New York’s 79th, which
modeled its uniforms after the famed Black Watch, remains
the most celebrated of these Scots Union military
However, the 79th New York Volunteer
Infantry (aka "Cameron Highlanders”) uniform was not modeled on
the famed Am Freiceadan Dubh (aka Black Watch),the 42nd
Regt. of Foot (Royal Highland Regiment) but on the equally famed
79th Regt. of Foot, aka the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders.
They wore the Cameron of Erracht
tartan (the same as the QOCH) for their kilts and trews.
The Highland Guard or 79th New York
(originally known as the Highland Guard) was originally created
as a "social club” militia unit in New York city in the fall of
1858, with the help of the St. Andrews and Caledonian societies
of New York and wealthy financial backers like Samuel M.
Elliot and James Cameron, the brother of Simon
Cameron, Lincoln's Secretary of War.
(James was later KIA leading the
regiment at Bull Run.) However, they had no connection to
the original 79th Cameron Highlanders of Scotland other than
their name and tartan.
Their original duty was to parade,
train as heavy artillery, and also provided a guard for
the Prince of Wales when he visited the United States and did
the same for the Japanese ambassador.
I enclose some examples of the
uniform and weapons of the 79th, and some period pictures for
Below is the post war uniform of the
79th New York Highlanders, ca. 1872
They changed everything about their uniform to conform with the
new uniform regulations of the national guard system that was
replacing the militia system, going from black leather belts
to white cotton cross belts, new sporran, altered tartan,
(Cameron of Erracht Modern to Cameron of Erracht Ancient) new
jacket, glengarry, hose, breast plate and buckle added, new
shoes with new leggings, epaulettes, and so on.
And this is what it looks like when worn