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Keiths's and Campbell's Highlanders


The first of these regiments consisted of three companies of 105 men each. A relation of the celebrated Field-Marshall Keith, Major Robert Murray Keith, who had served in the Scotch Brigade in Holland, was appointed to the command. About the end of the year 1759 this regiment joined the allied army in Germany under Prince Frederick of Brunswick.

The Highlanders were not long in the allied camp when they were brought into action. On the 3d of January 1760 the Marquis de Vogue attacked and carried the town of Herborn, and made a small detachment of the allies who were posted there prisoners. At the same time the Marquis Dauvet made himself master of Dillenburg, the garrison of the allied troops retiring into the castle, where they were closely besieged. Prince Ferdinand no sooner understood their situation than he began to march with a strong detachment for their relief on the 7th of January, when he attacked and defeated the besiegers. On the same day "the Highlanders under Major Keith, supported by the hussars of Luckner, who commanded the whole detachment, attacked the village of Eybach, where Beau Fremonte's regiment of dragoons was posted, and routed them with great slaughter. The greater part of the regiment was killed, and many prisoners were taken, together with two hundred horses and all their baggage. The Highlanders distinguished themselves on this occasion by their intrepidity, which was the more remarkable, as they were no other than raw recruits, just arrived from their own country, and altogether unacquainted with discipline". The Highlanders had 4 men killed and 7 wounded.

Prince Ferdinand was so well satisfied with the conduct of this body, that he recommended to the governor not only to increase it to 800 men, but to raise another regiment of equal strength, to be placed under his serene highness. This recommendation was instantly attended to, and, in a few weeks, the requisite number of men was raised in the counties of Argyle, Perth, Inverness, Ross, and Sutherland. The command of the new regiment was conferred on John Campbell of Dunoon; but power was reserved to the Earls of Sutherland and Breadalbane, the lairds of Macleod and Innes, and other gentlemen in the north, to appoint captains and subalterns to companies raised on their respective estates. Major Macnab, son of the laird of Macnab; Captain Archibald Campbell, brother of Achallader; John Campbell of Auch, and other officers, were recommended by Lord Breadalbane; and Macleod, who raised a company in Skye, appointed his nephew, Captain Fothringham of Powrie to it. Sir James Innes, chief of that name, who succeeded to the estates and Dukedom of Roxburgh in the year 1810, was also appointed to a company.

Keith's regiment was embodied at Perth and Campbell's at Stirling, and being embodied at the same time, and ordered on the same service, an interchange of officers too place. Embarking for Germany they joined the allied army, under Prince Ferdinand, in 1760, and were distinguished by being placed in the grenadier brigade.

The allied army moved from Kalle on the 30th of July 1760, in consequence of the advance of the French, who took up a position on the river Dymel. The hereditary prince of Brunswick, who had passed that river the preceding day, was directed by Prince Ferdinand to turn the left of the enemy, who were posted between Warburg and Ochsendorff, whilst he himself advanced in front with the main body of the army. The French were attacked almost at the same moment both in flank and rear, and defeated with considerable loss. In an account of the battle written by Prince Ferdinand to George II, he says, "that the loss of the allies, which was moderate, fell chiefly upon Maxwell's brave battalion of English grenadiers and the two regiments of Scots Highlanders, which did wonders. Colonel Beckwith, who commanded the whole brigade formed of English grenadiers and Scots Highlanders, distinguished himself greatly". None of the Highlanders were killed, but Lieutenant Walter Ogilview, and two privates were wounded.

Another affair soon occurred in which the Highlanders also distinguished themselves. Prince Ferdinand, having determined to beat up the quarters of a large French detachment stationed at Zierenburg, pitched upon five battalions, with a detachment of the Highlanders and eight regiments of dragoons, for this service. This body began their march on the night of the 5th of August, and when within two miles of the town the corps proceeded by three different roads - Maxwell's brigade of grenadiers, the regiment of Kingsby, and the Highlanders, keeping together. They marched in profound silence, and though their tramp was at last heard by the French, the surprise was too sudden for effectual resistance. "The Scots Highlanders mounted the breaches sword in hand, supported by the Chasseurs. The column of English grenadiers advanced in good order and with the greatest silence. In short, the service was complete, and the troops displayed equal courage, soldier-like conduct, and activity". The loss of the Highlanders in this affair was 3 privates killed and 6 wounded.

The hereditary prince being hard pressed by Marshal de Castries, was reinforced from the camp at Warburg. The Highlanders joined him on the 14th of October shortly after he had been attacked by the Marshal, who had compelled him to retire. The prince now attacked the French commander in his turn, but was unsuccessful, being obliged again to retire after a warm contest, which lasted from five till nine in the morning. The Highlanders, who "were in the first column of attack, were the last to retreat, and kept their ground in the face of every disadvantage, even after the troops on their right and left had retired. The Highlanders were so exasperated with the loss they sustained that it was with difficulty they could be withdrawn, when Colonel Campbell received orders from an aide de-camp sent by the prince, desiring him to retreat as to persist in maintaining his position longer would be a useless waste of human life". In this action Lieutenants William Ogilvie and Alexander Macleod of the Highlanders, 4 sergeant, and 37 rank and file were killed, and Captain Archibald Campbell of Achallader, Lieutenants Gordon Clunes, Archibald Stewart, Angus Mackintosh of Killachy, and Walter Barland, and 10 rank and file wounded.

On the preceding night an attempt was made by Major Pollock, with 100 grenadiers and the same number of Keith's Highlanders, to surprise the convent of Closter Camp, where a detachment of the enemy was posted, and where, it was supposed, the French commander and some of his officers were to pass the night; but this attempt miscarried. On reaching the sentinel of the main-guard Major Pollock rushed upon him and ran him through the body with his sword. The wounded man, before falling, turned round upon his antagonist and shot him with a pistol, upon which they both fell dead.

The next affair in which the Highlanders were engaged was the battle of Fellinghausen, in July 1762. The commander in chief, in a general order, thus expressed his approbation of the conduct of the corps in this action: "His serene highness, Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick, had been graciously pleased to order Colonel Beckwith to signify to the brigade he has the honor to command his entire approbation of their conduct on the 15th and 16th of July. The soldier-like perseverance of the Highland regiments in resisting and repulsing the repeated attacks of the chosen troops of France, has deservedly gained them the highest honor. The ardor and activity with which the grenadiers pushed and pursued the enemy, and the trophies they have taken, justly entitle them to the highest encomiums. The intrepidity of the little band of Highlanders merits the greatest praise". Colonel Beckwith, in making his communication, added, that "the humanity and generosity with which the soldiers treated the great flock of prisoners they took, did them as much honor as their subduing the enemy". In this action Major Archibald Campbell of Achallader, who had been promoted only a week before, and Lieutenants William Ross and John Grant, and 31 rank and file, were killed; and Major Archibald Macnab, Captain James Fraser, Lieutenants Archibald Macarthur, Patrick Campbell, and John Mackintosh, brother of Killachy and father of Sir James Mackintosh, 2 sergeants, and 70 privates, were wounded.

No enterprise of any moment was attempted till the 28th of June 1762, when Prince Ferdinand attacked the French army at Graibenstein, and defeated them. The French lost upwards of 4000 men in killed, wounded, and prisoners, including 200 officers, whilst that sustained by the allies did not exceed 700 men. The British troops, who were under the command of the Marquis of Granby, "behaved with a bravery not to be paralleled, especially our grenadiers and Highlanders".

The Highlanders, from the distinction they had earned in these different encounters, now began to attract the especial notice of the Germans. At a time when an entire ignorance prevailed among the people of England respecting the Highlanders, it is not to be wondered at that the Germans should have formed the most extraordinary notions of these mountaineers. In common with the English they looked upon the Highlanders as savages; but their ignorance went farther, for the people of Germany actually believed that the Highlanders were still strangers to Christianity. "The Scotch Highlanders", says an article which appeared in the Vienna Gazette of 1762, "are a people totally different in their dress, manners, and temper from the other inhabitants of Britain. They are caught in the mountains when young, and still run with a surprising degree of swiftness. As they are strangers to fear, they make very good soldiers when disciplined. The men are of low stature, and the most of them old or very young. They discover an extraordinary submission and love of their officers, who are all young and handsome. From the goodness of their dispositions in every thing - for the boors are better treated by these savages than by the polished French and English; from the goodness of their disposition, which, by the by, shows the rectitude of human nature before it is vitiated by example of prejudice, it is to be hoped that their king's laudable, though late, endeavors to civilize and instruct them in the principles of Christianity will meet with success!". The article adds, that the "French held them at first in great contempt, but they have met with them so often of late, and seen them in the front of so many battles, that they firmly believe that there are twelve battalions of them in the army instead of two. Broglio himself has lately said that he once wished that he was a man of six feet high, but that now he is reconciled to his size since he has seen the wonders performed by the little mountaineers". An acquaintance with the Highlanders soon dissipated the illusions under which the Germans labored.

The Highlanders were not engaged in the battle of Johannisberg, in which the allies were worsted; but on the 21st of September, in the subsequent action at Brucher Muhl, they took a part. The French occupied a mill on one side of the road, and the allies a redoubt on the other, and the great object of both parties was to obtain possession of a small post which defended the bridge at Brucher Muhl. At first a slight cannonade was opened from a few guns, but these were speedily augmented to twenty-five heavy pieces on each side. In the post occupied by the allies there was only at first 100, but during the action, which lasted without intermission for fifteen hours, no less than seventeen regiments were successively brought forward, replacing one another after they had spent their ammunition. Both sides remained in their respective positions, and although the contest was long and severe the allies lost only 600 in killed and wounded. The Highland corps had Major Alexander Maclean and 21 rank and file killed, and Captain Patrick Campbell and Lieutenant Walker Barland, 3 sergeants, and 58 rank and file wounded.

On the conclusion of hostilities in November 1762 the Highlanders were ordered home. In the three campaigns in which they had served they had established a well-earned reputation for bravery; and so great was the estimation in which they were held by the Dutch, that, on their march through Holland, they were welcomed with acclamations, particularly by the women, who presented them with laurel leaves; a feeling which, it is said, was in some measure owing to the friendly intercourse which had previously existed between the inhabitants and the Scotch brigade.

After landing at Tilbury Fort, the regiments marched for Scotland, and were received everywhere on their route with the most marked attention, particularly at Derby, the inhabitants of which town presented the men with gratuities in money. Among various reasons assigned for the remarkable predilection shown by the people of Derby, the most probable is, a feeling of gratitude for the respect shown by the Highlanders to the persons and properties of the inhabitants when visited by them in the year 1745.

Keith's regiment was marched to Perth and Campbell's to Linlithgow, and they were reduced in July 1763.

The total loss of these corps was 150 men besides 7 officers killed; and 170 men, 13 officers, wounded.

 

 


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