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Scottish Regiments
Argyle Highlanders


OLD SEVENTY-FOURTH HIGHLAND REGIMENT. 1778—1783.

Raising of the Regirnent—America—Penobscot—Return borne—Disbanded.

THIS regiment was raised by Colonel John Campbell of Barbreck, who had served as captain and major of Fraser’s Highlanders in the Seven Years’ War. To him letters of service were granted in December 1777, and the regiment was completed in May 1778, when it was inspected at Glasgow by General Skene. The lower orders in Argyleshire, from their proximity to the sea, being more addicted to the naval than to the land service, did not embrace the military profession with the same alacrity as the other Highlanders; and the result was, that only 590 Highlanders entered this regiment. The remainder were Lowlanders recruited in Glasgow and the western districts of Scotland. With the exception of 4, all the officers were Highlanders, of whom 3 field-officers, 6 captains, and 14 subalterns were of the name of Campbell.

The 74th embarked at Greenock in August 1778, for Halifax, in Nova Scotia, where they were garrisoned along with the Edinburgh Regiment (the 80th) and the Duke of Hamilton’s (the 82d), all under the command of Brigadier-General Francis Maclean. In spring, 1779, the grenadier company, commanded by Captain Ludovick Colquhoun of Luss, and the light company by Captain Campbell of Balnabie, were sent to New York, and joined the army immediately before the siege of Charlestown.

The battalion companies, with a detachment of the 82d regiment, under the command of Brigadier-General Maclean, embarked at Halifax in June of the same year, and took possession of Penobscot. With the view of establishing himself there, the brigadier proceeded to erect defences; but before these were completed, a hostile fleet from Boston, with 2000 troops on board, under Brigadier-General Lovel, appeared in the bay, and on the 28th of July effected a landing on a peninsula, where the British were erecting a fort. The enemy immediately began to erect batteries for a siege; but their operations met with frequent interruption from parties that sallied from the fort. Meanwhile General Maclean proceeded with his works, and not only kept the enemy in complete check, but preserved the communication with the shipping, which they endeavoured to cut off. Both parties kept skirmishing till the 13th of August, on the morning of which day Commodore Sir George Collier entered the bay with a fleet to relieve the brigadier. The enemy immediately raised the siege, and retired to their ships, but a part only were able to escape. The remainder, along with the sailors of some of their ships which had grounded, formed themselves into a body, and attempted to penetrate through the woods; but running short of provisions, they afterwards quarrelled among themselves, and fired on each other till all their ammunition was spent. After upwards of 60 had been killed and wounded in this affray, the rest dispersed in the woods, where numbers perished. In this expedition, the 74th had 2 sergeants and 14 privates killed, and 17 rank and file wounded.

General Maclean returned to Halifax with the detachment of the 82d, leaving Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Campbell of Monzie with the 74th at Penobscot, where they remained till the termination of hostilities, when they embarked for England. They landed at Portsmouth, whence they marched for Stirling, and, after being joined by the flank companies, were reduced in the autumn of 1783.


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