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silverfoxes

Color Of Naval Uniforms

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A question for the naval history buffs in the forum:

 

What (if any) were the proper colors for U.S. Navy crewmen during the war of 1812?  I am constructing the Revell 1/96th scale U.S.F. Constitution and I'm to the point where I want to paint the crew members.   Did every crew member have a specific color for their shirts and pants?   Or perhaps, were they permitted to use any color combination they wished?  Were they permitted to go bare chested?  I would imagine that the officers had regulation uniforms - but did the rank and file?

 

Any help and/or suggestions would be appreciated.

 

Thanks   :pirate41:

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Go to the Constitution website for some pics.  While there probably weren't strict dress regulations such as today, there may have been some uniformity from drawing from the slop chest.

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There really weren't set uniform standards in the US Navy until 1841.  This may help you a bit...

http://www.history.navy.mil/browse-by-topic/heritage/uniforms-and-personal-equipment/history-of-us-navy-uniforms-1776-1981.html

Just remember, anytime "navy blue" is mentioned in regs or books, it is really just black.

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Officers and warrants had somewhat standardized uniforms.  Often the crews uniforms were dictated by the Captain and just as often were paid for out of the Captains pocket.  Especially for specialized or highly visible crew assignments like the crew for the captains gig or mess men.

 

While by the war of 1812 the majority of the military was standardizing on Federal Blue uniforms, the Navy uniforms still tended towards Navy Blue (which appears almost black).

 

Even for standardized uniforms, there was a lot of variation in cloth dying, so the uniforms would often have varying shades.  Plus the dyes they used then were not very color fast, so they faded rapidly.

 

One thing to bear in mind if you use the USS Constitution web site for reference, and this is a pet peeve of mine, they are not wearing their trousers correctly.  The trousers were high waisted.  Meaning the waist band of the trousers came up much higher than your natural waist line.  The front hem of the coat would cover the waist band of the trousers below the buttons.  All you would see is a flat white front and the lower corners of the narrow fall seams.  Belts were not used to hold up the trousers back then.  You would wear braces (suspenders).

 

Also, social standards dictated that a man would never appear without a hat and coat.  Or at the very least a waist coat (vest).  Walking about in just your linen shirt would be the equivalent today of walking around in your underwear.  Although, I am sure that standards were relaxed somewhat while out to sea.  The crew would be required to turn out in their coats and hats for muster, religious services, and the like. 

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While very, very dark indeed, put on your number one best and go stand next to a mortician.  There is a difference.  The navy may appear even darker than the black, depending.  Or go to the tux rental place and compare a blue tux with a black one.

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In the time of interest, various merchants provided the slops - they were acquired locally not via central contracting- and officers bought their own uniform. Anticipate a range of dark blues, some much darker than others. Expect some of the dark blues to be closer ti blue jeans in shade. Shirts and waistcoats would also varie in level of adornment.

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Having worn navy blue as a sea cadet in the late 60's and early 70's I can attest to there being a slightly noticeable difference between it and black

Unfortunately I wore green after that.

(The bell bottoms made a great life preserver by the way)

 

For the technical fellows out there....

 

CMYK value of True Blue

Cyan = 84

Magenta = 53

Yellow = 0

Black = 0

 

CMYK value for Navy Blue

Cyan = 100

Magenta = 98

Yellow = 14

Black = 17

 

CMYK value for Black

Cyan = 75

Magenta = 68

Yellow = 67

Black = 90

 

Of course this has nothing to do with early uniforms and colours which was the original question and so I apologize for that.

Edited by AON

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Jeez you guys are sticklers, my point is that modern uniforms that are referred to as "Navy Blue" are not the Navy Blue uniforms of old that could be identified as blue by the naked eye.  If you want to be completely accurate the modern officer uniforms (including the old winter blues) are classified by uniform manufacturers as shade 3341.  Which I believe is the very last shade of blue before you hit absolute black in the world of fabric shades.

I also called Abbott to confirm.

http://www.abbottuniforms.com/Abbott-Uniforms-welcome.cfm
   

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Well, just to pick one, if your officer was standing next to a black-painted cannon on your model, the slight difference might show up.  In the 1812 time frame, some of the pigments used to dye cloth might fade faster than today's chemicals, so would be perhaps blue jean color more quickly, especially having to be out in all weathers and strong sun.

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Thanks for the input.  It will be enjoyable painting various shades of navy blue which reflect different rates of fading.   Were both tops and bottoms this navy blue - or perhaps were the shirts white?    As expected, the information provided on the internet only confuses the matter.  Good to have some knowledgeable answers provided on this forum.  

 

Thanks again!   :cheers:

Edited by silverfoxes

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Here are a couple of pics which you could use but there was no prescribed uniform for enlisted during the 1812 unpleasantness.  The white duck trousers could be navy blue wool to match the short jacket, the white introduced for warmer waters.  If you put Marines on your model, you're in a totally different ball game.  Marines are a special breed.

 

post-17589-0-02837500-1441397558.jpg

 

post-17589-0-28810400-1441397573.jpg

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When in doubt, refer to source documents if available. It appears that the blue material desired was purchased in bulk from Macy's (Mr. Seth Macy of Hudson, NY). For a brief listing of slops, see page 133 in The Naval War of 1812 a Documentary History Volume 1. Editted by William Dudley, 1985. Printed by US GPO, no copyright restrictions. A poor scanned version is available on line, printed copies sometimes available but rarely inexpensive.

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While it has been some time since this thread was last active, here is an August 24, 1797 letter from James McHenry to Captain Barry titled "Uniformity of Dress on Ships of War".  I realize this is a mite earlier than the period in question, but though you may find it of interest. 

 

Source: McHenry, James. 1797. “Uniformity of Dress on Ships of War.” http://wardepartmentpapers.org/document.php?id=22778

post-18-0-84789700-1486495714_thumb.jpg

 

post-18-0-83943000-1486495721_thumb.jpg

 

post-18-0-83211100-1486495726_thumb.jpg

 

post-18-0-06583000-1486495732_thumb.jpg

 

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