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"Highland Brigadier" Topic


9 Posts

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695 hits since 2 May 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

davbenbak Supporting Member of TMP02 May 2018 7:28 a.m. PST

I have a mounted Highland officer that I don't plan on basing with a unit. If a Highland colonel was promoted to brigadier would he perhaps keep wearing his bonnet? If I do throw historical accuracy to the wind and use this figure as a Brigadier, who might he have been? I guess I'm asking if any Highland colonels lead brigades, which ones and when.

Footslogger02 May 2018 7:58 a.m. PST

There were plenty instances in the British Army of the senior Colonel in the brigade having command, for lack of a Major-General. So go for it.

Artilleryman02 May 2018 11:14 a.m. PST

A colonel commanding a brigade would indeed wear his regimental uniform but a promotion to major general would mean a new uniform and few would turn down the opportunity to display their elevation. The only and earliest occasion I know of a general affecting highland regalia in the British army before the 20th Century is Colin Campbell in the Crimea who had a special feather bonnet made when he took command of the Highland Brigade. In more modern times. generals who have risen from Scottish regiments are allowed to wear items of 'regalia' e.g. a Tam o' Shanter or a Glengarry with the appropriate badge.

Rod MacArthur02 May 2018 11:26 a.m. PST

British Army Brigade and Divisional commanders often chose to wear their own Regiment's uniform, as opposed to a more generic General's uniform.

This continues to the current day. When I was in Osnabruck in 1969-70 the commander of 12 Mechanised Brigade was a Royal Engineer Brigadier (who went on to be a four star General). He made a point of wearing a normal Royal Engineer officer's beret with his uniform. Interestingly we had a Royal Engineer Colonel who was the Divisional "Commander Royal Engineers", and always wore the standard Colonel's uniform (ie not designated as as any Regiment).

Senior Officers in the British Army (then and now) often chose to display their individuality, and certainly would not necessarily wish to show their elevated status by adopting a "standard" British Army General's uniform.

Rod

42flanker02 May 2018 12:52 p.m. PST

In the 18th and 19th centuries circumstances were different because officers did not belong to a specific regiment or corps. Even a trained Royal Artillery officer like David Dundas subsequently held a commission in the 15th Light Dragoons, and as Major-general commanded both cavalry and infantry formations. Officers did not spend their career as company and field officers in the same regiment as they did after the Childer reforms of 1881. Some did of course, and some regiments commanded more loyalty than others, it would seem- not least in the Highland corps.

Once an officer had risen to staff rank he had no reason to wear the facings and distinctions of a regiment in which he no longer held a commission. Even when a senior officer was appointed to a Colonelcy, he had no reason to assume the uniform of that regiment- which might be far across the ocean on colonial service; He might have his portrait painted in the uniform of the regiment of which he was Colonel, but that would be a different matter, and officers shifted colonelcies almost as often as they moved regiments with each purchased promotion.

Of course, circumstances would be different at home and abroad, in war or or peace, in cantonment or in the field.

I think the sight of a brigadier in a feather bonnet would be unusual. As 'Artilleryman' mentioned, Colin Cmpbell had to get special dispensation from the C-in-C to wear the feather bonnet presented to him by the Highland Brigade in 1854.

Moreover, as the regulation infantry cap came to be worn more widely, generals, ADCs, ans staff officers continued to wear cocked hats in order to be distinguished more easily.

Musketier Supporting Member of TMP06 May 2018 1:12 p.m. PST

That's all correct for regular promotions to Brigadier rank, when the individual is at home or otherwise able to procure the required attire. Advancement on campaign, or even simple acting command by the senior (lt.)colonel when the brigadier happens to be absent, could and did result in a fellow in regimentals commanding a brigade.
If you like the figue, davbenbak, then use him – it's your army!

John Tyson06 May 2018 4:27 p.m. PST

This 15mm Highland Brigadier has about 35 years of campaigning on my little battlefields.

God bless,
John T.

seneffe07 May 2018 3:19 p.m. PST

Heritage figure? Haven't seen one of them for years! Beautiful sculpts even now.

42flanker07 May 2018 11:32 p.m. PST

It seemed to me davenbake's OP was more specific:

"If I use this figure as a Brigadier, who might he have been? I guess I'm asking if any Highland colonels lead brigades, which ones and when."

I think- despite having thrown historical accuracy to the wind relating to a brigadier wearing the Highland bonnet (shome mishtake shurely)- that was an appeal to authenticity.

Much earlier than your figure, I can only suggest Lieut Colonel Alexander Mackenzie of the 78th Hldrs who commanded the Third Brigade on the Waal in 1794-95, taking over from young Arthur Wesley CO of the 33rd. The nominal brigade commander was Maj Gen Nisbet Balfour, who was acting as District commander. In the same brigade, Lieut Col Charles Graham of the 42nd had already been sent off to command a brigade in the West Indies.

It is a matter of speculation as to whether an individual might think to retain his regimental bonnet out of sentimentality. He would, however, have been incorrectly dressed and the status of his promotion to staff rank was important.

A Lieutenant Colonel promoted during a campaign in face of the enemy might well not be able to adjust his regimentals appropriately. However, in the case of a Highland officer he would probably have had a cocked hat or hummle bonnet which he kept for wear in undress.

The commanders of some Highland regiments did show a fierce protectiveness towards Highland dress during the 1790s and early 1800s but this was more towards the kilt. The feathered bonnet was after all was a very recent fashion, only beginning to evolve into its final form, and indeed was already attracting criticism from those same fiercely Highland regimental CO's.

However, even the most partisan defenders of Highland uniform drew the line at wearing the kilt on horseback, and neither was the feathered bonnet particularly convenient for a mounted officer in the field; bearing in mind that in battle only two or three officers in each battalion would be on horseback.

And then there's the plaid….

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