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germ of military education, planted in the first years of life, assumes a fair growth among these northern Scots; for, as objects of war, and warlike enterprise, command more than other objects the exertions of the thinking faculty, the Highlanders, formed with sound minds, and susceptible of good impressions, discover more natural sagacity than any other class of people in the kingdom, perhaps than any other people in Europe. The Highlanders, in relation with their southern neighbours, were considered as freebooters, barbarians, given to spoil and plunder. In former times, the charge had some appearance of truth; for the Lowlanders were considered as a hostile or strange people. But though they drove the cattle of a hostile tribe, or ravaged a Lowland district, with which they had no connection or bond of amity, their conduct in the year 1745 proves that they are neither a ferocious nor a cruel people; for no troops probably ever traversed a country which might be esteemed hostile with fewer traces of outrage. They are now better known: their character is conspicuous for honesty and fidelity. They possess the most exalted notions of honour, the warmest friendships, and the highest portion of mental pride of any people perhaps in Europe. Their ideas are few, but their sentiments are strong; their virtues principles in their nature." *
Having thus briefly described the military character of the Highlander, and his disposition and aptitude for war, f and noticed the line of conduct necessary on the part of his superior officer to render his courage and capacity effective, I now proceed to give an account of the first corps of Highlanders embodied for the service of Government, and afterwards formed into a regiment of the regular army.
• Jackson's Systematic View of the Formation, Discipline, and Economy of European Armies, f See Appendix HH.
Black Watch—Independent companies—Embodied into a regular regiment at Taybridge, 1740—Orderedto march for England— Review—Desertion.
This corps, which has been so well known for nearly eighty years under the appellation of the 42d Highland Regiment, and which, at different periods, has been designated by the titles of its successive commanders, as Lord Crawford's, Lord Sempill's, and Lord John Murray's Highlanders, was originally known by the name of the Freicudan Du, or Black Watch.
This was an appellation given to the independent Companies of which the regiment was formed. It arose from the colour of their dress, and was applied to them in contradistinction to the regular troops, who were called Red Soldiers, or Seidaran Dearag. From the time they were first embodied, till they were regimented, the Highlanders continued to wear the dress of their country. This, as it consisted so much of the black, green, and blue tartan, gave them a dark and sombre appearance in comparison with the bright uniform of the regulars, who at that time had coats, waistcoats, and breeches, of scarlet cloth. Hence the term Du, or Black, as applied to this corps.
The companies were six in number: three distinguished by the name of large companies, consisted of one hundred men each; and three smaller companies, of seventy men each. The former were commanded by captains, and the latter by captain-lieutenants, each commanding officer being, as the name implies, independent of the others. To each company, great and small, was attached the same number of subalterns, viz. two lieutenants and one ensign. These companies were first formed about the year 1729 or 1730; and Lord Lovat, Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochnell, and Colonel Grant of Ballindalloch, were appointed to the command of the larger; and Colonel Alexander Campbell of Finab, John Campbell of Carrick, and George Munro of Culcairn, to that of the smaller.
Some Highlanders had been armed so early as 1725, when Marshal Wade was appointed commander-in-chief in Scotland, but it was not till the year above mentioned that they were formed into regular companies receiving pay. Many of the men who composed these companies were of a higher station in society than that from which soldiers in general are raised; cadets of gentlemen's families, sons of gentlemen farmers, and tacksmen, either immediately or distantly descended from gentlemen's families;—men who felt themselves responsible for their conduct to high-minded and honourable families, as well as to a country for which they cherished a devoted affection. In addition to the advantages derived from their superior rank in life, they possessed, in an eminent degree, that of a commanding external deportment, special care being taken in selecting men of full height, well proportioned, and of handsome appearance. * In such a range of country, without commerce, or any profession for young men but that of arms, no difficulty was found in persuading individuals to engage in a corps which was to be stationary within the mountains, and of which the duties were such as to afford them merely an agreeable pastime. The Highlanders had also another
* In confirmation of this, I may notice a friend and grand-uncle by marriage, the late Mr Stewart of Bohallie, who was one of the gentlemen soldiers in Carrick's company. This gentleman, a man of family and education, was five feet eleven inches in height, remarkable for his personal strength and activity, and one of the best swordsmen of his time, in an age when good swordsmanship was common, and considered an indispensable and graceful accomplishment of a gentleman; and yet, with all these qualifications, he was only a centre man of the centre rank of his company. After serving seven years in the companies and in this corps, he retired some time before the march to England.
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urgent motive for entering on this duty. I have already men. tioned, that, in the Highlands, men were accustomed to go continually armed,—a custom which they were most anxious to retain. At the period now under consideration, the carrying of arms was prohibited by penalties; less severe, indeed, than those which were afterwards enacted, but sufficiently galling to a high-spirited and warlike people. Young men, therefore, gladly availed themselves of the privilege of engaging in a profession which relieved them from the sense of degradation and dishonour attached to the idea of being disarmed. „,
Hence it became an object of ambition with all the young men of spirit to be admitted, even as privates, into a service which procured them the privilege of wearing arms.* This accounts for the great number of men of respectable families who were to be found in the ranks of the Black Watch,—a circumstance which has often excited the surprise of those who were ignorant of the extent to which the motives above mentioned operated. When this regiment was first embodied, it was no uncommon thing to see private soldiers riding to the exercising ground followed by servants carrying their firelocks and uniforms.f Such were the materials of which the 42d regiment was originally composed.
• An old gentleman in Athole, a friend of mine, Mr Robertson of Auchleeks, carried this spirit so far, that, disobeying all restrictions against carrying arms, he never laid them aside, and wore his dirk even when sitting in his dining-room, until his death, in his 87th year.
-f-They were thus described by an English officer of engineers, who was stationed in the Highlands when the independent companies were on foot, and who was not a little surprised at a practice certainly not common in the South. "I cannot forbear to tell you, before I conclude, that many of those private gentlemen-soldiers have gillj/t, or servants to attend them in quarters, and upon a march to carry their provisions, baggage, and firelocks." The day before the regiment was embodied at Taybridge, five of the soldiers dined and slept in my grandfather's house at Garth. The following morning they rode off in their usual dress, a tartan jacket and truis, ornamented with gold lace embroidery, or twisted gold cords, as was the fashion of the time, while their servants carried their military clothing and arms.
The independent companies being stationed in different parts of the country, had no general head-quarters, and, although the service was open to all Highlanders, as soldiers, the commandants and officers were taken from what were called the loyal, or Whig clans, the Campbells, Grants, Munros, &c. &c. For this reason, probably, although a great number of the privates were from Athole, and the Highlands of Perthshire, there were no officers from that district except Colonel Campbell of Finab. This selection of men for the various commands was rendered necessary by the nature of the duties imposed upon them. These duties were, to enforce the disarming act, to overawe the disaffected, to prevent any convocations or meetings, or give information of them, and to check the plunder and reprisals of cattle between rival clans, and more particularly the depredations committed on those of their more peaceable neighbours of the plains.
For such duties these companies were peculiarly well qualified, from their own habits and knowledge of the people, language, and country; and, under the control of leaders devoted to the service of the government, they could not fail to answer the expectations of those who had suggested and established this mode of internal defence; although their obedience to orders, their sense of duty, and their private feelings, must have been sometimes at variance when enforcing the laws against their own families and friends. In allotting to them the stations in which they were to act, it was found advisable that the companies should generally take charge of the district in which they were raised. They were thus spread over an extensive tract of country, many of the detachments being very small. Lord Lovat and the Frasers were stationed in Fort Augustus, and the neighbouring parts of Inverness-shire; Culcairn and the Munros in Ross and Sutherland; Ballindalloch and the Grants in Strathspey and Badenoch: Athole and Breadalbane being border counties, and of suspicious loyalty, two companies, Lochnell's and Carrick's, were stationed there. The company of Campbell of Finab, who was then abroad, was quar