Officer 1762

This painting made by the military artist, A E Haswell-Miller (1887-1979). It was published in the Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research Vol XIX no.75 in the Autumn of 1940. Archibald Elliott Haswell-Miller studied art at Glasgow School of Art from 1906-08 and then travelled around Europe sketching military uniforms which was his passion. In WW1 he served in the Highland Light Infantry and won the MC in 1918. In WW2 he was a serving captain but took time to write an article about a painting he had come across. The painting he made here is his version of the uniform in the original which can bee seen at Captain John Campbell. For some reason not explained the original was only published in monochrome in the journal while Haswell-Miller's painting was the coloured frontispiece. It is worth re-printing his article which gives useful information on the uniform of the Black Watch:

A unique and extremely interesting portrait of an officer of a Highland regiment of the 1760s was discovered by the writer some months before the outbreak of war in the possession of Major C L Campbell of Achalader, Perthshire. The picture, a small full-length oil-painting, is in a very dry and rather faded condition, but as a document it is most satisfactory.

There is no clue to the identity of the subject nor have we any information to confirm the identity of the regiment so admirably documented. The portrait has fortunately been spared the attentions of the restorer, and the writer ventures to hope that his drawing from it, reproduced in colour, may clear up any doubtful points and can be advantageously compared with the reproduction from the original.

The bonnet is clearly blue; the band is a very light pink, being very possibly faded. The tuft of feathers confirms the commencement of the feathering being well under way at this date, which must be about 1760-65. Captain Stewart's Order-Book of 1761 (vide Red Hackle, Oct 1935) states: 'RO 31 May 1761. Officers to provide themselves with black fathers for their bonnets,' etc. Sergeants and privates were only to have bearskin tufts. The cockade, which one would expect to be black, is actually coloured blue like the bonnet, and the edging below the pink band is also apparently blue and not of black binding. The facings seem to be very dark blue and the lace is yellow, probably gold lace but not unmistakably of that material. The crimson sash, very clumsily rendered, would appear to go under a red shoulder-strap. The construction of the cuff, although not very apparent in the reproduction from the portrait, is definitely as shown in the coloured plate. This detail, along with the aiguillettes, suggests the date as being certainly before 1768, and probably before 1764. In the portrait itself the three loops on his coat appearing below his left cuff might appear different from those shown on the the coloured plate but actually are without doubt the same bastion loops which show clearly elsewhere. The pouch seems to be of buff leather with a gilt embroidered GR, and this article of equipment may be compared with that shown in the figure of the 1768 Grenadier of the 42nd in the book in the Prince Consort's Library at Aldershot. Whereas the rather puzzling pattern of the hose-top turnovers in the portrait tallies with those shown in the 1768 Grenadier, the hose do not appear to have a black edging to the red, and the show-buckles do not have the Grenadier's red edging. There are, unexpectedly perhaps, no signs of a purse [sporran] whatever. Unfortunately, the heart-shaped sword-belt tip also fails us in producing any kind of device or number. The dark steel sword hilt, although poorly drawn, shows fairly clearly a buff lining, and the kilt, though very clumsily bunched below the waistcoat, shows the Government or Black Watch tartan correctly rendered and exactly of the pattern worn today. If one can form any conclusion regarding the garters one is tempted to suggest they are of gold lace; certainly no bows are visible.

The Grenadier in the Aldershot 1768 Book is perhaps the most closely related document, apart from Allan Ramsay's portraits of the Duke of Sutherland and the Earl of Loudoun, the last showing a similar type of cuff. This last detail also appears in a small circular oil miniature, painted on copper, in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery - a very crude work which is unidentifiable either as regards subject, artist or corps represented. The bonnet in this miniature is very similar to our Achalader one and, so far as the writer's recollection serves him, the uniform and date might well tally entirely.

The portrait of Valentine Chisholm, in the Edinburgh Castle Museum, and that of 'Colin' Campbell (?), both of the 42nd also must be included among related works, although in both of these the bonnet becomes 'set-up' and the band is diced - in the latter case composed of plaited ribbon; also gold square-ended loops and plain white waistcoats are shown.

We are of course compelled to consider this portrait as showing the uniform of the Black Watch, but admittedly without any proofs. The 42nd were in Canada from about 1756 to 1767 and obtained blue facings in 1759. In 1761, and probably for some time after, privates of the 42nd had red waistcoats made out of previous year's coats, but this does not of course mean that officers may not have had white. One should perhaps consider the possibility of a sergeant being represented, but apart from it being less probable that an individual of this rank would have his portrait painted, battalion company sergeants would presumably carry a pike or halberd, the fusil being limited to Grenadier or Light company officers.

The portrait, we understand, was deposited on loan in the Scottish Naval and Military Museum at Edinburgh Castle by the kindness of its owner, Major Campbell, but is naturally removed to safety temporarily.

In conclusion the writer would desire to excuse himself for the sparsity of the forgoing notes, and for possible 'howlers' by the fact that he is on service and separated from all documents to which reference would normally be made. Acknowledgement is made to the very kind offices of Mr L E Buckell who has made numerous and valuable suggestions.

Regimental Details | Uniforms

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by Stephen Luscombe