Lachlan Macquarie's military career was a long and distinguished one that began with a posting to North America at the beginning of the American War of Independence. It was followed by extensive army service in India and Ceylon (1788-1807), as well as military action against the French in Egypt (1801-1802).
He served in five regiments during his career:
There were many financial opportunities and inducements available to him as a British army officer, and his participation in various military campaigns also allowed him to earn valuable prize money. Eventually this provided him with sufficient capital to purchase the estate on the Isle of Mull that would become his eventual home and burial place: "Jarvisfield".
This was the first regiment in which Macquarie served. It was the second corps of the name - the Royal Highland Emigrant Corps - and was raised by the loyalist Colonel Allen Maclean in Canada and Nova Scotia following the outbreak of the American War of Independence in April 1775. The regiment consisted of 2000 men in twenty companies who were clothed, armed and accoutred as the Black Watch, with Maclean commanding the first battalion and Major John Small of Strath Ardle commanding the second.
Macquarie began his military career in 1776 at the age of fifteen when he sailed from Scotland to the New World. In October of that year while on route from Boston to Halifax he first saw active duty when an American privateer attacked his vessel, the Newcastle Jane .The attackers were successfully repelled and six months later on 9 April 1777 he obtained an ensigncy in the 84th Regiment.
The 71st Regiment was raised for service in America by Major-General Simon Fraser, in December 1777 and at that stage was known as the 1st Battalion 73rd (Highland) Regiment of Foot. It served under Lord Cornwallis in Virginia and the Carolinas and most of the regiment was caught in the surrender at Yorktown. Macquarie avoided becoming a prisoner of war at this stage through being on duty in Jamaica.
Macquarie was commissioned a lieutenant in the 71st Regiment on 18 January 1781. In 1784 he was retired on half pay when this regiment was disbanded.
The 77th Regiment of Foot was the third of the number and the junior of four regiments raised in that year at the cost of the East India Company when England was threatened with involvement in war with France. It served in the East for eighteen years, returning to Britain in 1807 and was retitled as the "East Middlesex".
Macquarie was offered a senior lieutenancy in the 77th Regiment in 1787 when it was being raised for service in India. After arriving in Bombay in August 1788 he quickly gained a promotion to captain-lieutenant on 9 November 1788. Three years later he was appointed major of brigade. On 3 May 1796 Macquarie was promoted brevet major and the next year he added, by purchase, the office of deputy-paymaster-general. In 1799 he was at the Battle of Seringapatam, during which Tipu Sultan, ruler of Mysore, was killed; this military campaign brought Macquarie £1300 in prize money.
The 86th Regiment of Foot was the the third of the name raised in Shropshire, Lancashire, and West Riding by Colonel Cornelius Cuyler. It served first as a marine corps, and after many hazardous naval engagements was sent to Madras in 1799. It was part of Admiral Blankett's force in the Red Sea in 1801 fighting the French. In 1801-1804 it served in Guzerat and in 1805 at Bhurtpore. It returned to England in 1806.
Macquarie's commission as a major in the 86th Regiment is dated effective from 15 January 1801.
The 73rd Regiment of Foot was originally the Second Battalion 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment of Foot. It was embodied at Perth in 1780, and landed in India under Colonel Norman Macleod in January 1781. The Regiment fought in a number of campaigns in southern India against Haidar Ali, and his son, Tipu Sultan. In particular, it held out against overwhelming forces at Mangalore in 1783 and did not evacuate until January 1784. In 1786 it became a separate corps, numbered the 73rd Highland Regiment of Foot, and the facings on the uniform were altered from blue to dark green. It fought against Tipu in 1790-91 and took part in the battle of Seringapatam in May 1799. Prior to this engagement it had seen service against the Dutch in Ceylon, and the Polygars on the Malabar coast. The regiment finally left India in September 1805 after twenty-four years' continuous service in South Asia.
Macquarie was promoted to the lieutenant-colonelcy of the 73rd Regiment by the Duke of York in 1805. The regiment had returned to Britain by 1806 but Macquarie did not join it until 1807. During the period of Macquarie's command up to 1809 there was only one battalion of the regiment, but when this was sent to New South Wales a second battalion was formed (in December 1808) and it served in Spain during the Peninsular War against the French, and later fought at Quatre Bras and Waterloo. The 2nd. Battalion was disbanded at Chelmsford in May 1817.
The 1st Battalion of the 73rd Regiment landed in Sydney on 1 January 1810 and took over duties from the New South Wales Corps (102nd. Regiment). It was thus the first of many British line regiments that garrisoned New South Wales for the next sixty years. When the 1st Battalion serving in New South Wales completed its tour of duty in 1814 it was ordered to Ceylon, where it remained until 1821. The members of the headquarters and flank companies became the first British soldiers to travel via New Guinea, New Britain, and the Moluccas. In 1881 the regiment reverted to its old position as 2nd Battalion of the 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment of Foot (The Black Watch).
The battle honours on the regimental colours of the 73rd now include the place names: Mangalore, Seringapatam, and Waterloo.
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