English Military Jackets in the 1800s

Written by susanne koenig
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The rich tradition of the British military is evident in their uniforms of the past. Nineteenth century military jackets are no exception. Bright red with brass or silver buttons and made of durable English wool, these jackets can be seen in any number of English military museums. Double-breast design was usually incorporated with a navy blue interior that was revealed when folded down. The uniforms are cherished by collectors and museums alike.

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The Army Coatee Jacket

In the traditional bright red wool of the English regiment, Coatee jackets were introduced in the late 18th century and continued into the 19th century as the standard jacket for all English Army personnel. The short- or long-tailed jackets often had a double-breasted front panel with a dark blue interior complete with horizontal bands of silver threads that could be folded out on special occasions. The Coatee had two rows of buttons running down either side of the breast and came to a point at the waistline. The cuffs also were blue with silver thread bands and outfitted with polished buttons. Officers had black collars with gold embroidery. Contrary to popular belief, the red was not chosen to hide blood but as the national colour of England, and was first used by King Henry VIII's troops in 1645.

British Naval Jacket

The British Naval jacket was quite recognisable for its design and decoration. In keeping with the British protectionist policy for the English wool industry, the coats were made of durable English wool and were Navy blue in colour with longer tails than the Army uniform. The double-breasted front folded open in hot weather and across for colder climates. The officers had gold epaulettes with heavy braids and high collars. Each jacket had gold piping on the edges and plain cuffs which did not roll up. These jackets were thick seafaring ware with a cream interior.

Royal Marine Jackets

Slightly different than the Army jacket, the Royal Marine jacket had two straight lines of buttons down the front and a long set of coattails with a folded over interior cream colour. They were not double-breasted and had a short stand-up collar decorated with simple white piping. They were made of English wool and were always vested with brass buttons. These coats had exceptionally short waists for an English military jacket and featured plain black epaulettes with the same inch-wide white piping that decorated the collar. The jackets were instituted in the War of 1812 and lasted until the mid-1850s.

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