Military Wiki
73rd Regiment of Foot
73rd Foot colours.png
Regimental colours
Active 1756–1881
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Infantry
Battle honours Mangalore
Battle of Quatre Bras

The 73rd Regiment of Foot also known as MacLeod's Highlanders after its founder John Mackenzie, Lord MacLeod, was an infantry regiment of the British Army.


MacLeod tartan, also known as the MacLeod of Harris tartan, is a variation on the Black Watch tartan. The tartan was adopted by Maj-Gen. John (Mackenzie), Lord Macleod on the raising of the 73rd in 1777.

First raising

The regiment has three separate histories. The first time the regiment was raised was in 1756 formed by the redesignation of the 2nd Battalion, 34th Regiment of Foot . It had a short service mainly in Ireland before being disbanded in 1763 when it became a Regiment of Invalids and finally disbanded in 1769.

The second is as the 1st Battalion 73rd (Highland) Regiment of Foot (MacLeod's Highlanders) which was raised in 1777 in Scotland . A second battalion was raised in 1778. The regiment served in Gambia in West Africa in 1779 and in the Second Anglo-Mysore War from 1780 where they served alongside the 2nd/42nd Highlanders who would become the future 73rd Foot. In 1786 the MacLeod's Highlanders became the 71st (Highland) Regiment of Foot (MacLeod's Highlanders) which would eventually become the Highland Light Infantry .

2nd/42nd Highlanders

The battalion was raised in 1780 as the 2nd Battalion, 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment of Foot, with eight officers from the 1st Battalion being detached to help raise the new battalion. In 1781 they were sent to India where in 1782 they saw action in the Second Anglo-Mysore War . The 2nd/42nd Highlanders were still in India when the battalion received regimental status as the 73rd (Highland) Regiment of Foot. The regiment fought on in India seeing action in the Third Anglo-Mysore War, at the Battle of Pondicherry in 1793 and in the Second Anglo-Maratha War in 1803. The regiment returned to Britain in 1808.


1st Battalion

in 1809 the regiment raised a second battalion and lost its Highland status due to recruiting difficulties, becoming the 73rd Regiment of Foot. The 1st Battalion embarked at Yarmouth for a seven month journey to New South Wales, Australia where in 1810 they received a draft of men from the 102nd Regiment of Foot. The battalion left Australia in 1814 for Ceylon under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Giels (whose children, along with hundreds of wounded men of the regiment, would perish in 1815 in the wreck of the Arniston after visiting him there[1]).

Here it took part in the 2nd Kandyan War. The 2nd Battalion was disbanded in 1817 and its remaining soldiers sent out to the 1st. In that year the battalion took part in suppressing the Uva Rebellion, losing 412 out of approximately 1,000 men.[2]

After another period of travelling around the British Empire the regiment was redesignated again in 1845 getting their Highland status back.

2nd Battalion

In 1809 the 2nd/73rd Foot was raised in Nottingham from local militia companies. It remained in England until 1813 when it was shipped to Sweden, Germany and The Netherlands for a series of minor actions.

In 1814 the battalion found itself in Flanders and in 1815 part of Wellington's Army in Belgium . The regiment was in Major-General Halkett's Brigade in Lieut.General Sir Charles Alten's 3rd Division. The 2nd/73rd Foot fought in the Battle of Quatre Bras two days before Waterloo. They lost 53 men killed and wounded. At the Battle of Waterloo itself, the regiment was charged by French Cavalry no less than 11 times during the battle and bombarded by French artillery. It remained in square without breaking. The 2nd/73rd lost 6 officers and 225 men killed and wounded, the second heaviest casualties suffered by a line infantry regiment, after the 1st 27th (Inniskillings) which lost 450 out of 700 men in holding their square and Wellington's line. After Waterloo the battalion was part of the Army of Occupation in Paris before moving back to England. The 2nd Battalion disbanded in 1817 sending 300 men to the 1st Battalion in Trincomalee .

The Birkenhead

In 1846, the 73rd Highlanders sailed for Argentina and then on to the Cape Colony to take part in the Xhosa Wars . In 1852, during the 2nd Xhosa War, the regiment departed Simonstown aboard the troopship HMS Birkenhead bound for Port Elizabeth. At two o'clock in the morning on 28 February, the ship struck rocks at Danger Point, just off Gansbaai . The troops assembled on deck, and allowed the women and children to board the lifeboats first, but then stood firm as the ship sank when told by officers that jumping overboard and swimming to the lifeboats would mostly likely upset those boats and endanger the civilian passengers. 357 men drowned.

India to amalgamation

In 1857 the regiment took part in the putting down of the Sepoy Rebellion(Indian Mutiny) seeing some action in Central India. Over the next few years the regiment served in Hong Kong, back to India, and Ceylon. In 1862 they received a new title becoming the 73rd (Perthshire) Regiment of Foot. In 1881 during Childers Reforms it was announced that it would be returning to the regiment they originated from 95 years earlier, and so the 73rd Highlanders became the 2nd Battalion, Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)


  1. Raikes, Henry (1846). Memoir of the Life and Services of Vice-admiral Sir Jahleel Brenton. Hatchet & Son. p. 527. 
  2. Powell, Geoffrey (1973). The Kandyan Wars: The British Army in Ceylon, 1803–1818. London: Leo Cooper. p. 320. ISBN 0-85052-106-8. 

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