Bandsman, Army of the Republic of Haiti, 1893

The Republic of Haiti won its independence from France in 1804, but it never lost its influence over the country and their organisations.

The military of Haiti was never a large force but it did have a significant hold on the future of the island nation. As such it was open to and affected by corruption. It is said that over 20 uprisings or attempted coups took place between 1908 and 1915.

The uniforms of the army were predominantly French in style, based on dark blue and red. White was used in the hotter weather to provide some relief from the heat.

The bandsman here is taken from a small photograph so the detail may be lacking. He is far better dressed than his contemporaries in the army as a whole, and many who came after him.

 The shako is presumably felt with leather supports. The badge, if attached to the front, is the state arms. It is hidden here by a plume of red over white drooping feathers. The chin chain is hooked up on the right side, to not restrict the chin when playing and marching.

The tunic appears very plain, with nine buttons closing the front. There may have been some decoration of the rear skirts but this is not shown. It is ‘spruced up’ by the attachment of gilt lace and brass epaulettes on the shoulders, and the hanging of a gilt aiguillette from the right shoulder. These are both quite French in nature and would have embellished the tunic of a contemporary French bandsman.

The waist belt has the state arms embossed on the buckle (probably).

The trousers are oh so French, being red. They are decorated with a thick white stripe down the outer seams. This may have been gilt lace but appears lighter than that in the photograph.


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