74th (Highland) Regiment of Foot

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For other units with the same regimental number, see 74th Regiment of Foot (disambiguation).
An Officer in the East India Uniform of the 74th (Highland) Regiment, previously called 'Colonel Donald Macleod'

The 74th (Highland) Regiment of Foot was a British Army line infantry regiment. During the Childers Reforms it was united with the 71st (Highland) Regiment of Foot to form the Highland Light Infantry.

Service history[edit]

The 74th was raised in 1787 by Archibald Campbell, their first colonel, and known as Campbell's Highlanders.

It first saw action in India during the Mysore campaign of 1789, fighting at Bangalore and Seringapatam. It subsequently saw action under Arthur Wellesley in the Mahratta War of 1802; it also fought at Assaye in 1803.

Returning to Europe, it served under Wellington again in the Peninsular campaign, and fought at Busaco, Fuentes d'Onoro, (both sieges of Badajoz), also the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, Salamanca, Vittoria, Nivelles, Tarbes, Orthe, and Toulouse. It was then sent to garrison Ireland, and so missed the Battle of Waterloo, although it was on its way to embark for Belgium when news of the battle arrived.

It remained in Ireland until 1818, it was then in Canada and New Brunswick until 1828, Bermuda for a year, and in Ireland again from 1830 to 1834. Later in the 1830s and into the 1840s, the 74th was stationed in St. Lucia, Barbados and other islands in the West Indies; its personnel keeping remarkably healthy apart from one outbreak of fever and dysentery. Without coming home again, it then went to Quebec in Canada.

The 74th came back to Britain from Canada in March 1845 with a dreadful disembarkation from the open roadstead at Deal. Later that year it became the 74th (Highland) Regiment. It had served for its first fifteen years in India, where the kilt was considered too heavy, and although the soldiers resumed wearing it on returning to Scotland in 1806, they had lost their Highland dress in 1809, and the name “Highland” in 1816. However the commanding officer, Colonel Eyre J. Crabbe, who was about to retire after 38 years continuous service with the regiment, was able to assure the Commander-in-Chief, the Duke of Wellington, "that throughout the varied services and changes of so many years, a strong national feeling, and a connection with Scotland by recruiting, had been constantly maintained." [1]

Memorial in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh

The regiment then served in the Kaffir War and in the Sepoy Rebellion.

In 1852 the regiment was involved in the HMS Birkenhead disaster; under their commander, Lieutenant Colonel Seaton and with men of the 73rd regiment. They followed what became known as the "Birkenhead" Drill, enabling women and children on board to be saved.

In 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms, the 74th amalgamated with the 71st (Highland) Regiment of Foot to become the 2nd battalion, Highland Light Infantry.

In Popular Media[edit]

In Bernard Cornwell's series of historical fiction novels, the protagonist, Richard Sharpe, serves in the 74th during the end of the Mahratta War after being promoted to the rank of Ensign.

Notes[edit]

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