11 October 2007

Pine Needles or Oak Leaves?

Brrrrrr. . . . Finally some fall temperatures here in the Grand Duchy of Stollen, leading me to anticipate cups of hot chocolate, apple cider, pumpkins, and eventually the Christmas season with that lovely scent of evergreen in the house when the tree has been brought in and decorated, which leads me to an interesting question that Murdock asked. Were the sprigs of greenery that the Austrian (and some other) troops stuck in their tricornes sprigs of pine needles or oak leaves? Regardless of the answer, it still means a daub of dark green paint on the figures, but I would like to know, so my historic knowledge is correct. Please feel free to weigh in on this one. I’d appreciate your input.


David said...

Hi Stokes,

They were usually oak leaves - but the English at Minden decided to be different and stuck roses in their hats instead. Typical! ;-)


Der Alte Fritz said...

As if the French wouldn't be able to recognize those red coats (wondering why the English troops would need to stick field signs in their tricorns).

I think that we can rule out pine needles. Now I'm wondering how common the oak tree might be in Europe.

Stokes Schwartz said...

Thank you men! I sure appreciate it your help in getting my history straight.

Best Regards,


Bluebear Jeff said...

Why limit it to oak and pine?

In the Principality of Saxe-Bearstein, some units use "bay leaves" from the laurel tree . . . not only do they smell good (somewhat covering up the pungency of marching men); but they also serve to season the evening meal.

In a similar vein, basil is popular with a few colonels . . . but it doesn't hold up as well and lacks the "victory" symbolism of the laurel.

-- Jeff of Saxe-Bearstein

MurdocK said...

I think that the Oak leaf was the common one for use by Austrian forces.

Feathers were also used and popular with northern forces, such as Prussians, Polish, Russians, Swedes and British. Not so much as a battlefield identifier as a 'momentary' notice from the soverign. As the units which had been noticed by the ruler were the ones to be permitted this 'honorific' on thier head-dress.

Flowers were also used on parade occasions by Spanish and Italian (Two-Sicilies and Naples as well as the Vatican Mercenaries).

David said...

I think the English at Minden stuck them in their hats purely as personal decoration, not as a field sign; according to the source, they were wild roses from hedgerows or cultivated roses from gardens.

der alte fritz said: "Now I'm wondering how common the oak tree might be in Europe."

There are a variety of oak species throughout Europe, some like the common European oaks (Quercus robur and petraea) very common and widespread; those are typically more northern species. Others are more restricted in their distribution. Most have the classic "oak leaf shaped" leaves but some don't!


MurdocK said...


I mention the feather, since you said the hat thingy looked like a pine needle collection.

Could that shape carved into the model actually be a rather 'straght' feather?


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