British Light Infantry
in the Revolution
In late 1770 the British government called upon each of it's Regiments
of Foot to establish a light infantry company in each of their
respective battalions. The battalion, the tactical unit of each
regiment, was now to contain 10 companies eight of regular infantry,
one of grenadiers and one of light infantry. The light infantry
were added as a result of experiences gained in the Seven Years
War (French and Indian War). Troops especially equipped and trained
to operate in terrain not often encountered in Europe had proven
their worth in numerous engagements in North America and the Caribbean.
By 1771, these new troops were to be uniformed and
equipped in a manner different to the standard battalion troops.
They were to have a shorter regimental coat, marked with laced
wings, a red waistcoat, short black gaiters, and wear a black
leather cap with a front plate noting their regimental designation.
They were all to be armed with the new short land pattern musket
and have, in addition to the usual bayonet, a small hatchet or
tomahawk. There were numerous regimental distinction to the standard
light infantry uniform and after some campaigning in North American
there seems to have taken place some rather drastic modifications
to meet the needs of actual combat experience. The light infantry,
along with the grenadiers, were continually called upon to undertake
the major efforts of the army, be it a rapid raid into the country,
an assault on a fortification or a drive to break the enemy line,
the light infantry battalions were always present.