Scottish Soldiers in Colonial Amerca, Part Seven


Author: Dobson, David
Publication Date: 2023
Pages: x, 126 pp.
ISBN: 9780806359625


Scottish soldiers could be found in the Americas during the 17th century, some in the service of England, others in the service of the Netherlands or other European powers. Scottish mercenary soldiers had fought throughout Europe, notably during the Thirty Years War from 1618 to 1648, and while most remained there, some of them were recruited to serve overseas, notably by the Dutch.

From 1638 to 1651 significant numbers of Scottish prisoners of war were transported to the colonies by Oliver Cromwell. Consequently, many of them were recruited into the colonial militias, notably in New England. Similarly in Barbados, the militia rolls in 1679/1680 identify many Scots enrolled there, most of whom arrived in chains. In 1698/1699, the Scots attempted to establish a trading settlement at Darien in Panama. To defend the colony, Scottish soldiers were recruited. Some of them died there, while others took refuge in the English colonies in the Caribbean and along the eastern seaboard of North America.

It was not until the mid-18th century, however, that the British government began to raise Highland regiments, such as Fraser’s Highlanders, Montgomery’s Highlanders, and the Black Watch, for service in North America. The Seven Years War from 1756 to 1763, known in America as the French and Indian War, led to significant recruitment in Scotland, particularly in the Highlands, to fight in America. The allocation of land to former military personnel in the aftermath of that war was a major incentive to settle. The massive increase in emigration among non-combatants from the Highlands that occurred in the decade after the Seven Years War resulted to some extent from the influence of returning soldiers. Scottish colonists were also recruited into the military and especially the colonial militias.

With the outbreak of the American Revolution, former soldiers, who had received land grants in America, were recalled for duty in Loyalist regiments by the British government. After the war, large numbers of soldiers from former Loyalist units and from the regular British Army were settled in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec. Scottish soldiers, thus, played an important role in settling the British colonies in the Americas.

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