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.