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Go Back   Bob Dunsire Bagpipe Forums > General Discussion > History, Tradition, Heritage
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History, Tradition, Heritage As related to the subjects of piping, drumming and pipe bands.

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Old 05-06-2020, 05:18 AM   #1
Paul Ritchie
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Default War Office Order 1854

I'm doing some work where it is best to reference original documentation. I am looking for the document that standardizes (to a degree) the dress of pipers in Highland regiments, and authorizes paid positions for five pipers and a sergeant piper. I'm not sure of the last part, it might be just six pipers.

I've seen this referenced a few ways:

- Issued by the either War Office or Horse Guards
- Either 11 Feb 1854, or some time during the period 1854 to 1856
- Either an order or a warrant
- Either a dress regulation, or a footnote to an order on a different topic

I could find an archivist to dig this up, but it would be far easier to ask this group if someone has the document(s), or links to it/them.

Huge thanks!
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Old 05-06-2020, 08:30 AM   #2
K Sanger
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Default Re: War Office Order 1854

War Office letter of the 28/1/1854 PRO WO3/115/387 is the one you want for the establishment of one Pipe Major at one shilling and ten pence per diem and five pipers at one shilling and a penny each per diem.
(quoting from D Henderson, 'Highland Soldier 1820 to 1920 page 258 note 95).

I am not aware of any attempt to standardise the dress at that time and it would probably have been unenforceable in any case.

Keith
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Old 05-06-2020, 08:33 AM   #3
el gaitero
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Default Re: War Office Order 1854

Quote:
Originally Posted by K Sanger View Post



....and it would probably have been unenforceable in any case.
Whyzo...do you think?
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Old 05-06-2020, 09:28 AM   #4
Paul Ritchie
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Default Re: War Office Order 1854

Keith - Many thanks!

All - "standardize the dress" overstates it. I'm referring to green, single-breasted doublets for non-Royal regiments. It may have had something to say about accoutrements - not sure there.

Paul
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Old 05-07-2020, 07:27 AM   #5
Texas Gael
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Default Re: War Office Order 1854

The late David Murray covers the dress of the pipers in the Scottish regiments, both Highland and Lowland, in his seminal work "Music of the Scottish Regiments" published in 1994 and republished in 2001. I have the second edition, a "must have" reference if you are interested in this subject.

Cheers -

Wes
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Old 05-07-2020, 09:58 AM   #6
Paul Ritchie
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Default Re: War Office Order 1854

I have Murray's book. That is what got me on this, because it didn't cite the sources. The book does cite some sources, but not this one.
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Old 05-08-2020, 02:44 AM   #7
K Sanger
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Default Re: War Office Order 1854

Quote:
Originally Posted by el gaitero View Post
Whyzo...do you think?
Sorry, an example of being divided by the same language, I have only just realised that is a question. So with lockdown time on my hands I will try and give an answer, albeit a long winded one. Since David Murray's book has also been mentioned, a nice man who was just a major when I served under him at Fort George, I will need to start back almost at the beginning of time as even the best of works need some corrections.

Therefore to keep closer to a piping theme in a discussion of regiments being a law unto themselves I will start with a transcript of the warrant for raising Fraser's regiment in 1775 and it's importance in military piping terms as it was the first time since 1707 that pipers were officially placed on the regimental establishment.

Prior to 1707 and the union of parliaments the Scottish Regiments came under the Scottish parliament which had provided for pipers on their regimental rolls since 1640.

Transcript

GD 24/1/930/1
Copy, 25th Oct 1775, Warrant for Raising a Highland Regt of Foot Consisting of Two Battalions
To Lt Col Sir Wm Erskine

George Rex
Wheras We have thought fit to order a Highland Regiment of Foot of Two Battalions to be forthwith Raised under your Command, each Battalion to Consist of ten Companies of Four Sergts Four Corporals Two Drummers and one Hundred private men in each Company, and with two pipers to each of the Grenadier Companies besides Commissioned Officers. These are to authorize you by beat of Drum or otherwise to raise so many men in any County or part of our Kingdom of Great Britain as shall be wanting to complete the said Regiment to the above mentioned number and all Majestrates, Justices of the peace Constables and other Civil officers to whom it may Concern are hereby required to be assisting unto you in providing Quarters, impressing Carriages and otherwise as there shall be Ocation, Given at our Court at St James this 25th day of October 1775 in the 16th year` of our Reign
By His Majestys Command
To
Our G & W Simon Fraser Esqre Barrington
Major Genl of our Forces & Coll
of a Highland Regiment of Foot a true Copy
to be forthwith raised or to the M Lewis
Officer app to raise men for
our said Regt
To Leut Coll Sir Wm Erskine


The timing of the change is interesting since not long before a request by the 42 Regiment, (Black Watch) to put some of their pipers on the establishment had been declined on the grounds that although the King had no objection to paying some pipers as drummers he did not wish to make it a formal post. The rapid change to Fraser's came about due to some of our American cousins making a break for freedom and the need to raise a large number of new regiments.

The process to raise a regiment was first to obtain the official warrant which laid down the establishment on which was based the payments that could then be drawn from the government, (one way or the other). The reason incidentally that a grenadier company is mention in that warrant is not because they were 'new', they had been around for years, but because the two pipers (or in other regiments two fifers), were attached to the grenadier company who previously had simply had the same numbers of men and drummers as every other company. Therefore to place the pipers officially on the establishment so they could be charged to the government the grenadier company had to receive a special listing.

Everybody with me so far? Nodding off is permitted, this actually works better than counting sheep. But back to the point.

Having got a warrant the Colonel sets about raising his regiment and all expenses are his until the regiment has been raised and passed its first inspection. That inspection was more than cosmetic, any unsuitable recruits were rejected and therefore no charges to the government for them could be made, an incentive to keep a high standard of recruit.

Once the regiment had passed that inspection it was placed on the establishment and the real fun began. It then had to appoint an agent usually in London who acted between the regiment and the War department to submit and obtain reimbursement for all the regimental costs. Now some equipment, guns, back packs and so on could be drawn from official government stores but even there could be some leeway.

The colonel of one regiment whose papers I have worked through had his own idea of a new model back pack and instead of drawing from government stocks wanted payment for making his own design. The reply was basically that if he wanted to use his own design then fine but the government were not paying for it. another of individualism comes from Grant of Grant's regiment where he specified that he wanted sporrans made of raccoon skins, which as he was paying for the uniforms he got.

This method of funding regiments through an intermediary third party continued up to and through the Napoleonic Wars and certainly for a while afterwards, so the concept of strict control of all such matters by the War Department only slowly evolved over the course of the 19th C and around cica 1854 which was the period of the initial post and my reply flexibility was still in much evidence.

In any case with many regiments miles away in both physical distance, like India, where local conditions also came into play and communications took months by the time any official orders relating to dress had been dispatched, sent back with queries or comments and so on a year or more could easily pass.

returning briefly to the odd situation of having an agent between the regiment and the ultimate paymaster the government in the shape of the War Department, meant that even when regiments were stood down and discharged the ramifications of the accounts could run on for some years. One regimental post that certainly held the short straw was that of paymaster.

Keith
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Old 05-08-2020, 05:21 AM   #8
Greenpipe
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Default Re: War Office Order 1854

Keith,
You mention 1854 as a significant date in the evolution of regimental management practices. Did the 2nd Duke of Cambridge, as C in C, have any significant role in this process?
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Old 05-08-2020, 05:32 AM   #9
K Sanger
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Default Re: War Office Order 1854

Not quite what I said which was that by the time of the original post inquiry of 1854 the earlier practices would have still been around although with the slow but ever grinding administrative changes slowly fading away.

The only definitive point in the 19th C was the major re organisation of the regiments in 1881.

Keith
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Old 05-08-2020, 03:44 PM   #10
AndrewLam
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Default Re: War Office Order 1854

Quote:
Originally Posted by K Sanger View Post
Not quite what I said which was that by the time of the original post inquiry of 1854 the earlier practices would have still been around although with the slow but ever grinding administrative changes slowly fading away.

The only definitive point in the 19th C was the major re organisation of the regiments in 1881.

Keith

........and the official change in nomenclature in 1881 from Pipe-Major to Sergeant-Piper and likewise for Drum-Major to Sergeant-Drummer etc.

It wasn't changed back until 1928.

Another major change came in 1949 when Pipe-Majors could finally attain WOII rank previously having only been permitted a maximum of Sergeant rank.

At attempt for this to happen had also been made in 1937 but was unsuccessful.

Despite the change, the Sergeant-Piper continued to be unofficially referred to as Pipe-Major. This can even be seen in many army service records.

Last edited by AndrewLam; 05-08-2020 at 03:48 PM.
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