Some members of these bands were probably idealists, but some also were merely looking for a chance to loot property from the groups' targets—or even, in some cases, from bystanders.
Such groups may have been active as early as 1808, although their activity cannot be confirmed before 1822; the last confirmable reference to a Scotch Cattle raid dates from 1850.
As late as 1926, however, pickets in the great strike of that year dressed themselves as Scotch Cattle, evoking the memory of the terroristic enforcement of solidarity that the Cattle had carried out in the past.
The origins of the groups' name have been lost, but several possible interpretations have been offered. Some of the disguises worn by Scotch Cattle were actual cowskins, and this alone may have provided the name. Alternatively, it may have been meant to evoke the fierceness of certain breeds of actual Scottish cattle such as Highland cattle , or may have referred ironically to a herd of Scottish cattle owned by a local mineowner in the early 19th century.
Herds also on occasion looted truck shops, which were always a target of miners' ire for their allegedly unfair price levels and monopoly on local business. Less idealistically, the Herd might also raid and attack the homes of uninvolved families that happened to be located near the target home or business—and even some official raids were probably motivated more by the desire to plunder the target's house than the need to enforce solidarity.
Write off Socialism at Your Peril; Many of the Issues Which First Spawned the Fight for Social Justice Remain
Apr 24, 2002; Byline: MARIO BASINI Once, the Valleys of South Wales rang with its slogans. Socialism's red flags, confidently fluttering in the...