Military history pages..
Lord Chatham and the Highlanders - Raising of the Regiment - America - Fort du Quèsne - Ticonderogo - Cherokees - Dominique - West Indies - Newfoundland - Fort Pitt
We have already quoted Lord Chatham's eloquent statement1 with regard to the Highland Regiments, in his celebrated speech on the differences with America in 1766. The only way by which the Highlanders could be gained over was by adopting a liberal course of policy, the leading features of which should embrace employment of the chiefs, or their connections, in the military service of the government. It was reserved to the sagacity of Chatham to trace to its source the cause of the disaffection of the Highlanders, and, by suggesting a remedy, to give to the military virtue a safe direction.
Acting upon the liberal plan he had devised Lord Chatham (then Mr pitt), in the year 1757 recommended to his Majesty George II. to employ the Highlanders in his service, as the best means of attaching them to his person. The king approved of the plan of the minister, and letters of service were immediately issued for raising several Highland regiments. This call to arms was responded to by the clans, and "battalions on battalions," to borrow the words of an anonymous author, "were raised in the remotest part of the Highlands, among those who a few years before were devoted to, and too long had followed the fate of the race of Stuarts. Frasers, Macdonalds, Camerons, Macleans, Macphersons, and others of disaffected names and clans, were enrolled; their chiefs or connection obtained commissions; the lower class, always ready to follow, with eagerness endeavoured who should be first listed."
This regiment was called Montgomerie's Highlanders, from the names of its colonel, the Hon. Archibald Montgomerie, son of the Earl of Eglington, to whom, when major, letters of service were issued for recruiting it. Being popular among the Highlanders, Major Montgomerie soon raised the requisite body of men, who were formed into a regiment of thirteen companies of 105 rank and file each; making in all 1460 effective men, including 65 sergeants, and 30 pipers and drummers.
The Colonels commission was dated the 4th of January 1757. The commissions of the officers were dated each a day later than his senior in the same rank.
The Hon. Archibald Montgomerie, afterwards Earl of Eglinton, died a general in the army, and colonel of the Scots Greys, in 1796.
James Grant of Ballindalloch, died a general in the army in 1806.
Alexander Mackenzie, killed at St John's, 1761.
William Macdonald, killed at Fort du Quèsne, 1759.
Geroge Munro, killed at Fort du Quèsne, 1759.
Allan Maclean, from the Dutch brigade, colonel of the 84th Highland Emigrants; died Major-general, 1784,
Captain-lieutenant Alexander Mackintosh.
Alexander Mackenzie, killed at Fort du Quèsne, 1759.
Nichol Sutherland, died Lieutenant-colonel of the 47th regiment, 1780.
William Mackenzie, killed at Fort du Quèsne, 1759.
Robert Mackenzie, killed at Fort du Quèsne, 1759.
Colin Campbell, killed at Fort du Quèsne, 1759.
Hugh Gordon, killed in Martinique 1762.
Alexander Macdonald, killed at Fort du Quèsne, 1759.
Hugh Montgomerie, late Earl of Eglington.
James Maclean, killed in the West Indies, 1761.
John Campbell of Melford.
Archibald Macvicar, killed at the Havannah, 1762.
Chaplain. - Henry Munro.
Adjutant. - Donald Stewart.
Quarter-master. - Alex. Montgomerie.
Surgeon. - Allan Stewart.
The regiment embarked at Greenock for Halifax, and on the commencement of hostilities in 1758 was attached to the corps under Brigadier-general Forbes in the expedition against Fort du Quèsne, one of the three great enterprises undertaken that year against the French possessions in North America. Although the point of attack was not so formidable, nor the number of the enemy so great, as in the cases of Ticonderoga and Crown Point; yet the great extent of country which the troops had to traverse covered woods, morasses, and mountains, made the expedition as difficult as the other two. The army of General Forbes was 6238 men strong.
The brigadier reached Raystown, about 90 miles from the Fort, in September, having apparently stayed some time in Philadelphia. Having sent Colonel Boquet forward to Loyal Henning, 40 miles nearer, with 2000 men, this officer rashly despatched Major Grant of Montgomery's with 400 Highlanders and 500 provincials to reconnoitre. When near the garrison Major Grant imprudently advanced with pipes playing and drums beating, as if entering a friendly town. The enemy instantly marched out, and a warm contest took place. Major Grant ordered his men to throw off their coats and advance sword in hand. The enemy fled on the first charge, and spread themselves among the woods; but being afterwards joined by a body of Indians, they rallied and surrounded the detachment on all sides. Protected by a thick foliage, they opened a destructive fire upon the British. Major Grant then endeavoured to force his way into the wood, but was taken in the attempt, on seeing which his troops dispersed. Only 150 of the Highlanders returned to Loyal Henning.
In this unfortunate affair 231 soldiers of the regiment were killed or wounded. The names of the officers killed on this occasion have already been mentioned; the following were wounded; viz. Captain Hugh Mackenzie; Lieutenants Alexander Macdonald, junior, Archibald Robertson, Henry Munro; and Ensigns John Macdonald and Alexander Grant. The enemy did not venture to oppose the main body, but retired from Fort du Quèsne on its approach, leaving their ammunition, stores, and provisions untouched. General Forbes took possession of the Fort on the 24th of November, and, in honour of Mr Pitt, gave it the name of Pittsburgh.
The regiment passed the winter of 1758 in Pittsburgh, and in May following they joined part of the army under General Amherst in his proceedings at Ticonderoga, Crown Point and the Lakes.
In consequence of the renewed cruelties committed by the Cherokees, in the spring of 1760, the commander-in-chief detached Colonel Montgomery with 700 Highlanders of his own regiment, 400 of the Royals, and a body of provincials, to chastise these savages. The colonel arrived in the neighbourhood of the Indian town Little Keowee in the middle of June, having, on his route, detached the light companies of the Royals and Highlanders to destroy the place. This service was performed with the loss of a few men killed and two officers of the Royals wounded. Finding, on reaching Estatoe, that the enemy had fled, Colonel Montgomery retired to Fort Prince George. The Cherokees still proving refractory, he paid a second visit to the middle settlement, where he met with some resistance. He had 2 officers and 20 men killed, and 26 officers and 68 men wounded.2 Of these, the Highlanders had 1 sergeant and 6 privates killed, and Captain Sutherland, Lieutenants Macmaster and Mackinnon, and Assistant-surgeon Monro, and 1 sergeant, 1 piper, and 24 rank and file wounded. The detachment took Fort Loudon, - a small fort on the confines of Virginia, - which was defended by 200 men.
The next service in which Montgomery's Highlanders were employed was in an expedition against Dominique, consisting of a small land force, which included six companies of Montgomery's Highlanders and four ships of war, under Colonel Lord Rollo and Commodore Sir James Douglas. The transports from New York were scattered in a gale of wind, when a small transport, with a company of the Highlanders on board, being attacked by a French privateer, was beaten off by the Highlanders, with, the loss of Lieutenant Maclean and 6 men killed, and Captain Robertson and 11 men wounded. The expedition arrived off Dominique on the 6th of June 1761. The troops immediately landed, and marched with little opposition to the town of Roseau. Lord Rollo without delay attacked the entrenchments, and, though the enemy kept up a galling fire, they were driven, in succession, from all their works by the grenadiers, light infantry, and Highlanders. This service was executed with such vigour and rapidity that few of the British suffered. The governor and his staff being made prisoners, surrendered the island without further opposition.
In the following year Montgomery's Highlanders joined the expeditions against Martinique and Havannah. In the enterprise against Martinique, Lieutenant Hugh Gordon and 4 rank and file were killed, and Captain Alexander Mackenzie, 1 sergeant and 26 rank and file, were wounded. Montgomery's Highlanders suffered still less in the conquest of the Havannah, Lieutenant Macvicar and 2 privates only having been killed, and 6 privates wounded. Lieutenants Grant and Macnab and 6 privates died of the fever. After this last enterprise Montgomery's Highlanders returned to New York where they landed in the end of October.
Before the return of the six companies to New York, the two companies that had been sent against the Indians in the autumn of 1761, had embarked with a small force, under Colonel Amherst, destined to retake St John's, Newfoundland, which was occupied by a French force. The British force, which consisted of the flank companies of the Royals, a detachment of the 45th, two companies of Fraser's and Mongomery's Highlanders, and a small party of provincials, landed on the 12th of September, seven miles to the northward of St John's. A mortar battery having been completed on the 17th, and ready to open on the garrison, the French commander surrendered by capitulation to an inferior force. Of Montgomery's Highlanders, Captain Makenzie and 4 privates were killed, and 2 privates wounded.
After this service the two companies joined the regiment at New York, where they passed the ensuing winter. In the summer of 1763 a detachment accompanied the expedition sent to the relief of Fort Pitt under Colonel Bouquet. In this enterprise 1 drummer and 5 privates of Montgomey's Highlanders were killed, and Lieutenant Donald Campbell, and Volunteer John Peebles, 3 sergeants, and 7 privates were wounded.
After the termination of hostilities an offer was made to the officers and men either to settle in America or return to their own country. Those who remained obtained a grant of land in proportion to their rank. On the breaking out of the American war a number of these, as well as officers and men of the 78th regiment, joined the royal standard in 1775, and formed a corps along with the Highland Emigrants in the 84th regiment.
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1 Unfortunately in a volume not in my possession. This history also refers to the other volume for descriptions of some of the actions.
N.B. This is one of the stories that Ian Macpherson McCulloch says may well be a flight of fancy.
2 "Several soldiers of this and other regiments fell into the hands of the Indians, being taken in ambush. Allan Macpherson, one of these soldiers, witnessing the miserable fate of several of his fellow prisoners, who had been tortured to death by the Indians, and seeing them preparing to commence some operations on himself, made signs that he had something to communicate. An interpreter was brought. Macpherson told them, that, provided his life was spared for a few minutes, he would communicate the secret of an extraordinary medicine, which, if applied to the skin, would cause it to resist the strongest blow of a tomahawk or sword; and that, if they would allow him to go to the woods with a guard to collect the proper plants for this medicine, he would prepare it, and allows the experiment to be tried on this own neck by the strongest and most export warrior amongst them. This story easily gained upon the superstitious credulity of the Indeinas, and the request of the Highlander was instantly complied with. Being sent into the woods, he soon returned with such plants as he chose to pick up. Having boiled the herbs, he rubbed his neck with their juice, and laying his head upon a log of wood, desired the strongest man amongst them to strike at his neck with a tomahawk, when he would find he could not make the smallest impression. An Indian levelling a blow with all his might, cut with such force, that the head flew off at the distance of several yards. The Indians were fixed in amazement at their own credulity, and the address with which the prisoner had escaped the lingering death prepared for him, but, instead of being enraged at this escape of their victim, they were so pleased with hi ingenuity that they refrained from inflicting farther cruelties on the remaining prisoners." - Stewart's Sketches.