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


Fencible Regiments

Argyle, or Western Fencible Regiment, 1778

It was not till the third year of the American War, that Government ordered Fencible regiments to be raised for the internal defence of the country, and to relieve the regiments of the line from this duty, and increase the number of disposable troops for service abroad. One of the first corps of this description in the kingdom was raised, under the influence of the Duke of Argyll, in 1759; and, in 1778, the first Fencible regiment was raised by Lord Frederick Campbell, a son of that family. Archibald Earl of Eglinton, who had been so active a partisan, and had proved himself so able and high-spirited an officer when he commanded his regiment of Highlanders in America during the Seven Years' War, applied at the same time for permission to raise a regiment of Fencible Highlanders; but it was not thought expedient that two regiments of Fencibles should be raised in the West Highlands, as it might interfere too much with the recruiting for the line. It was therefore determined that only one corps should be raised in the West; and Lord Eglinton having got the appointment of the officers of two companies, Mr Montgomery of Coilsfield, afterwards Earl of Eglinton, was appointed major, and the late Earl of Glencairn captain; the other companies being filled up from Argyleshire, in which, and in other parts of the Highlands, 700 men were recruited: the rest were from Glasgow and the south-west of Scotland. This regiment

was embodied at Glasgow in April 1778. Both officers and men were animated with more than ordinary zeal and spi-it which were kept in full activity by Colonel Montgomery and Major Campbell of Melford, who commanded the regiment alternately in the absence of the colonel and lieutenant-colonel, Lord Frederick Campbell and Sir James Campbell of Ardkinglas, who were occasionally employed on other duties. Part of this spirit was exhibited in a voluntary offer of the corps to extend their services to any part of the world where their country required them; having thus had the honour of setting an example which has since been frequently followed by regiments whose service was limited to the immediate defence of their native country. Besides this patriotic offer, the corps exhibited another trait of character not uncommon among their countrymen, namely, so much economy in the expenditure of their daily pay of sixpence, as to be able to remit considerable sums of money to their relations, and, when disembodied at Glasgow in 1783, to possess so much money, that, if the whole had been reckoned in one sum, it would have appeared very remarkable, considering the moderate means from which it had been saved.


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