Friday, 21 April 2017

Captain Sir James Baird

The 71st Foot was one of several regiments raised specifically to serve in the AWI, raised in 1775 by Colonel Simon Fraser (a previous incarnation of "Fraser's Highlanders", numbered the 78th Foot, was raised in 1757 and disbanded in 1763).  I've now painted 3 battalions' worth - see here and here) - and last year I worked on some mounted officers for this regiment and the 42nd.  This is the first of a trilogy of posts on those figures, using what little information I've been able to find about the men involved (this research has delayed these posts by some months!).  I don't generally use mounted officers for anything less than brigade commanders, so I've looked through the various "British Grenadier!" scenarios to see where highland regiment officers appear in this role.  Something you learn quickly about the AWI is that there were many "battlefield commissions" whereby regimental officers took command at general level, some very successfully (Lieutenant-Colonel James Webster of the 33rd being an excellent example).  Simon Fraser did not accompany his new regiment to America.  Lieutenant-Colonel Archibald Campbell took command, but he was captured in 1776 (along with many others from the 71st while on board troop ships) and not released until two years later.

This figure represents James Baird, who appears as a "Major" and a brigade commander in the "British Grenadier!" Briar Creek scenario. He was the son of Sir William Baird of Saughtonhall, the 5th Baronet of the Baird Baronetcy of Saughtonhall.  It's not clear when James was born, but he succeeded his father as the 6th Baronet in August 1771.  The following year he joined the army as an Ensign in the 17th Foot.  He became a Lieutenant in 1776 and appears to have purchased a Captaincy in the 71st Foot in 1777.  At some point after the American war he must have transferred to the cavalry, as in 1796 he became the Lieutenant-Colonel of the 28th Light Dragoons.  Sir James Baird died in 1830.

Baird led one of the light companies of the 71st (which had multiple battalions) in the attack on Savannah in December 1778.  He then seems to have been given command, or at least commanded one of its two constituent companies, of what sources refer to as "the Light Infantry Corps", which consisted of the light companies of the first and second battalions together with some Loyalist troops from the New York Volunteers and De Lancey's Brigade.  This command may have resulted in a temporary battlefield commission to Major, as I can find no confirmation that Baird received a formal commission to this rank within the 71st Foot.  It was the Light Infantry Corps that Baird is thought to have commanded at Briar Creek, fought on 3 March 1779.

There are currently two mounted highland officer figures available in 25mm.  One is a Brigadier-General Simon Fraser personality figure in one of the Old Glory command packs.  He's a different Simon Fraser to the Colonel of the 71st.  Colonel Fraser was from the prominent, formerly Jacobite-supporting, Clan Fraser of Lovat  - he eventually became the 19th chief of the clan.  The Brigadier seems to have part of a less exalted branch of the Frasers.  The other mounted figure is from King's Mountain Miniatures.  This figure comes with two choices of right arm - one holding a sword and the other pointing straight ahead.  I was told by chum Brendan Morrissey that the saddlecloths used by British officers were usually in the colour of the regimental facings, so Baird's has the white facings of the 71st Foot.  As a light infantry officer it may have been unlikely that Baird would have mounted on a horse in battle, but I like to have my brigade commanders easily identifiable and I think this KMM figure suits him very well.  Now I had originally intended to use this figure for Lieutenant-Colonel John Maitland, who commanded the 71st's 1st battalion at Stono Ferry in 1779; but I then discovered that Maitland lost his right arm in the Seven Years' War and so I'll need to do something special for him....      

1 figure.  Painted April 2016.



8 comments:

Simon Jones said...

Truly fantastic Giles, your horses are as superb as your human figures!

Simon

G. Thomas Fitzpatrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
G. Thomas Fitzpatrick said...

As the inimitable Daddy Pig often says on Peppa Pig, "It's no good... . It's all nonsense... ."

I had hopelessly conflated the personae of Sir James Baird with Sir David Baird. Too many Scots with similar names!

David said...

Fine work once again Giles, supported by interesting history as expected!

Giles said...

Thanks, Simon. I'm working on lots more cavalry at the moment - aiming to get all that finished off this year.

Giles said...

I know - it's really difficult tracking some of these people down. I could be completely wrong in what I've written above, but this "James Baird" seemed more likely than not to be the one at Briar Creek. The Frazers are really tricky!

Giles said...

Thanks, David. There were lots of Scots in the AWI. I have Scottish ancestry so I'm trying hard to find an ancestor in the war somewhere.

harada57 said...

thanks

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