The best historical fiction is character driven. It makes smart use of period details that engage the reader without a smothering degree of esoteric jargon. A few masters like Patrick O'Brien and Herman Melville manage both, perhaps, but in lesser hands (I would put Tom Clancy's techno-thrillers in this category) the effect is to go overboard with technical description at risk of losing the reader and the plot.
On the other hand, there are many lesser works that simply get the history wrong ,and bad history holds little interest for me. Presentism is the bane of these popular writers even more that it can become a biased trap for academic historians. J. L. Bell's indispensable blog Boston 1775 handily demonstrates this phenomenon in his analysis of what's missing in the John Adams household in the HBO film adapted from the book by David McCullough - Look, Ma, no servants! One can do far worse, of course, such as Mel Gibson's execrable fable, The Patriot - Look, Ma, no slaves! Fluff and nonsense can be good fun, but when it is bad history tarted up as sober fact I avoid it like the bloody flux.
Well, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Now that I am writing in a period that has long been of interest but is not my particular area of historical expertise, I sweat the details. This demands not only that I take great care in my research, but also be willing to pare down period descriptions to a few broad strokes that animate and enliven. This means that while accuracy is essential to maintain credibility, the art of the thing is not to overburden with the minutia of my research but let the story play our against a believably described backdrop with plenty of room for readerly imagination.
Still, certain details matter a great deal, such as the pants one of my protagonists wears at the Battle of Trenton. He is a Hessian with a leg wound, serving in the Landgrenadiere Regiment Rall ,and you might think with all the interest in this battle there would be ample evidence to draw from to determine whether he was breeched in buff with black gaiters as in Europe, or wore the one-piece gaiter trousers) said to have been issued during the winter of 1776-1777 to German troops in America. I have written alternate language for either contingency, but so far the jury has not returned a definitive verdict.
According to an article by Brendan Morrissey concerning the attire of the German forces in the Saratoga campaign;
"Riedesel had one-piece gaiter trousers made for all his men for the winter of 1776, using old British tents and sailcloth; given the type of material used, these were likely to be plain and off-white in colour (the only evidence of striped overalls, as in Mollo/McGregor, appears to relate to the Dragoons – possibly because this was a smaller unit and therefore could be clothed using material that was only available in a limited quantity. Other corps may have worn striped material later in the war, but there is no evidence of widespread use in 1777..."
It is possible that in December, 1776, the Hessian regiments at Trenton wore such overalls, but despite the preference of several high end toy soldier manufacturers to depict them in stripped pillow ticking glory, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Charles Mackubin Lefferts (1873-1923) in his uniforms of the American Revolution shows the Regiments Rall and von Lossberg as they were in 1776 at Trenton in their high spatterdash gaiters, as does Don Troiani, who prides himself on exhaustive attention to period detail.
I have more work to do to make certain, but I think it probable that men who only had enough overcoats for those on guard would not have been provided with cold weather overalls at this stage in the war. I would be delighted if one of my well informed readers could point me in the right direction.