Unit History: Earl of Mar's Regiment
The Royal Scots Fusiliers history dates back to 1678 when it was raised by Charles Erskine, de jure 5th Earl of Mar (de jure indicates the earldom fell into dispute with the crown after Alexander Stewart forcibly captured and married Isabel Douglas, the Countess of Mar in 1404). As was the tradition at the time the Regiment was named after its colonel as ‘The Earl of Mar's Regiment’ and nicknamed ‘the Duke O'Mars Greybreeks’.
The Regiment saw its first action in 1679 at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge when it helped to put down the Covenanter Rebellion which formed following the restoration of King Charles II. Presbyterian ministers who refused to accept the rule of bishops were ejected from their parishes by the crown and took up arms in rebellion.
Charles II died suddenly in 1685 and was succeeded by his unpopular brother James II who was quickly plunged into suppressing mounting discontent, during the Monmouth rebellion of 1685. James Scott the 1st Duke of Monmouth (the illegitimate son of Charles II and the King’s nephew) unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the unpopular King. The Regiment was once again in action on home soil during this time, suppressing a force raised by the Earl of Argyle in Scotland to support James Scott’s claim to the throne.
In 1686 the Regiment was armed with the ‘Fusil’ muskets, the most modern weapon of the day, instead of matchlock muskets becoming ‘The Scots Fusiliers Regiment of Foot’ and brought into the English Army in 1689. The Regiment went on to serve during the War of the Spanish Succession (1704-1714) fighting at the Battles of Schellenberg, Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde, Malplaquet and at the great Siege of Lille. The Regiment was granted the Royal title in 1712 to become ‘The Royal Scots Fusiliers Regiment’.
The Regiment went on to serve during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–48) fighting at the Battles of Dettingen, Fontenoy and Val. The Regiment was once again involved in action on the home front in 1745, when Bonnie Prince Charlie (the grandson of James II) attempted to regain the lost crown to the Stuart family by raising the Scottish clans into rebellion and fought at the Battle of Culloden.
In 1750 the Regimental namely system was simplified with each assigned a ranked number, therefore the Regiment became The 21st (Royal North British) Fusiliers. The term ‘North British’ was an attempt by the Hanoverian Government to eliminate the name Scotland after the 1707 Act of Union.
The 21st was deployed to the West Indies during the French Revolutionary Wars (1792– 1802) where it captured the important French trading Islands of Martinique and Guadalupe. In 1814 during the Napoleonic Wars the 21st was part of Sir Thomas Graham’s unsuccessful attempt to capture Bergen-op-Zoom in Holland. The Regiment also served during The Alexandria expedition of 1807 briefly capturing Alexandria from the Ottoman-French allegiance.
Following the defeat of Napoleon the Regiment was dispatched to America to curb the expansionist ambitions of the United States, which tried to annex Canada during the war of 1812 (1812-1815). The War was a 32-month military conflict between the United States and the British Empire, resolving many of the remaining issues of the American War of Independence. The Regiment fought at the Battle of Bladensburg, the capture of Washington and the unsuccessful attempt to capture New Orleans.
The Regiment was once again dispatched to the West Indies in 1819 and remained there until 1827 suppressing rebels in the Maihaca District of Demerara. After a brief return to Britain, the 21st embarked for Australia in 1832 guarding convicts and was stationed in Tasmania, Perth and Western Australia until 1833. The 21st also served during the Crimean War (1853 –1856) fighting at the Battles of Alma, Inkermann, the Siege of Sevastopol, and the assault on the Redan.
In 1881 The Childers Reforms restructured the British army infantry Regiments into a network of multi-battalion Regiments of two regular and two militia battalions. The Regiment managed to avoid amalgamation under these reforms unlike many other Regiments but the order of precedence was dropped to become The Royal Scots Fusiliers. The Regiment went on to serve during the Boer War (1899-1902) fighting at the Relief of Ladysmith and two World Wars.
In 1959, The Royal Scots Fusiliers was amalgamated with The Highland Light Infantry to become the Royal Highland Fusiliers (Princess Margaret's Own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment). In 2006 the Regiment was further merged with The Royal Scots Borderers, The Black Watch, The Highlanders, and The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to form the Royal Regiment of Scotland.