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For the next 40 years the Black Watch performed garrison duties across the Empire. In 1854 Britain went to war with Imperial Russia, and the soon-to-be famous Highland Brigade was formed and sent to the Crimea. Their first serious action was the battle at Alma, where the regiment, as part of the Highland Brigade, advanced uphill against a Russian force that outnumbered them almost 5 - 1. Firing as they went, the thin kilted line drove the Russians before them.

They were also present at the battle of Balaclava where their sister regiment, the 93rd Highlanders, repelled a massed Russian cavalry charge whilst still formed in line, an event that became known as “The Thin Red Line." 

The regiment next saw action in India just a few years later. In 1857 there was an uprising among the native regiments. The 42nd was involved in its suppression, defeating the mutineers at the siege of Lucknow, where the sound of their approaching bagpipes boosted the moral of the starving British defenders. They also fought at the second siege of Cawnpore, where they captured a gong (now known as the Cawnpore Gong) which is still used in the regimental quarters today, and accompanies the regiment where ever it is posted. 

In 1881 Army reforms did away with the old regimental numerical system. The 42nd was amalgamated with another Highland Regiment and given the title of Black Watch (the Royal Highland Regiment). 

The wars of Victoria’s Empire continued unabated. In 1882 there was a rebellion in Egypt. Again as part of the Highland Brigade, the Black Watch fought ferociously at the battle of Tel-El-Kebir, storming Egyptian trench works as dawn broke and suffering the majority of the casualties inflicted on British forces during the battle. 

The regiment’s final war of the Imperial era was in South Africa. During the 2nd Boer War they fought at the battle of Magersfontein. In an attack on Boer trenches the rest of the Highland Brigade broke and fell back in the face of vicious fire, however the Black Watch carried on, stormed a portion of the works and the hill beyond it, and were eventually forced to retire after suffering enormous casualties. 

At Paardeberg the scenario was all-but repeated, frontal assaults on the Boer entrenchments resulting in horrific casualties. Although ultimately Britain would win the war, the way of the Highland Charge (far from ending at Culloden in 1746) died on the rolling hills of South Africa in 1902. 

Despite this, the wars of the Imperial Era and beyond had once and for all cemented the Black Watch not only as one of the best regiments in the British Army, but one of the most famous fighting forces in human history.