The announcement of the new unit's existence startled, on Northwind, none more than the existing Highlander regiments. They had kept the oral histories and traditions of Scottish past very much alive, and remembered the long history their ancestors had shared with the original Royal Black Watch. Memories long dormant sparked to life in many Northwind Scots, and many who joined the SLDF served in the Black Watch, which was soon to become the most famous of units.
Throughout the Star League era, mutual respect between Black Watch and the Northwind Highlander regiments grew. Overcoming several centuries of separation, members from all regiments of the Northwind Highlanders eventually served in the Watch. Stuart's Highlanders in particular proved to be kindred spirits with the Black Watch, and those two regiments exchanged an unusually large number of warriors.
The sometimes obsessive secrecy that cloaked the organization
arose from this same devotion to the pure ideals of the Star League.
Members of this pact wanted only those with similar beliefs to know of
their existence, rather than scatter proverbial pearls before swine. In
accordance with this desire, new members could be chosen and inducted
only it all the current members agreed to accept that candidate. A
chosen candidate came under intensive scrutiny to verify that he or she
would never betray the trust of the Black Watch. Throughout the
centuries from the swearing of the pact to the present day, this secret
Black Watch never had more than a dozen or so members at any one time.
Though almost all of the Highlander regiments' senior commanding
officers knew about the Watch's existence, only a select few became
members of it.
The Darkest Hour
With the capture of the planet and the complete destruction of the two Highlander regiments deployed on it, the Highlanders' self-imposed exile became an exile in reality. This, combined with exaggerated Capellan accounts of AFFS soldiers mistreating the planet's population, sparked an enmity between the remaining Highlanders and House Davion that continued for almost two hundred years. Additionally, though this would not become common knowledge for centuries, nearly every member of the secret Black Watch was killed in action during the capture of Northwind. If not for the fact that a transfer had shifted one of the Black Watch members from Stuart's Highlanders to the Second Kearny Highlanders, the Watch might have ceased to exist. Since then, members carefully have arranged for their numbers to be spread throughout the remaining four regiments to ensure the Watch's survival.
On Highspire, Ningpo, Jonathan and Elgin, the Highlanders quietly began preparations for returning home. As the Highlanders, their families and their belongings materialized in the Northwind system, they wasted little time in helping to end the fighting on their world. Though the world's Davion defenders were hard pressed by attacking Kurita forces, the arrival of four regiments of Highlanders tipped the odds dramatically in House Davion's favor.
When the fighting was over, the people of Northwind rejoiced as families parted for generations were reunited. Among the most moving incidents was the entrance of Colonel Fiona Chattan and the Highlander regimental commanders, each carrying his or her regiment's claymore into the grand Hall of Castle Northwind. They passed a huge wall-mounted scabbard that bore the two claymores of the Third Kearny and Stuart's Highlanders. As each commander stood before the scabbard, Colonel Chattan proudly read off the regiment's name, and its commander placed his or her sword in its appropriate niche. The Highlanders had finally come home.
Though the Highlanders were still an elite fighting force, thirty years of peaceful garrison duty had taken away some of their edge. Even with three years' worth of knowledge about the Clans' superior technology and battlefield prowess, the differences between Clan and Inner Sphere opponents still caught the Highlanders off guard. During their initial year of garrison duty at the Clan border, all three of the regiments saw intense raiding that took a heavy toll. Stirling's Fusiliers took particularly devastating losses; by mid-3054, Clan raids had reduced the unit to a single battalion.
By the year 3057, the three Highlander regiments were still on the Clan border, and they no longer believed Davion assurances of a return to Northwind "soon." Additionally, the AFFC liaison to Northwind had taken great pains to demonstrate to the Highlanders that they were part of the Armed Forces of the Federated Commonwealth whether they wished to be so or not. Adding insult to injury, the regiments still had not received the promised reimbursement by the Federated Commonwealth for the Highlanders' extensive repairs after Glengarry. None of these events alone would have caused trouble with the regiments, but all three combined left the Highlanders extremely dissatisfied with their Davion employers, and led them to declare their independence from any and all powers.
A New Hope
Near the end of the Conference, Precentor Martial Focht arrived bearing the Exodus Road - the path Kerensky forged hundreds of years earlier that ended at what would become the Clan homeworlds. Armed with this unexpected information, the military quickly shifted gears and planned a second assault, this one aimed at Clan Smoke Jaguar's homeworld of Huntress. When the leaders of the Great Houses of the Inner Sphere signed the Star League Constitution in November of 3058, they reestablished the military arm of the Star League as well. Charged with the task of completely destroying Clan Smoke Jaguar as both a military force and a political influence, the new Star League Defense Force began gathering its troops.
The Black Watch Reborn
Campbell soon convinced the rest of the Black Watch to accept his plan: to join MacLeod's Regiment and join in the attack on the Clan homeworlds as part of Task Force Serpent. The Black Watch then travelled to the Smoke Jaguar world of Huntress, where they clashed with that Clan, hopefully, to prove themselves worthy to act as the First Lord's personal guard. Indeed they distinguished themselves, and upon return to the Inner Sphere, they proceeded with all haste to the First Lord's location in Xian. They made their first public re-appearance as the First Lord's guard at the 2nd Whitting Conference on Tharkad.