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Sketches of The Character, Manners, and Present State of the Highlanders of Scotland


Part III

Military Annals of the Highland Regiments

Section 1

Black Watch—Independent Companies—Embodied into a regular Regiment at Taybridge, 1740—Ordered to march for England—Review—Desertion.

This corps, which has been so well known for nearly eighty years under the appellation of the 42d or Royal Highland Regiment, and which, at different periods, has been designated by the titles of its successive commanders, as Lord Crawford's, Lord Sempill's, and Lord John Murray's Highlanders, was originally known by the name of the Freicudan Dhu, or Black Watch.

This was an appellation given to the independent Companies of which the regiment was formed. It arose from the colour of their dress, and was applied to them in contradistinction to the regular troops, who were called Red Soldiers, or Seidaran Dearag. From the time they were first embodied, till they were regimented, the Highlanders continued to wear the dress of their country. This, as it consisted so much of the black, green, and blue tartan, gave them a dark and sombre appearance in comparison with the bright uniform of the regulars, who at that time had coats, waistcoats, and breeches, of scarlet cloth. Hence the term Dhu, or Black, as applied to this corps.

The companies were six in number: three distinguished by the name of large companies, consisted of one hundred men each; and three smaller companies, of seventy men each. The former were commanded by captains, and the latter by captain-lieutenants, each commanding officer being, as the name implies, independent of the others. To each company, great and small, was attached the same number of subalterns, viz. two lieutenants and one ensign. These companies were first formed about the year 1729 or 1730; and Lord Lovat, Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochnell, and Colonel Grant of Ballindalloch, were appointed to the command of the larger; and Colonel Alexander Campbell of Finab, John Campbell of Carrick, and George Munro of Culcairn, to that of the smaller.

Some Highlanders had been armed so early as 1725, when Marshal Wade was appointed commander-in-chief in Scotland, but it was not till the year above mentioned that they were formed into regular companies receiving pay. Many of the men who composed these companies were of a higher station in society than that from which soldiers in general are raised; cadets of gentlemen's families, sons of gentlemen farmers, and tacksmen, either immediately or distantly descended from gentlemen's families,—men who felt themselves responsible for their conduct to high-minded and honourable families, as well as to a country for which they cherished a devoted affection. In addition to the advantages derived from their superior rank in life, they possessed, in an eminent degree, that of a commanding external deportment, special care being taken in selecting men of full height, well proportioned, and of handsome appearance. [In confirmation of this, I may notice a friend and grand-uncle by marriage, the late Mr Stewart of Bohallie, who was one of the gentlemen soldiers in Carrick's company. This gentleman, a man of family and education, was five feet eleven inches in height, remarkable for his personal strength and activity, and one of the best swordsmen of his time, in an age when good swordsmanship was common, and considered an indispensable and graceful accomplishment of a gentleman; and yet, with all these qualifications, he was only a centre man of the centre rank of his company. After serving seven years in the companies and in this corps, he retired some time before the march to England.] In such a range of country, without commerce, or any general employment for young men, no difficulty was found in persuading individuals to engage in a corps which was to be stationary within the mountains, and of which the duties were such as to afford them merely an agreeable pastime. The Highlanders had also another urgent motive for entering on this duty. I have already mentioned, that, in the Highlands, men were accustomed to go continually armed,—a custom which they were most anxious to retain. At the period now under consideration, the carrying of arms was prohibited by penalties; less severe, indeed, than those which were afterwards enacted, but sufficiently galling to a high-spirited and warlike people. Young men, therefore, gladly availed themselves of the privilege of engaging in a profession which relieved them from the sense of degradation and dishonour attached to the idea of being disarmed.

Hence it became an object of ambition with all the young men of spirit to be admitted, even as privates, into a service which procured them the privilege of wearing arms. [An old gentleman in Athole, a friend of mine, Mr Robertson of Auchleeks, carried this spirit so far, that, disobeying all restrictions against carrying arms, he never laid them aside, and wore his dirk even when sitting in his dining-room, until his death, in his 87th year.] This accounts for the great number of men of respectable families who were to be found in the ranks of the Black Watch,—a circumstance which has often excited the surprise of those who were ignorant of the extent to which the motives above mentioned operated. When this regiment was first embodied, it was no uncommon thing to see private soldiers riding to the exercising ground followed by servants carrying their firelocks and uniforms. [They were thus described by an English officer of engineers, who was stationed in the Highlands when the independent companies were on foot, and who was not a little surprised at a practice certainly not common in the South. " I cannot forbear to tell you, before I conclude, that many of those private gentlemen-soldiers have gillys, or servants to attend them in quarters, and upon a march to carry their provisions, baggage, and firelocks." The day before the regiment was embodied at Taybridge, five of the soldiers dined and slept in my grandfather's house at Garth. The following morning they rode off in their usual dress, a tartan jacket and truis, ornamented with gold lace, embroidery, or twisted gold cords, as was the fashion of the time; while their servants carried their military clothing and arms.]

Such were the materials of which the 42d regiment was originally composed.

The independent companies, being stationed in different parts of the country, had no general head-quarters, and, although the service was open to all Highlanders, as soldiers, the commandants and officers were taken from what were called the loyal, or Whig clans, the Campbells, Grants, Munros, &c. &c. For this reason, probably, although a great number of the privates were from Athole, and the Highlands of Perthshire, there were no officers from that district, except Colonel Campbell of Finab. This selection of men for the various commands was rendered necessary by the nature of the duties imposed upon them. These duties were, to enforce the disarming act, to overawe the disaffected, to prevent any convocations or meetings, or give information of them, and to check the plunder and reprisals of cattle between rival clans, and more particularly the depredations committed on those of their more peaceable neighbours of the plains.

For such duties these companies were peculiarly well qualified, from their own habits and knowledge of the people, language, and country; and, under the control of leaders devoted to the service of the government, they could not fail to answer the expectations of those who had suggested and established this mode of internal defence; although their obedience to orders, their sense of duty, and their private feelings, must have been sometimes at variance, when en-forcing the laws against their own families and friends. In allotting to them the stations in which they were to act, it was found advisable that the companies should generally take charge of the district in which they were raised. They were thus spread over an extensive tract of country, many of the detachments being very small. Lord Lovat and the Frasers were stationed in Fort Augustus, and the neighbouring parts of Inverness-shire; Culcairn and the Munros in Ross and Sutherland; Ballindalloch and the Grants in Strathspey and Badenoch: Athole and Breadalbane being border counties, and of suspicious loyalty, two companies, Lochnell's and Carrick's, were stationed there. The company of Campbell of Finab, who was then abroad, was quartered in Lochaber, and the northern parts of Argyleshire, among the Camerons and Stewarts of Appin. In this manner, the several companies continued until the year 1739, when it was determined to form them into a regiment of the line, and to augment their numbers by four additional companies, as will be seen by the letters of service.

Letters of Service, for forming the Highland Regiment from the Independent Companies of the Black Watch.

GEORGE R.—Whereas we have thought fit, that a regiment of foot be forthwith formed under your command, and to consist of ten companies, each to contain one captain, one lieutenant, one ensign, three serjeants, three corporals, two drummers, and one hundred effective private men which said regiment shall be partly formed out of six Independent Companies of Foot in the Highlands of North Britain, three of which are now commanded by captains, and three by captain-lieutenants. Our will and pleasure therefore is, that one serjeant, one corporal, and fifty private men, be forthwith taken out of the three companies commanded by captains, and ten private men from the three commanded by captain-lieutenants, making one hundred and eighty men, who are to be equally distributed into the four companies hereby to be raised; and the three serjeants and three corporals, draughted as aforesaid, to be placed to such of the four companies as you shall judge proper; and the remainder of the non-commissioned officers and private men, wanting to complete them to the above number, to be raised in the Highlands with all possible speed; the men to be natives of that country, and none other to be taken.
This regiment shall commence and take place according to the establishment thereof. And of these our orders and commands, you, and the said three captains, and the three captain-lieutenants commanding at present the six Independent Highland Companies, and all others concerned, are to take notice, and to yield obedience thereunto accordingly-Given at our Court at St James's, this 25th day of October 1739, and in the 13th year of our reign. By his Majesty's command,

(Signed) Wm. Yonge.

To our Right Trusty and Right Well
Beloved Cousin, John Earl
of Craufurd and Lindsay. [See Appendix II]


* In a country where so many are of the same name, some distinguishing mark besides the common appellation was absolutely necessary. I have already noticed the manner in which the people managed this in the Highlands. But, in the south, as well as the north of Scotland, districts contain many of the same name; and gentlemen are distinguished by that of their estates. In this manner, the officers in the foregoing list are distinguished. This method I must continue, so far as I know the families of different officers, as, from the number of gentlemen of the same name whom I shall have occasion to mention, it will, in many cases, be quite impossible otherwise to know what officer is meant. In all old lists of the names of Highland officers, whether regimental, or merely stating their deaths or wounds, the name of the family of each, if known, was added. By this means, the relations of these officers are now, at this distant period, able to distinguish them.

Although the commissions of the officers were dated in October, and the following months of 1739, the men were not assembled until the month of May 1740. The whole were then mustered, and embodied into a regiment in a field between Taybridge and Aberfeldy, in the county of Perth, under the number of the 43d regiment, but they still retained the country name of the Black Watch. The uniform was a scarlet jacket and waistcoat, with buff facings and white lace, tartan plaid of twelve yards plaited round the middle of the body, the upper part being fixed on the left shoulder, ready to be thrown loose and wrapped over both shoulders and firelock in rainy weather. At night, the plaid served the purpose of a blanket, and was a sufficient covering for the Highlander. These were called belted plaids, from being kept tight to the body by a belt, [This belt was the same as that anciently used by the people, which was of strong thick ox leather, and three or four inches in breadth, fixed by a brass or silver buckle in front. When the Highlanders had an expeditious journey to perform, or to run up or down a hill, they tightened the belt, which they said strengthened their loins. They also used the belt for another purpose. When pinched with hunger on their expeditions, they experienced great relief from tightening the belt. This belt was worn by old men within my remembrance, but is now entirely disused in the Highlands; latterly it has been resumed by young gentlemen of fashion, who wear it tight round the waist. In several cavalry regiments a belt or sash somewhat similar is worn. In 1823, ladies of fashion have assumed a belt with a square buckle in front, both perfect resemblances of the Highland costume, but of less size.] and were worn on guards, reviews, and on all occasions when the men were in full dress. On this belt hung the pistols and dirk when worn. In the barracks, and when not on duty, the little kilt or philibeg [While the companies acted independently, each commander assumed the tartan of his own Clan. When embodied, no clan having a superior claim to offer an uniform plaid to the whole, and Lord Craufurd, the colonel, being a Lowlander, a new pattern was assumed, and which has ever since been known as the 42d, or Black Watch tartan, being distinct from all others, and appertaining to no clan or district, but peculiar to, and belonging to the regiment, as the original distinguishing uniform plaid. Lord John Murray gave the Athole tartan for the philibeg. The difference was only a stripe of scarlet, to distinguish it from that of the belted plaid. The pipers wore a red tartan of very bright colours, (of the pattern known by the name of the Stewart or Royal Tartan), so that they could be more clearly seen at a distance. When a band of music was added, plaids of the pipers' pattern were given to them.] was worn, a blue bonnet with a border of white, red, and green, arranged in small squares to resemble, as is said, the fess cheque in the arms of the different branches of the Stewart family, [Tradition says, that this fashion commenced in Montrose's army in the civil wars, as a token of loyalty to the king, and in distinction to the large and flat blue bonnets of the Covenanters and Puritans.] and a tuft of feathers, or sometimes, from economy or necessity, a small piece of black bear-skin. The arms were a musquet, a bayonet, and a large basket-hiked broadsword. These were furnished by Government: such of the men as chose to supply themselves with pistols and dirks were allowed to carry them, and some had targets after the fashion of their country. [Grose, in his Military Antiquities, speaking of the Black Watch, says, "I doubt whether the dirk is part of their regimental arms; but I remember, in the year 1747, most of the private men had them, and many were also permited to carry targets. The regiment was then on service in Flanders."] The sword-belt was of black leather, and the cartouch-box was carried in front, supported by a narrow belt round the middle.

In a corps which numbered in its ranks many men of birth, and of respectability, from character and education, those were esteemed fortunate who obtained commissions; indeed, a company at present is less prized than an ensigncy in the Black Watch was in those days.

The regiment remained about fifteen months on the banks of the Tay and Lyon; Tay Bridge and the Point of Lyon, where the river Lyon joins the Tay, a mile below Taymouth Castle, being their places of rendezvous for exercise. There they were trained and exercised by the Lieutenant-Colonel, Sir Robert Munro, a veteran of much judgment and experience.

In the year 1740 the Earl of Craufurd was removed to the Life Guards, and Brigadier-General Lord Sempill was appointed colonel of the Highlanders.

In the winter 1741-2, the regiment was marched to the northward, and quartered in their old station, until the month of March 1743, when they were assembled at Perth, preparatory to a march for England. The order was unexpected on the part of the men, who expressed no small surprise on the occasion. The measure raised the indignation of many, and was in an especial manner disapproved of, and opposed, by the Lord President Forbes, than whom no one knew better the character of the corps, the nature of the duty on which they were employed, and their capability of performing it. The following extract of a letter from his Lordship to General Clayton, who had succeeded Marshal Wade in the chief command in Scotland, sufficiently explains the sentiments of that eminent man on the subject:—"When I first heard," says he, "of the orders given to the Highland regiment to march southwards, it gave me no sort of concern. I supposed the intention was only to see them; but as I have been lately assured that they are destined for foreign service, I cannot dissemble my uneasiness at a resolution that may, in my apprehension, be attended with very bad consequences; nor can I prevail with myself not to communicate to you my thoughts on this subject, however late they may come." His Lordship then goes on to state the consequences to be expected by removing this regiment. "I must, in the next place, put you in mind, that the present system for securing the peace of the Highlands, which is the best I ever heard of, is by regular troops stationed from Inverness to Fort-William, along the chain of lakes which, in a manner, divides the Highlands, to command the obedience of the inhabitants of both sides, and, by a body of disciplined Highlanders, wearing the dress, and speaking the language of the country, to execute such orders as require expedition, and for which neither the dress nor the manners of other troops are proper. These Highlanders now regimented were at first independent companies, and though their dress, language, and manners, qualified them for securing the Low country from depredations, yet that was not the sole use of them; the same qualities fitted them for every expedition that required secrecy and despatch; they served for all purposes of hussars or light horse, in a country whose mountains and bogs render cavalry useless, and, if properly disposed of over the Highlands, nothing that was commonly reported and believed by the Highlanders could be a secret to their commanders, because of their intimacy with the people, and the sameness of language." [Culloden Papers.]

There are grounds for believing that, when these men were regimented, the measure was represented to them as merely a change of name and officers, with the additional benefit of more regular pay and duty, under which arrangement they were to continue, as usual, the Watch of the country. Surprised at the orders to march to England, they were told it was only to show themselves to the King, who had never seen a Highland regiment. This explanation satisfied them, and they proceeded on their route to London.

Their departure was thus announced in the Caledonian Mercury:—"On Wednesday last Lord Sempill's regiment of Highlanders began their march for England, in order to be reviewed by his Majesty. They are certainly the finest regiment in the service, being tall, well-made men, and very stout. " [The King, having never seen a Highland soldier, expressed a desire to see one. Three privates, remarkable for their figure and good looks, were fixed upon and sent to London a short time before the regiment marched. These were Gregor M'Gregor, commonly called Gregor the Beautiful, John Campbell, son of Duncan Campbell of the family of Duneaves, Perthshire, and John Grant from Strathspey, of the family of Ballindalloch. Grant fell sick and died at Aberfeldy. The others were presented by their Lieutenant-Colonel, Sir Robert Munro, to the King, and performed the broadsword exercise, and that of the Lochaber axe, or lance, before his Majesty, the Duke of Cumberland, Marshal Wade, and a number of general officers assembled for the purpose, in the Great Gallery at St James's. They displayed so much dexterity and skill in the management of their weapons, as to give perfect satisfaction to his Majesty. Each got a gratuity of one guinea, which they gave to the porter at the palace gate as they passed out." [Westminster Journal.] They thought that the King had mistaken their character and condition in their own country. Such was, in general, the character of the men who originally composed the Black Watch. This feeling of self-estimation inspired a high spirit and sense of honour in the regiment, which continued to form its character and conduct, long after the description of men who originally composed it was totally changed. These men afterwards rose to rank in the army. Mr Campbell got an ensigncy for his conduct at Fontenoy, and was captain-lieutenant of the regiment when he was killed at Ticonderoga, where he also distinguished himself. Mr M'Gregor was promoted in another regiment, and afterwards purchased the lands of Inverardine in Breadalbane. He was grandfather of Sir Gregor M'Gregor, a commander in South America.]

During the march great good humour prevailed, heightened, no doubt, by the friendly reception and unbounded hospitality which they experienced in the country and towns on their route through England. A Highlander, in his full garb, was an extraordinary object to Englishmen. Of his character they had received unfavourable impressions from the current stories of the ferocious and savage wildness, and the frightful conflicts of the clans. Their astonishment was, therefore, great on witnessing the orderly conduct and martial appearance of this regiment. [In Merchant's History of the Rebellion, published in 1746, we find a gentleman in Derby expressing his astonishment, "to see these savages, from the officer to the commonest man, at their several meals, first stand up and pull off their bonnets, and then lift up their eyes in a most solemn and devout manner, and mutter something in their own gibberish, by way, I suppose, of saying grace, as if they had been so many Christians." When Gordon of Glenbucket, described by the Lord President, who knew him intimately, as a "good-natured, humane man," marched up his followers to join the rebel army in England, it was gravely questioned, whether they killed their prisoners and sucked their blood, to whet their appetite for war, "after the manner of other savages."]

In the present times, it is not easy to imagine the absurd tales and notions which were circulated and believed at that period, when many of the good people of England knew as little of their neighbours of the Scottish mountains as they did of the inhabitants of the most remote quarter of the globe.

On the 29th and 30th of April the regiment, in two divisions, reached the neighbourhood of London, and on the 14th of May following was reviewed on Finchley Common by Marshal Wade, who was intimately acquainted with many of the officers and soldiers, and knew well the nature of the corps, from having been so many years commander-in-chief in Scotland, and especially from having spent much of his time in the Highlands, when planning and superintending the new line of roads.

In the interval between their arrival and the review, immense crowds of people, from London and all the country round, flocked to see the strangers, whose dress and language were equally objects of wonder. A greater degree of interest was excited by the favourable reports which had been spread of their appearance and behaviour on the march. Amongst the numbers who resorted to the quarters of the Highlanders, some had other objects beyond the gratification of their curiosity. Insidious and malicious falsehoods were industriously circulated among the men. They were told that Government meant to transport them to the American plantations (the Botany Bay of that day), there to remain for life; that the pretext assigned for bringing them from Scotland, to be reviewed by the King and the Prince of Wales, was a shameful deception, as they might easily perceive, since his Majesty had embarked for Hanover, previously to their arrival; and that the real object and intent of the measure was to get so many disaffected and rebellious Jacobites out of the kingdom.

These incendiaries thus availed themselves of the accidental circumstance of the King's departure for the Continent ["The King and the Duke of Cumberland sailed from Greenwich 30th April, and were driven back to Sheerness the same night, where they remained wind-bound until 1st May, when they again set sail, and arrived at Helvoetsluys on the 2d, in the evening, from whence his Majesty proceeded next morning to Hanover."—Westminster Journal, 1743.] to give plausibility to their insinuations. Strangers to the country, and possessing the feelings which accorded with the rank of gentlemen, which so many held at home, and which was so much the character of all at that period, the mere surmise of being entrapped filled the Highlanders with indignation.

In those whom he knows, a Highlander will repose perfect confidence, and, if they are his superiors, will be obedient and respectful. But ere a stranger can obtain his confidence, he must show that he merits it. When once given, it is constant and unreserved; but, if confidence be lost, no man is more suspicious. Every officer of a High-land regiment, on his first joining the corps, must have observed, in his little transactions and settlements of accounts with the men, how minute and strict they are in every item, but, when once confidence is established, scrutiny ceases, and his word or nod of assent is as good as his bond.

[Major Grose, in his Military Antiquities, treating of the formation of the Highland regiment, and the subsequent enlisting and desertion, and detailing the previous circumstances which led to it, observes, " Among other inducements to enlist, thus improperly held forth, it is said the men were assured that they should not go out of their own country. Under the faith of this promise, many respectable farmers' and tacksmens' sons entered themselves as privates in the corps, who would not otherwise have thought of enlisting. " After narrating various circumstances of this unhappy affair, he concludes, "This transaction, likewise, shows the danger and even cruelty of making promises to recruits under any thing less than the greatest certainty they will be faithfully observed ; the contrary has more than once produced the most dangerous mutinies, and that even among the Highland regiments, whose education tends to make them more regular and subordinate than either the English or Irish; and if the causes of almost every mutiny that has happened were diligently and dispassionately inquired into and weighed, it will be found that nine times out of ten the soldiers, however wrong and unjustifiable in that mode of seeking redress, have had great reason of complaint, generally of the breach of some positive promise made them at enlisting."

Of the justness and truth of the preceding observations we have had too many proofs. They are peculiarly applicable to the case of Highland corps, which were raised and embodied as it were in mass. Being thus kept in immediate contact with each other, the individuals aggrieved by any violation of faith, who sometimes were nearly the whole regiment, had an opportunity of recounting their injuries; and their resentments became thus more exasperated by communication.]

In the case in question, notwithstanding the arts which were practised to mislead the men, they behaved with that characteristic moderation and firmness, which has so frequently distinguished their countrymen, when in a similar predicament: they proceeded to no violence, but, believing themselves deceived and betrayed, the only remedy that occurred to them was to get back to their own country. It does not appear that they imputed any blame to their officers, whom they considered, equally with themselves, the dupes of the deception; and, indeed, the sole motive of those who endeavoured to stir up the men was hostility to Government, and their aim, in accusing it of a breach of faith, to create a spirit of disaffection and discontent. The means which they employed could scarcely fail of success.

That the unfortunate act which threw such a dark shade over the character of a body of brave men was the result of their simplicity, in allowing themselves to be deceived, rather than of any want of principle, was sufficiently proved by their subsequent conduct. But such an occurrence happening among men, of whose loyalty many were suspicious, produced, as may well be imagined, no inconsiderable sensation in the country.

The affair was the subject of much discussion both in conversation and in the publications of the day. Among the numerous accounts published in the journals and in detached pamphlets, there was one, in particular, that appeared immediately after the mutiny, which shows considerable knowledge of the subject, and contains a fair statement of the facts of the case. The author having alluded to the purpose for which these independent companies had been at first embodied, and having described their figure and dress, and the effect produced in England by the novelty of both, proceeds to state the cause and circumstances of the mutiny: "From their first formation they had always considered themselves as destined to serve exclusively in Scotland, or rather in the Highlands; and a special compact was made, allowing the men to retain their ancient national garb. From their origin and their local attachments they seemed destined for this special service. Besides, in the discipline to which they were at first subjected under their natural chiefs and superiors, there was much affinity with their ancient usages, so that their service seemed merely that of a clan sanctioned by legal authority. These and other considerations strengthened them in the belief that their duty was of a defined and specific nature, and that they were never to be amalgamated with the regular disposable force of the country. As they were deeply impressed with this belief, it was quite natural that they should regard, with great jealousy and distrust, any indication of a wish to change the system. Accordingly, when the design of marching them into England was first intimated to their officers, the men were not shy in protesting against this unexpected measure. By conciliating language, however, they were prevailed upon to commence and continue their march without reluctance. It was even rumoured, in some foreign gazettes, that they had mutinied on the borders, killed many of their officers, carried off their colours, and returned to their native mountains. This account, though glaringly false, was repeated from time to time in those journals, and was neither noticed nor contradicted in those of England, though such an occasion ought not to have been neglected for giving a candid and full explanation to the Highlanders, which might have prevented much subsequent disquietude.

"On their march through the northern counties of England, they were every where received with such hospitality, that they appeared in the highest spirits, and it was imagined that their attachment to home was so much abated that they would feel no reluctance to the change. As they approached the metropolis, however, and were exposed to the taunts of the true-bred English clowns, they became more gloomy and sullen. Animated even to the lowest private with the feelings of gentlemen, they could ill brook the rudeness of boors, nor could they patiently submit to affronts in a country to which they had been called by invitation of their Sovereign. A still deeper cause of discontent preyed upon their minds. A rumour had reached them on their march that they were to be embarked for the plantations. The fate of the Marines, the Invalids, and other regiments which had been sent to these colonies, seemed to mark out this service as at once the most perilous and the most degrading to which British soldiers could be exposed. With no enemy to encounter worthy of their courage, there was another consideration which made it peculiarly odious to the Highlanders. By the act of Parliament of the eleventh of George I., transportation to the Colonies was denounced against the Highland rebels, &c. as the greatest punishment that could be inflicted on them except death, and, when they heard that they were to be sent there, the galling suspicion naturally arose in their minds, that, 'after being used as rods to scourge their own countrymen, they were to be thrown into the fire.' These apprehensions they kept secret even from their own officers; and the care with which they dissembled them is the best evidence of the deep impression which they had made. Amidst all their jealousies and fears, however, they looked forward with considerable expectation to the review, when they were to come under the immediate observation of his Majesty, or some of the Royal Family. On the 14th of May they were reviewed by Marshal Wade, and many persons of distinction, who were highly delighted with the promptitude and alacrity with which they went through their military exercises, and gave a very favourable report of them, where it was likely to operate most to their advantage. From that moment, how-ever, all their thoughts were bent on the means of returning to their own country, and on this wild and romantic march they accordingly set out a few days after. Under pretence of preparing for the review, they had been enabled to provide themselves unsuspectedly with some necessary articles, and, confiding in their capability of enduring privations and fatigue, they imagined that they should have great advantages over any troops that might be sent in pursuit of them. It was on the night between Tuesday and Wednesday after the review that they assembled on a common near Highgate, and commenced their march to the North. They kept as nearly as possible between the two great roads, passing from wood to wood in such a manner that it was not well known which way they moved. Orders were issued by the Lords-Justices to the commanding officers of the forces stationed in the counties between them and Scotland, and an advertisement was published by the Secretary at War, exhorting the civil officers to be vigilant in their endeavours to discover their route. It was not, however, till about eight o'clock in the evening of Thursday, 19th May, that any certain intelligence of them was obtained, and they had then proceeded as far as Northampton, and were supposed to be shaping their course towards Nottinghamshire. General Blakeney, who commanded at Northampton, immediately dispatched Captain Ball of General Wade's regiment of horse, an officer well acquainted with that part of the country, to search after them. They had now entered Lady Wood, between Brig Stock and Dean Thorp, about four miles from Oundle, when they were discovered. Captain Ball was joined in the evening by the general himself, and about nine all the troops were drawn up in order, near the wood where the Highlanders lay. Seeing themselves in this situation, and unwilling to aggravate their offence by the crime of shedding the blood of his Majesty's troops, they sent one of their guides to inform the general that he might, without fear, send an officer to treat of the terms on which they should be expected to surrender. Captain Ball was accordingly delegated, and, on coming to a conference, the Captain demanded that they should instantly lay down their arms, and surrender as prisoners at discretion. This they positively refused, declaring that they would rather be cut to pieces than submit, unless the general should send them a written promise, signed by his own hand, that their arms should not be taken from them, and that they should have a free pardon. Upon this the Captain delivered the conditions proposed by General Blakeney, viz. that if they would peaceably lay down their arms, and surrender themselves prisoners, the most favourable report should be made of them to the Lords-Justices; when they again protested that they would be cut in pieces rather than surrender, except on the conditions of retaining their arms, and receiving a free pardon: 'Hitherto,' exclaimed the Captain, 'I have been your friend, and am still anxious to do all I can to save you; but, if you continue obstinate an hour longer, surrounded as you are by the King's forces, not a man of you shall be left alive, and, for my own part, I assure you, that I shall give quarter to none.' He then demanded that two of their number should be ordered to conduct him out of the wood. Two brothers were accordingly ordered to accompany him. Finding that they were inclined to submit, he promised them both a free pardon, and, taking one of them along with him, he sent back the other to endeavour, by every means, to overcome the obstinacy of the rest. He soon returned with thirteen more. Having marched these to a short distance from the wood, the captain again sent one of them back to his comrades to inform them how many had submitted, and in a short time seventeen more followed the example. These were all marched away with their arms, (the powder being blown out of their pans), and when they came before the general they laid down their arms. On returning to the wood they found the whole body disposed to submit to the general's troops.

"While this was doing in the country," says the intelligent writer to whom we are indebted for the foregoing facts, "there was nothing but the flight of the Highlanders talked of in town. The wiser sort blamed it, but some of their hot-headed countrymen were for comparing it to the retreat of the 10,000 Greeks through Persia; by which for the honour of the ancient kingdom of Scotland, Corporal M'Pherson was erected into a Xenophon. But, amongst these idle dreams, the most injurious were those that reflected on their officers, and, by a strange kind of inuendo, would have fixed the crime of these people's desertion upon those who did their duty and staid here.

"As to the rest of the regiment, they were ordered immediately to Kent, whither they marched very cheerfully, and were from thence transported to Flanders, and are by this time with the army, where I dare say, it will quickly appear they were not afraid of fighting the French. In King William's war, there was a Highland regiment that, to avoid going to Flanders, had formed a design of flying into the mountains. This was discovered before they could put it into execution; and General M'Kay, who then commanded in Scotland, caused them to be immediately surrounded and disarmed, and afterwards shipped them for Holland. When they came to the Confederate Army, they behaved very briskly upon all occasions; but as pick-thanks are never wanting in courts, some wise people were pleased to tell King William that the Highlanders drank King James's health,—a report which was probably very true. The King, whose good sense taught him to despise such dirty informations, asked General Talmash, who was near him, how they behaved in the field?— As well as any troops in the army,' answered the general, like a soldier and a man of honour. 'Why, then,' replied the King, 'if they fight for me, let them drink my father's health as often as they please.' On the road, and even after they entered to London, they kept up their spirits, and marched very cheerfully; nor did they show any marks of terror when they were brought into the Tower."

To the preceding account of this very unfortunate affair I shall only add an extract from another pamphlet of the day, detailing a short examination of two of the deserters, which shows the feelings by which they were influenced, their suspicions of an attempt to entrap them, and the horror with which they were impressed of the country and climate to which they believed themselves destined.

Private Gregor Grant being asked several questions, answered through an interpreter, as follows:

"I am neither Whig [The term whig was not applied by the Highlanders in a political sense. It extended generally to their neighbours on the plains, and a "Lowland Whig', comprehended the Puritan, Covenanter, and all those whose "dark domineering spirit" and fanatical gloom were in essential opposition to the more striking traits of their own character and feelings. According to Mrs Grant, it was by no means among them a term appropriated to political differences. It might, perhaps, mean, in a confined sense, the adherents of King William, by far the greatest caitiff in Highland delinquency. (The Highlanders never forgave King William for Glenco; and for placing troops and garrisons in their country, and turning his arms against his father-in-law. I have already noticed the strength of parental affection among the Highlanders. Living at a distance from the seat of government, they were ignorant of the political and religious distractions which occasioned the Revolution ; and looking, therefore, to the single circumstance of King William and Queen Mary depriving their father of his kingdom, and driving him into exile and poverty, they considered them as monsters of filial ingratitude.) But it meant more; it was used to designate a character made up of negatives, who had neither ear for music, nor taste for poetry, nor pride of ancestry, nor heart for attachment, nor soul for honour : one who merely studied comfort and conveniency, and was more anxious for the absence of positive evil, than the presence of relative good. A Whig, in short, was, what all Highlanders cordially hated, a cold, selfish, formal character." (Mrs Grant's Superstitions of the Highlanders.)] nor Papist, but I will serve the King for all that. I am not afraid; I never saw the man I was afraid of.

"I will not be cheated, nor do any thing by trick." I will not be transported to the Plantations, like a thief and a rogue.

"They told me I was to be sent out to work with black slaves: that was not my bargain, and I won't be cheated."

John Stewart of Captain Campbell of Carrick's company being interrogated, answered as follows:

"I did not desert: I only wanted to go back to my own country, because they abused me, and said I was to be, transported.

"I had no leader or commander; we had not one man over the rest.

"We were all determined not to be tricked. We will all fight the French and Spaniards, but will not go like rogues to the Plantations.

"I am not a Presbyterian; no, nor a Catholic."

After the deserters were taken back to London, they were tried by a general court-martial on the 8th of June, found guilty, and condemned to be shot; but the capital part of the punishment was remitted to all but three,—Corporals Malcolm and Samuel M'Pherson, [Samuel M'Pherson was brother to the late Lieutenant General Kenneth M'Pherson of the East India Company's service, who died in 1815.] and Farquhar Shaw, who were ordered for execution, and shot accordingly, on Towerhill. The following account appeared in the St James's Chronicle, of the 20th July 1743.

"On Monday the 12th, at six o'clock in the morning, Samuel and Malcolm M'Pherson, corporals, and Farquhar Shaw, a private man, three of the Highland deserters, were shot upon the parade within the Tower, pursuant to the sentence of the court-martial. The rest of the Highland prisoners were drawn out to see the execution, and joined in their prayers with great earnestness. They behaved with perfect resolution and propriety. Their bodies were put into three coffins by three of the prisoners, their clansmen and namesakes, and buried in one grave, near the place of execution."

There must have been something more than common in the case or character of these unfortunate men, as Lord John Murray, who was afterwards colonel of the regiment, had portraits of them hung up in his dining-room. I have not at present the means of ascertaining whether this proceeded from an impression on his Lordship's mind that they had been victims to the designs of others, and ignorantly misled, rather than wilfully culpable, or merely from a desire of preserving the resemblances of men who were remarkable for their size and handsome figure.

Two hundred of the deserters were ordered to serve in different corps abroad, the distribution being as follows; viz. 80 sent to Gibraltar, 50 to Minorca, 40 to the Leeward Islands, 30 to Jamaica, and 30 to Georgia.

[It is impossible to reflect on this unfortunate affair without feelings of regret, whether we view it as an open violation of military discipline on the part of brave, honourable, and well-meaning men, or as betraying an apparent want of faith on the part of Government. The indelible impression which it made on the minds of the whole population of the Highlands, laid the foundation of that distrust in their superiors, which was afterwards so much increased by various circumstances to be detailed in the article on the Mutinies of Highlands Regiments, and latterly still more confirmed by the mode of treatment pursued by Northern landholders towards their people.

From the evidence of eye-witnesses, and of those who wrote and published at the time, it appears evident that the men considered their service and engagements of a local nature, not to extend beyond Scotland, nor even beyond the Highland boundary. The Lord President Forbes, Major Grose, and the author from whom I have so liberally quoted, furnish proof of this belief on the part of the men. The last being an Englishman, who wrote on the spot, and published in London immediately after the mutiny, his impartiality, so far as regarded the soldiers, and the accuracy of his information with regard to the whole, may be considered as undoubted. The public opinion at the time may be collected from the communication of the departure of the regiment from Scotland, given in the Caledonian Mercury, an old and excellent record of events in Scotland. It is there expressly stated, that their march to England was for the purpose of being reviewed by the King.]


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