Though we portray the Revolutionary War era of the Regiment, the 42nd regularly appears at 18th century events, dating from before the French and Indian War through the Revolution. Once a year, though, we travel forward in time and participate in the 19th century, at Mississinewa 1812. On our site we don’t go any more recent than when the Regiment left North America – for real depth on the 42nd of the 1812/Napoleonic era, visit our brother unit in Australia.
This will be our 3rd year at Mississinewa, and it’s an absolute treat – the reenactment is well-done, vendors are top quality, and the battle is a spectacle to behold. No little tactical of 10 French Marines, a couple natives, and some British: this one features well over a hundred soldiers plus ample artillery and even cavalry!
The 42nd in the 1812 Era
By the time of the 1812 battle at Mississinewa, the 42nd had long since left North America – returning to Glasgow in 1790. The 42nd spent the next 20 year globe-trotting and fighting France – serving on the Continent (Flanders, Holland), the West Indies, Gibraltar, Minorca, Egypt (Alexandria), the Penninsular Wars (Corunna, Salmanca) and the Waterloo Campaign (Quatre Bras, Waterloo).
These 1812/Napoleonic era campaigns remain some of the most storied of the Black Watch’s history.
- In 1795, the regiment was awarded the Red Hackle, a distinction that is worn with pride even to this day.
- The 1803 campaign in Alexandria was the source for the Sphinx and “Egypt” on the regiment’s cap badge.
- The battle at Quatre Bras is one of the most stirring examples of Highland gallantry. Set upon by French Lancers before being able to form a square. First repelling the lancers, the 42nd was then attacked by an entire regiment of Cuirassiers. Their bravery earned them specific mention by Wellington. Sgt. Anton of the 42nd describes the scene:
“Our last file had got into Square, and into its proper place, so far as unequalized companies could form a square, and when the cuirassiers dashed full on two of its faces. . . A most destructive fire was opened; riders, cased in heavy armour, fell tumbling from their horses; the horses reared, plunged, and fell on the dismounted riders; shrieks and groans of men, the neighing of horses, and the discharge of musketry, rent the air, as men and horses mixed together in one heap of indiscriminate slaughter. Those who where able to fly, fled towards a wood on our right, whence they had issued the attack.”
Uniforms of the Napoleonic Era
The uniform (well, the coatee) of the 1815 42nd can be seen to the left. It still bears a resemblance to our American Revolution uniforms: red coatees, white with offset red lace, arranged into “bastion” loops. Lapels are no longer turned out with royal blue facings, but cuffs and collars are. Collars are now stiff and up-turned. The photo of the square below shows Grenadier wings, now with fringe.
Note how the bonnets – still diced with red and green – have grown even taller, and feathers are more obvious. One can infer the evolutionary connection with the feather bonnets that would evolve as full dress for pipers.
Diced kilt hose are still worn, but now with black half-gaiters. Note also, that uniform belts are now white instead of black, with cross-belts.
British Forces at Mississinewa
There are excellent British reenactors at Mississinewa – commanded by the indomitable Gen. Timothy Pickles. 18th century re-enactors will see a much different scene when observing opening and closing colors done in the 1812 style – it’s worth catching both the colors ceremonies and the battles!
Crown Forces in attendance include:
- The 95th Rifles –
- The 93rd (Sutherland) Highlanders
- Royal Artillery
We hope to see you near Marion this weekend! Come support the 42nd and what is really a one-of-a-kind event just a short drive away at Mississinewa!