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Highland Clearances | Scottish Tartans Authority

The Clearances had repercussions for the British Army

In 1854 Britain declared war on Russia and all was not going well. Highland regiments, so conspicuous in the past, were now equally conspicuous by their absence. “Where are the Highlanders?” was asked.

The Duke of Sutherland hastily travelled from London to Dunrobin Castle and enquired why there were no Highland volunteers.

An elderly gentleman replied:

“Your Grace’s mother and predecessors applied to our fathers for men upon former occasions and our fathers responded to their call. They made us liberal promises, which neither them nor you performed. We are, we think, a little wiser than our fathers, and we estimate your promises of today at the value of theirs.”

“Besides you should bear in mind that your predecessors and yourself expelled us in a most cruel and unjust manner from the land which our fathers held in lien from your family.”

“I do assure your Grace that it is the prevailing opinion in this country, that should the Czar of Russia take possession of Dunrobin Castle and Stafford House next term, that we could not expect worse treatment at his hands than we have experienced at the hands of your family for the last 50 years.”

In Sutherland there were no volunteers. The young men who refused to volunteer called a public meeting stating:

“We have no country to fight for. You robbed us of our land and gave it to the sheep. Therefore, since you have preferred sheep to men, let sheep defend you.”

“we are resolved that there shall be no volunteers or recruits from Sutherland shire.”

“Yet we assert that we are as willing as our forefathers were to peril life and limb in defence of our Queen and country were our wrongs and long-enduring oppression redressed, wrongs which will be remembered in Sutherland by every true Highlander as long as grass grows and water runs.”