War of 1812

Reconstructed Virginia Militia Artillery, Fairfax County

2nd Division, 2nd Brigade, Lt. Thomas Williams Artillery

2nd Division, 60th Regiment (Fairfax) Militia.

Our reenacting group normally portrays Jamestown (1607) to Pirate - or Pirate hunting militia (1707) and some other odd things like Cossacks and Poles and Turks.  Several of us wanted to help celebrate the local historical events of the war of 1812 - such as the Battle of Bladensburg and the Burning of DC in 1814. So, though summer 2011 we will be gathering kit and preparing to present Lt. Thomas Williams' Artillery, and 60th Regiment Fairfax Militia.


The republic and the Great State of Virginia need you!  

If you would like to portray Fairfax militia in the War of 1812 at battle reenactments, parades and special local events, or otherwise can help, please Contact us at  (orlirva  at yahoo dot com )


See our Photo Gallery

Our first events in  2011 were in North Point MD and  Jefferson Patterson Park, Maryland.

Likely Upcoming 1813-2013events include


April 20-21 1813 at MTT, Marietta Mansion, MD

May 4  at Havre de Grace, MD,

Norfolk June 9  (with big tall ship event OPSail)

August  24 Bladensburg, at Riversdale MD

Sept 7-8  North Point MD

Sept St. Leonards' creek - Jeff Patt Park, MD

Sept 21 Patterson Park, MD

Oct Sully Plantation, VA


In 2014 several major local Bicentennial aniversary events will be held,

including Bladensburg August 22-24 & 28-31, 2014 – The Bicentennial

North Point Sept 6

Battle of St. Leonard Creek Reenactment
Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, St. Leonard, Maryland
June 21-22, 2014



cannonlr.jpg (23004 bytes)


Kismet, our  light field cannon.




We don’t know much about Thomas Williams and his company, a Virginia militia artillery company that has no specified County geographical base, but belongs to  the 2nd division, which was primarily raised in Northern VA.  The artillery companies seem to be assigned to battalions that correspond to their division, and are division rather than brigade resources.  The DC/MD /NO. VA area was the 10th military district, and it seems common that companies were detached from one regiment and assigned elsewhere.  Much of the 2nd Division was fighting in Baltimore; only some dragoons were involved in Bladensburg because the Virginia companies were asked to leave their old weapons in DC, so that they could be reissued modern Springfield muskets; phase one happened just fine, but phase 2 never did, so the disarmed companies went home without their guns in a sterling example of bureaucratic ineptness.




The artillery drill book is Stoddards, based on Kosciusko's.  Outline of the drill for a crew of six is here.


Militia Uniform Regulations

issued by Joseph Barbour, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Jan 23, 1812.

The Library of Virginia (Soldiers of the War of 1812 (Research Notes Number 19)) notes: " Despite the governor’s official proclamation, any soldiers who had provided themselves with uniforms different from those specified in the regulations could wear them for six months, and many probably went to war in the everyday clothing in which they had enlisted."  The militia -crew might well be more like that illustrated above, with some men in uniform, other in "hunting shirts", others in shirtsleeves.



"A blue coat, skirts lined with red, cape, lapels and cuffs red, vest buff, overalls blue, edged with red, yellow buttons (brass), a cocked black hat with red cockade." (see figure below)


·         Coat is sort of a Coatee – short.  “Blue”=medium blue which is pretty dark, and was used much in rev war uniform. (I read "dark blue" specified for the other coats below to mean navy blue which looks almost black except in sunlight, and was the standard infantry 1812 uniform color)  Picture Right is a surviving 1810 militia coatee, in a darker navy blue, with few decorative elements.  Many surviving militia coats use embriodered or applied decorative cord rather than military tape, presumabally expensive or hard to get. The button count is also usually much lower than Federal Army regs.

·         Yellow buttons =brass, we chose to use the brass flag&cannon artillery button of 1804, and plain brass small buttons for the cuff and pockets.

·         The vest in ‘Buff’ is tan-yellow.  (Smoke & fire and other vendors sell ready made items in white - we dyed some buff;  and I'm trying one custom made from Treadle Treasures Heathertreadle@aol.com for about $90 including shipping)

·         Overalls means a pair of loose pants (still narrow) with high waist and drop front, legs reach to the ankle.  In warm weather area these would be linen or hemp, maybe cotton. Blue most likely is a “faded blue jeans” color (a period painting of Pennsylvania militia shows that sort of pale blue color).  The red trim ‘edging’ is most likely piping, since other terms were used for wool tape.  These are being made for us in hemp  by A stitch in time. 

·         In the field, gaiters would be commonly worn.   (http://www.gggodwin.com/ sells spatterdashes and half-gaiters.)

·         Shoes were often straight-last and laced, especially in the sort of shoe that farmers (and militia) used – mostly only city shoes were buckled.   Therefore, I think our 17th C. shoes will do fine, as would any 18th C. shoe.

·         The cockade is a red-painted leather rosette –small eagle.  I have made up several rosettes and red plumes of dyed dear tail tip... it hard to make a dear tail really red, I've noticed.

·         The picture shows a British-style strap, belt, and cartridge box, with a long knife.  Artillery men might rather have a general purpose pouch, although the primer might well use a cartridge box.  Any of our current cartridge boxes are fine – these and the straps are black so that shall be our uniform color (no objection to white).

·         A short sword like an 18th C. hanger is optional, along with a crossing strap..

·         A supplemental armament of a musket would make us more versatile and we could turn out as light infantry, if we had to leave the cannon behind.  The standard regular army weapon was the new Springfield.  Any 18th C. musket, (and especially the later ones like the Charleville or Brown Bess), would be appropriate for militia.  A sling would be especially useful in case we had the cannon also. Muskets require a cartridge case of any sort.

·       Rick as  sargentl: a yellow worsted epaulette for my right shoulder, as sargent;  in my case, I might keep a gold one for the left as Lieutenant plus red sash.  As gunner, I'll have a gunners case with primers and tools, and a brass prick case.

·         Stock, neck.  While not mentioned in the regs for Artillery, very good for posture and proper military bearing and building character.  Black Linen please.

·         Stone in shoe, lice.  Build more character.


To the right, Jim, among the snappy  5th MD militia, is modeling our basic blue pants, vest and hat in August 2011... no coats available as of that date.



Also acceptable, a white linen or cotton jacket, which were widely used by 1814-15 throughout the south. These are also fairly inexpensive. see http://www.jarnaginco.com/1812catframe.html and Heathertreadle@aol.com will do one custom.

Also acceptable,  just a vest or shirtsleeves - hey we are militia, gosh darn it!

Light infantry

"A dark blue short coat, with half lapels, cape and cuffs white, white lining and buttons, vest white, overalls blue, with white seams, black half boots, black stock, a  round hat, cocked on the left side with black cockade"


"A dark blue coat, cape, lapels and cuffs white, white lining and buttons, white vest, and blue overalls with white seams, black half boots, black stock, cocked hat with black cockade"

Main body of Militia

"A Blue hunting shirt, trimmed with red fringe, blue overalls with red seams, round hat cocked on the left side, with black cockade and black and red plume, black gaiters or half boots; (see attached jpg) the officer’s uniform to be dark blue coat, cape, lapels and cuffs red, white lining and buttons, white vest, blue pantaloons with red seams, black stock, cocked hat with black cockade."

   Paul at left is illustrating the complete kit, although he now has a better hat (taller).  Another possible cut for the coat is shown by Dave, right.  There is no particular reason to believe that the 'A Blue hunting shirt, trimmed with red fringe" would be of uniform cut, as the design was no doubt intended to be useful for 'off-duty' civilian use (which effectively cut its percieved cost) and small batches or individual items of varying shade were no doubt made.



"A linen hunting shirt of purple color, with overalls of the same, leather moccasins or shoes, round hat, cocked on the left side, with black cockade and black stock."


Purple may seem an odd choice.  My guess is that it was a fairly common shade in civilian hunting shirts of the time.   I know from art class clean-up that when you mix a bunch of random colors the resulting soup is usually a muted purplish-mauve color, and that color, not too far from grey, is what I imagine.  Its probabally obtainable by mixing various inexpensive or free dye stuffs, such as  mulberies, pokeweed berries, beet juice,etc.


Picture of rosette and chapaeu

source: Lewis & Clark, tailor made, trail worn: army life, clothing & weapons

By Robert John Moore, Michael Haynes

Page 173 describes the round hat, or military top hat.

A later item of this type appeared at Cowan's  auction, and although it seems to be a slightly later, taller, fashion along the lines of a stovepipe hat it may nevertheless hint at a militia 1812 hat's appearance.


"a uniquely American genre of robust, easily produced headgear first worn by volunteers during the War of 1812 and thereafter by a few militia companies until the eve of the Civil War. The fine beaver skin body is 7” tall with a 3.5” yellow plume, slightly flared outward in the early Victorian style with a brim 12.5” in diameter. This specimen is finished with a fancy gold lace hatband and green silk cockade with applied gold cord suggesting a substantial investment in high quality kit. The distinctive feature is the rectangular militia insignia composed of stamped brass letters MG centered on a very well executed brass Irish harp and cascading shamrocks, all on green velvet sewn to the front. The cockade is fitted with a matching Irish harp button of unknown manufacture (not in Tice). The consignor related that the hat had a Southern pedigree and we believe that MG refers to the Montgomery Guards, a company of Irish natives formed in 1849 by Captain John Dooley, Sr., a prominent citizen-immigrant of Richmond, Virginia, who, coincidentally, made his fortune as a hat manufacturer (Wikipedia)." source: Cowan's Auctions.

Internet Detail   This flag is a Militia regimental flag of the era, and is the basis for our 60th Regiment flag design.  a very similiar flag survives for a Virginia regiment from one of the western counties, or so I have been verbally informed.  Its quite similiar to the regular army regimental flags.



In the civilian side, we love the 'Empire' style (a.k.a. 'Jane Austin') dresses.





Delong coat


home: Polish Light Artillery