‘King George Commands And We Obey’: My 15mm SYW British Army (Part 4: Highlanders)

As discussed last time, we’re going to be refighting the Battle of Warburg over Christmas and for that game I’m going to need some extra British units, namely the two regiments of Highlanders serving in Germany (the 87th (Keith’s) and 88th (Campbell’s)), an additional grenadier battalion and basically all of the British cavalry regiments in Germany, barring the 15th Light Dragoons.

The surviving readers of this blog might remember me saying in Part 1 of this series that my plan was to build my SYW British army based on the order of battle of the Battle of Minden.  However, I’ve since realised that this order of battle does limit my scenario options somewhat, as the British contingent in Germany more than doubled in size immediately after Minden and many of the post-Minden battles featured Beckwith’s ‘elite corps’ comprising two battalions of grenadiers and two battalions of Highlanders (there was only a single battalion of British grenadiers at Minden).

I therefore needed to paint some Highlander skirmishers for our refight of the Battle of Clostercamp last September and I also got carried away, painting the Légion Britannique on a whim.  Since the Clostercamp game I’ve managed to paint both of the formed Highlander battalions, as well as all of the required British cavalry for Warburg (an additional 36 cavalry figures over and above what I’d already painted for Minden).  The only British unit I haven’t finished for Warburg is the additional British grenadier battalion, so I’ll use the 23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers as they’re wearing suitably-pointy hats. 🙂

Anyway, to the Highlanders… These are Eureka Miniatures 18mm figures with flags by Maverick Models.  As with the rest of Eureka’s SYW British infantry, they’re wonderful, character-filled models, but are carrying incorrect banded muskets, which is a shame.

If you’re interested in the painting above, it shows a battalion of Highlanders conducting musketry drill on Glasgow Green, circa 1758.  The battalion is advancing in closed column of platoons.  As the lead platoon fires a volley, the rest wait their turn and one platoon can be seen retiring, having fired its volley.  I presume that this manoeuvre was more suitable for musketry drill than a battlefield tactic.  This unit is almost certainly the 2nd Battalion of the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment (Black Watch), which was formed in 1758 and shipped out to Guadeloupe later that same year (the 1st Battalion was already fighting in America and would later be joined by the 2nd Battalion).  The regiment was still wearing buff facings in 1758, but would change in 1759 to blue (as befitting its newly-awarded ‘Royal’ title).

Sir Robert Murray Keith the Younger circa 1771

Above:  The 87th Regiment of Foot (Keith’s Highlanders).  This regiment was initially raised in August 1759 by Major Robert Murray Keith ‘the Younger’.  His father Robert Murray Keith ‘the Elder’ was a diplomat in Austrian service.  He was also a nephew of the famed Marshal James Francis Edward Keith, who was killed fighting with Frederick the Great’s army at Hochkirch in 1758.  Robert Murray Keith the Younger had previously served with the Dutch Scottish Brigade, then with the 73rd Regiment of Foot and latterly as aide-de-camp to the disgraced Lord Sackville.

Consequently, Murray was tasked with carrying Sackville’s letter of resignation back to London and while there was ordered by William Pitt the Elder to take command of three newly-raised companies of Highland Volunteers at Perth, who would now become the 87th Regiment (these three companies had been raised around a cadre taken from the 42nd Royal Highlanders).

The portrait on the right shows the newly-knighted Keith wearing the 1768 pattern of uniform, complete with the sash and breast-star of the Order of the Bath, to which he was appointed in 1771.  Although his regiment had been disbanded in 1763, it was his last military appointment, so he clearly had a new uniform tailored in the new style, though in his old regimental colourings.  He would be appointed as Colonel of the 10th Foot in 1781 (who wore yellow facings).

Above:  The 87th Regiment of Foot (Keith’s Highlanders).  Keith’s three companies of Highlanders were sent to Germany in November 1759 to join Ferdinand of Brunswick’s army.  Initially tasked with joining the petit-guerre of raiding and reconnaissance.  With cattle-raiding in the blood, the Highlanders proved to be naturally adept in this role and greatly impressed Ferdinand, who requested that the unit be expanded to a full battalion.  Therefore, in early 1760 a further five companies were dispatched to Germany, thus establishing a weak battalion of eight companies.

However, one company was soon captured by the French and a further two companies were later detached to bring the 88th Highlanders up to strength (a cadre of officers and NCOs had already been detached in January 1760 to form the core of the new 88th) and it’s not clear if the battalion ever replaced these lost companies, let alone reach the full establishment of ten companies.  Nevertheless, the two Highland battalions in Germany were considered to be something of an elite and were brigaded with the two British grenadier battalions under the command of Colonel John Beckwith of the 20th Foot, fighting at the battles of Warburg, Clostercamp and Vellinghausen, as well as numerous small actions.

Above:  The 87th Regiment of Foot (Keith’s Highlanders).  Traditionally considered to be light infantry experts of the petit-guerre, the Highlanders in Germany also proved themselves more than capable of fighting alongside other regiments in the line and at Vellinghausen demonstrated their fearsome ability to conduct close assaults.

Above:  The 87th Regiment of Foot (Keith’s Highlanders).  This regiment wore the typical short Highland jacket in red.  This garment lacked lapels and tails, though had cuffs and collar in the facing colour.  There is some debate in sources as to whether the regiment wore green or buff facings.  The original cadre taken from the 42nd Regiment would have initially worn the buff facings of their old regiment, but it’s clear that the regiment soon changed to green facings, as modelled by Captain James Gorry on the right and Colonel Keith above.

The front seams and bottom edge of the jacket were edged with white lace, as were the collar and pockets.  The front of the jacket and the pockets were decorated with bastion-shaped lace loops and the cuff-slash was decorated with a ‘ladder’ of lace up the lower sleeve.  Sources are split over whether or not the cuffs themselves were edged with lace; I’ve gone with edging as it looks rather nice.  Officers’ lace was gold and they had a gold aiguillette on the right shoulder (note that Captain Gorry has lace edging to his cuffs, which tends to suggest that the rank-and-file may also have had lace edging to their cuffs).  Officers and NCOs wore crimson sashes over the left shoulder.

Above:  The 87th Regiment of Foot (Keith’s Highlanders).  Waistcoats were red, with white lace edging and buttonhole lace.  However, officers often wore fashionable buff waistcoats, as modelled by Captain Gorry above.  Kilts were of the standard Government sett of dark green with green-blue stripes and blue squares where the stripes meet.  The stripes are edged and over-striped in black.  However, while I have in the past done the ‘full fig’ with fine black lining, this time I just went for ‘impressionist’ tartan, leaving out the black lining.  To be honest, it looks no bloody different when viewed on the tabletop! 🙂  The excess kilt-material was pinned up behind the left shoulder and a black or dark brown ‘purse’ (sporran) was worn at the front, along with a couple of scabbarded sgian dubh daggers and a black belly-box, decorated with the crowned ‘GR’ cypher.

Above:  The 87th Regiment of Foot (Keith’s Highlanders).  Belts and scabbards were black with brass fittings and buckles.  All ranks carried a broadsword which had a steel basket-hilt, lined with red cloth.  This was suspended from a broad black belt worn over the right shoulder.  Hose were the universal red-and-white diced pattern, held up with red garters.

Aside from the Grenadier Company, all ranks wore a blue Highland bonnet, decorated with a cockade in the form of a bunch or bow of black ribbons, worn over the left ear.  Details for these bonnets could vary from regiment to regiment, though Kronoskaf shows the 87th Regiment’s bonnet as having a white band and blue tourie (pompom), matching the colour of the bonnet.

As for the regiment’s grenadier caps, Kronoskaf describes the black fur bearskin typical of all Highland grenadier companies, with a red front plate bearing a crowned ‘GR’ cypher in white and edged in white.  The ‘monkey’s arse’ at the back was typically red and decorated with the white running horse of Hanover or the regimental number.  However, there is some debate as to whether or not the 87th Regiment actually formed a grenadier company.  They certainly weren’t attached to the massed grenadier battalions, so if they did actually exist, the grenadier companies of the 87th and 88th remained with their parent battalions.

Above:  The 87th Regiment of Foot (Keith’s Highlanders).  The regiment’s drummers were dressed in reverse colours; i.e. green jackets with collar, cuffs and waistcoat in red.  Lace decoration was ‘as the Colonel saw fit’ and as there is no record of what they wore, I’ve kept it reasonably plain and simple.  Tartan was probably the Royal Stewart sett, which at that time consisted of green stripes (in pairs or threes), over red, with fine over-striping of white and yellow.  Again, I’ve gone for ‘impressionist tartan’ and haven’t bothered with the over-striping.  Drums had red edges and the front part was painted in the facing colour, with the crowned royal cypher and regimental number.

Bagpipers are a thorny topic and difficult to research.  Instead of being enlisted men, they were actually the personal property of the Colonel, who could dress them as he saw fit.  In this instance, I’ve dressed the piper in the same uniform as the drummer, though ordinary red coats were also common.  I’ve also read that they were not considered ‘non-combatants’, so were not entitled to reversed colours (the reversed colours of musicians symbolised the livery of a non-combatant Mediaeval herald).  This may well be a myth and I’ve certainly found examples of pipers in America wearing reversed colours.

Above:  The 88th Regiment of Foot (Campbell’s Highlanders).  This regiment was formed at Stirling on 1st January 1760 around a cadre taken from the 87th Highlanders.  Initially numbering 800 men (number of companies unknown), two additional companies were eventually transferred from the 87th.

The regiment’s Colonel was John Campbell of Dunoon (so titled to distinguish him from other high-ranking John Campbells of the period, such as the Duke of Argyll and Lord Cawdor), formerly of the 78th Regiment of Foot (Fraser’s Highlanders).  He led the regiment with distinction throughout its existence, until its disbandment in 1763.

Above:  The 88th Regiment of Foot (Campbell’s Highlanders).  Sources are again split as to whether this regiment wore green or buff facings.  However, there are this time no portraits or other pictures from the period to give us a clue and as a consequence, I’ve gone for buff, just to make them look different from the 87th.

Above:  The 88th Regiment of Foot (Campbell’s Highlanders).  All other details of uniform and equipment for the 88th are exactly the same as the 87th, except the the officers’ lace colour was now silver.

Above:  The 88th Regiment of Foot (Campbell’s Highlanders).  Again the drummers of the 88th were dressed in reversed colours with Royal Stewart tartan.  However, this time I’ve opted to dress the piper in the regular red coat of the rank-and-file.

The sharp-eyed might have noticed that the regimental numbers on the colours are the wrong way round (LXXXVIII for the 87th and LXXXVII for the 88th)!  This is basically down Kronoskaf showing a buff colour for the 87th and a green colour for the 88th and Maverick Models then following suit with their lovely flags.  Thanks to the portraits shown above, it’s safe to say that the 87th had green facings, so I’ve given them the green colour and the buff colour to the 88th.  I’ll be very impressed if anyone can read those Roman numerals from more than 6 inches away…

Above:  The 88th Regiment of Foot (Campbell’s Highlanders).  Some skirmishers for the regiment.

Above:  The 88th Regiment of Foot (Campbell’s Highlanders).  The skirmishers again.

Above:  Colonel John Beckwith (20th Regiment of Foot).  In 1759, as a Lieutenant Colonel John Beckwith commanded the 20th Regiment of Foot (Kingsley’s) at the Battle of Minden.  Following Minden, Beckwith was promoted to full Colonel and was appointed to lead a brigade consisting of the two newly-arrived Highland regiments (87th and 88th) and the two combined British grenadier battalions (Maxwell’s and Daulhat’s), which he led with remarkable aggression and élan at the Battles of Warburg, Clostercamp and Vellinghausen.

Above:  Colonel John Beckwith (20th Regiment of Foot).  Following almost two years excellent service as commander of the elite brigade, Beckwith had still not received his deserved promotion to Major General.  However, he had a cunning plan.  In late 1761, he wrote to the King of Prussia, recommending that the Légion Britannique, then about to be disbanded from Hanoverian service, be taken into Prussian service, with Beckwith as commanding officer at the rank of Major General.  Frederick was apparently enthused by the idea, as he needed troops to secure his western enclaves.  He therefore adopted the Légion Britannique into Prussian service and appointed the newly-ennobled Major General von Beckwith to command them.

Above:  Colonel John Beckwith (20th Regiment of Foot).  Being commissioned into the 20th Foot, Beckwith would probably have worn a variation on his old regimental uniform, which had pale yellow facings and silver lace.

Anyway, that’s it for now.  I’m hoping to get another post up on Christmas Day, while Mrs Fawr bustles around the place, but if not, please do have a Very Merry Christmas!  These lads are already getting into the Christmas spirit… 🙂

This entry was posted in 15mm Figures, Eighteenth Century, Painted Units, Seven Years War British & Hanoverian Armies, Tricorn (18th Century Shako Rules). Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to ‘King George Commands And We Obey’: My 15mm SYW British Army (Part 4: Highlanders)

  1. Neil Youll says:

    Lovely work as ever. I am increasingly of the opinion that the impressionist method is best for 15/18mm figures. Why paint loads of excruciating detail when you can only see it under a magnifier and with fluorescent lighting?! It’s how it looks on the table that matters.

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Cheers Neil! Yes indeed and I’d probably be doing a lot less detail if I wasn’t sticking them on here! 😀 As it happens, my quality of painting has deteriorated recently due to eye irritation. 😞

      • Neil Youll says:

        Yes, strange how our eyes don’t get any better as we get older.

        • jemima_fawr says:

          No indeed! 🙁 Annoyingly, there’s nothing really wrong with my eyes that some vari-focals can’t sort out. It’s my eye LIDS that are the problem – swelling up and putting pressure on the eyeball, so slightly distorting my vision and constantly watering. Hot eye-masks are apparently the only treatment for the condition, but they seem to do feck-all… 🙁

  2. Nick says:

    You sir are responsible for me changing my painting plans for next year

    They now include SYW British and Highlanders

    How in gods name am I going to do tartan in 6mm

    Another thought provoking article

    I think my painting schedule will change again when you start reporting FPW

    • jemima_fawr says:


      Another soul taken! 🙂

      Well if it were me, I’d just mix a dark blue-green shade and just paint the kilts in that colour. If you look at the painting at the top of this article, that’s exactly what they look like and even on my fellas, it’s virtually impossible to make out the pattern (except on the drummers).

      Anyway, thanks for lookin’! 🙂


  3. Paul Smith says:

    Hi Mark

    Hope the Warburg game goes well and looking forwrd to the AAR.

    Many thanks for all the interesting and fun articles over the last year. And hope you and Mrs fawr have a great Christmas.

    Cheers Paul

  4. John Ewan says:

    Hello Jemima_Fawr,
    I have thoroughly enjoyed your blogs on Warburg and the 87th and 88th Highlanders.
    I have now ordered myself two battalions of syw highlanders.

    My greatx5_grandfather William Montgomery served in the 88th, wounded at
    Clostercamp and then demobbed in Ireland in 1763. He married there and eventually
    returned to his home in Inverness.

    Thankyou again for the pleasure of your blogs

    John Ewan

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Thanks John!

      Wow, what a fantastic bit of family history! I can only trace mine back about 140 years, as they’re almost all Davieses and Williamses in West Wales! The proverbial needle in a haystack…



  5. Pingback: ‘King George Commands And We Obey’: My 15mm SYW British Army (Part 5: Dragoons) | Jemima Fawr's Miniature Wargames Blog

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