"...the garrison [Burleigh's Regt] ware the last that stood in the maine battell, and, being miserablie rent and torne, they, like bold and well trained souldioures, make there retreat in order, and too boldly resolves to march south, by crossing the [River] Die"
Gordon of Ruthven on the retreat of Burleigh's regiment at Justice Mills
Lord Robert Balfour of Burleigh and Lord David Wemyss of Elcho, a couple of Fife notables, jointly raised this regiment in April 1644 in Fife, at the order of the Scottish government (the Estates) for anti-insurgency duty at home against Royalist trouble makers such as Huntly. The regiment spent May 1644 harrying Huntly's lands in the northeast of Scotland before settling in as garrison of Aberdeen, and some outlying castles, in June 1644.
Burleigh and Elcho were both energetic supporters of the covenanting government, and both were aspiring military men. Neither would prove successful in command of government armies and by September 1644 both men had been roundly defeated by Montrose and his Royalist army.
In August 1644, Lord Elcho left Aberdeen to raise further Fife levies for government service, probably in response to news of MacColla's Royalist landing on the Scottish west coast in July. Lord Elcho assumed command of the government army which marched out to meet Montrose and MacColla at Tippermuir on 1st September 1644.
Elcho's army was quickly defeated and destroyed, and the Burgh of Perth was captured and looted. Elcho escaped to fight again another day at Kilsyth under Baillie, but will never command an army again. However, Montrose moved quickly north intending to join with Huntly's forces in the Northeast and arrived with his army at Justice Mills, outside Aberdeen on 12th September 1644.
On the morning of 13th September 1644, Montrose sent a messenger into the city with a summons to surrender in the name of the King's lieutenant. Burleigh commanding the forces in Aberdeen refused the summons and then inexplicably marched his force out of the defended city to take position on top of a steep embankment above the How Burn (Holborn) and the Justice Mill watermill.
Several primary sources report a strange incident which occurs at the end of the parley. As Montrose's messengers were leaving the city, an Irish drummer in the party was shot and killed by someone in the covenanter army, perhaps from Burleigh's regiment. This murder enraged the Irish forces under Montrose and anger over this incident is thought to be the cause of the reported savagery of the Irish in the aftermath of the battle.
Burleigh has been heavily criticized for the decision to give battle outside the city, resulting in the bloody and decisive defeat of the Aberdeenshire army, and to the ferocious sack of Aberdeen city. Ironically, his inept handling of this encounter and the ensuing carnage, destruction and loss of life far more seriously damaged Montrose's cause in Scotland. Stories of catholic irish depravity in the rout of the Aberdeen army and the 3-day sack of the city spread widely though Scotland and undoubtedly swayed many potential Royalist sympathizers against Montrose and the King.
With the government army collapsing around them, Burleigh's Regt retain discipline, and try to march off the field in good order. They were spotted leaving by MacColla, who led 400 Irish, likely McDonnell's Regt, to attack and slaughter the retreating regiment.
The regiment was not completely destroyed however and, reconstituted with fresh Fife conscripts, made a similarly doomed appearance at the Battle Alford in July 1645, as part of Baillie's Government Army. Furgol further suggests that the remnants of the regiment were with Elcho and the ill-fated Fife brigade at the Battle of Kilsyth in August 1645.
As well-drilled and equipped lowland regulars I have modeled Burleigh's Regt as typical covenanter infantry. Figures are mostly Perry ECW Scots, with a few armored pikemen from the Perry English ECW range for variety.
The regiment was well billeted in Aberdeen in the months before the battle. There were even accusations of corruption and fraud against the regiment for dodgy expense claims and abuse of the billeting order while in garrison.
As such I imagined this regiment as having been spared the rigors of campaign and equipment, uniforms and flags are painted clean, bright and well maintained. I have added a few blue, red and brown coats and breeks, just to break up the hodden grey.
The regiment numbered at least 500 at Aberdeen, so at 1:10 figure:men scale this regiment is a little small, so I may add a couple of extra stands of pike and shot later. Being "standard issue" covenanter infantry, this unit could be fielded as any government unit (with an optional change of command stand to get flags right).
As with all my other units, bases are mostly 40mm square, 3mm MDF from Litko. They are textured with wood filler and sand, painted and dry-brushed, and decorated with static grass, grass tufts and heather. Heather is made using dark green clump foliage sprinkled with purple flock.
I originally bought these models to use as Buchanan's Regt, but Roy took care of that unit. I then considered using them for the Earl of Sutherland's Regt, but later decided to portray Sutherland using highland regulars. Having no longer any need for these for the Auldearn OOB, I decided to paint them up as Burleigh's Regt because (1) I would like to refight Justice Mills at some point and (2) I loved Burleigh's black flags.
The flags include both a Colonel's colour and a single company color, and are unusual in that they are both black. Black company colors were not unknown, but Colonel's colors of the time were typically white. The flag designs are based on records of flags captured at Dunbar in 1651and identified as the colors of a later regiment raised by Burleigh in Fife.
It is assumed that similar colours were used by Burleigh's earlier regiment in 1644-45, and this is to some extent supported by the use of archaic text inscriptions on the colonels color of a type typical of the 1640's before the text was standardized 1650.
I will provide more information about the flags in a separate blog post. Next units up for me will be two LARGE units of Gordon Horse, and I will share a WIP soon. Also looking forward to getting a game in on the new boards with Roy next Friday.
"...the garrison ware the last that stood in the maine battell, and, being miserablie rent and torne, they, like bold and well trained souldioures, make there retreat in order, and too boldly resolves to march south, by crossing the Die;...
...but the major generall [MacColla], perceaveing there designe, takes furth foure hundreth Irishes, and following them so rudly, falls in amongst them, as few or none escaped."
Gordon of Ruthven on the retreat and destruction of Burleigh's regiment at Justice Mills