The 42nd Regiment of Foot


The 42nd, also known as the Blackwatch, was a Scottish infantry regiment in the British Army. Originally it was named Crawford's Highlanders and was numbered 43rd in the line. In 1748 they were renumbered the 42nd and in 1752 were officially titled the 42nd Highland Regiment of Foot.The 42nd was one of the first three Highland Regiments to fight in North America.

This website is devoted to those that wish to portray someone from the 42nd during the 18th century.

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History of the Regiment during its early years and 7 Year War.

Early Years

25 October, 1739
The companies of the Highland (Black) Watch, from the Independent Companies raised in 1729, ordered by Royal warrant formed into 43rd regiment under John, Earl of Crawford and Lindsay.
May, 1740
Regiment assembled for the first time, in Perthshire between Taybridge and Aberfeldy.
Lord Crawford to Life Guards, Brigadier Lord Sempill assumes colonelcy.
Winter, 1741 - March, 1743
Regiment returned to Highlands and resumed duties formerly performed by the Highland Watch.
March, 1743
Regiment assembles in Perth, with orders to march to London. This is not well recieved by the Highlanders - but unrest is calmed by explaining that the King merely wishes to see a Highland regiment, which he has never seen.
April, 1743
Regiment marches through Scotland and England, and was an object of interest everywhere it marched.
29-30 April, 1743
Regiment arrives in London. Immense crowds gather to see the Highlanders.
May, 1743
The King was on the Continent, and rumors spread among the men - that the regiment was being sent to the West Indies, or that it was a ploy to round up Jacobites and get them out of Scotland.
14 May, 1743
Reviewed by Marshal Wade and other "persons of distinction", who were favorably impressed.
17 May, 1743
>Mutiny begins - that night, deserters gathered near Highgate and set out on the march to the north.
19 May, 1743
a troop of General Wade's Regiment of Horse (2nd Queens Regiment of Dragoon Guards) - led by Captain Ball, finds the deserters at Lady Wood. Ball led some negotiations: Highlanders wished to retain their arms and receive a full pardon, saying they would rather be cut to pieces than surrender. Bit by bit, the deserters were persuaded to surrender.
8 June, 1743
Deserters all tried by court-martial, found guilty, and sentenced to be shot. The capital portion was commuted for all but 3 men - Corporals Malcolm and Samuel McPherson, and private Farqhuar Shaw.
12 June, 1743
Corporals McPherson and private Shaw executed at the Tower of London. Lord John Murray, who was later Colonel of the Regiment, had portraits of all three men hung in his dining room.
11 August, 1743
Warrants issued that the deserters be dispersed to other corps abroad: 13 to Gibraltar, 13 to Minorca, 38 to the Leeward Islands, 38 to Georgia. (Records of the Mutiny in the Black Watch, pp 124-128)
May, 1743
Regiment to Flanders. No active fighting in 1743 or 1744, but was well regarded as trustworty with property, and were popular with the local inhabitants.
April, 1745
Lord John Murray made Colonel of the Regiment.
Regiment served in the War of the Austrian Succession, distinguishing itself at Fontenoy. Stewart of Garth tells a story of how the Duke of Cumberland grew very enamored at the valor and character of the Highlanders.
4 November, 1745
Regiment arrived in England, stationed near Kent to repel potential Jacobite invasion - far away from Scotland where loyalties certainly would have been questioned.
3 new companies raised.
21 September, 1745
one of the new companies involved at Battle of Prestonpans. After uprising, new companies serving as Highland watch, and was even ordered to burn and lay waste to houses and property of Scottish rebels.
Joined army in Flanders. Remained in Flanders through 1748
December, 1748
Returned to England.
Arrives in Ireland. Renumbered 42nd upon the elimination of Oglethorpe's Regiment.
Service in Irish Establishment, demonstrating the same character shown at Fontenoy and Flanders.

Seven Years War

Seven years' War (French and Indian War) begins.
42nd comes to America, spends remainder of 1756 inactive in Albany.
Winter/Spring 1757
Regiment drilled for bush fighting and sharpshooting.
July-August 1757
Regiment sent to Halifax with 22nd, 44th, 48th, and 2 battalions of the 60th and 600 rangers to participate in planned attack on Louisbourg. The force was to be met by Fraser's and Montgomery's Highlanders and the 43rd, 45th, and 55th, which recently arrived from England. Returned to Albany after the attack was aborted due to a superior French naval presence.

The 42nd at Ticonderoga

5 July, 1758
Force of 15,000 men (6,000 regulars) in nine hundred small boats and one hundred and thirty-five whale-boats, with artillery mounted on rafts, embarked on Lake George.
6 July, 1758
Army advances on forward positions at Ticonderoga
8 July, 1758
British forces engage Montcalm's French at Ticonderoga. 42nd participates in legendary charge on French lines and attempt to storm the breastwork, with the following losses: 8 officers, 9 sergeants and 297 killed; and 17 officers, 10 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 Sutherland; Ensigns Patrick Stewart of Bonskied and George Rattray. The wounded were Captains Gordon Graham, Thomas Graham of Duchray, John Campbell of Strachur, James Stewart of Urrad, James Murray; Lieutenants James Grant, Robert Gray, John Campbell of Melford, 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 battle was not regarded as a disaster, but as a triumphant display of Highland gallantry. Though it achieved nothing, it showed a heroic temper, and without a heroic temper, an army is worth very little."
Eric and Andro Linklater, "The Black Watch" (London: 1977)

Stewart of Garth quotes this letter from an officer of the 55th:

"With a mixture of esteem, grief and envy, 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 attack (says Lieutenant William Grant of the 42nd) 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 labored under insurmountable difficulties. The enemy's breastwork 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 gave them the fatal advantage over us. They took care to cut down monstrous large oak trees, which covered all the ground from the foot of their breastwork 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 honor of their country. Nay, their ardor was such, that it was difficult to bring them off. They paid dearly for their intrepidity. The remains of the regiment had the honor 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."
22 July, 1758
42nd given 'Royal' designation. While the warrant was issued on July 22, it was planned and issued before London had recieved word of the battle at Ticonderoga, rather than in response to Ticonderoga as is sometimes said.
View the text of the warrant that gave the Regiment its Royal distinction.
October 1758
2nd battalion raised. So successful were the recruiting officers that within three months, seven companies, each one hundred and twenty men strong were embodied at Perth. Although Highlanders only were admitted, yet two officers, anxious to obtain commissions, enlisted eighteen Irishmen, several of whom were O'Donnels, O'Lachlans, O'Briens, &c. The O was changed to Mac, and the Milesians passed muster as true Macdonels, Maclachlans, and Macbriars, without being questioned.
Winter 1758
Spend winter rebuilding ranks on Long Island.
January - 2 July 1759
2nd Bn. sent to West Indies, where it fought at Martinique and Guadaloupe. 193 of 700 men lost, as well as 25% of the battalion's officers, many to ilness from the tropical weather.
12 January, 1759
5 companies of 2nd Bn. sails with fleet from Barbados to Martinique.
16 January, 1759
2nd Bn. and fleet arrive in Fort Royal bay. Forces land and spend several days on the island.
20 January, 1759
British forces re-embark and sail for Guadeloupe.
23 January, 1759
British fleet bombards Fort Royale, setting portions of it on fire.
24 January, 1759
2nd Bn. guards artillery camp north of town.
14 February, 1759
2 companies of the 2nd Bn. - Late to campaign in West Indies after being separated at sea - land at and take Fort Louis, Guadeloupe.
11 March, 1759
5 companies of 2nd Bn. with main fleet joins other 2 companies at Fort Louis.
12 April, 1759
All 7 companies of the 2nd Bn., together for the first time, engage the French at the river Licorne. The Highlanders attack with swords, driving away the French and taking 70 prisoners.
19 April, 1759
Army marched to Capesterre district, where the inhabitants surrendered the island.
11 May, 1759
Part of 1st Bn. encamped above Albany.
12 May, 1759
Amherst notes in his journal that he deployed one company of the 1st Bn to Scorticock to guard oxen being sent off to graze.
20 May, 1759
200 of the 42nd escorts batteax up the Hudson.
23 May, 1759
Amherst records that 2 companies of 1st Bn. up river to encamp at Stillwater.
1 June, 1759
Amherst orders remainder of 42nd, among others, to Fort Edward.
7 June, 1759
42nd arrived at Fort Edward "half drowned", according to Amherst.
19 June 1759
42nd, Montgomery's Highlanders assembled at Fort Edward.
22 June, 1759
1st Bn. encamped on southern edge of Lake George.
15 July, 1759
2nd Bn. arrives at New York from West Indies.
22 July, 1759
Amherst's army arrives at Ticonderoga.
26 July, 1759
French forces withdrew from Ticonderoga and set fire to the fort.
August/Sept 1759
1st Bn. reconstructing Fort Crown Point.
1 August, 1759
Amherst sends Major Graham to Oswego to command 2nd Bn.
3 August, 1759
2nd Bn. marches along the Hudson from Albany to join the rest of the army. Graham meets the Bn. and turns them back to Albany, up the Mohawk towards Oswego.
Late August, 1759
2nd Bn. arrives at Oswego, and put to work building Fort Ontario
Winter, 1759
2nd Bn. brought in together with the 1st Bn. in Albany for the winter, primarily at Fort Edward, with companies at Halfway Brook, Fort Miller, Saratoga, Stillwater, and Half Moon. (Sons of the Mountain, vol 1, p 164)
7 August, 1760
1st Bn., Grenadiers, Light Infantry take post at La Galette
10 August, 1760
Army embarks up the St Lawrence towards Montreal.
September, 1760
Both battalions served in the army under Amherst, which moved down the St. Lawrence. Recieved the surrender of Montreal, together with that of the French Governor-General and the French army.
Winter 1760-61
Both battalions remained in Montreal for the winter.
4 April - 5 August, 1761
Moved from Montreal to Staten Island, to set out for West Indies.