Equipment of a Soldier of The1st Battalion, 42nd (Royal) Highland Regiment of Foot "Black Watch" in 1814
During the Napoleonic period most of the soldiers only possessed the belongings they where carrying around on their body. There was no such things like a barrack room back home stuffed with personal belongings or a flat and house. Once a year just before Christmas the soldiers received a new set of uniforms consisting among other items of a new kilt and two pairs of shoes. Other pieces of equipment were handed out every two years like the bonnet or every six years like the pack. Items like the gaiters, full hose, spare soles, brushes and so on were known as “necessaries” and had to be purchased by the soldiers themselves.
What is listed below is what a Highland soldier should have had in Wellington’s Army during the Peninsular War, although the reality was different. Boots were quickly worn out and soldiers changed to local sandals, brass buckles were sold to bolster the soldier's wages, kilts were cut apart and sewn into trousers which were more suitable in the Spanish countryside, unnecessary kit was thrown away or sold and leather neck stocks were simply discarded or changed against linen substitutes.
The weapon carried by the Highlanders during the Napoleonic Wars was the Brown Bess .75 calibre smooth bore flint lock musket of the Indian pattern type. A lock cover and wooden muzzle protector gave weather protection for the weapon. Ammunition was carried in a cartridge box containing 60 rounds which hang from a white leather belt. The cartridge box also contained a musket tool, spring spanner, a tin of brick dust and an oil flask. The “whisk and pick” for cleaning the priming parts of the musket hung from the breast plate of the Cross Belt, made of white leather. The belt was used to carry the bayonet frog and bayonet. Three pints of water were carried in a wooden canteen. A haversack was used to carry the daily ration as well as a plate, knife, fork and spoon, a tin mug and a fire starting kit. The Highlanders' uniform consisted of a feather bonnet, a white linen shirt, the red coat with collars and cuffs in regimental colour and decorated with regimental lace, the kilt, the leather neck stock, the sporran, a pair of full hose, a pair of spats, a pair of boots with brass buckles and a pair of gaiter flashes.
On his knapsack the soldier carried a blanket or greatcoat of grey wool and a mess tin with cover. The knapsack was stuffed with a spare pair of shoes, two pairs of spare boot soles, a second shirt, the plaid, a working dress consisting of a white jacket and trousers, a camp bonnet, a pair of spare hose tops, a holdall for brushes (2x) and cleaning kit, a black ball, with pipe clay, a tooth brush, soap, a shaving brush, a shaving knife and a towel. In addition the soldier may have carried parts of the section equipment such as a billhook, an axe, a kettle or a saw. Personal belongings carried might be a sleeveless vest, a pair of dice made of musket balls, a clay pipe and tobacco, candles stolen from a farmer, a bottle of red vine and a piece of garlic sausage taken from a killed French soldier.
“The 42nd which was the only regiment in the brigade that wore the kilt, was beginning to lose it by degrees; men falling sick and left in the rear frequently got the kilt made into trousers, and on joining the regiment again no plaid could be furnished to supply the loss; thus a great want of uniformity prevailed; but this was of minor importance when compared to the want of shoes. As our march continued daily, no time was found to repair them, until completely worn out, this left a number to march with bare feet. To remedy the want of shoes, the raw hides of the newly-slaughtered bullocks were given to cut up, on purpose to form a sort of buskins for the barefooted soldiers. The man in patched clothes and a piece of untanned hide about his feet, when he looked around him, saw others in some respects as ill appointed as himself. Our knapsacks were also by this time beginning to display, from their torn ends, their worthless contents; and as our line of march was in an opposite direction from our expected supplies; our exterior appearance was daily getting worse.” Sergeant James Anton 1st Battalion, 42nd (Royal) Highland Regiment of Foot "Black Watch"March 1814