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British Army Painted Knapsack, 1760s - 1810

American Revolution - Napoleonic Wars

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*special thanks to Joel Moffet for the development of the prototype

We had the fortune to study in detail an original late 18th century British Army knapsack. From this examination we are able to produce this completely handmade replica including the buckles and marker's mark. As the photos attest this is must for any British Army reenactor.

This item is made of oznaburg linen and closed with white leather straps (similar to buff), and is waterproofed by reddish brown paint matched to that of the original. The paint covers both sides of the knapsack:

Original Knapsack (special thanks to Keith Raynor)

Inside the two main storage pockets are closed by three black horn buttons and all the finishing is done by hand. One delightful element about the original knapsack was the presence of the marker's stamp for the famous firm Trotters of London. This element is reproduced in fine style on our replica:

knapsack2.jpg (39331 bytes)


Pictorial and other evidence suggests the painted knapsack started to take hold in the British Army just prior to the American Revolution. By the 1790, it was universal. Indeed the Dayes prints of 1792 show this type of knapsack on the ground beside each regiment the artist illustrated. The extensive collection of the 97th Regiment of the early 1790s again supports this packs dominance. A beautiful painting in 1805 of an unknown British volunteer in the collection of the National Army Museum, almost identical to the original above, shows its continued use.

When the new design was implemented in 1806, it took many years for the various Regiments to switch. Regimental Inspection returns show this knapsack still in use into 1810. The 1806 knapsack is probably one of the most mis-interpreted items of equipment and commonly believed to have boards in it which it did not. The practice of placing of boards in the knapsack started in 1815 in some regiments and was not at all a universally-adopted alteration. Of course this is another story. - Robert Henderson

Other Images: Image 1 Image 2 Image 3

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