The earliest record of the uniforms worn by this Command can be found in its Association Agreement on 28 DEC 1774, when fifty odd gentlemen signed, "to form ourselves into a Company, choose officers, and agree on some uniform of dress, such as red coats, white vests, white breeches and stockings, black half leggins or any other dress that may then thought to be proper.." The official uniform of the Second Company was adopted a few months later on 2 FEB 1775. "A scarlet coat of common length, the lapels, cuffs and collars of buff and trimmed with plain silver wash buttons, white linen vest, breeches and stockings, black half leggins and small, fashionable and narrow ruffled shirt." The coat was made with slide pockets but no flaps. On 16 MAR of the same year cartridge boxes, hats, cockades were adopted. The hair was clubbed behind, the side locks braided and powdered. The drummers were dressed in buff faced with scarlet and the fifers in scarlet with buff collars and cuffs.
One of the many questions asked the members of this historic Command today is why did a unit adopt the colors and styles of the British army, their enemy. In the times leading up to the troubles in the colonies, militia units provided by England to protect the colonists from pirates, thieves, Indians and to calm the population in times of unrest. We can only guess that if you wish to look the part of the authority figure you are working along side of, you would dress the same. After all, the colonists were mostly English citizens with a common bond and purpose. To wear red then was similar to all police wearing blue today.
The Company drilled regularly on the greens and became quite proficient. In April of 1775, the news of Lexington and Concord reached New Haven. On 25 APR 1775, the members signed a remarkable document so far as known to be the first written agreement of any bodies of citizens to organize as a military company in armed resistance to the British government. While in Cambridge, their uniforms and perfection in drill brought the Second Company many a favorable comment. They were selected to escort duty. When delivering a body of an enemy officer over to the English, the receiving officer remarked at the soldierly bearing and said, "they were not excelled by any of His Majesty's troops."
Over the years, as modern military weaponry improved, the uniforms had to change to meet the needs of the soldiers. In 1783, white belts, and leather gaiters were added and the coat was changed to scarlet with buff facing and cuffs. An extensive change in the uniform came in 1807. The coat was then red turned up with black velvet, trimmed with gilt cord and with skirts within two inches of the knees. White pantaloons replaced breeches and gaiters. A new cap was adopted in 1811 and in 1812, the non-commissioned officers wore gilt shoulder straps. It was again changed in 1818. A red coat with Black velvet breast trimmed with gilt cord edging, plain gilt buttons extending across the breast, none down the middle. Black collars, cuffs and trimmed with buttons and cord were lined with white. The skirt was now black and sergeants carried swords. In 1822, no member was allowed to powder his hair and it had to be worn in the new shorter style. A new cap (no details can be found) was designed in 1823 and again in 1829. A major change in the uniform came in 1833. The color of the coat was changed to blue as was the pantaloons. Caps became smaller and more comfortable with pompons. A fatigue uniform was added in 1836 with drab caps and pants with light blue trimmings. Knapsacks, tin cups and cartridge boxes with a gold eagle on it.
From 1839 to 1852 no records of any uniform changes can be found. During this time the Company fell into a dark period in which there was very much dissension in the ranks. It is said that records were burned.
When the records began again, the uniforms were of continental design and a bearskin hat was in use. These were in poor condition and were soon sold. During the time of the Civil War eighty-eight officers and men formed as Company K of the Connecticut Volunteers. It left for the front in 1861. The coat was said to be blue with buff trimmings. Caps and pants were of the period. The Company mustered out in 1865 and many members wished to go back to the scarlet coat. As in modern times, it seems the Second Company had different classes of uniforms for different situations or drills. In 1867 the Command was parading in Blue State uniforms with caps, coats and light blue pants.
In 1871, a new uniform was adopted, apparently in an attempt to get back to the original uniform of 1775. It was described as a " continental uniform: red coats with lapels and collars of white broadcloth, white straps and belts, buff breeches and top boots. Three cornered hats had plumes of red and white. " In 1879, a dark blue uniform with red trim was added to the list of class uniforms. It is said to be very similar to the Dress Blues the Second Company wears today at formal functions.
Again, in the 1880's the Command fell into a period of low interest and membership. In an effort to reorganize the troops in 1893, a uniform designed after one worn by the Coldstream Guards in 1775 was adopted. The Dress Winter Reds as it is now known is of scarlet coat with blue facing, silver braid and buttons. The coat cuts away at the front showing a white vest and ends in tail just below the back of the knees. White knee breeches, black leggings, large bearskin shako, white cross straps and officer's belts finish off this uniform which is still worn and recognized in major parades and functions all over the State and Country.
In 1990, a new addition to the 'red' uniform was introduced. With the help of then Governor William O'Niell, a cooler summer version was tailored for each member of the Second Company as well as the First Company from Hartford. Cotton/poly white pants with a blue stripe replaced wool breeches. The scarlet coat is also a cotton/poly blend. This uniform replaces the heavy wool coat during the summer months only.
As in early years, other uniforms of modern era are worn during weekly drills, annual training, battalion reviews as well as other times when another uniform is more appropriate than the 'Reds'. They are: