42nd Foot

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> 42nd Foot

Origin and History

Six independent companies of Highlanders (between 75 and 100 men each) were raised by general George Wade who had been appointed Commander in Chief for Scotland in 1725. These companies were stationed in various parts of Scotland.

On October 25 1739, the government resolved to raise four additional companies and to group them with the six existing independent companies to form a regiment of Highlanders of 1,000 men. The regiment was raised in May 1740 and designated as the “43d (Black Watch) Regiment”, thus becoming the first Highlander regiment of the British Army. It was quartered near Taybridge until winter 1741-42 when they were assigned to various posts in Scotland. In March 1743, the regiment was assembled at Perth and ordered to march in two divisions to England to be sent abroad. The divisions arrived near London on April 29 and 30. Hearing rumours that they would be sent to the American plantations, the men decided to mutiny and to return to Scotland. On the night from May 17 to May 18, they marched northwards. On May 19, British troops finally located them between Brig Stock and Dean Thorp. Negotiators convinced them to surrender. On June 8, a court martial condemned three Highlanders to be shot and 100 others to be removed to various garrisons (Gibraltar, Minorca, Leeward islands, Jamaica and Georgia). The rest of the regiment been sent to Flanders at the end of May.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, from June 1743, the regiment served in Flanders. On May 11 1745, it fought at the battle of Fontenoy. In October 1745, the regiment was recalled to Great Britain and assigned to the guard of the coasts of Kent against a possible French invasion. In 1746, reinforced by elements of three companies recently raised in Scotland, the regiment took part in the failed attempt against Lorient at the end of September. Part of the regiment was stationed in Ireland (Cork and Limerick) from November 1746 to April 1747 when the regiment was transferred to Flanders where it took part to the defence of Bergen-op-Zoom which was finally stormed by the French. In December 1748, the regiment returned to Ireland.

In 1749, the regiment was renamed “42nd Regiment of Foot”. It remained in Ireland from 1748 to 1756.

On July 1 1751, when a Royal warrant reorganised the British infantry, the regiment was designated as the "42nd (Highland) Regiment of Foot".

By July 1756, the regiment counted only one battalion. A second battalion was added at the end of 1758.

On July 22 1758, before the news of the battle of Carillon had reached Great Britain, the regiment was granted the title "Royal" the same warrant authorised the raising of a second battalion.

During the Seven Years's War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • since April 1745: lord John Murray

Service during the War

1st Battalion

In March 1756, the regiment was among the British reinforcements sent to America. Leaving Great Britain in March, it arrived at New York in June. It then marched to Albany. The regiment now counted 13 companies for a total of about 1,300 men.

In 1757, the regiment was stationed in America but did not take part in any major action.

In July 1758, the regiment took part in the expedition against Carillon (actual Ticonderoga). On July 5, it was embarked at the head of Lake George. On July 6, at daybreak, the British flotilla reached the narrow channel leading into Lake Champlain near Fort Carillon and disembarkation began at 9:00 AM. On July 8 1758, the regiment took part in the battle of Carillon where it fought with stubborn and unconquerable fury. Their ardor was such that it was difficult to bring them off. Their major, Campbell of Inverawe received a mortal shot, and his clansmen bore him from the field. Furthermore, 25 of their officers were killed or wounded, and half the men fell under the deadly fire that poured from the loopholes. Captain John Campbell and a few followers tore their way through the abatis, climbed the breastwork, leaped down among the French, and were bayoneted there. The British army finally retired after several unsuccessful attempts against the French positions. At daybreak on July 9, the British army re-embarked and retreated to the head of the lake where it reoccupied the camp it had left a few days before.

By the end of June 1759, the regiment had joined the British army assembling under the command of lord Jeffrey Amherst, at the head of Lake Saint-Sacrement (today Lake George) for the planned expedition against Carillon (today Ticonderoga). In July 1759, the 2nd Battalion, arriving from Guadeloupe, made a junction with the 1st at Fort Edward. On Saturday July 21, after a long delay, the regiment finally embarked aboard the flotilla which set sail over Lake Saint-Sacrement and reached the Narrows at the outlet of the lake before nightfall. At daybreak on Sunday July 22, the British force disembarked, occupied the heights, and then advanced to the line of entrenchment of Carillon. On the night of July 23, most of the French force retired down Lake Champlain, leaving only 400 men to defend the place as long as possible. At 11:00 PM on July 26, the French, who had abandoned the fort, blew one of its bastion to atoms. On August 1, the British force also took possession of a destroyed Fort Saint-Frédéric (today Crown Point) which had been abandoned by its French garrison. The British force then spent months rebuilding the 2 forts and adding some outworks while vessels were being built to take command of Lake Champlain. It was not until October 11 that the British troops re-embarked aboard their flotilla. During the night of October 11 to 12, major John Reid with some bateaux of the regiment lost his way in the night. On October 12 at daybreak, major Reid's bateaux found themselves among the French xebecs at the Isle-aux-Quatre-Vents. The French fired several guns at the British bateaux and took one of them, capturing 1 lieutenant, 1 sergeant, 1 corporal and 28 men. On October 18, due to bad weather, Amherst resolved to cancel out the expedition and to retreat to Crown Point.

In 1760, the battalion took part in the three pronged attack against Montréal.

In April 1761, the battalion left Montréal and marched towards New York. By August 5, it was at Staten Island where it embarked for Barbados.

In 1762, the battalion took part in the expedition against Martinique and in the siege of Havannah. Before leaving Cuba, it incorporated the men of the disbanded 2nd battalion. It then returned to New York and took its station at Albany.

To do: details of the campaigns from 1760 to 1762

2nd Battalion

On July 22 1758, a royal warrant authorised the raising of a second battalion. By October, seven companies, of 120 men each, had been raised and assembled at Perth. They were transported by the frigate Ludlow Castle (44) from Scotland to Carlisle Bay in Barbados for the planned expedition against Martinique and Guadeloupe.

On January 13 1759, the whole British force sailed from Carlisle Bay for Martinique Island. On January 16, the British infantry landed near Fort Royal. On January 17, the grenadiers of the regiment joined those of the other units and together dislodged a French force entrenched near the British camp. Unable to make any significant progress, Hopson re-embarked. The expeditionary force then redirected its efforts against Guadeloupe Island. On January 23, the British fleet bombarded and almost completely destroyed the town of Basse-Terre. On January 24, the regiment was landed and occupied the town. From then on, it actively took part in the numerous actions of this campaign. On February 6, the battalion was part of captain Harman's force which was detached to attack Fort Louis on the Grande-Terre. On February 13, British vessels cannonaded Fort Louis for 6 hours then landed a large detachment of marines and Highlanders who stormed the fort. Some 300 marines and Highlanders then remained at Fort Saint-Louis as garrison. On April 12 near Arnouville, the battalion, along with the 4th Foot, attacked the left of the French positions. The Highlanders threw themselves into this entrenchment and drawing their claymores made a rush, forcing the French to evacuate the position. The island finally capitulated on May 1. Crump was installed as governor. A little later, the II./42nd Royal Highland Foot was shipped off to America. In July, it made its junction with the 1st Battalion at Fort Edward. They both took part in the expedition against Carillon.

In 1760, the battalion took part in the three pronged attack against Montréal.

In April 1761, the battalion left Montréal and marched towards New York. By August 5, it was at Staten Island where it embarked for Barbados.

In 1762, the battalion took part in the expedition against Martinique and in the siege of Havannah. Before leaving Cuba, the battalion was amalgamated to the 1st Battalion.

To do: details of the campaigns from 1760 to 1762

Uniform

Uniform of 1756

Privates

Uniform in 1756 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer dark blue bonnet; headband laced with a white braid decorated with 2 red stripes; black cockade on the left side (in America this was replaced by a black bearskin tuft)
Grenadier
42nd Foot Grenadier Bearskin - Source: Digby Smith and rf-figuren as per Morier
Black bearskin (the height of this cap reached only to about the bottom rim of the crown on the cloth mitre caps): a red front plate edged in white metal ornamented in white metal and with the King's cipher surmounted in white metal by a white metal crown with red cushions; a black bottom strip
Neckstock white
Coat short brick red Highland jacket laced and edged white (white braid with 2 red stripes) with 11 white buttonholes and 11 white buttons
Collar buff laced white (same lace as above)
Shoulder Straps n/a
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets with white laces (same lace as above), each with pewter buttons
Cuffs buff (slashed in the British pattern) laced white (same lace as above) with white buttonholes and white buttons on the sleeve
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat brick red laced white (same lace as above) with white buttons
Kilt government set tartan, aka Black Watch, (dark blue with dark green cross-hatching) with a black or dark brown sporran
Gaiters none long stockings with red and white diagonal dicing
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt black
Waistbelt black leather
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard black
Scabbard black
Footgear black shoes


Troopers were armed with with a "Brown Bess" muskets, a bayonet and a broadsword.

Officers

Officers of the regiment wore the same uniforms as the private soldiers but with the following differences

  • silver gorget around the neck
  • an aiguilette on the right shoulder
  • silver lace on the coat, lapels, cuffs, buttonholes, waistcoat
  • a crimson sash

Officers wore the same headgear as the private soldiers under their command; however, officers of the grenadier company wore a more decorated mitre cap.

Officers generally carried a spontoon, however, in battle some carried muskets instead.

Musicians

According to the Royal Clothing Warrant of 1751:

The drummers and pipers of the regiment were clothed in buff, lined and faced with red, and laced in such manner as the colonel shall think fit for distinction sake, the lace, however, was of the colours of that on the soldiers' coats.
The front or fore part of the drums was painted buff, with the king's cypher and crown, and the number “XLII” under it. The rims were red.

Uniform of 1759

Privates

Uniform in 1759 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer dark blue bonnet; headband laced with a white braid decorated with 2 red stripes; black cockade on the left side (in America this was replaced by a black bearskin tuft)
Grenadier black bearskin with a small red front flap edged white and carrying a white edged embroidered "GR"
Neckstock white
Coat short brick red Highland jacket laced and edged white (white braid with 2 red stripes) with 11 white buttonholes and 11 white buttons
Collar blue laced white (same lace as above)
Shoulder Straps n/a
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets with white laces (same lace as above), each with pewter buttons
Cuffs blue (slashed in the British pattern) laced white (same lace as above) with white buttonholes and white buttons on the sleeve
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat brick red laced white (same lace as above) with white buttons
Kilt government set tartan, aka Black Watch, (dark blue with dark green cross-hatching) with a black or dark brown sporran
Gaiters none long stockings with red and white diagonal dicing
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt black
Waistbelt black leather
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard black
Scabbard black
Footgear black shoes


Troopers were armed with with a "Brown Bess" muskets, a bayonet and a broadsword.

Officers

Officers of the regiment wore the same uniforms as the private soldiers but with the following differences

  • silver gorget around the neck
  • an aiguilette on the right shoulder
  • silver lace on the coat, lapels, cuffs, buttonholes, waistcoat
  • a crimson sash

Officers wore the same headgear as the private soldiers under their command; however, officers of the grenadier company wore a more decorated mitre cap.

Officers generally carried a spontoon, however, in battle some carried muskets instead.

Musicians

According to the Royal Clothing Warrant of 1751:

The drummers and pipers of the regiment wore the royal livery. They were clothed in red, lined and faced with blue, and laced with the royal lace (golden braid with two thin purple central stripes).
The front or fore part of the drums was painted blue, with the king's cypher and crown, and the number “XLII” under it. The rims were red.

Colours

Colours in 1756

King's Colour: Union with its centre decorated with a rose and thistle wreath around the regiment number "XLII" in gold Roman numerals.

Regimental Colour: buff field with its centre decorated with a rose and thistle wreath around the regiment number "XLII" in gold Roman numerals. The Union in the upper left corner.

King's Colour - Source: PMPdeL
Regimental Colour - Source: PMPdeL

Colours in 1759

King's Colour: Union with its centre decorated with the regimental badge (the golden king's cypher on a red filed surrounded by a blue garter; surmounted by a golden crown; underneath, the Jewel of the Order of the Thistle). The regiment number "XLII" in gold Roman numerals in the upper left branch of the saltire.

Regimental Colour: blue field; centre device consisting of the regimental badge (same as above); the Union in the upper left corner with the regiment number "XLII" in gold Roman numerals in its centre; the crowned golden royal cipher in the 3 other corners.

King's Colour - Source: PMPdeL
Regimental Colour - Source: PMPdeL

References

Aylor, Ron, British Regimental Drums and Colours

Fortescue, J. W., A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899

Funcken, Liliane and Fred, Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

George II, The Royal Clothing Warrant, 1751

Lawson, Cecil C. P., A History of the Uniforms of the British Army - from the Beginnings to 1760, vol. II, p. 90-103

May R. and Embleton G. A., Wolfe's Army, Osprey Publishing, London, 1974

Mills, T. F., Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth (an excellent website which unfortunately seems to have disappeared from the web)

Reid, Stuart: Highland Regiments in America During the Seven Years War, 18th Century Military Notes & Queries No. 1

Scottish Regiments – The Black Watch, ElectricScotland.com

Wikipedia 42nd Foot

N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.