In the mid nineteenth century, the French Emperor, Louis Napoleon, began to make threatening noises against the British. Much of Victoria’s regular army was engaged in winning and controlling her Empire across the seas. Volunteer forces were, therefore, recruited by the major Scottish regiments, in order to defend the more isolated areas of coastline against invasion by the French. With more than five hundred men employed by the Easdale Marble and Slate Company, it was natural that the first of these volunteer Companies to be recruited by the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, should be at Easdale.
Lord Breadalbane, sole owner of the quarries at this time, encouraged his men to enlist in the citizen’s army and provided a Drill Hall in 1870, (later a fish processing plant, and renovated in 2003 to become Easdale Island Community Hall), and an area of ground on which to set up a battery. At Ellenabeich a second drill hall was constructed and this remained as a community centre until 2007 when it was replaced on adjacent land by Seil Island Community Hall.
Reluctant to place good firing pieces in the hands of civilians, the mother regiment provided ordnance which had last seen action in the Peninsular Wars. Other cannons had been discarded by naval vessels refitting on the Clyde.
With this motley collection of weapons the Easdale Volunteers won many competitions for accurate firing, though no shot was ever fired in anger. Most notable among these achievements was the winning of the Kings cup at Budden in 1905.