of a forum. I like to give credit to anyone that sticks their neck out to fill a gap. A lot of the thread (I did stop reading after a while) seemed like a lot of grognards feeling superior to another while tripping over themselves to be the first to point out others mistakes. Put up or shut up. Seems like a lot of wasted material if these guys aren’t publishing their knowledge, adding to the brain trust.

      I would love to see an AWI version of the wiki The gentleman who runs it (a true gentleman) works tirelessly to put out good materials and references. I wish I had the contacts/energy to pull it off.

      If you would only put out more material, I wouldn’t have to buy such drivel! Keep up the good work.

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