0 Territorial Soldiering in the North East of Scotland during 1759 - 1814

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Territorial Soldiering in the North East of Scotland during 1759 - 1814
General Survey of the Subject (1759-1814)


The year Nineteen Hundred and Fourteen will never be forgotten. Not only did it witness the outbreak of the greatest war in history, but it marked a series of anniversaries bearing on war. This wonderful year was the six hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, which not only set Scotland free, but forms a landmark in the art of war by showing that Infantry is the backbone of an army. This year was the two hundredth anniversary of the accession of the House of Hanover, which, by rousing a large part of Scotland to arms on behalf of the Stuarts, made the subsequent commandeering of the Scot for the purposes of national defence at once timely—and timorous. And this year was the hundredth anniversary of the Peace with France and with America, thereby closing down a prolonged period of real national defence, which made Scotland feel acutely for the first time the full price of the Union with England.

But although all these historic events have an inter-dependent connection beyond the facile similarity of date; although we are once more discussing for the thousandth time the subject of defence and citizen service as a problem of current politics; and although men are writing naval and military history and compiling regimental records at a rate unknown to us before—almost as if to checkmate the Angells who are piping for Peace—this book has not been planned as a livre de circonstance, however “ topical ” its appearance at this particular moment may be, except in as much as none of us can escape from streams of tendency.

Nor has it been primarily conditioned by my keen interest in the House of Gordon, which has contributed so largely to the whole art of war. On the contrary, my absorption in the family of Gordon has arisen from a previous and boyish interest in soldiering, for I was writing, in 1887 and 1888, on the history of the Wapinschaw, the Covenanting skirmishes in Aberdeenshire, the Jacobites and the Volunteers before I ever tackled the enormous subject of Gordon genealogy; and my immediate re-introduction to the latter was the professional necessity of having to describe the part played by the Gordon Highlanders in the capture of the heights of Dargai in October, 1897.

But the subject of soldiering had attracted me long before any of these things. One of the earliest recollections of my childhood is a slender, blue-boarded quarto, in the' centre of which stood a gilded isosceles triangle bearing the words—spelt phonetically as if for nursery use—Ye Nobell CHEESE-MONGER. At that time, of course, I did not know what an isosceles triangle meant, or that the appellation “ Cheese-monger ” had any touch of the ludicrous; but the first page of the volume, printed in colours, was irresistibly comic to my childish eye. It showed a crowd of coatless Lilliputians tugging grotesquely at ropes to pull down backwards the martial-cloaked, cleanshaven figure of the Duke of Gordon from his granite pedestal in the Castlegate; while another group in front was engaged with equal enthusiasm in elevating towards the about-to-be vacated site the figure of a dumpy man in a green uniform and bushy whiskers, looking a little alarmed at the honour that was being thrust upon him. I say this picture struck my childish fancy, not from the retrospective standpoint of one of those psychological prodigies of Mr. Henry James’s imagining, but because the anonymous artist, Sir George Reid, had sketched unerringly an irresistibly comic situation, of which the bearded Joey and Harlequin is the locus classicus. Besides this, the rare occasions on which the book was shown to us—for it was one of six copies produced (in 1861)—was enough to make the occasional perusal of it something like a red-letter day; and,, furthermore, I used to “play at soldiers” in a tunic and belt, with the word “Bon-Accord” on it, which my father had worn as a fellow member with the aforesaid artist of the Cheese-monger’s Volunteer corps.

In picturing the Duke as a Prometheus, bound helpless before the advance of the Cheese-monger, the satirist—it is strange that he rarely, if ever, again lent his pen to humour—was instituting no comparison between the social status of his Grace and the grocer. While he was primarily aiming at pitting the amateur, the Volunteer, against the professional, he was also viewing both from the standpoint of the civilian of that period, just as Punch itself was doing; thereby, with a kefen, though perhaps unconscious, sense of history, seizing on our traditional and deep-seated attitude as a nation to the business of soldiering. To take but one example, everybody knows the difficulty which was experienced in establishing a Standing Army, for it figures to this day in the preamble of the Army Annual Bill, by which the Army is rhetorically renewable year by year:— “Whereas the raising or keeping of a Standing Army within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in time of peace, unless it be by the consent of Parliament, is against the law?

As a people we do not understand the Army qua Army; we recognise it as but one of the instruments of State, the purpose of which is to uphold the honour of the Nation. When that honour is not at stake, the instrument always tends to become rusty. When danger arises, we begin sharpening the old instrument and improvising new ones for the emergency; the South African War was an absolutely typical example, and precisely the same thing has been done in the war of 1914.

It is of such improvisation that this volume treats. It is not a history of Highland regiments like Stewart of Garth’s classic work. It is not an account of Scotland’s military system from early times after the manner of Lady Tullibardine in the case of Perthshire. It is not an application of Mr. Fortescue’s 1803-1814 treatment of the County Lieutenancies; and it is not a history of the Volunteers, the force to which we have come to apply the term Territorial. It is an account of how two counties, Aberdeen and Banff, contributed to the herculean efforts put forth by the United Kingdom from 1757 to 1814 to extend her frontiers and to hold what she already possessed. I have confined myself to these two counties (except in including the two Strathspey regiments) because Kincardine was always associated with Forfarshire and Elgin and Nairn with Inverness, as Banffshire itself became in the matter of Militia. Indeed, Aberdeenshire alone of the north-east counties has always been a distinct unit.

I have used the word Territorial,1 not in the modern restricted use which connotes the old Volunteering, but because the whole effort of recruiting—and not the subsequent tactical disposition of the forces so raised—in the north during the period under review was conducted with a frank recognition by the State of local conditions. First, in the dase of Regular regiments it was carried out under the aegis of the great territorial lords; later on, in the case of some of the Fencible regiments, under the influence of professional soldiers who had some local connection; then, in the case of the Militia, Volunteers and Local Militia under the management of the Lord Lieutenants, with or without the compulsive aid of the ballot. My last, main aim has been not to describe the actual service of these forces when raised, but to show the mechanism used to raise them, for, difficult as it is to find the data, this is really the most useful fact for the modern reader to understand. In this introduction I shall sketch the general principles under which the various regiments in the north-east of Scotland from 1759 to 1814 were raised.

The spirit of territorialism, not to say parochialism, was the pivot of this mechanism; indeed, it was so dominating that the ultimate reason why the mechanism was set in motion tended to become obscured. The opening statement of Mr. Fortescue in his County Lieutenancies and the Army is to a large extent true of Scotland— “The military system of England from the close of the Middle Ages to the Nineteenth Century was practically, though with superficial differences, the same. To every place which required a garrison a small permanent force was indissolubly attached, and for the purposes of war an army was improvised.” Thus a place like Aberdeen had its “blockhouse,” under the control'of the Town Council; and the Army, such as it was, was as visible, as local, a fact as any other aspect of municipal control.

In the country districts the laird became the pivot, and the raising of troops was as much a personal matter as the levy of the old feudal lords in return for tenure of land. The Highland regiments recall the fact to this day better than any other type of troops, for they wear in their uniforms the mottoes and the badges of the individual families concerned in their creation, such as "Bydand” and the stag’s head of the Gordon Highlanders, and the appearance of the arms of the company commanders, for the time being, on the pipe banners. Many other instances might be cited ; suffice it for the moment to say that the spirit of territorialism with all its idiosyncracies conditioned, in varying degree, all the troops raised in the north-east of Scotland during the period, 1759-1814, under review, and it has been strongly reasserted on four subsequent occasions—the raising of the Volunteers in 1859; Cardwell’s allotment of infantry regiments to territorial recruiting districts in 1872 (when the Gordons got “Bydand” and the stag’s head in lieu of the Sphinx and the word “Egypt” for cap badge) ; Childers’ linked, or rather “welded,” battalion system of 1881; and Lord Haldane’s Territorial and Reserve Forces Act of 1907, which aims at making national defence an integral part of local government.

Now in view of these facts it is very curious that soldiering has not been considered a matter of real territorial interest among us. Nothing proves this point more clearly than its meagre treatment in local newspapers and the indifference shown by nearly all local historians —past masters of the minute as they are—to anything dealing with defence, or what is called “the military,” a phrase which sums up the separateness of the army from citizenship. Thus a book like the late Mr. A. M. Munro’s history of Old Aberdeen has nothing to tell us of the Aulton Volunteers; and Dr. Cramond confined his reference to the subject in Banff to a nonpareil note hidden away among the Town Council minutes. The irony of Sir George Reid in “Ye Nobell Cheesemonger” was thoroughly characteristic of the attitude of his period. Not only has the subject been treated with indifference, but in actual practice soldiering for long encountered active opposition. So far as Regular soldiering is concerned, every man of middle age can recall that in his youth it was almost anathema, and will recognise the verisimilitude of Mr. R. J. MacLennan’s wit in his volume of Aberdeen sketches, In Yon Toon:—

Miss Macpherson—“It’s a terrible thing aboot Mrs. Thomson’s loon, isn’t it?”

Mrs. Simpson—“O, fit was that. I didna hear o’t.”

Miss Macpherson—“He’s jined the sojers.”

Mrs. Simpson (raising her hands heavenwards)—“Jined the sojers, has he? Eh, my good! An’ his mither will be richt pitten aboot. Aye, an’ this her washin’ day, too. Eh, my! ”

This point of view has largely changed in recent years, and it would no longer be possible to re-create a Nobell Cheese-monger; yet the spirit underlying such incidents, and exhibiting antagonism to the centralised military ideal has not been wholly exorcised, as the policy of the Aberdeen Town Council on the use of the Links as a rifle range has served to show us. That attitude is due to no unpatriotic contrariness; it is created by local conditions, which were much more antagonistic in the period dealt with by this inquiry.

It has therefore been far from easy to get at data for the present volume, especially in reference to the mechanism employed in raising troops. Luckily there is a large number of documents at Gordon Castle dealing with the regiments raised by the 4th Duke of Gordon, and I have to thank the Duke of Richmond and Gordon for the privilege of examining them at my leisure. The charter chests of other families engaged in raising men might furnish similar papers, but I have not been able to get access to them. Such documents, of course, tell us little or nothing about regiments once they had been handed over to the State. Here we must consult the War Office papers now housed at the Public Record Office, London; and extensive as the data are, the wholesale destruction of documents in the past shows us that the military authorities could be as indifferent as the civilian local historian. The old system by which regiments kept their own records, carting them about with other impedimenta, was thoroughly bad and involved serious —and from some points of view, not unnatural—destruction from time to time. Many of the documents that have been preserved have not been seen by students. This was especially the case with the series of Volunteer pay rolls, all of which had to be specially stamped for me to examine, showing that they had never been given out to the public before. I have also examined minutely the Home Office series of documents known as “Internal Defence,” the trackless desert of which was first traversed, and to such good purpose, by Mr. Fortescue in The County Lieutenancies and the Army (1909), his journey throughout the whole 326 volumes and bundles being, of course, much more exhaustive and exhausting—he says it was “maddening” to write his book—than one confined to two counties. These documents alone form my excuse for dealing with the Militia and Volunteers, for both forces had already been tackled by Colonel Innes and Mr. Donald Sinclair. That, however, has only added to my difficulty, for I have had to incorporate the new material without rewriting their work and thus cumbering space needlessly.

The personal side of the subject remains most imperfect in the absence of Description Registers and the biographies of officers. To follow that up completely would require a knowledge as extensive as Mrs. Skelton’s in Gordons under Arms, plus a genealogical equipment such as probably no individual scholar possesses. The greatest difficulty is presented by the Volunteers, as if these officers had been shy of publicity, foreseeing the ridicule cast by Mr. Meredith on the great Mel  the tailor in Evan Harrington) which was published in the very year that Sir George Reid immortalised the Cheese-monger.

I am very well aware that some of my conclusions on the influence of territorialism may be regarded by some readers, especially professional soldiers, as highly controversial. But there can be no doubt whatever that national aspirations and local idiosyncracies largely conditioned the efforts to raise troops in the middle of the eighteenth century. We are all familiar with the facile theory that when Great Britain set out on her sixty years of world-conquest in 1757, she had only to beckon to her northern people and that soldiers sprang to attention like gourds, if only because the spirit of military adventure satisfied the martial hunger of a race that had been reared on fighting, but had been deliberately starved for forty years by reason of its exploits on behalf of Jacobitism. There could be no more misleading interpretation of history, no greater blindness to the essential territorial fact, for the simple reason that the half century of Union had not obliterated Scotland’s individual consciousness; her point of view still differed greatly from that of the dominant partner.

In the first place, Scotland had been friendly on political, temperamental and dynastic grounds with England’s traditional enemy, France. When the fruits of the Union seemed likely to be spoilt by some of the Scots’ preference for the essentially French line of Stuart, France had become unusually friendly to these aspirations; so that we find a Scots officer, Thomas Gordon, who had been transferred to the English Navy, deliberately using his professional opportunities to make French aid to the Jacobites the more available. But even if she had been inspired with the English bias, Scotland was far removed from that strip of Channel which kept England constantly on the alert. Indeed, so far from rousing Scotland, the sea had a terrifying effect at any rate on the Highland levies, and more than one mutiny arose out of the soldiers’ intense dislike, even horror, of ships. When at last Scotland was threatened by France as part and parcel of the United Kingdom, the danger, as the minister of Aberarder plainly told the Duke of Gordon in a remarkable letter of 1778, was “too remote” to make some of the inland districts worry. Indeed, from every point of view, the reasons why Scotland should buckle on her armour against France were far less obvious than in the case of England.

The reasons why Scotland was not so predisposed as England was to take to soldiering went further than the greater absence of motive. For ten years before the opening of the great campaign for the possession of India in 1757, the best part of warlike Scotland had been deliberately dispossessed of whatever arms she possessed, the dominant partner being thoroughly frightened at the possibility of another pro-Jacobite attempt, despite the fact that the disarming Acts of 1716 and I725 had actually contributed to encourage the hopes of the exiled house of Stuart. The Act of 1746 (19 Geo. II cap. 39) “for the more effectual disarming the Highlands in Scotland”—an extraordinarily “absent-minded” move seeing that the interrupted campaign in the Low Countries against the brilliant Marshal Saxe was being renewed at this very moment—was even more drastic, involving part of Dumbarton and Stirling, and the whole of Argyll, Perth, Forfar, Kincardine, Aberdeen, Banff, Nairn, Elgin, Inverness, Ross, Cromarty, Sutherland and Caithness. The prohibition of the Highland dress—not removed till 1782— was another blow in the same direction; while the Heritable Jurisdictions Act of 1747 broke, up the feudal power of the great landowners in such a way as to frustrate their later desire to raise troops. The fear of the Highlanders rising again is brought out in a letter which Lord Findlater wrote to the Duke of Newcastle on July 8, 1748 {Add. MSS., 32,715 f. 323) : —

It is said that ther is an intention to turn the two Highland Regiments [the names are not given] into Independent Companies to be sent to the Highlands. ... I am sure it wou’d prove a most pernicious scheme, for it wou’d effectively spread and keep up the warlike spirit there and frustrate all measures for rooting it out. . . . It would be dangerous to scatter such a number of military Highlanders in their own country. . . . No Highlanders ought to be employed in the Highlands, but a small number of pick’d ones to serve for guides for the regular troops.

The disarming edict affected whole communities as well as individuals. Thus, Aberdeen was deprived of its ordnance in 1745, lest it should fall into the hands of the rebels, and this led to a strong protest from the Provost, July 11, 1759, when the coast towns were becoming frightened of France, all the more as Regular troops had been withdrawn to fill up the gaps in our scattered army. On July 12, 1759, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, as praeses of the Convention of Burghs, memorialised the Secretary of State, Lord Holdernesse, as follows (.P.R.O.; S.P. Scotland-, series 2: bundle 45: No. 59): —

The Burroughs of Scotland which are situated on the East Coast from the river Tay northwards, having represented to the annual Convention of the Royal Burroughs now mett here, that in consequence of the orders given to the troops gathered among them to march thither, they will be in a very dangerous situation; for, being disarmed by law, they are altogether unable to defend themselves from the enemy, who may attack them successfully even with ships of very small force.

The Convention having heard their representative, and being desireous that something may be done for their safety and security while the troops are removed at a distance, have directed me as their praeses humbly to lay their case before your lordship.

We are far from complaining of the measure of the removal of the troops, being sensible that these orders have been given for weighty and good reasons. We only beg your lordship will have the goodness to represent to our most gracious Sovereign the present defenceless, and, therefore, dangerous state of these burroughs, that he may be pleased to give out orders for their safety as he shall see proper, and which the public security will best admitt of. If a 40- or a 20-gun ship could be spared from the service, and ordered to cruize from Fifeness to Buchanness, we are hopefull that the evils we dread would hereby be effectually prevented. But this we humbly suggest with the greatest submission.

Even when the luck turned in our favour, as in the capitulation of Quebec, and after arms had been sent—400 stand were given to the town in August, 1759 (W.O. i., 614)—Aberdeen felt as nervous as ever, because the people did not know how to use these arms. Thus, the Magistrates wrote to Holdernesse on October 21, 1759 (Ibid. No. 84) : —

It is with great reluctancy we presume to trouble your Lo’p. at this critical juncture, when you are overburdened with publick affairs. But necessity obliges us to have recourse to your Lo’p. for relieff and assistance, when we are threatned with such immediate danger.

Your Lordship knows there are no troops on the East Coast of Scotland betwixt the Murray ffrith and the Frith of Forth, so that this town, being a place of the greatest consequence for the number of its inhabitants and manufactures betwixt the two ffriths, and situate centrically betwixt them in an open sandy bay, where a number of troops could be landed in a very short space of time, and so we are much exposed to the invasion of a forreign enemy, and there is great reason to believe, may be the first place that will be attacked. And tho’ His Majesty and the Ministry have been graciously pleased to furnish us with some arms and ammunition, yet, our citizens having been long out of use of arms, it cannot be expected that they are in case to oppose a forreign enemy without the assistance of regular troops.

We are making the best use we can of the arms sent us, and are learning our citizens to the proper exercise of them, and, were there regular troops to mix with them, and animate them to action, we are hopeful they would do great service.

As we are presently so much exposed and in a defenceless state, we must implore His Majesty and the Ministry to order a regiment of Regular troops to be cantoned along our coast, and make this the head quarters, so as they may quickly repair to any place that may be attacked. It will likewise be most necessary to order as many as can be spared of the King’s Ships to cruize along our Coast, and protect us against the invasion of a forreign enemy with which we are daily threatened.

Not only was Aberdeen robbed of arms, but it was deprived of the men who could have borne them, for the memorial goes on to state:—

We have of late furnished a vast number of men, as well for the land as the sea service, and gave large bountys for their encouragement; and, as we pay our taxes regularly, we humbly apprehend we are entitled to the Government’s protection. And therefore we beg leave once more to implore His Majesty and the Ministry to comply with this our most humble and earnest request.

A case in point is quoted in the Aberdeen Journal, March 16, 1756, which shows how compulsion was forced on the local authorities:—

On Tuesday last [March 9, 1756] there was a very hot Press for mariners and seafaring men, which was conducted with the greatest secrecy, vigilance and activity. The Provost, having received Orders from # above, concerted the plan of operation with Colonel Lambert, commanding Holms’s regiment here; and in the forenoon of that day parties were privately sent out to guard all the avenues leading to and from the town, as also the harbour mouth; and, immediately before the Press began, guards were placed on all the ports of the town. A little after two o’clock, the Provost, Magistrates, Constables and Town Sergeants, with the assistance of the military, and directed by Colonel Lambert, laid hold on every sailor and seafaring man that could be found within the harbour and town, and in less than an hour, there were about 100 taken into custody, and, after examination, 35 were committed to gaol as fit for service. Since that time several more sailors have been apprehended, as also land men of base and dissolute lives; and on Sunday last [March 14] were brought in from Peterhead and committed to gaol six sailors who were sent to town under a guard of General Holms’s regiment. There are now from 40 to 50 in prison on the above account, and the Press still continues.

Nothing could show more poignantly—if you have any imagination —the intense hunger for fighting men; but this kind of raid appeased only one form of the hunger, namely the clamant necessities of the State, which ran to earth any kind of men, anywhere and anyhow. But it left two other maws, mainly local, not only unsatisfied but more hungry than ever. If it appeased the great, and mostly unseen, campaign of aggression carried on by the nation at large, it neglected

the less showy necessities of internal defence, leaving the coastwise communities robbed of their manhood, and consequently panic-stricken at the thought of invasion. Then it starved the great landlords, who for very definite reasons of their own were beginning to raise regiments from among their vassals, very much as the feudal squires had been doing centuries before, and who found men increasingly difficult to get, until at last their personal and financial resources became thoroughly exhausted in the process and their task had to be taken up by the local authorities.

Faced by the local fact, the Government at last began attacking the problem, so far as the north was concerned, on much more sympathetic lines by recognising that territorial needs must be met by territorial means and that it was highly advisable to raise infantrymen by consent instead of by the hole-and-corner and antagonising tyranny of the Press Gang for a service which was really alien to the genius of the people.

"The new policy was opened in 1757, the year after the Press Gang raid which I have described, which witnessed the inauguration of Clive’s decisive campaign in India. The old fear of Jacobitism was going (as we see by the interesting fact that even old Glenbucket’s grandson, William Gordon, was granted permission by the Sheriff Depute of Banffshire to wear arms again), and the new hope of arming the Highlanders for the service of the State was begun. On January 4, 1757, the Hon. Archibald Montgomerie, nth Earl of Eglinton (1726-96) got a commission to raise a regiment (the 77th), while the 78th was raised by the Hon. Simon Fraser, de jure 12th Lord Fraser of-Lovat (1726-82), under commission dated January 5, 1757. Of course, neither Montgomerie nor Fraser invented the idea of utilising the Highlander for soldiering. That must be credited to the Black Watch which, I believe, Mr. Andrew Ross is right in tracing back, not to 1725 as Stewart and all his imitators state, but to 1667, when the 2nd Earl of Atholl got a commission to raise men to be a constant guard for securing the peace in the Highlands, and “to watch upon the braes.” . The idea had also been taken up again in 1745 when the 4th Earl of Loudon raised a Highland regiment which fought at Prestonpans and was afterwards taken to Flanders. But the Rebellion put a complete end to this kind of military experiment, and nothing more was done until 1757, when Montgomerie and Fraser got their commissions to raise two Highland regiments of the line, the 77th and 78th, to help the nation in the ambitious adventures afoot on the Indian and Canadian continents.

The necessity of the nation was just the opportunity that the Highland chiefs wanted. Montgomerie, of course, was a Lowlander, though he was connected by marriage with the Highlands, and had always been loyal. But Fraser had been reared in the atmosphere of rebellion, and had served under the Prince in the ’Forty-Five, being attainted like his father, the notorious Lord Lovat. The rebel chiefs had come to see that something more was necessary than a sulky acceptance of the new House of Hanover; they felt that they must do something positive ; and their territorial position, even if the feeling of clanship was on the wane* gave them the chance of helping the State in its great hour of need.

Montgomerie tapped Aberdeenshire for two companies—one of them being commanded by a son of the 3rd Earl of Aboyne—as we learn from the “state” of his regiment, dated Nairn, March 9, 1757 (W.0. 1 : 974)- The amazing point about this return, which shows 10 companies, is the number of men rejected, 472 recruits being “not approved ” out of a total of 1,029.

“The draughts intended for sergeants and corporals are not included in the above return.”

Fraser kept more to his native county of Inverness, but he, too, had a Gordon officer—Cosmo Gordon, of unknown origin, who was killed at Quebec in 1760.

Nothing more was done for two years; but in 1759 the growing necessities of the situation—the compaigns against the French in India and Canada, and the threat of invasion—called for further efforts. The Secretary at War, Lord Barrington, issued a memorandum which strikingly illustrates the clamorous need for soldiers {Add. MSS. 32,893, f. 62):—

Whereas the King’s Dominions are publickly threaten’d to be invaded by the French, who are making great and expensive preparations for that purpose: And whereas some of His Majesty’s Corps of Troops in Great Britain are not so full as at such a juncture might be wish d, especially at a season of the year when it can not be expected that they should be immediately compleated by the usual methods of recruiting;

Declaration is hereby made that any man may inlist in the Army on the following conditions:

He shall not upon any account or pretence whatever be obliged to go out of Great Britain, even tho’ the Regiment wherein he serves should be sent abroad :

He shall be intitled to his discharge on demand at the end of the War, or sooner in case it shall appear to His Majesty that the French have layM aside their design! of invading Great Britain.

The North tackled the problem much more energetically by raising three totally new regiments—the 87th (Keith’s); the 88th (Campbell of Dunoon’s) ; and the 89th (the Duke of Gordon’s). It is with the last that I start this book, for though Aberdeenshire contributed both to Montgomerie’s in 1757 and to Keith’s, the 89th was the first complete corps produced by the north-east of Scotland. I may add that I have gone into the foreign service of the 89th at greater length than that of any of the other regiments dealt with for the simple reason that it has hitherto been much neglected by military historians, although it did excellent work in India under Hector Munro.

From the moment in 1759 when these big efforts were put forward, down to 1814, when the Peace with France and with America called a long halt, the north-east of Scotland was perpetually thinking of soldiers. The necessities of the national situation synchronise exactly with local efforts as the following parallel statement of outstanding events prove:—

Such were the vast enterprises undertaken by the State, and such the aid afforded by our district. On the one hand you find a grandiose Foreign Policy (the one local newspaper contained little else than foreign “ intelligence,” its information about the soldiering that was going on being of the most meagre kind); on the other, you are confronted, and some readers may be bewildered, by an extraordinary particularism, based on a complete, and perhaps necessary, submission to local conditions. This, of course, was not the monopoly of the district; it was national; for, if Seeley’s doctrine of the absentmindedness of our “expansion” seems too obvious to some critics, there can be little doubt that the policy of defence was one long series of experiments in the art of opportunism to suit the ideals of an island race, reaching a climax in 1803 in Addington and his Secretary for War, Lord Hobart, whose “blindness,” “weakness” and “folly,” evoke the wrath of Mr. Fortescue. The War Office was conditioned by this particularism, by the mental outlook of the Scot in general and the Highlander in particular, first in the matter of getting men, and secondly in the art of keeping them once they had been got; and the authorities had to pay a heavy price for any attempts, conscious or not, to over-rule local sentiment.

First, with regard to getting men, the State was confronted by everything making for clannishness. It must be remembered that the Highlanders were essentially home birds, devoted to their own district, to their own friends and leaders; the world-famous wandering Scot was almost exclusively of the Lowland type. The Celt’s love of his native soil, which has informed so much of our politics, and which is so finely expressed in the “ Canadian Boat Song,” was so intense that it strongly militated against the success of such a small adventure as the Jacobite march to Derby, even though the clans were intensely interested in the main object of the exploit. Therefore when they were asked to support a scheme in which they did not feel themselves personally involved and which meant not merely a departure from their native glens but a journey across the seas, it became very difficult to induce the Highlanders to support it. If they agreed to go, it was only on condition that they did so with the people they knew and under the command of the leaders they respected, so that casual recruiting among them would have been next to useless; you had to recruit the whole clan, as it were, and establish a Highland Regiment, which considered itself as much a unity in the heart of the whole army as a foreign embassy remains inviolable territory in the capital in which it is placed. This feeling remained potent for a long time after the original impulse of the Highland regiments had become obscured. A picturesque example of it is cited by Sergeant Robertson in his interesting Diary. Speaking of the Battle of Orthes (February 27, 1814) he says (p. 129): —

Here the three Highland regiments met for the first time—namely the 42nd, 79th and 92nd; and such a joyful meeting I have seldom witnessed. As we were almost all from Scotland, and having had a great many friends in all regiments, such a shaking of hands took place. The one hand held the firelock and bayonet, while the other was extended to give the friendly Highland grasp, and the three cheers to go forward. Lord Wellington was so much pleased with the scene that he ordered the three regiments to be encamped beside one another for the night as we had been separated for some years, that we might have the pleasure of spending a few hours together and make inquiry about our friends and to ascertain who survived and who had fallen.

But even within a Highland regiment there were differences between different septs to be reckoned with, so that we find groups of men of one surname declining to march to a rendezvous with groups of men of a different name, with whom there may have been long outstanding controversies. And when they reached such a rendezvous there were cases—even so late as 1793, as the Northern Fencibles had to reckon with—when a Highland officer demanded that the men he had raised should be confined to his company, the military exigencies of distributing men over the whole regiment being quite incredible to him. Another great difficulty in getting men arose out of the jealousies of the leaders who set out about raising regiments. The War Office did not raise them, in the beginning at least, directly. It assigned the task to individual magnates, under licence, and simply took over the regiment when completed. How the regiment was actually gathered together was a matter of small concern to the War Office. The consequence was that rival recruiters vied with each other in offering inducements, so that bounties increased with the necessity for troops until the price rose in some cases to as high as £50 and £60 a head. One recruiter would invade the territorial domain of another and annex men by hook or by crook, local jealousies being fanned to a

sort of civil war—waged, ironically enough, because of the common enemy of the State. Aberdeenshire affords two striking cases in point —the conflict in 1778 between the Northern Fencibles, raised by the Duke of Gordon, and the 81 st Regiment, raised by his kinsman, the ca * Hon. William Gordon. Again in 1794 the Duke was seriously hampered in raising the Gordon Highlanders by the efforts put forth by Leith-Hay to raise the 109th, the houses of Gordon and of Leith rallying round their respective leaders, while the Corporation of Aberdeen inclined to favour Leith-Hay. Both the 81st and the 109th soon disappeared, but that was because the influence of their organisers was not sufficiently strong with the authorities, as the Duke’s was, to keep them going. The story of these conflicts, represented of course entirely by private documents and not in the War Office archives, makes extraordinary reading. It need hardly be said that human nature took full advantage of such a situation, until recruiters were faced by all sorts of V' compulsions from their quarry. For instance, small farmers would agree to give a son in return for an enlargement of their holding, or a greater security of tenure or some similar quid pro quo; while the laird also would exercise pressure by threatening tenants guilty of small offences, such as annexing wood or game, or doing something that was more or less punishable. It is necessary to underline these facts because Stewart of Garth, who has been copied by nearly every writer on the subject, gives a point blank denial. Ever on the defensive so far as the Highlanders were concerned, he lays it down (Sketches of the Highlanders, ii., 308) : —

It has been alleged that these services [of tenants in the field at the call of the lairds] were not unbought, as the sons of tacksmen and tenants were sent by their parents to fill up the ranks of Highland regiments on a direct or implied stipulation of abatement of rent, or on some pecuniary or other advantage to be received, for the service of the youths who came forward to take up arms at the call of their chiefs and lords. Circumstances do not confirm this view of the subject.

In reply to which you have only to read the letters sent to the Duke of Gordon by tenants in purely Highland districts; letters which I have little doubt could be matched by others in the charter chests of the great landlords, for there is no reason to believe that the Duke’s tenants were more worldly wise than those of other landlords.

If it was difficult to raise men, it was nearly as difficult to retain them, even when they passed into the keeping of the State. For a long time, indeed, the Highlanders were unable to differentiate the two factors—the individual subject who induced them to join and the nation as a whole for which their services were required. The State spoke through the voice of the individual, and the individual was expected to keep to the terms which he proposed, and which tended to vary with national exigencies. Here we see an inevitable clash between national temperaments, between the Scot’s logicalness and the inherent opportunism of the dominant partner, just as strong to-day as it was then, when the force of events made it almost necessary. Thus, if a regiment was raised on the n Fencible plan to serve in Scotland and an attempt was made to march it across the Border or transport it to Ireland, the rank and file simply declined, greatly to the amazement of a man like Colonel , Woodford, commanding the Northern Fencibles of 1793, who had been ' trained in the obedient school of the Grenadier Guards. In the case of regiments of the line, attempts made to draft men from one corps to another were equally repudiated, while the efforts to get the Highland corps to sail abroad led to open mutiny. The classic case is that of J the Black Watch in 1743, which has been set forth so sympathetically by Mr. Duff MacWilliam. The War Office, applying the legal standard, shot three of the resisters and drafted a great many of them—“victims of deception and tyranny,” to whom Mr. MacWilliam proudly dedicates his book. “The indelible impression” which this made on the minds of “the whole population of the Highlands, laid,” as Stewart of Garth is bound to admit, “the foundation of that distrust in their superiors which was afterwards so much increased by various circumstances.” A full corroboration of Stewart’s statement occurs in the remarkable letter written by the minister of Aberarder in 1778, to which too much attention cannot be paid : —

The people have been successfully deceived since the middle of the last war by all the recruiting officers and their friends. It has constantly been, since that period, the common cant that the recruits were only enlisted for three years or a continuance of the war; yet, they saw or heard of those poor men being draughted into other regiments after their own had been reduced, and thus bound for life, instead of the time that they were made to believe. . . . The people will not be convinced, not even by giving them written obligations. . . . They have been so often cheated that they scarce know when to trust.

So disastrous indeed was the effect of penalising the Black Watch, that when the Atholl Highlanders, commanded by the Laird of Farskane, took up the same attitude exactly forty years later, Parliament and the authorities declined to punish a single man. Intensely pro-Highland and patriotic, and imbued with the theirs-not-to-reason-why of the old soldier, Stewart is compelled to devote a whole chapter to eight of these mutinies—“very distressing events ” he calls them —extending from 1743 to 1804; and his whole tone is that of sympathetic apology for the “peculiar disposition and habits of the Highlanders.”

One of these “peculiarities” was a fierce resentment against the infliction of the brutal punishments then meted out to soldiers. Stewart insists again and again that Highlanders had to receive preferential treatment, not so much because their “ crimes ” were less serious, but because their temperament made such expiation highly prejudicial to the State’s chance of gaining the services of their countrymen. He maintains for instance (ii., 313) :—

The corporal punishments which are indispensable in restraining the unprincipled and shamelessly depraved, who sometimes stand in the ranks of the British Army, would have struck a Highland soldier of the old school with a horror that would have rendered him despicable in his own eyes and a disgrace to his family and name. The want of a due regard to, and discrimination of, men’s dispositions has often led to very serious consequences.

The more minute investigations of modern historians completely corroberate Stewart’s attitude.

It is extremely important to note that even after the territorial organiser of a regiment had placed his corps on the “ Establishment,” his influence with the men remained and was made use of. Thus, when Colonel Woodford failed to make anything of the Northern Fencibles, he had to send post-haste to Gordon Castle for his brother-in-law, the Duke of Gordon, to go south and pacify the men; and similarly when the Strathspey Fencibles became restive at Dumfries in 1795, Sir James Grant, who had raised the regiment, was sent for, “but unfortunately he arrived too late.”

A City of Aberdeen Regiment Declined.

So far, I have been dealing with regiments raised under the personal influence of the great landed magnates; for little was done to encourage corporate bodies. A striking case of this refusal was experienced by the City of Aberdeen, which got thoroughly alarmed like the rest of the country after the disastrous surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga in October, 1777. Early in December the town of Manchester volunteered to raise a battalion of eleven hundred men at its own expense. Liverpool shortly afterwards followed this example, and was immediately imitated by Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, and the offers of all except Aberdeen were accepted. The Aberdeen offer4 was forwarded to Lord Suffolk, the Secretary of State for the North, by Provost Jopp on January 10, 1778, as follows (Aberdeen Town Council Archives):—

My Lord,—The City of Aberdeen, having on many occasions'* given the strongest assurances of their zeal and attachment towards His Majesty’s person and government; and having beheld with indignation the rise and progress of a rebellion and revolt in the British Colonies in America, which seems to be grown to an alarming height:

Have resolved at this critical juncture most humbly to offer to His Majesty every assistance in their power for the better enabling Government to prosecute with vigour the American War and for reducing the rebellious Colonies to their former state of allegiance and subordination. And I have the honour to inform your Lordship that they have opened and are now carrying on successfully and with all possible dispatch a subscription for the purpose of raising a body of men for His Majesty’s Service.

I have taken the liberty to inclose for your Lordship’s perusal a Memorial on this subject, and have to request that your Lordship will be pleased to lay the same before His Majesty for his gracious acceptance. If this Memorial should contain anything improper, it must be imputed to my having had no opportunity of knowing what conditions Government has been pleased to allow other Corporations in like cases.

I must beg leave to remark to your Lordship that the circumstances of a new corps [the 8ist Regiment] of one thousand men to be raised by Colonel [the Hon. William] Gordon, whose officers are mostly named from this corner and county, may render the immediate procuring of recruits more difficult, and may require that the period for completing any corps we may be able' to raise be not limited, or at least not to a very short space. At the same time, assuring your Lordship that every effort will be made for carrying this design into execution with all possible dispatch; we hope that your Lordship will be pleased to signify to us His Majesty’s pleasure as soon as may be.

The City’s proposals were embodied in the following memorial: —

1. That a body of men shall be enlisted at the expense of this City to be put upon the Establishment as a separate Corps, provided they shall amount to 500 or upwards, and, if under that number, to be embodied in Independent Companies.

2. That the community be allowed to recommend officers who are to be approved by His Majesty, vizt.; If 500, a Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant, Major, Captains and Subalterns for the different Companys; it being understood that no Officers above the rank of Lieutenants shall be recommended but such as are of approved merit and have served with reputation in the Army, several of whom have already offered their services on this occasion.

3. If 700 or upwards, a Colonel, Lieutenant-Colonel, Major, etc.

4. Pay to commence from the time allowed to other Corps now raising.

5. Cloathing, arms, etc., to be furnished by Government.

6. The Order from War Office for inlisting to be addressed to the Provost of Aberdeen with the ordinary power of delegation.

N.B.—In order to be able to procure men with more facility, might engagement be made that such as desire it may have a discharge at the end of the American War ?

To this enthusiastic offer, Lord Suffolk returned a polite refusal on January 23, 1778 : —

Having had the honor of laying before' the King your letter of the 9th [sic] inst. with the Memorial enclosed in it, I am now to inform you that the fullest sense is entertained of the zeal and attachment of the City of Aberdeen towards His Majesty’s person and government as well as of the constitutional principles which induce the Corporation to the proposal of enlisting a body of men at their own expense to be put upon the Establishment as a separate Corps.

As, however, it is not at present intended to accept any new levies beyond what are already under the consideration of Parliament, I am on this account to decline the offer: at the same time that I once more assure you on the justice done to the loyal and constitutional motives from which it originates.

The Fencible Movement of 1778 and 1793.

To anyone who considers the magnitude of our operations at this time and the complications arising out of France’s alliance with America (February), with the declaration of war on us (July 10, 1778), the refusal of the Government to accept the help of Aberdeen may seem extraordinary. As a matter of fact, it was thoroughly typical of the hugger-mugger, hand-to-mouth management of our military preparations throughout the whole period. It is true that the new levies to which Suffolk referred included twelve regiments of the line—the 72nd to the 83rd inclusive—of which nine were Scots, but it is also true that for some time before this date the difficulty of getting men had been growing so acute that a compulsive measure, known as the Comprehending Act (18 Geo. III. cap. 53), had to be passed; and a less exigent type of troops, the Fencibles, was raised, in the absence of Militia, which Government declined to allot to Scotland till 1797, though England had had its Militia Act in 1757. One of these Fencible regiments was raised in 1778 by the 4th Duke of Gordon, who found out that nineteen years of Regular soldiering had more or less satisfied his vast tenantry. The conditions of service in the Fencibles were voluntary enlistment (for a Government bounty of three guineas per man). The service was confined to Scotland, except in the case of the invasion of England. The men were not to be drafted; and the officers were to be chosen by the raiser of the regiment. Perhaps it was the belief in the discrimination of the individual magnate to choose good officers, as compared with the conflicting views of a corporation, that made Government favour the recruiting proposals of the former; in any case, the State’s refusal was not a happy way to treat municipal enthusiasm, and may account for much of the antagonism that has not infrequently existed between the War Office and Town Councils.

In 1782 a bill was introduced into Parliament “ for the better ordering the Fencible Men in that part of Great Britain called Scotland.” It provided for 12,500 privates being “annually formed into corps, companies, and battalions to learn the use of arms, and to qualify themselves in case of actual invasion, or rebellion existing within Great

Britain, to march out, and act within Scotland, against any rebels and invading enemies.” The quotas of the northern counties were:—

This spurt in regiments lasted only five years, for with the Peace of Versailles, 1783, many regiments were disbanded, including the 77th, the 81st, and the Northern Fencibles, and then the old laxness set in until the next crisis ten years later. The situation has been admirably summed up by Mr. Fortescue (County Lieutenancies, p. 3):—

From 1784 until 1792 Pitt allowed the military forces of the country to sink to the lowest degree of weakness and inefficiency, and in 1793 he found himself obliged to improvise not merely an army, but, owing to the multiplicity of his enterprises [with Austria and Prussia against France], a very large army. He fell back on the old resources of raising men for rank [which signified the grant of a step of promotion to all officers and of a commission to all civilians who would collect a given number of men], and calling into existence new levies, allowing the system to be carried to such excess that the Army did not recover from the evil for many years. Never did the crimps reap such a harvest as in 1794 and 1795 ; and never was a more cruel wrong done to the Army than when boys fresh from school, in virtue of so many hundred weaklings produced by a crimp, took command of battalions and even of brigades, over the heads of good officers of twenty and thirty years’ standing. In 1793, the bounty offered to men enlisting into the line was ten guineas; within eighteen months the Government was contracting with certain scoundrels for the delivery of men at twenty guineas a head, and long before that the market price of recruits had risen to thirty guineas.

The new crisis in national affairs was met by the raising of twenty-two corps of Fencibles, including the Duke of Gordon’s Northern Fencibles and James Leith’s Aberdeenshire Fencibles; and a great many regiments of Regulars—thirty thousand were enlisted between November, 1793, and March, 1794—to which the North-East contributed the 100th (Gordon Highlanders) and the 109th. Besides that, a totally new force was created in 1794, namely the Volunteers, which I shall describe more particularly later on. In addition to these, Sir James Grant raised the 97th and the Strathspey Fencibles, which, though rather out of our district, have been included because the Grants were rivals of the Gordons and because both these corps exhibit strong traces of the vicious system to which Mr. Fortescue refers. The method of raising men for rank had hitherto been confined to Independent Companies, and had therefore led to no higher rank than that of Captain. But it was now extended to the raising of “ a multitude of battalions, which, for the most part were no sooner formed than they were disbanded and drafted into other corps,” thereby showing that the personal principle animating the earlier territorial corps had broken down. Mr. Fortescue describes the vicious situation (British Army, vol. iv., part i., p. 213):—

The Army-brokers . . . carried on openly a most scandalous traffic. “In a few weeks,” to use the indignant language of an officer of the Guards, “they would dance any beardless youth, who would come up to their price, from one newly raised corps to another, and for a greater douceur, by an exchange into an old regiment would procure him a permanent situation in the standing Army.’'

The evils that flowed from this system were incredible. Officers who had been driven to sell out of the Army by their debts or their misconduct were able after a lucky turn at play to purchase reinstatement for themselves with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Undesirable characters, such as keepers of gambling houses, contrived to buy for their sons the command of regiments; and mere children [you may remember the story of the baby-Major “greetin’ for his parritch ”] were exalted in the course of a few weeks to the dignity of field officers. One proud parent, indeed, requested leave of absence for one of these infant Lieutenant-Colonels on the ground that he was not yet fit to be taken from school.

The Gordon Highlanders.

In this sordid and inept welter, the Gordon Highlanders, first numbered the 100th and then the 92nd Regiment, stand forth with flying colours; and remain with these colours flying to the present day; whereas their immediately local rivals, Grant’s 97th and Leith-Hay’s 109th, vanished a few months after they were raised, as victims of the vicious system by which they were partly officered. Indeed, of all the many regiments raised in our district in the period under discussion the 92nd with the Aberdeen Militia alone have survived, and few British regiments have captured the public imagination like the Gordons.

I should like to add one word of explanation about this distinction. It has been said that the fame of the Gordons is due to the indiscriminating praise of “Cockney” war-correspondents, especially at the time of Dargai. It has also been hinted that my own work on the house of Gordon has had an influence in “booming” the regiment. Both suggestions only prove the inadequate historical equipment of critics who make them. The Gordon Highlanders from the very first have been popular, and have always been “ boomed.6 The best proof of this statement is to be found in the bibliography appended to the present volume. The 75th Regiment, now forming the 1st Battalion of the Gordons, came into existence in 1787, seven years before the 92nd. It has had a splendid fighting career; and yet not one single monograph, not even of pamphlet size, has been written about it. Almost the only attempt to tell its story is that made by Lieutenant-Colonel Greenhill Gardyne in his Life of a Regiment, where he devotes some chapters to the old 75th as the 1st Battalion of his main subject. The same holds true of the iconographia of the two corps, for beyond Eschauzier’s print of 1833 there is scarcely a picture of the 75th.

Why should this be the case? The Gordons are not the oldest Scots regiment; they do not possess the longest “ honours ” ; they have not been unduly praised by Aberdeen writers—rather, indeed the contrary, for we pride ourselves on our sense of proportion, and it is only of comparatively recent years that the Gordons have been intimately associated with their present depot. The main reason of their popular fame is that they have always had the touch of personality about them, and have not merely been a unit in an indiscriminating military organisation. This personal touch was imparted to them with the raising of the regiment, which was enthusiastically forwarded by the Duke of Gordon and all the members of his family, notably by his brilliant consort, Jane Maxwell, who is said to have kissed the recruits. Whether that is true 01* not, it has become an integral part of a sort of saga, and is now boldly illustrated in the official recruiting literature of the regiment. The personal touch was continued by the service of the Duke’s popular and handsome heir, the Marquis of Huntly, immortalised in Mrs. Grant of Laggan’s “Highland Laddie.” Again, this personal feeling was greatly aided by the fact that the first recruits were to a large extent Highland, and the officers have been mostly Scots. The Gordons, indeed, are to my mind a splendid example of what the best type of territorialism can do for a regiment—to preserve traditions and esprit de corps, and to ensure a continuity and preservation of individuality, which are of first rate value in forming the character of a regiment in the British Army.

The Grampian Brigade.

Before passing on to the next type of military force which was raised, namely the Militia, reference must be made to an abortive scheme to raise a new combination of Highlanders, which was to be called the Grampian Brigade. Nominally promulgated by the Duke of York, it was forwarded on February 22, 1797, as a circular letter to the Duke of Gordon by his great friend, Dundas, then Home Secretary (Gordon Castle Archives') : —

I submit to your Grace’s view a plan which the Duke of York has put into my hands. I own I was very much struck on the perusal of it.

Perhaps at the time the laws were made for restraining the spirit of clanship in the Highlands of Scotland the system might be justifiable by the recent circumstances which gave rise to that policy. It has for many years been my opinion that those reasons, whatever they were, have ceased, and that much good, instead of mischief, may on various occasions arise from such a connexion among persons of the same Family and Name. If this sentiment should be illustrated by the adoption of any such measure as the accompanying paper suggests, I shall have reason to be still more fortified in that opinion. I have not, however, thought it right to give His Royal Highness any advice on the subject without having some ground to judge how far there was a likelihood of its being carried into existence. The most obvious method of doing so is by addressing myself to your Grace and to other persons suggested as the proper cements [sic] of the different classes of Families referred to.

If the plan takes place it does not occur to me there can be any reason of distinguishing such a levy as this from other Fencible corps in respect of establishment and pay.

The Plan was to raise 16,000 men for internal defence by embodying the Highland Clans to be employed in Great Britain or Ireland in case of actual invasion or civil commotion or the imminent danger of both or either. Each clan was to be formed into distinct corps not exceeding 600, nor less than 200 private men in each.

There were to be nine separate brigades, utilising the clans in the following proportions: —

The 5th or Grampian Brigade, 1,900 strong, with the Duke of Gordon as brigadier, was to be constituted thus : —

The Plan was accompanied by some explanatory “ remarks ” disclosing the theory underlying it: —

The total of officers and men in the nine brigades and 40 battalions was to be :—

The Plan now proposed for embodying the Highland Clans is formed upon the principles which seem calculated to obtain the unanimous approbation of all ranks of people in the Highlands and to make it a popular measure.

The Highlanders have been, and still are, warmly attached to their Chiefs and ancient customs, particularly in regard to the ranking and marshalling of the Clans. The present arrangement completely embraces these views, as each Clan forms a distinct Battalion, commanded by their natural Chief or Leader, more or less in a number according to the strength of the Clan, whilst the dignity of the great Chiefs and proprietors is equally supported by placing each at the head of a Brigade.

Considerable attention is also paid in forming each Brigade of Clans which are naturally attached from local situation or otherwise co one another, as well as to their Brigadier.

From the ordinary avocations of the Highlanders in general it is obvious that no equal number of men in any one district in the Kingdom can be employed with so little injury to agriculture and manufactures. At this moment they may be justly considered the only considerable body of men in the whole kingdom who are as yet absolutely strangers to the levelling principles of the present age, and therefore they may be safely trusted indiscriminately with the knowledge and use of arms.

They admire the warlike exploits of their ancestors to a degree of enthusiasm ; and, proud to see the ancient order of things restored, they will turn out with promptitude and alacrity.

As all the Clans have a number of men in the present Fencible Regiments, each Chief will be allowed to complete his serjeants and corporals from among his kinsmen in those corps for the purpose of drilling his battalion expeditiously; and, moreover, that each regiment may be furnished with some officers of knowledge and experience, the Chiefs will be permitted to take a certain proportion of their Officers from the Line, or the half pay list. This will be attended with no difficulty, as there is no Clan which has not a number of gentlemen in the Army; and in order to induce officers of the Line to enter into the Clan levy, it will be a subject for consideration whether one step of promotion may not be given to them. It will, likewise, be subject for future consideration what the rank of the field officers commanding corps shall be, and what the proportion of staff officers shall be to each corps.

When the Duke received the scheme, he immediately transmitted it to the chiefs of whom he was, as it were, the superman, and he did so in a thoroughly tentative spirit, for the time had long gone past when he could ride roughshod over them as his ancestor, the first duke, had done. The replies of the heads of the great Highland families on his estates—namely, the Macphersons, the Mackintoshes, the Macdonnells, and the Camerons—must have soon convinced him that the scheme would not work. These documents are remarkably interesting. Macdonnell, dating from Glengarry House, March 7, was cautious:—

Having seen only parts of the Plan, [I] must defer remarks for the present, as I purpose doing myself the honour of waiting on your Grace in about twelve or fourteen days hence at furthest.

Macpherson, dating from Cluny, March 6, was sceptical: —

Your Grace must be very sensible that this country has already been much drained by different levies—so much so that, if the number now proposed were taken out of it, there would be a great danger of a totall stop being made to the operations of husbandry; and, tho’ I have not the smallest doubt of the loyalty of the inhabitants, I have my fears that they would not readily agree to leave their homes in the manner proposed. But if the Plan of enrolling into volunteer companys be thought a good measure, I have no doubt (should there be no interference) that six companies of 50 men each would readily turn out in this country; by which is meant the Lordship of Badenoch, from Lochaber to Strathspey, these companys to be supplied with light arms, accoutrements, and clothing by Government, to be drilled, separately, two days in the week as near their own homes as possible, being paid for these days, and not to be called from hence on any account except in case of invasion, and that we confine our service to the coast ’twixt Inverness and Aberdeen; and that such services are not to be expected or demanded but during an invasion or civil commotion within that district.

These, my lord, are my ideas on the subject, and I take them from my knowledge of the state of the country and the sentiments of the people. But should your Grace think of a better plan, or one more conciliating to the minds of the people, I shall readily and chearfully concur with you, as far as I can, in any way your Grace may think most effectual for thwarting the views of our inveterate enemy against our Gracious Sovereign, our Country and happy constitution.

The [Volunteer] Company, tho’ drilled separately for the convenience of the inhabitants, will march and act in a body, should there be occasion for it.

Æneas Mackintosh, writing on March 16 from London, whither he had taken his wife for the benefit of her health, was also dubious.

I feel myself at this distance—without any communication with the other Gentlemen, heads of families—incapable of giving a decided opinion. Although I have every inclination to give effect to any Plan that may be suggested . . . yet, upon the first idea being suggested, it appears to me that from the great drain the country has already sustained, it will be almost impossible to raise the body of men proposed, if they are liable to be sent to England, but especially to Ireland. And, I conceive, I need not remind your Grace how little influence the chieftains retain at this day in comparison of what it was half a century ago. Whatever arrangement it may ultimately be decided to carry into effect for the real internal defence of Scotland, your Grace may rely its having my best wishes, and any personal aid in my power shall not be wanting.

A very different tone was adopted by Cameron of Lochiel, who wrote a significantly rude letter from Glasgow, by return of post, March 6: —

[I] am clearly of opinion that every exertion in the present time must be used by those who have power and interest in the Highlands; and, as far as relates to myself, I am ready to come forward not only on account of the situation of my country, but the great satisfaction I shall feel at leaving your Grace’s regiment [the Northern Fencibles], which I am perfectly dissatisfied [with], and am not the only one; I am convinced if all the circumstances were known to you, you would not be surprised.

In reply to your Grace’s question whether the men would go to Ireland, I don’t know what they would do, They have already been asked by Lieutenant-Colonel Woodford [the Duke’s brother-in-law who commanded the Fencibles] and refused him. Nothing, my Lord Duke, would have induced me to be in this corps but the idea of affording my neighbour, the Duke of Gordon, every assistance in my power, which, I hope, will always be the case. Therefore, should it so happen that

I am called on by your Grace to come forward according to the Plan proposed, I shall expect that same friendly assistance from you by which each of us ought at all times to be governed.

Whatever the Duke may have thought, his uncle, Lord Adam Gordon, then Commander of the Forces in Scotland, had summed up the Celt in his own mind, for he wrote, August 5, 1795, giving as one of his reasons for opposing the proposal to commute in part the loaf of wheaten flour to oatmeal “ the suspicious nature of the Highlanders ” and their jealousy.

Perhaps it was to this Grampian Brigade proposal that, according to a letter from Lord Fife to his Deputies, November 9, 1803, the Lord Lieutenancy of Banffshire had proposed in March, 1797 (.H.O. 50: 59), to fix alarm signals along the coast to announce the approach of an enemy by erecting flagstaffs at Trouphead, Melrose Head, the Hill of Redhyth, Logiehead and Portknockie Head. The alarm signal for calling out the people in the more inland parts of the county was to be by the ringing of the church bells, “ which were directed to be rung at funerals and on other occasions in knells only; but when used as a signal to be rung in loud peals.” But this idea, like the Brigade itself, melted away, for, the alarm “ having subsided, the only signal post that was ever erected in consequence of the resolutions was one on Trouphead, put up by Mr. Garden of Troup,” who about the same time built a fort at his own expense {H.O. 50 : 94).

Although the raising of the Gordons showed that the personal equation was still a factor in territorial soldiering, the reception of the Grampian Brigade scheme proved that the wholesale raising of Highland regiments was played out. Indeed, for that matter, the system of I entrusting the organisation of troops to private individuals was coming to an end—only two Highland regiments were raised after this date— and the task was transferred to the local authorities, equipped with the compulsive machinery of the ballot. It was not merely that the financial resources of individuals were becoming unequal to the strain, but the need for men was increasing at an enormous rate and no one could see the end of it. So the State, which had been so chary of entrusting the task of raising troops to Corporations in Scotland, was at last driven , to that expedient.

The Militia.

So great had the strain become that in February, 1797, the Bank of England was compelled to suspend cash payments. In the same month, a French fleet bore down on Wales, and in May a mutiny broke out in the Navy at the Nore. True, Jervis had defeated the Spaniards at Cape St. Vincent, February 14, and in October, Duncan was to defeat the Dutch at Camperdown; but the year opened in panic, and part, of that panic resulted in the extension on July 19, 1797, of the Militia Act (37 Geo. III. cap. 103) to Scotland.

The measure involved the most serious aspect that soldiering had yet presented, with the exception of the Comprehending Act of 1778. It approximated the conditions of Territorial soldiering as we know it to-day in point of the administrative body,, the Lords Lieutenant, entrusted with raising it, though by introducing the ballot—which differentiated the Militia from the Fencibles—it relied on a new machinery.

Mr. Fortescue says that in Scotland the Militia had been unknown until 1797; but this is not quite correct. There had been a sort of a Militia since September 23, 1663—Mr. Andrew Ross traces its tangled history minutely in the Military History of Perthshire (i., 104-124)—when a force of 20,000 Foot and 2,000 Horse was raised. In October, 1678, it was reduced to one fourth; but even at that, a “Method of turning the Militia of Scotland into a Standing Army,” was advocated in a pamphlet of 1680 (in the British Museum). The measure of 1797 differed considerably from this early Militia, though, curiously enough, it authorised the raising of a force only a little larger than the 1678 Militia.

England had been equipped with a Militia in 1757 by an Act, which provided for passing the entire manhood of the nation through the force by ballot in terms of three years, though it was not strictly enforced and lost much of its value. Attempts to extend the measure to Scotland were made in 1760, 1776, 1782 (when the Marquis of Graham’s bill was thrown out), and 1793 ; but they all failed—at first because the spectre of Jacobitism had not been exorcised from the English mind, and later on for other reasons. So forty years were allowed to elapse before the system was actually extended to Scotland, under the intense pressure of the country’s difficulties in the field.

The Act (consisting of 56 sections) fixed the quota of Militia to be supplied by Scotland at 6,000 men, and its administration was entrusted to the Lords Lieutenant Mr. Ross summarises its conditions neatly: — *

In every parish a return was made of all men between the ages of 19 and 23 inclusive, and after omitting therefrom all who could plead exemption, viz., those serving in the Volunteers and Yeomanry, all professors, clergymen, schoolmasters, constables, indentured clerks, apprentices, seamen and men with more than two legitimate children, a ballot for the required quota was taken. When a sufficient number of men volunteered no ballot was necessary. Substitutes were allowed. [Mr. Fortescue points out that “these substitutes were precisely the men who, but for the heavy bounty which they could gain from serving comfortably at home, would gladly have enlisted in the Army.”] The men were enlisted to serve within Scotland during the war and for one calendar month after the proclamation of peace. The field officers were nominated by the Crown, the other officers by the Lords Lieutenant, and all were to have a certain property qualification [so that the force was practically in the hands of the landed gentry].

These land qualifications, which proved a stumbling block, provided that a Colonel or Lieutenant-Colonel should be possessed or be heir apparent to a person possessed of a landed estate of £400 Scots value rent in Scotland. A Major or Captain had to have a similar qualification to the extent of £300 a year, and a Lieutenant or Ensign one of £100 a year. It was provided that, if a sufficient muster of persons could not be found to accept commissions as Lieutenants and Ensigns, officers in the Army or those who had held commissions in the Regular, Fencible, or Volunteer forces could be appointed. Peers or their heirs apparent having places of residence in the county might act without being qualified, and'the acceptance did not involve vacating a seat in Parliament.

From the very first the Act proved unpopular. Mr. Ross thinks this was due to the “ blundering fashion in which the measure was placed before the people ” ; but, as we shall see, it went deeper down than that. The first consequence was that it became necessary by a second Act to postpone the initiation of the force from August 1, 1797* to March 1, 1798, and to reduce the quota from 6000 to 5468. But that number was further reduced, for a return of 1797 (no month or day is stated) speaks of His Majesty “having determined to'call out at present only 3,000 men.” The apportionment from the various counties

In the south of Scotland the raising of the force actually led to riot. Dundas, who was then Secretary at War, was greatly disgusted with his countrymen, writing on August 27, 1797 (H.O. 50: 29):—

When I left Dalkeith, I had no idea the execution of the Militia Law could cause any disturbances in the county [Midlothian]. If I could have foreseen it, I should have remained upon my post. On Sunday the 20th [of August], I was informed that some persons had pulled down the list [of ballotable men] from the church door in the parish of Canonby, and that the parish registers were to be burned next day [because they contained the material necessary for the collection of men]. Immediately on Monday, I got together about thirty of the heads of families in the schoolhouse to endeavour, if possible, to prevent any further violence. I was soon informed that about 200 young men had, on the night of Sunday, or early in the morning of Monday, taken by force the books from the schoolmaster’s house. The mob have been most outrageous, insulted the Deputy Lieutenants, driven them from the meeting, exacting oaths and promises that they will not proceed further in the business.

Dumfries, Clackmannan, and Orkney being omitted as no returns had been received (H.O. 50: 29):—

The attack on dominies is also referred to by the Duke of Roxburghe who, writing on September 1, 1797, says that many individuals were “ frightened at the idea of being militiamen,” and he adds—“ The schoolmasters are intimidated, and I am afraid that we shall not procure new lists without making examples of some of them ” (H.O. 50: 29).

David Hay, a Deputy Lieutenant for Dumfries, wrote on September i to the Duke of Queensberry—“old Q,” the “degenerate Douglas” of Wordsworth’s sonnet—that the opposition to the Act was “ general in Scotland, and nowhere more so than in this part of the country ” (H.O. 50: 29):—

There is not one of your Grace’s Deputies who has not been threatened with Distruction, as Sir William Maxwell [of Springkell?], Colonel Dirom, and Mr Grahame of Moss Knowe, Deputies, had a meeting the other day in their district, and were most grossly insulted by a enraged mob, and before they were allowed to depart were forced to sign an obligation on Stamped Paper, that they would never interfere in the business again.

On the same day, Dundas wrote that the counties of Fife and Lanark had followed the example of those in the south.

Lord Adam Gordon, Commanding the Forces in Scotland, took the Regular soldier’s point of view, for he wrote from Edinburgh to Dundas on September 1, 1797 (H.O. 50: 29):—

There surely must be, as you say, incendiaries, and of the worst description, behind the curtain and at the bottom of this bad business. Otherways, so much system and sameness could never appear in so many different and distant places at once, or nearly at once. But there can be but one opinion—viz., that, at all hazards, and cost what it may, this opposition to the law of the land must be subdued, and full obedience to the civil magistrate enforced; else there is an end of government.

On the previous day he had written to Lieutenant-General Musgrave, Commanding the North-Eastern District (H.O. 50: 29):—

Since I wrote you last by Saturday’s post, the situation of things here [Edinburgh] has become so much more critical as to make it ‘ absolutely my duty to request that without delay, you would send into Scotland by Berwick, Coldstream, Kelso, and Carlisle a reinforcement of 3,000 men of which the more cavalry the better.

P.S.—English Fencibles would suit us better than Scotch ones at this time.

A very different attitude was adopted by George Haldane of Glen-eagles. His letter is peculiarly interesting because, though his name was really Cockburn (of the Ormiston family), his mother, Margaret Haldane, was the great grand-aunt of Lord Haldane, who has grasped the Territorial principle more completely than any of our War Ministers. Writing to Dundas on September 8, 1797, he said (H.O. 50: 29):—

The state of the country is at present such that I feel a strong inclination to trouble you with some intelligence with regard to it, which I think you should be acquainted with.

The new Militia Act has been among them [the people] for a fortnight past, and endeavours used to get it executed, but without effect, as it has occasioned much commotion and even outrage, from the oposition it has met with from the People—1st, Because not understood : (there is a defect in promulgating our lawes which you would do well to bring in a bill to remove); 2nd, The People, being grown more opulent and at their ease, now expect to be treated with more attention; to be in some measure advised with, and not totally neglected, as if only born to pay Taxes; so far has the Democratical spirit prevailed generally! 3rd, Evil designing people spread amongst them, laid hold of and inflamed their prejudices, perswading them that they were all to be made Soldiers (the very name of which they hate), and sent abroad with other troops ; and that Government would not keep faith with them, tho’ they should promise it; and point out to them instances of the Fencibles and other corps who have been sent out of the country contrary to their engagement at enlisting. If there is any truth in this it should be carefully guarded against, as it does much ill.

Another thing which has been laid hold of to irritate them much and has done a deal of mischief was that they had on the first mention of an invasion, they had [repeated thus] in many parts of the country zealously and voluntarily made repeated offers to come forth as Volunteers whenever called upon; but that their offers to enter such had been slighted or rejected. Besides, they were told that they behoved to serve without any pay on the days of training, and all other occasions, excepting on actual service or on invasion, which they complained of as a great hardship, as they also thought it was not to be allowed to serve under such officers of their own country as they chose, a thing they prize much. They also complained much that they could be ordered away from their own homes, perhaps in harvest time, or to the total neglect of their own affairs, to any the most distant part of the country without pay or reward; and even their sons taken away from them, who are necessary to them for carrying on their farms, and no bounty to be given to them, which the Army always has. They had many other objections ariseing from Ignorance, Stupidity, and Obstinacy, which I will not trouble you with, but which I, as well as others, took much pains to rebuke; and, at last, by explaining things to them made some impression on them. As I knew their dispositions to be at bottom good and that the bulk of them were loyal and ready to serve their country, and especially against a foreign enemy, I wrote and dispersed among them two printed papers explaining the Act and answering their objections, and also caus’d print another paper sent me by the Duke of Montrose which he had published in Stirlingshire for the same purpose. And I am confident I could, if necessary, carry out with me 200 good men from this parish, and at least as many from the adjoining parishes where my property lies.

At the same time, I am not sure that all their objections are removed, for in sum of the neighbouring parishes where the strong hand has been too hastily, as too far, tryed it has had bad effects, as has happened to our friend Sir William Murray, who has been very ill-used in his parish of Foulis by carrying there with him a troop of Dragoons to get the lists made up and posted on the church door. This being done on a Sunday and by the military so exasperated the mob that they fell upon him when he had seized one of them, and trampled him down till he was relieved by the soldiers who cut some of them down with their swords, and thus made the thing worse, as there is nothing now heard of thro’ the country but breach of the Sabbath day and being cut to pieces by the soldiers; whereas I am certain that nothing will do with them but gentle and soft measures and soothing, rather than offending, them; at least it must be first tryed. And I do conjure you to attend to this, least a spirit which might be led should be drove into madness and fury and occasion much mischief, for these wild people have an unconquerable spirit, and will never be quelled by dragoons. I think it right to presume to give the caution to you, whose opinion is likely to be followed. Remember Pentland and Bothwell Bridge, and keep your Dragoons to yourself. You may have need for them. As one of the Deputy Lieutenants, I thought it proper for me to write to the Lord Lieutenant to the above purpose, and proposed to his grace to bring another method, viz., to try rather the Clause in the Act, p. 27 [section] 29, which allows volunteers to be accepted of, instead of the quota of militia men to be imposed under the Act. The first with a moderate bounty will be more easily raised than the Act inforced by Dragoons, and will answer the purpose as well or better, and keep all quiet. This will not be giving up the Act, which I was always keen for, but only taking an easier method, and a little more time, during which the Volunteers might be learning the use of arms to make them really useful : for which purpose half pay officers and drill sergeants may be sent down, and this would help soon to reconcile the people and introduce the Act among them by degrees; the only way in which it ever will be done—by gentle usage and the just confidence they have in the Government.

The Duke of Hamilton, adopting the persuasive method, took up another point of view, namely that Scotland had been insulted by not being allowed to have a Militia force of its own. He issued a printed broadside dated September 4, 1797 (preserved at the Record Office— H.O. 50: 29), in which he pointed out that the pay, is a day, was better than that of most day labourers and of “ many kinds of tradesmen.” He proceeds:—

It is notorious that many persons, who are strongly against every measure of Government whatever, have gone from County to County with the avowed intention of inflaming the minds of the people upon this occasion; and there is every reason to think that it is owing to the instigation and misrepresentation of such persons that so much clamour has been raised against a measure so natural and so necessary, and which only puts Scotland upon a footing with England, which has long enjoyed the Constitutional Defence arising from a Militia, and thus taken away a distinction which has long been reckoned odious and dishonourable to Scotland. Had Government refused to grant Scotland a Militia and to trust us with arms for our own defence, then, indeed, there might have been cause of discontent.

It would surely, therefore, be a stain upon Scotchmen should they refuse to step forward to defend Scotland within Scotland after matters have been cleared up and explained. Let all men consider how happily they live under the protection of the Laws of their Country . . . but let them also consider that if, by tumultuous meetings and acts of violence they break those laws, they thus forfeit their protection and become liable to punishment to the great loss of themselves and their families.

Whether there were any similar difficulties in Aberdeenshire, I am unable to say, for no documents at the Record Office bear on the point, but I think it quite likely, all the more as the county had been such a prey to unscrupulous recruiters in the preceding years.

The total cost of the Scots Militia for the year 1798 ran up to £175,492, as follows (W.0. 24: 604):—

In spite of the Peace of Amiens the difficulties of the country did not diminish : still more troops were required: so on June 26, 1802, a new Act (42 Geo. III. cap. 91) was passed increasing the Scots Militia to 7,950 men and the ten original battalions to fifteen, the counties being redistributed as follows, the figures in the right-hand column indicating the number of the new battalion:—

The new measure proved quite as unpopular as its predecessor, and far more so than in England. Summarising the Scots counties in the bulky volumes of correspondence on the subject at the Record Office (“ Home Office Papers : Internal Defence ”), Mr Fortescue gives a succinct account of the dislike created by the measure (County Lieutenancies, 48) :—

From almost every county in Scotland, even before the war broke out, came the same tale of difficulty in obtaining not only men but officers, and of perfunctory conduct, or worse, on the part of the Deputy-Lieutenants. In Aberdeen ballotted men invariably paid the fine for exemption, and no gentleman would accept even a captain’s commission when offered to him. In Banff, again, only one duly qualified gentleman could be persuaded to become a captain. In Haddington there was the like dearth of officers, and in Peebles the like unwillingness of the men. In Bute there were only five men in the Militia who had not been drawn from other counties, and not one single ballotted man had been enrolled. From Ross came the report that the Highlanders would have nothing to do with the Militia; that the most mountainous district had not produced a man; that the Militia laws were ill understood by magistrates and Deputy Lieutenants and that, being an innovation, they were detested by the Highlanders as an intolerable grievance. In Stirling the Lieutenancy had done its work so ill that in several cases the same man had been enrolled and had received bounty from several sub-divisions. In Selkirk the Lord Lieutenant despaired of providing his quota of twelve men for the Supplementary Militia, though he could count upon payment of the fines. Forfar could show but one principal to every six substitutes, and to every five men that paid the fine for exemption. From Kirkcudbright the Lord Lieutenant reported that almost the whole of the Militia would be substitutes and that the insurance societies [which insured men for the price of the exemption fine] had been largely patronised in the towns. In Perth it was a case of few enrolments and many fines. In fact, the service was not only unpopular but suspected; for it was bound up with an oath and a red coat, and it was hard to make the cautious Scot believe that this combination did not signify compulsory military service for life.

The difficulty experienced in handling the Militia at its start was experienced throughout the whole course of its earlier career. Its administration, indeed, was one long muddle. A few points may be noted. In 1807, when an Act was passed to permit enlistment into the Line, Scotland sent only 3,890 out of the 4,160 men qualified to enlist, the deficiency from Aberdeen being 12. In 1810 “the general hatred of the Militia in Scotland,” to use Mr. Fortescue’s phrase, came out when the Government permitted the deficiency caused by enlistment into the Line to be filled for a period by Volunteering. In 1811 the price of substitutes had risen in Forfar to from £50 to £80. In 1813 many substitutes put forward a claim—Mr. Fortescue says it was engineered by “some pettifogging lawyers in various parts of Scotland”—to be discharged on the completion of ten years’ service, five for themselves and five for their principals, although the wording of the Act was adverse to any such claim. On January 1, 1813, a petition on these lines, signed (most illiterately) by 607 men of the Aberdeenshire Militia stationed at Glasgow, was sent to “Prince George of Wales,” an appeal to the Lord Lieutenant having failed (H.O. 50: 292); while 182 men of the Inverness-shire Militia, stationed at Hillsea, sent a similar petition. But the “men were easily persuaded of their folly,” and the agitation was stamped out. In view, then, of all those difficulties in its early history, and of the neglect into which the force was allowed to fall between Waterloo and the Crimea, it is remarkable that the Militia should be the only corps, besides the Gordon Highlanders, that has survived out of all the numerous regiments raised in the north-east of Scotland during the period under review.

The Volunteers.

Great as was the help arising from the organisation of a Militia force in Scotland, the supply of men did not equal the demand, and so the Government, in April, 1798, had recourse by Act of Parliament (38 Geo. III. cap. 27) to another type of troops of a less military character—the Volunteers. This force, as its name implies, was not raised under compulsory measures, which made the Militia as much disliked as the Regular Army, and therefore it was popular. But this very popularity was constantly militating against the existing forces, and in consequence Government had to go on tinkering with other types of troops to keep the Volunteers in check, until you get a mosaic of muddle in which it is very difficult to trace the pattern. I cannot do more here than indicate some of the main currents in the history of the Volunteers.

In the first place, it was not really a new force in 1798. What the Act of that year did was to put the Volunteers and the Armed Association so closely connected with them more in touch with the existing military machine, creaking as it was; to make them more available for the State, the Act describing itself “ as applying in the most expeditious manner and with the greatest effect the voluntary services of the King’s loyal subjects for the defence of the Kingdom.”

It is necessary to go back a little and see what were the voluntary services available. This is not easy to do, for the beginnings of the Volunteers are exceedingly obscure, so that Mr. Fortescue washes his hands of any attempt to describe the force between 1794 and 1801 : the documents “are so scanty and imperfect that it is impossible to speak of them except in general terms.” Suffice to say that the Volunteers started in a characteristically makeshift manner, coming into existence from the common man’s desire to defend himself rather than from the resolution of the State to defend him. There had been “ Armed Associations ” in England as early as 1745; but the Volunteers proper had been born out of our disaster at Saratoga twenty years before the Act of 1798, and got their greatest fillip in Ireland—which, as we have seen with our own eyes, has a genius for raising Volunteers. Aberdeen, as we know, had also been moved by the Saratoga tragedy, and had been baulked by the Government in an offer of a regiment of the Line. A few weeks later (April 30, 1778), the Town Council resolved to arm suitable citizens with the weapons that had been forwarded by the Government for the defence of the town in 1759. The organisation so created was called the “Aberdeen Associates,” but the Government vetoed the movement and demanded that the arms should be given up, and so the Associates declined (August 26) to “embark again on an undertaking on which so harsh a negative was formerly put.” The Government took up exactly the same attitude in regard to Ireland’s desire to arm, and when the Mayor of Belfast applied for troops to defend the town he was told that only half of a troop of dismounted horsemen and half a company of Invalids could be spared. But the Town Council of Belfast lacked that sense of obedience to authority which had made the Town Council of Bon-Accord acquiesce in the return of the Associates’ arms. “The people at once flew to arms, sudden enthusiasm, such as occurs two or three times in the history of a nation, seems to have passed through all classes”—how history repeats itself in Ireland—and “ all along the coast Associations for self-defence were formed under the direction of the leading gentry.” It is not part of my business to trace the history of the Irish Volunteers of this period. I mention the movement simply to show that volunteering was no new idea and that it disproves the claim made by the Hon. Archibald Fraser7 the youngest son of the notorious Lord Lovat, that the “Caledonian Band at Edinburgh,” of 1782, were the “first Volunteers in the Empire ” (H.O. 50: 209).

The next attempt to organise a Volunteer force took place in 1794, when, in addition to war abroad, there was trouble at home in the spread of republican doctrines from France. The dilemma induced several bodies of citizens to come forward with offers of service to the Government, the first to be enrolled being the Five Associated Companies of St. George’s, Hanover Square, London, in the Spring of 1794. Government, ever slow to move, took time, and in April an Act (34 Geo. III. cap. 31) was passed, limited to the duration of the war, authorising the raising of Volunteer corps.

The new force had two drawbacks from the tactical point of view. It was not only a unit, independent of and, owing to its recruiting conditions, antagonistic to the existing military forces of Regulars, Militia, and Fencibles, but it was a series of units, inside and independent of its own main unit, for the individual corps were run by local “Associations” and financed by private subscription.

The antagonism to the existing military forces arose, as I have said, from the fact of the exemption from service in the Militia of men producing a certificate that they had attended exercise punctually during six weeks previous to the hearing of appeals against the Militia list. Each parish had now the choice of raising its quota of defence by means of the Militia ballot, or by the formation of distinct companies of Volunteers, and the latter system very naturally won the day, as being much less exigent. This disassociation of the Volunteers from the Militia is for Mr. Fortescue “a great and disastrous blunder which has never (he was writing in 1906) been thoroughly repaired.”

The Volunteers were also units within this unit, for while the Act reserved to the King the manner in which Volunteers should in any case be employed in the event of being called out on active service, it made no attempt to limit or define the conditions of service under which a particular corps should be formed. No corps was subject to military discipline, nor was it entitled to pay unless and until called into actual service. Mr. Fortescue points out that “ the corps made their own conditions of service, were supported by private subscriptions, and were directed by committees of subscribers, who were not necessarily holders of commissions. These committees addressed the Secretary of State directly, and it was an open question whether they or the officers were the true commanders of the corps.” Small wonder that he is chary of attempting a history of the 1794 movement.

An attempt to codify the regulations relating to the movement and to co-ordinate its efforts was made in June, I794> by Archibald Fraser of Lovat, who circularised the magistrates of Scotland about “ A Permanent Loyal and Constitutional Defence.” He propounded the following propositions :—

(1). Such Force should consist of two kinds: one Moveable at his Majesty’s orders to any spot within Great Britain and to consist of a Volunteer Enrolment with levy money as a votive offering, according to the size, situation and state of each Shire, with great attention on the part of the Shire to the character of the individuals enrolled.

(2). The other Defensive Force to be Local, and confined to each Shire or its near neighbourhood, at the call of the Lord Lieutenant and his Deputies, for the purposes of procuring and maintaining good order and obedience to the Laws; the individuals to be enrolled from a selection of Freeholders and Feuars of Land and their relations and relatives resident upon the lands of others, who, having acquired fortunes by their industry and abilities, although they have not land, have property to lose; and lastly, thriving Tenants, specially recommended, in writing, to the Shire, by Freeholders and Feuars of Land, or acting for such, as representing them in their absence.

(3). This Local Defence to be enrolled without levy money, and, when required, to act on horseback, to find their own horse, having all cattle to carry them to kirk and market.

(4). To be subject to a scrutiny of character and test oaths, and, when called together, to be subject to Military Laws, and, of course, intitled to these liberal encouragements already secured by Act of Parliament, 17th April, 1794, Chap. 24.

(5). Local enrolment within Boroughs for the like laudable purposes to consist of substantial Burghers and inhabitants known to the Magistrates and by them recommended in writing.

(6). That if an Uniform, for the sake of good appearance and oeconomy, is adopted, it should be of the plainest kind, such as plain blue with a red cape and cuff; and each Shire or Stewartry to be distinguished only by the name of the Shire on their buttons.

(7). That the Discipline and weapons of Defence be adapted to the natural and local situation of each Shire, with due attention to the maritime interests, where there is sea coast, islands, creeks or harbours.

(8). The mode of Assembly may be, in hilly counties, by Smoke by day and Fire by night from eminent places; and in thick weather by the Bugle Horn or by written orders only of the Lord Lieutenant and his Deputies.

(9). This mode of Internal Local Defence interferes not with recruiting or military service, but may greatly aid it, as it embraces all persons of property, having fixed residences and good characters, and includes Land Proprietors, Commissioners of Supply, Justices of the Peace, and Half-pay Officers.

Fraser’s proposal came to nothing; and Scotland simply followed the helter skelter arrangements of England, “Volunteer Associations” organising corps by private subscription. Aberdeen came forward in 1794 with one Battery Company and one Infantry Battalion; Peterhead followed with a corps in 1795, and Fraserburgh in 1797. But in the absence of War Office data it is impossible to present anything like a complete account of the force in Aberdeen. A statement in the Aberdeen Journal of April 11, 1797, gives a glimpse of the activity of the district:

The farmers on the Earl of Aberdeen’s estates in the County of Aberdeen have come forward with great alacrity and made a voluntary offer of their services in the event of invasion, expressive of their regard and attachment to the King and Constitution, and their resolution to exert their utmost efforts for the defence of the country. Fifteen hundred and seventy-two of them have already enrolled and agreed to serve without pay under his Lordship or the Deputy Lieutenants of the district where they reside, and in the meantime to be trained in the use of arms. They have also engaged to furnish their horses, carts, and servants for conveying, without expense to Government, troops and military stores through the county. In his Lordship’s estates 1,200 carts and 2,400 horses can be procured for this purpose; and the white fishers and seafaring people in the sea towns of Auchmedden, Cairnbulg, and Boddam belonging to the Earl, amounting to 93, have also enrolled and offered their services either by sea or land as may be judged most effectual for the defence of the Country.

But more than enthusiasm was necessary. The increasing stringency of the situation abroad and the unrest in Ireland compelled a greater co-ordination of effort, or, as Dundas put it, “a general direction to the zeal of the country.” This was attempted, as I have noted, by the passing (in April, 1798) of an Act (38 Geo. III. cap. 27) “ for applying in the most expeditious manner and with the greatest effect the voluntary services of the King’s loyal subjects for the defence of the Kingdom.” It is very difficult to summarise the history of the conversion8; for we not only have very few documents to go upon, but those that exist show that the Government had not made up its mind what it wanted, and consequently chopped and changed. It may, however, be broadly claimed that the Act of 1798 made an effort to unify the various Volunteer companies and Armed Associations and to arrange them on a more tactical basis, the parish and county giving place to the idea of a “military district.” In certain respects the Volunteers and the Armed Associations were antagonistic in conception, and the Government instituted a difference between them in consequence, by granting pay and exemption from the Militia ballot only to the Volunteers. On the other hand, it cut down the pay and the clothing allowance of the Volunteers who were formed after the passing of the Act. Ultimately the majority of the local corps conformed to the conditions prescribed by the War Office, and a force of from 1,400 to 1,450 companies of Volunteers was formed in Great Britain, with about 75 in Ireland, with 78 district corps formed by Voluntary Associations for Defence, but Mr. Fortescue, who finds it difficult to speak with certainty (History of the Army, iv., 894), thinks it “extremely doubtful whether all the Volunteers could have put above 60,000 into the field.”

The 1798 force was dissolved with the thanks of Parliament (April 6) on the conclusion of the Peace of Amiens (March 25, 1802); yet so undecided was Government and so distrustful of the continuance of the Peace, that we find Lord Hobart writing (April 26) to Lord Pembroke about the advisability of encouraging the continuance of the Volunteers. On May 4, the Secretary at War, sought leave to bring in a bill “ to enable his Majesty to accept of the offers of service ” of the Volunteers—thereby creating a precedent for maintaining a Volunteer force in time of peace; while on June 22, 1802, an Act (42 Geo. III. cap. 66) was passed to this end. The measure, which granted exemption from the hated Militia ballot, proved an immediate success, the Aberdeenshire companies rising from 33 to 53. On March 31, 1803, the Government invited offers from additional Volunteers9 and outlined the plan on which it intended to act, adding that “it must be considered with reference to a permanent system rather than to a situation of emergency”; previously the force had been raised to last the length of the war. These additional men brought up the force by December, 1803, to 450,000—“ unregulated, undisciplined, unorganised, but irrepressible ”: with the result that the price of substitutes for the Militia rose to as high as £100. Two Aberdeenshire cases illustrating the point may be cited. On July 22, 1803, the Duke of Gordon wrote to the Secretary of State {H.O. 50: 57):—

The whole Militia Force, including the Supplementary Militia number appointed to this county have been duly ballotted for, although the effective strength of the regiment is yet by no means complete, from the circumstance of a very great proportion of the persons drawn having paid the penalties incurred by the Act. The most strenuous exertions will, however, be used to procure men from the amount of these penalties.

Again on February 8, 1808, Andrew Affleck, of the Loyal Aberdeen Volunteers, wrote to Colonel Finlason that two drummers, Alexander Morice and George Pirie, had asked for their discharge so that they might enter as Substitutes into the Militia, for which they were to receive £40. They were willing to pay £20 each for their discharge.

In the face of all this sort of thing, many expedients were invented, one of these being the creation of an “Army of Reserve.” It proposed (43 Geo. III. cap. 83) to raise men under the Militia Ballot, applying that measure to catch those who had not joined the Volunteers before the passing of the Act (July 6, 1803). The force so raised differed from the Militia in that the men were drafted into second battalions of the Regulars.! In 1804, the measure was drastically transformed into the Permanent Additional Force Act, which apportioned 10,666 men to be raised in Scotland. It dispensed with the ballot: gave a bounty of £12 12s. to each Reservist and £10 10s. more on his joining the Regulars, which made it much more advantageous for him to do so through the Reserve than directly, as the Regular recruit got only £16 16s. It shifted the expense of bounty from the parochial funds to the Imperial Treasury, and turned parish officers into recruiters, the parishes having to pay £20 for every man deficient after a certain date. Both measures failed. The parish officers, making up their minds that the Government wanted only the fines, christened the second measure “ The Twenty Pound Act.” The Lords Lieutenant hated the Army of‘ Reserve, because it created friction with the military authorities.

The attitude of the North was exactly the same as it was all over the country. Thus, the Lord Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire wrote to the Secretary of State, September 16, 1805 (H.O. 50: 125):—

Notwithstanding the exertions made by the heritors and their agents in compliance with the Order in Council, no men have been procured in any of the parishes for making up the numbers they were required to furnish.

Banffshire was even bolder, for Lord Fife, circularising his Deputies, October 17, 1805, showed clearly why no men could be got (H.O. 50 : *125) :—

1st—The smallness of the Bounty; it being hardly to be expected that men who recently before the passing of the Additional Force Act had been offered £40 and £45 and even more as substitutes in the [Army of] Reserve, would (at any rate for some time) accept of a Bounty of twelve guineas.

2nd—Because even this Bounty of twelve guineas is not payable at once at the time of enlistment, but at different periods and partly in necessaries—which recruits are not fond of. .

3rd, and principally—The impossibility of getting parish officers and other fit persons to embark in this business, or to undertake recruiting on any terms.

4th—The want of recruiting officers and parties in the county to assist in procuring men, and the want of a receiving officer to pass and take charge of the men when procured.

5th—The restriction contained in the 22nd section of the Act, which only allows men to be raised within certain confined limits.

I am in hopes, from the representations which have partly been made by other Counties as well as by this, that measures will be adopted by Government for removing, or at any rate in part obviating, the obstacles which have hitherto retarded the levy. But, whether this shall be the case or not, it becomes an object of the very utmost importance—as well on account of the public service, as to avoid the penalties which must continue to be periodically assessed [£20 for every man deficient]—that every possible exertion should be used to procure men. In the letter written to the Subdivision Clerks to be laid before you, the necessity of this has been strongly pointed out, and I take the liberty of again earnestly and particularly pressing it on your attention.

Independent of the anxiety, which I am satisfied we all feel, to give effect to every measure of Government in the present arduous struggle, it is the obvious interest of every individual to use his best endeavours to promote the object in view to the utmost of his power, because one half of the assessment of penalties affects all tenants of lands and occupiers of houses, and will continue to do so, while any deficiency exists either in the Militia Quota, or in that of the Additional Force for the County of Banff. I therefore persuade myself that you will meet with the zealous co-operation of all ranks of the community in a matter in which all are so fraternally concerned.

Fife’s earnest desires were of no avail, for he wrote to Lord Hawkesbury, the Home Secretary, November 22, 1805 (H.O. 50, 125):— “ Great exertions have been made [for the Permanent Additional Force] by the Lieutenancy and other Gentlemen of the County; but I am sorry to say that they have been able to procure no men. . . . The penalties are a very heavy burden on the County.” So the Reserve Army vanished into thin air six months later.

While the scramble for men was going on, the Navy appeared on the scene as a rival recruiter, and gave the local authorities much trouble. Thus on August 23, 1803, the naval lieutenant in charge of raising sailors wrote from Fraserburgh to the Provost of Banff (Banff Town Council Archives)-.—

It is with regret I learn that some of the fishermen have expressed themselves as determined not to appear before me for the purpose of being enrolled and furnishing one man out of six for the Navy, especially at a place call’d Buckey. If you will have the kindness, send to the Chief Magistrate or principal person in that town and inform him that he may acquaint the fishermen that, unless they come before me in a peaceable, orderly manner and be registered as all the other fishermen have been, I will order a cutter to cruise off Buckey and send three Press Gangs into that Town, and to remain there until every fisherman in it is impressed. I will also offer a reward of twenty shillings to any of His Majesty’s troops who may apprehend any of them in the country. I would fain hope they will not bring upon themselves and their families so severe a chastisement.

The last important change in our efforts at soldier-raising was the introduction of the system of Local Militia (48 Geo. III. cap. 150, June 30, 1808), designed to replace the Volunteers. The men were selected by ballot; and no substitution or bounty to ballotted men was to be allowed, a move which is described by Mr. Fortescue as “perhaps the most notable point of the whole of our administrative military history.” Corps of Volunteer Infantry might transfer themselves bodily to the Local Militia. Mr. Fortescue says that, “ speaking generally,” the Volunteer corps seem to have been backward in transferring, but Aberdeenshire and Banffshire showed no such dislike, almost the entire Volunteer force going over to the Local Militia without difficulty, though trouble broke out in the Garioch. Within a year Scotland produced 66 regiments with 45,721 men.

In 1809 the germ of the Territorial system, as we know it, was suggested by the Adjutant-General, Sir Harry Calvert, who proposed to make the Local Militia part of the Line regiment belonging to its county; but Castlereagh did not adopt the idea.

The administration of the Local Militia was as tortuous as that of its immediate predecessors, and the competition between the various types of troops was extremely demoralising. One of the most vivid pictures of the state of affairs is afforded by an Aberdeen writer, John Milne (1791-1865), the Aberdeen letter carrier who wrote The Widow and Tier Son, or the Runaway (Aberdeen, 1851). In the autobiographical introduction, speaking of the clamour for men in the period immediately following the end of the Peace of Amiens (1803-9), Milne, who enlisted in the Artillery in 1813, says (pp. 38-41):—

Scarcely a male from 18 to 55 could escape from being enrolled as belonging to some corps, and liable to be called out on an hour’s warning, in defence of his king and country. To remain entirely a civilian, tradesmen could not, without a pecuniary sacrifice, frequently to a great extent. To obviate the risk of the Militia ballot, members of insurance clubs were often obliged to lodge money to the amount of £10 yearly. If, however, anyone was enrolled as a Volunteer in a corps belonging to the county town, it proved his “ground of exemption ” from the ballot. . . ,

The strength of the Regular Militia regiments was kept up, in general, by being supplied out of the Locals with substitutes for those ballotted for the Regulars. The bounties—or rather the value of a substitute—rose from £30 to £60, £70 and in some cases to the extent of £100. Men, young or old, at that period were of value. The Government contracts made trade brisk; the demand for*clothes and shoes for the Military, with canvas and other stores for the Navy, could scarcely meet a supply. I have known weavers then earn from thirty to forty shillings a week ; no other tradesmen could make above two-thirds, unless calico printers, but they, too, soon experienced an overwhelming reverse. Farm-servants’ wages rose to £10 for six months. But neither farmers, master tradesmen, nor employers of any description could depend upon the services of the men employed a week upon end. Whenever a young man differed from his master, or had any dispute with his mother, his wife or sweetheart, off he went to the depot for substitutes, passed the doctor, and went through the formula of swearing in, and then laid his hands on £60 or £70, or, in proportion, more or less, with the urgency of the conscriptions.

The large amount of capital thus circulated may be said, negatively, to have done good and evil. It was a heavy burden on the country, which many felt; while it had a tendency to demoralise the recipients, by coming into the possession of so much money, so easily acquired at the time. They no doubt gave it circulation again. Many articles were purchased which continued necessary for the family use for several years; for, by the original Militia Act, men with large families were not excluded from serving as substitutes. Indeed, at that time, the wives and so many children of those serving, whether substitutes or principals, were entitled to what was called county money, when residing at a distance from their husbands, and it was generally the case that, when an unmarried man took the bounty, he was not long in procuring a female partner to assist him in its disposal. There were some young men who, from prudent motives, deposited their money at interest, and derived benefit from it to themselves and their relations many years afterwards. But the worst feature in the disposal of this suddenly acquired wealth, was the reckless conduct of many others, who, upon the principle of “ light come light gone,” embraced the period allowed them previous to joining their regiments as a fitting time for revelling in all the grossest scenes of debauchery and dissipation.

The taprooms and low public houses derived for a number of years no small emolument from the free-and-easy manner in which the foolish young men parted with their money. Some landlords were agents for the Militia Clubs, both in town and country; and their commission on procuring a substitute would have amounted, in a case of emergency, to twenty or twenty-five per cent. Besides, it was a practice with some of the silly fools to keep an open table for all comers, by giving the landlord a one pound note to stick up on the wall; and, whenever Boniface was pleased to pronounce the amount spent, it was replaced by another. And it was an established fact at the time, that one individual was so reckless in endeavouring to get clear of the money given him in lieu of his freedom as to munch a leopard cat (Aberdeen bank note) along with the buttered toast and a Welsh rabbit.

This Militia mania continued from 1803 until 1813. .In 1809, I was compelled, on account of being liable to the ballot, to enter the Local Militia, of which there were two regiments for the city, commanded by Colonels Finlayson and Tower. These were embodied annually for twenty-eight days training; but, in case of invasion, were liable to be put in actual service, at fourteen days’ notice. There was generally at this period some other Regiment stationed in the Barracks. I have seen, on some occasions, upwards of three thousand Military occupying the city.10 Such a congregated mass of men, all under the oath of allegiance to the British Crown, seemed as if the war had been the only art or science worth studying, in order to secure the stability of the Empire. Such an extensive war establishment conveyed to many thousands of its conscripts the idea that they had likewise become privileged libertines. Swearing, drinking, and all kinds of debauchery, they considered the probationary course they had to study, before becoming brave soldiers. Even the annual enrollment of the Local Militia was considered as the commencement of a carnival in honour of Mars, Venus, and Bacchus; and the disembodiment of the Corps generally terminated in fighting and drinking, with a transfer of, perhaps, twenty or thirty to the Regulars.

Although I had in a great measure become acquainted with the low ribaldry, the loose slang, and hectoring bravadoes frequently made use of by young recruits, or soldiers-at-will, as Local Militiamen might have been called, I had kept aloof for four or five years from becoming a soldier in reality. The idea never struck me of entering the Regular Militia, although offered repeatedly from £60 to £70 as a substitute.

This picture, fully corroborated as it is from many other sources, was not a pretty state of affairs, and shows that the war, so far from chastening the people, had come to demoralise them thoroughly. Happily it all came to an end in 1814, first by the Peace with France (April n) and then with the United States (December 24). On July 6, 1S14, the thanks of Parliament were voted to the Local Militia and the Volunteers The Volunteers were at once disbanded, but it was not till 1816 that the Local Militia was formally dismissed.

The destruction of Napoleonism at Waterloo in 1815 made the Peace of Paris doubly secure, and Great Britain returned to her normal self in allowing her Auxiliary forces to fall into abeyance. The work which the machine had been constructed to perform was done, and as has always happened among us, the machine was permitted to become rusty and practically useless. Had we lived on anything but an island this would probably not have happened. As it was, for nearly forty years the subject of home defence was, as Captain Sebag-Montefiore says, relegated “to the category of abstract questions of military policy.”

The Duke of Wellington sounded a note of alarm in 1847, but it was not until 1859 that fear of France roused the nation to arms and re-established the Volunteers—amid a great deal of chaff from large and well-to-do sections of the community, as the pages of Punch and Ye Nobell Cheese-Monger serve to remind us.

Since that time we have seen much neglect and many experiments; but through it all there has been a steady drift towards the principle of Territorialism, both in regard to the Regular Army and the Auxiliary forces. We have seen in Aberdeen, for instance, the Regular battalion of the Gordon Highlanders much more identified with the town in every way, notably in the establishment of the Institute in Belmont Street; while round the Regular regiment the old Militia and Volunteer battalions have been grouped: the whole being designed to fit in with tactical necessity.

The necessity created by the Great War of 1914 has resulted in the seven battalions of the Gordon Highlanders being increased to fifteen, the four Territorial battalions being duplicated for reserves, while four new battalions, Nos. 8, 9, 10, and II, have been raised as part of “ Kitchener’s Army.” This expansion, which Lord Haldane’s scheme fully provided for, has been wise, for civilian recruiters in Banffshire have discovered that the best way of getting men for the new armies has been by assuring them that they would join “ the Gordons,” where they would meet their kith and kin; whereas it has been very difficult to induce recruits to join other regiments or different branches of the Service. This is an exact repetition of the experience of the first recruiters for the Highland regiments, which were essentially battalions of “pals.” Much the same thing has been experienced elsewhere, for it was announced on December 1, 1914, that the War Office “ have now decided to ear-mark all men recruited hereafter for the New Army to the local units where they enlist, thus making the Territorial principle a reality, and not letting it degenerate into mere matter of nomenclature.” A more primitive form of Territorialism was sketched by Lord Kitchener on August 14, 1914, in the matter of the “Home Defence Territorial Forces,” to be trained on a system “by which leave can be given for those serving to look after their urgent private affairs somewhat on the Commando principle which prevailed in South Africa.”

Professional soldiers have been rather doubtful about the value of the Territorials, but the Messines charge of the London Scottish—who were attached to the Gordons in South Africa—dispelled that doubt; while the verdict of Sir John French in his Despatch of November 20 is conclusive:—

The conduct and bearing of these [nine Territorial] units under fire, and the efficient manner in which they carried out the various duties assigned to them have imbued me with the highest hopes as to the value and help of Territorial Troops generally.

In developing the Army on the lines of the genius of our own people (and not merely on Continental models), taking full advantage of our unceasing experiences in India, Egypt, and Africa, we have been proved supremely right. In saying this we have the authority of the leader of the Expeditionary Force of 1914, who, in a memorable Army Order issued on Sunday, November 23, says to his soldiers:—

I have made many calls upon you, and the answers you have made to them have covered you, your regiments, and the Army to which you belong with honour and glory.

Your fighting qualities, courage, and endurance have been subjected to the most trying and severe tests, and you have proved yourselves worthy descendants of the British soldiers of the past who have built up the magnificent traditions of the regiments to which you belong. You have not only maintained those traditions, but you have materially added to their lustre.

It is impossible for me to find words in which to express my appreciation of the splendid services you have performed.

The present volume, if it shows anything, proves that there is no “ degeneracy ” in the national temper. “ In Scotland,” says Mr. Fortescue, writing of the year 1806, “the people were more military,” than in England, “ and the Volunteers more efficient ” : and the crisis of 1914 has found North Britain heading the percentage in recruiting. If this book only helps us to understand that the Soldier must take into consideration the psychology of the Civilian when requesting his services, it will have achieved a purpose which rarely falls within the province of the New Spalding Club.


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