by: Costas Rodopoulos [ ]
Originally published on:
All figure funs have heard of the legendary “Black Watch” ,the 42 Royal Highlander’s Regiment, with the distinctive dark tartan scheme
A Regiment with many battle entries, in North America, Canada, Cuba , India, Martinique, Pesi Bassi, Cadiz , Malta, Egypt and Portugal.
This figure from Pegaso, is sculpted from Master sculptor Maurizio Bruno, represents an officer from this regiment.
The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) was the first kilted regiment in the British Army, and the first to introduce the bagpipe. It's the oldest Highland regiment and can trace a line back to 1624 when the government of the day started raising Independent Companies to keep a check on the wild clansmen.
It was a case of Highlanders keeping watch on Highlanders. The Highlands of Scotland at that time was a pretty wild and desperate place. Not many southerners had the nerve to enter the distant mountains and glens, each ruled by different clans.. It was a dangerous place where the only authority was the clan chief, and justice was delivered at the point of a broadsword and dirk.
Stealing your neighbouring clans' cattle - and anything else for that matter - was a daily occupation which resulted in more than the odd bloody feud. That's where the Black Watch or the Independent Companies come in.
It was their job to police the Highlands, a case of taking a thief to catch a thief. The government thought their problems were over, until they realised their crafty Highland policemen were a pretty dab hand at the odd scam or two themselves, like letting their Highland brothers-in-crime go if the price was right.
Then came the first Jacobite uprising in 1715 and, in its aftermath, the Independent Companies were disbanded by George I. Laws were passed forbidding Highlanders to carry arms. Anyone caught with a claymore could be shipped overseas to serve in the red coated regiments.
Enter General George Wade, an Irishman, who was appointed in 1724 as Commander-in-Chief in Scotland and he began the task of pacifying the Highlands, building the roads and bridges so his troops could move swiftly to nip any other would-be rebellion in the bud.
He raised six Independent Companies of Highlanders from clans reckoned to be loyal to the government, some 500 officers and men, and they only were allowed the privilege of carrying arms. There were three companies of Campbells, and one each of Grants, Munros and Frasers.
It was around about this time that the Black Watch got its name. There are several stories about that, but the truth is no one really knows. Some say it was because of the dark tartan they wore and the watch they kept on the mountains and glens. Could be right, given that regular guardsmen stationed in the Highlands had just started wearing red. By comparison, the tartan must have appeared pretty dark. Another story says it was because of the 'black' Hanoverian hearts of the wearers, or perhaps because they were considered by rebellious clans to be 'blacklegs'.
Whatever the origin of the name, Highlanders of good quality and good family couldn't wait to join the Independent Highland Companies as they were called in 1725 - later they became the Highland Regiment of Foot - simply because of the status symbol of being allowed to carry arms. Each had its piper, dressed in the bright red Stewart or Royal tartan, because the Highlanders refused to march without the bagpipe.
In 1739, with war with Spain looming, George II ordered the Independent Highland Companies to be incorporated into a Regiment of Foot, with the Earl of Crawford, a Lowlander, appointed the first colonel. The regiment, the forerunner of today's Black Watch, paraded in a field by the River Tay near Aberfeldy and consisted of 850 men formed into 10 companies.
Marking the spot stands a statue of a private soldier of the old regiment, Farquhar Shaw, the son of a Strathspey laird, who was described as "a perfect swordsman and a deadly shot alike with the musket and pistol, and was known to twist a horseshoe, and drive his dirk in a pine log".
In 1743, the Black Watch arrived in Flanders and joined the allied army under King George II in the War of the Austrian Succession. They were the first kilted warriors to be seen on the Continent. But it was after some two years of manoeuvrings that the Black Watch was finally to receive its baptism of fire - at Fontenoy.
Marshal Saxe with a French army of 80,000 men had laid seige to Tournay and the Duke of Cumberland, then aged 25, moved against him with some 50,000 men under his command.
He found the French had dug in on the four-long-mile crest of a hill and in a wood to their front had built a redoubt, a kind of a fortress, which they manned with guns. The guns were trained on a part of the hill up which the British had to advance.
The brigade to which the Black Watch belonged was ordered to capture the redoubt, and in three lines set off up the hill in a slow march, arms shouldered, into an inferno of shot and shell. On they went, as the casualties mounted, until they were 30 yards from the French trenches.
The Black Watch was given special permission to fight the Highland way, so when the muskets played along the line of advancing regiments, knocking them down like skittles, the Highlanders hurled themselves to the ground. When the volley was over they leaped to their feet and fired back. It was a novel way of fighting as far as the British Army was concerned.
In fact, the Highlanders seemed to have impressed the Duke of Cumberland greatly. A Sergeant James Campbell, for example, killed nine French with his broadsword and was having a swipe at his tenth when a canon ball ripped his arm off. The Duke promised him a reward after the battle "of a value equal to the arm".
In the Autumn of 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in Scotland and the Black Watch was brought home to help deal with the Jacobite rebellion. But, thankfully, the regiment was not sent north to fight against its own kith and kin. Instead it was stationed in the South of England. to defend the coast in case of a French invasion.
Classic hard carton blue box of Pegaso holds safely all 10 pieces of the figure between two thick sheets of foam material, that won’t let anything, move or get damaged.
In the box are also included 2 sheets of information written in 4 languages. There you can find a brief historic text for the Black Watch Regiment (written from Marco Lambertucci) and also a paining guide for the figure, as it appears in the box art painted from Danilo Cartacci .
Torso with Feet
Head with bonnet
Left arm - hand
Right arm - hand
Scabbard - sword
Feile – Small plaid
A round base
Quality and Detail
When you open the box of a new figure , from such a high quality , leading brand like Pegaso, you always expect more and u come more demanding in every next release. That has happened with me with Pegaso. I cannot expect to open a new figure box and find something less amazing than previous month’s releases. And once again its not letting me down. Casting is in very high quality. There is not a flaw or problem in any piece of the kit, and the surface of them is very clean and will just demand a soft touch with fine wire wool, to polish the metal, and eliminate the almost invinsible mold lines. Cleaning is almost to forget here and u won’t need more than 20 minutes in preparation.
Sculpted Detail is more than crisp and clear and spare some minutes to look closely at the guys head, the kilts back part with all these crisp folds, and all the rest of the pieces. Maurizio Bruno is one of the “cleanest” sculptors I have seen, and since I have had the luck of seeing him work live I can confirm that !
So every piece has the desired detail, and the quality of surface and metal is typical Pegaso which means very good .
Some people say that there is no easy figure when there is tartan to paint . For some reason (not that I am that good painter !) I am not afraid of tartan , and I feel very friendly with figures that need to have painted clothes in tartan. But needs discipline and planning to paint a good tartan to be honest. Also Patience and time. The figure shows many different textures so I don’t think is too easy for a starter painter. But Some painters with a bit of experience will find such a delight to paint this.
Conclusion – Final Verdict
Either u know or not the “Black Watch” Regiment, at least one figure of any period representing a member of it should be in your collection and showcase. So let it be this one . Maurizio Bruno’s terrific work and Pegaso’s high quality products , guarantee that u ll have one of the best picks. Get it with no hesitation.
Thanks to Luca Marchetti from Pegaso, for the review sample
Stay tuned cause more Pegaso products will be soon reviewed in Armorama !
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