Revolutionary War Mode: Elements of an Authentic Uniform

On Patriot’s Day, historical tailor Henry Cooke prepares for battle.


Photograph by Toan Trinh

For most of us, Patriot’s Day means a game at Fenway or a beer along the marathon route, but for history buffs, it’s a chance to reenact the first battles of the Revolutionary War. Die-hard participants who fret about authenticity get their period getups from Henry Cooke, a Randolph-based tailor and longtime reenactor who began making reproduction clothing in 1974. Here, he explains the intricacies of his work. —Andrea Timpano

• The coat above was cut from wool broadcloth woven on a 60-inch loom, which was the dimension required by law at the time.

• Eighteenth-century soldiers stood with their arms slightly bent, hence the crooked cut of the sleeve.

• In the past, urine and dung were sometimes used to shrink and felt the fabric. Cooke employs more common methods, achieving warmth and durability with a fulling stock and soap.

• The design of the coat buttons indicated the wealth and social status of the wearer.

• Breeches were typically made of wool or linen, and included knee straps to prevent them from riding up.

Time check: It took Cooke 70 hours to make this coat, 20 hours to make the waistcoat, and 24 hours to make the breeches.