The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

It was announced on 16th December 2004 that the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were to merge with other Scottish regiments, and would become 'The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion the Royal Scottish Regiment'.


The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders is not only one of Scotland's finest regiments, it is also a close knit family which welcomes full and part time soldiers, as well as active teenagers (aged 13 and upwards) who are looking for a challenge. The Argylls have a recruitment area which stretches from the Western Isles to the Firth of Forth. Life in the Argylls today offers more opportunities than ever before for foreign travel, action, good pay and the chance to learn skills which will equip you for life outside the army.

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders is a Regiment comprising a Regular Battalion (1st Battalion), a Territorial Army Battalion (7th/8th (Volunteer) Battalion) and an Army Cadet Force Battalion

  • 91st Argyllshire Highlanders raised in 1794. Saw service in South Africa Peninsula, Waterloo and India.
  • 93rd Sutherland Highlanders raised in 1799. Saw service in New Orleans, Crimea including Balaklava, where they earned the nickname of the Thin Red Line and the Indian Mutiny where they won seven Victoria Crosses.
  • In 1881 the two regiments amalgamated to form The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's).
  • After amalgamation battalions of the regiment served in:
    • South Africa (Zululand)
    • Boer War
    • India and the Far East
  • The Regiment had twenty six battalions in World War I and nine in World War II.
  • Since the Indian Mutiny members of the regiment have earned a further nine Victoria Crosses.
  • Since World War II the 1st Battalion has served in Palestine, Korea, British Guiana, Berlin, Suez, Cyprus, Malaya and Singapore, Borneo, Aden, Germany, Falkland Islands, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

2nd version

Stirling Castle, Scotland





The raising of the Regiment below the Castle in 1794


The regiment as it is now known was formed by the union in 1881 of the 91st (Argyllshire Highlanders) and the 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders). The 91st became the 1st Battalion and the 93rd the 2nd Battalion.

The 91st was raised in 1794 by the Duke of Argyll in response to an appeal from the King when Britain was threatened by the French Republicans. They were a kilted regiment and wore the Government or Black Watch tartan.

The 93rd was raised under the patronage of the Sutherland family in 1799 also at a request from the Throne. A proportion of the able-bodied sons of tenants on the Sutherland estates were required to join the ranks of the Sutherland regiment as a test of feudal duty, and this form of conscription is believed to have been the last instance of the exercise of feudal influence on a large scale in the Highlands. The 93rd also wore kilts of the same tartan, which in official records is also sometimes referred to as the Sutherland tartan.

Both regiments went into action for the first time at the Cape of Good Hope, the 91st in 1795 and the 93rd in 1806. The 91st was present at the victories of Roleia and Vimiera in the Peninsular War and gained much credit in the memorable retreat of Sir John Moore on Corunna during which it formed part of the rearguard and was seven times engaged with the enemy. It rejoined Wellington in time to take part in the desperate struggles in the Pyrenees, and fully maintained the best traditions of Scottish valour on the Nivelle and at Nive, Orthes and Toulouse.

Between 1809 and 1864, the 91st lost Highland status. Ceasing to wear the kilt, or indeed any tartan at all for the regiment, they wore the ordinary uniform of regiments of the Line.

In 1814, the 91st was fighting at Bergen-op-Zoom in Holland while the 93rd was engaged at New Orleans. The 93rd lost 520 officers and men in the fruitless attack on the formidable entrenchments at New Orleans. The 91st were present during the Waterloo campaign of 1815.

In the Crimean War the 93rd formed part of the Highland Brigade, which distinguished itself at Alma, Balaclava and Sevastopol. At Balaclava the regiment won immortal fame when, under Sir Colin Campbell, it formed line in two ranks and repelled a charge of Russian cavalry, gaining the title of "The Thin Red Line". The Argylls have the distinction of being the only infantry regiment to bear the honour , "Balaclava."

The outbreak of the Indian Mutiny in 1857 took the 93rd to India where it participated in the storming of the Secundrabagh and the capture of the Shah Nujjif to bring succour to the garrison of Lucknow. Seven officers and men of the 93rd received the Victoria Cross for gallantry during the Mutiny.

In 1864 requests to restore the tartan were accepted, the 91st adopted and were permitted to wear Campbell of Cawdor tartan trews, being the Government tartan with a red and light blue stripe, which they wore until 1881.

The 91st was engaged in the Zululand campaign of 1879, this being the last occasion on which they carried their colours in action.

On the amalgamation in 1881the new regiment took the title of Princess Louise's (Sutherland and Argyll Highlanders). This was later changed to Princess Louise's (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) and subsequently again altered to its present title.

The 1st Battalion embarked for the South Africa war of 1899-1902 in October 1899, and joined the forces under Lord Methuen in time to take a prominent share in the battle of Modder River. It later formed part for some time of the famous Highland Brigade, and while with it took part in the memorable night attack on the Boer position at Magersfontein. The 3rd and 4th Battalions (Militia) also served in South Africa.

In the war of 1914-1918 the regiment expanded to 27 battalions and served on the Western Front and in Macedonia and Palestine. Only the 1st and 2nd battalions were regulars, the others consisted of the Special Reserve, Territorial and War Service battalions.

In the 1939-1945 war it saw much action in France, 1940, Malaya, Abyssinia, Crete, North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and North-West Europe.

The Argylls have the right to march through the Royal Burgh of Stirling with bayonets fixed, flags flying and drums beating.


For the future (2005) structure, see Royal Regiment of Scotland

See  also:

Sir William Douglas KCB (of Brigton) (1776 - 1818), Lt Col 1808, who took part in the Peninsular War and was at Waterloo, 1798

Major George Douglas, subject of a miscarriage of justice