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

Military Annals of the Highland Regiments

Strathspey Regiment

I shall have occasion to mention an early offer made by the Laird of Grant, in 1793, along with the Duke of Gordon, the Marchioness of Stafford, and the Earl of Breadalbane, to raise Fencible regiments in the Highlands. As soon as Sir James Grant's Fencible regiment was embodied, he made further proposals to raise a regiment for general service. After the exertions recently made to complete the Grant Fencibles, this was an arduous undertaking.

The difficulty soon appeared. Though the corps was numerically completed to 1000 men within the stipulated time, all of them were not of that class which formed the Fencible corps. The Lieutenant-Colonel, Major, and others of the officers, were not natives of the North, and without local knowledge or influence; their commissions depending on their success in recruiting, their principal object was to procure a sufficient number capable of passing muster, and, as money in manufacturing towns effected what influence did in the North, many men were recruited whose character and constitutions could bear no comparison with men of regular and hardy habits raised in the agricultural districts. However, there was among them a number of very good men: the flank companies were excellent.

The regiment was inspected and embodied at Elgin by Major-General Sir Hector Munro, and numbered the 97th; and thus a private gentleman added 1300 soldiers to the force of the country, besides those raised by the officers in the Southern districts. From this, and several other instances at this period, we may, without going back to the days of chiefs and clansmen, estimate the great importance of family, territorial, and personal influence. When exercised by such men as the late Sir James Grant—honourable, humane, and hospitable in his private character, as well as a kind and generous landlord to a numerous and grateful tenantry—Great Britain may calculate on commanding the willing services of the youth of the mountains.

The 97th was ordered to the south of England in 1794, served a few months as marines on board Lord Howe's fleet in the Channel. In autumn 1795, the men and officers were drafted into different regiments, and the two flank companies turned over to the 42d, when preparing to embark for the West Indies.

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