Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Onto the Reveries

First up we have the shoes and legwear. This one should prove fairly simple, but who knows.
Unfortunately I am writing while suffering from lack of sleep, one hand usable and no chance of picking up my copy of the book - are babies not wonderful (of course they are, but....)

The picture above shows the clogs recommended for when in camp. I cannot really make out the leg wear, it is either a very high gaiter (there is a change in the shading under the jacket on the right leg) or a tight fitting full length trouser, similar to that worn by grenzers.
This photo shows the alternative footwear of low shoes, as recommended for duty in the field. Again the leg wear could be either of the options given above. From behind the overall look is very much that of a Grenz from slightly later in the century (I have a drawing of one circa 1790 that this combination of shoe and trouser is shown).

Any suggestions? I can't quote from Dover at the moment but one of the earlier posts (on gaiters) does have the quote about the legwear.


abdul666 said...

The clogs, intended to isolate the feet from moisture, were to be worn in camp, on guard or marching through dew, mud or snow, but never on parade or in battle, so at first at least you can dispense with them!

The very peculiar shoes are another exemple of Maurice (a good penpal of the Monte-Cristan ruler, hence the familiarity)'s original, unconventional, yet (seemingly) very sound and founded ideas. They were to be low-fronted-shoes / court shoes / almost ballet shoes with flat heels, of soft leather. To be worn 'naked feet', without socks (they cause blisters), the feet greased with tallow both to protect them from moisture and to 'nourish' the leather and keep it supple (hard leather cruelly wounds the feet of infantrymen).

As for the leg wear, it raises the question of the reliability of illustrations: the book, even if not apocryphal, is posthumous. The plates are signed, but are they dated? Compared to the text they seem to be generally reliable {and de Saxe wrote he had prototypes built for the helmet, the (almost) full armour of the heavy cavalryman, &c...}. But we can't be sue de Saxe checked them in their final form, specially regatding the colors.
The text mentions breeches of skin (deer skin? goat skin? some rather supple material, certainly)that don't go down far below the middle of the thigh, with "tirans" (tongues with buttonholes? Or more probably buttons on a short string, like the closing of duffle-coat / Hungarian dolmans, with buttonholes in the breeches themselves) along the 3 lower inches [not very dissimilar to Tyrolian 'thigh slapping' dancers, then? Seeminly more close-fitting).
The gaiters of soft leather and to raise well above the middle of the thigh (significantly higher than the British ones, then). Under the middle-leg they would to be whole, without opening on the side, like boots {according to the illustration, btw, they were sewn / stitched on the rear}. They were to have buttonholes to receive the tirans of the breeches, as to avoid garters 'which cause true martyrdom'.

Thus, in addition to the shoulder belts and cartridge pouch, and shoes, we have to pieces of clothing, garnments, made of skin / leather: the soubreveste (sleeveless vest) worn above the [full, large] (waist)coat - well depicted in the plates, the buttoning may be inspirational?;
the breeches;
the gaiters.
The three probably made from different qualities / types of skin / leather. Given the suppleness (?) / flexibility / softness required, the gaiters are probably of the thinner type, while the breeches may be more like 'leder hosen'? Thus we would have 3 different colors, two light 'buffs' for the gaiters and the vest, one darker for the breeches?

Totally to be discussed and corrected, of course!


abdul666 said...

The illustrations appear globally reliable -they seem to reflect the text rather well; even if de Saxe did not see them in their final form (?), the artist may have had access to drafts, patterns, even prototypes. And even if they imply a part of interpretation, well, a contemporary interpretation, by someone knowing what the words were precisely meaning and implying then, if far more reliable than any attempt some 250 years later. Yet I should not feel 'constrained' by the colors, specially when they change from one plate to another - as it's the case, precisely, for the gaiters and breeches.

The gaiters seem to be of thin leather -you don't need the same thickness as with fabric to have a perfectly waterproof item -de Saxe was very sensitive to all possible causes of illness. Thus very tight: this contributes to the "'Grenzer's thigh trousers" look, together with the lack of garter, of large buttons (same very small ones as on the 'soubreveste'?), of any buttonning from the calf down.

Btw, ballet shoes, close-fitting leather gaiters rising very high on the thigh (like latex thigh boots), skintight leather short breeches: it struck me that, if black, all this leather would be a fetishist dream, and I toyed with a 'Daisyesque' variant...


tradgardmastare said...

I posted a long,long rambling email about the early days of my daughters, fatigue due to this, all worth it ,etc etc and some re De Saxe ...
I tried to post it and failed- message disappeared!!!!!!!
So I will say still awaiting Dover De Saxe and wish you and yours well!

tradgardmastare said...

Too tired for another go at a big post -sorry

abdul666 said...

if you look close enough to the soldier seen from front, you'll notice that on the left leg something yellow appears above the grey gaiter. This yellow echoes that of the leather 'soubreveste': while I have some reservations about some colors, clearly the intent was to show something 'different' above the gaiter - and, no, de Saxe did NOt mention a Landsknecht-fashion codpiece!

The difference between gaiters and breeches appears more clearly (?) on plate XVII, upper row; see also the plate of the manhandled 'amusette'.

The buttoning, or whatever, of the gaiters is not apparent on the pictures. Plate XXVII (the heavy cavalryman without his armour) suggests that de Saxe favoured very tiny buttons?

Another rather mysterious point is how the gaiters joined the shoes. No allusion in the text -maybe for de Saxe it was obvious. The pictures are always unclear there, so perhaps it was not that obvious for the illustrator?

Are there similarities between de Saxe's 'gaiters' and the charivades / charivader, the stocking-like pieces often worn by hussars, some pandours (middle) and later some Grenzers (and given in 1779 to the Swedish infantry), some may have be of soft leather? A difference is that they were generally worn above ankle-length close-fitting trousers (not in Swedish service - some influence from 'Mes Reveries'?). De Saxe clearly describes *short* breeches ("going not far below middle-
thigh"), with tirans and buttonholes on the lower 3 inches. Since the gaiters ("reaching well above middle thigh") were to be attached to the same tirans, gaiters and breeches were superposed over a band of some 3 inches, centered slightly above middle thigh? Well, it's how I understand it - open to correction, of course.