From Washington's Crossing, by David Hackett Fisher, on the poor condition of American troops in November 1776:
A British officer who found some of them along the road observed contemptuously, "No nation ever saw such a set of tatterdemalions." (page 125)
I'd never seen that word before, but I instantly pictured a group of the most ragged, sorry soldiers ever to march on a cold, rainy night (which it was at the time the British officer made his comment). Of course, these tatterdemalions whipped the British soon after.
The OED's definition of a tatterdemalion: "A person in tattered clothing; a ragged or beggarly fellow; a ragamuffin." Other spellings: tatterdemallion, (tatter-, totter-de-mallion, -timallion); tatterdemalion, (7 tatter-, totter-demalian, -dimalian, -demalean, 8 -demelon). The etymology: "From tatter or more probably tattered, with a factitious element suggesting an ethnic or descriptive derivative. The earlier pronunciation rhymes with battalion, Italian, stallion, as shown by the frequent doubling of l."