Articles written by Branch Members


Since the age of re-enacting has come upon us, much research into the correct uniform for a Butler's Rangers re-enactor has revealed new details on what this famous Canadian guerrilla unit of the revolution wore on parade and in the field. Although there are no existing Ranger uniforms left, careful examination of primary evidence as detailed in Calvin Arnt's website: has revealed inconsistencies in what was thought to be the correct uniform.

Earlier tales of green 1770 light infantry coats with red facings have now been overturned. The Rangers indeed wore mid-green Kochan-Philips style wool tunics lined with linen and faced in white wool not red. Their enlisted buttons where all cast pewter with the words "BUTLERS RANGERS" on them. Some buttons were cast with an integral loop while others appear to have had a wire loop in the mold before the buttons were cast.

What was thought to be the traditional hat has turned out to be incorrect. The typical hat was a round wool felt hat with a white worsted wool edge tape that was worn with two sides down and the left side up to allow for carrying the Long Land Brown Bess musket on the left shoulder. On parade, the remaining two sides of the hat could be pinned up in the tricorn shape and worn with the left side flat to the head and the remaining two sides angled to the right in what might appear to be an odd configuration. However, this was necessitated by the very long musket. Indeed there is evidence now that many of the Rangers chopped off 8 to 10 inches of the Brown Bess barrel in order to eliminate the problem and to make traversing the bush easier.

A typically dressed Ranger (Adapted from Consulted 30.11.2011.)

  • 1 pair of shoes, black, rough leather out, round or square toed and buckled, or mocassins with tall calf-length uppers.
  • 1 pair of socks for trousers, or stockings for breeches.
  • 1 set of leather leggings that ended anywhere from above the knee to the groin.
  • 1 pair of overalls (gaitered trousers made of Russian sheeting (hemp linen) or knee breeches made of linen or wool).
  • 1 black rough leather waistbelt with a square iron buckle.
  • 1 white linen or check enlisted man's shirt.
  • 1 black horsehair stock or linen stock (i.e. a cravat).
  • 1 white wool weskit (vest). The back was either wool or linen.
  • 1 short, 1771 light infantry style regimental coat. Green, faced white (wool), without lace; white turnbacks and tails, "Butler's Rangers" buttons, with a white linen lining for the shell.
  • 1 round hat that could have its leaves brought up to form a tricorn hat.
  • 1 haversack of oatmeal linen for carrying food and personal items.
  • 1 cartridge box in rough black leather holding 36 pre-wrapped cartridges.
  • 1 black leather frog (baldric) for carrying the Brown Bess bayonet and a tomahawk in some cases.
  • An English Trade Knife for general work, fighting and scalping.
  • A musket vent hole pick and small brush on a short brass chain with a central brass fitting to hang over a tunic button or sew to the baldric.
  • 1 brass breast plate saying "Butler's Rangers" at the join of the black cross-belting over the chest. One brass Royal cypher badge engraved with "Butler's Rangers" on the outside of the cartridge box. Red wool behind it.
  • 1 canteen of tin or wood with an hemp rope shoulder sling.
  • 1 powder horn tied with a leather thong.
  • 1 Long Land musket with black buff leather sling & bayonet in a black scabbard.
  • 1 hammerstall (a leather item to fit over the frizzen of the musket so that the flint couldn't accidentally strike the frizzen, spark the pan and fire the musket). Generally it was tied to the trigger guard with a short black leather thong so it couldn't be lost.
  • 1 small wooden tool with a ball end to start the lead ball down the barrel a few inches before ramming it home with the ramrod.
  • 1 dark green hunting shirt – a smock worn over the uniform when in the field, to allow for easier travel through the bush without snagging the uniform. Generally belted around the waist or tied with a cloth sash.
  • A cloth blanket roll wrapped around a personal wallet on a shoulder sling.
  • Sometimes a hair-on brown cowhide backpack for spare clothing.
  • A hunting bag for carrying musket tools for cleaning, dis-assembly and repair, a firestarter kit with flint, a hand steel, charcloth and tow (linen fluff left over from the weaving process).
  • Occasionally a Seneca Death Hammer or War Club or a simple wood fighting club would be stuck through the waist belt for close combat.

The reason for having black leather with the flesh (rough) side out is that it didn't show damage as readily as the grain side of the leather. Additionally, having the smooth side inward acted as a liner. The full flesh side of the hide of a cow was dyed black and the leather cut from that so that the grain side of the leather and the edges were not dyed black. In practice, each Ranger had a ball of beeswax impregnated with lamp black (called blackball) so that the leather could be somewhat waterproofed and re-blacked when needed.

For an interesting look at suppliers for re-enacting for both men and women see the following website: Photographs of women's garb of the era will really interest the ladies.

David B. Clark UE
30 November 2011