Sunday, 13 September 2009

The Original Long Knives

While we are in the region of Vincennes (see below) I thought it might be worth talking about the original Long Knives - George Rogers Clark's Illinois Regiment. Made up of Virginia and Kentucky militiamen they were celebrated Indian fighters and are remembered as the Conquerors of the Old Northwest. It seems that this formation was in the main uniformed despite the common image of them as frontiersmen - in uniforms made by first French and then Spanish (as this Don Troiani image of the 1782 uniform depicts) tailors. Weapons included Spanish muskets and these French-made grenadier sabres. Whether the name came from these swords or actual long knives that were issued I don't know...George Rogers Clark referred to them as 'Big Knives' in a speech.
Further reading
Illinois campaign
Information on the Illinois Regiment's uniforms and equipment are at this reenactment website which furnishes lots of information on the appearance, the myths and the reality.
Read about the French-made swords and the picture's caption in Don Troiani's Soldiers of the American Revolution.

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