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79th New York Volunteer Infantry

I noted a minor error on the site on the page about Scots in early America:

The author states:

New York’s 79th, which modeled its uniforms after the famed Black Watch, remains the most celebrated of these Scots Union military contingents. 

However, the 79th New York Volunteer Infantry (aka "Cameron Highlanders”) uniform was not modeled on the famed Am Freiceadan Dubh (aka Black Watch),the 42nd Regt. of Foot (Royal Highland Regiment) but on the equally famed 79th Regt. of Foot, aka the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders. 

They wore the Cameron of Erracht tartan (the same as the QOCH) for their kilts and trews.

The Highland Guard or 79th New York (originally known as the Highland Guard) was originally created as a "social club” militia unit in New York city in the fall of 1858, with the help of the St. Andrews and Caledonian societies of New York and wealthy financial backers like Samuel M. Elliot and James Cameron, the brother of Simon Cameron, Lincoln's Secretary of War. 

(James was later KIA leading the regiment at Bull Run.)  However, they had no connection to the original 79th Cameron Highlanders of Scotland other than their name and tartan.

Their original duty was to parade, train as heavy artillery, and also provided a guard for the Prince of Wales when he visited the United States and did the same for the Japanese ambassador.

I enclose some examples of the uniform and weapons of the 79th, and some period pictures for your interest.


Seamus mac an tailleur



Below is the post war uniform of the 79th New York Highlanders, ca. 1872

They changed everything about their uniform to conform with the new uniform regulations of the national guard system that was replacing the militia system, going from black leather belts to white cotton cross belts, new sporran, altered tartan, (Cameron of Erracht Modern to Cameron of Erracht Ancient) new jacket, glengarry, hose, breast plate and buckle added, new shoes with new leggings, epaulettes, and so on.

And this is what it looks like when worn 


Freeman Taylor

Return to American History Part 2


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