FEATURED REGIMENT: Mackay's Regiment of Foot

Barry Hilton - Welcome to a new regular feature! We thought it would be useful to start featuring regiments from our collections and providing a little background as to why we chose to paint and use them.
My personal need to record the deeds of my little metal men is somewhat inexplicable and to an extent slightly worrying. After all, they are only inanimate pieces of lead alloy dressed up in pigment and glued onto pieces of wood. So, why do these little warriors deserve to receive a history in the same way as the real men they represent?
Perhaps it is the love we put into choosing, cleaning, priming, painting, varnishing and basing them for self and friends to admire. Maybe it’s the pride and the agony of seeing them march across the table carrying our own high hopes of victory only to be dashed again on club night or when the lads come round for a game. Maybe it’s the memory of what was going on in your life when you painted them; triumph, tragedy, loneliness, illness, joy or anger. You may recall the movie or radio show that was on in the background when you sat with brush in hand. They may have been born during deep winter or high summer, or whilst you were on holiday or travelling with work (one of my most common memories). I remember once sitting in Lufthansa’s University in the middle of the Odenwald near Heidelberg during a stifling August, hand painting Thirty Years War flags for the Augsburg Regiment and wondering whether they had ever campaigned on the plain which stretched out in full view below my bedroom.  Perhaps it is the emotion evoked when researching the history of the real men our tiny soldiers are in the image of.
Whatever the reason we love to talk and remember about deeds of renown. For years I recorded every action that my League of Augsburg units fought in. Each unit had its own section in which I noted the scenario, their position in the line, their opponents, battle performance, whether the achieved anything, captured or lost colours, casualties and whether I considered the performance worthy of distinction. I even sketched the trophies each took (if any). No small job considering that in a big battle I might be making as many as 30 entries in my diary at a time.
I stopped it several years ago but still have the massive telephone directory type ring folders I made. It’s nice to flick through occasionally and remember. So, to kick us off here is the very first unit for the period I ever painted. You’ll see many more as the weeks roll by….

Mackay’s Regiment of Foot
Apparently formed in 1595. By the 1680s they were serving in the Dutch Army as part of the Scots Brigade. By 1688 they were under the command of Sir Hugh Mackay of Scourie, a very experienced Highlander who had served the French and Imperialists. Mackay led them at Killiecrankie in 1689. They fought in Flanders and were at Steenkirke (where Mackay fell) and Landen. After Steenkirke they were commanded by Aeneas Mackay until 1697 when they became Murray’s.

 Painting Them Originally
I first painted this regiment in 1992 when I got into the period. I used Dixon miniatures. I dressed them in a mid-dark red at the time using the black undercoat method. They were originally based on a 20mm per model frontage, 4 models per base, 16 models in total. Pikes (2 or 3 I can’t remember) were integral with the central stands. They had a single cotton hand painted flag of 40 x 40mm which was a yellow St Andrews cross on a red field. It long ago disappeared by being converted into the standard of Regiment Jyske and sold. 
Painting Them Again!
As my period interest flourished I bought Foundry models and decided to do Mackay’s again from scratch. I did a 36 model unit using Foundry models with Essex grenadiers and a couple of head conversions around about 1995 or ‘96. I decided on a much more vivid red for this incarnation and put a lot of character into the faces particularly. This large unit picked up a couple of 1st prizes in painting competitions (The Durham show around 1996 is one I recall as was a Scottish show perhaps Claymore or Kirriemuir).

Several Children From a Single Parent
The unit was too large for normal gaming use so I broke them up. The core stayed as the ‘New Mackays’ with excess models moving into a reformed Ramsay’s with others moving to a reformed Montcashel’s (obviously switching sides!). Cuff and breeches colour changes were made during transfers. By now I was rebasing in what was to become the standard BLB frontage and Mackay’s  found themselves on 4 stands, 6 models per stand (except the animated pike stand of 5 models). In this form they fought most of their actions and appeared in a variety of publications including BLB and Wargames Illustrated.
Pikemen - A white cuff job moved these into Ramsays!
Another Comeback
They were rebased for a fourth time in 2011 when I wanted to give my ‘platoon firing’ Foot a more open formation to distinguish them on the table. The frontage was opened up to 20mm again and base depth reduced from the standard 60mm to 50mm.

Glorious Service
In total they have fought 65 recorded actions receiving seven distinctions. Their average battle losses are 30%. They have captured the colours of: Gordon's and O'Gara's regiments. They have lost their own colours four times. Their finest hour was capturing the colours of O'Gara's Regiment on the banks of the Shannon 1691. Their darkest hour was losing their nerve crossing the Boyne in a 1690 refight whilst under fire from the Irish Footguards. They panicked two friendly brigades into retreat. They have fought in their original Scots-Dutch Brigade line up with Balfour's and Ramsay's 12 times including Killiecrankie and Neerwinden stretching as far back as 1993. This service record covers the period of Old Mackay’s and New Mackay’s. Sir Hugh has been captured twice by the French!  They have fought in perhaps another 20-25 actions which were not recorded and have guised as Saxons and Russians during GNW battles! I think I have had my money's worth from these veteran Scots.

The Brigade Deployed for Battle
Old Soldiers Never Die!

In 1995 the Old Mackay’s were given a different paint job (a much more scarlet- red). A few new models were added, some of which were Essex officers. They were given a natty red hat trim and generally spruced up. They became Regiment Waldek-Pyrmont of the Dutch Army and continue to serve!  They will themselves feature later on the blog.

Mackay’s Regiment of Foot. Scots in Dutch pay. Painted by Barry Hilton