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Scottish Regiments
The Black Watch - The Formation


The design of rendering such a valuable class of subject available to the state by forming regular military corps out of it, seems not to have entered into the views of the government till about the year 1729, when six companies of Highlanders were raised, which, from forming distinct corps unconnected with each other, received the appellation of independent companies. Three of these companies consisted of 100 men each, and were therefore called large companies; Lord Lovat, Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochnell, and Colonel Grant of Ballindalloch, were appointed captains over them. The three smaller companies, which consisted of 75 each, were commanded by Colonel Alexander Campbell of Finab, John Campbell of Carrick, and George Munro of Culcairn, under the commission of captain-lieutenants. To each of the six companies were attached two lieutenants and one ensign. To distinguish them from regular troops, who, from having coats, waistcoats, and breeches of scarlet cloth, were called Saighdearan Dearg, or Red soldiers; the independent companies, who were attired in tartan consisting mostly of black, green, and blue, were designated Am Freiceadan Dubh, or Black Watch, from the somber appearance of their dress.

As the services of these companies were not required beyond their own territory, and as the intrants were not subjected to the humiliating provisions of the disarming act, no difficulty was found in forming them; and when completed, they presented the singular spectacle of a number of young men or respectable families serving as privates in the ranks. "Many of the men who composed these companies were of a higher station in society than that from which soldiers in general are raised; cadets of gentlemen's families, sons of gentlemen farmers, and tacksmen, either immediately or distantly descended from gentlemen's families, - men who felt themselves responsible for their conduct to high-minded and honorable families, as well as to a country for which they cherished a devoted affection. In addition to the advantages derived from their superior rank in life, they possessed, in an eminent degree, that of a commanding external deportment, special care being taken in selecting men of full height, well proportioned, and of handsome appearance.

The duties assigned to these companies were to enforce the disarming act, to overawe the disaffected, and watch their motions, and to check depredations. For this purpose they were stationed in small detachments in different parts of the country, and generally throughout the district in which they were raised. Thus Fort Augustus and the neighboring parts of Inverness-shire were occupied by the Frasers under Lord Lovat; Ballindalloch and the Grants were stationed in Strathspey and Badenoch; the MUnros under Culcairn, in Ross and Sutherland; Lochnell's and Carrick#s companies were stationed in Athole and Breadalbane, and Finab's in Lochaber, and the northern parts of Argyleshire among the disaffected Camerons and Stewarts of Appin. All Highlanders of whatever clan were admitted indiscriminately into these companies as soldiers; but the officers were taken, almost exclusively from the whig clans.

The independent companies continued to exist as such until the year 1739, when government resolved to raise four additional companies, and to form the while into a regiment of the line. For this purpose, letters of service, dated 25th October 1739, were addressed to the Earl of Crawford and Lindsay, who was appointed to the command of the regiment about to be formed, which was to consist of 1000 men. Although the commissions were dated as above, the regiment was not embodied till the month of May 1740, when it assembled on a field between Taybridge and Aberfeldy, in Perthshire, under the number of the 43d regiment, afterwards changed to the 42d, but still bearing the name of the Black Watch. "The uniform was a scarlet jacket and waistcoat, with buff facings and white lace, - tartan plaid of twelve yards plaited round the middle of the body, the upper part being fixed on the left shoulder ready to be thrown loose, and wrapped over both shoulders and firelock in rainy weather. At night the plaid served the purpose of a blanket, and was sufficient covering for the Highlander. These were called belted plaids from being kept tight to the body by a belt, and were worn on guards, reviews, and on all occasions when the men were in full dress. On this belt hung the pistols and dirk when worn. In the barracks, and when not on duty, the little kilt or philibeg was worn, a blue bonnet with a border of white, red and green, arranged in small squares to resemble, as is said, the fess chque in the arms of the different branches of the Stewart family, and a tuft of feathers, or sometimes, from economy or necessity, a small piece of black bear-skin. The arms were a musket, a bayonet, and a large basket-hilted broadsword. These were furnished by government. Such of the men as chose to supply themselves with pistols and dirks were allowed to carry them, and some had targets after the fashion of their country. The sword-belt was of black leather, and the cartouch-box was carried in front, supported by a narrow belt round the middle".

The officers appointed to this regiment were:

Colonel: John, Earl of Crawford and Lindsay, died in 1748.
Lieutenant-Colonel: Sir Robert Munro of Foulis, Bart., killed at Falkirk, 1746.
Major: George Grant, brother of the Laird of Grant, removed from the service by sentence of a court-martial, for allowing the rebels to get possession of the castle of Inverness in 1746.

Captains:

George Munro of Culcairn, brother of Sir Robert Munro, kiled in 1746.
Dugal Campbell of Craignish, retired in 1745.
John Campbell, junior, of Monzie, retired in 1743.
Sir James Colquhoun of Luss, Bart., retired in 1748.
Colin Campbell of Ballimore, retired.
John MUnro, promoted to be Lieutenant-Colonel in 1743, retired in 1749.
Captain-Lietenant Duncan Macfarlane, retired in 1744.

Lieutenants:

Paul Macpherson.
Lewis Grant of Auchterblair.
John Maclean of Kingarloch and John Mackenzie (both removed from the regiment in consequence of having fought a duel in 1744)
Alexander Macdonald.
Malcolm Fraser, son of Culduthel, killed at Bergenop-Zoom in 1747.
George Ramsay.
Francis Grant, son of the Laird of Grant, died Lieutenant-General in 1782.
John Macneil.

Ensigns:

Dugal Campbell, killed at Fontenoy.
Dugal Stewart.
John Menzies of Comrie.
Edward Carrick.
Gilbert Stewart of Kincraigie.
Gordon Graham of Drains.
Archibald Macnab, son of the Laird of Macnab, died Lieutenant-General, 1790.
Colin Campbell
Dugal Stewart
James Campbell of Glenfalloch, died of wounds at Fontenoy.

Chaplain: Hon Gideon Murray.
Surgeon: James Munro, brother of Sir Robert Munro.
Adjutant: Gilbert Stewart
Quarter-Master: John Forbes.

In 1740 the Earl of Crawford was removed to the Life Guards and Brigadier-General Lord Sempill was appointed Colonel of the Highlanders.

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