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Facts about the British redcoats

"Red coats" or "redcoats" is a term used for British infantry soldiers during the Napoleonic era. Many of the regiments wore a red or scarlet coatee as part of their uniform and, thus, derived the nickname "redcoats."

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New Model Army

In 1645, the English Parliament passed an ordinance to create a professional army, the New Model Army under Oliver Cromwell. Infantry regiments were outfitted with red coats. In colonial warfare, officers preferred that soldiers wear highly visible colours in order to keep troops together during battle.

Red coats

In the 18th century, the British infantry became the most professional and feared army in the world, and they took pride in their status as "red coats." However, as warfare evolved, camouflaged colours became much safer to wear during battle, and the British infantry last wore red tunics at the Battle of Gennis (December 30, 1885).

Red coats today

Today, the term "red coat" is largely ceremonial. It is dangerous to wear bright colours during battle in contemporary warfare, and the modern British infantry uniforms range in the standard khaki and green colours. Some regiments will wear red or scarlet in certain ceremonial contexts to pay homage to their history.

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About the Author

John Peterson published his first article in 1992. Having written extensively on North American archaeology and material culture, he has contributed to various archaeological journals and publications. Peterson has a Bachelor of Arts from Eastern New Mexico University and a Master of Arts from the University of Nebraska, both in anthropology, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in history from Columbia College.

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