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Scottish Regiments
The Black Watch - Awarding of new Colours and return to Scotland


On the 1st of January 1785, new colors were presented to the regiment by Major-General John Campbell, commanding the Forces in Nova Scotia, who made an eloquent address on that occasion:-

"Forty-second, Royal Highlanders - With particular pleasure I address you on this occasion, and congratulate you on the service you have done your country, and honor you have procured yourselves, by protecting your old colors, and defending them from your enemies in different engagements during the late unnatural rebellion.

"From those ragged, but honorable, remains, you are now to transfer your allegiance and fidelity to these new National and Regimental Standards of Honor, now consecrated and solemnly dedicated to the service of our King and Country. These Colors are committed to your immediate care and protection; and I trust you will, on all occasions, defend them from your enemies, with honor to yourselves, and service to your country, with that distinguished and noble bravery which has always characterized the Royal Highlanders in the field of battle.

"With what pleasure, with what peculiar satisfaction, nay, with what pride, would I enumerate the different memorable actions where the regiment distinguished itself. To particularize the whole would exceed the bounds of this address: let me therefore beg your indulgence while I take notice only of a few of them".

He then in glowing language alluded to the numerous engagements in which the regiment had distinguished itself, from Fontenoy to Pisquata, and concluded by urging upon the men ever to try to sustain the high character of the regiment, and never to forget they were citizens of a great country, and Christians as well as soldiers.

About this time the regiment had to regret the loss of its colonel, Lord John Murray, who died on the 1st of June 1787, after commanding the corps forty-one years. He was the steady friend of the officers and men. Major-General Sir Hector Monro succeeded him in the command.

The regiment embarked for England in August 1789 and landed in Portsmouth in October, after an absence of fourteen years. They wintered in Tynemouth barracks, where they received a reinforcement of 245 young recruits. At this time a small alteration was made in the military appointments of the men. Instead of the black leather belts for the bayonet, white buff belts were substituted. The epaulettes of the officers, formerly very small, were then enlarged.

The regiment was removed to Glasgow in the month of May 1790, where they were received with great cordiality by the inhabitants. From an ill-judged hospitality on the part of the citizens, who compelled some of the soldiers to drink copiously of ardent spirits, the discipline of the regiment was relaxed; but its removal to Edinburgh Castle in the month of November cured that evil.

Warlike preparations having been made in 1790, in expectation of a rupture with Spain, orders were received to augment the regiment; but, from recent occurrences in the Highlands, the regiment was not successful in recruiting. Several independent companies were raised, one of which, a fine body of young Highlanders, recruited by the Marquis of Huntly (afterwards Duke of Gordon), joined the regiment along with his lordship, who had exchanged with Captain Alexander Grant.

The regiment was reviewed in June 1791, by Lord Adam Gordon, the commander-in-chief in Scotland, and was marched to the north in October following. The head quarters were at Fort George; one company was stationed at Dundee, another at Montrose, two at Aberdeen, and one at Banff. The regiment assembled at Fort George in the spring of 1792, and after having been marched south to Stirling, and reviewed by the Hon. Lieutenant-General Leslie, returned to their former cantonments along the coast. The men had however scarcely returned to their quarters, when they were ordered to proceed by forced marches into Ross-shire, to quell some tumults among the tenantry who had been cruelly ejected from their farms. Fortunately, however, there was no occasion for the exercise of such an unpleasant duty, as the poor people separated and concealed themselves on hearing of the approach of the military. After a series of marches and countermarches, the regiment returned to its former cantonments.

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