Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   www.SilverHawkAuthor.com   
 
New Brunswick Military Units, 42nd Highland Regiment, The Black Watch

42nd Highland Regiment, New Brunswick

Data current to 21 Sep 2019.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235714)

Black Watch inspection, Camp Gagetown, New Brunswick, ca 1960s.  

The 42nd Highland Regiment has a long and decorated record of service.  The regiment Mustered as the Highland Regiment in Scotland  in 1739, initially numbered in 1751 as the 42nd Regiment of Foot, and designated “Royal” in 1758.  The 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment of Foot (1751), was one of the first three Highland Regiments to fight in North America.  (It was officially redesignated The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) in 1931).

During the French and Indian War, at the first battle of Ticonderoga, also known as the Battle of Carillon, the regiment lost over half of its men in the assault in July 1758.  At that time they were already officially recognized as a Royal regiment.

The second battalion of the Black Watch was sent to the Caribbean, but after the losses of Ticonderoga, the two battalions were consolidated in New York.  The regiment was present at the second Battle of Ticonderoga in July 1759 and the surrender of Montreal in September 1760. They were sent to the West Indies again where they saw action at Havana, Martinique and Guadeloupe.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 2835232)

The Black Watch at Bushy Run, Aug 1763, artwork by Charles William Jeffries. 

Between 1758 and 1767 it served in America.  In August 1763, the Black Watch fought in the Battle of Bushy Run while trying to relieve Fort Pitt (modern day Pittsburgh, during Pontiac's Rebellion.   The regiment went to Cork, Ireland and in 1767 and returned to Scotland in 1775.

The 42nd Regiment arrived in New York in 1776, and during the American revolutionary War, the regiment was involved in the defeat of George Washington in the Battle of Long Island in August 1776, and saw combat at the Battle of Harlem Heights in September 1776, the Battle of Fort Washington in November 1776 and the Battle of Piscataway in February 1777.   It also fought at the Battle of Brandywine (light infantry and grenadier companies only) in September 1777, the Battle of Germantown (Light Company only) in October 1777 and the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778 as well as the Siege of Charleston in spring 1780.   In September 1778 a detachment from the regiment raided Fairhaven, Massachusetts, inflicting severe damage on the town's shipping industry.

Following the end of the war in America, the 42nd were posted to Nova Scotia in 1783, serving there until 1786 when they moved north to Cape Breton.  A number of them chose to settle in Pleasant Valley, in New Brunswick.

Discharged members of the 42nd entered New Brunswick along two major routes.  Ninety eight arrived in St John, on 17 Oct 1783, in the transports “Jason” and “Mercury”, along with the final Loyalist fleet from New York.  The regiment, itself, sailed to Halifax.   By 17 Dec 1783, sixteen 42nd vets from Halifax are known to have crossed over to St John.  More may have followed.  Based on different records, the total number of 42nd veterans who settled in New Brunswick would appear to be between 123 and 125.  At least twenty-five of these vets moved up the Miramichi, most of them stayed there, but Charles McLaughlin is believed to have arrived in Tracadie as early as 1786, and another six were among those who established Tabusintac in 1798.  ( http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nbnorthu/vets.htm.)
The serving members of the regiment returned to England in 1789.  Landing at Portsmouth, they marched to Tynemouth in Northumberland and in the spring of 1790 marched on to Glasgow, before taking up residence at Edinburgh Castle in November 1790.

Under the direction of Lieutenant Dugald Campbell, about 110 disbanded soldiers received land on the Nashwaak River. Individual land parcels were not all considered sufficient, and a great number of the Nashwaak grantees applied for additional acreage, submitting land petitions upwards of 10 and 20 years after settling on their land. Peter MacLaggan (McLaggan) accumulated enough additional property to provide for a number of his family members, and because of this cluster of relatives, part of the road in this vicinity became known as “MacLaggan Settlement”.

Though the regiment was expected to settle on lots provided in the Dugald Campbell grant, not all of the members of the 42nd Regiment remained on the Nashwaak.  More than a dozen former soldiers moved to or requested land in Charlotte and Northumberland Counties. Nevertheless, the 42nd Highland Regiment left an indelible imprint on the Nashwaak. (https://www.nbscottishhistory.ca/data-sources/42nd-highland-regiment.)

Pte Neil McNeil of the 42nd Highlanders lived to the ripe old age of 104 years, dying on 7 February 1844.  He had settled down by St George and his grave is located in a cemetery between Letete and Mascarene, on the east side of the road.  (Bob Dallison)

 

42nd Highland Regiment Land Grants, Naswaak River, New Brunswick.

42nd Highland Memorial Cemetery

 (Author Photo)

42nd Highland Memorial Cemetery consists of a cemetery on the shore of the Nashwaak River in the community of Pleasant Valley on Highway 8, Saint Marys, New Brunswick.

42nd Highland Memorial Cemetery is designated a Provincial Historic Site to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the first settlers to the Nashwaak Valley area.

 (Author Photo)

Pleasant Valley, 42nd Highlands Memorial Cemetery sign.

42nd Highland (Black Watch) Regiment was a United Empire Loyalist regiment that was granted land on the Nashwaak River after service in the Revolutionary War.  This section of the Nashwaak Valley, named Pleasant Valley by the “Forty Seconders” was settled between 1784 –1787.  Approximately 125 members of the Regiment made their way from Halifax to settle here.  The cemetery, established in 1784, is the final resting place for a number of veterans of the 42nd Highland Regiment and their families.  In 1967, the Black Watch [RHR] of Canada erected a commemorative cairn.

 (Author Photo)

 Pleasant Valley, 42nd Highlands Memorial Cairn. 

 (Author Photo)

 Pleasant Valley, 42nd Highlands Memorial Cairn. 

 (Author Photo)

42nd Highland Memorial Cemetery plaque, Pleasant Valley, NB.

42nd Regiment in the American Revolutionary War

Arrival in America, 1776.

In the Highlands of Scotland bearing arms was considered an honored profession. The “Blackwatch”, 42nd Highland regiment, was one of the most prestigious of all Scots formations. While some Laird’s sons actually enlisted as privates when the regiment was first created, this was no longer the case in 1776.  By then, the majority of privates were drawn from the families of tenant farmers , essentially from the higher ranks of the social hierarchy in their day.

On 29 April 1776, The Black Watch and Fraser Highlanders of Greenock, Scotland, embarked in a fleet of 35 ships to sail to North American. They were destined to be part of the largest amphibious operation in British history up to that time.  Unfortunately the ships were scattered by a storm, and just before their arrival, the rebels seized Boston.  The citizens of Boston were evacuated but word hadn't reach elements of the fleet until they were nearing America.  As a result, the 42nd’s transport “Oxford and several of the Fraser Highlander’s vessels sailed into Boston harbour where they were captured.  In spite of this, this, by 3 August most of the remaining elements of the convoy had joined General William Howe at Staten Island, New York.

The campaign of 1776

The Blackwatch greatly distinguished itself in the campaign of 1776.  At Long island on 27 August, they burst through the American lines in a single bayonet charge.  A diary entry from that charges adds that “ the Hessians and our brave Highlanders gave no quarter, and it was a fine sight to see (with) what alacrity they dispatched the rebels with their bayonets after we had surrounded them so that they could not resist.”  The 42nd was part of the force that overran the American lines at Kips Bay on 15 September.  They engaged a superior number of rebels at Harlem heights on 16 September, and took part in the attack at White Plains on 28 October.   While the main British forces were bogged down attacking Fort Washington, the 42nd led two other battalions in a flank attack on 16 November .  Ignoring the rebel fire, the Highlanders charged uphill (one corpulent battalion commander had to be assisted because he could not make the climb alone!) to capture 200 rebels and caused the entire fort to surrender.

Pisquatua, and other American Attacks

By Christmas 1776, the war seemed very close to ending.  George Washington’s army had been repeatedly defeated as it was chased out of New York and New Jersey.  Almost everyone expected his surrender.  Then Washington crossed the Delaware River and fell upon Rall’s regiment of Hessian soldiers quartered at Trenton.  A thousand Germans were captured, and their commander slain, in the brief encounter.  The 42nd was part of the British army that marched under Cornwallis to bag the old fox, Washington, at the scene of his victory.  The British arrived near nightfall, but with the Delaware frozen behind them it seemed certain that the rebels would not be able to cross back over.  Cornwallis decided to wait for the following morning before attacking.  This gave Washington the chance to escape in the darkness and, much to Cornwallis’ chagrin, the British rearguard at Princeton was captured.

The 42nd came under a similar attack on 10 May 1777.  Between 1,500 and 2,000 rebels attacked the 42nd's winter camp at Pisquatua.  Although they had been surprised and driven from their forward positions in a wood, the 42nd was, in the words of the American commander “too proud to surrender”.  They rallied and thrust the Americans back.  In spite of this, there were just too many rebels for the counterattack to continue, and the 42nd was again compelled to give way.  They continued to fight for another hour and a half, holding the line until neighbouring British units arrived to help push the Americans back.

The 1777 Offensive

The British resumed the offensive in the Summer.  In one of the greatest strategic errors of the war, General Howe left Burgoyne’s army which was at that time pushing down from Canada, to its own devices and instead marched against the American capital at Philadelphia. The 42nd, newly reinforced by 170 Highlanders, was in the reserve when Howe again beat Washington in the battle of Brandywine on 11 September.  The British marched into Philadelphia, but Burgoyne’s outnumbered army was forced to surrender at Saratoga on 17 October.

The March North

All hope of a speedy British victory ended that winter.  Clinton replaced Howe as commander of British troops in America.  Instead of being reinforced, the army was stripped of troops to supply other theatres.  With only 10,000 men under his command, Clinton marched North to New York.  Washington pursued, and finally caught up to the British at Monmouth Court House on 28 June 1778.  The 42nd took part in the attack that threw the American vanguard back, but the American army that stood at Monmouth was of a different sort than that which Howe had beaten in 1776 and 1777.  Over the winter at Valley Forge, they had been forged into a weapon capable of meeting the British on their own ground. Though technically a draw, the battle of Monmouth marked the emergence of Washington’s army as a force to be reckoned with.

The Rest of the War

Monmouth was the last major battle in the Northern theatre.  Aside from being shipped South to help capture Charleston in the Spring of 1780, the Blackwatch was employed in a number of raids (Portsmouth, Elizabethtown) and garrison postings around New York.  The focus of the British effort shifted Southwards, and ended at Yorktown in 1781.  After that, they merely waited for peace to be made.

 (Francis Grose (1801)

Officer and Sergeant of the 42nd Highland (Black Watch) Regiment soldiers, ca 1740.

Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada 

Badge of the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada

Superimposed upon a diamond cut Star of the Order of the Thistle, a wreath of thistles; within the wreath, an oval inscribed "NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT"; within the oval, on a recessed seeded ground, St. Andrew and Cross; above the oval, a scroll inscribed "THE BLACK WATCH"; superimposed upon the scroll and surmounting the oval, the Crown; below the oval, two scrolls, the upper inscribed "ROYAL HIGHLAND REGIMENT", the lower bearing the inscription "OF CANADA".

The present-day Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada is a reserve infantry regiment in 34 Brigade Group, 2nd Canadian Division of the Canadian Army.   The regiment is located on Bleury Street in Montreal, Quebec.  They are the Senior Canadian-Scottish Regiment.

Volunteers have served since the regiment's inception in Montreal on 31 January 1862, as the 5th Battalion, Volunteer Militia Rifles of Canada.  The rise of American military strength during the Civil War concerned Canada.  The government authorized formation of militia regiments. Each of six Montreal Scottish chieftains responded by raising an infantry company for the 5th Battalion.  Eventually, eight companies were raised.  

The unit went through a number of name changes.  It was redesignated as the 5th Battalion, The Royal Light Infantry of Montreal on 7 November 1862, as the 5th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers on 19 November 1875.  The Regiment officially became a Scottish Regiment when it was redesignated as the 5th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers on 27 February 1880.  It was subsequently redesignated the 5th Battalion, Royal Scots of Canada on 29 February 1884, the 5th Regiment Royal Scots of Canada on 8 May 1900, the 5th Regiment, Royal Scots of Canada, Highlanders, on 2 May 1904, the 5th Regiment, Royal Highlanders of Canada, on 1 October 1906, The Royal Highlanders of Canada on 29 March 1920, The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) of Canada on 1 January 1930, finally assuming its current name, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada on 1 July 1935.  On 16 October 1953, it was amalgamated with the 1st and 2nd Canadian Highland Battalions.  A regimental depot at Gagetown, New Brunswick was authorized on 16 October 1953.

Thousands of Canadian citizens have served in the Black Watch.  In addition to service during the Fenian raids, they have fought in the Great War as The 42nd Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada), CEF, (1914-1920).  They served during the Second World War; bolstered NATO operations in Europe and UN peacekeeping worldwide; and helped their fellow Canadians at home during the 1998 Ice Storm (Operation ASSISTANCE) and 2011 flooding in Quebec (Operation LOTUS).

The 1st Canadian Highland Battalion

Originated 4 May 1951 at Valcartier, Quebec.  On 16 Oct 1953 it was amalgamated with The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiement) of Canada and redesignated as the 1st Battalion The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiement) of Canada.

The 2nd Canadian Highland Battalion

Originated 10 April 1952 at Aldershot, Nova Scotia.  On 16 Oct 1953 it was amalgamated with The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiement) of Canada and redesignated as the 2nd Battalion The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiement) of Canada.

Second World War

The 2nd Battalion was called out on service on 26 August 1939 and details of the battalion were placed on active service on 1 September 1939, as the 2nd Battalion, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, CASF (Details), for local protection duties. These details were disbanded on 31 December 1940.

The regiment mobilized the 1st Battalion, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, CASF, on 1 September 1939. This unit, which served in Newfoundland from 22 June to 11 August 1940, embarked for Great Britain on 25 August 1940. Three platoons took part on the raid on Dieppe on 19 August 1942. On 6 July 1944, the battalion landed in France as part of the 5th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, and it continued to fight in North West Europe until the end of the war. The overseas battalion was disbanded on 30 November 1945.

The regiment subsequently mobilized the 2nd Battalion, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, CASF, on 18 March 1942. This unit served in Canada in a home defence role as part of Atlantic Command until it was disbanded on 15 August 1943.

The 1st Battalion, Black Watch was brigaded with Le Régiment de Maisonneuve and Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal of the 2nd Canadian Division, however the FMR were replaced with The Calgary Highlanders in the 5th Brigade in 1940.

The 1st Battalion suffered more casualties than any other Canadian infantry battalion in Northwest Europe according to figures published in The Long Left Flank by Jeffrey Williams.  Disaster seemed to follow the unit;

On the voyage to France on the day of the Dieppe Raid, casualties were suffered by the unit during a grenade priming accident onboard their ship, the HMS Duke of Wellington.

During the Battle of Verrières Ridge on 25 July 1944, 325 men left the start line and only 15 made it back to friendly lines, the others being killed or wounded by well entrenched Waffen SS soldiers and tanks.

On 13 October 1944 - known as Black Friday by the Black Watch - the regiment put in an assault near Hooderheide during the Battle of the Scheldt in which all four company commanders were killed, and one company of 90 men was reduced to just four survivors.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4232587)

The Queen Mother inspecting the Black Watch.

Post-Second World War

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4976243)

Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, serving in Germany. These tank busters with their 106-mm Recoilless anti-tank weapon are driver Private Garry McGray, Lance Corporal Bert Hayden, Private Steve Neary. 

On 4 May 1951, the regiment mobilized two temporary Active Force companies designated, "E" and "F" Companies.  "E" Company was reduced to nil strength upon its personnel being incorporated into the 1st Canadian Highland Battalion for service in Germany with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  It was disbanded on 29 July 1953.  "F" Company was initially used as a replacement pool for "E" Company.  On 15 May 1952, it was reduced to nil strength, upon its personnel being absorbed by the 2nd Canadian Highland Battalion for service in Korea with the United Nations.  "F" Company was disbanded on 29 July 1953.

The 1st Canadian Highland Battalion originated in Valcartier, Quebec on 4 May 1951.  On 16 October 1953, it was redesignated the 1st Battalion, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada.

The 2nd Canadian Highland Battalion originated in Aldershot, Nova Scotia on 10 April 1952.  On 16 October 1953, it was redesignated the 2nd Battalion, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada.

The 2nd Battalion, commanded by Lt.-Col. R.M. Ross, served in Korea as part of 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade following the armistice from 29 Oct 1953 to 3 Nov 1954.   Five Black Watch soldiers lost their lives while serving with the 2nd Battalion in Korea.  The 2nd Battalion served on NATO duty in West Germany from 1962 to 1965.  A regimental depot at Gagetown, New Brunswick was authorized on 16 October 1953.

Three Regular Force Black Watch soldiers lost their lives while serving with the United Nations Force in Cyprus, Cpl V.J. Perkin, Black Watch (RHR) of C, 18 Oct 1965; Pte J.P.E. Bernard, 2 Black Watch (RHR) of C, UNFICYP, 9 Jul 1966; Pte J.A. Lerue, 2 Black Watch (RHR) of C, UNFICYP, 9 Feb 1970.

On 1 July 1970, when the 1st and 2nd Battalions were reduced to nil strength and transferred to the Supplementary Order of Battle, the Reserve Force battalion automatically relinquished its numerical designation.

Several members of the Regiment served on operations in Afghanistan.  On 22 July 2006, Cpl Jason Patrick Warren was killed in a suicide bombing in Kandahar Province.

Black Watch at Fredericton and Camp Gagetown, New Brunswick

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4234214)

The Black Watch on parade at Camp Gagetown, 1957.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235722)

Black Watch Pipe Band on parade.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235163)

Black Watch Highland dancers.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235715)

Black Watch trooping of the colour. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4301777)

H.R.H. Princess Margaret inspecting the Guard of Honour (2nd Battalion) the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) upon her arrival at Frederiction, NB, 7 Aug 1958. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4301752)

H.R.H. Princess Margaret inspecting the Guard of Honour (2nd Battalion) the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) upon her arrival at Frederiction, NB, 7 Aug 1958. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4301752)

H.R.H. Princess Margaret inspecting the Guard of Honour (2nd Battalion) the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) upon her arrival at Frederiction, NB, 7 Aug 1958. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4234406)

Black Watch quarters, Camp Gagetown, New Brunswick.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235787)

Black Watch training at Camp Gagetown. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235785)

Black Watch training at Camp Gagetown. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235782)

Black Watch training at Camp Gagetown. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235784)

Black Watch training at Camp Gagetown. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235692)

Black Watch recruits on rifle training, Gagetown, FNC1 ca 1965. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235694)

Black Watch recruits on rifle training, Gagetown, FNC1 ca 1965. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235792)

Black Watch training, Camp Gagetown, ca 1965.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235793)

Black Watch training, Camp Gagetown, ca 1965.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235794)

Black Watch training, Camp Gagetown, ca 1965.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235693)

Black Watch Recruits on Parade. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235716)

Black Watch on Parade. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235790)

Black Watch Training in Gagetown. 

 (Author Photo)

NBMHM Black Watch display at the 5 CDSB Gagetown Canex. 

 (Author Photo)

NBMHM Black Watch display at the 5 CDSB Gagetown Canex. 

 (FRM Collection)

Uniforms of the Black Watch, 1970.