Uniforms, or the lack thereof . . .
THERE WAS NO SPECIFIC UNIFORM FOR THE PA NAVY. To date nothing in the historic records indicates any type of uniform for the seamen or the marines. The Pennsylvania Archives, Second Series, posits that the marine uniform was ‘a brown coat faced with green, letter I.P.B. on the buttons, and a cocked hat’. However no support for this statement has been found by historians.
What is known as fact are orders dated December 30, 1776, to deliver to Capt. William Brown, jackets, underjackets, check shirts, trousers, stockings, and shoes for his men on the Putnam. The issue of clothing for Capt. Brown’s marines is the same as for the seamen. In fact, the same description of jackets and trousers is found in all existing records.
Recognizing the difficulties encountered in clothing the Continental Forces, it follows that the State authorities would accept any warm clothing for the State Navy. Jackets, lincey (linsey-woolsey) trousers, and check shirts were the items issued. Such articles of dress were commonly used in a seaport city like Philadelphia.
An authorized uniform may have been designated for the officers. Based on extant portraits possibly a blue coat with buff facings and buff waistcoat were used. It is known that all officers were issued greatcoats.
Sources: J.W. Jackson, “The Pennsylvania Navy, 1775-1778”; P.A. Second Series, Vol. I; Penna. MSS, RG-4, Military Accounts, Navy, Boxes 1,2,3,6.