Military history pages..
Raising of the Regiment - Rebellion of 1745 - Flanders - Bergen-op-Zoom -Reduction of the Regiment.
The bravery displayed by Lord John Murray's Highlanders at Fontenoy opened the eyes of Government to the importance of securing the military services of the clans. It was therefore determined to repair, in part, by raising a second regiment in the Highlands, and authority to that effect was granted to the Earl of Loudon. By the influence of the noblemen, chiefs, and gentlemen of the country, whose sons and connexions were to be appointed officers, a body of 1250 men was raised, of whom 750 assembled at Inverness, and the remainder at Perth. The whole were formed into a battalion of twelve companies, under the following officers, their commissions being dated June 8th 1745: -
Colonel - John Campbell, Earl of Loudon, who died in 1782, a general in
Lieutenant-Colonel - John Campbell (afterwards the Duke of Argyll) who died a field-marshal in 1806.
John Murray (afterwards Duke of Athole), son of Lord George Murray.
Alexander Livingstone Campbell, son of Ardkinglass.
John Macleod, younger of Macleod.
Henry Munro, son of Colonel Sir Robert Munro of Fowlis.
Lord Charles Gordon, brother of the Duke of Gordon.
John Stewart, son of the Earl of Moray.
Alexander Mackay, son of Lord Reay.
Ewen Macpherson of Clunie.
John Sutherland of Forse.
Colin Campbell of Ballimore, killed at Cullodon.
Archibald Macnab, who died a lieutenant-general in 1791, son of the laird of Macnab.
Colin Campbell of Kilberrie
John Campbell of Strachur, who died in 1806, a general in the army, and colonel of the 57th regiment.
Duncan Robertson of Drumachuine, afterwards of Strowan.
Patrick Campbell, son of Achallader.
James Macpherson of Killihuntly.
John Robertson or Reid, of Straloch, who died in 1806, at the age of eighty-five, a general in the army. And colonel of the 88th Connaught Rangers.Patrick Grant, younger of Rothiemurchus.
John Campbell of Ardsliginish.
Alexander Campbell, brother to Barcaldine.
Donald Macdonell of Lochgarry.
Colin Campbell of Glenure.
James Stewart of Urrard.
John Martin of Inch.
George Munro of Novar.
Malcolm Ross, younger of Pitcalnie.
David Spalding of Ashintully.
Alexander Maclagan, son of the minister of Little Dunkeld.
Robert Bisset of Glenelbert, afterwards commissary-general of Great Britain.
John Grant, younger of Dalrachnie.
Before the regiment was disciplined, the rebellion broke out, and so rapid were the movements of the rebels, that the communication between the two divisions, at Perth and Inverness, was cut off. They were therefore obliged to act separately. The formation of the regiment at the time was considered a fortunate circumstance, as many of the men would certainly have joined in the insurrection; and indeed several of the officers and men went over to the rebels. Four companies were employed in the central and southern Highlands, under Lord Loudon. Three companies under the Hon. Captains Stewart and Mackay, and Captain Munro of Fowlis, were, with all their officers, taken prisoners at the battle of Gladsmuir. These other companies were also at the battle of Culloden, where Captain Campbell and six men were killed and two soldiers wounded.
On the 30th of May 1747, the regiment embarked at Burntisland for Flanders but it did not join the Duke of Cumberlands army till after the battle of Lafeldt, on the 2nd of July. Though disappointed of the opportunity which this battle would have given them of distinguishing themselves, another soon offered for the display of their gallantry. Marshal Saxe having determined to attack the strong fortress of Bergen-op-Zoom, with an army of 25,000 men under General Count Lowendahl, all the disposable forces in Brabant, including Loudon's Highlanders, were sent to defend the lines, which were strongly fortified. To relieve the garrison, consisting of six battalions, and to preserve a communication with the country, eighteen battalions occupied the lines. The fortress, which was considered impregnable, was defended by 250 pieces of cannon. The siege was carried on unremittingly from the 15th of July till the 17th September, during which time many sorties were made. In the Hague Gazette, an account is given of one of these, which took place on the 25th of July, in which it is stated "that the Highlanders, who were posted in Fort Rouro, which covers the lines of Bergen-op-Zoom, made a sally, sword in hand, in which they were so successful as to destroy the enemy's grand battery, and to kill so many of their men, that Count Lowendahl beat a parley, in order to bury his dead. To this it was answered, that had he attacked the place agreeably to the rules of war, his demand would almost certainly been granted; but as he had begun the siege like an incendiary, by setting fire to the city with red-hot balls, a resolution had been taken neither to ask or grant any suspension of arms."
Having made breaches in a ravelin and two bastions, the besiegers made an unexpected assault on the night of the 16th September, and throwing themselves into the fosse, mounted the breaches, forced open a sally port, and, entering the place, ranged themselves along the ramparts, almost before the garrison had assembled. Cronstrun, the old governor, and many of his officers, were asleep, and so sudden was the attack, that several of them flew to the ranks in their shirts. Though the possession of the ramparts sealed the fate of the town, the Scottish troops were not disposed to surrender it without a struggle. The French were opposed by two regiments of the Scotch Brigade, in the pay of the Statesgeneral, who, by their firmness, checked the progress of the enemy, and enabled the governor and garrison to recover from their surprise. The Scotch assembled in the market-place, and attacked the French with such vigour that they drove them from street to street, till, fresh reinforcements pouring in, they were compelled to retreat in their turn, - disputing every inch as they retired, and fighting till two-thirds of their number fell on the spot, killed or severely wounded - when the remainder brought off the old governor, and joined the troops in the lines.
The troops in the lines, most unaccountably, retreated immediately, and the enemy thus became masters of the whole navigation of the Scheldt. "Two battalions," says an account of the assault published in the Hague Gazette, "of the Scotch brigade have, as usual, done honour to their country, - which is all we have to comfort us for the loss of such brave men, who, from 1450, are now reduced to 330 men - and those have valiantly brought their colours with them, which the grenadiers twice recovered from the midst of the French at the point of the bayonet. The Swiss have also suffered, while others took a more speedy way to escape danger." In a history of this memorable siege the brave conduct of the Scotch is also noticed: "It appears that more than 300 of the Scotch brigade fought their way through the enemy, and that they have had 19 officers killed and 18 wounded. Lieutenants Francis and Allan Maclean of the brigade were taken prisoners, and carried before General Lowendahl, who thus addressed them: 'Gentlemen, consider yourselves on parole. If all had conducted themselves as you and your brave corps have done, I should not now be master of Bergen-op-Zoom.'"1.
The loss of a fortress hitherto deemed impregnable was deeply felt by the allies. The eyes of al Europe had been fixed upon this important siege, and when the place fell strong suspicions were entertained of treachery in the garrison. Every thing had been done by the people of the United Provinces to enable the soldiers to hold out: they were allowed additional provisions of the best quality, and cordials were furnished for the sick and dying. Large sums of money were collected to be presented to the soldiers, if they made a brave defence; and £17,000 were collected in one day in Amsterdam, to be applied in the same way, if the soldiers compelled the enemy to raise the siege. Every soldier who carried away a gabion from the enemy was paid a crown, and such was the activity of the Scotch, that some of them gained ten crowns a-day in this kind of service. Those who ventured to take the burning fuse out of the bombs of the enemy (and there were several who did so), received ten or twelve ducats. In this remarkable siege the French sustained an enormous loss, exceeding 22,000 men; that of the garrison did not exceed 4000.2
After the loss of Bergen-op-Zoom, Loudon's Highlanders joined the Duke of Cumberland's army, and at the peace of 1748 returned to Scotland, and was reduced at Perth in June of the same year.
1. Lieutenant Allan Maclean was son of Maclean of Torloisk. He left the Dutch and entered the British service. He was a captain in Montgomery's Highlanders in 1757; raised the 114th Highland regiment in 1759; and, in 1775, raised a battalion of the 84th, a Highland Emigrant regiment; and, by his unwearied zeal and abilities, was the principal cause of the defeat of the Americans at the attack on Quebec in 1775-6. Lieutenant Francis Maclean also entered the British service, and rose to the rank of Major-general. In the year 1777 he was appointed colonel of the 82nd regiment, and, in 1779, commanded an expedition against Ponobscot in Nova Scotia, in which he was completely successful - Stewart's Sketches. Return
2. The following anecdote of faithful attachment is told by Mrs Grant, in her Superstitions of the Highlanders. Captain Fraser of Culduthel, an officer of the Black Watch, was a volunteer at this celebrated siege, as was likewise his colonel, Lord John Murray. Captain Fraser was accompanied by his servant, who was also his foster-brother. A party from the lines was ordered to attack and destroy a battery raised by the enemy. Captain Fraser accompanied this party directing his servant to remain in the garrison. "The night was pitch dark, and the party had such difficulty in proceeding that they wer forced to halt for a short time. As they moved forward Captain Fraser felt his path impeded, and putting down his hand to discover the cause, he caught hold of a plaid, and seized the owner, who seemed to grovel on the ground. He held the caitiff in with one hand, and drew his dirk with the other, when he heard the imploring voice of his foster-brother. 'What the devil brought you here?' 'Just love of you and care for your person.' 'Why so, when your love can do me no good; and why encumber yourself with a plaid?' 'Alas! How could I ever see my mother had you been killed or wounded, and I not been there to carry you to the surgeon, or to Christian burial? And how could I do either without any plaid to wrap you in?' Upon inquiry it was found that the poor man had crawled out on his knees and hands between the sentinels, then followed the party to some distance, till he thought they were approaching the place of assault, and then again crept in the same manner on the ground, beside his master, that he might be near him unobserved."
Captain Fraser was unfortunately killed a few days thereafter, by a random shot, while looking over the ramparts.