Jacobite Boats – Part 2

In Part 1, I described the background to my modelling of some Jacobite Boats, as used in their successful amphibious assault at Dornoch Firth on 20th March 1746. The first Jacobite boat I completed was shown in Part 1 and is shown again below.

I wanted boats of different sizes, since the Jacobite boats were collected from fishing fleets around the coast and would not have all been identical. I therefore made three more boats from various sizes of ships boats which came with an Airfix HMS Bounty model (which I will model as a British frigate in due course). These three boats are here.

The largest of the three is about the same length as the Zvezda one but narrower. I removed the keel to make it sit on my model water better.

Here is the completed second boat with its crew. The crew were modelled in exactly the same way as for the first boat, but painted with different coloured jackets, shirts and breeches plus different tartan plaids. The first boat was painted in a dark gloss blue and this one in a dark gloss red. The oars come from a Zvezda boat since these come with 8 oars but I only needed four for each of my Royal Navy and Jacobite Boats.

Some of the Airfix highlanders which I planned to convert as sitting passengers in the boats were 50 years old. I had originally painted them as Napoleonic 79th Foot , but later replaced them with standing figures, since I do not really like kneeling figures in my units apart from as skirmishers.

However, when I tried to convert them to sitting Jacobites, I discovered that they were very brittle and just snapped apart. They also did not weld, but just dissolved into molten blobs.

I needed an alternate solution, so looked at The Plastic Soldier Review website, where I saw a set of Waterloo 1815 British Highlanders in Square, which looked suitable due to its large number of kneeling figures. I therefore ordered a set, plus some other figures which wanted, to make the order more cost effective.

Here are some kneeling highlanders from that set, converted to seated Jacobites. The first figure is converted to a seated Jacobite with his musket held between his knees, as per the second figure. The third figure is converted to a seated Jacobite holding a sword. as per the fourth figure.

The first boat had two rows of three highlanders and one row of two highlanders, eight in total, plus the Wave commander (at the stern). Since the second boat was narrower I could only fit six highlanders into it, in three rows of two. There are three with muskets and three with swords, including one with a targe.

Here they are painted. Although they are generic and could be used in any wave, I have painted these with jackets in various tartans but with belted plaids in MacDonald tartan.

Here they are in their boat, plus the seated figures for the Duke of Perth (in the prow) and his ADC (in the stern).

The next (third) boat is the medium sized HMS Bounty one. Again, I have removed the keel.

I also modified the seating to cut away some of the thwarts at the stern, to give more room for the highlanders legs. I also added one extra seat.

The first two boats had rudders, but the two smaller ones did not. I therefore made two rudders (one for each small boat) from a stand and spar from a Zvezda boat.

Here is the third boat complete with its crew. I painted the boat in a gloss green to make it different to the first two.

This boat was a little wider towards the stern, so I managed to fit a row of three highlanders in it there. I could only fit two in the row at the bow and I fitted a single one beside the tillerman at the stern. So here they are painted up in various tartan jackets but with MacKenzie belted plaids.

Here they are fitted into the third boat. I prefer the highlanders to be facing forward, or at least those in the bow to be so, however that was not possible so they are almost all facing the stern.

The fourth, and last, boat is the smallest of the HMS Bounty boats. Again I removed the keel and cut away some of the thwarts to make more room for the highlanders legs.

I used an old Esci Napoleonic French infantryman to convert to the tillerman for this fourth boat. His head had been removed for some previous conversion so I selected one from my bag of spare heads.

Here is the fourth boat and crew. It is too small for four rowers, so only has two. It is painted in a gloss light blue to make it different to the other three.

I could only fit four highlanders into this boat and here they are in two rows of two. Two have muskets and two have swords. Their plaids are in MacGregor tartan.

Here they are fitted into the fourth boat. I managed to get the ones in the bow to be facing forward.

Here is the entire first wave. The dark red boat has 6 highlanders plus the Duke of Perth and his ADC. The dark blue boat has 8 highlanders plus the Wave commander (Simon Fraser). The green boat has 6 highlanders and the light blue boat has 4 highlanders. That is a total of 24 highlanders which can be carried in this wave. The second wave would be exactly the same, except it would be commanded by Donald MacDonald of Lochgarry and there would not be figures for the Duke of Perth and his ADC. The third wave, commanded by Lord Cromartie, has only 20 highlanders, so would not need the smallest (fourth) boat.

I thought I would finish by describing the historical events of this successful amphibious assault. The Jacobites had some difficulty launching their boats and had to wait until the tide rose. They were fortunate that an early morning sea mist covered the mouth of the firth, thus protecting them from observation by any Royal Navy patrols. The first wave launched at 8am on 20th March 1746.

The first wave landed at 9am. The nearest two British companies, perhaps 120 men in total from 43rd (Black Watch and 64th (Loudoun’s Highlanders) were assembled by Major Mackenzie (the acting commander of 64th Foot) and set off towards the Jacobite landing site at about 9.30am. Major Mackenzie was in command of the 64th since the Colonel of the 64th was John Campbell, Lord Loudoun, who was commanding the entire force, and the 64th’s Lieutenant Colonel was John Campbell of Mamore (another John Campbell), who was away to the south west, in Argyll territory with three of the 64th’s companies where he was raising 24 companies of Argyll Militia.

The Jacobite second wave landed at 10am and the first two waves, totalling some 1,500 men, marched towards Skibo Castle where they (wrongly) believed that both Duncan Forbes (Lord Culloden) and Norman Macleod (known as The Wicked Man) were staying. Both were with Lord Loudoun, further to the west. This was the second time that the Frasers had attempted to seize Duncan Forbes. The first is recounted here. As Lord President (effectively Governor of Scotland) Duncan Forbes had raised the 18 Highland Independent Companies. Norman Macleod had been defeated by a Jacobite force at Inverurie, as recounted here. That post also gives reasons why he was known as The Wicked Man. The two British companies withdrew as they faced a force 10 times their size.

Some of the 64th Foot officers had been captured at Prestonpans, but then paroled by the Jacobites on condition of not serving against them again. The Duke of Cumberland refused to accept paroles given to rebels and ordered the officers to return to duty. Major Mackenzie was concerned at the fate of these officers should they be captured again, so tried to buy some time to allow them to escape. He sent Captain MacIntosh, who commanded the 43rd (Black Watch) company to discuss surrender terms with the Jacobites. Captain MacIntosh was the Chief of the MacIntosh Clan, and Chief of the Chattan Federation, but his 22 Year old wife, Lady Anne MacIntosh had raised the clan to support the Jacobites, as recounted here. At 11am the two companies at Skibo Castle surrendered. At that same time the Jacobite third wave landed. Meanwhile Lord Loudoun’s main force was fleeing to the west.

The Jacobite force chased after Lord Loudoun’s main force but failed to capture them. Lord Loudoun divided his force, with a few companies going north, to their clan territories, while most of his force retreated to the Isle of Skye, where they linked up with two Highland Independent Companies raised by MacDonald of Sleat and one more MacKenzie company. These three companies had been holding the Hebrides.

It is interesting that all of the troops in this operation, on both sides, were highlanders. The Jacobite amphibious assault was well planned and professionally executed, to a standard which the British Army had not reached at that time. It was a total success, but in the end made no difference to the outcome at Culloden a month later.

9 thoughts on “Jacobite Boats – Part 2

  1. mosstrooper7 February 8, 2021 / 5:25 pm

    Interesting article , something I knew nothing about , I find these minor affrays/skirmishes just as interesting as the larger battles in the 45 .


    • rodwargaming February 8, 2021 / 11:18 pm

      I like these less well known affairs very much as well.



  2. Bankinista February 8, 2021 / 7:08 pm


    I see you refer to “MacDonald tartan”. My understanding is that tartan designs were produced by local weavers and would usually use the natural dyes available in that area. Clans were from a geographic areas, too, and at the time this overlap was the only “clan tartan” connection.

    However, the idea of groups of men wearing the same tartan was boosted by military units in the 18th century. The Independent Highland Companies – the most famous of which was the “Black Watch”- wore a uniform tartan.

    After “The ‘45” the Dress Act of 1746 attempted to ban wearing tartan as part of the general clampdown on the highlanders. This law was repealed in 1782.

    In 1822 the visit of King George IV to Scotland brought a sudden demand for tartan cloth and made it the national dress of the whole of Scotland, not just the highlands. It was marketing that invented clan specific tartans and has lead to the invention of many more. Nowadays it’s hard to find a surname without a specific tartan connected to it!

    Apart from that picky point congratulations on all the modelling/converting required to produce models for these “naval” aspects of the campaign.


    • rodwargaming February 8, 2021 / 11:26 pm

      Yes, I do know that, but my artistic licence is to use modern tartans on my model Jacobites.



  3. Pete S/ SP February 8, 2021 / 10:42 pm

    Great post- I admire your inventiveness.




  4. molesgallerium February 9, 2021 / 10:46 am

    Great stuff indeed. Thanks for the information about this episode.


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