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The "Black Watch" at Ticonderoga, July 8, 1758

The "Black Watch" at Ticonderoga, July 8, 1758

THE Glens Falls Insurance Company's historical calendar for 1904 dealt with the subject of Abercrombie's Expedition against Fort Ticonderoga, July, 1758, the most imposing martial aggregation known to the New World up to then. Its more than 6,000 British regulars and about 10,000 provincials, with artillery train, munitions and equipment, gathered at the head of Lake George and started down the lake July 5th a splendid pageant.

Abercrombie was without antecedents or ability for the command, and after Lord Howe (" the noblest Englishman of his time," second in command and the controlling spirit), fell at the first fire of the first encounter with an advance French detachment, all was hesitancy, indecision and folly.

Montcalm, with less than 5000, half French regulars, industriously profited by Abercrombie's delay in strengthening his outlying defenses; throwing up earth and log breastworks, felling forest trees outward and sharpening their branches, making an intricate and difficult abatis.

The inscription was so worn that it was "chalked" for photographing.

July 8 Abercrombie hurled his solid columns against the entrenched French and for six hours they fought with unsurpassed but unavailing valor. Seldom has life and courage been more unreasonably wasted. The English loss was quite 2,000 and that of the French about 500.

Under Abercrombie was the famous " Black Watch," the 42nd, and for valor at Ticonderoga designated by King George II. the "Royal Highland Regiment." This regiment, conspicuous in all of England's wars for 170 years, fought the fiercest of its many battles at this time, with a loss quite equal to that of any single regiment in any single engagement of history.

Writing of this battle at the time, Lieutenant William Grant of the " Black Watch " said: "The attack began at a little past one in the afternoon, and at two the fire became general on both sides. It was exceedingly and without intermission, in so much that the oldest soldiers never saw so furious and so incessant a fire. Fontenoy was nothing to it I saw both.****

"The difficult access to the enemy's lines was what gave them fatal advantage, They had taken care to cut down monstrous large trees, which covered all the ground from the foot of their breastworks about a cannon shot in every direction in their front. This not only broke our ranks, but put it entirely out of our power: to advance until we had cut our way through. I had seen men behave with courage before that day, but so much determined bravery can scarcely be paralleled."

Other accounts mention the "Black Watch" as hewing their way with their broadswords through the tangled branches of the felled trees under a terrible musket and artillery fire; some even reaching the works, and the actual entering by Captain John Campbell, "one of the two 'Black Watch' soldiers presented to George II.," with a few followers, to be dispatched by French bayonets.

There is also the story of a Highland piper "continuing to play his bagpipe after the loss of a leg." It is also said that " the Highlanders were so obstinate that not 'till the third order of the general did-their commander get them to withdraw."

The loss of the "Black Watch" was 8 officers, and 297 rank and file, killed and l7 officers, and 306 rank and file, wounded, a total of 647l.

Among the officers - "displaying great valor" was Major Duncan Campbell of Inverawe, who, according to a tradition of song and story, had been warned of his death at an unknown place named Ticonderoga by the ghost of a murdered cousin whose slayer he unwittingly sheltered; but, while wounded at Ticonderoga, he died at Fort Edward nine days later, and his grave is in the cemetery between Glens Falls and Fort Edward, near that of Jane McCrea.


1739 – Regiment organized.
1743 – Embarked for Flanders.
1735 – Battle of Fontenoy.
            Battle of Preston Pans.
1746-7 – Served in North America and Flanders.
1756 – Embarks for North America.
1758 – Attack on Ticonderoga.
            Granted distinction of "Royal Highland Regiment."
1759 – Attack on Martinique.
            Capture of Guadeloupe.
            Second battalion embarks for North America.
            Second attack and capture of Ticonderoga.
1760 – Capture of Montreal.
1762 – Capture of Martinique.
            Capture of Havana.
            Embarks for North America.
1763-4 – Employed against Red Men.
1767 – Embarks for Ireland.
1770 – Embarks for North America.
            Battle of Brooklyn.
            Capture of Long Island.
            Siege of Fort Washington.
            Affair at Pisquata.
            Battle of Brandywine.
            Battle of Germantown.
1779 – Capture of Stony Point and Vereplank.
1780 – Siege of Charlestown.
1Z81 – Second battalion embarks for West Indies.
1783 - Removed to Nova Scotia.
1789 – Return to England.
1793 – Served in Flanders.
1795 – West Indies again.

1796 – Capture of St. Lucia.
1798 – Capture of Minorca.
1801 – Battle of Aboukir Bay.
            Battle of Alexandria Bay.
1802 – Portugal.
1809 – Battle of Corunna.
            Expedition against Holland.
1812 – Siege of Ciudad Roderigo.
            Siege of Badajoz.
            Battle of Salamanca.
1815 – Battle of Vittonia.
            Battle of Pyrenees.
            Battle of Nivelle.
1814 – Battle of Toulouse.
1815 – Battle of Quartre Bras.
            Battle of Waterloo.
1854 – War of the Crimea.
            Battle of the Alma.
            Battle of Balaklava.
1856 – Fall of Sebastapol.
1857 – Battle of Cawnpore.
1858 – Relief of Lucknow.
1868 – Return to Edinburgh.
1873 – Expedition against Ashanti.
1874 – Capture of Borborassie, Amoaful.
            Becquah, Ordahan and Coomassie.
1882 – Battle of Tel-el-Kebir.
1884 – Battle of El Teb.
            Capture of Kirbekan.
1898 – Battle of Khartoum.
1899 – South Africa, "Magersfontein"


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