Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Canadian Volunteers

The War of 1812 has a wealth of sartorial pleasures but also problematic gaps of information which, and only for the most obsessive of collectors/wargamers, can be frustrating. I have file boxes and library shelves full of uniform information. A hobby within a hobby. Please feel free to contact me should you need any particulars from virtually any conflict - I probably have something!  I have large files on, say the Crimea War yet have not one miniature from that conflict.  I may in future perhaps, but I like the collecting and knowing the uniforms.  Like I say, a hobby within a hobby.  While stating all that, I am not all that concerned if another wargamer uses Portuguese as Americans or whatever. I am not a button counter. I just enjoy exploring the differences in military dress.

This war was kinda small - not in terms of area - hundreds of miles were covered but the numbers were small.  But in this, is a wealth of wargaming entertainment as small groups can be put together for small skirmish-style affairs.  While I tend to go for the larger, battalion vs battalion actions; if low ratio of real strength to figures is your cup of tea, then this unit may be of interest.

On a war of 1812 newsgroup recently a fellow asked for help on the named unit. So I thought to share what I know.

The Canadian Volunteers fought on the American side.  They would led by Joseph Willcocks, a "disgruntled" newspaper editor and member of the House of Assembly and colleague, Benajah Mallory.(1)  They formed the "Canadian Volunteers" a small mounted unit , only some 50, was an irregular style group more bent on destruction and spying than fighting and did not enter U.S. service as a volunteer corps until April 1814. Before that time they wore civilian dress - probably more 'town-wear' than buckskins - with white cockades and green ribbons around their hats. After 1814 clothed in U.S. infantry uniform (recorded in September of that year)(2)

1- Pierre Burton, Flames Across the Border, p.81
2- Rene Chartrand, Uniforms and Equipment of the United States Forces in the War of 1812, pg. 54


  1. I have done a follow up post. See: