When outsiders think of British troops, they most often think of smart red coats. But British "redcoats" generally refers to the British Army. In the eighteenth century, however, the uniforms of British Marines generally mimicked those of the British Army, including the red coat.
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During the eighteenth century, British Marine uniforms generally matched or closely resembled British army uniforms. But these uniforms were not worn at all times. The red uniforms were most frequently worn in combat. While on board ships, however, British Marines wore Jack Tars (loose, more informal clothing) rather than full uniforms.
Queen Anne's Marines
Under Queen Anne, who reigned from 1702 to 1714, there were six Marine Regiments. All six wore red coats, but the colour of the facings was not uniform. The facing of the uniform was the term used for the ornamental or decorative lining of the coat. British Marines of the period would turn the coats back at the cuffs and lapels, making the facing colour visible (the facing could also be visible on the tails). The colonel of each regiment selected the facing colour for his Marines.
Between 1739 and 1748, there were ten Marine Regiments in service. All ten of these regiments wore red coats and red trousers, or "breeches." All ten also wore mitre-style hats, or caps. As with Queen Anne's Marine Regiments, however, each regiment selected its own facings, buttons and lace.
A permanent British Marine Corps was established in 1755. The uniforms of these Marines was relatively standard until 1802, when the title of these troops was changed to "Royal Marines," and the style of dress changed radically from prior uniforms. From 1755 until 1802, however, the Marine Regiments again wore red coats. Now, however, all regiments wore white facings. As to hats, during this period the original uniform was a tricorne hat, but this was eventually changed to a bicorne. Specific companies, Grenadier companies, which fought on land during the American Revolutionary War, also wore non-traditional fur hats.
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