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"Highland skirmishes and Pipers" Topic

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Comments or corrections?

Slappy Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member25 Jun 2017 5:19 a.m. PST

Did British Highland regiments take their pipers when skirmishing?

Rod MacArthur25 Jun 2017 1:02 p.m. PST

Well, the pipers belonged to companies, and would normally be very close to the company commander, so I would say if a company was deployed forward to skirmish then the piper would go forward as well. The company commander would however be with the supports, one hundred yards or so behind the skirmish line itself, so that is where the piper would be.

Certainly on D-Day, in the Second World War, Lord Lovat's piper went with him off the landing craft and his pipes playing were the first moment that the glider troops who had captured Pegasus Bridge realised that the relief force was about to arrive.

In the Napoleonic Wars a piper of the 71st was injured at Vimiero, and carried on playing to encourage the battalion as it advanced.

In the Jacobite Rebellion there was a " battle of the pipes" when both sides played "music" to annoy the other. There was also a battle at Inverurie when the most famous piper in Scotland, Donald Ban MacCrimmon, who was with the Government forces, was captured by the Jacobites, but the Jacobite pipers respected him so much that they refused to play their pipes until he was released.


bc174525 Jun 2017 1:17 p.m. PST

Re: Donald Ban MacCrimmon was then later killed by the Jacobites at the Rout of Moy 17th Feb 1746.

Such is War

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member26 Jun 2017 12:03 p.m. PST

Note: There is a very good argument to be made that it was Donald Ban's older brother Malcolm who was the piper captured at Inverurie, and later released under parole. See the excellent book, "The MacCrimmon Pipers of Skye" by Robert Bruce Campbell (Duntroon Pub., 2nd ed. 2013).

The employment of pipers during this period would have been wholly at the discretion of the commanding officers, and they were distributed freely through the ranks, altho' each company would have secured at least one "company piper" no doubt to perform the necessary calls and duties. We don't have much evidence of massed piping or pipe and drum bands before the middle of the 1800s, of course. But it's only logical to assume that pipers DID play together when there was need or occasion, if only for their own enjoyment, because pipers naturally tend to lump up, and there are times when one piper simply won't be enough.

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