The Royal Irish Artillery’s involvement in the American War for Independence, although brief, was a part of the largest Artillery campaign to-date in North America. The Royal Irish Artillery was not brought to North America as a distinct unit, but as drafts for the British Royal Artillery during Lt. General John Burgoyne’s New York campaign of 1777.
This detailed history continues in this paper written by David Dooks.
The uniforms of the Royal Irish Artillery during the time of the AWI followed the coloring standards of the British Royal Artillery from the same time. A blue coat, faced red and laced with a yellow worsted lace for enlisted men, and gold lace for officers. However the RIA’s coat was designed a bit differently in that the buttons on the facings were paired and the sleeves had chevrons as opposed to the more traditional round cuff. Differences also appeared in the uniforms of the NCO’s (right) where corporals and above had coats laced in gold, and according to a regulation from 1767, all coats were to have a blue lining. There remain only two known examples of the RIA’s uniform. One is a Portrait of Earl of Kildare from 1760 and the other is of a corporal from 1773, a painting which resides in the Ann S.K. Brown Military Collection at the Brown University Library.
During the Burgoyne Campaign, uniforms were cut down to short coats and the tradition cocked hats were cut down into a LI style type of helmet. In recreating the RIA we have chosen to adopt the look of the uniforms as they would have looked “stepping off” the boat in Quebec in 1777, prior to the alterations made by Burgoyne’s Army.
Our button remains somewhat elusive. The two examples of the button found in Calver and Bolton’s book History Written with Pick and Shovel shows two that were found New York. We are currently trying to get a good quality, accurate reproduction made of one of these buttons.