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73rd (Perthshire) Regiment of Foot

73rd Regiment of Foot
Regimental colours
Active 1756–1881
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Infantry
Battle honours Mangalore
Battle of Quatre Bras

The 73rd Regiment of Foot also known as MacLeod's Highlanders after its founder John Mackenzie, Lord MacLeod, was an infantry regiment of the British Army.


  • History 1
    • First raising 1.1
    • 2nd/42nd Highlanders 1.2
  • 19th-Century 2
    • 1st Battalion 2.1
    • 2nd Battalion 2.2
    • The Birkenhead 2.3
    • India to amalgamation 2.4
  • References 3
  • External links 4


MacLeod tartan, also known as the MacLeod of Harris tartan, is a variation on the Black Watch tartan. The tartan was adopted by Maj-Gen. John (Mackenzie), Lord Macleod on the raising of the 73rd in 1777.

First raising

Three separate infantry regiments were numbered '73rd' in the course of the eighteenth century. The first was formed in 1756 by the redesignation of the 2nd Battalion, 34th Regiment of Foot . It had a short period of service, mainly in Ireland, before being converted into a Regiment of Invalids in 1763 and was finally disbanded in 1769.

In 1777, the 73rd (Highland) Regiment of Foot (MacLeod's Highlanders) was raised in 1777 in Scotland . A second battalion was raised in 1778. The regiment served in Gambia in West Africa in 1779 and in the Second Anglo-Mysore War from 1780 where they served alongside the 2nd Battalion, 42nd Highlanders who would become the future 73rd Foot. In 1786 MacLeod's Highlanders became the 71st (Highland) Regiment of Foot (MacLeod's Highlanders) which later became the Highland Light Infantry .

2nd/42nd Highlanders

The battalion was raised in 1780 as the 2nd Battalion, 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment of Foot, with eight officers from the 1st Battalion being detached to help raise the new battalion. In 1781 they were sent to India where in 1782 they saw action in the Second Anglo-Mysore War . The 2nd/42nd Highlanders were still in India when the battalion received regimental status as the 73rd (Highland) Regiment of Foot. The regiment fought on in India seeing action in the Third Anglo-Mysore War, at the Battle of Pondicherry in 1793 and in the Second Anglo-Maratha War in 1803. The regiment returned to Britain in 1808.


1st Battalion

in 1809 the regiment raised a second battalion and lost its Highland status due to recruiting difficulties, becoming the 73rd Regiment of Foot. The 1st Battalion embarked at Yarmouth for a seven-month journey to New South Wales, Australia. Their role was to ensure the newly appointed New South Wales Governor Lachlan Macquarie was able to govern after the previously appointed governor William Bligh was deposed by leading members of the New South Wales Corps (102nd Regiment of Foot) in the Rum Rebellion. There in 1810 they received a draft of men from the New South Wales Corps. The 73rd Regiment was under the command of Maurice Charles O'Connell who married Mary Putland, the widowed daughter of William Bligh in May 1810, which created ongoing tension with the leaders of the Rum Rebellion (such as John Macarthur) who were highly influential members of society within New South Wales. To reduce these tensions, the battalion left New South Wales in 1814 on the General Hewitt and another vessel for Ceylon.[1] They were under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Giels, whose children, along with hundreds of wounded men of the regiment, would perish in 1815 in the wreck of the Arniston after visiting him there.[2]

Here it took part in the 2nd Kandyan War. The 2nd Battalion was disbanded in 1817 and its remaining soldiers sent out to the 1st. In that year the battalion took part in suppressing the Uva Rebellion, losing 412 out of approximately 1,000 men.[3]

In 1821 the 73rd returned to Britain. In 1845, after an uneventful period of service in the Mediterranean and North America, the regiment succeeded in having its Highland status restored, in so far as it was re-designated The 73rd (Highland) Regiment of Foot. It was not however restored to full kilted status and this led, in 1862, to the regimental title being amended to 73rd (Perthshire) Regiment of Foot.

2nd Battalion

In 1809 the 2nd/73rd Foot was raised in Nottingham from local militia companies. It remained in England until 1813 when it was shipped to Sweden, Germany and The Netherlands for a series of minor actions.

In 1814 the battalion found itself in Flanders and in 1815 part of Wellington's Army in Belgium. The regiment was in Major-General Halkett's Brigade in Lieutenant General Sir Charles Alten's 3rd Division. The 2nd/73rd Foot fought in the Battle of Quatre Bras on 16 June 1815 where they lost 53 men killed and wounded. At the subsequent Battle of Waterloo on 18 June, the regiment was charged by French Cavalry no less than 11 times during the battle and bombarded by French artillery. It remained in square without breaking. The 2nd/73rd lost 6 officers and 225 men killed and wounded, the second heaviest casualties suffered by a line infantry regiment, after the 1st 27th (Inniskillings), which lost 450 out of 700 men in holding their square and Wellington's line. After Waterloo the battalion was part of the Army of Occupation in Paris before moving back to England. When the 2nd Battalion disbanded in 1817, it transferred 300 of its men to the 1st Battalion in Trincomalee.

The Birkenhead

In 1846, the 73rd Highlanders sailed for Argentina and then on to the Cape Colony to take part in the Xhosa Wars . In 1852, during the 2nd Xhosa War, the regiment departed Simonstown aboard the troopship HMS Birkenhead bound for Port Elizabeth. At two o'clock in the morning on 28 February, the ship struck rocks at Danger Point, just off Gansbaai . The troops assembled on deck, and allowed the women and children to board the lifeboats first, but then stood firm as the ship sank when told by officers that jumping overboard and swimming to the lifeboats would mostly likely upset those boats and endanger the civilian passengers. 357 men drowned.

India to amalgamation

In 1857 the regiment took part in the putting down of the Sepoy Rebellion(Indian Mutiny) seeing some action in Central India. Over the next few years the regiment served in Hong Kong, back to India, and Ceylon. In 1862 they received a new title becoming the 73rd (Perthshire) Regiment of Foot. In 1881 during Childers Reforms it was announced that it would be returning to the regiment they originated from 95 years earlier, and so the 73rd Highlanders became the 2nd Battalion, Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)


  1. ^ "O'Connell, Sir Maurice Charles Philip (1768–1848)".  
  2. ^ Raikes, Henry (1846). Memoir of the Life and Services of Vice-admiral Sir Jahleel Brenton. Hatchet & Son. p. 527. 
  3. ^ Powell, Geoffrey (1973). The Kandyan Wars: The British Army in Ceylon, 1803–1818. London: Leo Cooper. p. 320.  

External links

  • "British Regiments site". Archived from the original on 9 January 2008. 
  • British Casualties at Waterloo
  • An account of the start of the Regiment
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