Nineteenth-Century Travellers and Researchers

Mail, plate, and soft armour were widely used in the poorer parts of the Old World at the beginning of the nineteenth century and were still to be seen at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898. Travellers, collectors, and scholars have left us some helpful descriptions. I should think that surviving pieces in ethnological museums would be just as educational if someone would examine and publish them.

Author: Lieutenant-Colonel (George Augustus Frederick) Fitzclarence, later Earl of Munster
Place of Composition: England
Date of Composition: 1819
Source of Text: Lieutenant-Colonel Fitzclarence, later Earl of Munster, Journal of a route across India, through Egypt, to England, in the later end of the year 1817, and the beginning of 1818 (London: John Murray, 1819) p. 143.  Transcribed by Sean Manning in August 2014 from copy in the Internet Archive (link).
Source of Translation: n/a
Additional Conditions of Use: None.

During his travels in India Fitzclarence examined some of the jackets which Indian cavalry wore. Many other Europeans complained that it was hard to cut armoured enemies, although some insisted that better training and a sharp blade would solve the problem.

The irregular cavalry throughout India are mostly dressed in quilted cotton jackets; though the best of these habiliments are not, as I supposed, stuffed with cotton, but are a number of cotton cloths quilted together. This serves as a defensive armour, and when their heads are swathed round, and under the chin, with linen to a thickness of several folds, it is almost hopeless with the sword to make an impression upon them. They also at time stuff their jackets with the refuse silk of the coccoons, which they say will even turn a ball. There is, in England, a similar idea respecting a silken handkerchief.

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