72nd Regiment, Duke of Albany's Own Highlanders

  (Redirected from 72nd Regiment of Foot)

The 72nd Highlanders was a British Army Highland Infantry Regiment of the Line. Raised in 1778, it was originally numbered 78th, before being redesignated the 72nd in 1786. Under the Childers Reforms it amalgamated with the 78th (Highlanders) Regiment to form the 1st Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders in 1881.

72nd Highland Regiment
72nd Highlanders badge PICT7371a.jpg
Regimental cap badge
Country Kingdom of Great Britain (1778–1800)
 United Kingdom (1801–1881)
Branch British Army
TypeInfantry Regiment
SizeOne battalion (two battalions 1804–1816)
Garrison/HQStirling Castle (1873–81)[1]
EngagementsSecond Mysore War (1782–84)
Third Mysore War (1789–92)
Siege of Pondicherry (1793)
Cape of Good Hope (1806)
Isle de France (1810)
South Africa (1835)
Crimean War (1855–56)
Indian Rebellion (1858)
Second Afghan War (1878–80)
Left: Government sett kilt (1778–1809)[2]
Right: Prince Charles Edward Stuart trews (1823–81)[2]


Early historyEdit

Colours of the 72nd Regiment presented in 1825[3]
Recruiting poster, 1780s

The regiment was raised in the Western Highlands by Kenneth Mackenzie, Earl of Seaforth as the Seaforth (Highland) Regiment in January 1778[4] as an act of gratitude for the restoration of the family Earldom which had been forfeited during the Jacobite rising of 1715. A corps of 1,130 men was raised of whom 900 were Highlanders and the remainder came from the Lowlands: it was established at Elgin, its first base, in May 1778.[5]

In August 1778 the Regiment marched to Leith to embark for India – but a dispute regarding their terms of service led about half the men to march back to Edinburgh where they took up a position of protest on Arthur's Seat, remaining there for several days. Here they were supplied with food by the people of the capital, who supported them in their grievances.[6] The protest was reported in the London newspapers, including articles contributed by James Boswell.[7] After three days of negotiations, a compromise was reached and the soldiers were pardoned. They were again marched to their quarters at Leith, led by the Earl of Seaforth, with the plan to send them to India now abandoned.[Note 1][8] At this time, the regiment was designated the 78th (Highland) Regiment of Foot, or Seaforth (Highland) Regiment.[8] The regiment embarked for Jersey in September 1778, where in May 1779 they helped to repulse a French invasion. They moved to England in April 1781.[9]

Posted to India, the regiment embarked from Portsmouth, with a strength of 973 rank and file, in June 1781.[10] Because of change of diet, rough seas and scurvy, 274 died on the voyage; including the Earl of Seaforth, whose cousin Lieutenant Colonel Humberston Mackenzie took command of the regiment. On arrival at Madras on 2 April 1782, only 369 were fit to carry arms. They joined the army of Sir Eyre Coote at Chingleput at the beginning of May 1782 but because of their general health, they were considered unfit for service. Those able to wield arms were drafted into the 73rd (Macleod's Highlanders) Regiment. By October 1782 they had recovered their strength and "the colours were once again unfurled" to allow the Regiment to take part in the wars against Tipu Sultan.[8] Colonel Humberston Mackenzie was killed in April 1783 on board the sloop HMS Ranger in action against a Mahratta fleet on his return journey from Bombay to Madras during the Second Anglo-Mysore War. Major-General James Murray then succeeded to the colonelcy in November 1783.[8]

The men had enlisted for a three-year period of service and 425 took their discharge in 1784 and returned to Scotland, the remainder electing to remain in India. They were joined by men from other regiments who had also opted to remain on the sub-continent, bolstering the regiment's numbers to 700 men.[11] At the end of the war with the French, the number of Crown regiments was reduced and the regiment re-ranked as the 72nd (Highland) Regiment of Foot on 12 September 1786.[12]

In December 1789 the Third Anglo-Mysore War started and the regiment saw action at the siege of Bangalore in February 1791[13]and the siege of Savendroog in December 1791[14] as well as the siege of Seringapatam in February 1792 which marked the end of the War.[15] Remaining in India, the regiment next saw action at the siege of Pondicherry in August 1793 during the French Revolutionary Wars.[16] It then landed in Ceylon in spring 1794, helping to seize the island from the Dutch. The regimemt returned home in February 1798,[17] although many men were transferred to understrength units remaining in India. Back in Scotland, the regiment recruited 900 men from home-defence Fencible Regiments, a quarter of whom were English or Irish.[18]

Napoleonic WarsEdit

The 72nd moved to Ireland in 1801.[19] A second battalion was raised in 1804 but it remained in the United Kingdom throughout the War,[20] and was disbanded in 1816.[21] In August 1805 the 1st battalion put to sea and landed in Madeira before moving on to the Cape of Good Hope at the end of the year and taking part in the Battle of Blaauwberg against the Dutch in January 1806.[22] The regiment was renamed the 72nd Regiment of Foot and lost its highland uniform in April 1809,[4] although it preserved many Scottish traditions, including unofficial retention of pipers.[3] From South Africa, the 1st battalion sailed again and took part in the Invasion of Isle de France (Mauritius) in December 1810.[23] It returned to Cape Town in June 1814[24] and, apart from a short posting in India in 1815,[21] remained at the Cape until returning home in March 1822.[25] In December 1823 the regiment was renamed the 72nd (or Duke of Albany's Own Highlanders) Regiment of Foot after Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany,[4] again adopting Highland dress but with trews,[26] with only pipers wearing the kilt.[2]

The Victorian eraEdit

Officers' regimental uniform, 1840s
Pipe Major John Macdonald who served in the Crimean War
Men of 72 Highlanders who served in the Crimea in 1854

The regiment embarked for South Africa again in June 1828[27] and saw action in the Sixth Xhosa War in 1834–1835[28] before returning home in May 1840.[29] In August 1842 it helped suppress the Preston Strike[30] and was then sent to Gibraltar in November 1844 before sailing to Barbados in February 1848.[31] The regiment went on to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in July 1851 and returned home in October 1854.[30] The following year, the regiment moved first to Malta,[30] then to serve in the Crimean War, arriving in May 1855, serving at the siege of Sevastopol as part of Colin Campbell's Highland Brigade.[32] They returned home in 1856, and in August 1857 moved on to India to help suppress the Indian Rebellion, serving in the Central Indian campaign of 1858. It remained in India until 1866, when it returned home.[33] It embarked for India again in 1871. The regiment played a prominent part in the Second Afghan War of 1878–80, seeing action at the Battle of Peiwar Kotal in November 1878, the Battle of Charasiah in October 1879 and the siege of the Sherpur Cantonment near Kabul in December 1879. They were then part of General Robert's column that marched from Kabul to Kandahar before taking part in the Battle of Kandahar in September 1880.[34]

As part of the Cardwell Reforms of the 1870s, where single-battalion regiments were linked together to share a single depot and recruiting district in the United Kingdom, the 72nd was linked with the 91st (Argyllshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot, and assigned to district no. 58 at Stirling Castle.[35] On 1 July 1881 the Childers Reforms came into effect and the regiment amalgamated with the 78th (Highlanders) Regiment to form the 1st Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders.[4]

Battle honoursEdit

Battle honours won by the regiment were:[36]

Victoria Cross recipientsEdit

Colonels of the RegimentEdit

Colonels of the Regiment were:[4]

Lieutenant Colonels CommandantEdit

Seaforth (Highland) Regiment

78th (Highland) Regiment of Foot, or Seaforth (Highland) Regiment – (1778)


72nd (Highland) Regiment of Foot – (1786)

72nd Regiment of Foot – (1809)

72nd (or Duke of Albany's Own Highlanders) Regiment of Foot – (1823)


  1. ^ Because of the large numbers of men from the clan Macrae being part of the force, this mutiny became known as "The affair of the Macraes."


  1. ^ Fairrie 1998, p. 11.
  2. ^ a b c Fairrie 1998, p. 143.
  3. ^ a b Fairrie 1998, p. 7.
  4. ^ a b c d e "72nd (or Duke of Albany's Own Highlanders) Regiment of Foot". regiments.org. Archived from the original on 6 January 2007. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  5. ^ MacLauchlan 1885, p. 524.
  6. ^ Brander 1971, p. 78.
  7. ^ "Mutiny in Scotland," Public Advertiser (29 Sept. 1778), p. 2; "Mutiny in Scotland," Public Advertiser (1 Oct. 1778). p. 2. See Facts and Inventions: Selections from the Journalism of James Boswell, ed. Paul Tankard (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014), pp. 61–69.
  8. ^ a b c d MacLauchlan 1885, p. 525.
  9. ^ Cannon 1848, p. 5.
  10. ^ Cannon 1848, p. 6.
  11. ^ Sym 1962, p. 5.
  12. ^ MacLauchlan 1885, p. 526.
  13. ^ Cannon 1848, p. 17.
  14. ^ MacLauchlan 1885, p. 529.
  15. ^ MacLauchlan 1885, p. 530.
  16. ^ Cannon 1848, p. 32.
  17. ^ Cannon 1848, p. 34.
  18. ^ Brander 1971, p. 30.
  19. ^ Cannon 1848, p. 35.
  20. ^ Cannon 1848, p. 36.
  21. ^ a b Cannon 1848, p. 46.
  22. ^ Cannon 1848, p. 38.
  23. ^ Cannon 1848, p. 43.
  24. ^ Cannon 1848, p. 44.
  25. ^ Sym 1962, pp. 51–52.
  26. ^ Sym 1962, p. 52.
  27. ^ Cannon 1848, p. 53.
  28. ^ Cannon 1848, p. 54.
  29. ^ Cannon 1848, p. 56.
  30. ^ a b c "72nd Regiment, Duke of Albany's Own Highlanders". regiments.org. Archived from the original on 2 January 2007. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  31. ^ Cannon 1848, p. 60.
  32. ^ Sym 1962, pp. 55–60.
  33. ^ Sym 1962, pp. 80–85.
  34. ^ Sym 1962, pp. 86–100.
  35. ^ "Training Depots". Regiments.org. Archived from the original on 10 February 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  36. ^ Fairrie 1998, p. 129.
  37. ^ "No. 12497". The London Gazette. 29 November – 2 December 1783. p. 1.