Scots Brigade

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The Scots Brigade (also referred to as the Anglo-Dutch Brigade) was an infantry brigade serving in the army of the Dutch Republic. It usually numbered three to six infantry regiments, recruited primarily from Scotland and England; first formed in the 1580s, the Brigade was finally dissolved in 1782 and its regiments absorbed into the regular Dutch army.

Dutch Revolt to the Peace of Munster 1586-1648[edit]

The Dutch Republic's fight for independence from Spain in the Eighty Years' War of 1568–1648 attracted support from other Protestant nations like Scotland, England and Switzerland. Scottish and English 'independent companies' appear as early as 1578 but it was not until after the Treaty of Nonsuch that an Anglo-Dutch Brigade was formed by the Earl of Leicester in 1586, comprising three English and three Scottish regiments.[1] While Leicester's expedition was a political and military disaster, the Brigade existed in various forms until its dissolution in 1782.

Tactical innovations made by Maurice of Nassau in the 1580s replaced the traditional clumsy and slow moving infantry squares with smaller more mobile units, as well as the introduction of volley fire.[2] This required better drilled and led soldiers and thus a preference for professional troops like the Scots rather than the largely civilian town militia. Both James I and his son Charles allowed the Dutch to recruit from England and Scotland as a means of pursuing foreign policy objectives; it also provided the Crown with a pool of trained military professionals if needed.

Scottish mercenaries in the 1630s

During the Thirty Years' War there were many opportunities for Scots in the armies of Protestant nations like Sweden, Norway and Denmark. As a result, Dutch service became less attractive while the Scotch Brigade itself was primarily used on garrison duty.[3] However, strong religious, economic and cultural links between Scotland and the Netherlands meant by 1632 there were an estimated four English and three Scottish regiments serving in the Dutch military, with the Scots now referred to as the Scotch Brigade.[4]

When the Wars of the Three Kingdoms broke out in 1638, many returned home but Scots and English regiments continued to serve in the Dutch army until the Peace of Munster ended the war with Spain in 1648.

Anglo-Dutch and Franco-Dutch Wars 1648-1688[edit]

In the late 17th century, the experience of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the Protectorate meant strong resistance in both Scotland and England to a standing army while states often recruited units composed of other nationalities.[5] The Brigade provided an outlet for individuals to pursue a professional military career and created a pool of trained professionals who could be used by the English or Scottish crowns. Officers were theoretically appointed by the English and Scottish monarch; both Charles II and his brother James II took an interest in the composition and use of the Brigade, although attempts to appoint the Catholic Earl of Dumbarton as Brigade commander in 1680 were rejected.[6]

Professional officers formed a small and tight-knit group who moved between armies often regardless of nationality, religion or political belief. Despite serving a Protestant state, the Brigade included Catholic officers like Thomas Buchan; during the 1689-92 Jacobite rising in Scotland, commanders on both sides included former Brigade colleagues Hugh Mackay, Alexander Cannon, Thomas Buchan, Viscount Dundee and Thomas Livingstone.

In 1665 during the Second Anglo-Dutch War the officers of the three Scots regiments were required to swear allegiance to the States General. The Brigade was reformed in 1667 but by the time the Franco-Dutch and Anglo-Dutch Wars began in 1672, only 13 officers in the three regiments could be identified as Scottish. When William of Orange complained about the low morale and discipline of the Brigade, Hugh Mackay who had recently joined the Brigade suggested recruiting as far as possible from Scotland.[7]

Recruiting from Scotland became possible again when England dropped out of the war in 1674 and the Brigade was expanded to include three additional regiments created from unemployed English soldiers.[8] In 1685, James asked his son-in-law William for the loan of the Brigade to help suppress simultaneous rebellions in Scotland and England. William agreed but by the time the Brigade arrived both rebellions had collapsed and it returned to the Netherlands without seeing action.[9]

1688-1713; the Nine Years War and the War of the Spanish Succession[edit]

Siege of Namur (1695) by Jan van Huchtenburg. The recapture of the key fortress of Namur; William III, dressed in grey, confers with the Elector of Bavaria.

By 1687, it became clear that Louis XIV of France was preparing to attack the Netherlands once more. To support Louis' preparations, James demanded the repatriation of the entire Brigade in early 1688; William refused to comply but used the opportunity to remove officers of doubtful loyalty.[10]

When William invaded England in November 1688, the Brigade formed part of his army and a small detachment took part in the Wincanton Skirmish on 20 November 1688, one of the few actions fought during the largely bloodless campaign. In March 1689, Hugh Mackay and the three Scottish regiments were sent to Scotland to suppress the Jacobite uprising, with the three English regiments becoming part of the English military establishment.

War of Austrian Succession.[edit]

During the 18th century, the regiments served mostly as garrison units. During the War of Austrian Succession (1740–1748), several battalions were part of the field army and fought at Fontenoy (1745), Rocoux (1746) and Lauffeld (1747). Part of the Scots Brigade was in garrison in the city of Bergen op Zoom in 1747 when a French army besieged the city. What started as a diversion to draw away the British, Austrian and Dutch troops from the main attack on Maastricht, became a lengthy siege that ended in tragedy when French troops stormed and captured the city. The battalions of the Scots Brigade counterattacked several times, until forced to withdraw to the nearby fortification at Steenbergen, which they would defend successfully in the days to come. By then, only 200 officers and men of an original number of 800 remained. A fourth regiment raised in 1747 was soon disbanded after the war ended.

1748-1782; Amalgamation into Dutch line regiments[edit]

The War of the Austrian Succession confirmed the decline of the Dutch Republic as a major European power and it did not take part in the Seven Years' War. The Brigade remained a distinct force but long service in the Netherlands meant that by the 1760s the vast majority of recruits either came from Scottish families settled in the Netherlands for generations or were not Scottish at all.[11]

The capture of St. Eustatius by the British fleet in February 1781.

The outbreak of the American War of Independence in 1775 caused tensions with Britain since the Dutch were generally sympathetic towards the colonists. The Dutch island of Sint Eustatius was used for trading with the US, over 2,400 ships clearing the port in 1777 alone and a British request for the 'loan' of the Scots Brigade was rejected due to requirements made by the province of Holland.[12] In September 1780, the British intercepted a draft commercial treaty between the American agent in Aix-la-Chapelle and members of the Amsterdam business community;[a] when they failed to receive a satisfactory response, they declared war in December.[13]

The Brigade was technically a British unit on loan whose officers held commissions from George III which caused obvious problems when the countries were at war. On 18 November 1782, all officers were required to take an oath to the Stadholder but most refused and returned to Britain.[b] Distinctive markers such as red uniforms, British colours and the "Scottish March" were abolished and the units renumbered Dutch infantry Regiments Nrs 22, 23 and 24.

The Fourth Anglo-Dutch War was an economic and military disaster for the Dutch Republic. When peace came in 1784, the Brigade was not reformed; this was due to a combination of political instability but also cultural changes which meant the practice of employing distinct foreign units was no longer considered appropriate.[14]

Legacy[edit]

Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Bradford Colonel, 94th Foot, the Scotch Brigade circa 1825

Those officers who resigned their commissions in 1782 continued to petition the British government for the Brigade to be reconstituted in some form.[15] Finally in October 1794, 23 former Brigade officers joined a new unit raised for service in India, 94th Foot, the Scotch Brigade.[16] The 94th assumed the battle honours and colours of the Brigade until 1881 when it became part of the Connaught Rangers; the regimental colours can now be seen in St Giles' Cathedral Edinburgh with copies also in the Netherlands.

Over the years many ex-soldiers settled in the Netherlands, among them former commander Hugh Mackay whose son, nephews and grandsons all served with the Brigade. This branch ultimately became hereditary Chiefs of Clan Mackay and continue to hold the titles of Lord Reay in the Scottish peerage and Lord of Ophemert and Zennewijnen in the Netherlands.[17] Other less distinguished descendants included Dutch Colonial Army Captain Rudolf MacLeod, who in 1895 became the husband of Mata Hari when she responded to his advertisement for a wife.

Literary Reference[edit]

Sir Walter Scott in his novel The Heart of Mid-Lothian (Originally published in serial form July 1818) depicting the Porteous Riots of 1736, references the brigade giving its common appellation the Scotch Dutch:

Captain John Porteous, a name memorable in the traditions of Edinburgh, as well as in the records of criminal jurisprudence, was the son of a citizen of Edinburgh, who endeavoured to breed him up to his own mechanical trade of a tailor. The youth, however, had a wild and irreclaimable propensity to dissipation, which finally sent him to serve in the corps long maintained in the service of the States of Holland, and called the Scotch Dutch. Here he learned military discipline; and, returning afterwards, in the course of an idle and wandering life, to his native city.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The signatories being Amsterdam banker Jean de Neufville and Pensionary Van Berckel.
  2. ^ Including 1 Colonel, 5 Lt-Colonels, 3 Majors, 11 Captains, 3 Lieutenants, 23 Ensigns and 6 others.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Glozier, Mathew (2001). Scotland and the Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648; Steve Murdoch et al. Brill. p. 126. ISBN 9004120866. 
  2. ^ Messenger, Charles (2001). Reader's Guide to Military History. Routledge. p. 370. ISBN 1579582419. 
  3. ^ Glozier, Mathew (2001). Scotland and the Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648; Steve Murdoch et al. Brill. p. 128. ISBN 9004120866. 
  4. ^ Unknown (1795). An Historical Account of the British Regiments Employed Since the Reign of Queen Elizabeth and King James I In the Formation and Defence of the Dutch Republic Particularly of the Scotch Brigade (2009 ed.). University of Michigan Library. p. 22. 
  5. ^ Chandler David, Beckett Ian (1996). The Oxford History Of The British Army (2002 ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 52. ISBN 0192803115. 
  6. ^ Glozier, Mathew (2004). Scottish Soldiers in France in the Reign of the Sun King: Nursery for Men of Honour. Brill. p. 192. ISBN 900413865X. 
  7. ^ Miggelbrink Joachim, McKilliop, Andrew (ed) & Murdoch, Steve (ed) (2002). Fighting for Identity: Scottish Military Experiences c.1550-1900. Brill. pp. 91–92. ISBN 9004128239. 
  8. ^ Unknown (1795). An Historical Account of the British Regiments Employed Since the Reign of Queen Elizabeth and King James I In the Formation and Defence of the Dutch Republic Particularly of the Scotch Brigade (2009 ed.). University of Michigan Library. p. 49. 
  9. ^ Childs, John (2014). General Percy Kirke and the Later Stuart Army (2015 ed.). Bloomsbury Academic. p. 72. ISBN 1474255140. 
  10. ^ Childs, John (1984). "The Scottish brigade in the service of the Dutch Republic, 1689 to 1782". Documentatieblad werkgroep Achttiende eeuw.: 61. Retrieved 21 January 2018. 
  11. ^ Conway, Stephen (2010). "The Scots Brigade in the 18th Century". Northern Scotland. Volume 1 (No 1): 30–31. 
  12. ^ Miggelbrink Joachim, McKilliop, Andrew (ed) & Murdoch, Steve (ed) (2002). Fighting for Identity: Scottish Military Experiences c.1550-1900. Brill. pp. 86–88. ISBN 9004128239. 
  13. ^ Miller, Daniel (1970). Sir Joseph Yorke and Anglo-Dutch Relations 1774-1780 (2010 ed.). Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 98–100. ISBN 3111002284. 
  14. ^ Miggelbrink Joachim, McKilliop, Andrew (ed) & Murdoch, Steve (ed) (2002). Fighting for Identity: Scottish Military Experiences c.1550-1900. Brill. p. 92. ISBN 9004128239. 
  15. ^ Colyear Robertson, LT-Colonel, WP (June 1790). Letter (Bundle 1711-1712 ed.). PRO no 89. 
  16. ^ Miggelbrink Joachim, McKilliop, Andrew (ed) & Murdoch, Steve (ed) (2002). Fighting for Identity: Scottish Military Experiences c.1550-1900. Brill. pp. 86–88. ISBN 9004128239. 
  17. ^ Steven, Alasdair (20 May 2013). "Obituary: Hugh Mackay, 14th Lord Reay and Chief of Clan Mackay". The Scotsman. Retrieved 1 February 2018. 

Sources[edit]

  • McKilliop, Andrew & Murdoch, Steve (ed); Fighting for Identity: Scottish Military Experiences c.1550-1900, 2002;
  • Miller, Daniel; Sir Joseph Yorke and Anglo-Dutch Relations 1774-1780,1970;

 Cotton, James Sutherland (1898). "Stedman, John Andrew". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 54. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 126.