See our most recent performance photos.
Also see 79th Pipers at 11,000 feet above sea level, near Telluride, Colorado.
Our Inspiration: A "Kilted" Regiment in the American Civil War
The original regiment that inspires our organization was The 79th New York Highlanders, a regiment formed in 1859 in New York City, just before the beginning of the American Civil War (1861-1865). It was came about under the auspices of the Caledonian Society of New York, and with the encouragement of the British Consul of New York, Captain David Cameron. Capt. Cameron had been an officer in the 79th Cameron Highlanders of the British Army; so, when the number "79" was available for a New York regiment, he recommended that they pattern a regiment after the Cameron Highlanders.
The regiment had four "kilted" companies (before the war), amounting to around 260 men, all told. Besides drilling as a militia regiment
(equal to our national guard now), the 79th Highlanders provided a contingent of soldiers for visiting dignitaries and
special events. They were part of a review for the Prince of Wales, as well as welcoming the Japanese ambassador. They were sometimes known as the Seventy-ninth Militia; the Highlanders; the Cameron Rifle Highlanders; the Highland Guard;
and the Bannockburn Battalion.
With the firing on Fort Sumter and the immediate threat to the nation's capital, they "volunteered to a man" to answer President Lincoln's call for 75,000 men to restore order and the rule of law. First, however, they needed to meet war department "manning standards" and had to recruit up to wartime levels. That meant that four companies would not be enough: they had to have ten companies.
Their first battle was Bull Run, and they were under the brigade command of (then) Colonel William T. Sherman (later
the famous General). In that battle, they fought well and suffered much...in fact, their regimental commander, Col. James Cameron (brother of the Secretary of War),
was killed and the regiment suffered the most casualties of any Union Army regiment, and was the last to leave the field,
covering the Army's retreat.
They were considered one of the best regiments in the Civil War, of either side. The Highlanders fought in seventeen major battles, plus a score of smaller engagements. These included, besides Bull Run (Manasses, VA), Secessionville, Chantilly, 2nd Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, Knoxville, the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg and Appomattox.
Over the course of the war, the Highlanders would lose 502 men, killed, wounded or missing. They would also earn the reputation as one of the hardest fighting regiments in the army. This was even acknowledged by their enemies: As the Charleston Mercury Newspaper said, "Thank God Lincoln only has one 79th Regiment."
Our "Detachment" of the 79th Highlanders
The 79th Highlanders Living History Association (of Colorado) is based in small town
of Kiowa, Colorado, with members from throughout the state, and beyond.
has four features: there is a pipe band with around 20 members (and growing), there is a
color guard with an infantry platoon, there is a living history display encampment group, and there is an auxiliary non-uniformed historical interest group. There are several other great Living History organizations in other parts of the U.S. and in other parts of the world also portraying this remarkable regiment from the American Civil War. Please see the links page.
The pipe band generally meets weekly for practice on Sundays at the Kiowa Masonic Lodge. This band consists of pipers, snare drummers, tenor drummers, a bass drummer, led by a well-known drum major, as well as Highland dancers (mostly from Jan Holland's "Happy Feet Scottish Dance Academy" with dancers from Douglas and Elbert Counties) who often perform with the group. We have four pipers in the Calhan area, five in Elizabeth, plus members from Louisville and Thornton, Evergreen, Aurora and Denver down to Colorado Springs. Kiowa is sort of in the middle!
We perform around twice or three times a month, during the warmer months (March through October). We can be seen
performing at events both large and small, including the Elizabeth
Celtic Festival, the Colorado Scottish Festival at Highlands Ranch, and, at one time, the Longs Peak Scottish Irish Festival. However, we do also especially
enjoy supporting the Calhan Loyalty Day Parade and the Sedalia St.
Patrick's Day Parade—both great small events. We feel that there are several local events that deserve the support, and we strive to give it.
In 2010, the band purchased new kilts in the Cameron of Erracht Tartan, which is the same tartan worn by the Civil War era 79th New York Highlanders. (Prior to that, we had Black Stewart tartan.) Our goal is to create a pipe band that is uniformed like the original 79th.
Because there is some doubt about the existence of a pipe band associated with the regiment in 1861, we say that we are a group "inspired by" the 79th New York Infantry Regiment (Highlanders), not that we are "portraying" the regiment in every way. We do make the history of the regiment a critical part of what we communicate.
This is the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. We want to promote the learning and understanding of the history of the American Civil War and the role of the Scots and Irish immigrants in the whole of the American experience.
The 79th is seeking recruits!
We teach beginning piping and drumming, for those who
are interested. We're also seeking persons who will portray historical
kilted infantry (riflemen) to complement our band members. Families are
welcome! Dues are currently $35 a year ($50 for a family). For information, please
contact Jim Campbell via email to <JimCampbell@skybeam.com> or via phone at 719-541-4275.
See our Facebook page! Lots of great information.
To Contact us:
Jim Campbell, President: JimCampbell@skybeam.com 719-541-4275
Neil Gillette, Pipe Major: firstname.lastname@example.org 303-332-6133