Campbell’s Cavalrymen #6: The Rough Rider

I’ve been revisiting the pile of my unpainted metal yeomanry figures once more and added another to my collection of 54mm Yeomanry.

This latest figure is once again from Chota Sahib, a manufacturer who has so far provided me with some very nice figures of the Lincolnshire Yeomanry and the Lancashire Hussars.

This new figure is an officer of the 1st City of London Yeomanry, a regiment also officially described in parentheses as being the “Rough Riders”. The regiment claimed a lineage connection going back to the Loyal Islington Troop (est.1798) and the Loyal London Volunteer Cavalry (est.1803). However, the formation’s incarnation as the Rough Riders was not to take place for another century.

René North’s illustration of the Loyal London Cavalry, c.1804.

Following early British setbacks in the Boer War, the “Imperial Yeomanry” was formed from existing yeomanry volunteers so as to assist the regular forces to cope with the challenges posed by highly mobile Boer marksmen. As part of this response, the 20th (Rough Riders) Battalion of the Imperial Yeomanry was raised on 17 March 1900 in London by the Earl of Lathom. The formation was intended to replicate the Boers’ ‘Rough Rider’ irregular cavalry tactics and referenced Theodore Roosevelt’s own Rough Riders of the near-contemporary Spanish–American War.

After service in the Boer War, the Rough Riders were established on 27 July 1901 as the 1st County of London Imperial Yeomanry (Rough Riders) under the command of Viscount Maitland. Following petitions by influential Londoners (including the Lord Mayor of London himself), the following year the name of the new regiment was changed to 1st City of London Imperial Yeomanry (Rough Riders) before eventually dropping the word ‘imperial’ altogether.

All newly established, post-Boer War, yeomanry regiments were encouraged to adopt khaki uniforms. However, the temptation of these volunteers to adopt a more pleasingly extravagant and colourful uniform proved too great and a good number instead tended towards the more exotic. The Rough Riders elected to wear ‘French Grey’, effectively a shade of light blue. This was contrasted with purple collars, shoulder straps and cuffs with French Grey overalls sporting two purple stripes. The early uniform included a slouch hat with a purple pagri as can be seen depicted below in Smitherman’s “Uniforms of the Yeomanry Regiments.”

A Quartermaster Sergeant of the Rough Riders, c.1903 by P.H. Smitherman.

In 1908, the regiment adopted a conventional lancer uniform.

“This uniform was acknowledged to be one of the most popular in the London area; certainly one to catch the ladies’ eyes as demonstrated on a regimental recruiting poster c.1914.

R.G. Harris in ’50 Years of Yeomanry Uniforms.’

This post is titled as a “Campbell’s Cavalryman” because an officer wearing this regiment’s dress was depicted by Edmund Campbell in “50 Years of Yeomanry Uniforms” by R.G. Harris:

Harris is even mentioned in the painting guide notes, stating “we are grateful to the following for their assistance in the research of this figure: R.G. Harris Esq., P. Colledge Esq., and Major R.J.B. Gentry” (Gentry was a curator to the Inns of Court & City Yeomanry Museum). Another great yeomanry artist, R.J. Marrion, also depicted a Staff Sergeant Major in this lancer uniform on the back cover centre illustration of “The Yeomanry Force at the 1911 Coronation”:

Finally, legendary 19th/20th century military artist, Richard Simkin, also depicted a Rough Rider officer in a watercolour that I believe was originally made for Army and Navy Illustrated magazine.

As can be seen from all the above illustrations, the interpretation of the colours of the uniform vary. The painting notes provided by Chota Sahib state that “the colour of the tunic, breeches and lance cap top is sometimes known as ‘Austrian Blue’ but is officially described as ‘French Grey’ and this shade of French Grey did indeed vary over time for the regiment. The significant colour differences can be seen in the different examples of the uniform shown below.

The same is also true of the shade of purple used on the cuffs, collar leg stripes and plastron. Chota Sahib:

“The purple, as seen on garments in the regimental museum, differs widely from a ‘royal’ purple, to a very dark, rich, ‘plummy’ purple.”

I opted for something which inclined towards the more contrasting ‘plum’ and mixed a couple of existing Vallejo colours in my collection until I ended up with something I was happy with.

The lancer cap held under the officer’s right arm is of black patent leather, with French Grey panels, gold lace and a cap plate which included the coat of arms of the City of London with the regiment’s Boer War battle honour “South Africa 1900-1902”. The falling plume was of dyed swan feathers and appeared as a slightly lighter blue in Campbell’s drawing than the uniform, a difference which I’ve tried to reproduce on my figure. I left the cap braid on the cap top as black as I’d seen it in one example, but may add Campbell’s gold lace instead.

The figure is mounted on my usual Ukrainian-made alder wood base with added engraved panels.

Overall, a particularly colourful, exotic and pleasing figure from Chota Sahib to add to my already diverse collection of 54mm yeomanry. I’m already finding myself musing over what could be the next figure in the series.

5 thoughts on “Campbell’s Cavalrymen #6: The Rough Rider

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