ScotWars - Scottish Military History and Re-enactment
Royal Ecossais
The regimental
Colour of the Royal Ecossais
The Royal Ecossais was raised by John Drummond in 1744 and disbanded 1763.

Alan Breck Stewart is generally held to have been the murderer of Colin Campbell of Glenure, however, Stevenson's fictional character is more closely based upon John Roy Stewart, himself at one time an officer in the Royal Ecossais.

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Raised by John Lord Drummond of Perth with a capitulation dated 3rd December 1743 followed by a royal ordnance dated 1st August 1744. Their organisation was to be based on that of the Irish regiments ,to be made up of 11 companies of fusiliers and 1 of grenadiers each of 50 men plus officers for a total of 660 effectives. The officers and men used to form the regiment came from several different sources, firstly from Scotsmen serving in the Irish regiments, Scottish exiles living in France together with recruits smuggled out of Scotland. With an effective of 500 men and officers assembled at St.Omer, with John Lord Drummond as lieutenant colonel, (as for all Royal Regiments, the King of France was always the colonel ) although Lord Drummond wrote on the 29th December 1744 that he was missing only 10 men to complete the regiment.

This regiment, as many other foreign regiments in tjhe French Army were not mercenaries as is often claimed, they were more often than not political or religious refugees who could not safely return to their homeland for fear of persecution.

In the spring of 1745 the regiment was sent to join the army of the Marshal de Saxe in Flanders. They started off their career at the siege of Tournai which started on the25th of April and stayed until the end on the 20th of June, said to have been at the Battle of Fontenoy on the 11th of May but I have found no definitive proof of this, their name does not figure on any official documents, but as their is some proof that John Lord Drummond was there as an observer with the Irish brigade ( he had previously been a captain in the Regiment de Rooth ) and this may be the reason for this error. Now under the command of the Count Lowendahl they were at the sieges of Gand and Audenarde in July, Ostend in August and Nieuport in September.

Louis XV pushed by both the Marquise De Pompadour and the need to relieve the pressure on his armies in Flanders decided to send a small expeditionary force of about a 1,000 men to Scotland to help Charles Edward Stuart to try and recover his throne. This force was made up of the regiment Royal Ecossais, 50 men from each of the Irish regiments and Fitzjames regiment of horse, the majority of which were captured at sea by the British Navy.

The Young Pretender raised his Standard on the 19th of August 1745 and the Royal Ecossais took ship on the 26th of November 1745 and landed in Scotland on the 7th of December at Montrose to reinforce the Pretenders army; They were authorised to raise a 2nd battalion in February 1746.

Some of the regiment were present at the Battle of Falkirk on 17th of February 1746 at the rear of the center of the second line with Bonnie Prince Charlie while the rest were at the siege of Stirling Castle were they suffered heavy casualties, the Jacobite forces lost 600 of their best men, mostly the “French Piquet’s”!. The regiment had a strength of 350 men at the Battle of Culloden on the16th of April 1746 were they were in the second line and later they helped to cover the retreat of the Highlanders right wing, an attempt by Argyll Militia to interfere was pushed aside but in the skirmish the two battalions became separated and one , probably the 2nd battalion, was caught and surrounded by British Dragoons and forced to surrender in Inverness, the other one, together with their colours continued its retreat towards Ruthven Barracks and did not surrender until the 19th of April.

The troops of the 1st battalion as uniformed regulars were treated, albeit harshly, as prisoners of war and did not suffer the same fate as many highlanders, and were imprisoned in the Barracks at Ruthven, but those of the 2nd battalion having been raised in Scotland were not that well dressed and as such were considered as rebels, all but one were eventually released and all of the survivors were exchanged as prisoners of war and sent back to France where the regiment was rebuilt and Louis Drummond of Melfort became the new Lieutenant Colonel following the death of John Lord Drummond. The expedition was a disaster for Scotland but Louis XV had won a strategic victory as the English had had to withdraw frontline troops from Flanders to combat the Rebellion and so relieved the pressure on the French Army in Flanders. In the spring of 1747 the regiment rejoined the army of Count Lowendahl and fought at the siege of Berg Op Zoom and participated in the last victory of the war, the capitulation of Maëstricht on the 7th of May 1748. The two battalions had been consolidated in August 1747 into one battalion. They were reinforced on the 20th December 1748 when the Regiment of Albany was disbanded and the soldiers of Scottish origin were redistributed between Royal Ecossais and the Regiment of Ogilvy. On the12th of February 1749 the fusilier companies of all Scottish and Irish regiments were reduced from 50 men to 35, their peace time strength .

In 1756, at the start of the Seven Years War the regiment was in camp at Calais and from there they were sent on coast guard duties, at one time they were at Belle Isle until May 1760 when they were sent to join the army of Marshal De Broglie where they defended Marbourg and then Villingshausen until the end of the war.

The end of the war was a time of major changes and the need for econmies and many regiments were disbanded or amalgamated and Royal Ecossais which had lost most of its Scottish origins due to the difficulty of finding Scottish recruits and was disbanded and the troops of Scots or Irish origin were transferred to the Irish regiment of Bulkeley in December 1762.<= Cliquetez ici pour lire cette section en français

Some quotes...

"In addition to red coated Irish Picquets Lord John Drummond, the commander of the French Troops, also brought some 400 men of his own regiment, the Royal Ecossois. This was a Scottish unit raised in 1744, for which Drummond was given permission to raise a second battalion in Scotland. A couple of officers and some men can certainly be identified as having joined the regiment after its arrival in Scotland, but the projected second battalion never materialised. Unlike the Irish regiments there was no polite fiction that these Scots soldiers were merely 'on loan' from the British Army and consequently, instead of the full-skirted red coats worn by the Irish, the Royal Ecossois had a rather dashing blue uniform." - Stuart Reid, 'Like Hungry Wolves'

A nineteenth century depiction of the Royal Ecossais. On examination this appears to be the uniform worn by the regiment post 1752, when a standardisation of all French Uniforms took place. Hence change to long coats and white facings.

UK re-enactors who portray the Royal Ecossais...

Fusiliers, Regiment Royal Ecossais


"This Scottish regiment in the French service initially stood in the second line at Culloden, and later some fought a desperate rearguard action against the British cavalry before being forced to surrender. Others, however, led by Major Hale, succeeded in escaping to Ruthven Barracks and did not surrender until 19 April. Originally it had comprised only a single battalion, but Lord John Drummond had been authorised to recruit a second, and appears to have picked up quite a number of recruits after landing in Scotland. Some of these recruits later had great difficulty in being accepted as prisoners of war rather than as rebels.

One of them was Lieutenant Charles Oliphant, a customs officer from Aberdeen, and his unusual uniform was described by one of the witnesses at his trial in 1747 (he was found guilty, but pardoned on condition of emigrating to America): 'Prisoner wore the uniform of Lord John Drummond's officers, viz; short blue coats, red vests laced with bonnets and white cockades.' A drover named John Gray also described Drummond himself wearing the same uniform, although he helpfully added that the coat itself was also laced. This style was of course very Scottish, and the grenadier company even went as far as to wear kilts in place of the white breeches depicted here. By 1752, however, the battalion or fusilier companies were more conventionally dressed in full skirted coats, and tricorne hats with white lace. The French infantry of the period seem to have worn white gaiters with all orders of dress; and wemay presume that this regular unit may have been equipped with the Modele 1728 musket".- Stuart Reid, 'Like Hungry Wolves'

The above description of the uniform contradicts the depiction of a fusilier in the Osprey Campaign Series: Culloden 1746. In that illustration the soldier has a long skirted coat and the presumtion is that this is a later uniform either interim dress before the move to long skirted coats in 1752 or a confusion with that change.

"The other significant component arrived only after the [Jacobite] army was well established. This was the rather speculative contribution of the French government and comprised a number of detachments, or 'picquets', from the various Irish infantry regiments of the French army, together with a single Scottish regiment, the Royal Ecossais. A regiment of cavalry, Fitzjames's Horse, was also sent. Unfortunately, not all of these troops actually arrived as planned; a significant proportion were captured on route to Scotland by the Royal Navy. Only about a squadron of Fitzjames's Horse reached Scotland and even they had had to be mounted at the expense of Scottish units; the French, being regular troops, were given a higher priority for the use of the army's limited resources. Despite being regular troops, the French contingents' lack of eventual numbers ensured their presence had little influence over the final fate of the Jacobite Army. Ironically, it was their professional discipline that allowed them their principal contribution to the Rebellion when they covered the Jacobite rear during the final stages of the Battle of Culloden." - Allan L. Carswell "'The Most Despicable Enemy That Are' - The Jacobite Army of the '45" essay from '1745 - Charles Edward Stuart and the Jacobites', edited by Robert C. Woosnam-Savage.

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