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Scottish Regiments
Royal Highland Regiment


ABOUT 1780 Great Britain had not only to sustain a war in Europe, but to defend her possessions in North America and the East Indies. In this emergency Government looked towards the north for aid, and although nearly 13,000 warriors had been drawn from the country north of the Tay, within the previous eighteen months, it determined to add a second battalion to the 42nd Regiment.

The following officers were appointed:-

Colonel—Lord John Murray, died in 1787, the oldest General in the army.
Lieutenant-Colonel—Norman Macleod of Macleod, died in 1801, a Lieutenant-General
Major—Patrick Graeme, son of Inchbraco, died in 1781.


Hay Macdowall, son of Garthland, a lieut.-gen., who was lost on his passage from India in 1809.
John Macgregor.
 Colin Campbell, son of Glenure.
 Thomas Dalyell, killed at Mangalore in 1783.
James Murray, died in 1781.
John Gregor.
David Lindsay.
James Drummond, afterwards Lord Perth, died in 1800.
John Grant, son of  Glenormiston, died in 1801.


John Grant.
John Wemyss, died in 1781.
Alexander Macgregor of Balhaldy, died Major of the 65th regiment in 1795.
Alexander Dunbar, died in 1783.
 John Oswald
[This officer, the son of a goldsmith in Edinburgh, was very eccentric in his habits. He became a furious republican, and going to France on the breaking out of the revolution, was killed in 1798 in La Vend&, at the head of a regiment of which he had obtained the command.]
Dugald Campbell, retired in 1787.
AEneas Fraser, died captain, 1784.
James Spens, retired Lieutenant-Colonel of the 72d regiment in 1798.
 Alexander Maitland.
Alexander Ross, retired in 1784.


Charles Sutherland. William White.
John Murray Robertson. Charles Maclean.
Alexander Macdonald. John Macpherson, killed
at Mangalore.
Robert Robertson. John Macdonald.

Chaplain—John Stewart, died in 1781.
Surgeon.—Thomas Farquharson.
Adjutant —Robert Leslie.
Mate—Duncan Campbell.
Quarter-master.—Kenneth Mackenzie, killed at Mangalore.

The name of the 42nd Regiment was a sufficient inducement to the Highlanders to enter the service, and on the 21st of March 1780, only about three months after the appointment of the officers, the battalion was raised, and soon afterwards embodied at Perth.

In December the regiment embarked at Queensferry, to join an expedition then fitting out at Portsmouth, against the Cape of Good Hope, under the command of Major-General William Meadows and Commodore Johnstone. The expedition sailed on the 12th of March 1781, and falling in with the French squadron under Admiral Suffrein at St Iago, was there attacked by the enemy, who were repulsed. Suffrein, however, got the start of the expedition, and the commander, finding that he had reached the Cape before them, proceeded to India, having previously captured a valuable convoy of Dutch East Indiamen, which had taken shelter in Saldanha Bay. As the troops had not landed, their right to a share of the prize-money was disputed by the commodore, but after a lapse of many years the objection was overruled.

The expedition, with the exception of the "Myrtle" transport, which separated from the fleet in a gale of wind off the Cape, arrived at Bombay on the 5th of March 1782, after a twelve months’ voyage, and on the 13th of April sailed for Madras. The regiment suffered considerably on the passage from the scurvy, and from a fever caught in the island of Joanna; and on reaching Calcutta, 5 officers, including Major Patrick Graeme, and 116 non-commissioned officers and privates had died.

Some time after the arrival of the expedition, a part of the troops, with some native corps, were detached against Palghatcheri, under Lieutenant-Colonel Mackenzie Humberston of the 100th Regiment, in absence of Lieutenant-Colonel Macleod, who, being on board the Myrtle, had not yet arrived. The troops in this expedition, of which seven companies of the Highlanders formed a part, took the field on the 2nd of September 1782, and after taking several small forts on their march, arrived before Palaghatcheri on the 19th of October. Finding the place much stronger than he expected, and ascertaining that Tippoo Sahib was advancing with a large force to its relief, Colonel Humberston retired towards Ponanee, closely pursued by the enemy, and blew up the forts of Mangaracotah and Ramgurh in the retreat.

At Ponanee the command was assumed by Lieutenant-Colonel Macleod. The effective force was reduced by sickness to 380 Europeans, and 2200 English and Travancore sepoys, and in this situation the British commander found himself surrounded by 10,000 cavalry and 14,000 infantry, including two corps of Europeans, under the French General Lally. Colonel Macleod attempted to improve by art the defences of a position strong by nature, but before his works were completed, General Lally made a spirited attack on the post on the morning of the 29th of November, at the head of the European troops: after a warm contest he was repulsed.

The conduct of the Highlanders, against whom Lally directed his chief attack, is thus noticed in the general orders issued on the occasion:—"The intrepidity with which Major Campbell and the Highlanders repeatedly charged the enemy, was most honourable to their character." In this affair the 42nd had 3 sergeants and 19 rank and file killed, and Major John Campbell, Captains Colin Campbell and Thomas Dalyell, Lieutenant Charles Sutherland, 2 sergeants, and 31 rank and file wounded.

After this service, Colonel Macleod with his battalion embarked for Bombay, and joined the army under Brigadier-General Matthews at Cundapoor, on the 9th of January 1793. On the 23rd General Matthews moved forward to attack Bednoor, from which the Sultan drew most of his supplies for his army. General Matthews was greatly harassed on his march by flying parties of the enemy, and in crossing the mountains was much impeded by the nature of the country, and by a succession of field-works erected on the face of these mountains. On the 26th of February, the 42nd, led by Colonel Macleod, and followed by a corps of sepoys, attacked these positions with the bayonet, and were in the breastwork before the enemy were aware of it. Four hundred of the enemy were bayonetted, and the rest were pursued to the walls of the fort. Seven forts were attacked and taken in this manner in succession. The principal redoubt, distinguished by the appellation of Hyder Gurh, situated on the summit of the highest ghaut or precipice, presented a more formidable appearance. It had a dry ditch in front, mounted with twenty pieces of cannon, and might have offered considerable resistance to the advance of the army, if well defended; but the loss of their seven batteries had so terrified the enemy, that they abandoned their last and strongest position in the course of the night, leaving behind them eight thousand stand of new arms, and a considerable quantity of powder, shot, and military stores. The army took possession of Bednoor the following day, but this triumph was of short duration, as the enemy soon recaptured the place, and took General Matthews and the greater part of his army prisoners.

Meanwhile the other companies were employed with a detachment under Major Campbell, in an enterprise against the fort of Anantapoor, which was attacked and carried on the 15th of February with little loss. Major Campbell returned his thanks to the troops for their spirited behaviour on this occasion, "and his particular acknowledgments to Captain Dalyell, and the officers and men of the flank companies of the 42nd regiment, who headed the storm." As the Highlanders on this occasion had trusted more to their fire than to the bayonet, the major strongly recommended to them in future never to fire a shot when the bayonet could be used.

The Highlanders remained at Anantapoor till the end of February, when they were sent under Major Campbell to occupy Carrical and Morebedery. They remained in these two small forts till the 12th of April, when they were marched first to Goorspoor and thence to Mangalore. Here the command of the troops, in consequence of the absence of Lieutenant-Colonels Maeleod and Humberston devolved upon Major Campbell, now promoted to the brevet rank of lieutenant-colonel. General Matthews having been suspended, Colonel Macleod, now promoted to the rank of brigadier-general, was appointed to succeed him.

Encouraged by the recapture of Bednoor, Tippoo detached a considerable force towards Mangalore, but it was attacked and defeated by Colonel Campbell, on the 6th of May. Little loss was sustained on either side, but the enemy left all their guns. The Highlanders had 7 privates killed, and Captain William Stewart and 16 rank and file wounded.

Tippoo, having now no force in the field to oppose him, advanced upon Mangalore with his whole army, consisting of 90,000 men, besides a corps of European infantry from the Isle of France, a troop of dismounted French cavalry from the Mauritius, and Lally’s corps of Europeans and natives. This immense force was supported by eighty pieces of cannon. The garrison of Mangalore was in a very sickly state, there being only 21 sergeants, 12 drummers, and 210 rank and file of king’s troops, and 1500 natives fit for duty.

With the exception of a strong outpost about a mile from Mangalore, the place was completely invested by the Sultan’s army about the middle of May. The defence of the outpost was intrusted to some sepoys, but they were obliged to abandon it on the 23rd. The siege was now prosecuted with vigour, and many attacks were made, but the garrison, though suffering the severest privations, repulsed every attempt. Having succeeded at length in making large breaches in the walls, and reducing some parts of them to a mass of ruins, the enemy repeatedly attempted to enter the breaches and storm the place; but they were uniformly forced to retire, sustaining a greater loss by every successive attack. On the 20th of July a cessation of hostilities was agreed to, but on the 23rd the enemy violated the truce by springing a mine. Hostilities were then resumed, and continued till the 29th, when a regular armistice was entered into. Brigadier-General Macleod anchored in the bay on the 17th of August, with a small convoy of provisions and a reinforcement of troops; but on learning the terms of the armistice, the general, from a feeling of honour ordered the ships back to Tellicherry, to the great disappointment of the half-famished garrison. Two reinforcements which arrived off the coast successively on the 22nd of November, and the last day of December, also returned to the places whence they had come.

About this time, in consequence of the peace with France, Colonel Cossigny, the French commander, withdrew his troops, to the great displeasure of the Sultan, who encouraged the French soldiers to desert and join his standard. Some of them accordingly deserted, but Colonel Cossigny having recovered part of them, indicated his dissatisfaction with Tippoo’s conduct, by ordering them to be shot in presence of two persons sent by the Sultan to intercede for their lives.

The misery of the garrison was now extreme. Nearly one-half of the troops had been carried off, and one-half of the survivors were in the hospital The sepoys in particular were so exhausted that many of them dropped down in the act of shouldering their firelocks, whilst others became totally blind. Despairing of aid, and obliged to eat horses, frogs, dogs, crows, cat-fish, black grain, &c., the officers resolved, in a council of war, to surrender the place. The terms, which were highly honourable to the garrison, were acceded to by the Sultan, and the capitulation was signed on the 30th of January 1784, after a siege of nearly nine months. In the defence of Mangalore, the Highlanders had Captain Dalyell, Lieutenants Macpherson, Mackenzie, and Mackintyre, 1 piper and 18 soldiers killed; and Captains William Stewart, Robert John Napier, and Lieutenants Murray, Robertson, and Welsh, 3 sergeants, 1 piper, and 47 rank and file wounded. The corps also lost Mr Dennis the acting chaplain, who was shot in the forehead by a matchlock ball whilst standing behind a breastwork of sand-bags, and looking at the enemy through a small aperture.

Alluding to the siege of Mangalore, Colonel Fullarton says that the garrison, under its estimable commander, Colonel Campbell, "made a defence that has seldom been equalled, and never surpassed;" and Colonel Lindsay observes, in his Military Miscellany, that "the defence of Colberg in Pomerania, by Major Heiden and his small garrison, and that of Mangalore in the East Indies, by Colonel Campbell and the second battalion of the Royal Highlanders, now the 73rd regiment, are as noble examples as any in history." The East India Company showed a due sense of the services of the garrison, by ordering a monument to be erected to the memory of Colonel Campbell, [Colonel Campbell died at Bombay. His father, Lord Stonefield, a lord of session, had seven sons, and the colonel was the eldest. After the surrender of Mangalore the Sultan showed him great courtesy, and, after deservedly compilmenting him upon his gallant defence, presented him with an Arabian charger and sabre; Tippoo had, however, little true generosity of disposition, and the cruelties which he inflicted on General Matthews and his army show that he was as cruel as his father Hyder.] Captains Stewart and Dalyell, and those who fell at the siege, and giving a handsome gratuity to the survivors.

The battalion embarked for Tellicherri on the 4th of February 1784, where it remained till April, when it departed for Bombay. It was afterwards stationed at Dinapoor in Bengal, when, on the 18th of April 1786, the battalion was formed into a separate corps, with green facings, under the denomination of the 73rd regiment, the command of which was given to Sir George Osborne. It was at first intended to reduce the junior officers of both battalions, instead of putting all the officers of the second on half-pay; but on representations being made by the officers of both battalions, the arrangement alluded to was made to save the necessity of putting any of the officers on half-pay.

In December 1787, the 73rd removed to Cawnpore, where it remained till March 1790, when it was sent to Fort William in Bengal. Next year the regiment joined the army in Malabar, under the command of Major-General Robert Abercromby. Major Macdowall being about this time promoted to the 57th, was succeeded by Captain James Spens.

With the view of attacking Seringapatam, Lord Cornwallis directed General Abercromby to join him with all his disposable force, consisting of the 73rd, 75th, and 77th British, and seven native regiments. He accordingly began his march on the 5th of December 1791, but owing to various causes he did not join the main army till the 16th of February following. The enemy having been repulsed before Seringapatam on the 22nd, entered into preliminaries of peace on the 24th, when the war ended.

The 73rd was employed in the expedition against Pondicherry in 1793, when it formed part of Colonel David Baird’s brigade. The regiment, though much reduced by sickness, had received from time to time several detachments of recruits from Scotland, and at this period it was 800 strong. In the enterprise against Pondicherry, Captain Galpine, Lieutenant Donald Macgregor, and Ensign Tod were killed.

The 73rd formed part of the force sent against Ceylon in the year 1793, under Major-General James Stuart. It remained in the island till 1797, when it returned to Madras, and was quartered in various parts of that presidency till 1799, when it joined the army under General Harris.

This army encamped at Mallavellyon the 27th of March, on which day a battle took place with the Sultan, Tippoo, whose army was totally routed, with the loss of 1000 men, whilst that of the British was only 69 men killed and wounded. Advancing slowly, the British army arrived in the neighbourhood of the Mysore capital, Seringapatam, on the 5th of April, and took up a position preparatory to a siege, the third within the space of a few years. The enemy’s advanced troops and rocket-men gave some annoyance to the picquets the same evening, but they were driven back next morning by two columns under the Hon. Colonel Arthur Wellesley and Colonel Shaw; an attempt made by the same officers the previous evening having miscarried, in consequence of the darkness of the night and some unexpected obstructions. The Bombay army joined on the 30th, and took up a position in the line, the advanced posts being within a thousand yards of the garrison. A party of the 75th, under Colonel Hart, having dislodged the enemy on the 17th, established themselves under cover within a thousand yards of the fort; whilst at the same time, Major Macdonald of the 73rd, with a detachment of his own and other regiments, took possession of a post at the same distance from the fort on the south. On the evening of the 20th, another detachment, under Colonels Sherbrooke, St John, and Monypenny, drove 2000 of the enemy from an entrenched position within eight hundred yards of the place, with the loss of only 5 killed and wounded, whilst that of the enemy was 250 men. On the 22nd the enemy made a vigorous though unsuccessful sortie on all the advanced posts. They renewed the attempt several times, but were as often repulsed with great loss. Next day the batteries opened with such effect that all the guns opposed to them were silenced in the course of a few hours. The siege was continued with unabated vigour till the morning of the 4th of May, when it was resolved to attempt an assault. Major-General Baird, who, twenty years before, had been kept a prisoner in chains in the city he was now to storm, was appointed to command the assailants, who were to advance in two columns under Colonels Dunlop and Sherbrooke; the Hon. Colonel Arthur Wellesley commanding the reserve. The whole force amounted to 4376 firelocks. Everything being in readiness, at one o’clock in the afternoon the troops waited the signal, and on its being given they rushed impetuously forward, and in less than two hours Seringapatam was in possession of the British. The Sultan and a number of his chief officers fell whilst defending the capital. In this gallant assault, Lieutenant Lalor of the 73rd was killed, and Captain William Macleod, Lieutenant Thomas, and Ensigns Antill and Guthrie of the same regiment, were wounded.

Nothing now remained to complete the subjugation of Mysore but to subdue a warlike chief who had taken up arms in support of the Sultan. Colonel Wellesley was detached against him with the 73rd and some other troops, when his army was dispersed, and the chief himself killed in a charge of cavalry.

In 1805 the regiment was ordered home, but such of the men as were inclined to remain in India were offered a bounty. The result was that most of them volunteered, and the few that remained embarked at Madras for England, and arrived at Gravesend in July 1806. The remains of the regiment arrived at Perth in 1807, and in 1809 the ranks were filled up to 800 men, and a second battalion was added. The uniform and designation of the corps was then changed, and it ceased to be a Highland Regiment until the General Order of 18th March 1873, when, in consequence of the introduction of the system of linked battalions, it became associated for administrative and enlistment purposes with the 90th Regiment, the depôt, ultimately stationed at Hamilton, being temporarily attached to that of the 93rd Highlanders at Edinburgh. When the depôt of the latter left on the 10th of May, Colonel Burroughs issued a regimental order, saying, that while, in the name of the 93rd Highlanders, he had to bid farewell to Captain Warren and the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the depôt of the 73rd Regiment, he hoped that the period during which the depots of the 73rd and 93rd had been affiliated would be remembered with pleasure by both, and that the friendship it had led to would last for many years.

During the period from 1809 to 1873, the regiment saw service in South America, in South Africa during the Kaffir wars between 1846 and 1853, and in India during the Mutiny; but of its share in these operations details cannot here be given. A second battalion, formed in December 1808, also saw much active service abroad during its brief existence, and was present at the battles of Quatre Bras and Waterloo in 1815, on which two occasions it must have been in the thick of the conflict, for 22 out of the 23 officers were returned as either killed or wounded. It was finally disbanded at Chelmsford on the 4th of May 1817, but its presence at the great closing scene of Napoleon’s power has earned for the present battalion the distinction of bearing "Waterloo" on its colours and appointments. The regiment itself received new colours at Waterford in 1825, and fresh stands at Gosport in 1841 and Plymouth in 1862. When the set borne from 1841 to 1862 was retired, the flags were deposited in the Town Hall of the ancient city of Perth, the county town of "The Perthshire Regiment"

On the 2d of February 1874, the headquarters and main body of the regiment, which was at this time on service in India, embarked at Colombo on board H.M.S. "Malabar " for conveyance to Bombay en. route for Cawnpore, which was reached on the 17th—the total strength being 24 officers and 760 non-commissioned officers and men. In May, the "Arms of Perth" collar badges, similar to those worn by the 90th Light Infantry, were sanctioned as an addition to the uniform; and on the 5th of August, the same year, the regiment was inspected by the Right Honourable Lord Napier of Magdala, who expressed himself extremely well satisfied with the highly creditable manner in which all ranks turned out, both on parade and in the barrack rooms; and more especially with the general good conduct of the regiment since its arrival in India.

On the 7th of November great excitement was caused by the appearance under escort of a native who was alleged to be the famous, or rather infamous, Nana Sahib, and who was immediately placed in the cells under a strong guard. The man turned out, however to be an impostor, and was handed over to the civil power. The annual inspection for 1875 was held on the 5th of February by Major-General Sir James Brind, K.C.B., commanding the Allahabad Division, and on the 15th of November the same year, the 73rd marched from Cawnpore to the camp of exercise at Delhi, which was reached on the 10th December, the regiment being posted to the 1st Brigade of the 1st Division. After the inspection by Field-Marshal H.R.H. the Prince of Wales on the 11th of January 1876, the camp of exercise was broken up, and on the 27th and 28th the 73rd proceeded by half-battalions to Subathu, which was reached on the 19th and 20th of February. A change of quarters was ordered in November 1877 to Lucknow, and after a long march the latter place was reached in January 1878. With the exception of the annual inspections, which were always satisfactory, nothing of importance took place after this till August 1879, when orders were given for preparations to return to England. In consequence, however, of the complications in Afghanistan, the order for home was cancelled, and the regiment was detained for further service in India until August 1880, when instructions were again issued for the return to England. The departure from Lucknow took place on the 9th January 1881, on which occasion Lieutenant-General Cureton, CB., Commanding the Oude Division, issued the following farewell Order:-

"The 73rd Regiment being under orders to embark for England, after a tour of foreign service in China, Ceylon, and India, extending over a period of fourteen years, the Lieutentant-General requires, before it leaves his command, to record in Division Orders the high opinion he has of its efficiency in every respect. The uniform good conduct of all ranks, their steadiness on parade, and smartness when off duty have merited his warmest approval. He compliments Lieutenant-Colonel Barnes on the care and attention he has bestowed on the discipline and interior economy of the regiment, and thanks him for the support he has at all times received from him in matters connected with station duties of an important nature. He also desires him to convey to the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men his approval of the manner in which they have carried on their duties. In bidding farewell, the Lieutenant-General wishes all a safe voyage home, and a happy meeting with relations and friends"

On the 20th January the regiment embarked and sailed from Bombay in H.M.S. "Malabar" for Portsmouth, where it arrived and disembarked on the 19th February 1881, taking up quarters in Clarence Barracks. About this time it was rumoured that the regiment was again to become truly Highland, and by a General Order published in May the organisation, title, and uniform were changed, and the 73rd became once more, after a lapse of 72 years, re-united to its old 1st battalion The Black Watch. The new uniform was adopted on the 1st of July, and during the same month the depot was transferred from Hamilton to Perth. In July 1882, Colonel Barnes having completed five years’ service in command of the battalion, was placed on half-pay, and was succeeded by Lieutenant-Colonel H.D.O. Farrington.

By a General Order issued in September, Her Majesty was graciously pleased to approve of the regiment being permitted to bear on its colours and appointments the words "South Africa," in commemoration of the gallant behaviour of the 73rd Regiment when engaged in operations in South Africa, during the years 1846-47, 1851-52-53. In December 1883, the battalion, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Warren, moved to Aldershot by rail, and was attached to the 1st Brigade and quartered in the South Camp, remaining there till the 15th of December 1885, when it proceeded via Portsmouth and Kingstown to the Curragh (where it is still stationed), arriving at that place on the 17th of December.

Colonel T. M. Warren, according to the regulations, retired 29th January 1887 with the honorary rank of major-general, and was succeeded in command of the regiment by Lieutenant-Colonel A. F. Kidston from the 42nd, The Black Watch.

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