Sketches of The Character, Manners and Present State of the Highlanders of Scotland; with Details of the Military Service of the Highland Regiments

By Colonel David Stewart, 

Second Edition by John Donald Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh  1977

(Public Record Office Library - reference no. 86.002)


Volume II, pages 43-80: 71st Fraser’s Highlanders


Page 67:  71st regiment lost: -


At Battle of Camden, 16 August 1760:

Lieut Archibald Campbell and 8 soldiers killed,

also Capt Hugh Campbell and Lieut John Grant, 2 sergeants and 30 privates wounded.


At Cowpens, 17 January 1781 – no figures for casualties


At Guilford Courthouse, 15/16 March 1781 – 8 of 71st Highlanders killed


At Yorktown, October 1781: 9 of 71st Highlanders killed, then all prisoners until the conclusion of hostilities in 1783.



Journal of The Society for Army Historical Research,

Volume 16, 1937, pages 3-23

(in National Army Museum Library, Chelsea)


‘British Forces in North America, 1774-1781: Their Distribution and Strength’

by C T Atkinson


page 20: The force in Carolina under Cornwallis on 1st September 1780, includes


1st battalion 71st  Highlanders: 21 officers and 202 rank and file

(effective men from 8 companies?)

2nd battalion 71st Highlanders: 16 officers and 150 rank and file

(effective men from 8 companies?)


1025 men sick and wounded (30 wounded from 71st regiment, plus very many sick from 71st regiment before the battle on 16 August 1780)

413 prisoners (with the rebels – mainly the 71st)


Earlier note on same page:  By 7th July Clinton had returned to New York taking the two Grenadier battalions and two Light Infantry battalions, etc.  This may have included two companies of Grenadiers from 1st and 2nd battalions of 71st Highlanders, and two companies of Light Infantry from 1st and 2nd battalions of 71st Highlanders.  Estimated total of 71st Highlanders with Clinton in New York by 1 September 1780:   4 companies of (say) 50 men = 200 rank and file?


However: muster rolls for 71st Highlanders clearly identify many killed and died (from wounds? or disease?) in 1780, from the Grenadier and Light Infantry companies, particularly the Light Infantry company with 7 men killed in 1780.  Does this confirm they were at Camden on 16 August 1780?



Estimate of total in regiment’s two battalions at September 1780:


Effective men on 1 September (202 + 350)                                                       552

Killed and wounded on 16 August (8 + 2 + 30)                                              40

Prisoners with the rebels (say 3/4th of 413, taken on 16 August ???)                    308


Participated in the battle on 16 August  (???)                                                      900

Sick at Camden prior to the battle (say 50% of 1025)                             500


In Camden, August/September 1780                                                                      1400

Plus men from 2 Grenadier and 2 Light Infantry Companies (New York?)     200





Stewart’s book identifies 2340 Highlanders were enlisted (in 1775?).  These could be in 2 battalions of 10 companies with 105 private men each, plus 4 sergeants, 4 corporals, 2 pipers and 2 drummers per company.  (This can be checked from PRO records in warrant for formation in 1775.  They may be the establishment numbers, but some companies may never have had numbers up to full strength.  There are no traces of pipers on the muster rolls.)  Many would not have survived the two-month journey across the Atlantic, with deaths from scurvy and other shipboard diseases.  There were also high death rates among the troops in New York, caused by an epidemic brought from Great Britain with the drafts in the Autumn of 1779 (see Atkinson’s article pages 17/18). 


Stewart’s book identifies that there were no deserters from this regiment!   However the muster rolls signed in 1783 clearly identify many deserters from this regiment, particularly in 1779, 1781 and in May 1783 after a considerable number from the 2nd battalion had returned to Scotland (sailing February 1783?).  The muster rolls do not identify any drafts received into this regiment between 1778-1783.  In summary, about 400 to 700 men could have been lost from disease and desertion before the Battle of Camden.  Atkinson’s article shows a decrease in numbers for this regiment in the years prior to 1780.  Stewart’s book identifies that a company of Light Infantry from the 71st were at Camden, which contradicts Atkinson’s article revealing that Clinton returned to New York with the Grenadier and Light Infantry battalions!


As a result of my estimates of numbers above, I have photocopied ALL the surviving registers for the period 1778-1783 which include:


11 companies, including the Grenadier and Light Infantry companies

- at Twelve Apostles Battery, Island of Jamaica, 25 July 1783

- only 56 effective private men from the 11 company muster rolls, rest all prisoners


12 companies of 2nd battalion, all returned to Scotland by April 1783

- 1 company, mainly of NCOs, discharged at Cupar in Fife (south east of Perth)

- 11 companies, discharged at Perth

- note: Some men from 12th company transferred to 42nd (Royal Highlanders) Regiment of Foot, returning with this group of 71st Highlanders to recruit in Scotland.


10 companies with composite of men from 1st and 2nd battalions

- includes Light Infantry and Grenadier companies

- all signed in August 1783 at camp near Newtown Creek

- no prisoners of war identified, so all must have been released by this date

- most of these muster rolls identify men killed at Camden, Cowpens, Guilford Courthouse and Yorktown


Information from Stewart’s book on casualties, compared to Muster Rolls



Camden, 16 August 1780 – 8 men killed


Muster Rolls:

Light Infantry composite company            7 men killed 1780 (includes Charleston in May)

Un-named captain’s company                      1 man died 16 August 1780


Total                                                    8 men, per Stewart’s book




Cowpens, 17 January 1781 – no figures in Stewart’s book for casualties


Muster Rolls:

Grenadier composite company            3 men killed

Lt John Robertson’s company            4 men killed

Hugh Fraser’s company                      1 man killed

Un-named captain’s company                      3 men killed


Total                                                    11 men




Guilford Courthouse, 15/16 March 1781 – 8 men killed


Muster Rolls:

Lt John Robertson’s company            3 men killed

Vacant company                                  2 men killed

? company                                            4 men died

? company                                            1 man died


Total                                                    10 deaths (5 killed, 5 died of wounds?)




Yorktown, 18 October 1781 – 9 men killed


Muster Rolls:

Vacant company                                  1 man killed









There are no muster rolls after August 1783, for example to identify where men were discharged when the regiment was finally disbanded.  Were they given land in Canada or did they return to Scotland?  Many from the 74th (Argyllshire Highland) and 82nd (Duke of Hamilton’s Lowland) regiments were given 200 acres each in Nova Scotia.  How were the men treated as prisoners of war?  Did the deserters from the 71st regiment enlist with the rebel army?


There are muster rolls for the earliest period of the regiment, for 1775 and 1776.  If a really accurate list of those who were present at Camden in August 1780 is required, then a data base should be compiled, using copies of the earlier 1775-76 rolls and matching individual men in each company onto the composite rolls available for 1778-83.  This would eliminate many who deserted or died before August 1778.  There are very many with identical names, even within each company, coming from the same family and clan.  Because of these soldiers with identical names and the muddle incorporated into the 1778-83 muster rolls, it may never be possible to identify a definite list of soldiers from the two battalions of this regiment who participated in the Battle of Camden.