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Scottish Regiments
The Black Watch - Preparations for America


In consequence of the mutual encroachments made by the French and English on their respective territories in North America, both parties prepared for war; and as the British ministry determined to make their chief efforts against the enemy in that quarter, they resolved to send two bodies of troops thither. The first division, of which the Highlanders formed a part, under the command of Lieutenant-general Sir James Abercromby, set sail in March 1756, and landed at New York in June following. In the month last mentioned, 700 recruits, who had been raised by recruiting parties sent from the regiment previous to its departure from Ireland, embarked at Greenock for America. When the Highlanders landed, they attracted much notice, particularly on the part of the Indians, who, on the march of the regiment to Albany, flocked from all quarters to see strangers, whom, from the similarity of their dress, they considered to be of the same extraction as themselves, and whom they therefore regarded as brothers.

Before the departure of the 42d, several changes and promotions had taken place. Lieutenant-colonel Campbell, afterwards Duke of Argyll, who had commanded the regiment during the six years they were quartered in Ireland, having been promoted to the command of the 54th, was succeeded by Major Grant, who was so popular with the men, that, on the vacancy occurring, they subscribed a sum of money among themselves to purchase the lieutenant-colonelcy for him; but the money was not required, the promotion at that time being without purchase. Captain Duncan Campbell of Inveraw was appointed major; Thomas Graham of Duchray, james Abercromby, son of General Abercromby of Glassa, the commander of the expedition, and John Campbell of Strachur, were made captains; Ensigns Kenneth Tolme, James Grant, John Graham, brother of Duchray, Hugh M'Pherson, Alexander Turnbull of Barcaldine, were raised to the rank of lieutenants. From the half-pay list were taken Lieutenants Alexander Mackintosh, James Gray, William Baillie, Hugh Arnot, William Sutherland, John Small, and Archibald Campbell; the ensigns were James Campbell, Archibald Lamont, Duncan Campbell, George MacLagan, Patrick Balneaves, son of Edradour, Patrick Stewart, son of Bonskeid, Norman MacLeod, George Campbell and Donald Campbell.

The regiment had been now sixteen years embodied, and although its original members had by this time almost disappeared, "their habits and character were still sustained by their successors, to whom they were left, as it were, in charge. This expectation has been fulfilled through a long course of years and events. The first supply of recruits after the original formation was, in many instances, inferior to their predecessors in personal appearance, as well as in private station and family connexons; but they lost nothing of that firm step, erect air, and freedom from awkward restraint, the consequence of a spirit of independence and self-respect, which distinguished their predecessors.

The second division of the expedition, under the Earl of Loudon, who was appointed commander-in-chief of the army in North America, soon joined the forces under General Abercromby; but owing to various causes, they did not take the field till the summer of the following year. Pursuant to an attack on Louisburg, Lord Loudon embarked in the month of June 1757 for Halifax with the forces under his command, amounting to 5300 men. At Halifax his forces were increased to 10,500 men, by addition of five regiments lately arrived from England, including Fraser's and Montgomery's Highlanders.

When on the eve of his departure from Halifax, Lord Loudon received information that the Brest fleet had arrived in the harbor of Louisburg. The resolution to abandon the enterprise however, was not taken till it clearly appeared from letters which were taken in a packet bound from Louisburg to France, that the force was too great to be encountered. Leaving the remainder of the troops to New York, taking along with him the Highlanders and four other regiments.

By the addition of three new companies and the junction of 700 recruits, the regiment was now augmented to upwards of 1300 men, all Highlanders, for at that period none else were admitted into the regiment. To the three additional companies the following officers were appointed; James Murray, son of Lord George Murray, James Stewart of Urrard, and Thomas Stirling, son of Sir Henry Stirling of Ardoch, to be captains; Simon Blair, David Barklay, Archibald Campbell, Alexander Mackay, Alexander Manzies and David Mills, to be lieutenants; Duncan Stewart, George Rattray, and Alexander Farquharson, to be ensigns; and the Reverend James Stewart to be assistant chaplain.

The Earl of Loudon having been recalled, the command of the army devolved on General Abercromby. Determined to wipe off the disgrace of former campaigns, the ministry, who had just come into power, fitted out a great naval armament and a military force of 32,000 men, which were placed under commanders who enjoyed the confidence of the country. The command of the fleet was given to Admiral Boscawen, and Brigadier-generals Wolfe, Townsend, and Murray, were added to the military staff. Three expeditions were planned in 1758; one against Louisberg; another against Ticonderoga and Crown Point; and a third against Fort du Quesne.

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