Virginia Militia Uniform

Musket fire by Steven Forest

Virginia militia uniform


Virginia Militia Uniform

As worn by members Steven Forest (by flag) and Paul Bess

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20 Responses to Virginia Militia Uniform

  1. Mark Kreps says:

    Where did you get the fine look War of 1812 flag pictured with Steven Forest.

  2. Michael C. Lucas says:

    I am researching Virginia Militia between 1811-1848. Would anyone have any information regarding the Petersburg Militia, Richmond Blues, Pictures, paintings, original uniforms.?

    • Mike says:

      Stuart Butler’s Guide to Virginia Militia Units in the War of 1812, pages 159-160 indicates The “Petersburg Republican Light Infantry” company, one of several company size units of the 39th Militia Regiment, was commanded by Captain Alexander Taylor from February 13th to March 3rd, 1814 and it was sent to Norfolk and upon arrival was attached to the 2nd Virginia Militia Regiment commanded by Lt Col William Sharp while there in the vicinity of Fort Norfolk. They were called up again from 28 Aug to 29 Oct 1814 and attached to General Chamberlayne’s Brigade and was positioned at Camp Fairfied, vicinity of the James River protecting Richmond from attack

      I do not have any photos of their uniforms
      Mike Lyman

  3. John Johnson says:

    I am the new owner of a house built in 1803 on Church Hill, Richmond, VA., and the first builder and owner, Anthony Turner; was a Captain of the 19th Virginia Regiment that opposed Benedict Arnold.
    Does anyone have anything or information regarding this unit, its flag or such …. ?
    Would greatly appreciate anything ….

    • Mike says:

      John Johnson:
      Anthony Turner was indeed a Captain in the War of 1812 and was in charge of one of several companies of the 19th Virginia Militia Regiment assigned to Richmond City and he and his company served on two occasions.( Stuart Butler’s “Guide to Virginia Militia Units in the war of 1812”, 2d edition dated 2011, pages 174-5) First he and his unit served along the James River protecting the city, March 18-27 and June 28-July 3 1813. Second his unit went to Norfolk and was attached to Lt Col Coleman’s 6th VA Militia Regiment there from January 11 to April 12, 1814.In both call-ups his unit had no contact with the British forces.
      Your statement that that he opposed Benedict Arnold is of course incorrect as Arnold was in Virginia during the Revolutionary War not the War of 1812.
      His unit did not have specific colors and while mustering and marching would have carried the Star Spangled Banner flag of 15 stars and 15 stripes, the flag of our country at that time
      Our society is very pleased that you are maintaining his house. If you would like our society to be involved with plaque or something similar that outlines his service to be unveiled in a ceremony please contact the President of the society as shown on this website.

      Do you Have a burial place for him?

      Specific service records may be obtained from NARA for Captain Anthony Turner. They are at the National Archives in roll box 212 records 1532 and 1533

      Mike Lyman, Past President War of 1812 Society in VA

  4. John Johnson says:

    Do you have any drawings or renditions of the most probable uniforms or attire that Captain Anthony Turner, might have worn at his time in the 19th VA ?

    • Mike says:

      The Virginia Governor Barbour’s requirement issued in January 1812 for a captain militia officer of the light infantry was to have his rank displayed with a silver epaulet on his right shoulder thus indicating he was a Captain.(his junior company infantry officers would wear the silver epaulet on their left shoulder). He would wear a dark blue short coat (no tails) with half lapels, cape and cuffs white, white lining and buttons, white vest and overalls blue, with white seams, half black boots, black stock, a round hat,cocked on left side, with black cockade. All officers would carry side arms.

      The enlisted men of his command would wear a blue hunting shirt, trimmed with red fringe. blue overalls with red seams, round hat cocked on the left side, with black and red plume, black gaiters or half boots.

      I’m sorry I do not have a picture however, the man firing a musket salute in a cemetery at the head portion of the website shows an infantryman of the militia.

      Mike Lyman
      Past President War of 1812 society in Virginia

  5. Robert von Lunz says:

    Colonel Armistead Thomson Mason was in command of a Virginia cavalry unit that formed an escort for President Madison, when he fled Washington D.C. after the Battle of Bladensburg during the War of 1812. The President went to Brookville Md. and this small village became Capitol of the United States for a day. Do you know what cavalry unit Mason commanded and if there are any records of the event. A Bi-Centennial event will be held in August 2014 to commemorate the occasion and re-enactor’s will portray the civilian and military personnel that were present.. Are there any descriptions, color plates, of the uniforms worn by Mason and his troop? Mason’s militia unit must have been federalized and I would assume there must be a roster of it’s members. We are currently researching the Maryland Cavalry units that served in the War of !812 , but know little about the structure and service of those in Virginia. Do you have any Mason or his units descendants? They would be welcome guests at the Brookville event. Thanks in advance for any information that you may be to provide on Mason and his Troop……….. regards Robert

    • Mike says:

      I have referred your query to the expert Stuart Butler, a councilor of our society for reply. He is the author of several books on the War of 1812 in Virginia specifically “Defending the Old Dominion: Virginia and its Militia in the War of 1812” and his “A guide to Virginia Militia Units in the War of 1812, 2d edition 2011”
      His reply to me:
      “I have from two very good sources that the Mason that Mr. Luntz talks about is John Mason, not Lt. Col. Armistead Mason of the Loudoun militia. The sources are: Ralph Ketchem, James Madison, A Biography, pages 578-81; and Steve Vogel, Through the Perilous Fight, 218-220. Both sources indentify John Mason, not Armistead Mason. They both describe a guard of dragoons, or a gathering guard of dragoons from Wiley Tavern, in what is now Falls Church, into Maryland and also at Brookville. If they were militia dragoons, some or all of the men may have been part of Capt. George Graham’s company known as the Fairfax Light Dragoons, but I doubt there is any kind of militia muster or payroll created on the spot for this group, which seems to me were simply an ad hoc group of men available for the service. This was a “volunteer” unit composed of men who were special in that sense that they could have worn uniforms special to that unit, and none other. What that was, is difficult to say. There is no way for sure at this point to identify them as part of Graham’s dragoons. An examination of graham’s CMSR might show that he was at Brookville, or those CMSR of any of his men possibly. The muster rolls of Graham’s dragoons might also indicate that some of the men were there. Getting the names of his men and looking at their CMSR or possibly any BLWs or pensions would be another way of possibly identify them. Of course, other units from Maryland may have been added to that group which accompanied Madison, etc. into Maryland. That is far as I can go in this matter at this time. Hope this helps. Where Armistead Mason was all this time in difficult to conjecture, but eventually was in the Baltimore area by early September, but I would have to do a great deal more research on his whereabouts to verify this.”
      I note from Anthony Pitch’s book”The Burning of Washington”, page 96 indicates Attorney General Rush and General Mason with entourage (militia not named if present) crossed by ferry into VA and were to meet at Wiley’s, an inn close to Great Falls and 16 miles NW of Georgetown. He cites the Jone’s report of 3 Oct 1814 ASP Mil 16,1:577

      On Page 129 it indicates they crossed the next day into MD arriving at the Montgomery County Courthouse as late as 6pm of Friday. He cites correspondence Madison to Monroe 26 Aug 1814. JMP
      On page 162, he indicates that Madison and horsemen went from the Montgomery County courthouse to the village of Brookville to the home of the village postmaster, Caleb Bentley. He cites correspondence Madison to Jones 27 Aug 1814 UCSC. It is doubtful, but these sources may reveal militia units commanders

      The uniform of the Virginia Calvary during the was-“A sort dark blue coat, with yellow buttons, white lining, half lapels, cuffs and cape red, white vest and leather beeches, jack boots, spurs, black stock and black leather cap, dressed on the crown with bearskin, and decorated with a light blue sash and red and white plume”
      Mike Lyman Past President, War of 1812 Society in Virginia

      • Samuel Y. Smith, Jr. says:

        Was attempting to find info on the 56th Virginia Militia Reg’t (?) that occupied the Ferry Point Redoubt, (Ferry Branch, Patapsco River, Baltimore (Defense of Baltimore) Sept-Oct 1814, mentioned in Lord’s Dawn’s Early Light. Can we confrim Capt S.W. Young’s Company, in Taylor’s (56th?)Virginia Regiment. Mbr. SW1812 in Maryland

        • Mike says:

          Samuel: Stuart Butler’s “Guide to Virginia Militia Units in the War of 1812” pages 119-122, pub 2011 indicates that Captain Samuel W. Young’s Company from 24 Aug to 17 Sep 1814 was assigned to Virginia’s 56th Regiment from Loudoun County, VA and was a part of Virginia’s 6th Brigade at Baltimore

          Mike Lyman
          Past President
          Society of the War of 1812 in the Commonwealth of Virginia

  6. Mike says:

    Mike, I am trying to find out information on the 1812 Captain Joseph Grantham’s Company of Light Infantry, Jefferson County, VA. 55th Regiment of Virginia Militia. Who might have any holdings on this information?

    And, Are there any VA Militia 1812 reenactment units you know of?

    • Mike says:

      As I’m sure you know Jefferson County is now in West Virginia. I could not find him on the service records index files at the National Archives nor in Virginia’s muster rolls and payrolls so I asked out expert Stuart L Butler, the author of “A Guide to Virginia Militia Units in the War if 1812,” published 2011 by the New Papyrus Publishing Co, Athens, GA for his comment to forward to you. He indicated, “If you can’t find him at Ancestry index, most likely he did not serve at least under federally paid service. The register of officers at the Library of Virginia (microfilm) shows that he was commissioned a captain on May 6, 1808. The 55th regiment was initially called to muster right before the Washington campaign, (summer 1814) but his company apparently did not march to Washington, or at Belvoir’s White House as did other Jefferson County units who were called up and served eventually in Baltimore” Perhaps you could find more about him in the Jefferson County orderly books during the war period.
      Under uniforms on this site we show two of our members at Fort Norfolk in the proper attire for the war in Virginia. They do have a color guard there. Other members of our society are dressed in the Richmond Light Infantry Blues coat and the Shacko officer hat with emblem or in a militia uniform. There is no War of 1812 reenactment units in Virginia to my knowledge.

      Mike Lyman
      Past President War of 1812 Society in Virginia

  7. Rod Schwager says:

    Greetings Mike,
    The regular army and militia did not carry the fifteens stars and bars as the national flag. Its use was usually confined to identify garrisons and forts. Most militia flags were version of their state flag, which usually incorporated a variation of the state coat of arms eg New York and Pennsylvania. Some state militias units then had a regimental flag of varying types.

    However, I can’t find any information on unit flags for Virginia and DC militia. Do you have any descriptive information or better still an image of these flags.


    • Mike says:

      Rod: I referred your query to the most informed person on the War of 1812 in Virginia, Stuart Butler. He is the author of several books on the war here in Virginia. His latest, Defending the Old Dominion-Virginia and Its Militia in the War of 1812,”by University Press of America, Inc., published 2013.

      This is his reply: There is scant information about the description of various Virginia militia regimental flags during the War of 1812. That there were such flags is undeniable from the information I have seen among the relatively few regimental and battalion level orderly books still in existence. Usually, the fines collected by courts of inquiry due to non attendance or for other reasons such as officers not wearing their uniform or persons repeatedly showing up without weapons of any sort, were used for purchasing musical instruments and services, to include purchase of regimental flags. Flags of the 85th Virginia Regiment (Fauquier Co) and James City County (68) were captured at Hampton in June 1813. A description of the 68th Flag appears to be the Virginia state flag with the numbers of the unit inscribed around it. This may the typical flag of other regiments.
      In all my research among records here in Virginia I have not seen a description of these flags. I have enclosed a few references about these flags taken from the internet. Mr. Schwager can also insert James City County, or 68th Regimental flag, War of 1812, and obtain the same reference I have done. There may be something out there on the net that might have a photo of it, but I have not found it. Another source of information is the Virginia War Museum in Newport News. They do have a Virginia War of 1812 exhibit or they used to do. I saw it about five years ago, but cannot remember if there is a depiction of a regimental flag. Hope this helps.
      A description of the James City County 68th Regiment flag is:”On it is represented a female figure with a helmet on her head; in one hand she holds a poignard, with which she appears to have stabbed a robust male figure, prostrate on the ground, on whom she treads with her right foot; a crown lies near to designate the figure as a representation of the king, or prince regent, and probably, at the same time, that of John Bull dying, which is elegantly and emblematically expressed by a wide open mouth, as if in the agony of bellowing. In the right hand of this fair Columbia is the flag of thirteen stripes, surmounted by the cap of liberty, and bearing this motto, ‘Tyrannos pedibus calco’.”

      Mike Lyman, Past President, Society of the War of 1812 in VA

  8. Rod Schwager says:

    Mike and Stuart,
    Thank you for your prompt replies. The description of the James City County 68th Regiment was particularly useful.

    About five years ago I saw the James City County 68th Regiment flag in the Regimental Museum in in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England. Unfortunately, I saw after it suffered from fire damage as a result of an IRA bomb plot explosion, so it was very difficult to discern the details. This flag was previously kept by the Royal Hospital at Chelsea, London (next door to the National Army Museum).

    I plan to war game the battles of Bladensburg and North Point and perhaps smaller engagements such as Craney island. To that end I collect paint and base 28mm figures and eventually lay out a scale battlefield using period topographical maps for scale conversion. However, before I even start the process I conduct a lot of research to get the uniforms, equipment, orders of battle and flags correct, hence my query.

    In the meantime, I will conduct some more searching to see if I can get a pre fire photo of the James City County 68th Regiment flag.

    Many thanks for your help.


  9. Judy Cavendish Chamberlain says:

    My 3rd great grandfather, Andrew Cavendish, participated in the War of 1812. According to his General Index card, he served in the 4th Regiment (Boyd’s) Virginia Militia. A pension record lists Captain John McClung’s Company Virginia Militia. He served from 25 Apr 1814 to 17 July 1814. I would like to find some information on this unit as to where they were stationed and what they did. How were the men selected to serve in this unit (I believe Andrew lived in Greenbrier County at the time)? I have looked for books in the area where I live that may contain some information but cannot find any. Also, I looked in the muster rolls on the website for the Library of Virginia but did not find Andrew Cavendish. I would appreciate any information you can provide. Thank you.

    • Mike says:

      Judy: Your ancestor was not paid by Virginia is the reason why he is not on the Virginia Muster and payrolls. Greenbrier County (now WVA) was part of Virginia during the War of 1812 period. Stuart Butler’s book, “A Guide to Virginia Militia Units in the War of 1812” pages 87, 225 and 227 is the source. Capt John McClung’s Company from Greenbrier County was ordered to Norfolk and upon arriving was attached to Lt Col Elisa Boyd’s 4th VA Regiment which was paid by the Federal Gov’t, thus you found his records at the National Archives. Andrew was selected because he resided in Greenbrier County and he was in the military age group to serve. The Governor of Virginia ordered many company size units to Norfolk to prevent it from being captured and occupied by the British like what happened in the Revolutionary War

      Mike Lyman

  10. Judy Cavendish Chamberlain says:

    Thank you so very much for the information. I figured out that Andrew was about 25 when he served. It is interesting as my dad (Andrew’s great, great grandson) was stationed at the Norfolk Naval Reserve Base in 1942. He never saw active duty during the war due to the fact they discovered he had tuberculosis and, after a three month hospital stay, received a medical discharge.

    • Mike says:

      Judy Thanks. Your are probably eligble to join the U.S. Daughters of 1812 Society. Go to their website for info and an application. If you have a son or brother they could join our War of 1812 Society by contacting our state registrar Hugh Markham at

      Mike Lyman

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