The defeat of Prince Charles Edward Stewart at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 brought to an end the Scottish clan system and, with it, the private armies which clan chiefs were able to muster.
Thereafter, Highlanders and Lowlanders alike fought under the British flag. Twelve Highland regiments were created and, soon, Scottish troops were in action in Europe, North America and India. At the end of particular hostilities regiments were disbanded almost immediately. Following defeat in the American War of Independence, disbanded troops were encouraged to settle in Canada and large numbers of Scots did.
It has been estimated that 6070 officers and men of Scottish regiments fought at the famous Battle of Waterloo in 1815. They also distinguished themselves in both the Crimean and Boer Wars and of course in the First and Second World Wars when conscription was widely enforced. Official records show that 147,609 Scottish military personnel lost their lives in the First World War.
In the past 50 years or so, many Lowland & Highland Regiments have been disbanded or merged, latterly being combined to form the individual battalions making up a single Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Sources of information
Although there is a vast collection of records relating to military service, most of these are in London at the Public Record Office. These records do not generally have name indexes and it may be advisable to employ a professional to undertake the research.
The National Archives of Scotland (NAS) holds records relating to the militia and more recently, the Territorials. The Militia existed from the 1790s to the mid-19th century, and comprised men conscripted by ballot.
The General Register Office for Scotland (GROS) holds war registers, from 1899, providing brief details of deaths of Scots on active service in the Boer War and World Wars.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website provides burial details of service men and women killed in the two World Wars.
Places to Visit
The principal military museum in Scotland is the National War Museum, in Edinburgh Castle.
Fort George, built to discourage Jacobite uprisings and lying north east of Inverness, includes historic barrack rooms depicting conditions in the late 18th and 19th centuries.
There are also several regimental museums including: