Echoes of Success: Identity and the Highland Regiments


In Echoes of Success, Ian Stuart Kelly uses new information about late Victorian Scottish Highland battalions to provide new insights into how groups identify themselves, and pass that sense on to successive generations of soldiers.
Kelly applies concepts from organisational theory (the study of how organisations function) to demonstrate how soldiers’ experiences create a ‘blueprint’ of expected behaviours and thought patterns that contribute to their battalion’s continued success. This model manages the interplay between public perception and actual life experiences more effectively than current approaches to understanding identity. Also, Kelly’s primary research offers a more certain description of soldiers’ life, faith, education, and discipline than has previously been available.
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Biographical Note

Ian Stuart Kelly, Ph.D. (2007, University of Aberdeen) is a historian for the Gordon Highlanders Museum. He has presented at military history conferences in North America and Europe, and has contributed to multiple world history projects.

Review Quotes

"...Drawing on a breadth of unpublished material located in regimental museums as well as the British National Archives, the reader follows the Scots 'pedigree of organized violence' through to the closing years of the nineteenth a study of the men who became Highlanders due to their service in these regiments, Echoes of Success rewards the reader with fresh insight grounded in detailed research."
Wayne E. Sirmon in The Journal of Military History, April 2016, pp. 566-68

Table of contents

Preface ix
Acknowledgements xi
List of Tables and Figures xii
Introduction 1
Scottish in British Service 2
Revealing Identity 10
1 Identity 15
Warrior ‘Races’ 20
The Question of ‘Identity’ 23
The Drive for Identity 25
Dual Natures of Identity 29
Elements of Identity 32
2 Highland Battalions 36
Establishment 37
Divergent Paths 46
Converging Paths 50
Reform 53
Reorganisation and Beyond 57
3 Highland Soldiers 67
Regionality, Nationality and Migration 71
Pre-Enlistment Experience 76
Military Careers 84
4 Discipline and Military Law 90
Military Law 93
Military Crime 101
Discipline in the Highland Battalions 106
5 Faith and the Army 116
The Thin Black Line 117
Personal Faith 123
Public Practice 130
6 Education 136
Pre-Enlistment Education 139
Education within the Army 142
7 Narratives 150
Language-based Communication 151
Regimental Music 161
Material Culture & Art 169
The Drums & The Colours 178
8 In Garrison & On Campaign 182
Pre-1881 Status 185
The Reorganisation 188
After the Reorganisation 192
9 Institutional Correlations 208
Highland and Scottish Foundations 210
Highland Battalions and the British State 215
Highland Battalions and the Empire 221
Conclusion 228
Select Bibliography 237
Index 258


This monograph is relevant to anyone interested in Highland soldiers’ experiences c. 1860-1902, as well as to anyone seeking an effective understanding of identity in history.


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