In consequence of the rebellion in Scotland, eleven of the
British regiments were ordered home in October 1745, among which was the 43d. The
Highlanders arrived in the Thames on the 4th of November, and whilst the other regiments
were sent to Scotland under General Hawley to assist in quelling the insurrection, the 43d
was marched to the coast of Kent, and joined the division of the armt assembled there to
repel an expected invasion. When it is considered that more than three hundred of the
soldiers in the 43d had fathers and brothers engaged in the rebellion, the prudence and
humanity of keeping them aloof from a contest between duty and affection, are evident.
Three new companies, which had been added to the regiment in the early part of the year
1745, were, however, employed in Scotland against the rebels before joining the regiment.
These companies were raised chiefly in the districts of Athole, Breadlabane, and Braemar,
and the command of them was given to the laird of Mackintosh, Sir Patrick Murray of
Ochtertyre, and Campbell of Inverawe, who had recruited them. The subalterns were James
Farquharson, the younger of Invercauld; John Campbell, the younger of Glenlyon and Dugald
Campbell; and Ensign Allan Grant, son of Glenmoriston; John Campbell, son of Barcaldine.
General Stewart observes that the privates of these companies, though of the best
character, did not convey that rank in society for which so many individuals of the
independent companies had been distinguished. One of these companies, as has been
elsewhere observed, was at the battle of Prestonpans. The services of the other two
companies were confined to the Highlands during the rebellion, and after its suppression
they were employed along with detachments of the English army in the barbarous task of
burning the houses, and laying waste the lands of the rebels, - a service which must have
been very revolting to their feelings.
Having projected the contest of Quebec, the government fitted out an expedition at
Portsmouth, the land forces of which consisted of about 8000 men, including Lord John
Murray's Highlanders, as the 43d regiment was now called. The armament having been delayed
from various causes until the season was too far advanced for crossing the Atlantic, it
was resolved to employ it in surprising the Port l'Orient, then the repository of all the
stores and ships belonging to the French East India Company. While this new expedition was
in preparation, the Highland regiment was increased to 1100 men, by draughts from the
three companies in Scotland.
The expedition sailed from Portsmouth on the 15th of September, 1746, under the command of
Rear-Admiral Lestock, and on the 20th the troops were landed, without much opposition, in
Quimperlu bay, ten miles from Port l'Orient. As General St Clair soon perceived that he
could not carry the place, he abandoned the siege, and retiring to the seacoast
re-embarked his troops.
Some of these forces returned to England; the rest landed in Ireland. The Highlanders
arrived at Cork on the 4th of November, whence they marched to Limerick, where they
remained till February 1747, when they returned to Cork, where they embarked to join a new
expedition for Flanders. This force, which consisted chiefly of the troops that had been
recalled in 1745, sailed from Leith roads in the beginning of April 1747. Lord Loudon's
Highlanders and a detachment from the three additional companies of Lord John Murray's
Highlanders also joined this force; and such was the eagerness of the latter for this
service, that when informed that only a part of them was to join the army, they all
claimed permission to embark, in consequence of which demand it was found necessary to
settle the question of preference by drawing lots.
To relieve Hulst, which was closely besieged by Count Lowendahl, a detachment, consisting
of Lord John Murray's Highlanders, the first battalion of the Royals and Bragg's regiment,
was order to Flushing, under the command of Major-general St. Roque, ordered the Royals to
join the Dutch camp at St Bergue, and directed the Highlanders and Bragg's regiment to
halt within four miles of Hulst. On the 5th of May the besiegers began an assault, and
drove the outguards and picquets back into the garrison, and would have carried the place,
had not the Royals maintained their post with the greatest bravery till relieved by the
Highlander regiment, when the French were compelled to retire. The Highlanders had only
five privates killed and a few wounded on this occasion. The French continuing on the
siege, St Roque surrendered the place, although he was aware that an additional
reinforcement of nine battalions was on the march to his relief. The British troops than
embarked for South Beveland. Three hundred of the Highland regiment, who were the last to
embark, were attacked by a body of French troops. "They behaved with so much bravery
that they beat off three or four times their number, killing many, and making some
prisoners, with only the loss of four or five of their own number".
A few days after the battle of Lafeldt, July 2d, in which the Highlanders are not
particularly mentioned, Count Lowendahl laid siege to R-Bergen-op-Zoom with a force of
25,000 men. This place, from the strength of its fortification, the favorite work of the
celebrated Cosehorn, having never been stopped, was deemed impregnable. The garrison
consisted of 3000 men, including Lord London's Highlanders. Though Lord John Murray's
Highlanders remained in South Beveland, his lordship, with Captain Fraser of Culduthel,
Captain Campbell of Craignish, and several other officers of his regiment, joined the
besieged. After about two months' siege, this important fortress was taken by storm, on
account of the too great confidence of Constrom the governor, who never anticipated an
assault. On obtaining possession of the ramparts, the French attempted to enter the town,
but were attacked with such impetuosity by two battalions of the Scottish troops in the
pay of the States-General, that they were driven from street to street, until fresh
reinforcements arriving, the Scotch were compelled to retreat in their turn; yet they
disputed ever inch of ground, and fought till two-thirds of them were killed on the spot.
The remainder then abandoned the town, carrying the old governor along with them.
The different bodies of the allied army assembled in the neighborhood of Raremond in March
1748, but, with the exception of the capture of Maestricht, no military event of any
importance took place in the Netherlands; and preliminaries of peace having been signed,
the Highlanders returned to England in December, and were afterwards sent to Ireland. The
three additional companies had assembled at Prestonpans in March 1748, for the purpose of
embarking for Flanders; but the orders to ship were countermanded, and in the course of
that year these companies were reduced.
In 1749, in consequence of the reduction of the 42d regiment (Oglethorpe's), the number of
Black Watch was changed from the 43d to the 42d, the number it has ever since retained.
During eight years - from 1749 to 1756 - that the Highlanders were stationed in Ireland,
the utmost cordiality subsisted between them and the inhabitants of the different
districts where they were quartered; a circumstance the more remarkable, when it is
considered that the military were generally embroiled in quarrels with the natives. So
lasting and favorable an impression did they make, that upon the return of the regiment
from Americas, after an absence of eleven years, applications were made from the towns and
districts where they had been formerly quartered, to get them again stationed among them.
Although, as General Stewart observes, the similarity of language, and the general belief
in a common origin, might have had some influence with both parties, yet nothing but the
most exemplary good conduct on the part of the Highlanders could have overcome the natural
repugnance of a people who, at that time, justly regarded the British soldiery as ready
instruments of oppression.