Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Charles Hamilton Smith
See Charles Smith for other people with that name
Charles Hamilton Smith (1776–1859) was a British artist, naturalist, antiquary, soldier and spy. His military career began in 1787 when he studied at the Austrian academy for artillery and engineers at Malines and Louvain (Now Mechelen and Leuven in Belgium). Although his military service, which ended in 1820 and included the Napoleonic Wars, saw him travel extensively (including the West Indies, Canada and United States), much of the time saw him at a desk job in Britain. One of his noteworthy achievements was an 1800 experiment to determine which colour should be used for military uniform. The increasing accuracy of firearms, especially rifles, brought advantages to shades which offer a less distinctive target - by testing the accuracy of a rifle company against grey, green and red targets, he showed scientifically the advantages of grey (and to a lesser extent, green) uniforms over red ones common at the time and recommended that grey be adopted for riflemen and light infantry. The British army did not heed his advice, with green becoming the colour associated with light infantry.
As a prolific self-taught illustrator, he is also known in military history circles for Costume of the Army of the British Empire, produced towards the end of the Napoleonic Wars and an accurate depiction of contemporary British uniform. As an antiquarian, he also produced The Ancient Costume of England, with historical illustrations of Medieval knights, ladies, ships and battles. The majority of his vast corpus of work (he estimated it was over 38,000 drawings) was non-military in character but largely passed into obscurity. Notebooks of his observations as a naturalist have survived, as well as antiquarian illustrations of civilian life.
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