Northwind Highlanders

Emblem of the Northwind Highlanders
Northwind Highlanders
Formed 2362
Affiliation Republic of the Sphere (3081 - 3151);
Mercenary (2362–3081) (3152 - present)
Parent Command Independent
Sub-Command(s) 1st Kearny Highlanders,
2nd Kearny Highlanders,
3rd Kearny Highlanders,
Northwind Fusiliers,
Northwind Hussars,
MacLeod's Regiment,
Marion's Highlanders,
Stirling's Fusiliers,
Republican Guards,
Stuart's Highlanders,
1st Gurkhas

The Northwind Highlanders are amongst the largest, longest-lived, and most respected mercenary commands of all time; a storied unit with the roots of their history in the ancient Terran nation of Scotland.[1]



The Northwind Highlanders unit was founded in 2362 with the formation of the First Kearny Highlanders by Clan Stuart, a group of Scots that included the descendants of the last vestiges of the original Scottish regiments on Terra.[2] The Highlanders colonized the planet Northwind largely due to its agreeable climate.[1] The regiment was a success, leading to the formation of Second Kearny Highlanders in 2369 and McCormack's Fusiliers in 2377.[2]

Star League Era[edit]

The Highlanders achieved fame far and wide through human space even before the Star League was formed. Later, they were of the League's more respected units by the SLDF, and the Royal Black Watch members who protected the First Lord were mainly recruited from the best Highlanders. After the Watch was destroyed in the Amaris Civil War, some surviving members hid among the Highlanders, keeping the unit's traditions alive.[citation needed]

Succession Wars[edit]

Throughout the centuries, the Highlanders earned a reputation as an elite unit with high standards and morals that were not for sale, but even before Operation EXODUS, the Highlanders regiments had grown apart from Northwind clan elders and accepted a contract with the Capellan Confederation, in what was essentially an exclusive contract. When the Federated Suns invaded Northwind and destroyed two Highlander regiments recently founded, the Highlanders regiments accepted it with stoicism, and during the Succession Wars, served House Liao with honor and loyalty, as when the Second Kearny spent forty years hunting down every member of Gladstone's Gladiators, a mercenary command that had breached their contract with the Confederation, or when the First Kearny faced down and defeated Wolf's Dragoons Zeta Battalion.[3] The situation changed, however, when Prince Hanse Davion of the Federated Suns decided to invade the Capellan Confederation in what would become known as the Fourth Succession War.

A turning point in Highlanders history was when Davion contacted them and promised them a home on their ancestral homeworld, Northwind, and they accepted, signing the Northwind Agreement. The vast majority of the Highlanders chose to abandon the Capellan Confederation and took up station on Northwind. Some Highlanders chose to stay, however, creating rifts in some families. They successfuly took Northwind, but more than four hundred of their warriors died in the battle. The Highlanders ably served the Federated Commonwealth, fighting into the War of 3039, losing about five hundred of their people, and later served along the Clan front.[4]

Clan Invasion and FedCom Civil War Eras[edit]

Another turning point occurred in 3057, when Chancellor Sun-Tzu Liao sent Loren Jaffray, a Death Commando whose grandfather was a Highlander who remained in the Confederation, to Northwind to offer the Highlanders their independence. Coinciding with the Marik-Liao invasion, the Highlanders were tied up as they fought a minor civil war, then debated whether or not to accept the Chancellor's proposal. Colonel William McLeod, the ranking Highlander on planet, was able to reunite his troops and ultimately they chose to fight for their independence, and with the arrival of Stirling's Fusiliers sent the Lyran 3rd Royal Guards packing. Though Jaffray's mission was supposedly to destroy the Highlanders for their betrayal of Sun-Tzu's grandfather, Liao seemed content to have deprived the Federated Commonwealth of them and accepted the Death Commando's defection to the Highlanders with nary a second thought.

Jaffray proved his loyalty to the Highlanders soon enough in a raid against Clan Smoke Jaguar. In the aftermath of the Battle of Wayside (3058), Jaffray was put in command of the Northwind Hussars, a new unit formed specifically to counter Clan tactics.[5] (Interestingly, the same concept had been proposed much earlier to the Highlanders by Jeremiah Rose, who was rebuffed due to the objections of his own father.)[6]

In 3059, the Highlanders contributed forces to Task Force Serpent, a Star League force sent to destroy Clan Smoke Jaguar on their homeworld of Huntress.

In 3066, the Highlanders joined Jaime Wolf and Wolf's Dragoons in the Allied Mercenary Command, an alliance dedicated to stopping Word of Blake expansion in the Chaos March.


The sudden, consecutive deaths of four clan Elders forced the Highlanders to activate escape clauses in their contracts to return to Northwind, so they could participate in emergency elections.[7] The Word of Blake seized the opportunity to blockade the system on 15 December, 3067, and keep all of the Highlanders regiments isolated on Northwind.[8][9]

Later in the Jihad, when the Word of Blake debuted a new version of the Crab BattleMech, it was speculated by many that the Cosara Weaponries plant on Northwind had been captured by the Blakists.[10]

Northwind was liberated on the 8th of December 3077; allied coalition forces expected a battle, but instead found no Blakist presence in the system. The population of Northwind claimed to believe that the Word of Blake had an impenetrable blockade over the system; all of the local aerospace assets were missing, and the local satellite communications network had been destroyed. The planetary HPG had also been destroyed, but the Highlanders were otherwise intact after ten years of isolation.[11]

The Highlanders later joined the Coalition forces as part of Operation SCOUR. Assigned to the Draconis Combine front, the Highlanders mopped up resistance on Dieron after the Ghost Bears tore through the defenders.[11][12] Though many were unsure of their loyalty, the Highlanders joined the assault on Terra, assigned to take Sydney.[13] The combat drop went awry and the Sydney force took serious losses. The Seventh and Twenty-Sixth Divisions fought the mercenaries for every centimeter of land.[14]

Dark Age Era[edit]

Early Republic[edit]

By 3081 the Northwind Highlanders' program to rebuild was well-advanced; the factories on Northwind assisted in bringing the strength of the Highlanders up quickly, and the Highlanders had already recruited enough replacements to man all of their equipment. The few Dispossessed within the Highlanders' ranks were used to teach within the Northwind Military Academy on the key subjects of combined arms warfare and what limited defenses existed for protection against WMDs. The view among the Highlanders was that the nascent Republic Armed Forces may present a viable means to ensure that Northwind remained safe in the future, and it was widely anticipated that the Highlanders would join the Republic of the Sphere.[15]

When the Northwind Highlanders officially joined the Republic Armed Forces, through negotiations, the entire brigade would end up being absorbed and mixed in with newborn regiments of the Republic, with the exception of the 1st Kearny. The First Kearny would be allowed to soldier on as a continuing legacy of the Northwind Highlanders history. Four of the Regiments would fight in the Republic's first military action, Operation GOLDEN DAWN, where they would fight the Free Worlds League and be later absorbed into the Republic Auxiliaries as they became too damaged to function on their own. Elements of the Highlanders would be noted later becoming the IX and X Hastati Sentinels. The 1st Kearny's rebuilding process would be hampered for years due actions taken during Operation GOLDEN DAWN, where one of its battalions would be used to rebuild the Third Republic Auxiliaries.[16]

In the early years of the Republic, after the Brigade was reduced to the 1st Kearny, the regiment served as a garrison force defending the Northwind Military Academy. As time went on, the Highlanders' last regiment would soon deploy offworld in a new role as a troubleshooting force for the Republic.[17]

Black Out and chaos[edit]

By 3132, the Highlanders' leader, Countess Tara Campbell, Prefect of Prefecture III, had taken charge of the entire brigade. With the crash of the HPG Network, the Northwind Highlanders came to be perhaps one of the only Republic loyal military forces left to ward off rebellion and invasions, including Campbell's former mentor and predecessor Katana Tormark, leading her own splinter group for House Kurita. Campbell dispatched and dispersed the 1st Kearny across Prefecture III to quell rebellions and uprisings. To mitigate thinning of her lone regiment, Campbell put out a call to arms to loyal Republicans to aid her efforts fighting threats to the nation. In doing so, the Northwind Highlanders once again became a multiregiment brigade and gained two additional regiments of troops, the Northwind Fusiliers and Republic Guards. The new brigade was made from memorial groups of the Northwind Highlanders past regiments and volunteers from across the Republic and beyond. Still, coverage ran thin trying to put off the Republic's troubles.

In 3133, over the course of nine months, elements of the Highlanders would face multiple invasions of Northwind by the Steel Wolves, which left Northwind with a considerable amount of damage. Despite this, Campbell redeployed the Northwind Highlanders to search for the Steel Wolves. By April, intelligence reports led the regiment to Terra, where they would face off and repel the Clan force with the aid of the Tenth Principes Guards.[18] In addition, the Highlanders sent a detachment of troops to Irian to oppose Bannson's Raiders on the world, but after two weeks of fighting they were ordered to leave.[19]

Prefect Campbell became a media darling and turned down a position as Paladin after her successful defense of Terra. The Highlanders were used within the Republic as a sort of troubleshooting unit, constantly heading to hotspots. 3134 saw them garrisoning Addicks and Small World in addition to their homeworld.[20]

Within two months of repelling the Steel Wolves, the Northwind Highlanders were called to Skye, where they would end up mounting defenses against Clan Jade Falcon's invasion of Prefecture IX, which would lead to the Highlanders being allied with the remaining Prefecture forces and splinter groups, including the Stormhammers and Steel Wolves. The Jade Falcons Expedition would ultimately succeed in taking Skye in the second battle.[21][22]

Absorption of the Highlanders[edit]

The 1st Kearny was within Prefecture X, when the Fortress Walls went up in October 3135. The RAF was ordered to organize its combat units within Prefecture X, including the 1st Kearny, into other newly raised line regiments. This did not sit well with the people of Northwind, and to appease the population the newly formed XII Hastati Sentinels would be raised with a large percentage of soldiers who had ancestral links to the Highlanders regiments. The newly formed regiment maintained a close relationship with the Northwind Military Academy, rotating officers as instructors to the school and exercising with cadets as part of their training.[23]

Battle of Northwind[edit]

In 3150, when The Wall fell, Republic space was invaded by the Combine, the Capellan Confederation and Clans Wolf and Jade Falcon. Northwind was attacked by forces of the Capellan Confederation, in Operation CLARITY. They wanted to take the planetary HPG intact. The Highlanders held their ground, but the Capellan attacks forced them to use their secret reserve, the Grey Watch. However, the battle stalled until the Combine sent help. Luckily for the Highlanders, the enemy forces never cooperated, and, with a little of help from a Republic agent, finally engaged each other. In a three-way battle, the Highlanders faked the HPG's destruction, which made the invaders break off their attack and leave the planet.[24]


After defeating the Capellan invasion, the Highlanders (or at least part of them) traveled to return at Terra along with Tara Campbell, helping defend the planet against the invasion of Clan Wolf and Clan Jade Falcon, in Europe, mainly against the last ones, until The Wolf Khan, Alaric Ward attracted them to her ancestral lands of Scotland. Despite the Highlanders defeat of Ward, the Wolf forces surrounded the Highlanders. Without alternative, Tara surrendered to Ward, accepting to become his bondsman. In exchange, the Highlanders stay out of the fight until the Republic's defeat and surrender, when they returned to Northwind.[25]

ilClan Era[edit]

The Wolves let the surviving Highlanders depart unmolested. After they returned to Northwind, now an independent world, which had been harassed nonstop from Capellan-mercenaries, they dissolved the Twelfth Hastati to return the First Kearny to a full regiment. The again-mercenary Highlanders formed an alliance with the Duke of Tybalt, who contracted them to protect his world.[26]


Rank Name Command
Commanding Officers of the Northwind Highlanders
Tara Campbell 3132-3151
Arabell Campbell-Stewart 3151-present[27]


The Highlanders were divided into clans of families. Each one has an Elder which represents them all. As the name suggest, they usually are the oldest of each Clan. The Elders and key officers gather in meetings in the forest, or Conclaves to discuss key matters in special occasions.[28] There they also have Assemblies of Warriors, composed by all their units' key officers, to make decisions key to Northwind, like the Homecoming, when they abandoned the service to the Capellan Confederation, and the one in 3057 when they declared their planet's independence. They were made in a special building in The Fort of Tara, and cannot be made without all the regiments on planet. Without them, they could do other similar meetings, the Warrior's Cabel. These were made in the forest, not in the Fort. Cabels, apparently similar to Conclaves, were very rare, and their votes weren't binding. The highest rank Highlander on planet could call them in times of need.[29]

By 3136, the Highlanders held an annual golf tournament.[30]

Clans of Northwind Highlanders[edit]


Differed by unit. However, the Highlanders favored saturating the radiowaves with bagpipe music to jam the enemy's communications and cause confusion, even playing it on their 'Mechs' and tanks' loudspeakers. The sounds disturbed the enemy but motivated the Highlanders.[31]

The Highlanders also favored the famed Highlander Burial maneuver.[32]

Units of the Northwind Highlanders[edit]

These are the listings for all the regimental formations that have served or are currently serving Highlanders:

Naval Commands[edit]

Colors Schemes[edit]

Honoring their roots to ancient Scotland, the Northwind Highlanders would add tartan accents on their equipment based on what clan they were with.


Northwind uniforms would normally consist of tartan kilts, a dress shirt, and a war sash. This style would continue with the Northwind Standing Guard after the Highlanders' incorporation into the Republic of the Sphere.


Unit Insignias[edit]

Unit Notes[edit]

List of known Northwind Highlanders characters.

Ford's Falcon-Killers is a related unit of former Highlanders.


  • The Northwind Highlanders appear in the MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries video game as potential sponsors. Units sponsored by the Highlander would gain additional C-bills per mission.
  • The current publishers state that in many of the earlier publications based in the 3025 era, the Highlanders had apparently been serving House Liao for so long they were no longer considered mercenary, but closer to regular House troops. CCAF Regular army recruits and academy graduates were frequently assigned to Highlander regiments, including a young Wayne Waco.[33][34] Actually, this is not correct, since several of the original Highlander regiments originated in the Capellan Confederation even before the Star League era. Marion's Highlanders originated from St. Ives Militia units, and McCormack's Fusiliers were bloodied in the defense of the Capellan planet Tikonov. The 1st Kearny Highlanders fought for House Liao during the First Andurien War.[35]
  • Field Manual: 3145 notes the First Kearny Highlander regiment being absorbed by the Republic Armed Forces behind the Republic wall. However, there is no mentions of the fates of the newly raised Northwind Fusiliers and Republic Guard regiments. Also, listed among the Armed Forces of the Republic Remnant, is a single Battalion listed simply as the "Highlander Battalion." It is not clear in the text of the Field Manual: if this unit is related to the Northwind Highlanders.[36]
  • The Northwind Highlanders especially favored their namesake BattleMech, the Highlander. In fact, during the Succession Wars, they were the only Inner Sphere army who kept a large number of them operative, along with ComStar, most of them with Star League-era weaponry and components, contributing greatly to their successes in battle.[37]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Northwind Highlanders, p. 6
  2. 2.0 2.1 Combat Manual Mercenaries, p. 58
  3. Combat Manual Mercenaries, p. 58
  4. Highlander Gambit, ch. 10
  5. Northwind Highlanders
  6. Main Event
  7. Jihad: Final Reckoning, p. 44: "The Jihad in Review"
  8. Jihad Hot Spots: 3070, p. 11: "Timeline of the Jihad"
  9. Blake Ascending, p. 171: "Timeline of the Jihad"
  10. Technical Readout: 3050 Upgrade, p. 198
  11. 11.0 11.1 Jihad: Final Reckoning, p. 58: "The Jihad in Review"
  12. Jihad Hot Spots: Terra, p. 69
  13. Jihad Hot Spots: Terra, p. 96
  14. Jihad Hot Spots: Terra, pp. 104–105
  15. Jihad: Final Reckoning, p. 120: "Northwind Highlanders"
  16. Field Manual: 3145, pp. 180, 183: Hastati Sentinels & Independent Units - 1st Kearny survival and fate of the other regiments of the Northwind highlanders
  17. Era Digest: Dark Age, pp. 15–16: Northwind Highlanders - Info on intermediate years before Dark Age
  18. Era Digest: Dark Age, pp. 8–9: "Brief information of the Highlanders and Tara Campbell's efforts to fight off Steel Wolves on Northwind and Terra
  19. Turning Points: Irian, p. 8
  20. Truth and Shadows, p. 108
  21. Era Report: 3145, p. 15: Falcon Descent "Brief details of the Highlanders efforts to defense Prefecture IX in the two battle for Skye."
  22. Era Digest: Dark Age, pp. 8–9: brief information of the Northwind Highlanders efforts to defended against the Falcons with unlikely allies
  23. Field Manual: 3145, pp. 135, 140: Hastati Sentinels "Fate of the First Kearny Highlanders and perhaps the entire brigade and RAF response to appease unhappiness with newly raised Twelfth Hastati Sentinels."
  24. Shattered Fortress, p. 97
  25. Hour of the Wolf, p. 130
  26. Unit Digest: First Kearny Highlanders in Shrapnel, issue #11, pp. 78–79
  27. Unit Digest: First Kearny Highlanders in Shrapnel, issue #11, p. 78
  28. Grey Watch Protocol, p. 27
  29. Highlander Gambit, p. 54-56
  30. Dark Age: LinkNet Articles (3136), p. 43: "Transcript of the Northwind Highlanders Annual Golf Tournament"
  31. IlClan, p. 69
  32. Combat Manual: Mercenaries, p. 58
  33. Mercenary's Handbook, p. 86
  34. Succession Wars
  35. House Liao: The Capellan Confederation, pp. 81–83
  36. Field Manual: 3145, p. 145: Republic Remnants - Highlanders Battalion "Unit listed by Highlanders Battalion, not clear if these are related to the Northwind Highlanders."
  37. Combat Manual: Mercenaries, p. 58