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COAT OF ARMS BEAULY PRIORY NEW BRUNSWICK DESCENDANTS CAMP SECURITY 76TH REGIMENT DISCUSSION

76th Regiment of Foot: "Macdonald's Highlanders"
aka: The Immortals

MILITARY BACKGROUND

This work has been gleaned from the book
"IN SEARCH OF THE FORLORN HOPE"
by John M. Kitzmiller, II

Before getting into the details of the regiment in question, there are a few vital points and terms we need to keep at the forefront of our search.

The term "Establishment" refers to the total amount of men officially allowed by the government per unit on either a war or peace-time footing.

The term "Strength" refers to those actually present; frequently the Establishment was higher than the Strength.

The regular army was divided into two main branches; the Cavalry and the Foot. The Cavalry was further sub-divided into the Horse Guards and the Horse [Dragoons, Hussars, Lancers, etc.] The Foot Regiments consisted of two groups, also: the Guards Regiments and the Foot Regiments or regular infantry. Both the Horse Guards and the Guards Regiments were elite troops.

In the 1700's and 1800's, the terms "battalion" and "regiment" were used interchangeably. This occurred as a result of the internal organization of the regiment. A regiment would either have one or two battalions - depending on the Establishment. When a regiment had one battalion, the terms often became synonymous.

A regiments senior officers were a Colonel, Lieutenant-Colonel and two Majors. At the company level, the offices were Captains and his subalterns: Lieutenants and Ensigns. Don't mix the Lieutenant with the Lieutenant-Colonel. In different accounts, Andrew Bissett was rumoured to have been both a Captain and a Lieutenant. Niether have been substantiated.

The army was seldom a static organization, and regiments were raised, reduced or disbanded to meet the needs of the military Establishment. Over time, second battalions were added to some of the regiments and later split off into their own regiments. What this means is that the regimental names and numbers were in a constant state of flux, making it extremely difficult to determine the regiment a military ancestor was in AND to locate the records for that regiment.

Important note: Administratively, the regiment was divided into the Depot arm [with usually one "depot" company] and the service arm [called "service" or "battalion" companies.] The Depot acted as headquarters and recruited and trained personnel for the "service" companies. This Depot never left home [England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland], but moved quite frequently, within Great Britain. Despite the regiment's territorial name or affiliation, the Depots could be located just about anywhere, recruiting from the area they were in. Bissett, could have come from anywhere. Many regiments recruited heavily out of Ireland.

Most regiments up to the 1800's were known by the name of their Colonel, even though the practice was abolished in 1751. So, as often as the Colonel changed, the regiment's name changed.

Now for the key point:

A great number of regiments were raised and disbanded to match the military needs of the country and often had the same names or more often the same numbers as regular army units. Thus, Andrew Bissett, could very well have been in a regiment bearing two names. Highly theoretical, but since one of Andrew's granddaughters insists he fought with the Black Watch, it could be that the Foot McDonald's 76th Regiment of Foot was assigned to the Black Watch as a company or battalion. McDonald, being the Colonel (John McDonnell / 76th, bearing the same number as the regiment they were recruited or raised from by the 76th Depot (1778-1783) / Then assigned to the Black Watch, being a temporary 2nd battalion.

KNOWN FACTS:

The Black Watch was the 42nd Regiment of Foot and went by the nickname "The Fourty Two's". They never fought in Virginia. This has been confirmed by the War Records Office and the Yorktown National Historical Park. They were raised in 1738 and disbanded in 1748. Raised again in 1779, the 2nd battalion was renumbered and became the 73rd Regiment of Foot in 1786.

To date, I haven't found any other sources indicating any temporary regiments assigned to the 42nd.

The 76th Regiment of Foot were only known by their regiment number, but went by two nicknames; McDonald's Highlanders" & "Immortals". They did fight in Virginia. Specifically Yorktown, 1781. Confirmed by the War Records Office.

There were many changes in the 76th Regiment of Foot.

First raised in 1745, it was disbanded a year later in 1746.

Raised again in 1758, with Lord George Forbes, as Colonel. Disbanded in 1763. The 76th Regiment of Foot, 2nd Bt. raised in 1758, was later changed to the 86th Regiment of Foot.

Raised again in 1777, John Mcdonnel is listed as the Colonel. This regiment was either disbanded or renumbered in 1783.

Another 76th Regiment of Foot (most likely a 2nd bt.) was raised in 1778 and disbanded in 1784, each act one year later than the previous listing.

The only Colonel indexed in the regular army, bearing the Bissett name, was an A.Bissett of Bissett's Regiment, 1717-1742. This gives rise to the possibility of our Bissett being a Lieutenant of a temporarily raised regiment of foot, raised by a depot run by either the Black Watch or 76th of Foot and then assigned to one or the other as a 2nd Bt. or company to a 2nd Bt.

From 1775 - 1783, the 76th Regiment of Foot was involved in the following campaigns (alphabetically):

CAMPAIGN YEAR REGIMENT - RECRUITED FROM
Boysdale
1777
Immortals - Scotland
Charleston
1781
Immortals - Scotland
James River
1781
Immortals - Scotland
New York
1779
McDonald's Highlanders - Isles, Ireland (likely a temporary regiment)
Virginia
1781
McDonald's Highlanders - Isles, Ireland (likely a temporary regiment)
Winchester (Virginia)
1781
Immortals - Scotland
Yorktown
1781
Immortals - Scotland


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