Friday, February 11, 2011

The 74th Regiment of Foot

I realized the other day that I hadn't shown you some close-ups of my second Highlander regiment when I presented the "whole army so far" a few posts back.

This unit, the 74th Regiment of Foot, were one of five Highland regiment recalled from India during the first decade of the 1800s. These five regiments apparently struggled to recruit enough replacements from amongst the population of the Scottish highlands. The Army high-command were concerned and looked at ways to break down any barriers to recruiting lowland Scots into the regiments. After much deliberation it was decided, in 1809, to de-kilt the five regiments in question (71st - 75th). They were instead to wear trousers of their regiment's tartan. It seems that quite a few English officers thought that would be enough "Highland" for the highlanders, and enough "Lowland" for the lowlanders. Only the pipers were allowed to keep their kilts.

Seems like it might have been a bit of a kick in the balls to me. As the 74th were present at the Battle of Salamanca (the battle we've been building for) in 1812, I figured that they'd be wearing trousers similar to that of the rest of the army was by the time they'd been in Spain for three years. It has been reported that the tartan trousers would only last three months on campaign.

So there you have it, a bit of research on my part, coupled with a slight stretch, that leaves the 74th Regiment of Foot in my army with the bonnets of a Highland regiment and the trousers of an English regiment. I couldn't find any info of the bonnets, so I decided to keep them to create a unique looking unit in my army. The heads are from the Victrix Highlander kit and the bodies are from the Perry Miniatures set.

Of course, I could be completely off base. If so, please be gentle with me.

As with my 79th Regiment (Cameron Highlanders) I wanted to add a mounted colonel (also from Victrix) and create a bit of a scene on a "command stand". Here, the colonel and probably a captain are discussing the next move for the regiment, while the ensign, NCOs, and other troopers take an interest in their immediate future. One soldier on the right is calming down the colonel's horse. It's a fairly simple scene, but I'm quite happy with the way it turned out.

This shot from behind shows the kilted piper and the standards of the 74th. My friend Brien originally purchased these from Victrix (I believe) to give to one of his kilted Highlander units, until he read the terrible news (no kilts for the 74th). Knowing he had such nice looking flags just lying around was another factor that prompted my to put these guys together.

And here's another shot of the discussion between the officers.

Finally, the eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that my number of "Miniatures Purchased" has jumped considerably. Well I recently placed an order with Victoria Lamb Miniatures for 45 of her Highland Guard conversion kits. I'm going to add them as an "assault platoon" for my 33rd Genswick Rifles at some stage this year. Can't wait for the package to arrive!



  1. Hi Dave I love the work,

    As to the uniforms your half way there, the bonnets is the issue.

    Only the Highland Corp ( 42nd, 78th, 79th, 92nd and 93rd post 1809) wore the bonnet. Most de kilted regiments wore the shako while pipers would have retained original dress at the Colonels discretion. This would also go the same for officers, But the Bonnet really lost its form and shape about the same time as the tartan trousers, so most officers would have reverted back to a shako or in some cases a spanish style wide brimmed hat.

    But that's more for your own info the models themselves look wonderful :)

  2. They look just fantastic! I really wouldn't sweat the stuff about the highlands tartan trousers as your supposition is probably correct. What is important is they do have the Highlander impression and look just wonderful.


  3. Very nicely done sir. Eventually I will get around to my Blackwatch. As for your standards, those are the ever popular GMB Flags. :)

  4. Dave, I did exactly the same with my 74th Highlanders...

    I couldn't find details on the bonnet either, but I had some old 15mm figs (not sure of the manufacturer) that had the same combo of trousers and bonnets so I figured 'what the heck'. I wanted my Highlanders to stand out from my other units as well...

    Accurate or not, a fine job as usual!

  5. Quinda (Clarence) mate I adore your work, I'm starting to look into a revolutionary war Russian army and will be aspiring to your standards. Also doing it for Republic to Empire as well!

  6. 45 sets, or 3 sets of the 15 conversions?

    If you do indeed mean 45 sets, dear lords above you've just made her very rich for the month! :D

  7. I have to say I'm really enjoying your blog. I like the way you paint for both fantasy and historicals - quite enjoyable and inspiring!

  8. Hi guys

    @BlackBob - gaargh. I must admit, after I'd finished painting the unit I saw a painting of some Light Infantry from the 71st (I think) in stovepipe shakos with the "highland" band around the base (the red and white checked hatband). I figured that meant I was off, but hey...
    @Chris - I was tempted to try the tartan pants, but figured they'd be long gone by 1812.
    @B-Ry - I'm making mistakes left, right, and center ; )
    @Clarence - Nice looking unit mate, I love the patches you've added to the trousers. Good basing tutorial there too!
    @Jake - 3 sets of 15, total of 45. I'm mad, but I'm not crazy ; )
    @LIW - Thanks very much. I'm trying to keep pushing myself to improve, but I'm pretty happy with where my painting's at : )


  9. Dave what reference material are you using? Could give you a few options that could help with further uniform research.

    Cheers Black Bob

  10. Hi Black Bob - The usual sources: Osprey, online sites, reenactor sites, a cool Keith Rocco book I have. Any additional suggestions would be great : )

  11. As a point of reference and to build on the books you have.

    Uniforms of the Peninsular war 1807-1814 by Phillip Hathornthwaite and Micheal Chappell

    My Favorite one

    Military Dress of the Peninsular War 1808-1814 by martin Windrow with plates by Garry Embleton.

    And for a good resouce in general for all the major powers
    "the Napoleonic source book" by Phillip J Haythornthwaite.

    3 very good core references for the period around uniforms and etc.


  12. Thanks for the list of books, I took a look at those titles on and had a little bit of sticker shock, $170 for one of them new ($60 for used). If you were to rank them in order of usefulness to a wargamer, which one would come out on top?


  13. Yeah they are pricy :) I would say for a war-gamer the Napoleonic source book is gold.

    No color plates but heaps of very specific and detailed information about uniforms.

    followed by then windrow and embleton book.

  14. Wait a second - are you the Dave Taylor that always talks to John Bianchi at the conventions? If so, are your Brits coming to Cold Wars for some LaSalle action?