In 1793 George III wrote to John, 5th Duke of Argyll, asking him to raise a kilted regiment of 1,100 men. The Duke was unwell at the time and deputed the task to his kinsman, Duncan Campbell, 8th Lochnell. On 9 July 1794, they were formally gazetted into the British Army as the 98th Argyllshire Highlanders, renumbered later, in October 1798, as the 91st.
On 5 May 1795 the Regiment embarked for South Africa to capture the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch. At this time 15 of the 33 officers were Campbells and 2 of the others had married Campbells. But the required number of NCOs and rank and file could not be found in Argyllshire, the rest came largely from Glasgow and Edinburgh, Renfrew and Paisley, with a small contingent of Irish.
Officers continued to be drawn mainly from Argyllshire, and there were always enough genuine Highlanders to give the Regiment its characteristic stamp. Irish and Englishmen who only reluctantly took to wearing the kilt were in the end successfully absorbed; and the 91st maintained their Highland tradition.
The 91st remained as part of the garrison in Cape Town, South Africa, for seven years, returning in 1803 to England to help patrol the southern counties against the event of an invasion by Napoleon.
In 1808 it went to Portugal with Sir John Moore where it was part of the rearguard action against Napoleon’s army (under Marshall Soult) which ended with the British evacuation at Corunna. At this time the 91st, together with 5 other Highland Corps, lost the right to wear Highland dress, though it was allowed to keep the title, The Argyllshire Regiment. The 91st was back again in 1812 taking part in the advance which pushed the French out of Spain. (For further detail see; The Napoleonic Wars; The Peninsular War 1808)
Later, it was also at St Helena supervising the exhumation of Napoleon’s remains prior to reburial in France.
In 1864, while the Regiment was in India, Queen Victoria approved the 91st reverting to the old title of the 91st Argyllshire Highlanders. In 1871 the Queen’s daughter, HRH Princess Louise, married the Marquess of Lorne, (later 9th Duke of Argyll) and at the wedding the 91st provided the Guard of Honour. A year later in 1872 she was appointed Colonel-in-Chief and the 91st became ‘Princess Louise’s Argyllshire Highlanders’, with her coronet and cipher and the Argyll Boar’s Head and motto of ‘Ne Obliviscaris’ added to their insignia. Their Depot moved to Stirling, and the Regiment went to Inverness for its first Scottish tour of duty in eighty years, and thence to South Africa during the Zulu Wars.
In 1881 it became the 1st Battalion, Princess Louise’s Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.