It’s often a little too easy to view the government army of the ‘Forty-Five’ as being a homogeneous mass of redcoats occupied by men enlisted in England. For those unfamiliar with the term, ‘redcoat’ is in reference to the colour of the uniform worn widely by soldiers in the British Army from the 17th to the 20th centuries. To some degree, there is truth in this; for example the vast majority of regiments present at Culloden were dressed in this way and indeed most soldiers were English. Within the army as a whole however, there was more diversity with plenty of Scots, and even Highlanders, serving on the government side; it is important to remember that it’s likely that most Scots at the time were not Jacobites and many were fiercely Unionist in outlook. The presence of Dutch and Hessian mercenaries provides further diversity, not just in terms of language and nationality, but also in dress. Lastly it is worth noting that even among the regular British army, not all soldiers wore redcoats; for example the artillery regiments of the time wore blue, while light cavalry often wore green.
Attached to each infantry regiment were grenadiers; soldiers that represented the elite of the British army. Grenadiers did not wear the usual tri-corn hat of regular infantry, instead wearing a finely decorated mitre-style headpiece. While we cannot recreate the decoration, a mitre may be recreated using a headpiece found originally in Prince of Persia sets. To complete our grenadiers we have also equipped them with a satchel, which is supposed to represent the grenades they carried.
The Black Watch’s history goes back to the aftermath of the 1715 rising when the British Government found itself without the resources or manpower to keep a standing army in the Highlands. Instead they kept order by recruiting men from local clans that had remained loyal to the government. This arrangement proved unsatisfactory and in 1725 General George Wade raised six Independent Highland Companies as militia to keep "watch" for crime. These companies were commonly known in Gaelic as Am Freiceadan Dubh, or the Black Watch, probably due to the dark government issue plaids they wore. Four more companies were added in 1739 and in the same year all ten were formed into the 43rd Highland Regiment of Foot.
When the ‘Forty-five’ broke out, the Black Watch saw action at the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745 but then returned to England, partly to counter a feared French invasion and partly because they weren't really trusted not to join the Jacobites. However one of the regiment’s companies fought at the Battle of Culloden, where they suffered no casualties.
The key to creating a convincing LEGO Black Watch was to get the plaids right and fortunately there is a third-party company that makes kilts for minigiures in the Black Watch tartan. These, along with black bonnets rather than tri-corn hats, were placed on minifigures with the standard redcoat torso and the result is a reasonably accurate representation of the regiment’s dress during the ‘Forty-five’. Interestingly, accounts from the time appear to suggest that officers of the Black Watch could choose their own plaids and so our officer is dressed in a red tartan.
The government army also deployed a company of hussars, which were a type of light cavalry commonly used in during the 18th and 19th centuries. The role of Hussars was to harass enemy skirmishers, overrun artillery positions, and pursue fleeing troops. The style of combat originated in Hungary and indeed, when Cumberland entered Scotland he had a personal escort of Hungarian cavalry. The Hussars of Cumberland’s army wore dark green and a tall fur hat and we have been able to recreate this appearance using parts from a number of minifigures. The torso has been the crucial aspect here, with the ideal part found as part of Collectable Minifigure Series 8’s Thespian.
The Hessian uniform of this period was dark blue with the headgear dependent on the type of soldier they were i.e. regular infantry, grenadiers or cavalry. Because our artillery were already in dark blue there are some similarities between the design of the two. Context offers a means of separation as the Hessian’s did not operate artillery, so our Hessians have muskets and the occasional sword. We have decided to only create Hessian infantry, since our army already has enough cavalry to fill its ranks.
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