Lincoln’s Highlanders-Scots in the Civil War
16 June 1862, the Charleston Mercury reported, ‘It was left to the brave 79th Highlanders, to test the virtue of unadulterated cold steel on our Southern nerves. Thank God, Lincoln had only one 79th regiment.’ In fact, the Union Army possessed several predominantly Scottish regiments.
Approximately 600,000 Scots migrated to the United States between 1851 and 1861, bringing with them a rich military tradition. Militia companies of Scottish origin wearing full Highland uniforms were formed in both Northern and Southern states, including Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, South Carolina, and Tennessee.-
The 79th Highlanders fought bravely at Bull Run and later at Secessionville, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, the Wilderness, and Petersburg. They became one of the most respected units from New York City during the Civil War, and earned themselves a fearsome reputation on the battlefield, where they lost 190 men killed in action or died of disease, and 747 discharged because of wounds or sickness, from a total roster of 1,374.