Unit began in 1776 when North Carolina's governor Joeseph Martin, convinced King George III that, he, Martin could raise 10,000 Loyalists who could march to Wilmington, join forces with English troops, and quell the growing rebellion in the south. An army of 1600 loyalists, mainly Highland Scots, gathered in Cross Creek ( now Fayetteville ) and began the 90-mile march to Wilmington, the men designated only as North Carolina Highanders were on their way to becoming part of the Royal Highland Emigrants (later know, 84th Regiment of Foot) then forming in Halifax.
Less than 20 miles from Wilmington, Rebels defeated the Loyalists at Moore's Creek Bridge. Most of the North Carolina Highlanders were paroled, but the already-commisioned group never can to fruition.... until Cornwallis.
When Martin learned in 1780 that Crown Forces under Cornwallis would again appear in force in the province, Martin re-ssued the commisions, the group was reformed again as The North Carolina Highland Regiment, an independent royal light infantry unit consisting of over 600 men. Many of them were the soldiers from the ill-fated Cross Creek muster four years earlier. The regiment had blue jackets made locally, borrowed kilts and hose of the 71st Regiment of Foot who were now wearing military overalls.
Near wars end, the North Carolina Highland Regiment became part of the Royal North Carolina Regiment. After the war North Carolina Highland soldiers went to Nova Scotia, Scotland, and the states.