“Petticoated devils”: Scottish highland soldiers in British accounts of the Indian rebellion
DOI: 10.1080/01440350008586717
Title: “Petticoated devils”: Scottish highland soldiers in British accounts of the Indian rebellion
Journal Title: Prose Studies: History, Theory, Criticism
Volume: Volume 23
Issue: Issue 3
Publication Date: December 2000
Start Page: 77
End Page: 94
Published online: 16 Jul 2008
ISSN: 0144-0357
a Assistant Professor of English , Eastern Connecticut State University
Abstract: This article investigates the anomalies that surround the figure of the highland soldier in accounts of the 1857 Indian Rebellion. Reading a variety of published military and historical material, I argue that the figure can be seen as a unique cultural locus in which complex and ultimately contradictory notions of alterity collide and merge. In such accounts, the figure of the highland soldier plays a unique role in nationalist discourse as the embodiment of the British fighting essence against an insurgent barbaric foe. highland soldiers were considered the “shock troops” of Britain's army in India, whose kilted garb was thought to incite panic among native Sepoy resisters. Yet at the same time, the figure's idealization is premised on the ethnographic assumptions as to the essential proclivity of highland society toward warfare. As this form of society was deemed an inherently martial one, highland soldiers were deemed naturally good fighters. Thus a colonial discourse underpins the creation of an exemplary national figure that serves as a foil to other, native, colonial figures in accounts of the Mutiny

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