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Can somebody please explain this expression from a Mark Twain story: 'Sedgemoor trade-mark, white sleeve badge'?

Here is the context:

Among other things he said that my character was written in my face; that I was treacherous, a dissembler, a coward, and a brute without sense of pity or compassion: the 'Sedgemoor trade-mark,' he called it—and 'white-sleeve badge.'

Thank you...

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it would be more appropriate for a History or Literature SE rather than English Language and Usage.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 12:37
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's a cross-site duplicate of this question on Literature. Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 0:46

1 Answer 1

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Sedgemoor was the battle where the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion was defeated; those rebels who fought there and escaped (and, according to the officer, showed signs of it, a Sedgemoor trademark) were traitors.

In the days before identifiable uniforms (particularly when an army was raised rapidly without a store of equipment) a badge on the sleeve was a common way of showing which army you belonged to. I do not suppose that anybody in the present day knows whether Monmouth's rebels actually wore such a white sleeve-patch (Mark Twain certainly didn't), but for the purpose of the story that seems to be the likeliest accusation.

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  • Pure conjecture: If you're wearing a white shirt, and you rip off the coloured badge that was on the sleeve, you'd be left with stitching marks in the shape of the badge; could Twain be referring to this as a "white-sleeve badge"?
    – AndyT
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 12:15
  • ''at Exteter [Monmouth] was greeted by 20,000 people, including 1,00 young men dressed uniformly in white, like an army offering itself to him if only he would lead.' Also, the Rebel regiments were apparently named Red, Yellow, Green, Blue and White. books.google.co.uk/… However, this seems to be a history question, or very possibly literature, rather than Language and Usage?
    – Spagirl
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 12:36
  • @Spagirl Thanks for the link! I've used that source in my answer to this question on Literature, crediting you for the find. Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 2:39

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