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Jamaican Militia Shoulder Belt Plate and Cartouche Badge, 1803
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Jamaican Militia Shoulder Belt Plate and Cartouche Badge, 1803

Measurements: Case: 22cm (8.5in) x 14cm (5.5in)



Die cast brass Other Ranks’ cross belt plate, deeply engraved ‘Jamaica’ over the alligator upon a torse, the whole beneath ‘1803’. The reverse with all three fasteners are present. Together with a Jamaican Militia Other Ranks’ cartouche badge, a very rare example in heavy die cast brass eight pointed star with central circlet, inscribed ‘Jamaica’ ‘1803’, encircling the alligator upon a torse, two integral brass fasteners present. Both mounted on a length of cross belt. Framed and glazed.

An 1823 description of the Jamiacan Militia records, ‘There is here a tolerably well-disciplined militia ... The uniform, arms, and accoutrements of the militia, are much the same as those of the regulars, only that hats are worn instead of caps by the battalion companies. During the Maroon war this was found to be a most unwieldy and inconvenient mode of equipment, and it was accordingly exchanged for one in the style of that of a rifleman. In a hot climate the equipment ought to be as light and convenient as possible: on the parade it may be very well to prefer the gaudy and gorgeous to the useful; but the veteran who has seen some hard campaigns learns to appreciate the latter. At present some of the militia regiments have rifle companies attached to them; but if half of the militia were converted into sharp-shooters, it would become a far more effective corps. It is well known how terrible an enemy the American riflemen were in the war of independence; and America-at least that part of it which became the theatre of war, -is not half so much intersected with woods, mountains, rocks, and ravines, as Jamaica. Such indeed is the topographical nature of this country, that, though an enemy might be in possession of the towns, and even the fortifications, the interior could easily be defended against a very superior force. Nature affords innumerable situations here that may be deemed impregnable, without the assistance of art or the efforts of labour.’
‘Though regular troops must be much more effective than the militia here, in a contest with an external and regular foe, yet in a warfare like that with the Maroons, the latter are better adapted than any troops of the line: they are more accustomed to the country and inured to the climate; they are more in the habit of traversing the woods, and more familiarized to the haunts and recesses they afford. Regular troops are taught to face danger without flinching or seeking for refuge from it; but this very bravery, or rather steadiness, which is the soul of discipline, in warring with a civilized foe, often proved the destruction of parties of regular soldiers, who were sent to watch the motions of the Maroons, or drive them from their haunts; while in their extreme caution and art of concealment consisted the principal generalship of these savages. The militia were more cautious; on marching through dangerous defiles, where they apprehended an ambuscade, they stole guardedly along, having recourse, like their barbarous adversaries, as occasion required, to the natural defences of rocks and trees. During this contest, a body of armed slaves, called black-shot, usually attended the expeditions of the whites: they behaved with great fidelity, and were exceedingly useful, as an advance-guard, in scouring the woods and discovering the retreats of the Maroons.’