Military history pages..

Fencible Corps.

The plan of raising Fencible Corps in the Highlands was first proposed and carried into effect by Mr Pitt (afterwards the Earl of Chatham), in the year 1759. During the three preceding years both the fleets and armies of Great Britain had suffered reverses, and to retrieve the national character great efforts were necessary. In England county militia regiments were raised for internal defence in the absence of the regular army; but it was not deemed prudent to extend the system to Scotland, the inhabitants of which, it was supposed, could not yet be safely entrusted with arms. Groundless as the reasons for this caution undoubtedly were in regard to the Lowlands, it would certainly have been hazardous at a time when the Stuarts and their adherents were still plotting a restoration to have armed the clans. An exception, however, was made in favour of the people of Argyll and Sutherland, and accordingly letters of service were issued to the Duke of Argyll, then the most influential and powerful nobleman in Scotland, and the Earl of Sutherland to raise, each of them, a Fencible regiment within his district. Unlike the militia regiments which were raised by ballot, the Fencibles were to be raised by the ordinary mode of recruiting, and like the regiments of the line, the officers were to be appointed and their commissions signed by the king. The same system was followed at different periods down to the year 1799, the last of the Fencible regiments having been raised in that year.

The following is a list of the Highland Fencible regiments according to the chronological order of the commissions, with the date of their embodiment and reduction:-