Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms

1828 TILL 1839 OTTOMAN ARMY UNIFORMS

1828 Ottoman Army Organisation and Ranks

By 1828, the army counted about 35,000 all ranks, and formed into 33 line infantry regiments, with just 500 men in each battalion. Attached to each regiment were 120 artillerymen serving 10 field pieces [1]. The infantry were armed with French and Belgian muskets. The 1828 infantry had the following organisation:

  • ALAY: regiments, commanded by a MIRALAY: colonel, who was assisted by one lieutenant-colonel assisted by an intendant.
  • Divided into nine BOULOUQ: companies, that were divided among three TABOUR: battalions, each commanded by a BIMBASHEE: major, and two adjutant-majors, one flagbearer and a secretary.
  • A BOULOUQ: company was commanded by a YOUZBASHEE: captain, two lieutenants, a sergeant-major, four sergeants, and one Third-Class Sergeant.

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[1] Marcel Roubicek. 1978 Modern Ottoman Troops, 1797-1915: In Contemporary Pictures. Franciscan Printing Press.

Ottoman Army Headgear (1828-1832)

The pre-1807, nizam-i-cedid: new order army soldiers of Sultan Selim III (1789-1807), commonly wore the Janissary red skull cap, as well as the long tall red Bostandjees hats. In 1827, an order was made for 50,000 tall cylindrical red hats, from Tunis, by the Sultan for his New Model Army. These were modified with the addition of yellow tape stripes. By 1828, the headdress called a TARBUCHE: or Greek cap. A TEQUI: a close-fitting cap, worn underneath the headdress, can be seen with a part projecting down all around [1]. On 3 March 1829, new laws were passed regulating the dress of several ranks of imperial officials, and this included the use of these tall red hats. In 1832, the Imperial Fez Factory was established at Eyup, employing Tunisian, Turkish and Armenians to make the new fez (which by this stage had added an enormous tassel, which was not reduced in bulk till 1845 – becoming in now familiar form).

Right – Extracted from the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection: Russian irregular cavalrymen, c.1815. Painted by Aleksander Zauerveid “no.18 - Nogaischer Tartar”. The 1826 Ottoman Army adopts this exact same headgear for its soldiers.

The 1832 decree of Sultan Mahmud II, declared the Fez to be the Ottoman Turkish national headdress, to be worn by civilians and military alike [2]. The new bonnet worn by Mahmud II and his troops was the crimson wool fez; traditionally made in places such as the south of France, Tunis, or by Tunisians living in Constantinople, and had long been worn in the Mediterranean, and North Africa. It was seen as early, as 1669 worn by Ottoman troops at the siege of Candia.

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[1] Knotel, R. Knoetl, H. Sieg, H. 1980 Uniforms of the World - A Compendium of Army, Navy and Air Force Uniforms 1700 - 1937. Arms Armour Press, London.

[2] The development of the fez headgear (1827-1832) is documented in Philip Mansel. 2005 Dressed to Rule: Royal and Court Costume from Louis XIV to Elizabeth II. Yale University Press.

Ottoman Army Uniforms (1828-1832)

An 1828 illustration of a Turkish infantryman shows them dressed in an all-blue uniform, and wearing a close-fitting stripped cap [1]. The dress of the rest of the infantry is of exactly the same style for all, but the colour of the coat varies from regiment to regiment: dark blue, light blue, red , and chestnut brown coats all being worn. The shoes are of red Morocco leather. The girdle is white.

By 1832, the infantry was equipped with muskets and bayonets and sabres, and had cartridge boxes of lacquered leather, and white belts [2].

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[1] [2] Knotel, R. Knoetl, H. Sieg, H. 1980 Uniforms of the World - A Compendium of Army, Navy and Air Force Uniforms 1700 - 1937. Arms Armour Press, London.

1828-1832 Imperial Guard Infantry

By 1828, there were wo regiments of BOUSTANGEE: Guard infantry, composed three 900 man battalions each [1].

By 1832, the guard infantry regiment wore a chestnut brown uniform with more silk embroidery than the line [2].

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[1] Marcel Roubicek. 1978 Modern Ottoman Troops, 1797-1915: In Contemporary Pictures. Franciscan Printing Press.

[2] Knotel, R. Knoetl, H. Sieg, H. 1980 Uniforms of the World - A Compendium of Army, Navy and Air Force Uniforms 1700 - 1937. Arms Armour Press, London.

Regimental Uniform Colours (1828-1832)

According to the account given in the Berliner Stadt- und Landbote (1832): "The colour of the coat varies from regiment to regiment: dark blue, light blue, red, and chestnut brown all being worn" [1]. More of these 'regiment colours' can be seen in different uniform illustrations (Vinkhuizjen Collection). All these early illustrators represent the first eight infantry regiments, that originally existed in 1826. These show the officers and soldiers wearing the jersey-like garments in one of eight basic colours:

  • Red (which are known to have been the Sultan’s guard infantry);
  • Pink, which according to one of the older illustrations was nicknamed the ‘Bostandjees’, the name given to the Sultan’s gardeners – which may refer to that regiment’s particular origins;
  • Dark-Blue;
  • Dark-Green;
  • Turquoise;
  • Light-Blue;
  • Green;
  • Yellow: his particular regiment - the 'Yellow Regiment' appears to have been the former 'Sulak (Imperial Guard Battalions)' [2].

These are listed in the following table(s):

Three more figures of infantrymen wear the same jersey-like garment in white, brown, and black (Vinkhuizjen Collection). However, these jerseys appear more European in fashion, and have more fully developed collars and cuffs. These also show differently coloured collars and cuffs – red, yellow and blue. Each of these figures are depicted wearing fez; these are post 1832 infantry, where there was now three battalions in each regiment. The red, yellow and blue collars and cuffs, actually illustrate the battalion colours: 'Red Battalion'; 'Blue Battalion'; and the 'Yellow Battalion' [3].

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[1] Knotel, R. Knoetl, H. Sieg, H. 1980 Uniforms of the World - A Compendium of Army, Navy And Air Force Uniforms 1700 - 1937. Arms Armour Press, London.

[2] These guardsmen became the 'Yellow' Regiment in the New Model Army, which continued till 1832-39, with the regiment distinction of Yellow jackets and fez tassels, In 1860, one of guard regiments retained the yellow tassel, and zouave jacket piping.

[3]  Alternatively, it could be the case that as brigades had been introduced in this time, and that in order to continue with the system of each regiment wearing a distinctive colour combination, the original 1826 regiments continued to wear their coloured jerseys; while, the newer post-1828 regiments were group into brigades, with each brigade having its own jersey colour. The individual regiments were further distinguished by the red, yellow and blue collars and cuffs system. Thus, a three-regiment division, would have all the division regiments dressed in the same colour jersey (say black): with a 'Red Regiment'; 'Blue Regiment'; and  'Yellow Regiment'.

Polish Auxiliary Soldier (1828)

Right - An illustration of a Polish Auxiliary Soldier, in the modern army, in the 1828 period (Vinkhuizjen Collection). The original illustration is identified with a handwritten pencil inscription as “kumbarraducli Bombadier 1835”. This could be an Ottoman Artillerymen ‘Khoumbaradjis’ (Bombardiers), who also wore brown uniforms. with yellow facings [1]. The crescent badge displayed on the distinctive Polish four-cornered shako, tends to confirm the status of Auxiliary Troops, under the Sultan. Called the ‘Order of Orta’, it was commonly used by the Ottoman army well into WW1, to indicate elite or auxiliary status (Flaherty, C. 2010 Ottoman Turkish Army Specialist Insignia. The Armourer Militaria Magazine, Issue 99 (May-June). This appears to be a unit raised from Polish mercenaries, willing to support the Turkish Sultan, in the 1828 War against Russia. At the time, the Polish were renowned as crack European-trained solders, which were needed to reinforce the newly formed European-trained Ottoman army.

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[1] Brown uniforms. with yellow facings are specifically mentioned as 'a Polish uniform characteristic'; see Brzezinski, R. 1988 Polish Armies 1569-1696 (2). Osprey Publishing. 

Ottoman Albanian Infantry (1829-1844)

Ottoman Infantry (1839)

After 1839, all the infantry changed to a dark blue uniform with a red stand collar. The principal garment was a waist-length jacket, fastened with one row of buttons. The cartridge box and bayonet were worn on white crossed belts-black belts for rifles [1].

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[1] Knotel, R. Knoetl, H. Sieg, H. 1980 Uniforms of the World - A Compendium of Army, Navy and Air Force Uniforms 1700 - 1937. Arms Armour Press, London.

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