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Scottish Regiments
Royal Highland Emigrant Regiment


OLD EIGHTY-FOURTH. 1775—1783.

Two Battalions—First Battalion—Quebec—-Second Battalion—Settle in Canada and Nova Scotia.

This battalion was to be raised from the Highland emigrants in Canada, and the discharged men of the 42nd, of Fraser’s and Montgomery’s Highlanders, who had settled in North America after the peace of 1763. Lieutenant-Colonel Alan Maclean (son of Torloisk), of the late 104th Highland Regiment, was appointed lieutenant-colonel commandant of the first battalion. Captain John Small, formerly of the 42nd, and then of the 21st Regiment, was appointed major-commandant of the second battalion, which was to be raised from emigrants and discharged Highland soldiers who had settled in Nova Scotia. Each battalion was to consist of 750 men, with officers in proportion. The commissions were dated the 14th of June 1775.

Great difficulty was experienced in conveying the recruits who had been raised in the back settlements to their respective destinations. A detachment from Carolina was obliged to relinquish an attempt to cross a bridge defended by cannon, in which Captain Macleod, its commander, and a number of the men were killed. Those who escaped reached their destination by different routes.

When assembled, the first battalion, consisting of 350 men, was detached up the River St Lawrence, but hearing that the American General Arnold intended to enter Canada with 3000 men, Colonel Maclean returned with his battalion by forced marches, and entered Quebec on the 13th of November 1776. The garrison of Quebec, previous to the arrival of Colonel Maclean, consisted of only 50 men of the Fusiliers and 700 militia and seamen. General Arnold, who had previously crossed the river, made a spirited attempt on the night of the 14th to get possession of the outworks of the city, but was repulsed with loss, and forced to retire to Point au Tremble.

Having obtained a reinforcement of troops under General Montgomery, Arnold resolved upon an assault. Accordingly, on the 31st of December he advanced towards the city, and attacked it in two places, but was completely repulsed at both points. In this affair General Montgomery, who led one of the points of attack, was killed, and Arnold wounded.

Foiled in this attempt, General Arnold took up a position on the heights of Abraham, and by intercepting all supplies, reduced the garrison to great straits. He next turned the blockade into a siege, and having erected batteries, made several attempts to get possession of the lower town; but Colonel Maclean, to whom the defence of the place had been entrusted by General Guy Canton, the commander-in-chief, defeated him at every point. [Colonel Maclean, when a subaltern in the Scotch brigade in Holland, was particularly noticed by Count Lowendahl, for his bravery at Bergen-op-Zoom in 1774. See the notice of Loudon’s Highlanders.] After these failures General Arnold raised the siege and evacuated Canada.

The battalion after this service was employed in various small enterprises during the war, in which they were generally successful. They remained so faithful to their trust, that notwithstanding that every inducement was held out to them to join the revolutionary standard, not one native Highlander deserted. Only one man was brought to the halberts during the time the regiment was embodied.

Major Small, being extremely popular with the Highlanders, was very successful in Nova Scotia, and his corps contained a greater proportion of them than the first battalion. Of ten companies which composed the second battalion, five remained in Nova Scotia and the neighbouring settlements during the war, and the other five, including the flank companies, joined the armies of General Clinton and Lord Cornwallis. The grenadier company was in the battalion, which at Eataw Springs "drove all before them," as stated in his despatches by Colonel Alexander Stuart of the 3d Regiment.

In the year 1778 the regiment, which had hitherto been known only as the Royal Highland Emigrants, was numbered the 84th, and orders were issued to augment the battalions to 1000 men each. Sir Henry Clinton was appointed colonel-in-chief. The uniform was the full Highland garb, with purse of racoon’s skin. The officers wore the broad sword and dirk, and the men a half-basket sword. At the peace the officers and men received grants of land, in the proportion of 5000 acres to a field officer, 3000 to a captain, 500 to a subaltern, 200 to a sergeant, and 100 to a private soldier. The men of the first battalion settled in Canada, and those of the second in Nova Scotia, forming a settlement which they named Douglas. Many of the officers, however, returned home.


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