Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms

1840 TILL 1853 OTTOMAN ARMY UNIFORMS

1839-1840 Ottoman Army Uniforms Reforms

In 1839-40, the Ottoman jersey worn from 1826 was abandoned in favour of the newer style of European wool shell jackets with stiff high collars, and coat-cuffs.

  • These were introduced in dark blue wool cloth for the entire army.
  • These appear to have been generally a lighter shade of blue, likely as the dark blue wool quickly lost its colour.
  • The jackets were edged in red tape, and some versions are illustrated with red collars.

The 1839 adoption of the European shell jacket in wool, decorative shoulder boards (following European military fashions) came into general use.  Two types were used:

  • Half-moon ended version.
  • Square-ended version.

In 1839 tunic buttons were used for the first time, these could be plain brass, but examples are known to exist with a crescent motif. This was called the ‘Order of Orta’ crescent badge, and is frequently associated with the army.

In 1839, French patterned belt buckles begin to appear with either the star and crescent, or ‘Orta’ crescent badge only. These replaced the open framed buckles used up till that time. Officers throughout this period used the European –patterned ‘S’ clasp buckle.

Around 1840, large brass shoulder-scales (directly copied from European military fashions). However, use of these must have been short lived, as these appear to have disappeared from use by the Crimean War. 

In 1840, Prussian flintlock musket were bought. These were the older version flintlocks which were being phased out of service in Prussia, by the newly introduced new Potsdamwerke (Percussion Musket) M1840. These Prussian flintlocks were still in service in 1854-56.

Right - The 1840s saw the introduction of various collar plates, worn on both sides of the soldier's collar. Made of cast brass, and can be perforated to show the red collar fabric, or engraved (in which case these would have had red Lacquer painted into the script, numbers or graphic). These had numerals for regiment numbers (Infantry), a picture of a field artillery gun on its carriage for the Artillery (Right/Top-Right), or short script in Ottoman (below-right).

Right - Four different scripts have been identified, and Plate 3 appears to translate into the modern Turkish word - Bekci (or guard). These four appear to be specialised units of soldiers in the Ottoman Army.

  • Plate 1: Not Translated.
  • Plate 2: Appears to be similar to words such as 'Emek (labour in Modern Turkish)', or 'Is (Business in Modern Turkish)'.
  • Plate 3: Appears to be 'Bekci (guard)'. 
  • Plate 4: Not Translated.

Right - A further example of a collar insignia plate. The Ottoman script (identifying the role or function of the wearer is yet to be translated). Traditionally, the Ottoman Army had specialised soldiers, with specific duties, such as 'Military Labourers' who undertook manufacture of equipment and uniform maintenance. For instance, in WW1 the average Turkish Army company, as part of the Company HQ staff, had the following:

  • Storekeeper (Corporal).
  • Tailor and Shoemaker.
  • Water Carrier
  • Cook.

Right - An early 1840s Ottoman Army infantry soldier.

  • His wears collar plates (for the 2nd infantry regiment).
  • As well, he wears the special half-moon shoulder boards common to this period.
  • Hanging from a chain around his collar a large square gold and silver plate displaying an early Ottoman coat-of-arms, consisting of the sunburst with the Sultan’s Tugra, over a grouping of three crossed flags.

The function of this plate is unkonwn, however it appears to be some type of award.

1840 Junior Officer’s Rank Brest Rosettes

Right - This figure extracted from the Vinkhuizjen Collection, has a pencil description of "Garde", with two dates "1850", and "1851", hand written on it. However, more correctly, this figure:

  • Actually dates to 1839-40, and represents the earliest Guard Infantry uniform in blue, as these were previously all red.
  • The three pairs of yellow edged red (the Guard's colours) stars down the chest, are rank insignia,

In the line infantry chest loops ending in tassels were used to show the lower grade NCO, and officer’s ranks. These related:

  • One pair: Onbasi (Corporal).
  • Two pairs: Cavus (Sergeant).
  • Three pairs: Bascavus (Sergeant-Major).

1840 Turkish Imperial Army Generals

In 1844, officers were generally distinguished from soldiers, in wearing a long skirted coat (where as soldiers wore the shell jacket).

  • The soldier’s shell jacket was worn in the Crimean War, along with newly introduced frock-coats.

Right - Back view of an officer's 1840s period coat with heavy black lace embroidery.

Right - The 1844 Ottoman Imperial Army General's collar is crimson red, and covered with a fine gold Baroque wreath.

Epaulettes seem to be a common pattern to all senior officers – and follow the French model with three concentric embroidered crescents around the main strap.

Junior officers appear to have worn a fringeless type.

Senior officers, are pictured wearing European –patterned ‘S’ clasp buckles on newly introduced gold and red brocade belts.

Right - From the 1844, till 1855 periods, the Fez became very tall and heavy. Seen here in an 1844 period portrait of Omer Lutfi Pasha. The Commander-in-Chief in the periods of Sultan Abdulmecid and Sultan Abdulaziz. Born Michel Lattas, he escaped from Austria in 1828 taking refuge in Turkey, as 'Omer Lutfi'. Joining the Ottoman imperial army he rose to the rank of Roumelia Field-Marshall and Officer Responsible to Solve the Abanian and Kurdish problems. In 1852, he joined the Ottoman-Russian war as the representative of the Sultan. He was appointed as the Musir (Field Marshall), and Commander-in-Chief of Crimea, in 1852. In 1857 he was appointed as the governor of Baghdad. He was also appointed as the Commander-in-Chief of Kyrete. He died in Egypt, and buried in a Bostan Church.

Above and Below/Right - Both officers wear a medal system of rank introduced during the Abdülmecid I period. These orders, badges and insignia made and issued by the Imperial Mint (which were catalogued in a special Imperial Album) [1]. These orders were worm well into the Crimean War period, as many of the officers in service, would have still retained their ranks, untill they were promoted or left their service, even though no more were being apointed into the 'orders of rank', after 1853.

Right - An officer in the Imperial Guard's Chasseurs, from 1853 (with green collar and cuffs). He is wearing a neck order for a Bimbashi (Major). Ottoman military rankings operated in the Abdülmecid I period according to a strict hierarchy. Firstly, officers were grouped according to the traditional titles of nobility, which also corresponded to various military ranks. Thus, ‘PASHAS’ (Generals), ranked above ‘BEYS’ (Colonels), and the ‘AGHAS’ (certain civil and military functionaries in the Ottoman empire), but below ‘KHEDIVES’ (the Royal King of Egypt), and ‘VIZIERS’ (the Ottoman Sultan’s ministers – who were frequently senior generals in the army). The origin of these various grades relates to the early medieval period of the Ottomans. For example, the title of Pasha was distinguished by the number of yak- or horse-tails (three, two and one respectively; a symbol of Turco-Mongol tradition) or peacock tails, which the bearers were entitled to display on their standard as a symbol of military authority when on campaign. Only the Sultan himself was entitled to four tails, as sovereign commander in chief. The lower ranks of officers were addressed as Bey (Majors), or Effendi, (Captains and other junior officers).

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[1] Metin Erüretin. (2001) Osmanli Madalyalari ve Nisanlari. [Ottoman medals and orders: documented history]. DMC: 36-37. Below - A sellection of senior officer's neck orders:

1840 Ottoman Army Music Corps

Right - From Mahmud Sevket Pasha shows the special uniform for the Music Corps.

  • The drum pattern is unique as it appears to be completely made of brass, with four tightening screws used. 

1844 till 1850 Ottoman Army Infantry

Right - Ottoman Imperial Guard Infantry, from 1850. The Guard in particular had a red collar, edged in yellow, including a square yellow collar loop (with red high-lights).

The Guard, also had a special gala-uniform/dress uniform in 1851 [1]:

  • Officers' uniform: "Red with blue collar and lapels (cuffs) embroidered with gold and white trousers";
  • The lower ranks: "jacket, too red, with blue collar and lapels embroidered with yellow wool (taped), linen pants, white leather outfit, without a knapsack."
  • Guard's "festive uniform": The first consists of red uniforms, with blue stripes on the collar and pants of blue cloth [2].

This red gala-uniform is based on the pre-1828 Guard uniforms.

Right - An example of a brass cast eight-point star used as a lower officer's rank badge in the 1840-1850 period (and likely well into the Crtmean War).

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[1] 17 July, 1851. Colonel Count Osten-Sacken. Some military statistical information about Turkey.

[2] 1849. Adjutant Captain Count Heyden and Captain Isakov. Notes on Turkish Military Forces [Information they had collected during their stay in Constantinople].

1840 till 1850 Ottoman Senior Artillery Officers

1840 till 1850 Ottoman Artillery

The Alfred Krupp steel muzzleloading cannons from 1847 were supplied to the Turkish army. Alfried Krupp in 1847 produced his first steel cannon, this was the Krupp 3-pounder muzzleloading gun. Some 300 field guns were ordered by the King of Prussia, Frederick Wilhelm IV. A  6-pounder muzzleloading gun at the Great Exhibition of 1851.

From 1851, the artillery in each army corps was, like the cavalry (dressed in individual corps coat colours), were distinguished by individual corps coat colors. So far only brown with blue facings have been identified.

1844 Ottoman Imperial Army Sultan's Flag

Right - In 1843-1844, Sultan Abdulmecid awarded each regiment in the imperial army with a European styled regimental standard. These were all identical and were carried as the Sultan's standard.

Right - The Sultan's standard was red with a siver crescent badge. The rank for the standard bearer, was a gilt star badge, the 'Order of Sancaktar', who ranked between a Bimbashi (Major), and the Kolagasi (Adjutant-Major). There were also colour-sergeants who could carry the standard as well,

Below - A reconstruction of the 1844 Sultan's standard.

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