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Scottish Regiments
The Black Watch - Relief of Fort Pitt and the return home


The Royal Highlanders were stationed in Albany till the summer of 1763, when they were sent to the relief of Fort Pitt, then besieged by the Indians. The management of this enterprise was intrusted to Colonel Bouquet of the 60th regiment, who, in addition to the 42d, had under his command a detachment of his own regiment and another of Montgomery's Highlanders, amounting in all to 956 men. This body reached Bushy Run about the end of July. When about to enter a narrow pass beyond the Run, the advanced guards were suddenly attacked by the Indians, who had planned an ambuscade. The light infantry of the 42d regiment moved forward to the support of the advanced guard, and driving the Indians from the ambuscade, pursued them a considerable distance. The Indians returned and took possession of some neighboring heights. They were again compelled to retire; but they soon re-appeared on another position, and continuing to increase in numbers, they succeeded in surrounding the detachment, which they attacked on every side. Night put an end to the combat; but it was renewed next morning with increased vigor by the Indians, who kept up an incessant fire. They, however, avoided coming to close action, and the troops could not venture to pursue them far, as they were encumbered with a convoy of provisions, and were afraid to leave their wounded, lest they might fall into the hands of the enemy. Recourse was, therefore, had to stratagem to bring the Indians to closer action. Feigning a retreat, Colonel Bouquet ordered two companies which were in advance to retire, and fall within a square which had been formed, which, as if preparing to cover a retreat, opened its files. The stratagem succeeded. Assuring themselves of victory, the Indians rushed forward with great impetuosity, and whilst they were vigorously charged in front, two companies, moving suddenly round a hill which concealed their approach, attacked them in flank. The assailants, in great consternation, turned their backs and fled, and Colonel Bouquet was allowed to proceed to Fort Pitt without further molestation. In this affair, the loss sustained by the Royal Highlanders was as follows:- Lieutenants John Graham and James Mackintosh, 1 sergeant, and 26 rank and file, killed; and Captain John Graham of Duchray, Lieutenant Duncan Campbell, 2 sergeants, 2 drummers, and 30 rank and file, wounded.

After passing the winter at Fort Pitt, eight companies of the Royal Highlanders were sent on a new enterprise, in the summer of 1764, under Colonel Bouquet, now promoted to the rank of brigadier-general. The object of this expedition was to repress the attacks of the Indians on the back-settlers. After a harassing warfare among the woods, the Indians sued for peace, which was granted, and the detachment returned to Fort Pitt in the month of January, after an absence of six months. Notwithstanding the labors of a march of many hundred miles among dense forests, during which they experienced the extremes of heat and cold, the Highlanders did not lose a single man from fatigue or exhaustion.

The regiment passed the following year in Pennsylvania. Being ordered home, permission was given to such of the men as were desirous of remaining in America to volunteer into other regiments, and the result was, that a considerable number availed themselves of the offer. The regiment, reduced almost to a skeleton, embarked at Philadelphia for Ireland in the month of July 1767. The following extract from the Virginia Gazette of the 30th of that month shows the estimation in which the Highlanders were held by the Americans:-

"Last Sunday evening the Royal Highland regiment embarked for Ireland, which regiment, since its arrival in America, had been distinguished for having undergone most amazing fatigues, made long and frequent marches through an inhospitable country, bearing excessive heat and severe cold with alacrity and cheerfulness, frequently encamping in deep snow, such as those that inhabit the interior parts of this province do not see, and which only those who inhabit the northern part of Europe can have any idea of, continually exposed in camp, and on their marches, to the alarms of a savage enemy, who, in all their attempts, were forced to fly... In a particular manner, the freemen of this and the neighboring provinces have most sincerely to thank them for that resolution and bravery with which they, under Colonel Bouquet, and a small number of Royal Americans, defeated the enemy, and insured to us peace and security from a savage foe; and, along with our blessings for these benefits, they have our thanks for that decorum in behavior which they maintained during their stay in this city, giving an example that the most amiable behavior in civil life is no way inconsistent with the character of the good soldier; and for their loyalty, fidelity, and orderly behaviour, they have every wish of the people for health, honor, and a pleasant voyage.

With the exception of the unfortunate affair at Ticoneroga, the loss sustained by the 42d in the field during this war was comparatively smaller than that of any other corps. The moderate loss the Highlanders suffered was accounted for by several officers who served in the corps, from the celerity of their attack and the use of the broadsword, which the enemy could never withstand. "This likewise", says General Stewart, "was the opinion of an old gentleman, one of the original soldiers of the Black Watch, in the ranks of which, although a gentleman by birth and education, he served till the peace of 1748. He informed me that although it was believed at home that the regiment had been nearly destroyed at Fontenoy, the thing was quite the reverse; and that it was the subject of general observation in the army that their loss should have been so small, considering how actively they were engaged in different parts of the field. 'On one occasion', said the respectable veteran, who was animated with the subject, 'a brigade of Dutch were ordered to attack a rising ground, on which were posted the troops called the King of France's Own Guards. The Highlanders were to support them. The Dutch conducted their march and attack as if they did not know the road, halting and firing, and halting every twenty paces. The Highlanders, losing all patience with this kind of fighting, which gave the enemy such time and opportunity to fire at their leisure, dashed forward, passed the Dutch, and the first ranks giving their firelocks to the rear rank, they drew their swords, and soon drove the French from their ground. When the attack was concluded, it was found that of the Highlanders not above a dozen men were killed and wounded, while the Dutch, who had not come up at all, lost more than five times that number'".

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