Marquis of Argyll’s Highland Regiment of Foot

Flag Illustration 1}1)
Active1639 to 1652
ConflictsFirst Bishops' War
Second Bishops' War
Confederate War
First Civil War
Second Civil War
Third Civil War
ColonelMarquis of Argyll
Area RaisedArgyll
Coat ColourGrey?
Flag ColourBlack field
Flag DesignYellow saltire
Field ArmiesMonro 1642-44
Argyll 1644-45
Baillie 1645
Leslie 1647
Hamilton 1648
Brown 1651?

Covenanter Highland regiment of foot raised for the Bishops' Wars and re-raised for service in Ireland, but returned to Scotland in late 1644 and selected for New-Modelling in 1647, lasting into 1652. 2)

Service History


  • April: Argyll musters 900 men
  • April: 500 men under Sir Duncan Campbell construct a fort at Lochhead, Kintyre
  • April: Argyll seizes Brodick Castle on Arran
  • Garrison of Dumbarton (det of 40 men)
  • Force MacDonalds of Kintyre and Islay to flee to Antrim
  • July: Garrison of Lochhead reduced to 200 men


  • June: Argyll musters 4-5000 Campbells at Inverary, forming 2 regiments for himself and one for Sir Robert Campbell of Glenorchy
  • Raid the Keppoch MacDonalds of Lochaber
  • Raid Badenoch
  • Raid the Braes of Mar
  • Capture the Earl of Atholl during a truce
  • Raid the Ogilvys at The Braes of Airlie
  • July: Raze the House of Airlie and Forter House
  • July: Plunder the Robertsons of Rannoch
  • August: Besiege Dumbarton Castle
  • Autumn: Disband


  • March: Commissioned by King Charles for service in Ireland
  • March to May: Raised in Argyll and the Islands
  • May: Storm Rathlin Island and massacre the inhabitants
  • May: Companies sent to Ulster, quartered at Donswerie, Portnaw, Cross and Cominge Ferry by Monro
  • Raid Antrim
  • November: Quartered at Dunluce Castle (4 Coy), Ballycastle (4 Coy), Ballymoney (2 Coy), Ballanatree (1 Coy), Ballintoy (1 Coy)


  • In Ulster garrisons


  • In Ulster garrisons
  • May: Rathlin Island lost to Alastair MacDonald
  • July to September: Campaigning in Leinster under Monro
  • Returned to Scotland
  • October: Battle of Fyvie


  • February: Battle of Inverlochy
  • August: Battle of Kilsyth
  • Elements or remains of the regiment return to Ulster
  • November: Re-commissioned in Scotland with orders to pursue and slay any rebels


  • January: In Scotland, assigned garrisons at Castle Menzies, Garth Castle, Finlarig Castle, Lochtay, Frdew, Aberurchill, Moynes, Trochrig, Dewchrie, Cambismoir and Craigvarnie Castles
  • April: Argyll visits Ulster seeking forces to attack the MacDonalds, the regiment is assigned to him
  • April to May: Campbell of Skipness leads the regiment to attack Islay, but is defeated by Clanranald and returns to Ulster
  • May: Arrive in Ulster and left to defend Monro's quarters
  • November to February: In Scotland, 600 men quartered at Aberdeen


  • February: Re-constituted in Scotland as part of the Scots New Model Army
  • April: Quartered in Argyll
  • Join Leslie's campaign
  • May: Battle of Rhunahaorine Point
  • May: Siege of Dunaverty
  • June to July: Siege of Dunyveg Castle
  • November: Winter quarters at Burrowfield and Alloway
  • Until September 1648 also garrison Comrie, Finlarick Ballock, Isle of Lochtay, Ruthven in Badenoch and Weem


  • About 200 men join Monro's force in Ulster
  • April: Detachment campaign against Clanranald in the Western Isles
  • Majority of the regiment support the Kirk party and remain in garrison, a small detachment join the Engagers
  • July: Preston campaign (det)
  • August: Winwick Pass (det)
  • August: Surrender to the New Model Army at Winwick and Warrington (det)
  • September: Last remnants in Ulster surrender when Monck takes Carrickfergus
  • August: In Scotland, join the Whiggamore rising
  • September: March on Stirling from Dumbarton via Gargunnock
  • September: Battle of Stirling


  • February: Two companies ordered north to suppress Pluscardine's rising
  • June: Garrisons in the Blair Atholl, Ruthven in Badenoch, Garth, Glasgow and Renfrewshire
  • July: Glasgow detachment ordered to Tarbert


  • Dispersed in Highland garrisons
  • June: Ordered to Edinburgh apart from 30 men at Ruthven, 20 at Inverlochy and 20 at Duart
  • July: Argyll re-commissioned colonel
  • December: Recruits ordered to Inverness
  • Raid Seaforth lands


  • April: Argyll admonished for tardiness in sending levies
  • June: One company of 68 men serving with the army
  • June: Increased to 2 companies
  • July: 284 men serving in the army
  • Battle of Inverkeithing?
  • December: 300 men in garrison at Lochcarron


  • October: Argyll having reached an agreement with the English, the regiment is disbanded


A history of the unit is shown in Edward M. Furgol’s A Regimental History of the Covenanting Armies 1639-1651 Edinburgh, 1990. ISBN 0 85976 194 0

Argyll raised a Highland regiment for the First Bishops' War, they secured the Western Coast and pursued their bitter enemies the MacDonalds. Raised again during the Second Bishops' War they raided and plundered Argyll's enemies across the Highlands.

Argyll’s Highland regiment were raised anew for service in Ireland in 1642, storming Rathlin Island, then forming part of Monro’s army in Ulster until recalled to Scotland in 1644. Although heavily defeated at Inverlochy in February 1645 the regiment survived to fight again at Kilsyth. Remnants of the regiment returned to and persisted in Ulster, despite a failed attack on Islay and detachment of 200 men to Monro's Engager force in 1648, surrendering at last in September 1648 when Monck took Carrickfergus.

The regiment raised for service in Ireland has been proposed as the original formation of the Scots Guards but this notion was convincingly refuted by Stevenson 3)

Despite the remnants left in Ireland, in December 1645 Argyll was commissioned to re-raise the regiment in Scotland. On 29th January 1647 the regiment was re-constituted from regiments in Scotland (together with Campbell of Ardkinglass’s Highland Regiment) as part of the Scots New Model Army and in March formed part of David Leslie’s army sent to suppress the remnants of MacColla’s forces in the Highlands. In 1648, despite Argyll’s opposition, part of the regiment took part in the Duke of Hamilton’s disastrous Preston campaign, surrendering at Winwick and Warrington.

The rest of Argyll's regiment remained in Scotland, where it probably was involved in the Whiggamore raid. Argyll led 300 foot, 300 Campbell Highlanders and 100 horse to Stirling in September 1648, but fled with the horse when the Engagers under Lanark and Monro arrived. The foot were defeated in a minor battle at Stirling.

Its uncertain whether they were at Inverkeithing, but the regiment persisted into 1652 when they were disbanded after Argyll's settlement with the English.

Argyll also raised contingents of Highland levies, a Lowland regiment of foot and a Lifeguard troop of horse.

Coats, Flags and Equipment

The flags of Argyle's regiment taken on the Preston campaign in 1648 were of the usual Covenanter pattern, bearing the cross of St Andrew. The field was black and the cross yellow. Split between the four black segments was the motto in yellow “FOR RELIGION COUNTRIE KING AND COVENANTS”4). (Illustration 1)

They were likely dressed in the ubiquitous Scots hodden grey with blue bonnets. In 1645 Colonel Home's composite Covenanter foot regiment returning from Ireland had acquired red coats, but there is nothing to suggest that Argyll's were similarly dressed.

In April 1639 Argyll's men's weapons included pikes and bows.

Notable Officers

Lists of the regiment's officers are shown in Stuart Reid's Scots Armies of the 17th Century 1. The Army of the Covenant 1639-1651 Partizan Press 1998 ISBN 094652550 and in Stuart Reid's Scots Armies of the 17th Century 2: Scots Colours Partizan Press 1988 ISBN 094652550 1.

Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquis of Argyll

Argyll (also spelt Argyle) (circa 1607-1661) was Chief of Clan Campbell and most prominent leader of the Scots Covenanters. In effect he ruled Scotland during the Civil Wars. Biographies can be found online at the BCW website, Wikipedia and the In 1639 he seized Hamilton's castle at Broddick. He led Covenanter forces in a raid on the Highlands during the Second Bishops' War of 1640, capturing Airlie and Dumbarton Castles. In 1644 he accompanied the Covenanter invasion of England but soon returned to Scotland, in May he took Aberdeen from Huntly's Royalists, then captured Kellie Castle. He led the Covenanters at the Battle of Fyvie and besieged Huntly Castle in winter 1644. In 1645 he was present at Inverlochy, but not a participant in the battle due to a dislocated shoulder and fled the scene in his galley on Lake Linhe. He was also present at Kilsyth. In 1648 he opposed the Engagers and later supported the Whiggamore rising, but in 1651 helped strike the deal that saw Charles II lead another Scottish army into England. In 1653 he opposed Glencairn's rising. Convicted of treason after the Restoration, he was beheaded in May 1661, his head being affixed to the same spike that had held Montrose's eleven years before.

Sir Duncan Campbell of Auchinbreck

Sir Duncan Campbell, 2nd Baronet and 6th Lord of Auchinbreck (1597-1645) was Lieutenant Colonel, commanding Argyll’s Highland regiment in the field, both in Ireland then on its return to Scotland. In command at the Battle of Inverlochy, he was captured and then killed by Alasdair MacColla. Major William Campbell then led the regiment.

Sir Dugald Campbell of Auchinbreck

Lt Col from 1645 to 1648, cashiered by Monro for opposing the Engagement in 1648.

Duncan Campbell of Inverliver

Lt Col in 1648, promoted by Monro for supporting the Engagement

William Campbell

Major from 1642 to 1648 and led the regiment at Kilsyth, cashiered by Monro for opposing the Engagement in 1648.

Campbell of Skipness

Narrowly avoided death at Inverlochy, he led the unsuccessful attack on Islay in 1646


  • 900 mustered in 1639
  • 1009 in May 1642
  • 1172 in November 1642 (473 at Dunluce Castle, 228 at Ballycastle, 220 at Ballymoney, 121 at Ballanatree, 115 at Ballintoy)
  • 800 planned when New-Modelled in January 1647, or 8 companies of 133 each
  • As many as 1600 raised by including destitute refugees
  • July 1651: 284 men serving in the army

See Also

1) Original artwork by Tony Barton, shown by kind permission of Tony Barton and Charles Kightly. Previously published in Military Modelling magazine
2) Stuart Reid Scots Armies of the 17th Century 1. The Army of the Covenant Partizan Press 1998 ISBN 094652550 1
3) The Myth of the Founding of the Scots Guards in 1642. David Stevenson. The Scottish Historical Review, Vol. 56, No. 161, Part 1 Apr., 1977, pp. 114-118. Edinburgh University Press Accessed: 16-04-2020 12:11 UTC
4) Stuart Reid's Scots Armies of the 17th Century 2: Scots Colours Partizan Press 1988 ISBN 094652550 1