When Bagpipes Were Considered Weapons of War



Though some might suspect that this honor would go to the accordion, the bagpipe is the only musical instrument deemed a weapon of war because it inspired its troops to battle and filled the enemy with terror. It was also used as a means of long-distance communication when pipers began to embed code into the music they played. James Reid, one of several pipers during the Scottish Battle of Colloden, was captured by British troops and put on trial for treason. Reid claimed that he was innocent because he didn't have a gun or a sword, and the only thing he did that day on the battlefield was play the bagpipe. After some deliberation, the court ruled that a highland regiment never marched to war without a piper at its head. Therefore, in the eyes of the law, the bagpipe was an instrument of war. James Reid was convicted and subsequently hanged.