In Collaboration With Charles Griffin

The Independent Companies 1725
In the years after the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion, the Highlands of Scotland were largely no-go areas for anyone but the Highlanders who had no love for the English and their monarch. In 1724 General George Wade began a programme of building roads and forts to exercise control over the country. He also organised the raising of independent companies of Highlanders who were loyal to the Hanoverian crown. The clans of Campbell, Grant, Munro and Fraser provided men for four of these companies raised in 1725; two more were raised in 1729. The carrying of arms was forbidden in Scotland except for these companies so there was an attraction for men of a martial inclination. They were intended as a means of policing the country and providing the British with a 'watch' over the troublesome Jacobite sympathisers. They deliberately avoided wearing uniform that could be construed as English so dark coloured coats and plaids provided a contrast to the redcoats. These dark law-enforcers soon came to be called the Black Watch, am Freiceadan Dubh in Gaelic, although that name did not become official until 1861.
The Raising of the Regiment 1739
On 25 October 1739 John Lindsay, the 20th Earl of Crawford was commissioned to raise four companies to add to six already there and was appointed Colonel. Although a Lowlander he was well respected by the Highlanders. There were, under his command, 32 officers, including a chaplain and a surgeon, all Highlanders. Seven of them were Campbells. The rank and file were made up of men from old wealthy families, the sons or relatives of Highland Lairds. The companies were ready for mustering in May 1740 and were titled the 43rd Highland Regiment. The name Black Watch had already been generally applied to the independent companies and it continued with the new regiment. They paraded in a field between Taybridge and Aberfeldy in Perthshire. Each company had, at that time, its own tartan, according to the clan of the company commander so a new tartan had to be devised for the whole regiment. This may have come into effect some years later as prints of the soldiers of the Black Watch show mostly a yellow plaid with red check.
The Desertion 1743
The original purpose of the companies had been to police the Highlands of Scotland, a job to which they were well suited, being familiar with the mountainous countryside, and with the political sympathies of the population. But in 1743 the authorities made the rather bad decision to send the Black Watch to the Low Countries to take part in the War of the Austrian Succession. It could well be argued that the removal of the Black Watch from the Highlands was a primary cause of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. The men were not told the true reason for marching them south to London, what they were told was that King George II wished to see his Scottish soldiers and that they were going to London to impress the King and the citizens of England with their nobility, their loyalty and their skills. But on 14 May 1743 when they were to perform in front of His Majesty they found that George had gone to Flanders to lead his army against the French. The incensed Scotsmen grumbled amongst themselves and rumours spread that they were to be sent to the West Indies or some other unhealthy place, to rot away. It was all an English plot to get rid of the troublesome Scots.

A large group of the soldiers decided to take matters into their own hands and walk back to Scotland. The leaders of this group were Corporals Malcolm and Samuel Macpherson and Private Farquar Shaw. They took a route through different woods to avoid being tracked, but they were cornered at Oundle in Northamptonshire by two squadrons of cavalry and some infantry. After a long parley they surrendered and lay down their arms. They were court-martialled in London and condemned to death, but the sentence was remitted for all of them except the two corporal brothers and Farquar Shaw who were taken to Tower Hill and executed in front of their fellow deserters.

Fontenoy, 11 May 1745
Black Watch
Campaigning in Flanders
The first time that the Highland Regiment experienced a set battle was at Fontenoy where the armies of Britain, Hanover and Holland fought against the French commanded by Marshal Saxe. The Highlanders were occupied on 10 May helping to position artillery, clearing the front and driving in hostile posts. These tasks were carried out under fire. On 11 May the battle began with the Highlanders and Guards attacking the French near Vezon. The enemy were driven back to their strong entrenchments that had been well prepared under Saxe's orders. The most formidable defence was the Redoubt D'Eu which was supposed to be assaulted in force by Brigadier Ingoldsby's brigade. But famously that stubborn general refused to comply. The Highlanders did make a 'frantic attempt' on the redoubt but were called off. The Duke of Cumberland ordered the infantry into columns to push through between the village of Fontenoy and the redoubts. The Highlanders, as part of this column advanced under heavy fire. The French were beginning to fall back but they brought more artillery to bear on the column and then sent in the Irish regiments, numbering 30,000, who were fighting on behalf of the French.

The Highlanders were commanded by Sir Robert Munro of Foulis, a man of large proportions who persuaded The Duke to allow the Highlanders to fight in their own style. This involved lying down during the artillery barrage and springing up when it had finished to pour a volley into the enemy. This was done several times but Munro bravely remained standing. He later admitted that he was worried about how it would look if he were seen struggling to raise his over-sized body each time. However, the allied infantry were forced to retreat and the Black Watch were swept along with the tide of fleeing men. The retreat had to be covered and this job was given to the Highlanders and the 19th Regiment, all under the command of Lord Crawford, their first Colonel. The regiment's casualties were two officers and 30 men killed, 3 officers, 2 sergeants and 86 men wounded. One Sergeant and 12 others were missing. One of the officers killed was Captain John Campbell of Carrick, a very popular and accomplished man: 'A poet, a soldier, a gentleman, he was the object of general pride and admiration.'

The 1745 Jacobite Rebellion
The absence of the Black Watch from the Highlands may well have encouraged Prince Charles Edward to arrive in Scotland in 1745, but the fact that the redcoats were otherwise engaged, in the European war, must also have been a factor. The rising of the Jacobites north of the border brought the British army racing northwards and the Black Watch arrived back in England from Flanders in November. However they were placed on the Kent coast to guard the country against a threatened French invasion. The decision to withhold them from the Scottish conflict was probably wise. Pitting Scotsmen against each other, and in many cases brothers against each other, was unconscionable. Not everyone saw it like that because three new companies were raised in early 1745, before the rebellion started, in the districts of Athole, Breadalbane and Braemar, with their HQ in Crieff. Two of the companies were involved in the pacification of the Highlands and the third took part in the battle of Prestonpans. They suffered badly in this battle which ended in defeat for the British. Every officer and man in the company was either killed, wounded or taken prisoner. They all remained loyal to the Hanoverian throne and the treatment meted out to the prisoners must have been harsh.
North America 1756-59
The Seven Years War against France extended across the Atlantic where the British fought alongside the colonists against the French based in Canada. The Highlanders, now numbered 42nd, were sent over with Major-General James Abercromby in 1756. But Lord Loudoun was placed in overall command and spent the whole of 1757 frustrating the efforts of his more proactive junior commanders by making no progress. The Highlanders spent the time in training for forest-fighting and marksmanship. The French, commanded by Montcalm, allied themselves with the Indians (native North Americans) who were less concerned about the unwritten rules of warfare. When Fort William Henry surrendered to the French on 9 Aug 1756, Colonel Munro led his men out but were mercilessly slaughtered by the Iroquois, Ottowa and Abenaki tribesmen, an incident portrayed in 'Last of the Mohicans'.

Ticonderoga 8 July 1758

Loudoun was sent home in 1758 and James Abercromby, now in command, advanced towards the French held fort of Triconderoga with a force of 15,400 men. The fort was well placed for defence, on the river between Lake George and the south end of Lake Champlain. It was on a triangle of land surrounded by water on two sides. The only place that could be attacked was defended by a line of fortifications 8 to 10 feet high. In front of this the defenders had felled trees, with the branches uncut, which the attackers had to hack their way through.

Black Watch
Ticonderoga 1758
The troops were landed on 5 July at a point in the lake where they had to make their way through woods. Two of the columns became disorientated and had unexpected encounters with the enemy. In one of these General Lord Howe was killed. This ended with a withdrawal and there was a delay while they waited for guns to be brought up. On 8 July Abercromby heard that French reinforcements were approaching and he decided to attack straight away. The assaulting battalions were the 27th 44th 46th and 60th regiments while the 42nd and 55th were in reserve. The Highlanders watched as the attackers struggled against very effective defences under heavy fire. But the Scotsmen could not be restrained for long and charged forward, hacking their way through the branches. They reached the breastworks and hoisted each other up to climb over the top. The defenders were well prepared so the chances of surviving this assault were small. Those that gained access were bayoneted but this did not deter the others coming up. One of the first officers to go over the top and be killed was Captain John Campbell. The determination of the Highlanders forced the defenders to pull back to a second line of defences, but the attackers had a hard struggle for four hours. The 5000 French defenders had prepared well for this battle and could not be overcome. The assault had cost the British many casualties with little to show for it so the Highlanders were ordered to retire. However, they were obstinate and did not at first respond, and had to be forced to give up the attack.

This British defeat had cost the 42nd half of their men. Eight officers, 9 sergeants and 297 men were killed. The wounded were 17 officer, 10 sergeants and 306 men. The loss to the whole force of 15,400 was 23 officers and 567 other ranks, from which figures we can see the disproportionate loss to the 42nd. The French reduced the garrison in the following year, to 400 and the British were able to capture it with a force of 11,000 commanded by General Amherst.

2nd Battalion Raised 1758

Black Watch
2nd Battalion 1758
A second battalion of the 42nd was raised in 1758 from seven companies raised between August and October. Three companies had been raised the year before and were sent out to Canada as reinforcements for the regiment depleted after Ticonderoga. The new battalion contained some men who were not Highlanders. Out of 840 embodied at Perth 18 were Irish. Men with names like O'Donnel were changed to Macdonnel to satisfy the Colonel Lord John Murray who ordered that only Highlanders should be recruited. That autumn the new battalion was earmarked for duty in the West Indies but only two companies went on the first convoy carrying troops under Major-General Hopson. These 200 men took part in the action on Martinique and the remaining 640 men of the battalion arrived later to assault Guadaloupe.

Martinique, Jan 1759

The 42nd fought at Martinique for the first time in 1759; a further action took place in 1762. The first battle involved only the two companies of the 2nd Battalion that arrived in the West Indies in Jan 1759. On 16 Jan the Marines captured Fort Negro and the next day the main part of the force landed and the Highlanders fought against French troops near Morne Tortueson. In this fight the British suffered 63 killed or wounded with one officer of the 42nd, Lieutenant Leslie, among the casualties. They re-embarked to attack St Pierre but this idea was abandoned and they proceeded to Guadaloupe.

Guadaloupe, Jan 1759

The convoy reached Basse-Terre, the capital of Guadaloupe on 23 Jan and a bombardment was exchanged for several hours. The next day they were able to land unopposed and there was a lull in the fighting for a few days. At this time the remaining 640 men of the 2nd Battalion arrived from Scotland. There was an action against a small private army owned by Madame Ducharmey who had built defences and organised her servants and workers to oppose the invading force. She ended up having to flee, losing her property and plantations, and many of her employees were killed or captured. In this fight the British lost 12 killed and 30 wounded. Lieutenant Maclean of the 42nd lost an arm but turned down the offer of a passage home.

The next action was directed towards Fort Louis at Grande Terre, a well fortified part of the island. The 42nd and the Marines landed in boats and waded ashore through mangrove roots and trailing water-plants. They attacked the fort with great energy and bravery and the French capitulated. The force then re-embarked and attacked the other side of the island. St Anne and St Francis were captured by the 4th Foot and the 42nd under heavy fire. One officer, Ensign Campbell was a casualty of this action. The 4th, 38th and 42nd were then sent to Arnonville but the French withdrew to a fortified position on the River Lecorn. British artillery was used to cover the advance of the 42nd and 38th. The Highlanders charged impetuously with their muskets slung on their backs and their swords drawn. They soon captured the position but sustained heavy casualties. There were further battles up to 1 May 1759 when the French troops and inhabitants surrendered. During their time in the West Indies the battalion lost one ensign killed and three wounded. Two officers died of disease and the other ranks suffered the loss of 106 either killed, wounded or died of disease.

North America 1759-60
The British army was divided between Generals Wolfe and Amherst in 1759, both battalions of the Royal Highlanders being part of Amherst's operations against Ticonderoga and Isle aux Noix. These two forts capitulated and the conflict was continued on Lake Champlain where the French navy was still a threat. In October a boat containing an officer and 20 men of the 42nd was captured by the French. The army wintered at Crown Point and Ticonderoga and in 1760 they marched to Oswego. They embarked on Lake Ontario and navigated their way along the St Lawrence River, capturing Fort Levi, and then negotiating rapids in which four Highlanders were drowned. Three days later 64 boats of the army were lost with the deaths of 84 men. The separated British forces came together at Montreal in September causing the French to lose heart. The city, and Canada itself, was surrendered to the British.

Martinique 1762

The 42nd remained in Canada until October 1761 when they were shipped to the West Indies. A force of eleven regiments under Major-General Monckton arrived at Martinique. A partial landing was made without opposition at the Bay of Ance Darlet, and a few days later the main force landed near Cas de Naviers. Fort Royal was protected by two heights, Morne Tortueson and Morne Garnier. The first of these heights was stormed by grenadiers and the Highlanders, and soon captured. The French defenders of Morne Garnier then made the mistake of rushing down to take the fight to the attackers. This was repulsed and the grenadiers and Highlanders again stormed the position and captured the enemy guns. Fort Royal surrendered on 7 Feb 1762 and the whole of the Windward Islands soon came under British control. The capture of Martinique had taken a month to complete and cost the British 500 killed and wounded. The 42nd lost 2 officers killed, along with one sergeant and 12 men. Ten officers were wounded, with 3 sergeants, one drummer, and 72 men.

Havana 1762
When Spain took sides with France in 1762 the British seized the opportunity to capture Havana, the capital of Cuba. It was known that Havana was a depot for precious metals from Mexico and Peru before final dispatch to Spain. The expedition was commanded by George the 3rd Earl of Albermarle who was aided by his brothers William and Augustus Keppel. Both battalions of the 42nd were involved, along with 18 other regiments. More regiments were expected to join them later from New York. The naval force was commanded by Admiral Sir George Pocock who took the fleet through the Old Channel of the Bahamas to surprise the garrison at Havana. They arrived on 6 June at the port at Havana.

Black Watch
Havana 1762
The British force was split, with General William Keppel in command of the troops earmarked for the siege of El Morro the great fortification. The Spanish had sunk ships at the mouth of the harbour to impede the British fleet. An assault was made with grenadiers and light infantry against the Cavannos or Quarry Hills. This allowed the cutting down of trees between the Coximar and El Morro for constructing batteries to bombard the great fortress.. The labour involved in all this cost many lives due to thirst and heat. On 30 June a sortie was made by the defenders but it was beaten off with the loss of 200 Spanish and Mulatoes. The bombardment began on 1 July and was aided by three naval ships, the Cambridge, Dragon and Marlborough which bravely anchored under the cliffs near the fort. But their fire on El Morro was ineffectual and they suffered much loss and damage themselves. Another misfortune for Albermarle was the loss of his principal battery which caught fire and was destroyed. This was a great blow to morale as the battery had taken 600 men 17 days to build, and now had to be rebuilt from scratch by already exhausted soldiers and sailors.

There were more troubles to overcome. Another battery was destroyed by fire, and the long awaited reinforcements from New York were intercepted by the French navy or else wrecked in the Bahamas Straits. However, a fleet from Jamaica brought some relief in the way of supplies, and morale improved. The British guns were able to destroy some of the fort's defences and silence their artillery. On 20 July the troops approached the walls but found that a huge ditch prevented further progress. It was 80 feet deep and 40 feet wide, but there was a thin ridge on the seaward side which enabled engineers to cross single file to mine under the walls. The defenders saw the danger to themselves and made three sorties on 22 July but these were unsuccessful.
Black Watch
El Morro

The 42nd took part in an attack on redoubts outside El Morro to the right of the British batteries, also on 22 July. The Spanish were completely routed and retreated with the loss of 400 men. On 30 July mines were detonated and a breach was created when the walls fell into the ditch. This enabled the Highlanders to storm up the rubble, led by their CO Colonel Grant. This was done with such vigour that the Spanish defenders were scattered and killed. There was a valiant effort to rally men made by the Marquis de Gonzales who was killed, and another by the governor, Don Louis de Valasco who died making a last stand. The Spanish King honoured Valasco by elevating his son to the title of Count de Morro and decreeing that ever after there should be a ship named the Valasco in the Spanish navy. Thus the fortress of El Morro was captured after a siege of 40 days. Out of a regimental strength of 39 officers, 29 sergeants and 421 rank and file, the 42nd lost 2 officers and 30 men.

The Spanish in Havana directed their fire towards the captured fort but the British demanded the surrender of the town. This was rejected and the defenders suffered a heavy bombardment for several hours before putting up flags of truce at 3pm on 11 Aug 1762. The garrison were allowed to leave with all the honours of war and escorted back to Spain. The value of the booty was put at 3,000,000 pounds sterling. The fleet and the army were allotted 736,185 pounds, 2 shillings and fourpence halfpenny. The Earl of Albermarle had the lion's share of 122,697 pounds and was made Knight of the Garter. His second in command Lt-General Elliot was given 24,539 pounds. The two Keppel brothers were given 6,816 pounds each. Private soldiers and sailors received 4 pounds one shilling and eightpence halfpenny. The irony of the situation was that within months Havana was handed back to Spain. The casualties for the whole British force were 345 killed in action, 640 wounded, and 672 died of sickness. The 42nd's relatively small losses were set against the loss through sickness. Nine officers died, along with 2 drummers and 71 men.

North America 1762-67
Soldiers fit enough from the two battalions of the 42nd were formed into one unit and sent to New York in Oct 1762. They were brigaded with two detachments from other regiments and placed under the command of Colonel Henry Bouquet for an expedition to relieve Fort Pitt in the summer of 1763. The fort was strongly built by the British on the Ohio River in the settlement of Pittsborough. An Indian chief called Pontiac led an uprising against the British and targeted the forts. On the march to Fort Pitt the Indians bushwacked the advance guard of the Highlanders near Bushy Run Station on 4 Aug. There followed several days fighting which was finally resolved when Bouquet organised a feigned retreat and drew his enemy into a trap. They were thrown into confusion and the British then had the upper hand, pursuing Pontiac's followers for many miles so that they could not regroup. This battle was costly for the 42nd. Two officers, one sergeant and 26 men were killed. Two officers, two sergeants, two drummers and 30 men were wounded.

Having spent the winter in Fort Pitt the 42nd were then brigaded, again under Bouquet, with the 60th Rifles and 400 Colonists who were dressed as Indians to confuse their enemy. In 1764 they patrolled for hundreds of miles and had many skirmishes with the enemy, exposed to gruelling hot weather in summer and bitter cold in the winter. Three men died of sickness and 19 were brought back sick to Fort Pitt. There was little fighting in the next few years and they were finally ordered back to Britain in 1767. Many of them decided to stay in North America so that the regiment that sailed into Cork in October was greatly reduced. As well as the men who stayed behind there were high casualty figures for the 7 year period that they served in the West Indies and North America: 13 officers, 12 sergeants and 382 men were killed, 33 officers, 22 sergeants and 508 men wounded.

Ireland 1767-75
Recruiting parties were busy in Scotland although the regiment was stationed in Ireland from 1767. The 42nd was so popular for recruits that recruiting parties from other regiments wore Black Watch uniform to fool young men. This was the case with a recruiting party from the 38th Foot who brought a large group of Highlanders to Dublin to enlist them in their regiment (later titled the 1st Staffordshires). These men assumed they were to enrol in the 42nd Royal Highlanders and refused to join the English regiment. A court of inquiry found that the 38th recruiting officer had been fraudulent and allowed the men to be discharged. They all enlisted immediately into the 42nd. By 28 May 1768 when they were inspected in Galway, the regiment was up to strength and every man, with two exceptions was born north of the Tay. A contemporary account of life in the 42nd in Ireland tells of the accommodation arrangements which were organised tribally so that men from the same glen or district shared a room and formed close knit 'family' units. During their time in Ireland the only desertions were two men who had been recruited in Glasgow. In 1775 the regiment sailed over to Scotland, landing at Portpatrick. The 42nd had been away from their native country for 32 years and the older men who had served for most of that time knelt down to kiss the ground.
The American War of Independence 1776-82
The posting to Scotland was short-lived, however, because war broke out between the crown and the colonists in America. The last time the 42nd were in North America they had fought alongside the Americans against the Indians and the French, earning the respect and friendship of the New World settlers, many of whom were also from Scotland, so the prospect of going out to fight against the colonists was daunting. Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Stirling commanded the 42nd who embarked at Greenock with a strength of 1,012, of whom 931 were Highlanders, 74 Lowlanders, 5 English bandsmen, one Welshman, and one Irishman. On the voyage over the transports were separated by a storm and one ship was captured by an American privateer. The single battalion of the 42nd was brigaded with another two battalion regiment named Fraser's Highlanders after their Colonel Simon Fraser. The grenadiers of the 3 battalions were formed into a unit, and the same with the light companies. The broadswords and the pistols that had been carried by the men up until that time were withdrawn, much to the disappointment of everyone.

Battle of Brooklyn, 27 Aug 1776

The British force numbered 30,000 including 13,000 Hessians, all under the command of General Sir William Howe. They landed on Long Island on 22 Aug, a few miles from the Americans camped in Brooklyn. At nightfall on the 26th the enemy advanced and on the morning of the 27th the American left wing was attacked causing them to retreat back to their defences, pursued by the Highland Grenadier battalion. Unfortunately, General Howe did not follow through with an assault on the colonist's lines and the grenadiers were halted. The Americans were let off the hook but sustained the loss of 3,300 killed or drowned in the marshes. The British losses were more than 300, while the 42nd had one officer and 9 men wounded.

Harlem Heights, 16 Sep 1776

The Light Infantry battalion was instructed to dislodge a regiment of Virginians from a wood near the British position on the Harlem Heights above New York. The 42nd was in support. The Americans were forced back, and even though they were reinforced, they were defeated with a loss of 300 men. The British lost 14 killed and 75 wounded. The casualties of the 42nd were one sergeant and 5 men killed, one officer died of his wounds, and two other officers were wounded along with one piper, two drummers and 47 privates.

Fort Washington, 16 Oct 1776

George Washington had concentrated his main army at White Plains so that General Howe had to transport his men in boats to Frog's Neck. They seized some high ground but the Americans held back from a battle at that stage. Howe decided to capture Fort Washington, and sent the 42nd to feign an attack on the eastern side to distract the 3,000 strong garrison from the actual attack by the Hessians and others. The Highlanders, in boats, approached a small creek at daybreak and disembarked at the base of the rock. They came under fire from the defenders but managed to scale the rock-face and reach the summit so that they were able to gain access to the fort and force the surrender of the enemy. The 42nd had been ordered to feign their attack but could not resist following through. They met another British party under brigadier-General Hugh Percy who penetrated the other side of the fort and joined up with the Hessians who were also successful on their side. In all 2,700 Americans were captured, of which three quarters died in captivity. The British and Hessians lost 120 men. The regiment had 11 men killed, with two officers, four sergeants and 66 men wounded.

Trenton, 2 Jan 1777

Fort Lee was captured next and the 42nd played a part in that siege. As temperatures dropped the army was put into winter quarters, the regiment being placed in Brunswick to begin with but then ordered to man the advanced posts. Washington took advantage of the British inactivity, attacking these posts to harass the British, and also raise the morale of his troops. On 26 Dec 1776 the Hessian garrison at Trenton was defeated after Washington crossed the Delaware, so that the Highlanders were left isolated and vulnerable. They were withdrawn from their outpost and placed with the light infantry at Princeton. General Cornwallis was recalled from his planned voyage home to lead the army, including the 42nd, against the Americans at Trenton and a battle was started on 2 Jan, stopping at nightfall. During the night Washington tricked the British and secretly withdrew his army to attack Princeton. The casualties at Trenton were mostly Hessian and British, with many suffering the horror of American canister shot on the bridge at Stockton Hollow. The casualties of the 42nd Royal Highlanders are not recorded, but those of the light infantry company were mostly exposed to danger.

Pisquatua, 10 May 1777

The Highlanders were taken by surprise at Pisquatua on 10 May 1777 when they were attacked by a force of 2,000 Americans under the command of Generals Maxwell and Stephens. The picquets of the 42nd managed to engage the attackers long enough for the regiment to turn out and assemble for battle. They managed to drive back the attackers who lost 200 killed and wounded, and pursued them to their own camp, but nightfall prevented further slaughter. The casualties were 3 sergeants and 9 men killed; and 2 officers, 3 sergeants and 30 men wounded. Sergeant Macgregor had put on a new jacket that day, with silver lace, and large silver buckles on his shoes. He was wounded in the battle and lay on the ground unconscious. An American soldier decided to relieve the sergeant of his fine uniform and, since he did not have time on the battlefield, he carried him away to a safer place. But Macgregor woke up as he was being carried and managed to reach his dirk and held it to the American's throat. He was forced to carry the sergeant back to his lines. There they were met by General Cornwallis and Colonel Stirling who thanked the man for bringing in a wounded Scotsman. He told them that in all honesty he was only doing it under threat. Stirling was so relieved to find one of his valuable sergeants still alive that he generously allowed the American his freedom.

Battle of Brandywine, 11 Sep 1777

In the Summer of 1777 the 42nd were brigaded with the 13th 17th and 44th under Major-General Charles Grey. Sir William Howe changed the area of operation when he saw that Washington's position at Middle Brook was too strong. He embarked 36 battalions at Chesapeake, including the flank battalions of grenadiers and light infantry, and landed them at Elkton. The 42nd were reinforced by a draft of 170 new recruits from Scotland, but the battalion companies of the regiment were not engaged in fighting at Brandywine River. The army split up to cross the river at Jeffery's Ford and Chadd's Ford to completely rout Washington's men and drive them on to Philadelphia. The light infantry battalion were kept busy in the battle and the Highlanders fighting in this unit lost 6 men killed and 16 wounded. The British and Hessian losses were 57 officers and 600 men killed or wounded. However, the success of this battle was not followed up and the Americans had time to recover and replenish stores.

The Paoli Massacre, 20 Sep 1777

Black Watch
Paoli Massacre
A force of 1,500 Americans commanded by General Anthony Wayne was given the task of harassing the British to slow their pursuit. Maj-Gen Grey took the 42nd and 44th regiments and a battalion of light infantry to attack and neutralise Wayne's Pennsylvania units on 20 Sep. In their attack at Paoli Tavern they were ordered to use the bayonet in a surprise night attack so as not to rouse the enemy too soon. To ensure this Grey had the men remove their flints, thus the origin of 'No Flint' Grey's nickname. The attack achieved its objective, 300 men were bayoneted, and 100 prisoners taken. The British casualties were minimal. On 25th they entered Germantown and the grenadier battalion proceeded to Philadelphia which was captured without a fight.

Germantown, 4 Oct 1777

Major-General Grey's Brigade came to the rescue of Colonel Musgrave's 40th Regiment who were forced to retreat to the Chew Mansion of Cliveden from Germantown when it was attacked by Washington's men in a surprise night operation. The 6 companies of the 40th fought tenaciously and held their attackers at bay until they ran short of ammunition. The arrival of Grey's battalions turned the tables and pushed the Americans back. The casualties were high in this battle but figures for the 42nd are not available.

Raid on New Plymouth, 5 Sep 1778

In May 1778 Sir William Howe was replaced by General Clinton who evacuated Philadelphia and on 28 June moved the army to Monmouth where Washington's troops were placed behind the Court House. The ensuing battle resulted in Clinton's retreat to New York. On 5 Sep a raid led by Maj-Gen Grey involving the grenadiers, light infantry and the 42nd, was made on the Acushnet River with the objective of destroying ships full of stores. It was a successful operation and resulted in the destruction of 70 vessels and their cargoes.

The Bad Recruits 1779

Little happened in the winter of 1778 but the Royal Highlanders took part, with the Guards, in a successful attack on the Colonists at Elizabeth Town in Feb 1779, led by Lt-Col Stirling. And in April the regiment was at Portsmouth, Virginia in an expedition tasked with destroying stores and merchandise. In the autumn a draft of 150 men recruited from London and Dublin, was sent out from Britain but, 'They were of the most depraved character, and of habits so dissolute that one half of them were unfit for service. 15 died on the voyage and 75 went straight from the transports to the hospital. As a contrast it is on record that only 3 years earlier the 3 battalions of the 42nd and of Fraser's Highlanders embarked for America, 3,248 strong; during the passage of more than 3 months not a man died; there were only a few sick, and those not dangerously.' The history goes on to say that the men were refused by Colonel Stirling, and sent to the 26th Regiment (soon to be the Cameronians) in exchange for an equal number of Scotsmen. The 42nd must have been an elite regiment indeed to have the power and influence to dump 'depraved' men on another regiment and take away good soldiers.

The Determined Recruits 1779

In contrast to the dissolute 'sweepings of London and Dublin', two detachments of Highland recruits arrived at Leith in April 1779 to be taken to the 42nd and 71st (Fraser's) Regiments in North America. There they were told that they were to be turned over to the 80th (Edinburgh) and 82nd (Hamilton) regiments. The men were adamant that this was not going to happen and remonstrated strongly that they were determined to go to the 42nd and 71st Highland regiments. A Fencible unit was ordered to arrest them and take them to Edinburgh Castle, but a fight ensued in which an officer and 9 men were killed, 31 wounded. After that they were finally restrained and locked up. In May three of the men were court-martialled; Charles Williamson and Archibald Macivor of the 42nd, and Robert Budge of the 71st. In their defence they insisted that they spoke no English, only Gaelic, and that they were unable to wear any other netherwear than a kilt. The court over-looked their reasons for refusal to serve in Lowland regiments and found them guilty of mutiny, with a sentence of death. However, the power and influence of the 42nd and 71st regiments must have come into play because they were given a Royal Pardon and allowed to join the regiments they wanted.

Charleston 1780

Part of the army was left in New York while Sir Henry Clinton took the main force on an ill-conceived voyage to Charleston, South Carolina, starting out on 26th Dec 1779. Fortunately the 42nd was part of the New York garrison that remained behind because the trip was hampered by storms which sent some ships off course and caused others to be captured by the Americans. Many of the horses died on the voyage and it wasn't until 11 Feb 1780 that they disembarked on John's Island, 30 miles from Charleston. On 1 April the British arrived at the American fortifications, built on the instructions of Major-General Benjamin Lincoln, and found them to be too strong so the 42nd and Queen's Rangers were sent for. Their voyage from New York was less fraught and took them less than a fortnight to reach Charleston. The siege lasted until 12 May and ended, after a gallant defence, with the surrender of the Americans. The casualties were 76 British killed and 189 wounded. The Royal Highlanders lost one officer and 9 men killed. The wounded included 14 men and Lieutenant Charles Grant who had his shoulder-bone shot away entirely by a 6-pound ball. He was left for dead but was found to be alive next day 'free of fever and all bad symptoms'. He made a good recovery and continued to serve in the army for many years.

Return to Britain 1789
The regiment returned to New York in June 1780 and was not in action again for the rest of the war which ended in Nov 1782. The strength of the 42nd was reduced from 10 to 8 companies and there were many men who decided to stay in America. The regiment had lost 83 men killed since the beginning of the war, and 286 wounded. In October 1783 they were shipped to Halifax. Whilst there they received new Colours, in 1784. They stayed until 1786 when 6 companies went to the island of Cape Breton and 2 companies to the island of St John. In August 1789 they embarked for England, landing at Portsmouth after an absence of 14 years. They marched north and spent the winter in Tynemouth Barracks, being reinforced there by 245 men who had been recruited by regimental officers who remained in Britain. They did not reach Scotland until May 1790 but were somewhat badly behaved when they reached Glasgow, due to the normally sober men being plied with strong drink by the locals.
The Highland Clearances 1792
In 1792 the eviction of farmers from their homes to convert their land for sheep pasture caused civil unrest, so the Black Watch were force-marched to Ross-shire from their quarters on the northeast coast of Scotland. The local inhabitants herded the sheep out of the county but managed to disperse before the Highlanders could take action against them. The regiment were greatly relieved that they did not have to use force against their own people. Eighteen ringleaders were sent for trial at Inverness and convicted to be transported to Botany Bay, but they managed to escape and no great effort was made to recapture them.
Flanders 1794-95
After some false starts in 1793 the regiment was sent to Ostend as part of the Duke of York's army sent to fight against the French Revolutionaries invading the Nederlands. The 42nd were in Lord Moira's Division which left Ostend in June 1794 and marched to Alost. They later joined up with the Duke of York at Malines and Ralph Abercromby replaced Moira in command of their Division. They advanced to Boxtel where the French were gathered in large numbers, too great to attempt a fight. The Highlanders were in action at Nymeguen where the French constructed batteries in preparation for a siege against the British garrisoning the town. An attempt was made to attack and destroy these batteries but it was only partially successful and Nymeguen was evacuated on 7 Nov 1794.

Gildermalsen and the Red Hackle, 4 Jan 1795

The regiment spent a miserable and cold winter on the River Waal due to lack of suitable clothing. There was much fighting at Thuyl in December 1794 and in January 1795 the army was in retreat. It was during this retreat that the regiment was part of a force which repulsed an attack by the French, with few casualties. The 42nd were in Dundas's rearguard ordered to make a stand at Gildermalsen on 4 Jan 1795. The French cavalry broke through the line to capture 2 guns. A contemporary account blames the 11th Light Dragoons for the loss of these guns. An ADC, Major Rose, ordered the 42nd, under Major Dalrymple, to recapture the guns, and they did so with the loss of one man killed and 3 wounded. It is claimed that the 11th Light Dragoons had their red feathers removed from their helmets and replaced by a yellow-topped white plume. The red feathers were then given to the 42nd in a ceremony at Royston, near Cambridge, on 4 June 1795. The problem with this story is that the 11th LD (later 11th Hussars) never wore a red plume. They wore a white over red plume from 1790 to c1830 and there is no record of them wearing a white and yellow plume. It seems unlikely that the famous red hackle of the Black Watch has been worn for more than 200 years as a permanent reminder of the 11th's dereliction of duty.

Retreat to Bremen, 1795

The British fell back to a position behind the river Leck and repulsed four attacks by the French. However, on 10 Jan the enemy crossed the Waal in force at a time when the bad weather and sickness had considerably weakened the British troops. The French, under Pichegru, attacked all along the line from Arnhem to Amerongen on 14 Jan and caused the British to retreat. They made their way to Deventer, then through Overyssel, Hanover and Oldenburg. The local population were reluctant to offer any help to the retreating troops so sickness and hunger took its toll, and it was a pitiful rag-tag army that reached Bremen in early April. Most regiments had lost around 200 from disease alone but the 42nd's loss was only 25 men killed in action or died from sickness, proof that the Highlanders were a sturdier breed of men.

West Indies, 1795-1800

The Disastrous Start

The regiment joined Sir Ralph Abercromby's expedition to the West Indies in October 1795, to capture islands from French control in the Caribbean. Previous experience in that theatre of war caused the British to take measures to protect the men from the extreme climate. Yellow fever was to be prevented by providing a change of clothing. Instead of kilts, plaids and the feather bonnet, they were to wear Russia duck pantaloons and round hats. These changes were very unpopular and proved to be useless. The enormous fleet set sail from Portsmouth but a severe storm dispersed them and several ships were lost. A second attempt was made on 9 Dec but after they cleared the Channel another severe storm struck, lasting a few weeks. Only 78 ships reached Barbados, the rest were scattered and ended up in different ports. The 42nd Highlanders were now split up; 5 companies were sent to Gibraltar under Lt-Colonel Dickson, and the other half of the regiment, 500 men, arrived at Barbados on 9 Feb 1796.

St Lucia, 27 Feb - 29 May 1796

The Highlanders were placed under the command of Brigadier-General John Moore for an attack on St Lucia, and were landed in a small bay below Pigeon Island. The objective was Morne Fortunee, the principal fort on the island but another fort, Morne Chabot, had to be captured first. Moore's men arrived at Chabot at midnight and drove the French from their post. Morne Fortunee proved to be more difficult and there were significant casualties. The 42nd were led by General John Hope (later to be their Colonel) in an attack on the enemy battery of Secke. This resulted in the loss of Colonel Malcolm, who had been put in charge of local troops, and the wounding of several others. The British batteries took some time to put in place so it was not until the middle of May that the siege made any progress. Within a week of the start of the bombardment the siege was over and St Lucia was in British hands, for the second time in two years. The soldiers had enjoyed good health up until the end of this battle but sickness and disease was more widespread during the period of idleness that followed.

St Vincent, 10 June 1796

Black Watch
St Vincent Stamp
The attention of the British force was next directed towards the sugar-rich island of St Vincent, 50 miles southwest of St Lucia. The 42nd was part of a force consisting of men of the 3rd 14th 34th 40th 53rd 54th 59th and 63rd regiments and local Rangers. They landed on 8 June 1796 and launched an attack two days later. The four French redoubts were difficult to approach but the Highlanders and Rangers reached a point close to the first redoubt and, when joined by the Buffs, launched an assault which carried that and two more redoubts. The final entrenchment was the most difficult and the Highlanders were poised to attack but they were recalled and terms of surrender offered to the enemy. The French accepted, and arrangements were made to embark them as prisoners of war, however, several hundred broke free and escaped into the woods to form resistance groups with the Caribs. Four detachments were sent out to deal with these French/Carib guerrillas, the 42nd being one detachment sent to Colonarie, commanded by Lt-Col Stewart. The casualties of the 42nd from the battle on 10th June 1796 were one sergeant and 12 men killed, one officer, 2 sergeants, one drummer and 29 rank and file wounded. One of the soldiers who played a prominent part in the attack on the redoubts was the wife of one of the Highlanders. She is unnamed but had been acting as nurse to the surgeons. She was in the thick of the battle encouraging the men forward, and afterwards carried out surgical work on the wounded.

Minorca, Nov 1798
The regiment was involved in an attack on Porto Rico in April 1797 and went on to Martinique, from where they sailed home to Portsmouth, arriving on 30 July 1797. When they landed the five companies were up to strength due to drafts from other regiments, and there was no-one on the sick list. They remained at Hillsea barracks for a few weeks and then embarked for Gibraltar to join the other five companies that had been diverted there in 1795. Whilst stationed in Gibraltar, the C-in-C Mediterranean, Earl St Vincent, had determined to increase British Naval power in that area and targeted Minorca which had been in Spanish hands since 1783 when it was ceded from the British in the Treaty of Paris. Before that it had been a British island since 1713. Spain had been an ally of Britain but was now allied to France. Sir Charles Stuart was in command of the land forces which comprised four regiments including the 42nd. They sailed from Gibraltar in Oct 1798 and landed at Addaya Bay in November. They laid siege to Citadella on 14 Nov but the Spanish surrendered the next day even though they outnumbered the British. The spoils of the victory were shared amongst the troops and command of the army there was given to Sir Ralph Abercromby. He arrived at Minorca in June 1799 accompanied by Major-General John Moore. It was at this time that Moore brought his influence to bear on several of the regiments to adopt the principles of light infantry firing, marching and general discipline which had been developed by Major Kenneth Mackenzie of the 90th Regiment. There can be little doubt that the 42nd benefited from this during the period of training before the expedition to Egypt.
Egypt, 1801

Aboukir Bay, 8 Mar 1801

Black Watch
Map of Egypt Battles 1801
The French Revolutionary forces of Napoleon operated in Egypt and Palestine in 1799 but Nelson's victory in the Battle of the Nile (Aug 1798) in Aboukir Bay had effectively cut them off, while Napoleon himself returned to France. The British mounted an expedition, commanded by Sir Ralph Abercromby, to force the French out of the Middle East, sailing from Malta in December 1800. They travelled in two divisions and assembled at Marmorice on the coast of Greece where they rehearsed the landings that were to take place on the coast of Egypt. The fleet anchored off Aboukir Bay on 1 Mar 1801 and had to wait a week for a severe storm to subside. In the early hours of the 8th March the boats full of soldiers formed up ready for the landing. At 9 am the signal was given for the sailors to row hard for the shore. The 42nd were in the centre with the 28th and 58th regiments. The French were well equipped with artillery and fired on the boats packed with soldiers who were in light marching order. Three boats each containing 60 men were sunk 100 yards from shore and later the guns were joined by infantry firing a hail of musket balls. Sir John Moore led men ashore from the boats. While the Welsh Fusiliers and men of the 40th charged up the heights on the extreme right, the centre battalions rushed up the sand hills, the Highlanders among them, in the face of artillery grape-shot, and musket fire. They drove the French off their positions at the point of the bayonet but were then attacked by cavalry. These horsemen were driven off, and after a short battle the whole defence force was in retreat towards Alexandria, leaving only the old castle of Aboukir to deal with. This was blockaded and neutralised by the 2nd Queen's regiment and 26th Light Dragoons. The losses to the 42nd were heavy: 31 killed. The wounded included the CO James Stewart and 7 other officers, 7 sergeants, 4 drummers and 140 men. Most of the casualties were sustained in the boats and on the climb up the sand hills. The whole attacking force lost 102 killed and 515 killed.

Mandora, 13 Mar 1801

Abercromby's army was not able to pursue the French after the initial confrontation on the sea shore as the disembarkation of men and stores needed a few more days to complete. On 13 Mar they advanced through a date palm forest and a battle was fought at Mandora, mostly involving the 90th Perthshires and 92nd Gordon Highlanders. The 42nd were in the reserve and ordered by John Moore to conceal themselves behind a hill on the right. They were under strict orders to remain still and not reveal their position. Unfortunately three young officers stood up for a better view of the battle and drew fire from the enemy guns. Three privates were killed, 3 officers, 3 sergeants and 24 were wounded.

Alexandria, 21 Mar 1801

The advance continued until they reached the city of Alexandria and halted to face French artillery which killed more than 150, until it was decided to retire out of range. The British staff were unable to make good strategic decisions because of lack of local knowledge so the battle began badly. In the early hours of 21 Mar the French opened the battle in the same area of Mandora, 2 miles east of the city. The 42nd was divided into two wings, the left wing under Major Stirling and the right under Lt-Col Stewart who had been wounded at Aboukir Bay. They were in the reserve with the Welsh Fusiliers, 28th 40th 58th and Corsican Rangers on the right. While the 28th and 58th held off the French attack near the ruin called Cleopatra's Palace, Stirling's wing of the 42nd repulsed a strong force on the left of the redoubt which was some distance out in front. It was still very dark and visibility was also poor because of smoke. But a regiment of French veteran grenadiers called the Invincibles managed to find their way between the two wings of the 42nd who were parallel to each other. Lt-Col Stewart was alerted to their presence and ordered his wing to charge and capture a gun they were dragging. The rear rank of the other wing turned about and also attacked. (This story is also attributed to the 28th Regiment to explain the origin of the Gloucester's back badge) The French were driven towards the ruin and broke into where the 28th were posted. The 58th and 40th joined in this fight and fired on the veterans so that the Invincibles were almost wiped out. They very soon surrendered and handed over their standard to the 42nd. Unfortunately, the sergeant who was given charge of this trophy was attacked and wounded by enemy cavalry who retrieved it.

Black Watch
Battle of Alexandria
The front rank of Stirling's wing of the 42nd was otherwise hotly engaged to the left of the redoubt. They held off a determined attack while the rest of the regiment was taking up positions to reinforce them. Abercromby was nearby and saw them fighting off the heavy attack and shouted, "My brave Highlanders, remember your country! remember your forefathers!" This encouraged the Highlanders to pursue the retreating French across the plain towards the city. General Moore tried to recall them but this was only partially successful as few of the companies pulled back to the redoubt. The rest of the regiment was cut off, out in the open and were forced to form squares as enemy cavalry swept down on them. The men stood firm and managed to repel the attack with relatively few casualties. The 28th Regiment were able to fire on the cavalry and decimate them so giving relief to the 42nd. Next came French infantry but the squares of Scotsmen stood firm. This time 3 regiments of German troops came to their aid, commanded by Major-General Sir John Stuart. They helped to fight off a force of infantry and cavalry.

At around 8 am there was a lull in the fighting because the British had expended their ammunition. As they stood in position the French cannon balls were able to create gaps in the lines of the 42nd and German troops. A further attack in force was made on the redoubt but artillery ammunition had by this time reached the 24-pounder inside the redoubt and this caused such destruction in the enemy ranks that they retreated. The French pulled back to positions in front of the city walls at around 10 am. At this point there was a stand-off and the battle was over. Sir Ralph Abercromby had been attacked by French cavalrymen while he was unattended by his staff. A Highlander of the 42nd named Barker had come to his aid and fired his ramrod at one of the Frenchmen, having run out of musket balls. Sir Ralph manfully attempted to carry on but he had been mortally wounded and was carried off the field. He died a week later on 28 March.

Casualties 1801

The losses to the regiment at Alexandria on 21 Mar 1801 in terms of men killed were; Brevet-Major Robert Bisset, Lieutenants Colin Campbell, Robert Anderson, Alexander Stewart, Alexander Donaldson and Archibald McNichol, and 48 rank and file. The wounded were Major James Stirling, Capt Davis Stewart, Lieutenants Hamilton Rose, J Milford Sutherland, A M Cunningham, Frederick Campbell, Maxwell Grant, Ensign William Mackenzie, 6 sergeants, and 247 rank and file. Lieutenant Alexander Stewart was wounded by a musket ball in the stomach and lay in the same surgeon's tent with Ensign Maxwell Grant who had been stabbed in the stomach with a bayonet. Grant's wound was considered more serious because he was vomiting blood, but he recovered within a fortnight while Stewart died that evening. The regiment was awarded the battle honour EGYPT and the Sphinx, on 6 July 1802. This was their first battle honour despite the fact that they richly deserved so many others from previous battles.

The Invicibles Standard

The standard or Colour of the French Veterans regiment who called themselves the Invincibles had been captured and lost, but later in the battle was recovered once more by a German soldier called Anthony Lutz. He served in the regiment of foreigners raised in Minorca, commanded by Sir John Stuart. Seeing the standard lying on the ground Lutz stripped it from the staff and wound it around his body. After the battle of Alexandria he took it to HQ and received a cash prize for it. In 1802 this foreign regiment came to Winchester where Lutz was involved in a quarrel that ended with his opponant dying of a knife wound. Lutz was tried and sentenced to death but his officers pleaded successfully for his life and cited his part in the recovery of the French standard.

Black Watch
The Alexandria Vase
Meanwhile, the 42nd Regiment, and other Highland regiments, the 79th and 92nd, were to be honoured by the Highland Society of London who 'resolved to bestow on them some mark of their esteem and approbation'. This society was composed of important Scotsmen and included members of the Royal family. They had a medal struck and ordered a special silver vase to be made to commemorate the brave action of the 42nd at the Battle of Alexandria. During the course of the society's deliberations the subject of the Invincibles standard was raised by Sir John Sinclair who's interest was that the standard had been entrusted to his namesake, Sergeant Sinclair. The standard was called for and examined. Lutz's part in it's recovery was discussed and the members of the society took it upon themselves to question the officers of the 42nd to establish if indeed it was they who captured the standard, or Lutz. At this, the officers became incensed. They were deeply offended at the implication that they had falsely laid claim to the standard's capture. This brought about a rift between the regiment and the Highland Society of London which lasted until 1817. The medals and vase remained at the workshops of the silversmith's.

By 1817 General James Stewart, the former CO of the 42nd at Alexandria, had become a vice president of the Highland Society, and the rift was healed to everyone's satisfaction. So on 21 Mar 1817, the anniversary of the battle, a presentation was made by the Society's president, the Duke of York, to the Colonel, the Marquess of Huntly. The regiment were then paraded on 18 June that year at Armargh Barracks to receive the prize. Several kegs of whisky were brought from Scotland to distribute drams to the men. Starting with the CO, Lt-Col Robert Henry Dick, the officers, then the men, all drank from the silver cup which was passed around the regiment.

Second Battalion 1803

In early 1803 the Peace of Amiens was disrupted and the regiment, which had been in Edinburgh, embarked at Leith for Harwich. In the previous year 470 men were discharged and regimental strength was down to 400. A second battalion was raised from reserve quotas provided by the counties of Perth, Elgin, Nairn, Cromarty, Ross, Sutherland, Caithness, Argyle and Bute. They were placed on the establishment on 9 July 1803 with a strength of 1,343 and were commanded by Lord Blantyre. They embarked at Fort George and followed the first battalion who were now camped at Weeley in Essex. The reserves had the option of volunteering themselves into the regulars and 500 did so to join the 1st Battalion. The 1st was sent to Gibraltar in 1805, and sailed there together with the 2nd Battalion of the 78th Regiment in October. They were posted on the Rock until 1808 when they sailed to Portugal with a strength of 826. Of this number, 583 were Highlanders, 231 Lowlanders, seven Englishmen and five Irishmen.

The Peninsula War 1808-1814

Retreat to Corunna 1808

Black Watch
Corunna Harbour 1809
The army in the Peninsula was commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore. On paper he had 30,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry at his disposal. They were to march into Spain in separate divisions from Lisbon, to link up with Spanish troops. The 42nd were initially in Sir John Hope's division which contained the cavalry, the artillery and 4 infantry regiments. They were to take the Talavera road while the rest of the army, 18,000 infantry and 900 moved in three divisions. The news of the surrender of Madrid dismayed Moore who then decided to move north to link up with Sir David Baird who had arrived from England and landed at Corunna with 10,000 men. Moral and discipline declined in Moore's army because they were not marching towards the enemy. This problem was only partially solved when it was decided to confront Marshal Soult at Saldana, but further information about the size of the French army and the presence of Napoleon himself, brought about a change of heart and the great retreat to Corunna began, on 24th December 1808. Soult pursued with 60,000 troops and Moore's situation was desperate, with discipline dropping to an all-time low. In Bembibre the British soldiers became so drunk that they could not protect themselves from French cavalry who cut their way through them.

An attempt was made to stand and fight at Lugo on 7 Jan 1809 but a vital despatch to co-ordinate this was lost by a drunken trooper. The armies of Soult and Moore faced each other but nothing happened so after dark the fires were left burning and the retreat continued. However, the weather worsened and units lost their way in the dark. Many soldiers and camp followers perished in the next few days from hunger, cold and sickness. By 12 Jan there were 14,000 infantry in the column and it was only through the personal leadership of Sir John Moore that the rest of the journey to Corunna became an orderly march. When they reached Corunna there were ships waiting to be loaded with equipment and stores but the army had to prepare themselves for a battle.

Battle of Corunna, 16 Jan 1809

On the 16th Jan the French, with an army of 20,000 took up positions on the heights around the town with a battery of eleven heavy guns enfilading the British line. Baird's division was on the right, nearest to the enemy, with Hope's division to the left of them on ground near the marshy bank of the River Mero. The 42nd was brigaded with the 4th and 50th regiments under the command of Lt-General Lord William Bentinck. The enemy batteries opened fire and 3 columns of French infantry advanced, one threatening Baird's right and another attacking Hope's left. The 50th and 42nd faced infantry who were coming through the village of Elvina. They had a hard struggle but drove them back out of the village. In the years after the battle there was controversy over the events in that part of the conflict, but James Stirling who was the lieutenant-colonel commanding the regiment wrote a letter to the Edinburgh Magazine to contradict an account by William Napier which claimed that the 42nd retired when they thought they were being relieved by the Guards, and were admonished by Sir John Moore.

Black Watch
Death of Sir John Moore
Stirling wrote that the regiment did not retire and that the only words said by Moore were "Highlanders, Remember Egypt!" The 42nd fired a volley and attacked with the bayonet to drive the French to the bottom of a ravine. They were ordered to hold their position, the last order given by Sir John Moore before he was knocked from his horse by a cannon shot. Charles Napier commanded the 50th in this battle and wrote of his frustration at receiving no order to send his men to help the Highlanders so it seems that the 42nd were the first regiment in Bentinck's brigade to advance and actually engage in hand-to-hand fighting. When the 42nd reached a wall, they stopped, according to Charles Napier, and the 50th passed them and opened fire with a strong volley. Moore's ADC, Capt Hardinge wrote later that Moore's dying sight of the battle was the 42nd 'hotly engaged'. It was Highlanders and Guardsmen that carried him from the field in a blanket. The offer of a ride in a waggon was made, but Moore asked the sergeant of the 42nd which would be best, waggon or blanket, and the sergeant said, "The blanket, sir." "I think so too." said the General. The hardened soldiers cried as they bore him into the town where he spoke his last words to his friend Colonel Anderson. He wrote that Sir John started to give him a message for his mother and the thought of her sorrow was too much for him and he died.

Casualties 1809

The regiment embarked at Corunna on the 18th or 19th January 1809 and arrived at Plymouth. They lost one sergeant and 36 killed or died on the march to Corunna and following battle. Also one officer, Major Campbell died on the march. Six other officers were wounded, also one sergeant and 104 men. It is amazing that the soldiers were able to take part in the battle after the retreat. Most of the men would have been barefoot, in the middle of winter, with injured and frost-bitten feet. The famous Colin Campbell, who became Lord Clyde, was a young officer in the 9th Regiment, and wrote how his boots were worn away so that he marched barefoot. When he got on board ship he was unable to remove what was left of his boots and had to soak his feet in very hot water. The leather was cut away, sometimes taking flesh with it.

Walcheren 1809

The expedition to Walcheren in the Nederlands in July-Aug 1809 was a low point in British military history. The army was commanded by the Earl of Chatham and the navy by Sir Richard Strachan. They seized the island of Walcheren at the mouth of the Scheldt and found it to be swampy and unhealthy. The 42nd were brigaded with the 9th and 38th, commanded by Brigadier-General Montresor. This brigade was in the 2nd Division which was commanded by their Colonel, The Marquess of Huntly. The army of 40,000 lost 4,000 men, mostly from malaria. Large numbers of men suffered sickness there and 12,000 were still ill by February 1810. The 42nd started with 758 men and returned to Dover in September 1809 with only 204 men fit for duty. They remained at Canterbury until July 1810, then removed to Scotland to be quartered at Musselburgh.

Busaco, 27 Sep 1810

The 2nd Battalion, raised in 1803, served in the Peninsula War under Wellington, from 1810 until they were disbanded in 1814. They were part of the British and Portuguese force that withstood Massena's attack on the ridge along which they were positioned. The 42nd were in the 1st Division, 2nd Brigade with 2/24th, 1/61st and a company from 5/60th, all commanded by Lord Blantyre. They were not prominent in this battle and suffered only 7 wounded. Forbes's history of the regiment glosses over it but mentions that Major Henry Robert Dick won a medal (not to be confused with Robert Henry Dick who was CO of the 1st Btn). Busaco is a good example of the random way battle honours were awarded. The Black Watch were granted BUSACO as late as c1910, a year that many retrospective honours were given out. Other regiments that fought there were awarded the honour at different dates. The 45th Sherwood Foresters had the most casualties (28 killed 112 wounded) and were the first to receive the award in Jan 1817. The following list of infantry regiments with this battle honour shows the casualties (k&w) and the date the honour was awarded:

45th Sherwood Foresters (28k 112w) 30 Jan 1817
74th Highland Light Infantry (7k 22w) 16 June 1817
1st Royal Scots (2w) 21 June 1817
88th Connaught Rangers (30k 102w) 28 Aug 1817
9th Norfolks (5k 19w) 18 Feb 1819
Rifle Brigade (9k 22w) 4 Jan 1821
43rd Light Infantry (7w) 13 Feb 1821
52nd Oxford Light Infantry (3k 12w) 13 Feb 1821
5th Northumberland Fusiliers (1k 7w) 10 Dec 1825
83rd Royal Irish Rifles (5w) 10 May 1827
38th South Staffords (5k 18w) 29 Aug 1831
79th Cameron Highlanders (12k 43w) c1910
7th Royal Fusiliers (1k 23w) c1910
60th Rifles (3k 21w) c1910
42nd Black Watch (7w) c1910
61st South Gloucesters (?) c1910
24th South Wales Borderers (1w) c1910

From this list it can be seen that the Royal Scots gained the honour in 1817 with only 2 men wounded, and the 43rd LI won it in 1821 with the same casualties as the 42nd. The Cameron Highlanders should certainly have received the honour earlier than 1910, having 12 men killed and 43 wounded. Knowing the date of the award of a battle honour is important when establishing the dates of regimental Colours and badges.

Feuntes de Onoro, 3-5 May 1811

Black Watch
Fuentes de Onoro
Wellington invaded Spain from his lines at Torres Vedras and blockaded the town of Almeida. Massena came out of Cuidad Rodrigo to relieve the French garrison at Almeida and attacked Wellington's position at Feuntes de Onoro. On 3 May 1811 they fought against 5 battalions, the 42nd being one of them. They lost 2 soldiers killed. Capt Macdonald, one sergeant and 5 men were wounded. The next action was on 5 May in which the 42nd were brigaded with the 2/24th and 1/79th in Maj-General Nightingall's 1st Division. The 7th Division under Maj-Gen Houston was cut off and Captain Norman Ramsay's troop of horse artillery made a famous charge to break out of the French cavalry encirclement. Craufurd's Division was pursued by French cavalry but were halted by the 42nd who repulsed their charge. The 71st and 79th also fought off the enemy cavalry and sustained 127 and 256 casualties respectively. The 42nd lost one sergeant and one private killed, and one sergeant and 22 men wounded. Major Henry Robert Dick is again mentioned as winning another medal for distinguishing himself in command of a flank battalion. The battle honour FUENTES D'ONOR was awarded to the 42nd on 4 Dec 1817.

Ciudad Rodrigo, Jan 1812

At the beginning of 1812 the 2nd Battalion, having earned two battle honours, took part in another victory at Ciudad Rodrigo which brought honours to 9 regiments but not to the Black Watch. The army marched through snow to reach the fortress and the siege started on 8 Jan 1812. The French made a sortie on 14 Jan which was beaten off, and work continued on the parallels. Two breaches were made in the walls for simultaneous attacks at 7pm on 19 Jan by Picton's Division and Craufurd's Light Division. This time the 42nd were not in the forefront of the storming of the breaches and sustained casualties of only one man killed and 14 wounded.

Badajoz, March-April 1812

Wellington was showered with honours and titles for his victory at Ciudad Rodrigo and went on to Badajoz which was a longer and much bloodier siege. It began on 16 March and lasted until the final storming at three separate points on 6 April. The siege is famous for the number of Allied casualties; 77 officers and 963 men killed, 306 officers and 3,481 men wounded. It is also infamous for the horrible aftermath; 3 days of destruction, murder, rape and looting. The 2nd battalion do not appear on the regimental casualty list so their part in the siege is obscure. Forbes's history says that Wellington invested the fortress with 30,000 men while Rowland Hill covered the siege with 22,000 picked troops who would have faced the approaching armies of Marmont and Soult. Perhaps the 42nd were in Hill's covering force.

Salamanca, 22 July 1812

The 1st Battalion joined Wellington's army in May 1812 so that the two battalions were briefly brought together. The 2nd Battalion were ordered to Scotland after drafts were made to bring the 1st Btn up to a strength of 1,160. The brilliant victory over the army of Marshal Marmont took place at Salamanca on 22 July causing the British to lose 550 killed and more than 3,000 wounded. Their Portuguese allies lost 350 killed and 1,650 wounded. The 1/42nd had 3 men wounded, indicating that they played only a small part in the battle.

Burgos, 19 Sep-21 Oct 1812

After Salamanca the French evacuated Madrid and Wellington entered the capital in triumph. The French were thrown on the back foot and General Bertrant Clausel pulled troops out of the Castillian city of Burgos, leaving only 1,800 men under General Dubreton to garrison the castle against Wellington's 35,000 strong army.
Black Watch
The Siege of Burgos
The 1st/42nd, having been sidelined for glory at Salamanca were given the chance to live up to their reputation in the siege of Burgos. They were under the command of Major Summers Cox who was ordered to attack the San Miguel Hornwork, an outpost of the city. On the night of 19 September, Wellington ordered the assault on the Hornwork, which guarded the northeast approach to Burgos. The Highlanders were led by an Engineer officer named Pitt and carried ladders that were spliced together to allow them to scale the tall grassy slope up to the palisades.Launched without the benefit of artillery support, the battalion was spotted by the French in the moonlight and over 200 men were mowed down. Brigadier General Denis Pack's Portuguese brigade suffered an additional 100 losses. Fortunately for the British, the flank companies of the 1st/42nd, 1st/24th, and 1st/79th were able to gain access to the rear of the hornwork via the gorge between the castle and San Miguel, thus cutting the enemy off. From there they opened a scattered fire on the French. The defenders suddenly stampeded, leaving the hornwork in the Allies' possession. The 1st Battalion of the French 34th Line lost 138 killed and wounded, plus 60 men and seven guns captured. Allied losses numbered 421 killed and wounded in this detachment. Unfortunately Cox's force was unsupported and the capture of the hornwork was wasted. The siege of Burgos dragged on for a month before Wellington gave up and ordered a secret withdrawal on the night of 21 Oct. The British lost 550 killed and 1,550 wounded, and the losses to the 42nd were 4 officers, 2 sergeants and 44 men killed, 6 officers, 11 sergeants, one drummer and 230 men wounded.

Vittoria, 21 June 1813

During the withdrawal from the defeat at Burgos there was a severe drop in moral and discipline. The troops then wintered on the Portuguese border, during which time reinforcements arrived so that when Wellington advanced into Spain in May 1813 he had an army of 70,000. On the way to the Pyrenees they encountered the French at Vittoria. According to Forbes the 42nd were in Sir Thomas Graham's Corps, brigaded with the 79th Cameron Highlanders and 91st Argyllshires. They had an arduous march through the mountain region of Tras-os-Montes, moving south from Murguia by the Bilbao road to attack the French right. In other accounts of the battle of Vittoria no mention is made of the 42nd in Graham's Left Column so the part played by the regiment is obscure. There is an account, quoted in Forbes's history of the Black Watch, of the battle at the village of Gamarra Mayor by Colin Campbell of the 9th Regiment. He says that Wellington ordered the 9th and the left brigade to move against the French who had set up guns at the entrance to the village. They advanced in the face of heavy musket fire but were able to take the village. There was desperate fighting at the bridge which the French tried to re-take. The dead and wounded were heaped on the bridge and had to be rolled into the river Zadora. This battle lasted 3 hours and ended with the French retreating. But their way was blocked on the Bayonne road so they headed towards Pamplona. Apparently, the brigade involved in the struggle at Gamarra Mayor was the Scottish left brigade of the 42nd 79th and 91st, but other, more reliable accounts say that it was Maj-General Robinson's brigade of the 4th 47th and 59th. There are no casualty figures for the 3 Scottish regiments and they did not receive a battle honour for Vittoria. The regiments in Robinson's brigade, however, did receive the honour and suffered 13, 20 and 11 men killed respectively. The 9th Norfolks were awarded the honour but are not mentioned in the casualty list of C B Norman's Battle Honours of the British Army (1911). The History of the Norfolk Regiment by F Loraine Petre (1914) gives an account of the Light Company of the 9th at Gamarra Mayor quoting one officer and 9 men killed, 15 wounded. The 42nd is not mentioned but Petre refers to Robinson's Brigade and gives the highest casualties to the Royal Scots (111).

Pyrenees, 25 July-2 Aug 1813

The crossing of the Pyrenees lasted through the summer of 1813 and separate battles were fought on different dates against Soult's army that marched out of France to link up with the men retreating from Vittoria. Although the 42nd were not very actively engaged they sustained casualties, 4 men killed and 26 wounded, and were credited with the battle honour PYRENEES awarded on 4 Dec 1817. Lt-Col James Stirling was given a clasp to his medal, and Lt-Col Robert Macara also received a medal.

Nivelle, 10 Nov 1813

The British entered France, crossing the River Bidossa in October 1813. A battle was fought at the Croix des Bouquets on 7 Oct involving the 9th Regiment who lost 8 killed and 74 wounded, including the irrepressible Colin Campbell. The French occupied strong fortifications on the river Nivelle which was forded at daybreak on 10 Nov. It was a relatively easy victory for Wellington, and the regiments earned the battle honour NIVELLE. The 1st/42nd sustained one man killed while the wounded included 2 officers, 2 sergeants and 23 men. The regiment was commanded by Lt-Col Macara who received a clasp to his medal.

Nive, 9-13 Dec 1813

Marshal Soult pulled his army back to Bayonne and prepared a defensive position along the river Nive. The army had rested in cantonments after Nivelle but a month later Wellington pushed them across the Nive for a battle that lasted 5 days. The fiercest fighting was on 10 and 13th Dec but ended with the French retreat back to Bayonne. The regiment lost two officers and 10 rank and file killed, one sergeant and 15 men wounded. Lt-Col Macara was again decorated and the 42nd earned another battle honour for NIVE, awarded 4 years later.

Orthes, 27 Feb 1814

Wellington was able to disrupt Soult's lines of communication around Bayonne so the French army of 40,000, mostly veterans, was moved east towards Orthes, destroying bridges as they went. They established themselves in a strong position on the heights between St Boes and Orthes. The British, Portuguese and Spanish crossed the Gave de Pau river and attacked all along the line. The 42nd were in the Highland Brigade, with the 79th and 91st commanded by Major-General Denis Pack. This brigade was in the 6th Division, part of Beresford's Corps. The 6th Division led by Picton was given the task of attacking the centre of the French line which was commanded by Foy and D'Armagnac. This attack faltered and was in the process of retiring when the 52nd was sent by Wellington to force their way into a gap in the French line. Picton's brigades renewed their effort and with pressure on the French left flank from Hill's Corps the enemy were facing defeat. Soult withdrew his army in good order and they headed towards Toulouse, but Hill's divisions were moving parallel to them causing the French to break formation and panic. At this stage the British cavalry swept in and slaughtered about 300 men on all sides. The 42nd, as part of Picton's central thrust, had advanced through marshy ground under heavy fire and suffered significant casualties. One officer, a sergeant and 3 men killed, 4 officers, 5 sergeants and 85 men wounded. They were awarded the battle honour ORTHES in 1817.

1814 - 1815

Toulouse, 10 April 1814

Black Watch
Map of Toulouse 1814
The 42nd Highlanders had served throughout the whole Peninsula War represented by either the 1st or 2nd Battalion. The 1st Battalion had now reached the final battle and were about to face their greatest test, and suffer their greatest losses. Sadly it was all a waste of effort and human life because Napoleon had abdicated on 4th April and the war was over. But on 10 April 1814 Soult, 400 miles from Paris, did not know this, or if he did he was not going to be stopped.

The Allies chased the French from Orthes and arrived at Toulouse 3 days later, giving their enemies some time to make improvements to the elaborate entrenchments and fortifications built by the townsfolk outside the city. As well as the redoubts and trenches the city was well protected by the canal and river. Wellington had 12,000 Spanish troops to reinforce his Anglo-Portuguese army, and he sent them in to attack the hill at Pugade, but many were slaughtered and the survivors ran for their lives. Picton's brigades were supposed to make a feint attack on the Jumeau Canal bridge to divert the enemy but this turned into a real attack, in an attempt to aid the pursued Spanish soldiers. Unfortunately they encountered a ditch 6' deep and 6' wide which proved too difficult. More than 400 men were lost in this failed attempt. Meanwhile, Beresford with 13,000 men moved along the valley to the Lavaur road attack St Sypiere and Mont Rave. The enemy redoubts began to give way and the French pulled back to the Plateau Calvinet so that the Allies were able to claim the heights. There was a pause in the fighting while artillery was brought up and at 1 o'clock the battle continued, concentrating on Mont Rave. The French made some progress in recapturing redoubts but they were again driven out in a desperate struggle that lasted until evening.

Malcolm's Account of the Battle of Toulouse

An account written by a Mr Malcolm who served in the 42nd at Toulouse describes the moment when the Highland brigade waited to attack a redoubt. The Portuguese troops were ranged in front of them as the enemy poured out of their defences and rushed down. The French filled the air with a great shout and their generals were waving their bicorn hats, so the Highlanders removed their bonnets and waved back. This had the effect of silencing the enemy and slowing their attack. At this point the light company of the 42nd fired a volley which removed several of the hat-waving generals, prompting a return volley from the French. The Highlanders and Portuguese then stormed up the slope and forced the defenders back. They were soon in possession of this obstacle but found that there were four more redoubts beyond that, linked by connecting trenches.

Black Watch
Highlanders on the Canal
They were now on a road protected by a high bank during the pause in the battle. When Beresford's artillery arrived and the Spanish troops had re-grouped, the brigade was addressed by their commander Denis Pack who said that General Clinton had agreed to allow the 42nd the honour of leading the attack. To reach the next redoubt they had to traverse a ploughed field, but before that they had to ascend the bank by companies, the grenadiers first. As soon as they showed themselves the French artillery opened fire with grapeshot. The right wing of the attack made a rush towards the guns. Their way was barred by broad ditches filled with water. But the enemy gunners were panicked by the determined assault and deserted their guns. There were fortified houses nearby, however, from which a terrific volley of musket fire was directed on the Highlanders. The grapeshot and this fusillade reduced the 42nd from 500 to about 90 effectives.

At this point the commanding officer Lt-Col Robert Macara is criticised in Malcolm's story for causing the destruction of his regiment:

'Our colonel was a very brave man; but there are moments when a well-timed manoeuvre is of more advantage than sheer courage. The regiment stood on the road with its front exactly to the enemy; and if the left wing had been ordered forward, it could have sprung up the bank in line and dashed forward on the enemy at once. Instead of this, the colonel faced the right wing to its right, counter-marched in rear of the left, and when the leading rank cleared the left flank, it was made to file up the bank, and as soon as it made its appearance the shot, shell, and musketry poured in with deadly destruction; and in this exposed position we had to make a second counter-march on purpose to bring our front to the enemy. Those movements consumed much time, and by this unnecessary exposure exasperated the men to madness. The words "Forward, double quick!" dispelled the gloom, and forward we drove in the face of apparent destruction. The field had been lately rough-ploughed, and when a man fell he tripped up the man behind; thus the ranks were opening as we approached the point whence all this hostile vengeance proceeded; but the rush forward had received an impulse from desperation...In a moment every obstacle was surmounted; the enemy fled as we leaped over the trenches like a pack of hungry hounds in pursuit, frightening them more by our wild hurrahs than actually hurting them by ball or bayonet.'

The regiment was now reduced to two officers and 60 men fit for duty, with the tattered Colour carried by a sergeant to rally the men who were, 'defiled with mire, sweat, smoke and blood.' Musket fire was still pouring in so the survivors were ordered to retire. They ran for it and gained the relative safety of a trench that was cut across the road:

'The balls were whistling among us and over us; while those in front were struggling to get out, those behind were holding them fast for assistance; and we became firmly wedged together until a horse without a rider came plunging down on the heads and bayonets of those in his way. They on whom he fell were drowned or smothered, and the gaps thus made gave way for the rest to get out.'

The battle raged on but it seems that there were no more heroics by the 42nd at Toulouse after this. The French fell back on the city and on the next day the Allies entered Toulouse to be welcomed by the inhabitants. During the course of the day it became generally known that Napoleon had abdicated and that King Louis XVIII had been restored to his throne. It was believed that this news had been intentionally prevented from reaching Toulouse before the battle. The 42nd's casualties were: 4 officers killed and two more died of wounds, also 3 sergeants and 47 men killed. 19 more officers were wounded, including Lt-Col Macara, along with 14 sergeants, one drummer and 231 other ranks. The Allies as a whole lost 31 officers and 564 men killed; 248 officers and 3,798 men wounded. 3 officers and 15 men were unaccounted for.

Ireland 1814-15

The Highland brigade left France and were sent to Ireland. The history does not say if they marched through France or were shipped home. Hopefully the latter route was available to them as many had no shoes and very ragged uniforms. The 42nd were the only kilted regiment in the Highland brigade but many of them had turned their kilts into trousers. In Ireland the sadly depleted regiment had to be brought up to strength by drafting in men from the 2nd Battalion which was officially disbanded in October 1814. In May 1815 they were shipped to Belgium for the 100-day resumption of the Napoleonic Wars.

Quatre Bras, 16 June 1815

The 42nd were quartered in Brussels, having 39 officers and more than 500 men, commanded by Lt-Col Robert Macara KCB. They were in Picton's 5th Division, brigaded with the 3rd Btn Royal Scots, 2nd Btn 44th and the 92nd under Sir Denis Pack. Leaving Brussels in the early hours of 16 June they marched south through the Foret de Soignes, stopping for 2 hours at Waterloo and marching on to Quatre Bras along the road that went past La Haye Saint and La Belle Alliance. When they arrived after 3pm the battle had already started. The battleground of Quatre Bras contained the Wood of Bossu to the west, fields of wheat and tall rye grass. Picton's division was placed south of the Namur-Nivelles road and southeast of the Charleroi-Brussels road with Pack's brigade on the right. Marshal Ney who commanded the French sent two columns into the valley east of Gemioncourt to threaten the Brunswickers, so Wellington, at 4pm, ordered Picton's men to advance against the columns. They fired at and charged the French who fell back in disorder. The 42nd and 44th almost captured Gemioncourt Manor but it was too strongly held.
Black Watch
Quatre Bras
The Brunswick Hussars found themselves in trouble when they were counter-attacked by French Chasseurs. The 92nd opened their ranks to let the Hussars through but the pursuing Chasseurs a Cheval followed and attacked the 92nd from the rear. Wellington was almost killed by a Chasseur officer but some soldiers acted quickly and cut down the assailant. The 42nd and 44th were unsure whether to fire on the cavalry as it was difficult to see who was who through the long grass. It was at this point that French Lancers of Werthier's brigade appeared and attacked the Highlanders. A square was hastily formed but not quickly enough to prevent a lancer squadron getting inside. A desperate fight took place with most of the lancers being bayoneted. They in turn speared many highlanders, most notably the CO Lt-Col Macara who took a lance under the chin which penetrated his brain. Command passed to Lt-Col Dick who was soon wounded, then Brevet-Major Davidson who was mortally wounded, then Brevet-Major Campbell who commanded for the rest of the campaign. The 44th also had a hard fight with the lancers and Ensign Christie performed heroics to save the Colour. The two depleted battalions had to combine to form a single square for defence but they were short of ammunition and had to beg for more off Halkett's brigade who had recently arrived.

The 42nd/44th square suffered from artillery and skirmishers but they were witnesses to the tragedy that befell the 69th Regiment. They had been ordered to form square to prepare for an attack by Kellerman's cuirassiers but the interfering Prince of Orange appeared and ordered them to form line. This they did reluctantly and were attacked mercilessly by the French horsemen who killed 150 of them. But the cuirassiers did not get away Scot free as they were fired on by infantry and artillery so that they turned and fled. The battle ended with both sides having gained no ground and lost many brave men. The 42nd had 4 officers and 50 men killed, 22 officers and 337 men wounded.

Waterloo, 18 June 1815

The 42nd, with the rest of the army, took up positions near Waterloo the following evening, 17 June. During the battle on the 18th the regiment was on the left of the line behind La Haye Sainte. In the early part of the fighting they had to face heavy enemy artillery fire and later in the day some subsidiary attacks. The battalion took part in the general advance when the French army finally broke. Their casualties were 5 men killed, 6 officers, 39 rank and file wounded. The six officers had already been wounded at Quatre Bras, and were wounded again at Waterloo. They were; Captain Mungo Macpherson, Lt John Orr, Lt George Gunn Munro, Lt Hugh Angus Fraser, Lt James Brander, and QM Donald Macintosh. The CO was Brevet-Major Campbell. After the battle they went on to Paris where they stayed until the end of 1815 at which time they returned to Edinburgh.

Service, 1825-54
The regiment was in Ireland and Scotland up to the end of 1825 when they were posted to Gibraltar for 6 years. During this time their Colonel, Sir George Murray ensured that they were issued with Long Land Tower muskets. They went on to Malta, then the Ionian Islands and returned to Britain in 1836. Between then and 1841 they were again in Scotland and Ireland, then they returned to the Ionian Islands. In April 1842 a 2nd Battalion was raised once more, serving in Scotland before going out to Malta in 1843 to join the 1st Battalion. After a few years the 42nd was sent to Bermuda and then Nova Scotia. In 1852 the 2nd Battalion was absorbed into the 1st and they returned to Scotland.
The Crimean War 1854-56

The Alma, 20 Sep 1854

The regiment, with a strength of 830, landed at Scutari on 9 June 1854, commanded by Lt-Col A D Cameron. They were again part of the Highland brigade with the 79th Cameron Highlanders and 93rd Sutherland Highlanders, all kilted regiments. The brigade was at first commanded by Major-General Sir Colin Campbell. They sailed over the Black Sea to the Crimea, landing on 14 Sep. The first battle of the war was on the river Alma where the Highland Brigade distinguished itself by defeating 12 Russian battalions.
Black Watch
The 42nd at the Alma
Sir Colin's brigade was given the task of protecting the left flank of the army. On the right of the Russian line were 3,000 cavalry, so the 79th, on the brigade's left, were ordered to alter their formation from line to column. Later when Campbell realised that the cavalry were not a threat he formed them back into line so that they crossed the Alma and advanced up the slope in echelon with the 42nd on the right being the lead battalion.

The Guards division were on the right of the brigade, advancing on the redoubt on the Kourgane hills, defended by the right Vladimir column. Campbell brought the 42nd up far enough to threaten the flank of the redoubt as it was attacked from the front by the Guards. The Vladimirs were driven out of their position and linked up with the two battalions of the right Kazan column. Campbell led the 42nd against these Russian troops across a hollow, but their left flank was now threatened by two battalions of the Sousdal column. The 93rd were now well advanced and able to deal with the Sousdal battalions, however, as the 42nd continued their attack there were fresh enemy troops charging down on the 93rd, but these, in turn, were intercepted by the 79th. All three regiments put their opposing Russians to fight, however, the battle was not yet over for the Highlanders, as the Ouglitz column, of 4,000 Russians made a threatening move towards them but were driven off by the fire of the whole brigade.

Kertch and Sevastopol

From the 19th Oct the Highland Brigade was commanded by Colonel Duncan Cameron of the 42nd, as Sir Colin had been promoted to the command of all the troops around Balaclava. On 28th Oct the battle of Balaclava took place, involving not only the famous cavalry actions but also the brave stand of the 93rd. The 42nd was not engaged in this or the battle of Inkerman in November. They were posted around Balaklava for the winter and in May 1855 were sent on the amphibious expedition to the port of Kertch. They then moved into the trenches around Sevastopol. On 18 June they were in reserve for the assault on the outworks of the fortress and subsequently engaged in siege operations. They were again in reserve for an assault on the Redan on 8 Sep 1855 but that failed and they were put in the front trenches in preparation for another attempt on the following day. The Russians, however, silently abandoned the Redan that night. Forbes's history describes how this was discovered:

'About 12.30am of the 9th, a sergeant of the 42nd on duty in the trenches, surprised at the silence in the Redan, ventured to enter it, and was followed by some volunteers of the same regiment. Nothing was heard but the heavy breathing and groans of the wounded and dying, who with the dead, were the sole occupants of this massive work.'

The regiment was sent to Kamara until the peace was declared. They embarked at Kamiesch and landed at Portsmouth on 24 July 1856. The casualties of the 42nd in this conflict were one officer and 38 men killed in action. 140 officers and men were sent back to England as sick or wounded but the deaths from sickness were one officer and 226 men.

The Indian Mutiny 1857-59

Embarkation at Dover, August 1857

Black Watch
Dover 1857
On 9 Oct 1855 the command of the regiment was handed over to Lieut-Col Alexander Cameron who replaced Colonel Duncan Cameron. After arriving back in England in July 1856 the regiment travelled by rail from Portsmouth to Aldershot where they were reviewed by Queen Victoria. They then went on to Dover to be brigaded with 79th and 93rd. The regiment was reduced to 12 companies but on receipt of news of the Mutiny they had to make hurried preparations for departure to India. There was another review on 4 Aug 1857 which was attended by the Queen, and they embarked a few days later. They were split up between different ships and arrived at Calcutta in October and November. Half the battalion became part of Sir Colin Campbell's column to relieve Cawnpore.

Second Battle of Cawnpore, 6 Dec 1857

The first battle of Cawnpore had been fought 5 months earlier in July 1857 with terrible atrocities being committed by both Indian mutineers and by British soldiers after the defeat of Nana Sahib. General Windham had been left in charge of the city while Sir Colin Campbell was relieving Lucknow for the first time. But Cawnpore came under attack once more, this time by an army led by Tatya Tope. The relief force set off from Allahabad on 24 Nov 1857. Campbell began the long evacuation of women, children and sick, determined not to begin the battle until this was complete. The 42nd provided their regimental HQ and 5 companies, commanded by Lt-Col Thorold. They marched from Cheemee to Cawnpore, a distance of 80 miles, in 56 hours. The battle began on 6 Dec 1857 with the 42nd were in support in Hope's column which included the 53rd, 93 and 4th Punjabis. They drove the enemy across the canal and followed them to their camp. The defeat of the mutineers was quick and the Highlanders soon moved to the fore in the battle, being active in the 15 mile pursuit along the Calpee road. The Gwalior Contingent was mostly destroyed but the Bithoor Contingent were able to escape with their guns.

The pursuit of the Bithoor mutineers was given to Hope Grant who, on 8th Dec, set out with 2,500 men of whom the 42nd were part. On the 9th Dec He overtook them at Serai Ghaut, 25 miles from Cawnpore. They were driven across the river and 15 guns captured. The regiment remained at Bithoor and were joined by Lt-Colonel Cameron and Major Priestley, and later by the other companies of the regiment.

Lucknow, March 1858

Black Watch
Lt Farquharson VC
Sir Colin Campbell's second relief of Lucknow began on 5 Mar 1858 when he arrived with a force of nearly 25,000 men. Outram was sent across the Goomtee with an infantry division, a strong cavalry brigade and 5 field batteries. On 9 March the 42nd and 93rd Highlanders where ordered forward at 2pm, sweeping in line abreast down the slope from the Dilkoosha, driving the mutineers from their entrenchments in front of the Martiniere. They continued on to Banks House where they remained and spent the night. There was more hard fighting the next day in which Lieutenant Farquharson was wounded whilst gaining an advanced position. He had already acted with great heroism the previous day when he spiked enemy guns. The loss to the 42nd was 5 men killed and 41 men wounded. Farquharson was awarded the VC, the first of 8 won by the regiment in the Mutiny.

Fort Ruhya, 15 April 1858

The next objective in Campbell's campaign was the defeat of rebel elements in Rohilcund. Two columns were sent out under Generals Walpole and John Jones. The 42nd had the misfortune to be in Walpole's force which came up against the jungle fort of Ruhya on 15 April 1858. Walpole failed to make a proper reconnaissance and sent four companies of the 42nd to attack the strongest face of this less than imposing stronghold. The defenders put up a strong fight and kept their assailants pinned down for several hours. Acts of great heroism were required of the officers and men. No less than 4 Victoria Crosses were won by the 42nd that day. The greatest loss was Brigadier Adrian Hope of the 93rd Regiment, son of Sir John Hope. The 42nd lost Lieutenant Douglas and Lieut Bramley. One sergeant and 6 privates were killed. Lt Cockburn, 3 sergeants and 34 men were wounded. Lt Douglas was mortally wounded when QM Sgt Simpson retreived him and another man. Private Davis won a VC bringing in the body of Lieut Bramley. Private Spence and Lance-Corporal Thompson also risked their lives to bring in the bodies of the fallen officers.

Bareilly, 5 May 1858

Black Watch
The advance on Bareilly began on 28 April. When they reached Bareilly on 5 may they were assailed by 'Ghazis and Mussulman Fanatics' armed with tulwars and shields. The loyal Punjabis were forced back onto the 42nd. The enemy were in the act of surrounding the soldiers and hand-to-hand fighting ensued. Colonel Cameron was pulled from his horse by three men and he would have been killed but for the prompt action of Colour-Sergeant Gardner who bayoneted two and would have killed the third but another Highlander beat him to it. Garner won the VC for this action. General Walpole also was wounded and saved by another brave Scot whose name is not recorded. As the regiment advanced into the town after defeating the Ghazis there was another situation where the journalist William Howard Russell was attacked and saved by Sergeant Forbes-Mitchell who shot the rebel as his sword-arm was raised to strike Russell. This battle cost the 42nd one private killed, 2 officers, one sergeant and 12 men wounded.

Maylah Ghat, 15 Jan 1859

In November, HQ and the left wing of the 42nd took up positions on the banks of the Sarda at Maylah Ghat to prevent rebels from crossing from Oude into Rohilcund. On the morning of 15 Jan 1859 there was a fierce fight with a numerically superior rebel force which had crossed the river. Captain Lawson and 37 men fought off 2,000 mutineers. The fight lasted from dawn till dusk. Lawson was wounded and 3 sergeants killed. The leadership fell on two privates, Walter Cook and Duncan Millar who managed to control the situation and save the day. For their actions they were awarded the VC.

Ashanti War 1874
Black Watch
Ashanti War 1874
In 1873 the 42nd was linked with the 73rd and a depot centre established at Perth. The two battalions still retained their numbered titles at this stage. In December 1873 the 42nd were sent to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) to join Sir Garnet Wolseley's expedition against Coffee Calcalli, the king of the Ashantis. This was sparked by outrages committed by the Ashanti king, including the murder of Sir Charles McCartney, the governor of the colony, followed by the triumphant parading of his severed head to Coomassie.

They arrived off the coast of west Africa on 22 Jan 1874 and marched inland. After 30 miles the native porters deserted and the Black Watch had to carry the supplies. On 30 Jan they reached Quarman, not far from the Ashanti camp at Amoaful. The approach towards the enemy was made in the form of a square so that the 42nd and some detachments formed the front face, under Major Macpherson. A few hundred yards beyond Eginkassi they were fired on by tribesmen hidden in the trees. They were in a dangerous position, exposed to an enemy that could not be seen, and casualties mounted up. Artillery was brought up and this helped to disperse the Ashantis, and the Black Watch pursued them, to the sound of the pipes, to their camp. Major Baird was mortally wounded. Seven officers, including Major Macpherson and Captain Creagh, and 104 men were wounded. Lance-Sergeant Samual McGaw, one of the wounded, won the VC for continuing to lead his section despite his injury. Another battle was fought on 4 Feb at Ordah-su in which three officers were wounded, one of which was Lieutenant Andy Wauchope who was later famously killed in command of a brigade at Magersfontein in the Boer War. The British troops entered Coomassie after this battle to find the Ashanti king had fled. Having accomplished their task the army marched back to the coast and were embarked on 27 Feb. The 42nd were in Portsmouth by 23 March. The commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel McLeod was made KCB and medals given out to selected NCOs and men for distinguished conduct in the field, and for meritorious services, as well as campaign medals for all ranks. They were granted the battle honour ASHANTEE 1873-4 which was given to only four units; the Black Watch, the Welsh Fusiliers, the Rifle Brigade and the West India Regiment

Cyprus 1878
Cyprus had been part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire since 1571 but that empire was in decline, and had been defeated by Russia in 1875. Britain became involved because of the newly opened Suez Canal and because they were wary of Russian expansion. They formed a defence alliance with Turkey, part of the agreement being that Cyprus was assigned to Britain, although annual payments were still made to Istanbul. Sir Garnet Wolseley was appointed to govern the island and he arrived there in 1878. The first British regiment to come to Cyprus was the Black Watch. They landed in Larnaca on the southeast coast on Monday 22 July 1878. The Highlanders were poorly prepared for the sweltering temperature, being dressed in their red woollen doublets and thick trews. The first fatality occurred on that day; Sergeant Sam McGraw VC, who was 40 years old, collapsed and died of heat apoplexy during the 3 mile march to Chiflik Pasha camp sited near a stream leading into Larnaca Salt Lake. He was buried where he fell, his grave marked with a simple wooden cross. His remains were later moved to Kyrenia.

Black Watch
The Grave of Sergeant McGaw VC
The camp at Chiflik Pasha was next to the stagnant water of the Salt Lake, infested with mosquitoes and sand flies. They remained there for a hellishly hot month before being moved to the north coast on 21 Aug to a camp on a treeless plain near Kyrenia. Three men died of fever at Chiflik, and a quarter of the regiment had malaria at any one time. Five more men died at Kyrenia and four more in Paphos. Two more died on the way home making 14 deaths in all. Garnet Wolseley commented repeatedly on the devastating effects that illness was having on the 42nd in his journal. On 4 Nov 1878 he wrote:

'Visited [Kyrenia] Camp and went round the hospital. The men are listless and weak and evidently most depressed in spirits. I never saw a Corps so utterly demoralised... The men have no strength. They tumble down when in the ranks at early church parade on Sunday. As a military unit the 42nd is useless. This struck Stanley [Secretary of State for War] so forcibly that he asked if I could dispense with the regiment altogether. I said yes.'

The effects of illness on these soldiers alerted the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Secretary of State for War so that they went out to Cyprus in November 1878. They immediately ordered the removal of the Black Watch from the island and drastically altered their plans to use Cyprus as a station for troops to rendevous for potential deployment to Asia Minor and Egypt. The 42nd left Cyprus on 10 Nov 1878 having spent 4 miserable months there. Apart from malaria many of the Highlanders came down with a debilitating and sometimes fatal prolonged feverish illness with rheumatic symptoms. This illness went by the term remittent fever. It would be nearly 30 years before it was found to be caught from drinking infected goats milk and later called brucellosis in honour of the scientist Sir David Bruce.

The information on the 42nd Regiment in Cyprus and the death of Sergeant Sam McGaw was taken from Who Was Sapper Brown?: Remembering British Miltary Burials in Cyprus by Colonel David Vassallo (2014)

Reorganisation of 1881
Black Watch
Black Watch, c1910
The 42nd sailed for Gibraltar in Nov 1878 and then on to Britain where they stayed on the Isle of Wight and then Aldershot. They finally reached Edinburgh in May 1881. On 1st July of that year they became the 1st Battalion Black Watch, linked with the 73rd Regiment who were designated 2nd Battalion Black Watch. Thus the offspring of the old 42nd returned to its original starting point. Both regiments lost their numerical title but the first battalion continued to call themselves The Forrty Twa.
Nemo Me Impune Lacessit
Nobody provokes me with impunity
Regimental Marches
Band, Quick
All the Blue Bonnets are over the Border

Band, Slow
The Garb of Old Gaul

Pipes and Drums, Quick
Highland Laddie

Pipes and Drums, Slow
My Home
Highland Cradle Song

The Forty Twa
The Ladies from Hell
Regimental Anniversary
5th January (Red Hackle Day)
Allied Regiments
5th Royal Highlanders of Canada

1st Battalion New South Wales Scottish Rifles of Australia

Colonels in Chief
1739 - 2006
Commanding Officers
1739 - 2006
1739 - 2006
1739 - 2006
1739 - 2006
1739 - 2006
Musicians and Band
1739 - 2006
Battle Honours of the 42nd
Up to 1914
Second Mysore War 1781-83


Third Mysore War 1789-91


Fourth Mysore War 1799


Hundred Days 1815


Seventh Kaffir War 1846-47


Eighth Kaffir War 1851-3

SOUTH AFRICA 1851-1852-1853

Seven Years War 1756-63


Pontiac's Conspiracy 1763-64


Egypt 1801


Peninsular War 1808-14


Hundred Days 1815


Crimean War 1854-55


Indian Mutiny 1857-8


Ashantee War 1873-4


Revolt of Arabi Pasha 1882


First Sudan War 1882-4

EGYPT 1882, 1884

Egyptian Campaign 1885

NILE 1884-5

Battle Honours of the 73rd
Up to 1881
1739 43rd The Highland Regiment

1751 42nd Highland Regiment

1758 42nd The Royal Highland Regiment

1861 42nd The Royal Highland Regiment (Black Watch)

1881 The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) (joined with 73rd Foot)

1934 The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment)

2006 The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3rd Battalion)

Balhousie Castle,
The Black Watch Museum
Balhousie Castle
Perth (on the North Inch)
Suggested Reading
The Black Watch: The Record of an Historic Regiment
by Archibald Forbes (Cassell 1896)

Waterloo Men
by Philip Haythornthwaite (The Crowood Press 1999)

The Scottish Regiments
by Diana M Henderson (Harper Collins 1993)

The Black Watch
by P Howard (Hamish Hamilton 1968)

The Black Watch
by A and E Linklater (London 1977)

The Scottish Regiments
by Patrick Mileham (Spellmount 1996)

The Highland Furies: the Black Watch 1739-1899
by Victoria Schofield (Hachette 2012)

A History of the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) in the Great War 1914-1918
by A G Wauchope (Medici Society 1925 and 1926)

A Short History of the Black Watch 1725-1907
by A G Wauchope (Constable 1912)

The Scottish Soldier
Stephen Wood (Archive Publications 1987)

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