The Scots Brigade, also referred to as the Scots-Dutch Brigade, was an infantry brigade first formed in the 1580s that served in the army of the Dutch Republic. Despite the name, it usually comprised six infantry regiments, three being recruited primarily from Scotland and three from England but also contained large numbers of local recruits. It was finally dissolved in 1782 and its regiments absorbed into the regular Dutch army.
The Eighty Years War; 1568-1648Edit
The Dutch fight for independence from Spain in the Eighty Years' War of 1568–1648 attracted support from Protestants across Europe. 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. 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. 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.
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. However, strong religious, economic and cultural links between Scotland and the Netherlands meant that in 1632, the 'Scotch Brigade' included three Scottish regiments, plus another three to four English ones.
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 Münster ended the war with Spain in 1648.
Anglo-Dutch and Franco-Dutch Wars 1648-1688Edit
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. Formations like the Brigade thus provided an outlet for Scots and English who wanted to pursue a military career; professional officers formed a small and tight-knit group, who moved between armies, often regardless of nationality, religion or political belief. States commonly employed other nationalities; in the French army of 1672, 12 out of 58 infantry battalions were recruited outside France, as were 9 of its 87 cavalry regiments.
It was also a means of creating a pool of trained officers for Charles II and his brother James II, who controlled the recruitment of soldiers in Scotland, Ireland and England and in theory, appointed its officers. In reality, this required negotiation, as shown by Charles' failure in 1680 to appoint the Catholic Earl of Dumbarton as commander. Nevertheless, the Brigade included a number of Catholic officers like Thomas Buchan; during the 1689-92 Jacobite rising in Scotland, senior officers on both sides included former colleagues Buchan, George Ramsay, Hugh Mackay, Alexander Cannon, Viscount Dundee and Sir Thomas Livingstone.
Despite its name, by the middle of the 17th century the Brigade was a mix of regiments from Scotland and England; during the 1665-1667 Second Anglo-Dutch War, officers were required to swear allegiance to the States General but many refused to do so. Reinstated when the war ended, the English regiments were withdrawn again when the Third Anglo-Dutch War began in 1672; however, the alliance between England and France was deeply unpopular, and ended with the 1674 Treaty of Westminster.
The Franco-Dutch War continued until 1678 and the English regiments restored but by now, only 13 officers in the three nominally Scottish regiments were Scots, while many of the enlisted men were Dutch. When William of Orange complained about the Brigade's low morale and quality, Hugh Mackay suggested re-establishing the national identities of the regiments, which now became deliberate policy. In 1685, the Brigade was sent to help James suppress simultaneous rebellions in Scotland and England, but both quickly collapsed and it returned to the Netherlands without seeing action.
1688-1697;the Nine Years WarEdit
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.
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.
1701-1747 War of the Spanish and Austrian SuccessionsEdit
Demand for soldiers by the British military during the War of the Spanish Succession made enlisting in the Brigade increasingly difficult and in 1703, the Duke of Marlborough suggested ending Dutch recruitment. This policy was implemented in 1709, then relaxed after the war ended in 1714. Recruiting was allowed when the War of Austrian Succession began in 1740, but strict conditions re-imposed after the 1745 Jacobite Rising, for fear rebels might use it to escape. The Brigade's right to recruit in Scotland was finally ended in 1757.
It also provided the garrison during the Siege of Bergen op Zoom in 1747 when a French army besieged the city. Initially planned as a diversion to divert British, Austrian and Dutch troops from the main attack on Maastricht, French troops captured the city in September. The garrison eventually withdrew to the nearby fortification at Steenbergen, which they successfully defended 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 disbanded after the war ended.
1748-1782; Amalgamation into Dutch line regimentsEdit
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. The Brigade's right to recruit in Scotland was finally ended in 1757.
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. 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.
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 and when peace came in 1784, the Brigade was not reformed. This was due to a combination of political instability and cultural changes that meant the practice of employing separate foreign units was no longer considered appropriate.
Those officers who resigned their commissions in 1782 continued to petition the British government for the Brigade to be reconstituted in some form. Finally in October 1794, 23 former Brigade officers joined a new unit raised for service in India, 94th Foot, the Scotch Brigade. 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. 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.
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.
- The signatories being Amsterdam banker Jean de Neufville and Pensionary Van Berckel.
- Including 1 Colonel, 5 Lt-Colonels, 3 Majors, 11 Captains, 3 Lieutenants, 23 Ensigns and 6 others.
- Glozier, Mathew (2001). Scotland and the Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648; Steve Murdoch et al. Brill. p. 126. ISBN 9004120866.
- Messenger, Charles (2001). Reader's Guide to Military History. Routledge. p. 370. ISBN 1579582419.
- Glozier, 2001, P.128.
- 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.
- Chandler David, Beckett Ian (1996). The Oxford History Of The British Army (2002 ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 52. ISBN 0192803115.
- Childs, John (1984). "The British Brigade in France 1672-1678". History. 69 (227): 386.
- Glozier, Mathew (2004). Scottish Soldiers in France in the Reign of the Sun King: Nursery for Men of Honour. Brill. p. 192. ISBN 900413865X.
- Davenport, Frances (1917). "European Treaties bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies". p. 238. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
- 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.
- Miggelbrink Joachim, McKilliop, Andrew (ed) & Murdoch, Steve (ed) (2002). Fighting for Identity: Scottish Military Experiences c.1550-1900. Brill. pp. 91–92. ISBN 9004128239.
- Childs, John (2014). General Percy Kirke and the Later Stuart Army (2015 ed.). Bloomsbury Academic. p. 72. ISBN 1474255140.
- 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.
- Henshaw, Victoria (2011). "Scotland and the British Army; 1700-1750" (PDF). PHD Thesis, University of Birmingham: 53. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
- Conway, Stephen (2010). "The Scots Brigade in the 18th Century". Northern Scotland. Volume 1 (No 1): 30–31.
- Henshaw, Victoria (2011). "Scotland and the British Army; 1700-1750" (PDF). PHD Thesis, University of Birmingham: 54. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
- Miggelbrink, McKilliop & Murdoch, 2002, p.86-88.
- Miller, Daniel (1970). Sir Joseph Yorke and Anglo-Dutch Relations 1774-1780 (2010 ed.). Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 98–100. ISBN 3111002284.
- Miggelbrink, McKilliop & Murdoch, 2002, p.92.
- Colyear Robertson, LT-Colonel, WP (June 1790). Letter (Bundle 1711-1712 ed.). PRO no 89.
- Miggelbrink, McKilliop & Murdoch, 2002, p.88.
- Steven, Alasdair (20 May 2013). "Obituary: Hugh Mackay, 14th Lord Reay and Chief of Clan Mackay". The Scotsman. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
- Chandler David, Beckett Ian; The Oxford History Of The British Army; (Oxford University Press, 1996, 2002 (ed));
- Childs, John; General Percy Kirke and the Later Stuart Army; (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014 (2015 ed));
- Childs, John; The British Brigade in France 1672-1678; (History, Volume 69, Issue 227, 1984);
- Childs, John; The Scottish brigade in the service of the Dutch Republic, 1689 to 1782; (Documentatieblad werkgroep Achttiende eeuw.: 61. 1984);
- Colyear Robertson, Lt-Colonel; Letter of June 1790; (PRO no 89, Bundle 1711-1712)'
- Conway, Stephen; The Scots Brigade in the 18th Century; (Northern Scotland. Volume 1, Issue 1, 2010);
- Davenport, Frances; European Treaties bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies; (1917);
- Glozier, Matthew, in Scotland and the Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648; (Brill, 2001);
- Glozier, Matthew; Scottish Soldiers in France in the Reign of the Sun King: Nursery for Men of Honour; (Brill, 2004);
- McKilliop, Andrew & Murdoch, Steve (ed); Fighting for Identity: Scottish Military Experiences c.1550-1900; 2002;
- Messenger, Charles; Reader's Guide to Military History; (Routledge, 2001);
- Miller, Daniel; Sir Joseph Yorke and Anglo-Dutch Relations 1774-1780,1970;
- Unknown; 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; (University of Michigan Library, 1795 (2009 ed);
- Henshaw, Victoria (2011). "Scotland and the British Army; 1700-1750" (PDF). PHD Thesis, University of Birmingham: 53. Retrieved 23 October 2018.;
- Steven, Alasdair (20 May 2013). "Obituary: Hugh Mackay, 14th Lord Reay and Chief of Clan Mackay". The Scotsman. Retrieved 1 February 2018.