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sonal knowledge and observation ; and on the mass of general information, of great credibility and consistency, preserved among the Highlanders of the last century. From the confidence derived from these circumstances, I fear I have been led to attach more importance to the subject than will be generally admitted to belong to it, and to have expressed myself with a freedom and warmth which many may consider reprehensible. If I am found to have thus erred,
and to have expressed myself in language unsuitable to the subject, or unbecoming the character which I am ambitious to maintain, my only defence is an honest and perfect conviction of the truth of all I have advanced, and of the vital importance which I have, I hope not improperly, attached to several points touched upon
both in the Sketches and in the Military History
The origin of these Sketches and Military Details was simply this :
-When the 420 regiment was removed from Dublin to Donaghadee in the year 1771, the baggage was sent round by sea. The vessel was unfortunately driven on shore in a gale of wind, and wrecked ; the greater part of the cargo and baggage was lost, and the portion saved, especially the regimen. tal books and records, much injured. A misfortune somewhat similar occurred when the army, under the command of the Earl of Moira, landed at Ostend in June 1794. The transports were ordered round to Helvoetsluys, with orders to wait the further movements of the troops. The vessels had not been long there, when the enemy invaded Holland in great force, and, entering Helvoetsluys, seized on the transports in the harbour. Among the number of vessels taken were those which had conveyed the 42d to Flanders, having on board every article of regimental baggage, except the knapsacks with which the officers and soldiers landed at Ostend in light marching order. Along with the baggage, a well selected library, and, what was more to be regretted, all that remained of the historical records of the regiment, from the period of its formation till the year 1793, fell into the hands of the enemy.
After the conclusion of the late war, his Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief directed that the 42d should draw up a record of its services, and enter it in the regimental books, for the information of those who should afterwards belong to the corps. As none of the officers who had served in the 42d preyious to the loss of the records in 1794 were then in the regiment, some difficulty arose in drawing up the required statement of service ; indeed, to do so correctly, was found impossible, as, for a period of fifty. four years previous to 1793, the materials were very defective. In this situation, the commanding officer, in the year 1817, requested me to supply him with a few notices on the subject. After some hesitation and delay, I commenced ; but merely with the intention of noting down as much as would cover about thirty or forty pages of the record book. I did not, indeed, expect that my knowledge of the subject would enable me to extend my statement to greater length, especially as I had kept no journal ; but as I proceeded, I found that I knew more, and had a better recollection of circumstances, than I was previously aware of, though, in the multiplicity of facts I have had to state, some inaccuracies may afterwards be dis
covered. I had, indeed, possessed considerable advantages. Several old officers of great intelligence belonged to the regiment when I joined it. One of these had not been a week absent from the day he entered in the year 1755. His wife, who was a widow when he married her, had juined the regiment with her first husband in the year 1744, and had been equally close in her attendance, except in cases where the presence of females was not allowed. She had a clear recollection of much that she had seen and heard, and related stories and anecdotes with the animated and distinct recitation of the Highland senachies. Another officer, of great judgment, and of a most accurate and retentive memory, had joined the regiment in the year 1766, and a third in 1769. I had also the advantage of being acquainted with several Highland gentlemen who had served as private soldiers in the regiment when first organized. The information I received from these different sources, together with that which I otherwise acquired, led me on almost insensibly, till the narrative had extended to such length, that I had some difficulty in compressing the materials into their present size. It then struck me that I could, without much difficulty, give similar details of the service of other Highland regiments. In the course of this second investigation, I met with much of the same character and principles in them all. The coincidence was indeed striking, and proved that this similarity of conduct and character must have had some common origin, to discover the nature of which appeared an object worthy of inquiry. The closest investigation only confirmed the opinion
I had before entertained, that the strongly marked difference between the manners and conduct of the mountain clans and those of the Lowlanders, and of every other known country, originated in the patriarchal form of government, which differed widely from the feudal system of other countries. 1, therefore, attempted to give a sketch of those manners and institutions by which this distinct character was formed; and, having delineated a hasty outline of the past state of manners and character, the transition to the changes that had been produced, and the present condition of the same people, was obvious and natural. Hence I have been led on, step by step, from one attempt to another, till the whole attained its present form.
A work thus undertaken, as it were by accident, and without any previous plan or design, one part of the subject naturally leading to the other, may claim some indulgence for a writer whose only qualification is a long and intimate knowledge of the subject, and of facts connected with it, conjoined with a great and earnest desire to do it justice. I trust, therefore, that, from the enlightened reader who takes these circumstances into account, and reflects on the difficulties which a plain soldier, unaccustomed to composition, had to encounter, in making such an attempt as that now respectfully, and with great diffidence, submitted to the Public, I shall meet with that liberal share of indulgence which I so much require, and which, all circumstances considered, will not, I trust, be denied me.
Garth, 24th April 1821.