Lobsters

and Tarpaulings. Soldiers and sailors. Soldiers are now popularly called lobsters, because they are turned red when enlisted into the service. But the term was originally applied to a troop of horse soldiers in the Great Rebellion, clad in armour which covered them as a shell.

“Sir William Waller received from London (in 1643) a fresh regiment of 500 horse, under the command of Sir Arthur Haslerig, which were so prodigiously armed that they were called by the king's party `the regiment of lobsters,' because of their bright iron shells with which they were covered, being perfect cuirassiers, and were the first seen so armed on either side.” —Clarendon: History of the Rebellion, iii. 91.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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