Monday, October 24, 2016

Uniforms of "Catriona" from Contemporary Pictures

Since I analyzed the uniforms of Robert Louis Stevenson’s popular novel Kidnapped, it is time to tackle the uniforms described in his sequel, Catriona.

The first time we encounter a soldier in this book (aside from a few unnamed privates arresting James More MacGregor) is in the character of Lieutenant Hector Duncansby, who challenges David Balfour to a duel with the intention of killing him. It is not stated what regiment Duncansby belongs to, so this makes it difficult (if not impossible) to determine his uniform.

The fact that Duncansby is specifically mentioned as a “Highland boy” could suggest an association with the 42nd “Black Watch” Highlanders. However, it is also stated that he clasped his hands under his coat’s skirt, and the Black Watch’s coat was specifically cut short (that is, without skirts) and designed to be worn over a kilt. It is likely that Duncansby belongs to the 1st Royal Scots Regiment, which also recruited Scottish personnel. Its coat skirts were of a conventional length and its officers carried smallswords, rather than the broadswords of the 42nd Highlanders. The illustration shows two British officers dressed in a conventional 1750s uniform.

After his run-in with Lieutenant Duncansby, Balfour arrives at Lord Advocate Prestongrange’s house. He spies some halberds tucked away in a corner and suspects that his arrest is near. These “halberds” are the polearms now known as Lochaber axes, and they were carried by the Edinburgh City Guard, who served as a police force for that city. Evidence for their unusual weaponry is found in the 1704 “Act For Regulating the City Guard.”
The re-created Edinburgh City Guard.

"That the Captain of the Guard cause two men of the best qualified in their guard walk nightly through the streitts with a large batton or poleaxe in their hand, who are hereby appointed to give notice immediately to the firemasters and guard in case of fire, and the said Captain is to take accompt of the diligence each morning and the Captain of the guard is always to keep a list of the firemasters and ane accompt of their dwelling places." (1)

Halkett's Regiment in Dutch service
David Balfour is not arrested by the Edinburgh City Guard, but is later kidnapped by a band of wild Highlanders and imprisoned on the Bass Rock. There, Andie Scougall tells a tale of his father Tam Dale, who served as a soldier on the Bass when it was a prison for Covenanters. The Bass Rock was garrisoned by an independent company (2), that is, a company that is not part of a regiment but serves on its own. The deputy-governor of the Bass Rock was Charles Maitland, later 4th Earl of Lauderdale (3).

Balfour is eventually reunited with his friend Alan Breck Stewart, who mentions that he has a cousin who serves in the Scots-Dutch Brigade, in Halkett’s Regiment. The Scots Brigade was a unit of 3 Scottish regiments who had served in the Dutch Army since 1572. Halkett’s Regiment was a unit in that brigade and its uniform is illustrated in the picture above.

Near the climax of the book, Balfour again meets Captain Hugh Palliser, who is an actual naval captain from history. (4) This picture (left) is an actual portrait of Captain Palliser in the uniform of a captain of the Royal Navy. The ship in the background (which also features in Catriona) is Palliser’s frigate the Sea Horse.

At the very end of the book, a company of French infantrymen manning Dunkirk’s garrison is mentioned. The illustration above shows French infantrymen’s uniforms of the 1750s.  The vast majority of French infantrymen wore grey-white coats.

This concludes our two-part study of the uniforms of Kidnapped and Catriona. Perhaps soon I will analyze the uniforms of another novel set in the 18th century.

(2) pg. 57, The History of the Uniforms of the British Army, volume 1, by C. C. P. Lawson.
(3) pg. 267, Memorials and Letters of John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, volume 2, by Mark Napier.
(4) pg. 69, Braddock’s Defeat by David Preston

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