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Scottish Regiments
The Black Watch - Ticonderoga

General Abercromby, the commander-in chief, took charge of the expedition against Ticonderoga, with a force of 15,390 men, of whom 6337 were regulars (including Lord John Murray's Highlanders), and 9024 provincials, besides a train of artillery.

Fort Ticonderoga stands on a tongue of land between Lake Champlain and Lake George, and is surrounded on three sides by water; part of the fourth side is protected by a morass; the remaining part was strongly fortified with high entrenchments, supported and flanked by three batteries, and the whole front of that part which was accessible was intersected by deep traverses, and blocked up with felled trees, with their branches turned outwards and their points first sharpened and then hardened by fire, forming altogether a most formidable defence. On the 4th of July 1758 the commander-in-chief embarked his troops on Lake George, on board 900 batteaux and 135 whale-boats, with provisions, artillery, and ammunition; several pieces of cannon being mounted on rafts to cover the landing, which was effected next day without opposition. The troops were then formed into two parallel columns, and in this order marched towards the enemy's advanced post, consisting of one battalion, encamped behind a breast-work of logs. The enemy abandoned this defence without a shot, after setting the breast-work on fire and burning their tents and implements. The troops continued their march in the same order, but the route lying through a wood, and the guides being imperfectly acquainted with the country, the columns were broken by coming in contact with each other. The right column, at the head of which was Lord Howe, fell in with a detachment of the enemy who had also lost their way in the retreat from the advanced post, and a smart skirmish ensuing, the enemy were routed with considerable loss. Lord Howe unfortunately fell in the beginning of this action. He was much regretted, being "a young nobleman of the most promising talents, who had distinguished himself in a peculiar manner by his courage, activity, and rigid observance of military discipline, and had acquired the esteem and affection of the soldiery by his generosity, sweetness of manners, and engaging address".

Perceiving that his men were greatly fatigued, General Abercromby ordered them to march back to their landing place, which they reached about eight o'clock in the morning. having taken possession of a saw-mill in the neighbourhood of Ticonderoga, which the enemy had abandoned, General Abercromby advanced towards the place next morning. It was garrisoned by 5000 men, of whom 2800 were French troops of the line, who were stationed behind the traverses and felled trees in front of the fort. Receiving information from some prisoners that General Levi, with a force of 3000 men, was marching to the defence of Ticonderoga, the English commander resolved to anticipate him by striking, if possible, a decisive blow before a junction could be effected. He therefore sent an engineer across the river on the opposite side of the fort to reconnoitre the enemy's entrenchments, who reported that the works being still unfinished, might be attempted with a prospect of success. Preparations for the attack were therefore instantly made. The whole army being put in motion, the picquets, followed by the grenadiers, the battalions and reserve, which last consisted of the Highlanders and the 55th regiment, advanced with great alacrity towards the entrenchments, which they found to be much more formidable that they expected. The breast-work, which was regularly fortified, was eight feet high, and the ground before it was covered with an abbatis or chevauz-de-frize, projecting in such a manner as to render the entrenchment almost inaccessible. Undismayed by these discouraging obstacles, the British troops marched up to the assault in the face of a destructive fire, and maintained their ground without flinching. Impatient in the rear, the Highlanders broke from the reserve, and, pushing forward to the front, endeavoured to cut their way through the trees with their broadswords. After a long and deadly struggle, the assailants penetrated the exterior defences and advanced to the breast-work; but being unprovided with scaling ladders, they attempted to gain the breast-work, partly by mounting on each other's shoulders, and partly by fixing their feet in the holes which they made with their swords and bayonets in the face of the work. No sooner, however, did a man reach the top, than he was thrown down by the troops behind the entrenchments. Captain John Campbell, with a few men, at length forced their way over the breast-work, but they were immediately despatched with the bayonet. After a desperate struggle, which lasted about four hours under such discouraging circumstances, General Abercromby seeing no possible chance of success, gave orders for a retreat. It was with difficulty, however, that the troops could be prevailed upon to retire, and it was not till the third order that the Highlanders were induced to retreat, after more than one-half of the men and twenty-five officers had been either killed or desperately wounded. No attempt was made to molest them in their retreat, and the whole retired in good order, carrying along with them the whole of the wounded, amounting to 65 officers and 1178 non-commissioned officers and soldiers. Twenty-three officers and 567 rank and file were killed.

The loss sustained by the 42d was as follows, viz - 8 officers, 9 sergeants, and 306 soldiers wounded. The officers killed were Major Duncan Campbell of Inveraw, Captain John Campbell, Lieutenants George Farquharson, Hugh MacPherson, William Baillie, and John Sitherland; Ensigns Patrick Stewart, brother of Bonskeid, and George Rattray. The wounded were Captain Gordon Graham, Thomas Graham of Duchray, John Campbell of Strachur, James Stewart of Urrard, James Grant, Robert Gary, John Campbell, William Grant, John Graham, brother of Duchray, Alexander Campbell, Alexander Mackintosh, Archibald Campbell, David Miller, Patrick Balneaves; and Ensigns John Smith and Peter Grant.

The intrepid conduct of the Highlanders on this occasion was made the topic of universal panegyric in Great Britain, and the public spirits teemed with honourable testimonies to their bravery. If anything could add to the gratification they received from the approbation of their country, nothing was better calculated to enhance it than the handsome way in which their services were appreciated by their companions in arms. "With a mixture of esteem, grief, and envy (says an officer of the 55th), I consider the great loss and immortal glory acquired by the Scots Highlanders in the late bloody affair. Impatient for orders, they rushed forward to the entrenchments, which many of them actually mounted. They appeared like lions breaking from their chains. Their intrepidity was rather animated than damped by seeing their comrades fall on every side. I have only to say of them, that they seemed more anxious to revenge the cause of their deceased friends, than careful to avoid the same fate. By their assistance, we expect soon to give a good account of the enemy and of ourselves. There is much harmony and friendship between us". The following extract of a letter from Lieutenant William Grant, an officer of the regiment, seems to contain no exaggerated detail: - "The attack began a little past one in the afternoon, and about two the fire became general on both sides, which was exceedingly heavy, and without any intermission, insomuch that the oldest soldier present never saw so furious and incessant a fire. The affair at Fontenoy was nothing to it: I saw both. We laboured under insurmountable difficulties. The enemy's breast-work was about nine or ten feet high, upon the top of which they had plenty of wall-pieces fixed, and which was well lined in the inside with small arms. But the difficult access to their lines was what have them a fatal advantage over us. They took care to cut down monstrous large oak trees which covered all the ground from the foot of their breast-work about the distance of a cannon-shot every way in their front. This not only broke our ranks, and made it impossible for us to keep our order, but put it entirely out of our power to advance till we cut our way through. I have seen men behave with courage and resolution before now, but so much determined bravery can hardly be equalled in any part of the history of ancient Rome. Even those that were mortally wounded cried aloud to their companions, not to mind or lose a thought upon them, but to follow their officers, and to mind the honour of their country. Nay, their ardour was such, that it was difficult to bring them off. They paid dearly for their intrepidity. The remains of the regiment had the honour to cover the retreat of the army, and brought off the wounded as we did at Fontenoy. When shall we have so fine a regiment again? I hope we shall be allowed to recruit. Lieutenant Grant's wish had been anticipated, as letters of service had been issued, before the affair of Ticonderoga was known in England, for raising a second battalion. Moreover, previous to the arrival of the news of the affair at Ticonderoga, his majesty George II had issued a warrant conferring upon the regiment the title of Royal, so that after this it was known as the 42d Royal Highland Regiment.

This information was sent in by Murray McCombs

The 42nd Blackwatch Highlander, 1st Battalion, Muster Roll, Oct 24, 1758

Sources: "The Ontario Register" Vol 3, 1970, p 223, by Mary McCall Middleton, Orange, NJ

The following is the roll of Capt. John Reid's Company of the 42nd, which was commanded by Capt. James Murray during the expedition. Taken from Atholl Records, page 440, vol. III.

In the bibliography for this article (Appendix O), the Atholl records are shown as "Chronicles of the Atholl and Tullibardine Families". Collected and arranged by John, Seventh Duke of Atholl, K.T., in five volumes, Ballantyle Press, 1908.

Lake George Camp - Ticonderoga Oct. 24, 1758

       John Reid Capt.
       Kenneth Tolmie Lt
       David Mill Lt
       Charles Menzies Ensign

       James McNabb Sergeant
       John McAndrews Sergeant
       John Watson Sergeant
       Alexander Cumming Sergeant
       John Cumming Corporal
       Jonnathen Grant Corporal
       Angus McDonald Corporal
       John Stewart Corporal

       Walter McIntyre Drummer - Killed 8th July 1758
       Allan Campbell Drummer


       William Anderson
       Alexander Cumming
       William Carmichall
       Angus Cameron
       Hugh Christy
       Hugh Fraser
       Donald Fraser
       Donald Fraser
       Alexander Fraser
       John Forbes
       Donald Grant
       James Grant
       John Grant
       John Grant
       William Grant
       John Graham
       William Gordon
       James Gordon
       Donald Kennedy
       Donald Kennedy
       John Kennedy
       James Michall
       James Murray
       Donald Murray
       Alexander McKenzie
       Rodrick McKenzie
       Hugh McKenzie
       Hugh McKenzie
       John McKenzie
       Gillis McF-----
       Angus McDonald
       Achibald McDonald
       Lachlin McDonald
       John McDonald
       Donald McDermid
       Robert McGregor
       Alexander McGregor
       Doanld McGregor
       John McIntosh
       Donald McIntyre
       Alexander McIntyre
       Leonard McGlashon
       John McGillivarie
       Donald McColl
       Neill McMillion
       Rodrick McLean
       Neill McNeill
       John McLaren
       John McArthur
       Neill McEarchern
       John McPhie
       Hugh McPhie
       Neill McLeod
       Donald McLish
       Donald McLish
       William McLinnion
       George McAdam
       Hugh McKeay
       Hector McInven
       Donald McPherson
       Alexander McPherson
       Donald Robertson
       Alexnader Reid
       James Rea
       John Ross
       Donald Ross
       Alexander Ross
       Walter Spalding
       John smith
       Neill Shaw
       Alexander Stewart
       Robert Urquhart
       Donald Watson
       Donald Wheet
       Duncan Wright
       William Wishart

 KILLED 8th JULY 1758:

       John Buchanan
       Hugh Cameron
       Donald Carr
       James Farquharson
       Hugh Fraser
       James McDonald
       Archibald McDonald
       William McDonald
       James McIntyre
       Donald McQueen
       Dugall McLachlan
       Donald McNeil
       John McKenzie
       Peter McFarlane
       Norman McLeod
       Hugh Ross
       Doanld Stewart
       Walter Stewart
       Charles Stewart
       John Sinclair

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