In 1757 England was at war with France and battles were raging in Europe and North America. Needing more troops, King George II ordered a Scottish nobleman, Archibald Montgomery, the son of the Earl of Eglington to raise a regiment of highlanders. These clansmen from northern Scotland were renowned for their bravery and fighting spirit. Another highland regiment, " The Black Watch", was already earning a glorious reputation in the King's wars overseas. The newly formed regiment was embodied at Stirling Castle and numbered more than 1,300 men. The newly formed regiment set sail from Greenock, destined for Halifax, Nova Scotia. Although they had not acquired the skill in arms in a uniform manner they were ready to take part in a conflict later to be known as the French and Indian War. This war was known as the Seven Years War in Europe and battles were fought worldwide.
As in all British regiments, there were the usual ten companies, but in the case of the 77th, three more companies were added. One of these thirteen companies was the Grenadier Company. The best of Montgomery's men were put in the Grenadier Company. Grenadiers were traditionally the biggest and strongest soldiers, whose job was to throw heavy iron grenades into enemy positions. Even when they stopped carrying grenades, the grenadiers retained their reputation as elite troops.
Officially numbered the 77th Regiment of Foot, the new regiment was also referred to as the 1st Highland Battalion. It spent the next five years in arduous wilderness campaigning in the colonies of North America. In 1757, it was in the Carolinas with Amherst to help protect the settlers from Indian raids. Later the 77th was brought north to Philadelphia to participate in the Forbes campaign of 1758. It helped build a military road, complete with supporting forts, across the entire colony of Pennsylvania. The soldiers of the 77th took part in a surprise attack on Fort Duquesne, a key French post at the site of modern Pittsburgh. They also participated in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain in 1759. Montgomery's Highlanders battled Cherokee Indians in the Carolinas in 1760, fought in the Caribbean and took Havana from the Spanish in 1762. The regiment's last campaign was with Colonel Henry Bouquet, when it helped defeat the Ottawa Chief Pontiac's huge Indian forces in western Pennsylvania at Bushy Run.
By the end of the war in 1763, Montgomery's Highlanders had marched four times across the length of Pennsylvania, building the road and many of the forts that grew into the cities and towns of today. They had fought in formal, European-style campaigns against French troops and in the wilderness engagements against some of the strongest Indian nations.
After Britain's victory, the 77th was disbanded. All officers and men who chose to settle in America were permitted to do so. Each received a grant of land in proportion to his rank. The remainder returned to Scotland. Later, a number of these officers and men joined the King's standard in 1775.
Women and children were included in Montgomery's Highlanders as camp followers. The British Army allowed a few soldiers' wives to accompany their husbands overseas, and often, other women attached themselves to the regiment when it stopped in one place for any length of time. Army women did laundry, cooking and sewing for the soldiers, as well as nursing the wounded. They drew rations and were considered women and children of the army. They therefore were subject to all rules and regulations of the army.