Sign in to follow this  
CactusJack

Scottish Military - Highland Regiments

Recommended Posts

Part Fifteen The Black Watch - War with France



In consequence of the war with France, the whole regiment was ordered south, and, preparatory to their march, assembled at Montrose in April 1793. An attempt to increase the establishment by recruiting proved unsuccessful, the result, in some degree, of the depopulating system which had lately been commenced in Ross-shire, and which soured the kindly dispositions of the Highlanders. The corps at this time scarcely exceeded 400 men, and to make up for deficiencies in recruiting, two independent companies, raised by Captain David Hunter of Burnside, and Alexander Campbell of Ardchattan, were ordered to join the regiment.

On the 8th of May, the regiment embarked at Musselburgh for Hull, the inhabitants of which received the Highlanders most kindly, and were so pleased with their good conduct that, after they embarked for Flanders, the town sent each man a present of a pair of shoes, a flannel shirt, and worsted socks. The regiment joined the army under his Royal Highness the Duke of York, then encamped in the neighborhood of Menin, on the 3d October.

The first enterprise in which the Highlanders were engaged was in conjunction with the light companies of the 19th, 27th and 57th regiments, in the month of October, when they marched to the relief of Nieuport, then garrisoned by the 53d regiment, and a small battalion of Hessians. On the appearance of this reinforcement, the besiegers retired. The Highlanders had 1 sergeant and 1 private killed, and 2 privates wounded. After this the regiment was re-embarked for England, along with the three others just mentioned, to join an expedition then preparing against the French colonies in the West Indies; but on arriving at Portsmouth, the 42d was ordered to join another expedition then fitting out against the coast of France, under the command of the Earl of Moira. Colonel Graham, who had held command of the regiment since the year 1791, being at this time appointed to the command of a brigade, the command devolved on Major George Dalrymple.

The expedition sailed on the 30th of November; but although it reached the coast of France to the eastward of Cape la Hogue, no landing took place. The expedition, after stopping some time at Guernsey, returned to Portsmouth in the beginning of January 1794. The troops remained in England till the 18th of June, when they were re-embarked for Flanders, under the command of the Earl of Moira. They landed at Ostend on the 26th. At this time the allied armies, in consequence of the advance of a large French army and the partial defection of Prussia, were placed in a very critical situation, particularly the small division under the Duke of York encamped at Malines. A junction with the duke became a primary object with Lord Moira, who accordingly resolved to abandon Ostend. He embarked all the stores and the garrison, and whilst the embarkation was proceeding, the troops were ordered under arms on the sand hills in the neighborhood in light marching order. The officers left all their luggage behind, except what they carried on their backs. In the evening of the 28th the troops moved forward, and halting ten miles beyond the town, proceeded at midnight towards Ostaker, and reached Alost on the 3d of July. Whilst these troops remained here, about 400 of the enemy's cavalry entered the town, and being mistaken for Hessians, passed unmolested to the market-place. One of them made an attempt to cut down a Highlander named Macdonald, who was passing through the market-place with a basket on his head. The dragoon having wounded the man severely in the hand which held the basket, the enraged mountaineer drew his bayonet with the other hand and attacked the horseman, who fled. Macdonald thereupon continued his course, venting his regret as he went along that he had not a broadsword to cut down the intruder. On being recognized, the enemy were driven out by some dragoons and picquets.

After a fatiguing march in presence of a superior force under General Vandamme, the reinforcement joined the Duke of York on the 9th of July. A succession of petty skirmishes occurred until the 20th, when Lord Moira resigned the command. He was succeeded by Lieutenant-General Ralph Abercromby, to whom the command of the third brigade, or reserve, in which were the Highlanders, was assigned. The army crossed the Waal at Nimeguen on the 8th October. Several smart affairs took place between the advanced posts of the two armies till the 20th, when the enemy attacked the whole of the British advanced posts. They were repulsed, but the 77th regiment sustained a severe loss in officers and men. By incessant attacks, however, the enemy established themselves in front of Nimeguen, and began to erect batteries preparatory to a siege; but on the 4th November they were driven from their works, after an obstinate resistance. The enemy still persevering with great energy to push their preparations for a siege, it was found necessary to evacuate the town.

This evacuation took place on the 7th of November, and the army was contoned along the banks of the river. They suffered greatly from the severity of the weather, and so intense was the frost, that the enemy crossed the Waal on the ice. They took post at Thuyl; but although the place was surrounded with entrenchments, and the approach flanked by batteries placed on the isle of Bommell, they were forced from all their posts, and obliged to repass the Waal, by a body of 8000 British, among whom was the third brigade. The loss of the British was trifling. The enemy again crossed the Waal on the 4th of January 1795, and retook Thuyl, from which it was now found impossible to dislodge them. In an attack which they made on the forces under General David Dundas at Gildermaslen, they were repulsed with the loss of 200 men, whilst that of the British was only about one-fourth of that number. The 42d had 1 private killed, and Lieutenant-Colonel Lamond and 7 privates wounded.

Compelled by the severity of the weather, and the increasing numbers of the French, to retreat, the British troops retired behind the Leck, after the division under Lord Cathcart had repulsed an attack made by the enemy on the 8th.

Disease, the result of a want of necessaries and proper clothing, had greatly diminished the ranks of the British; and the men, whose robustness of constitution had hitherto enabled them to withstand the rigors of one of the severest winters ever remembered, at last sank under the accumulated hardships which beset them. Such was the state of the British army when General Pichegru, crossing the Waal in great force, made a general attack on the 14th of January along the whole line, from Arnheim to Amerougen. After a continued resistance till morning, the British began a disastrous retreat to Deventer, the miseries of which have only been exceeded by the sufferings of the Franch in their disastrous retreat from Moscow. The inhumanity of the Dutch boors, who uniformly shut their doors against the unfortunate sufferers, will ever remain a disgrace on the Dutch nation. The hospitable conduct of the inhabitants of Bremen, where the remains of this luckless army arrived in the beginning of April, formed a noble contrast to that of the selfish and unfeeling Dutch.

In no former campaign was the superiority of the Highlanders over their companions in arms, in enduring privations and fatigues, more conspicuous than in this; for whilst some of the newly-raised regiments lost more than 300 men by disease alone, the 42d, which had 300 young recruits in its ranks. lost only 25, including those killed in battle, from the time of their embarkation at Bremen, on the 14th of April.

The Royal Highlanders having landed at Harwich were marched to Chelmsford, and encamped in June 1795 in the neighborhood of Danbury. In September the regiment was augmented to 1000 men, by drafts from the Strathspey and Perthshire Highlanders, and the regiments of Colonel Duncan Cameron and Colonel Simon Fraser, which had been raised the preceding year, and were now broken up. "Although these drafts", says General Stewart, "furnished many good and serviceable men to former recruits. This difference of character was more particularly marked in their habits and manners in quarters, than in their conduct on the field, which was always unexceptionable. Having been embodied for upwards of eighteen months, and having been subject to a greater mixture of character than was usual in Highland battalions, these corps had lost much of their original manners, and of that strict attention to religious and moral duties which distinguished the Highland youths on quitting their native glens, and which, when in corps unmixed with men of different characters produced a sensible change in the moral conduct and character of the regiment".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Part Sixteen The Black Watch - Story of the "Red Heckle"

Since 1795 the soldiers of the 42nd have worn a red feather or "heckle" in their bonnets, being in this respect distinguished from all the other Highland regiments. The following is the story of the "glorious old red heckle", as told by Lieutenant-Colonel Wheatley, who, we believe, had his information directly from those who took part in the exploit on account of which the Black Watch is entitled to wear the plume.

In December 1794, when the Forty-Second were quartered at Thuyl, as above mentioned, they received orders for the night of the 31st to mark upon Bommell, distant some miles on the opposite side of the river Waal, which they reached by four o'clock on the morning of 1st January 1795. Here they were joined by a number of other regiments, and lay on their arms until daybreak, when they attacked the French army, and drove them across the river on the ice. The British held their position on the banks of the river until the evening of the 3d, when (the French having been reinforced) a partial retreat took place early on the morning of the 4th. The British retired upon the village of Guildermalson, where the 42d, with a number of other regiments, halted, and formed up to cover the retreat through the village. The French cavalry, however, cut through the retreating picquets, and made their way up to the regiments stationed at the village, where they were met and repulsed, and a number of them taken prisoners. Two field-pieces were placed in front of the village to protect the retreat of the picquets; but instead of resisting the charge of cavalry, they (the picquets) retreated to the rear of the village, leaving their guns in possession of the French, who commenced dragging them off. An A.D.C. (Major Rose) ordered Major Dalrymple, commanding the 42d, to charge with his regiment, and retake the guns; which was immediately done, with the loss of 1 man killed and 3 wounded. The guns were this rescued and dragged in by the 42d, the horses having been disabled and the harness cut.

There was little or no notice taken of this affair at the time, as all was bustle; but after their arrival in England, it was rumored that the 42d were to get some distinctive badge for their conduct in retaking the guns on the 4th of January; but the nature of the honor was kept a profound secret. On the 4th of June 1795, as the regiment, then quartered at Royston, Cambridgeshire, was out on parade to fire three rounds in honor of his Majesty's birthday, the men were surprised and delighted when a large box was brought on to the field, and a red feather distributed to each soldier. This distinctive ornament has ever since adorned the otherwise funereal headdress of the old Black Watch.

In 1822, from a mistaken direction in a book of dress for the guidance of the army, some of the other Highland regiments concluded that they also had a right to wear "a red vulture feather". The 42d, however, remonstrated, and their representations at headquarters called forth the following memorandum:-

"For Officers commanding Highland Regiments.

"Horse Guards, 20th Aug, 1822.

"The red vulture feather prescribed by the recent regulations for Highland regiments is intended to be used exclusively by the Forty-Second Regiment: other Highland corps will be allowed to continue to wear the same description of feather that may have been hitherto in use.

"H. Torrens, Adjutant-General".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wondered about the true story of the Red Hackle, I heard it was taken away from a cowardice unit and given to the Watch for thier valor. Thanks for the correct story!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Part Seventeen The Black Watch - Expedition to the West Indies

GOVERNMENT having determined to reduce the French and Dutch possessions in the West Indies, a large armament was fitted out under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Ralph Abercromby. The land forces consisted of 460 cavalry and 16,479 infantry. The Royal Highlanders formed part of this expedition. Another expedition, destined also for the West Indies, consisting of 2600 cavalry and 5680 foot, assembled at Cork during the embarkation of the first. Great care was taken to furnish the troops with everything necessary for the voyage, and particular attention was paid to their clothing. To protect them from the damps and chills of midnight, they were supplied with flannel, and various changes were made in their clothing to guard them against the effects of the yellow fever. Among other changes, the plaid kilt and bonnet of the Highlanders were laid aside, and their place supplied by Russian duck pantaloons and a round hat; but experience showed that the Highland dress was better suited to a campaign in the West Indies during the rainy season, than the articles which superseded it.

The embarkation was completed by the 27th of October 1795; but in consequence of damage sustained by some of the ships in a hurricane, and the loss of others, the expedition did not sail till the 11th of November. On that day the fleet, amounting to 328 sail, got under weigh with a favourable breeze. Owing to accidents which befell two of the ships, the fleet did not clear the channel till the 13th of December; but it had scarcely got out when a violent storm arose, which continued almost without intermission for several weeks. The greater part of the fleet was scattered, and many of the ships took refuge in different ports in England. Admiral Crichton struggled with such of the ships as remained with him till the end of January, but was at last obliged, from the disabled state of some of the ships, to return to Portsmouth, where he arrived on the 29th of that month with about 50 sail. Seventy-eight of the ships which kept the sea proceeded on their voyage, and reached Barbadoes in a straggling manner. Had the troops been sent off in detachments as they embarked, these misfortunes would have been avoided.

After the partial return of the expedition, the destination of some of the returned regiments was changed. Five companies of the Highlanders were in a few weeks embarked for Gibraltar, under the commanded of Lieutenant-Colonel Dickson. The other five companies reached Barbadoes on the 9th of February in the Middlesex East Indiaman, one of the straggling ships which had proceeded on the voyage. The expedition again put to sea on the 14th of February, and arrived at Barbadoes on the 14th of March. By the great care of Sir Ralph Abercromby, in ordering the transports to be properly ventilated on their arrival, and by enforcing cleanliness and exercise among the troops, few deaths occurred; and of the five Highland companies, none died, and only 4 men with trifling complaints were left on board when the troops disembarked at St Lucia in April. The troops from Cork, though favoured with better weather, were less fortunate in their voyage, several officers and a great many men having died.

The first enterprise was against the Dutch colonies of Demerara and Berbice, which surrendered to a part of the Cork division under Major-General White on the 22d of April. On the same day the expedition sailed from Barbadoes, and appeared off St Lucia on the 2 6th, it being considered imprudent to attempt Guadaloupe with a force which had been so much diminished.

The troops landed in four divisions at Lengueville Bay, Pigeon Island, Chock Bay, and Ance ha Raze. The Highlanders, under the command of Brigadier-General John Moore, landed in a small bay close under Pigeon Island. The army moved forward on the 27th to close in upon Morne Fortunée, the principal post in the island. To enable them to invest this place, it became necessary to obtain possession of Morne Chabot, a strong and commanding position overlooking the principal approach. Detachments under the command of Brigadier-Generals Moore and the Hon. John Hope, were accordingly ordered to attack this post on two different points. General Moore advanced at midnight, and General Hope followed an hour after by a less circuitous route; but falling in with the enemy sooner than he expected, General Moore carried the Morne, after a short but obstinate resistance, before General Hope came up. Next day General Moore took possession of Memo Duchassaux. By the advance of Major-General Morshead from Ance la Raze, Morne Fortunée was completely invested, but not until several officers and about 50 of the grenadiers, who formed the advanced post under Lieutenant-Colonel Macdonald, had been killed and wounded.

To dispossess the enemy of the batteries they had erected on the Cul de Sac, Major-General Morshead’s division was ordered to advance against two batteries on the left; whilst Major-General Hope, with the five companies of the Highlanders, the light infantry of the 57th regiment, and a detachment of Malcolm’s Rangers, supported by the 55th regiment, was to attack the battery of Secke, close to the works of Morne Fortunée. The light infantry and the rangers quickly drove the enemy from the battery; but they were obliged to retire from the battery in their turn under the cover of the Highlanders, in consequence of the other divisions under Brigadier-General Perryn and Colonel Riddle having been obstructed in their advance. In this affair Colonel Malcolm, a brave officer, was killed, and Lieutenant J. J. Fraser of the 42d, and a few men, wounded. The other divisions suffered severely.

So great were the difficulties which presented themselves from the steep and rugged nature of the ground, that the first battery was not ready to open till the 14th of May. In an attempt which the 31st regiment made upon a fortified ridge called the Vizie, on the evening of the 17th, they were repulsed with great loss; but the grenadiers, who had pushed forward to support them, compelled the enemy to retire. For six days a constant fire was kept up between the batteries and the fort. Having ineffectually attempted to drive back the 27th regiment from a lodgment they had formed within 500 yards of the garrison, the enemy applied for and obtained a suspension of hostilities. This was soon followed by a capitulation and the surrender of the whole island. The garrison marched out on the 29th, and became prisoners of war. The loss of the British was 2 field officers, 3 captains, 5 subaltemns, and 184 non-commissioned officers and rank and file killed; and 4 field officers, 12 captains, 15 subaltemns, and 523 non-commissioned officers and rank and file wounded and missing.

As an instance of the influence of the mind on bodily health, and of the effect of mental activity in preventing disease, General Stewart adduces this expedition as a striking illustration :—" During the operations which, from the nature of the country, were extremely harassing, the troops continued remarkably healthy; but immediately after the cessation of hostilities they began to droop. The five companies of Highlanders. who landed 508 men, sent few to the hospital until the third day subsequent to the surrender; but after this event, so sudden was the change in their health, that upwards of 60 men were laid up within the space of seven days. This change may be, in part, ascribed to the sudden transition from incessant activity to repose, but its principal cause must have been the relaxation of the mental and physical energies, after the motives which stimulated them had subsided."

The next enterprise was against St Vincent, where the expedition, consisting of the Buffs, the 14th, 34th, 42d, 53d, 54th, 59th, and 63d regiments, and the 2d West Indian Regiment, landed on the 8th of June. The enemy had erected four redoubts on a high ridge, called the Vizie, on which they had taken up a position. The arrangements for an attack having been completed on the 10th, the troops were drawn up in two divisions under Major-Generals Hunter and William Morshed, at a short distance from the ridge. Another division formed on the opposite side of the hill. The attack was commenced by a fire from some field-pieces on the redoubts, which was kept up for some hours, apparently with little effect. As a feint, the Highlanders and some of the Rangers in the meantime moved forward to the bottom of a woody steep which terminated the ridge, on the top of which stood one of the redoubts, the first in the range. Pushing their way up the steep, the 42d turned the feint into a real assault, and, with the assistance of the Buffs, by whom they were supported, drove the enemy successively from the first three redoubts in less than half an hour. Some of the Highlanders had pushed close under the last and principal redoubt, but the general, seeing that he had the enemy in his power, and wishing to spare the lives of his troops, recalled the Highlanders, and offered the enemy terms of capitulation, which were accepted. The conditions, inter alia, were, that the enemy should embark as prisoners of war; but several hundreds of them broke the capitulation by escaping into the woods the following night. The total loss of the British on this occasion was 181 in killed and wounded. The Highlanders had 1 sergeant and 12 rank and file killed; and 1 officer (Lieutenant Simon Fraser), 2 sergeants, 1 drummer, and 29 rank and file wounded)

In order to subjugate the island, the troops were divided and sent to different stations, and military posts were established in the neighbourhood of the country possessed by the Caribs and brigands. Favoured by the natural strength of the country, the enemy carried on a petty warfare with the troops among the woods till the month of September, when they surrendered. The French, including the brigands, were sent prisoners to England, and the Indians or Caribs, amounting to upwards ol 5000, were transported to Ratan, an island in the gulf of Mexico.

[General Stewart says that in the assault on the redoubts, when proceeding from the second to the third, he found a lad of seventeen years of age whom he had enlisted in August preceding, with his foot on the body of a French soldier, and his bayonet thrust through from ear to ear, attempting to twist off his head. Lieutenant Stewart touched him on the shoulder, and desired him to let the body alone. Oh, the brigand," said he "I must take off his head." When told that the man was already dead, and that he had better go and take the head off a living Frenchman, he answered, "You are very right, Sir; I did not think of that;" and immediately ran forward to the front of the attack. Yet such is the power of example, that this young man, so bold, turned pale and trembled, when, a few days after he had enlisted, he saw one of his companions covered with blood from a cut he had received in the head and face in some horseplay with his comrades].

[in one of the skirmishes in the woods between a party of the 42d and the enemy, Lieutenant-Colonel Graham (afterwards a lieutenant-general and govornor of Stirling Castle) was wounded, and lay senseless on the ground. "His recovery from his wound," says General Stewart, "was attended by some uncommon circumstances. The people believing him dead, rather dragged than carried him over the rough channel of the river, till they reached the sea-beach. Observing here that he was still alive, they put him in a blanket and proceeded in search of a surgeon. After travelling in this manner four miles, I met them, and directed the soldiers to carry him to a military post, occupied by a party of the 42d under my command. All the surgeons were out in the woods with the wounded soldiers, and none could be found. Colonel Graham was still insensible. A ball had entered his side, and passing through, had come out under his breast. Another, or perhaps the same ball, had shattered two of his fingers. No assistance could be got but that of a soldier’s wife, who had been long in the service, and was in the habit of attending sick and wounded soldiers. She washed his wounds, and bound them up in such a manner, that when a surgeon came and saw the way in which the operation had been performed, he said he could not have done it better, and would not unbind the dressing. The colonel soon afterwards opened his eyes, and though unable to speak for many hours, seemed sensible of what was passing around him. In this state he lay nearly three weeks, when he was carried to Kingston, and thence conveyed to England. He was still in a most exhausted state, —the wound in his side discharging matter from both orifices. He went to Edinburgh, with little hopes of recovery; but on the evening of the illumination for the victory of Camperdoun, the smoke of so many candles and flambeaux having affected his breathing, he coughed with great violence; and, in the exertion, threw up a piece of cloth, carried in and left by the ball in its passage through his body. From that day he recovered as by a charm.

"The soldier’s wife," continues the General, "who was so useful to him in his extremity, was of a character rather uncommon. She bad been long a follower of the camp, and had acquired some of its manerisms. While she was so good and useful a nurse in quarters, she was bold and fearless in the field. When the arrangements were made previously to the attack on the Vine on the 10th of June, I directed that her husband, who was in my company, should remain behind to take charge of the men’s knapsacks, which they had thrown off to be light for the advance up the hill, as I did not wish to expose him to danger on account of his wife and family. He obeyed his orders, and remained with his charge; but his wife, believing, perhaps, that she was not included in these injunctions, pushed forward to the assult. When the enemy had been driven from the third redoubt, I was standing giving some directions to the men, and preparing to push on to the fourth and last redoubt, when I found myself tapped on the shoulder, and turning round, I saw my Amazonian friend standing with her clothes tucked up to her knees, and seizing my hand, ‘Well done, my Highland lad,’ she exclaimed, ‘see how the brigands scamper like so many deer ‘—‘Caine,’ added she, ‘let us drive them from yonder hill!’ On inquiry, I found that she had been in the hottest fire, cheering].

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Part Eighteen The Black Watch - Expedition to Minorca

In September, Sir Ralph Abercromby returned to England, when the temporary command of the army devolved upon Major-General Charles Graham, who was promoted this year from the lieutenant-colonelcy of the 42d to the colonelcy of the 5th West India Regiment. He was succeeded in the lieutenant-colonelcy by Major James Stewart. The commander-in-chief returned from England in February 1797, and immediately collected a force for an attack on Trinidad, which surrendered without opposition. He, thereafter, assembled a body of troops, consisting of the 26th light dragoons dismounted, the 14th, 42d, 53d, and some other corps, at St Christopher’s, for an attack on Porto Rico, whither they proceeded on the 15th of April, and anchored off Congregus’s Point on the 17th. The enemy made a slight opposition to the landing, but retired when the troops disembarked. As the inhabitants of Porto Rico, who had been represented as favourable, did not show any disposition to surrender, and as the Moro or castle was too strong to be attacked with such an inconsiderable force, which was insufficient to blockade more than one of its sides, the commander-in-chief resolved to give up the attempt, and accordingly re-embarked his troops on the 30th of April. This was the last enterprise against the enemy in that quarter during the rest of the war. The Highlanders were sent to Martinique, where they embarked for England, free from sickness, after having the casualties of the two preceding years more than supplied by volunteers from the 79th Highlanders, then stationed in Martinique. The Royal Highlanders landed at Portsmouth on the 30th of July in good health, and were marched to Hillsea barracks. After remaining a few weeks there, the five companies embarked for Gibraltar, where they joined the five other companies, whose destination had been changed by their return to port after the sailing of the expedition to the West Indies. The regiment was now 1100 men strong.

The next service in which the Royal Highlanders were engaged was on an expedition against the island of Minorca, under the command of Lieutenant-General the Hon. Sir Charles Stewart, in the month of November 1798. The British troops having invested Cittadella, the principal fortress in the island, on the 14th of November, the Spanish commander, who had concentrated his forces in that garrison, surrendered on the following day. The Spanish general, whose force greatly exceeded that of the invaders, was deceived as to their numbers, which, from the artful mode in which they were dispersed over the adjoining eminences, he believed to amount to at least 10,000 men.

The possession of Minorca was of considerable importance, as it was made the rendezvous of a large force about to be employed on the coast of the Mediterranean, in support of our allies, in the year 1800. The command of this army was given to Sir Ralph Abercromby, who arrived on the 22d of June 1799, accompanied by Major-Generals Hutchinson and Moore. A part of the army was embarked for the relief of Genoa, then closely besieged by the French, and a detachment was also sent to Colonel Thomas Graham of Balgowan, who blockaded the garrison of La Vallette in the island of Malta.

Genoa having surrendered before the reinforcement arrived, the troops returned to Minorca, and were afterwards embarked for Gibraltar, where they arrived on the 14th of September, when accounts were received of the surrender of Malta, after a blockade of nearly two years. Early in October the armament sailed for Cadiz, to take possession of the city, and the Spanish fleet in the harbour of Carraccas, and was joined by the army under Sir James Pulteney from Ferrol; but when the Highlanders and part of the reserve were about landing in the boats, a gun from Cadiz announced the approach of a flag of truce. The town was suffering dreadfully from the ravages of the pestilence, and the object of the communication was to implore the British commander to desist from the attack. Sir Ralph Abercromby, with his characteristic humanity, could not withstand the appeal, and accordingly suspended the attack. The fleet got under weigh the following morning for the bay of Tetuan, on the coast of Barbary, and after being tossed about in a violent gale, during which it was obliged to take refuge under the lea of Cape Spartell, the fleet returned to Gibralter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Part Nineteen The Black Watch - Expedition to Egypt

Government having determined to make an attempt to drive the French out of Egypt, despatched orders to the commander-in-chief to proceed to Malta, where, on their arrival, the troops were informed of their destination. Tired of confinement on board the transports, they were all greatly elevated on receiving this intelligence, and looked forward to a contest on the plains of Egypt with the hitherto victorious legions of France, with the feelings of men anxious to support the honour of their country. The whole of the British land forces amounted to 13,234 men and 630 artillery, but the efficient force was only 12,334. The French force amounted to 32,000 men, besides several thousand native auxiliaries.

The fleet sailed in two divisions for Marmorice, a bay on the coast of Greece, on the 20th and 21st of December, in the year 1800, The Turks were to have a reinforcement of men and horses at that place. The first division arrived on the 28th of December, and the second on the 1st of January following. Having received the Turkish supplies, which were in every respect deficient, the fleet again got under weigh on the 23d of February, and on the morning of Sunday the 1st of March the low and sandy coast of Egypt was descried. The fleet came to anchor in the evening of 1st March 1801 in Aboukir bay, on the spot where the battle of the Nile had been fought nearly three years before. After the fleet had anchored, a violent gale sprung up, which continued without intermission till the evening of the 7th, when it moderated.

As a disembarkation could not be attempted during the continuance of the gale, the French had ample time to prepare themselves, and to throw every obstacle which they could devise in the way of a landing. No situation could be more embarrassing than that of Sir Ralph Abercromby on the present occasion; but his strength of mind carried him through every difficulty. He had to force a landing in an unknown country, in the face of an enemy more than double his numbers, and nearly three times as numerous as they were previously believed to be—an enemy, moreover, in full possession of the country, occupying all its fortified positions, having a numerous and well-appointed cavalry, inured to the climate, and a powerful artillery,—an enemy who knew every point where a landing could, with any prospect of success, be attempted, and who had taken advantage of the unavoidable delay, already mentioned, to erect batteries and bring guns and ammunition to the point where they expected the attempt would be made. In short, the general had to encounter embarrassments and bear up under difficulties which would have paralysed the mind of a man less firm and less confident of the devotion and bravery of his troops. These disadvantages, however, served only to strengthen his resolution. He knew that his army was determined to conquer, or to perish with him; and, aware of the high hopes which the country had placed in both, he resolved to proceed in the face of obstacles which some would have deemed insurmountable.

The first division destined to effect a landing consisted of the flank companies of the 40th, and Welsh Fusileers on the right, the 28th, 42d, and 58th, in the centre, the brigade of Guards, Corsican Rangers, and a part of the 1st brigade, consisting of the Royals and 54th, on the left,—amounting altogether to 5230 men. As there was not a sufficiency of boats, all this force did not land at once; and one company of Highlanders, and detachments of other regiments, did not get on shore till the return of the boats. The troops fixed upon to lead the way got into the boats at two o’clock on the morning of the 8th of March, and formed in the rear of the Mondovi, Captain John Stewart, which was anchored out of reach of shot from the shore. By an admirable arrangement, each boat was placed in such a manner, that, when the landing was effected, every brigade, every regiment, and even every company, found itself in the proper station assigned to it. As such an arrangement required time to complete it, it was eight o’clock before the boats were ready to move forward. Expectation was wound up to the highest pitch, when, at nine o’clock, a signal was given, and all the boats, with a simultaneous movement, sprung forward, under the command of the Hon. Captain Alexander Cochrane. Although the rowers strained every nerve, such was the regularity of their pace, that no boat got ahead of the rest.

At first the enemy did not believe that the British would attempt a landing in the face of their lines and defences; but when the boats had come within range of their batteries, they began to perceive their mistake, and then opened a heavy fire from their batteries in front, and from the castle of Aboukir in flank. To the showers of grape and shells, the enemy added a fire of musketry from 2500 men, on the near approach of the boats to the shore. In a short time the boats on the right, containing the 23d, 28th, 42d, and 58th regiments, with the flank companies of the 40th, got under the elevated position of the enemy’s batteries, so as to be sheltered from their fire, and meeting with no opposition from the enemy, who did not descend to the beach, these troops disembarked and formed in line on the sea shore. Lest an irregular fire might have created confusion in the ranks, no orders were given to load, but the men were directed to rush up the face of the hill and charge the enemy.

When the word was given to advance, the soldiers sprung up the ascent, but their progress was retarded by the loose dry sand which so deeply covered the ascent, that the soldiers fell back half a pace every step they advanced. When about half way to the summit, they came in sight of the enemy, who poured down upon them a destructive volley of musketry. Redoubling their exertions, they gained the height before the enemy could reload their pieces; and, though exhausted with fatigue, and almost breathless, they drove the enemy from their position at the point of the bayonet. A squadron of cavalry then advanced and attacked the Highlanders, but they were instantly repulsed, with the loss of their cornmander. A scattered fire was kept up for some time by a party of the enemy from behind a second line of small sand-hills, but they fled in confusion on the advance of the troops. The Guards and first brigade having landed on ground nearly on a level with the water, were immediately attacked,—the first by cavalry, and the 54th by a body of infantry, who advanced with fixed bayonets. The assailants were repulsed.

In this brilliant affair the British had 4 officers, 4 sergeants, and 94 rank and file killed, among whom were 31 Highlanders; 26 officers, 34 sergeants, 5 drummers, and 450 rank and file wounded; among whom were, of the Highlanders, Lieutenant-Colonel James Stewart, Captain Charles Macquarrie, Lieutenants Alexander Campbell, John Dick, Frederick Campbell, Stewart Campbell, Charles Campbell, Ensign Wilson, 7 sergeants, 4 drummers, and 140 rank and file.’

The venerable commander-in-chief; anxious to be at the head of his troops, immediately left the admiral’s ship, and on reaching the shore, leaped from the boat with the vigour of youth. Taking his station on a little sand-hill, he received the congratulations of the officers by whom he was surrounded, on the ability and firmness with which he had conducted the enterprise. The general, on his part, expressed his gratitude to them for "an intrepidity scarcely to be paralleled," and which had enabled them to overcome every difficulty.

[When the boats were about to start, two young French field officers, who were prisoners on board the Minotaur, Captain Louis, went up to the rigging "to witness, as they said, the last sight of their English friends. But when they saw the troops land, ascend the hill, and force the defenders at the top to fly, the love of their country and the honour of their arms overcame their new friendship: they burst into tears, and with a passionate exclamation of grief and surprise ran down below, and did not again appear on deck during the day. "—Stewart’s Sketches].

["The great waste of ammunition," says General Stewart, "and the comparatively little execution of musketry, unless directed by a steady hand, was exemplified on this occasion. Although the sea was as smooth as glass, with nothing to interrupt the aim of those who fired,—although the line of musketry was so numerous, that the soldiers compared the fall of the bullets on the water to boys throwing handfuls of pebbles into a mill-pond,—and although the spray raised by the cannon-shot and shells, when they struck the water, wet the soldiers in the boats,—yet, of the whole landing force, very few were hurt and of the 42d one man only was killed, and Colonel James Stewart and a few soldiers wounded. The noise and foam raised by the shells and large and small shot, compared with the little effect thereby produced, afford evidence of the saving of lives by the invention of gunpowder; while the fire, noise, and force, with which the bullets flew, gave a greater sense of danger than in reality had any existence. That eight hundred and fifty men (one company of the Highlanders did not land in the first boats) should force a passage through such a shower of balls and bomb-shells, and only one man killed and five wounded, is certainly a striking fact." Four-fifths of the loss of the Highlanders was sustained before they reached the top of the hill. General Stewart, who then commanded a company in the 42d, says that eleven of his men fell by the volley they received when mounting the ascent].

The remainder of the army landed in the course of the evening, but three days elapsed before the provisions and stores were disembarked. Menou, the French commander, availed himself of this interval to collect more troops and strengthen his position; so that on moving forward on the evening of the 12th, the British found him strongly posted among sand-hills, and palm and date trees, about three miles east of Alexandria, with a force of upwards of 5000 infantry, 600 cavalry, and 30 pieces of artillery.

Early on the morning of the 13th, the troops moved forward to the attack in three columns of regiments. At the head of the first column was the 90th or Perthshire regiment; the 92d or Gordon Highlanders formed the advance of the second; and the reserve marching in column covered the movements of the first line, to which it ran parallel. When the army had cleared the date trees, the enemy, leaving the heights, moved down with great boldness on the 92d, which had just formed in line. They opened a heavy fire of cannon and musketry, which the 92d quickly returned; and although repeatedly attacked by the French line, supported by a powerful artillery, they maintained their ground singly till the whole line came up. Whilst the 92d was sustaining these attacks from the infantry, the French cavalry attempted to charge the 90th regiment down a declivity with great impetuosity. The regiment stood waiting their approach with cool intrepidity, and after allowing the cavalry to come within fifty yards of them, they poured in upon them a well-directed volley, which so completely broke the charge that only a few of the cavalry reached the regiment, and the greater part of these were instantly bayoneted; the rest fled to their left, and retreated in confusion. Sir Ralph Abercromby, who was always in front, had his horse shot under him, and was rescued by the 90th regiment when nearly surrounded by the enemy’s cavalry.

After forming in line, the two divisions moved forward — the reserve remaining in column to cover the right flank. The enemy retreated to their lines in front of Alexandria, followed by the British army. After reconnoitring their works, the British commander, conceiving the difficulties of an attack insuperable, retired, and took up a position about a league from Alexandria. The British suffered severely on this occasion. The Royal Highlanders, who were only exposed to distant shot, had only 3 rank and file killed, and Lieutenant-Colonel Dickson, Captain Archibald Argyll Campbell, Lieutenant Simon Fraser, 3 sergeants, 1 drummer, and 23 rank and file wounded.

In the position now occupied by the British general, he had the sea on his right flank, and the Lake Maadie on his left. On the right the reserve was placed as an advanced post; the 58th possessed an extensive ruin, supposed to have been the palace of the Ptolemies. On the outside of the ruin, a few paces onward and close on the left, was a redoubt, occupied by the 28th regiment. The 23d, the flank companies of the 40th, the 42d, and the Corsican Rangers, were posted 500 yards towards the rear, ready to support the two corps in front. To the left of this redoubt a sandy plain extended about 300 yards, and then sloped into a valley. Here, a little retired towards tho rear, stood the cavalry of the reserve; and still farther to the left, on a rising ground beyond the valley, the Guards were posted, with a redoubt thrown up on their right, a battery on their left, and a small ditch or enbankment in front, which connected both. To the left of the Guards, in echelon, were posted the Royals, 54th (two battalions), and the 92d; then the 8th or Kings, 18th or Royal Irish, 90th, and 13th. To the left of the line, and facing the lake at right angles, were drawn up the 27th or Enniskillen, 79th or Cameron Highlanders and 50th regiment. On the left of the second line were posted the 30th, 89th, 44th, Dillon’s, De Roll’s, and Stuart’s regiments; the dismounted cavalry of the 12th and 26th dragoons completed the second line to the right. The whole was flanked on the right by four cutters, stationed close to the shore. Sutch was the disposition of the army from the 14th till the evening of the 20th, during which time the whole was kept in constant employment, either in performing military duties, strengthening the position—which had few natural advantages—by the erection of batteries, or in bringing forward cannon, stores, and provisions. Along the whole extent of the line were arranged two 24 pounders, thirty-two field-pieces, and one 24 pounder in the redoubt occupied by the 28th.

The enemy occupied a parallel position on a ridge of hills extending from the sea beyond the left of the British line, having the town of Alexandria, Fort Caffarell, and Pharos, in the rear. General Lanusse was on the left of Menou’s army with four demi-brigades of infantry, and a considerable body of cavalry commanded by General Roise. General Regnier was on the right with two demi-brigades and two regiments of cavalry, and the centre was occupied by five demi-brigades. The advanced guard, which consisted of one demibrigade, some light troops, and a detachment of cavalry, was commanded by General D’Estain.

Meanwhile, the fort of Aboukir was blockaded by the Queen's regiment, and, after a slight resistance, surrendered to Lord Dalhousie on the 18th. To replace the Gordon Highlanders, who had been much reduced by previous sickness, and by the action of the 13th, the Queen’s regiment was ordered up on the evening of the 20th. The same evening the British general received accounts that General Menou had arrived at Alexandria with a large reinforcement from Cairo, and was preparing to attack him.

Anticipating this attack, the British army was under arms at an early hour in the morning of the 21st of March, and at three o’clock every man was at his post. For half an hour no movement took place on either side, till the report of a musket, followed by that of some cannon, was heard on the left of the line. Upon this signal the enemy immediately advanced, and took possession of a small picquet, occupied by part of Stuart’s regiments but they were instantly driven back. For a time silence again prevailed, but it was a stillness which portended a deadly struggle. As soon as he heard the firing, General Moore, who happened to be the general officer on duty during the night, had galloped off to the left; but an idea having struck him as he proceeded, that this was a false attack, he turned back and had hardly returned to his brigade when a loud huzza, succeeded by a roar of musketry, showed that he was not mistaken. The morning was unusually dark, cloudy, and close. The enemy advanced in silence until they approached the picquets, when they gave a shout and pushed forward. At this moment Major Sinclair, as directed by Major-General Oakes, advanced with the left wing of the 42d, and took post on the open ground lately occupied by the 28th regiment, which was now ordered within the redoubt. Whilst the left wing of the Highlanders was thus drawn up, with its right supported by the redoubt Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Stewart was directed to remain with the right wing 200 yards in the rear, but exactly parallel to the left wing. The Welsh Fusileers and the flank companies of the 40th moved forward, at the same time, to support the 58th, stationed in the ruin. This regiment had drawn up in the chasms of the ruined walls, which were in some parts from ten to twenty feet high, under cover of some loose stones which the soldiers had raised for their defence, and which, though sufficiently open for the fire of musketry, formed a perfect protection against the entrance of cavalry or infantry. The attack on the ruin, the redoubt, and the left wing of the Highlanders, was made at the same moment, and with the greatest impetuosity; but the fire of the regiments stationed there, and of the left wing of the 42d, under Major Stirling, quickly checked the ardour of the enemy. Lieutenant-Colonels Paget of the 28th, and Houston of the 58th, after allowing the enemy to come quite close, directed their regiments to open a fire, which was so well-directed and effective, that the enemy were obliged to retire precipitately to a hollow in their rear.

During this contest in front, a column of the enemy, which bore the name of the "Invincibles," preceded by a six-poundei, came silently along the hollow interval from which the cavalry picquet had retired, and passed between the left of the 42d and the right of the Guards. Though it was still so dark that an object could not be properly distinguished at the distance of two yards, yet, with such precision did this column calculate its distance and line of march, that on coming in line with the left wing of the Highlanders, it wheeled to its left, and marched in between the right and left wings of the regiment, which were drawn up in parallel lines. As soon as the enemy were discovered passing between the two lines, Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Stewart instantly charged them with the right wing to his proper front, whilst the rear-rank of Major Stirling’s force, facing to the right about, charged to the rear. Being thus placed between two fires, the enemy rushed forward with an intention of entering the ruin, which they supposed was unoccupied. As they passed the rear of the redoubt the 28th faced about and fired upon them. Continuing their course, they reached the ruin, through the openings of which they rushed, followed by the Highlanders, when the 58th and 48th, facing about as the 28th had done, also fired upon them. The survivors (about 200), unable to withstand this combined attack, threw down their arms and surrendered. Generals Moore and Oakes were both wounded in the ruin, but were still able to continue in the exercise of their duty. The former, on the surrender of the " Invincibles," left the ruin, and hurried to the left of the redoubt, where part of the left wing of the 42d was busily engaged with the enemy after the rear rank had followed the latter into the ruins. At this time the enemy were seen advancing in great force on the left of the redoubt, apparently with an intention of making another attempt to turn it. On perceiving their approach, General Moore immediately ordered the Highlanders out of the ruins, and directed them to form line in battalion on the flat on which Major Stirling had originally formed, with their right supported by the redoubt. By thus extending their line they were enabled to present a greater front to the enemy; but, in consequence of the rapid advance of the latter, it was found necessary to check their progress even before the battalion had completely formed in line. Orders were therefore given to drive the enemy back, which were instantly performed with complete success.

Encouraged by the commander-in-chief, who called out from his station, "My brave highlanders, remember your country, remember your forefathers!" they pursued the enemy along the plain; but they had not proceeded far, when General Moore, whose eye was keen, perceived through the increasing clearness of the atmosphere, fresh columns of the enemy drawn up on the plain beyond with three squadrons of cavalry, as if ready to charge through the intervals of their retreating infantry. As no time was to be lost, the general ordered the regiment to retire from their advanced position, and re-form on the left of the redoubt. This order, although repeated by Colonel Stewart, was only partially heard in consequence of the noise of the firing; and the result was, that whilst the companies who heard it retired on the redoubt, the rest hesitated to follow. The enemy observing the intervals between these companies, resolved to avail themselves of the circumstance, and advanced in great force. Broken as the line was by the separation of the companies, it seemed almost impossible to resist with effect an impetuous charge of cavalry; yet every man stood firm. Many of the enemy were killed in the advance. The companies, who stood in compact bodies, drove back all who charged them, with great loss. Part of the cavalry passed through the intervals, and wheeling to their left, as the " Invincibles" had done early in the morning, were received by the 28th, who, facing to their rear, poured on them a destructive fire, which killed many of them. It is extraordinary that in this onset only 13 Highlanders were wounded by the sabre,—a circumstance to be ascribed to the firmness with which they stood, first endeavouring to bring down the horse, before the rider came within sword-length, and then despatching him with the bayonet, before he had time to recover his legs from the fall of the horse.

[Concerning this episode in the fight, and the capture of the standard of the "Invincibles" by one of the 42d, we shall here give the substance of the narrative of Andrew Dowie, one of the regiment who was prresent and saw the whole affair. We take it from Lieutenant-Colonel Wheatley’s Memoranda, and we think our readers may rely upon it as being a fair statement of the circumstances. It was written in 1845, in letter to Sergeant-Major Drysdale of the 42d, who went through the whole of the Crimean and Indian Mutiny campaigns without being one day absent, and who died at Uphall, near Edinburgh. Major and Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel in the regiment —on the 4th July 1865 —While Dowie was inside of the ruin above mentioned, he observed an officer with a stand of colours, surrounded by a group of some 30 men. He ran and told Major Stirling of this, who advanced towards the French officer, grasped this colours, carried them off, and handed them to Sergeant Sinclair of the 42d Grenadiers, telling him to take them to the rear of the left wing, and display them. The major then ordered all out of the fort to support the left wing, which was closely engaged. Meantime, some of the enemy seeing Sinclair with the colours, made after and attacked him. He defended himself to the utmost till he got a sabre-cut on the back of the neck, when he fell with the colours among the killed and wounded. Shortly afterwards the German regiment, commanded by Sir John Stewart, came from the rear line to the support of the 42d, and in passing through the killed and, wounded, one Anthony Lutz picked up the colours, stripped them off the staff, wound them round his body, and in the afternoon took them to Sir Ralph’s son, and it was reported received some money for them. In 1802 this German regiment (97th or Queen’s Own arrived at Winchester, where this Anthony Lutz, in a quarrel with one of his comrades, stabbed him with a knife, was tried by civil law, and sentence of death passed upon him. His officers, to save his life, petitioned the proper authorities, stating that it was he who took the ‘ Invincible Colours." Generals Moore and Oakes (who had commanded the brigade containing the 42d), then in London, wrote to Lieut. -Col. Dickson, who was with the regiment in Edinburgh Castle, and a court of inquiry was held on the matter, the result of the examination being in substance what I has just been narrated. Sergeant Sinclair was promoted to ensign in 1803; was captain in the 81st from 1813 to 1816, when he retired on half pay, and died in 1831].

Enraged at the disaster which had befallen the elite of his cavalry, General Menou ordered forward a column of infantry, supported by cavalry, to make a second attempt on the position; but this body was repulsed at all points by the Highlanders. Another body of cavalry now dashed forward as the former had done, and met with a similar reception, numbers falling, and others passing through to the rear, where they were again overpowered by the 28th. It was impossible for the Highlanders to withstand much longer such repeated attacks, particularly as they were reduced to the necessity of fighting every man on his own ground, and unless supported they must soon have been destroyed. The fortunate arrival of the brigade of Brigadier-General Stuart, which advanced from the second line, and formed on the left of the Highlanders, probably saved them from destruction. At this time the enemy were advancing in great force, both in cavalry and infantry, apparently determined to overwhelm the handful of men who had hitherto baffled all their efforts. Though surprised to find a fresh and more numerous body of troops opposed to them, they nevertheless ventured to charge, but were again driven back with great precipitation.

It was now eight o’clock in the morning; but nothing decisive had been effected on either side. About this time the British had spent the whole of their ammunition; and not being able to procure an immediate supply, owing to the distance of the ordnance-stores, their fire ceased,—a circumstance which surprised the enemy, who, ignorant of the cause, ascribed the cessation to design. Meanwhile, the French kept up a heavy and constant cannonade from their great guns, and a straggling fire from their sharp-shooters in the hollows, and behind some sand-hills in front of the redoubt and ruins. The army suffered greatly from the fire of the enemy, particularly the Highlanders, and the right of General Stuart’s brigade, who were exposed to its full effect, being posted on a level piece of ground over which the cannon-shot rolled after striking the ground, and carried off a file of men at every successive rebound. Yet not withstanding this havoc no man moved from his position except to close up the gap made by the shot, when his right or left hand man was struck down.

At this stage of the battle the proceeedings of the centre may be shortly detailed. The enemy pushed forward a heavy column of infantry, before the dawn of day, towards the position occupied by the Guards. After allowing them to approach very close to his front, General Ludlow ordered his fire to be opened, and his orders were executed with such effect, that the enemy retired with precipitation. Foiled in this attempt, they next endeavoured to turn the left of the position; but they were received and driven back with such spirit by the Royals and the right wing of the 54th, that they desisted from all further attempts to carry it. They, however, kept up an irregular fire from their cannon and sharp-shooters, which did some execution. As General Regnier, who commanded the right of the French line, did not advance, the left of the British was never engaged. He made up for this forbearance by keeping up a heavy cannonade, which did considerable injury.

Emboldened by the temporary cessation of the British fire on the right, the French sharpshooters came close to the redoubt; but they were thwarted in their designs by the opportune arrival of ammunition. A fire was immediately opened from the redoubt, which made them retreat with expedition. The whole line followed, and by ten o’clock the enemy had resumed their original position in front of Alexandria. After this, the enemy despairing of success, gave up all idea of renewing the attack, and the loss of the commander-In-chief, among other considerations, made the British desist from any attempt to force the enemy to engage again.

Sir Ralph Abercomby, who had taken his station in front early in the day between the right of the Highlanders and the left of the redoubt, having detached the whole of his staff, was left alone. In this situation two of the enemy’s dragoons dashed forward, and drawing up on each side, attempted to lead him away prisoner. In a struggle which ensued he received a blow on the breast; but with the vigour and strength of arm for which he was distinguished, he seized the sabre of one of his assailants, and forced it out of his hard. A corporal (Barker) of the 42d coming up to his support at this instant, for lack of other ammunition, charged his piece with powder and his ramrod, shot one of the dragoons, and the other retired.

The general afterwards dismounted from his horse though with difficulty; but no person knew that he was wounded, till some of the staff who joined him observed the blood trickling down his thigh. A musket-bail had entered his groin, and lodged deep in the hip-joint. Notwithstanding the acute pain which a wound in such a place must have occasioned, he had, during the interval between the time he had been wounded and the last charge of cavalry, walked with a firm and steady step along the one of the Highlanders and General Stuart’s brigade, to the position of the Guards in the centre of the line, where, from its elevated position, he had a full view of the whole field of battle, and from which place be gave his orders as if nothing had happened to him. In his anxiety about the result of the battle, seemed to forget that he had been hurt; but after victory had declared in favour of the British army, he became alive to the danger of his situation, and in a state of exhaustion, lay down on a little sand-hill near the battery.

In this situation he was surrounded by the generals and a number of officers. The soldiers were to be seen crowding round this melancholy group at a respectful distance, pouring out blessings on his head, and prayers for his recovery. His wound was now examined, and a large incision was made to extract the ball but it could not be found. After this operation he was put upon a litter, and carried onboard the Foudroyant, Lord Keith’s ship, where he died on the morning of the 28th of March. "As his life was honourable, so his death was glorious. His memory will be recorded in the annals of his country, will be sacred to every British soldier, and embalmed in the memory of a grateful posterity."

The loss of the British, of whom scarcely 6000 were actually engaged, was not so great as might have been expected. Besides the commander-in-chief, there were, killed 10 officers, 9 sergeants, and 224 rank and file; and 60 officers, 48 sergeants, 3 drummers, and 1082 rank and file, were wounded. Of the Royal Highlanders, Brevet-Major Robert Bisset, Leutenants Colin Campbell, Robert Anderson, Alexander Stewert, Alexander Donaldson, and Archibald M’Nicol, and 48 rank and file, were killed; and Major James Stirling, Captain David Stewart, Leutenant Hamilton Rose, J. Millford Sutherland, A.M Cuningham, Frederick Campbell, Maxwell Grant, Ensign William Mackenzie, 6 sergeants, and 247 rank and file wounded. As the 42d was more exposed than any of the other regiments engaged, and sustained the brunt of the battle, their loss was nearly three times the aggregate amount of the loss of all the other regiments of the reserve. The total loss of the French was about 4000 men.

General Hutchinson, on whom the command of the British army now devolved, remained in the position before Alexandria for some time, during which a detachment under Colonel Spencer took possession of Rosetta. Having strengthened his position between Alexandria and Aboukir, General Hutchinson transferred his headquarters to Rosetta, with a view to proceed against Rhamanieh, an important post, commanding the passage of the Nile, and preserving the communication between Alexandria and Cairo. The general left his camp on the 5th of May to attack Rhamanieh; but although defended by 4000 infantry, 800 cavalry, and 32 pieces of cannon, the place was evacuated by the enemy on his approach.

The commander-in-chief proceeded to Cairo, and took up a position four miles from that city on the 16th of June. Belliard, the French general, had made up his mind to capitulate whenever he could do so with honour; and accordingly, on the 22d of June, when the British had nearly completed their approaches, he offered to surrender, on condition of his army being sent to France with their arms, luggage, and effects.

Nothing now remained to render the conquest of Egypt complete but the reduction of Alexandria. Returning from Cairo, General Hutchinson proceeded to invest that city. Whilst General Coote, with nearly half the army, approached to the westward of the town, the general himself advanced from the eastward. General Menou, anxious for the honour of the French arms, at first disputed the advances made towards his lines; but finding himself surrounded on two sides by an army of 14,500 men, by the sea on the north, and cut off from the country on the south by a lake which had been formed by breaking down the dike between the Nile and Alexandria, he applied for, and obtained, on the evening of the 26th of August, an armistice of three days. On the 2d of September the capitulation was signed, the terms agreed upon being much the same with those granted to General Beliard.

After the French were embarked, immediate arrangements were made for settling in quarters the troops that were to remain in the country, and to embark those destined for other stations. Among these last were the three Highland regiments. The 42d landed at Southhampton, and marched to Winchester. With the exception of those who were affected with ophthalmia, all the men were healthy. At Winchester, however, the men caught a contagious fever, of which Captain Lamont and several privates died.

"At this period," says General Stewart, "a circumstance occurred which caused come conversation on the French standard taken at Alexandria. The Highland Society of London, much gratified with the accounts given of the conduct of their countrymen in Egypt, resolved to bestow on them some mark of their esteem and approbation. The Society being composed of men of the first rank and character in Scotland, and including several of the royal family as members, it was considered that such an act would be honourable to the corps and agreeable to all. It was proposed to commence with the 42d as the oldest of the Highland regiments, and with the others in succession, as their service offered an opportunity of distinguishing themselves. Fifteen hundred pounds were immediately subscribed for this purpose. Medals were struck with a head of Sir Ralph Abercromby, and some emblematical figure’s on the obverse.. A superb piece of plate was likewise ordered. While these were in preparation, the Society held a meeting, when Sir John Sinclair, with the warmth of a clansman, mentioned his namesake, Sergeant Sinclair, as having taken or having got possession of the French standard, which had been brought home. Sir John being at that time ignorant of the circumstances, made no mention of the loss of the ensign which the sergeant had gotten in charge. This called forth the claim of Lutz, already referred to, accompanied with some strong remarks by Cobbett, the editor of the work in which the claim appeared. The Society then asked an explanation from the officers of the 42d. To this very proper request a reply was given by the officers who were then present with the regiment. The majority of these happened to be young men, who expressed, in warm terms, their surprise that the Society should imagine them capable of countenancing any statement implying that they had laid claim to a trophy to which they had no right. This misapprehension of the Society’s meaning brought on a correspondence, which ended in an interruption of farther communication for many years.

bwmedals2.jpgbwmedals1.jpg

abercromby.jpg

Sir Ralph Abercromby in Egypt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Part Twenty The Black Watch - Spain, Sir John Moore & Return Home

In May 1802 the, regiment marched to Ash-ford, where they were reviewed by George III., who expressed himself satisfied with its appearance; but although the men had a martial air, they had a diminutive look, and were by no means equal to their predecessors, either in bodily appearance or in complexion.

Shortly after this review the regiment was ordered to Edinburgh. During their march to the north the men were everywhere received with kindness; and, on approaching the northern metropolis, thousands of its inhabitants met them at a distance from the city, and, welcoming them with acclamations, accompanied them to the castle. They remained in their new quarters, giving way too freely to the temptations to which they were exposed, by the hospitality of the inhabitants, till the spring of 1803, when, in consequence of the interruption of peace, they were embarked at Leith for the camp then forming at Weeley, in Essex. The regiment at this time did not exceed 400 men, in consequence chiefly of the discharge of 475 men the preceding year. While in Edinburgh (December 1,1803) new colours, bearing the distinctions granted for its services in Egypt, were formally presented to the regiment.

As a means at once of providing for the internal defence of the kingdom, and recruiting the regular army, an act was passed to raise a body of men by ballot, to be called "The Army of Reserve." Their services were to be confined to Great Britain and Ireland, with liberty to volunteer into the regular army, on a certain bounty. In the first instance, the men thus raised in Scotland were formed into second battalions to regiments of the line. The quota raised in the counties of Perth, Elgin, Nairn, Cromarty, Ross, Sutherland, Caithness, Argyle, and Bute, which was to form the second battalion of the 42d, amounted to 1343 men. These embarked in November at Fort George, to join the first battalion in Weeley barracks, about which time upwards of 500 had volunteered into the regular army. In April of this year Captain David Stewart, Garth, was appointed major, and Lieutenants Robert Henry Dick and Charles M’Lean, captains to the second battalion of the 78th regiment. In September following, Colonel Dickson was appointed brigadier-general; and Lieutenant-Colonels James Stewart and Alexander Stewart having retired, they were succeeded by Lieutenant-Colonels Stirling and Lord Blantyre. Captains M’Quarrie and James Grant became majors; Lieutenants Stewart Campbell, Donald Williamson, John M’Diarmid, John Dick, and James Walker, captains; and Captain Lord Saltoun was promoted to the Foot Guards.

In consequence of the removal of a part of the garrison of Gibraltar, the first battalion of the 42d, and the second battalion of the 78th. or Seaforth Highlanders, were marched to Plymouth, where they embarked early in October for Gibraltar, which they reached in November. Nothing worthy of notice occurred during their stay in Gibraltar. Since their former visit, the moral habits of the 42d had improved, and they did not fall into those excesses in drinking in which they had previously indulged. The mortality consequently was not so great as before—31 only out of 850 men having died during the three years they remained at this station.

In 1806 Sir Hector Munro, the colonel of the regiment, died and was succeeded by Major-General the Marquis of Huntly, afterwards Duke of Gordon.

After the battle of Yimiera, which was fought on the 21st of August 1808, the British army was joined by the 42d from Gibraltar, then 624 men strong, and by the Gordon and Cameron Highlanders from England. Major-General Sir Arthur Wellesley, who had gained the battle, was superseded the same day by two senior generals, Sir Harry Burrard and Sir John Moore, who were, strange to tell, again superseded by General Sir flew Dalrymple the following morning. Generals Burrard and Dalrymple having been recalled in consequence of the convention of Cintra, the command of the army devolved on Sir John Moore, who, on the 6th of October, received an order to march into Spain. Having made no previous preparations for marching, the advance of the army from Lisbon was retarded; and as he could obtain little assistance from the Portuguese Government, and no correct information of the state of the country, or of the proper route he ought to take, he was obliged to act almost entirely upon conjecture. Conceiving it impossible to convey artillery by the road through the mountains, he resolved to divide his army, and to march into Spain by different routes.

One of these divisions, consisting of the brigade of artillery and four regiments of infantry, of which the 42d was one, under the Hon. Lieutenant General Hope, marched upon Madrid and Espinar; another, under General Paget, moved by Elvas and Alcantara; a third by Coimbra and Almeida, under General Beresford; and a fourth, under General Mackenzie Eraser, by Abrantes and Almeida. These divisions, amounting together to 18,000 infantry and 900 cavalry, were to form a junction at Salamanca. General Moore reached Salamanca on the 13th of November, without seeing a single Spanish soldier. Whilst on the march, Lieutenant-General Sir David Baird arrived off Corunna with a body of troops from England, for the purpose of forming a junction with General Moore; but his troops were kept on board from the 13th to the 31st of October, and, when allowed to disembark, no exertions were made by the Spaniards to forward his march.

Whilst waiting the junction of General Baird and the division of General Hope, which, from its circuitous route, was the last of the four in reaching Salamanca, General Moore received intelligence of the defeat and total dispersion of General Blake’s army on the 10th of November, at Espenora de los Monteros, as well as of a similar fate which subsequently befell the army of General Castanos at Tudela. No Spanish army now remained in the field except the corps under the Marquis of Romana, but acting independently, it tended rather to obstruct than forward the plans of the British commander.

It was now the 1st of December. General Baird had reached Astorga, and General Hope’s division was still four days march from Salamanca. Beset by accumulated difficulties, and threatened with an army already amounting to 100,000 men, and about to be increased by additional reinforcements, General Moore resolved on a retreat, though such a measure was opposed to the opinion of many officers of rank. Whilst he himself was to fall back upon Lisbon, he ordered Sir David Baird to retire to Corunna, and embark for the Tagus. He afterwards countermanded the order for retreat, on receiving some favourable accounts from the interior, but having soon ascertained that these were not to be relied on, he resumed his original intention of retiring. Instead of proceeding, however, towards Lisbon, he determined to retreat to the north of Spain, with the view of joining General Baird. This junction he effected at Toro, on the 21st of December. Their united forces amounted to 26,311 infantry, and 2450 cavalry, besides artillery.

The general resolved to attack Marshal Soult at Saldanha; but, after making his dispositions, he gave up his determination, in consequence of information that Soult had received considerable reinforcements; that Buonaparte had marched from Madrid with 40,000 infantry and cavalry; and that Marshals Junot, Mortier, and Leferbe, with their different divisions, were also on their march towards the north of Spain. The retreat was begun on the 24th of December, on which day the advance guard of Buonaparte’s division passed through Tordesillas.

When ordered again to retreat, the greatest disappointment was manifested by the troops, who, enraged at the apathy shown by the people, gratified their feelings of revenge by acts of insubordination and plunder hitherto unheard of in a British army. To such an extent did they carry their ravages, that they obtained the name of "malditos ladrones" or cursed robbers from the unfortunate inhabitants. The following extract of general orders, issued at Benevente, on the 27th of December, shows how acutely the gallant Moore felt the disgrace which the conduct of his British troops brought on the British name:—" The Commander of the Forces has observed, with concern, the extreme bad conduct of the troops, at a moment when they are about to come into contact with the enemy, and when the greatest regularity and the best conduct are most requisite. The misbehaviour of the troops in the column which marched from Valdaras to this place, exceeds what he could have believed of British soldiers. It is disgraceful to the officers, as it strongly marks their negligence and inattention. The Commander of the Forces refers to the general orders of the 15th of October and the 11th of November. He desires that they may be again read at the head of every company in the army. He can add nothing but his determination to execute them to the fullest extent. He can feel no mercy towards officers who neglect, in times like these, essential duties, or towards soldiers who injure the country they are sent to protect. It is impossible for the General to explain to his army his motive for the movements he directs. When it is proper to fight a battle he will do it, and he will choose the time and place he thinks most fit. In the mean time, he begs the officers and soldiers of the army to attend diligently to discharge their part, and leave to him and to the general officers the decision of measures which belong to them alone."

It is quite unnecessary, in a work of this nature, to give the details of this memorable retreat. Suffice it to say, that after a series of brilliant and successful encounters with the enemy, and after enduring the most extraordinary privations, the British army arrived in the neighbourhood of Corunna on the 11th of January 1809. Had the transports been at Corunna, the troops might have embarked without molestation, as the French general did not push forward with vigour from Lago; but, as they had to wait the arrival of transports from Vigo, the enemy had full time to come up. The inhabitants showed the greatest kindness to the troops, and, in conjunction with them, exerted themselves with much assiduity to put the town in a propar state of defence.

On the land side Corunna is surrounded by a double range of hills, a higher and a lower. As the outward or higher range was too extensive, the British were formed on the inner or lower range. The French on their arrival took post on the higher range.

Several of the transports having arrived on the 14th, the sick, the cavalry, and part of the artillery were embarked. Next day was spent in skirmishing, with little loss on either side; but on the 16th, affairs assumed a more serious aspect. After mid-day, the enemy were seen getting under arms. The British drew up immediately in line of battle. General Hope’s division occupied the left. It consisted of Major-General Hill’s brigade of the Queen’s, 14th, 32d; and Colonel Crawford’s brigade of the 36th, 71st, and 92d or Gordon Highlanders. On the right of the line was the division of General Baird, consisting of Lord William Bentinck’s brigade of the 4th, 42d or Royal Highlanders, and 50th regiment; and Major-General Manningham’s brigade of the third battalion of the Royals, 26th or Cameronians, and second battalion of the 81st; and Major-General Ward with the first and second battalions of the Foot Guards. The other battalions of Guards were in reserve, in rear of Lord William Bentinck’s brigade. The Rifle corps formed a chain across a valley on the right of Sir David Baird, communicating with Lieutenant-General Fraser’s division, which was drawn up in the rear at a short distance from Corunna. This division was composed of the 6th, 9th, 23d or Welsh Fusileers, and second battalion of the 43d, under Major-General Beresford; and the 36th, 79th or Cameron Highlanders, and 82d, under Brigadier-General Fane. General Paget’s brigade of reserve formed in rear of the left. It consisted of the 20th, 28th, 52d, 9 1st, and Rifle corps. The whole force under arms amounted to nearly 16,000 men.

The battle was begun by the enemy, who, after a discharge of artillery, advanced upon the British in four columns. Two of these moved towards General Baird’s wing, a third advanced upon the centre, and a fourth against the left. The enemy kept a fifth column as a reserve in the rear. On the approach of the French the British advanced to meet them. The 50th regiment, under Majors Napier and Stanhope, two young officers who had been trained up under the general’s own eye, passing over an enclosure in front, charged and drove the enemy out of the village of Elvina, with great loss. General Moore, who was at the post occupied by Lord William Bentinck’s brigade, directing every movement, on observing the brave conduct of the regiment, exclaimed, "Well done the 50th—well done my majors!" Then proceeding to the 42d, he cried out, "Highlanders, remember Egypt." They thereupon rushed forward, accompanied by the general, and drove back the enemy in all directions. He now ordered up a battalion of the Guards to the left flank of the Highlanders. The light company, conceiving, as their ammunition was spent, that the Guards were to relieve them, began to fall back; but Sir John discovering their mistake, said to them, "My brave 42d, join your comrades,— ammunition is coming,—you have your bayonets." This was enough.

Sir David Baird about this time was forced to leave the field, in consequence of his arm being shattered by a musket ball, and immediately thereafter a cannon ball struck Sir John Moore in the left shoulder and beat him to the ground. "He raised himself and sat up with an unaltered countenance, looking intensely at the Highlanders, who were warmly engaged. Captain Hardinge threw himself from his horse and took him by the hand; then observing his anxiety, he told him the 42d were advancing, upon which his countenance immediately brightened up."

After the general and Sir David Baird had been carried off the field, the command of the army devolved upon Lieutenant-General Hope, who, at the close of the battle, addressed a letter to Sir David, from which the following is an extract:—"The first effort of the enemy was met by the commander of the forces and by yourself, at the head of the 42d regiment, and the brigade under Lord William Bentinck. The village on your right became an object of obstinate contest. I lament to say, that, after the severe wound which deprived the army of your services, Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, who had just directed the most able disposition, fell by a cannon-shot. The troops, though not unacquainted with the irreparable loss they had sustained, were not dismayed, but, by the most determined bravery, not only repelled every attempt of the enemy to gain ground, but actually forced him to retire, although he had brought up fresh troops in support of those originally engaged. The enemy finding himself foiled in every attempt to force the right of the position, endeavoured by numbers to turn it. A judicious and well-timed movement which was made by Major-General Paget with the reserve, which corps had moved out of its cantonments to support the right of the army, by a vigorous attack defeated this intention. The major-general having pushed forward the 95th (Rifle corps) and the first battalion of the 52d regiment, drove the enemy before him, and in his rapid and judicious advance threatened the left of the enemy’s position. This circumstance, with the position of Lieutenant-General Fraser’s division (calculated to give still farther security to the right of the line), induced the enemy to relax his efforts in that quarter. They were, however, more forcibly directed towards the centre, when they were again successfully resisted by the brigade under Major-General Manningham, forming the left of your division, and a part of that under Major-General Leith, forming the right of that under my orders. Upon the left the enemy at first contented himself with an attack upon our piequet, which, however, in general maintained their ground. Finding, however, his efforts unavailing on the right and centre, he seemed determined to render the attack upon the left more serious, and had succeeded in obtaining possession of the village through which the great road to Madrid passes, and which was situated in front of that part of the line. From this post, however, he was soon expelled, with a considerable loss, by a gallant attack of some companies of the second battalion of the 14th regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Nicholls. Before five in the evening, we had not only successfully repelled every attack made upon the position, but had gained ground, in almost all points, and occupied a more forward line than at the commencement of the action; whilst the enemy confined his operations to a cannonade, and the fire of his light troops, with a view to draw off his other corps. At six the firing ceased."

The loss of the British was 800 men killed and wounded. The 42d had 1 sergeant and 36 rank and file killed; and 6 officers, viz., Captains Duncan Campbell, John Fraser, and Maxwell Grant, and Lieutenants Alexander Anderson, William Middleton, and Thomas MacInnes, 1 sergeant, and 104 rank and file wounded. The enemy lost upwards of 3000 men,—a remarkable disproportion, when it is considered that the British troops fought under many disadvantages.

In general orders issued on the 18th of January, Lieutenant-General Hope congratulated the army on the victory, and added,— On no occasion has the undaunted valour of British troops been more manifest. At the termination of a severe and harassing march, rendered necessary by the superiority which the enemy had acquired, and which had materially impaired the efficiency of the troops, many disadvantages were to be encountered.

moore1.jpg

Sir John Moore´s burial place

"These have all been surmounted by the conduct of the troops themselves; and the enemy has been taught, that whatever advantages of position or numbers he may employ, there is inherent, in British officers and soldiers, a bravery that knows not how to yield,—that no circumstances can appal,—and that will ensure victory when it is to be obtained by the exertion of any human means.

"The lieutenant-general has the greatest satisfaction in distinguishing such meritorious services as came within his observation, or have been brought to his knowledge.

"His acknowledgments are in a peculiar manner due to Lieutenant-General Lord William Bentinck, and the brigade under his command, consisting of the Fourth, FORTY-SECOND, and Fiftieth Regiments, which sustained the weight of the attack."

Though the victory was gained, General Hope did not consider it advisable, under existing circumstances, to risk another battle, and therefore issued orders for the immediate embarkation of the army. By the great exertions of the naval officers and seamen, the whole, with the exception of the rear guard, were on board before the morning; and the rear guard, with the sick and wounded, were all embarked the following day.

General Moore did not long survive the action. When he fell he was removed, with the assistance of a soldier of the 42d, a few yards behind the shelter of a wall. He was afterwards carried to the rear in a blanket by six soldiers of the 42d and Guards. When borne off the field his aid-de-camp, Captain Hardinge, observing the resolution and composure of his features, expressed his hopes that the wound was not mortal, and that he would still be spared to the army. Turning his head round, and looking steadfastly at the wound for a few seconds, the dying commander said, "No, Hardinge; I feel that to be impossible." A sergeant of the 42d and two spare files, in case of accident, were ordered to conduct their brave general to Corunna. Whilst being carried along slowly, he made the soldiers turn frequently round, that he might view the field of battle and listen to the firing. As the sound grew fainter, an indication that the enemy were retiring, his countenance evinced the satisfaction he felt. In a few hours he was numbered with the dead.

Thus died, in the prime of life, one of the most accomplished and bravest soldiers that ever adorned the British army. From his youth he embraced the profession with the sentiments and feelings of a soldier. He felt that a perfect knowledge and an exact performance of the humble but important duties of a subaltern officer are the best foundation for subsequent military fame. In the school of regimental duty, he obtained that correct knowledge of his profession, so essential to the proper direction of the gallant spirit of the soldier; and was enabled to establish a characteristic order and regularity of conduct, because the troops found in their leader a striking example of the discipline which he enforced on others. In a military character, obtained amidst the dangers of climate, the privations incident to service, and the sufferings of repeated wounds, it is difficult to select any point as a preferable subject for praise. The life of Sir John Moore was spent among his troops. During the season of repose, his time was devoted to the care and instruction of the officer and soldier; in war, he courted service in every quarter of the globe. Regardless of personal considerations, he esteemed that to which his country called him, the post of honour; and, by his undaunted spirit and unconquerable perseverance, he pointed the way to victory.

General Moore had been often heard to express a wish that he might die in battle like a soldier; and, like a soldier, he was interred in his full uniform in a bastion in the garrison of Corunna.

["it was not without cause that the Highland soldiers shed tears for the sufferings of the kind and partial friend whom they were now about to lose. He always reposed the most entire confidence in them; placing them in the post of danger and honour, and wherever it was expected that the greatest firmness and courage would be required; gazing at them with earnestness in his last moments, and in this extremity taking pleasure in their successful advance gratified at being carried by them, and talking familiarly to them when he had only a few hours to live; and, like a perfect soldier, as he was, dying with his sword by his side. Speaking to me, on one occasion, of the character of the Highland soldiers, "I consider," said he, "the Highlanders, under proper management, and under an officer who understands and values their character, and works on it, among the best of our military materials. Under such an officer, they will conquer or die on the spot, while their action, their hardihood, and abstinence, enable them to bear up against a severity of fatigue under which larger, and apparently stronger, men would sink. But it is the principles of integrity and moral correctness that I admire most in Highland soldiers, and this was the trait that first caught my attention, It is this that makes them trustworthy, and makes their courage sure, and not that kind of flash in the pan, which would scale a bastion today, and tomorrow be alarmed at the fire of a picquet. You highland officers may sleep sound at night, and rise in the morning with the assurance that, with your men, your professional character and honour are safe, unless you yourselves destroy the willing and excellent material entrusted to your direction." Such was the opinion particularly addressed to me, as a kind of farewell advice in 1805, when my regiment left his brigade to embark for the Mediterranean. It was accompanied by many excellent observations on the character of the Highland soldier, and the duties of Highland officers, especially what regards their management of, and behaviour towards their soldiers, and the necessity of paying attention to their feelings. The correctness of his views on this important subject I have seen fully confirmed by many years’ experience."—- Stewart’s Sketches.]

When the embarkation of the army was completed it sailed for England. One division, in which the 42d was, landed at Portsmouth; another disembarked at Plymouth.

The regiment was now brigaded at Shorncliffe with the rifle corps, under the command of Major-General Sir Thomas Graham. As the second battalion, which had been in Ireland since 1805, was about to embark for Portugal, they could obtain no draughts from it to supply the casualties which they had suffered in the late retreat and loss at Corunna but these were speedily made up otherwise.

The 42d was next employed in the disastrous expedition to Walcheren, and returned to Dover in September 1809, having only 204 men fit for duty out of 758, who, about six weeks before, had left the shores of England. The regiment marched to Canterbury on the 11th of September, where it remained till July 1810, when it was removed to Scotland, and quartered in Musselburgh. The men had recovered very slowly from the Walcheren fever, and many of them still suffered under its influence. During their stay at Musselburgh, the men unfortunately indulged themselves to excess in the use of ardent spirits, a practice which would have destroyed their health, had not a change of duty put an end to this baneful practice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Part Twenty One The Black Watch - 1811 - 1816

IN August 1811 the regiment sailed for England, and after remaining some time in Lewes barracks, embarked in April of the following year for PortugaL The ardour for recruiting had now ceased, and the consequence was that the regiment obtained few recruits while in Scotland. Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Blantyre, the commander of the second battalion, had experienced the growing indifference of the Highlanders for the army, having been obliged, before his departure for Portugal, to enlist 150 men from the Irish militia. The first battalion joined the army, under Lord Wellington, after the capture of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, and meeting with the second battalion, they were both consolidated.

"The second battalion had continued with the allied army in Portugal, and was engaged in the operations by which the English commander endeavoured to retard the advance of the superior numbers of the enemy, under Marshal Massena, who boasted he would drive the British into the sea, and plant the eagles of France on the towers of Lisbon. As the French army advanced in full confidence of success, suddenly the rocks of Busaco were seen bristling with bayonets and streaming with British colours. The Royal Highlanders were in position on the mountains when that formidable post was attacked by the enemy on the 27th of September, and when the valour of the British troops repulsed the furious onsets of the French veterans, who were driven back with severe loss. The loss of the Forty-Second was limited to 2 sergeants, 1 drummer, and 3 rank and file wounded. Major Robert Henry Dick received a medal for this battle.

"Being unable to force the position, the French commander turned it by a flank movement; and the allied army fell back to the lines of Torres Vedras, where a series of works of vast extent, connected with ranges of rocks and mountains, covered the approach to Lisbon, and formed a barrier to the progress of the enemy, which could not be overcome. The Forty-Second were posted in the lines.

"The French commander, despairing to accomplish his threat against the English, fell back to Santarem.

"For three months the opposing armies confronted each other a few stages from Lisbon; the enemy’s numbers became seriously reduced by sickness, and other causes, his resources were exhausted, and during the night of the 5th of March 1811 he commenced his retreat towards the frontiers. The British moved forward in pursuit, and in numerous encounters with the enemy’s rearguard gained signal advantages.

"The French army crossed the confines of Portugal; the British took up a position near the frontiers, and blockaded Almeida. The French advanced to relieve the blockaded fortress; and on the 3d of May they attacked the post of Fuentes d’Onor. The Royal Highlanders had 2 soldiers killed on this occasion; Captain M’Donald, 1 sergeant, and 5 rank and file wounded. On the 5th of May the enemy made another attack on the British position, but was repulsed. On this occasion the Forty-Second, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Blantyre, were charged by a body of French cavalry, which they defeated with signal gallantry. Lieutenant - Colonel Lord Blantyre received a gold medal; and the word ‘Fuentes d’Onor,’ displayed, by royal authority, on the regimental colour, commemorates the steady valour of the second battalion on this occasion. Its loss was 1 sergeant and 1 private soldier killed; 1 sergeant and 22 rank and file wounded. Major R. H. Dick received a medal for the battle of Fuentes d’Onor, where he commanded a flank battalion.

"In the subsequent operations of this campaign, the second battalion took an active part; but was not brought into close contact with the enemy."

On the consolidation of the two battalions, the officers and staff of the second were ordered to England, leaving the first upwards of 1160 rank and file fit for service. These were placed in the division under Lieutenant - General Sir Thomas Graham. The allied army now amounted to 58,000 men, being larger than any single division of the enemy, whose whole force exceeded 160,000 men.

After a successful attack on Almarez by a division of the army under General Hill, Lord Wellington moved forward and occupied Salamanca, which the French evacuated on his approach, leaving 800 men behind to garrison the fort, and retain possession of two redoubts formed from the walls and ruins of some convents and colleges. After a gallant defence of some days, the fort and redoubts surrendered on the 27th of June 1812.

Whilst the siege was proceeding, Marshal Marmont manoeuvred in the neighbourhood, but not being yet prepared for a general action, he retired across the Douro, and took up a position on the 224 from La Seca to Pollos. By the accession of a reinforcement from the Asturias, and another from the army of the centre, the marshal’s force was increased to nearly 60,000 men. Judging himself now able to cope with the allied army, he resolved either to bring Lord Wellington to action, or force him to retire towards Portugal, by threatening his communication with that country. By combining with Marshal Soult from the south, he expected to be able to intercept his retreat and cut him off. Marmont did not, however, venture to recross the Douro, but commenced a series of masterly manoeuvres, with the view of ensnaring his adversary. Alluding to this display of tactics, the Moniteur remarked that " there were seen those grand French military combinations which command victory, and decide the fate of empires; that noble audacity which no reverse can shake, and which commands events." These movements were met with corresponding skill on the part of the British general, who baffled all the designs of his skilful opponent. Several accidental encounters took place in the various changes of positions, in which both sides suffered considerably.

Tired of these evolutions, Lord Wellington crossed the Guarena on the night of the 19th of July, and on the morning of the 20th drew up his army in order of battle on the plains of Valise; but Marmont declined the challenge, and crossing the river, encamped with his left at Babila Fuentes, and his right at Villameda. This manoeuvre was met by a corresponding movement on the part of the allies, who marched to their right in columns along the plain, in a direction parallel to the enemy, who were on the heights of Cabeca Vilhosa. In this and the other movements of the British, the sagacity of the commander-in-chief appeared so strange to a plain Highlander, who had paid particular attention to them, that he swore Lord Wellington must be gifted with the second sight, as he saw and was prepared to meet Marmont’s intended changes of position before he commenced his movements.

The allied army were now on the same ground they had occupied near Salamanca when reducing the forts the preceding month; but in consequence of the enemy crossing the Tormes at Alba de Tormes, and appearing to threaten Ciudad Rodrigo, Lord Wellington made a corresponding movement, and on the 21st of July halted his army on the heights on the left bank. During the night the enemy possessed themselves of the village of Calvarasa de Ariba, and the heights of Nuestra Sonora de la Pena. In the course of this night Lord Wellington received intelligence that General Clausel had reached Pollos with a large body of cavalry, and would certainly join Marmont on the 23d or 24th.

The morning of the 22d, a day memorable in the annals of the Peninsular war, was ushered in with a violent tempest, and a dreadful storm of thunder and lightning. The operations of the day commenced soon after seven o’clock, when the outposts of both armies attempted to get possession of two hills, Los Arapiles, on the right of the allies. The enemy, by his numerical superiority, succeeded in possessing himself of the most distant of these hills, and thus greatly strengthened his position. With his accustomed skill, Marmont manoeuvred until two o’clock, when imagining that he had succeeded in drawing the allies into a snare, he opened a general fire from his artillery along his whole line, and threw out numerous bodies of sharpshooters, both in front and flank, as a feint to cover an attempt he meditated to turn the position of the British. This ruse was thrown away on Lord Wellington, who, acting on the defensive only, to become, in his turn the assailant with the more effect, and perceiving at once the grand error of his antagonist in extending his line to the left, without strengthening his centre, which had now no second line to support it, made immediate preparations for a general attack; and with his characteristic determination of purpose, took advantage of that unfortunate moment, which, as the French commander observed, "destroyed the result of six weeks of wise combinations of methodical movements, the issue of which had hitherto appeared certain, and which everything appeared to presage to us that we should enjoy the fruit of."

The arrangements were these, Major-General Pakenham, with the third division, was ordered to turn the left of the enemy, whilst he was to be attacked in front by the divisions of Generals Leith, Cole, Bradford, and Cotton, —those of Generals Clinton, Hope, and Don Carlos de Espana; acting as a reserve. The divisions under Generals Alexander Campbell and Alten were to form the left of the line. Whilst this formation was in progress, the enemy did not alter his previous position, but made an unsuccessful attempt to get possession of the village of Arapiles, held by a detachment of the guards.

About four o’clock in the afternoon, the attack commenced. General Pakenham, supported by the Portuguese cavalry, and some squadrons of the 14th Dragoons under Colonel Harvey, carried all their respective points of attack. The divisions in the centre were equally successful, driving the enemy from one height to another. They, however, received a momentary check from a body of troops from the heights of Arapiles. A most obstinate struggle took place at this post. Having descended from the heights which they occupied, the British dashed across the intervening valley and ascended a hill, on which they found the enemy most advantageously posted, formed in solid squares, the front ranks kneeling, and supported by twenty pieces of cannon. On the approach of the British, the enemy opened a fire from their cannon and musketry, but this, instead of retarding, seemed to accelerate the progress of the assailants. Gaining the brow of the hill, they instantly charged, and drove the enemy before them; a body of them attempting to rally, were thrown into utter confusion by a second charge with the bayonet. A general rout now took place, and night alone saved the French army from utter annihilation.

There fell into the hands of the victors 7000 prisoners and 11 pieces of cannon, but the loss of the enemy in killed and wounded was not ascertained. General Marmont himself was wounded, and many of his officers were killed or disabled. The loss of the allies was 624 killed, and about 4000 wounded.

Among other important results to which this victory led, not the least was the appointment of Lord Wellington as generalissimo of the Spanish armies, by which he was enabled to direct and control the operations of the whole Spanish forces, which had hitherto acted as independent corps.

The allied army pushed forward to Madrid, and, after various movements and skirmishes, entered that city on the 12th of August amid the acclamations of the inhabitants. Learning that General Clausel, who had succeeded Marshal Marmont in the command, had organised an army, and threatened some of the British positions on the Douro, Lord Wellington left Madrid on the 1st of September, and marching northward, entered Valladolid on the 7th, the enemy retiring as he advanced. Being joined by Castanos, the Spanish general, with an army of 12,000 foot, he took up a position close to Burgos, in which the enemy had left a garrison of 2500 men. The castle was in ruins, but the strong thick wall of the ancient keep was equal to the best casemates, and it was strengthened by a horn-work which had been erected on Mount St Michael. A church had also been converted into a fort, and the whole enclosed within three lines, so connected that each could defend the other. Preliminary to an attack on the castle, the possession of the horn-work was necessary. Accordingly, on the evening of the 19th of September, the light infantry of General Stirling’s brigade having driven in the out-posts, took possession of the out-works close to the mount. When dark it was attacked by the same troops, supported by the 42d, and carried by assault.

On the 29th an unsuccessful attempt was made to spring a mine under the enemy’s works, but on the 4th of October another mine was exploded with better effect. The second battalion of the 24th regiment established themselves within the exterior line of the castle, but were soon obliged to retire. The enemy made two vigorous sorties on the 8th, drove back the covering parties, and damaged the works of the besiegers, who sustained considerable loss. A third mine was exploded on the 13th, when the troops attempted an assault, but without success. The last attack, a most desperate one, was made on the 19th, but with as little success; two days after which, Lord Wellington, on the 21st, to the great disappointment of the besiegers, ordered the siege, which had lasted thirty days, to be raised, in consequence of the expected advance of a French army of 80,000 men. The loss sustained by the 42d in this siege was 3 officers, 2 sergeants, and 44 rank and file killed and 6 officers, 11 sergeants, 1 drummer, and 230 rank and file wounded. The officers killed; were Lieutenants B. Ferguson and P. Milne, and Ensign David Cullen; those wounded were Captains Donald Williamson (who died of his wounds), Archibald Menzies, and George Davidson, Lieutenants Hugh Angus Fraser, James Stewart, and Robert Mackinnon.

Whilst Lord Wellington was besieging Burgos, the enemy had been concentrating their forces, and on the 20th of October his lordship received intelligence of the advance of the French army. Joseph Buonaparte, newly raised by his brother to the throne of Spain, was, with one division, to cut off Lord Wellington’s communication with General Hill’s division between Aranjuez and Toledo, and another, commanded by General Souham, was to raise the seize of Burgos. After the abandonment of the siege, on the 21st of October, the allied army retired after night-fall, unperceived by General Souham, who followed with a superior force, but did not overtake them till the evening of the twenty-third.

During the retrograde movement, the troops suffered greatly from the inclemency of the weather, from bad roads, but still more from the want of a regular supply of provisions; and the same irregularities and disorganisation prevailed among them as in the retreat to Corunna.

The allied army retired upon Salamanca, and afterwards to Frenada and Corea, on the frontier of Portugal, where they took up their winter quarters. The enemy apparently unable to advance, unwilling to retire, and renouncing the hope of victory, followed the example thus set. Subsequent events proved that this opinion, expressed at the time was correct, "for every movement of the enemy after the campaign of 1812 was retrograde, every battle a defeat."

Having obtained a reinforcement of troops and abundant military supplies from England, Lord Wellington opened the campaign of 1813 by moving on Salamanca, of which, for the third time, the British troops took possession on the 24th of May. The division of Sir R. Hill was stationed between Tormes and the Douro, and the left wing, under Sir Thomas Graham, took post at Miranda de Douro. The enemy, who gave way as the allies advanced, evacuated Valladolid on the 4th of June, and General Hill having, on the 12th attacked and defeated a division of the French army under General Reille, the enemy hastened their retreat, and blew up the works of the castle of Burgos, on which they had expended much labour the preceding year.

The enemy fell back on Vittoria, followed by Lord Wellington, who drew up his army on the river Bayas, separated by some high grounds from Vittoria. His men were in the highest spirits, and the cheerfulness and alacrity with which they performed this long march, more than 250 miles, formed a favourable contrast with their conduct when retreating the previous year. The French army, under the command of Joseph Buonaparte and Marshal Jourdan, made a stand near Vittoria, for the purpose of defending the passage of the river Zadorra, having that town on their right, the centre on a height, commanding the valley of that stream, and the left resting on the heights between Arunez and Puebla de Arlanzon. The hostile armies were about 70,000 men each.

On the morning of the 21st of June, the allied army moved forward in three columns to take possession of the heights in the front of Vittoria. The right wing was commanded by General Hill, the centre by General Cole, and the left wing by Genera] Graham. The operations of the day commenced by General Hill attacking and carrying the heights of Puebla, on which the enemy’s left rested. They made a violent attempt to regain possession, but they were driven back at all points, and pursued across the Zadorra. Sir Rowland Hill passing over the bridge of La Puebla, attacked and carried the village of Sabijana de Alava, of which he kept possession, notwithstanding repeated attempts of the enemy to regain it. The fourth and light divisions now crossed the Zadorra at different points, while almost at the same instant of time, the column under Lord Dalhousie reached Mendoza; and the third, under Sir T. Picton, followed by the seventh division, crossed a bridge higher up. These four divisions, forming the centre of the army, were destined to attack the right of the enemy’s centre on the heights, whilst General Hill pushed forward from Alava to attack the left. The enemy dreading the consequences of an attack on his centre, which he had weakened to strengthen his posts on the heights, abandoned his position, and commenced a rapid retreat to Vittoria.

Whilst these combined movements of the right and centre were in progress, the left wing, under Sir Thomas Graham, drove the enemy’s right from the hills above Abechuco and Gamarra. To preserve their communication with Bayonne, which was nearly cut off by this movement, the enemy had occupied the villages of Gamarra, Mayor, and Menor, near which the great road touches the banks of the Zadorra. They were, however, driven from these positions by a Spanish division under Colonel Longa, and another of Portuguese under General Pack, supported by General Anson’s cavalry brigade and the fifth division of infantry under General Oswald. General Graham, at the same time, attacked and obtained possession of the village of Abechuco.

Thus cut off from retreat by the great road to France, the enemy, as soon as the centre of the allies had penetrated to Vittoria, retreated with great precipitation towards Pampluna, the only other road left open, and on which they had no fortified positions to cover their retrograde movement. The enemy left behind them all their stores and baggage, and out of 152 pieces of cannon, they carried off only one howitzer. General Hill, with his division, continued to pursue the panic-stricken French from one position to another till the 7th of July, when he took post on the summit of the pass of Maya, beyond the Pyrenees, "those lofty heights which," as Marshal Soult lamented, in a proclamation he issued, "enabled him proudly to survey our fertile valleys."

With the exception of Pampluna and St Sebastian, the whole of this part of the north of Spain was now cleared of the enemy. To reduce these places was the next object. It was resolved to blockade the former and lay siege to the latter, which last-mentioned service was intrusted to General Graham. This was a most arduous task, as St Sebastian was, in point of strength, next to Gibraltar.

After an unsuccessful assault, however, the attention of the commander-in-chief being directed to the movements of Marshal Soult, who was advancing with a large army, the siege of St Sebastian was suspended for a time.

At this time the allied army occupied a range of mountain passes between the valley of Roncesvalles, celebrated as the field of Charlemagne’s defeat, and St Sebastian, but as the distance between these stations was sixty miles, it was found impossible so to guard all these passes as to prevent the entrance of an army. The passes occupied by the allies were defended by the following troops:— Major General Byng’s brigade and a division of Spanish infantry held the valley of Roncesvalles, to support which General Cole’s division was posted at Piscarret, with General Picton’s in reserve at Olaque; the valley of Bastan and the pass of Maya was occupied by Sir Rowland Hill, with Lieutenant-general William Stewart’s and Silviera’s Portuguese divisions, and the Spanish corps under the Conde de Amaran the Portuguese brigade of Brigadier-general Archibald Campbell was detached to Los Alduidos; the heights of St Barbara, the town of Pera, and the Puerto de Echoism, were protected by Lord Dalhousie and Baron Alten’s light division, Brigadier general Pack’s being in reserve at Estevan. The communication between Lord Dalhousie and General Graham was kept up by General Longa’s Spanish division; and the Condo de Abisbal blockaded Pamplona.

Such were the positions of the allied army when Marshal Soult, who had been lately appointed to the command of a numerous French army, recently collected, having formed a plan of operations for a general attack on the allied army, advanced on the 25th of July at the head of a division of 36,000 men against Roncesvalles, whilst General Count d’Erlon, with another division of 13,000 men, moved towards the pass of Maya. Pressed by this overwhelming force, General Byng was obliged, though supported by part of Sir Lowry Cole’s division, to descend from the heights that commanded the pass, in order to preserve his communication, in which situation he was attacked by Soult and driven back to the top of the mountain, whilst the troops on the ridge of Arola, part of Cole’s division, were forced to retire with considerable loss, and to take up a position in the rear. General Cole was again obliged to retire, and fell back on Lizoain. Next day General Picton moved forward to support General Cole, but both were obliged to retire in consequence of Soult’s advance.

Meanwhile Count d’Erlon forced the battalions occupying the narrow ridges near the pass of Maya to give way; but these being quickly supported by Brigadier-general Barnes’s brigade, a series of spirited actions ensued, and the advance of the enemy was arrested. General Hill hearing of the retrograde movement from Roncesvalles, retired behind the lrurita, and took up a strong position. On the 27th Sir Thomas Picton resumed his retreat. The troops were greatly dejected at this temporary reverse; but the arrival of Lord Wellington, who had been with the army before St Sebastian, revived their drooping spirits. Immediately on his arrival he directed the troops in reserve to move forward to support the division opposed to the enemy; formed General Picton’s division on a ridge on the left bank of the Argus, and General Cole’s on the high grounds between that river and the Lanz. To support the positions in front, General Hill was posted behind the Lizasso; but, on the arrival of General Pakenham on the 28th, he took post on the left of General Cole, facing the village of Sourarom; but before the British divisions had fully occupied the ground, they were vigorously attacked by the enemy from the village. The enemy were, however, driven back with great loss.

Soult next brought forward a strong column, and advancing up the hill against the centre of the allies, on the left of General Cole’s line, obtained possession of that post, but he was almost immediately driven back at the point of the bayonet by the Fusiliers. The French renewed the attack, but were again quickly repulsed. About the same time another attack was made on the right of the centre, where a Spanish brigade, supported by the 40th, was posted. The Spaniards gave way, the 40th not only keeping their ground, but driving the enemy down the hill with great loss.

The enemy pushing forward in separate bodies with great vigour, the battle now became general along the whole front of the heights occupied by the fourth division, but they were repulsed at all points, except one occupied by a Portuguese battalion, which was overpowered and obliged to give way. The occupation of this post by the enemy exposed the flank of Major-General Ross’s brigade, immediately on the right, to a destructive fire, which forced him to retire. The enemy were, however, soon dispossessed of this post by Colonel John Maclean, who, advancing with the 27th and 48th regiments, charged and drove them from it, and immediately afterwards attacked and charged another body of the enemy who were advancing from the left. The enemy persevered in his attacks several times, but was as often repulsed, principally by the bayonet. Several regiments charged four different times.

After various successful attacks, the enemy, on the 30th, to use the words of Lord Wellington, "abandoned a position which is one of the strongest and most difficult of access that I have yet seen occupied by troops." The enemy were now pursued beyond Olaque, in the vicinity of which General Hill, who had been engaged the whole day, had repulsed all the attacks of Count d’Erlon.

The enemy endeavoured to rally in their retreat, but were driven from one position to another till the 2d of August, when the allies had regained all the posts they had occupied on the 25th of July, when Soult made his first attack. As the 92d or Gordon Highlanders was the Highland regiment which had the good fortune to be engaged in these brilliant attacks, in which they particularly distinguished themselves, the account of these operations might have been deferred till we come to give an account of the services of that excellent regiment; but as the omission of these details in this place would have broken the continuity of the narrative, it was deemed proper to insert them here.

After this second expulsion of the French beyond the Pyrenees, the siege of St Sebastian was resumed with redoubled energy. A continued fire was kept up from eighty pieces of cannon, which the enemy withstood with surprising courage and perseverance. At length a practicable breach was made, and on the morning of the 31st of August the troops advanced to the assault. The breach was extensive, but there was only one point at which it was possible to enter, and this could only be done by single files. All the inside of the wall to the height of the curtain formed a perpendicular scarp of twenty feet. The troops made the most persevering exertions to force the breach, and everything that bravery could attempt was repeatedly tried by the men, who were brought forward in succession from the trenches; but each time, on attaining the summit, all who attempted to remain were destroyed by a heavy fire from the entrenched ruins within, so that "no man outlived the attempt to gain the ridge." The moment was critical; but General Graham, with great presence of mind, directed his artillery to play against the curtain, so as to pass a few feet over the heads of the troops in the breach. The fire was directed with admirable precision, and the troops advanced with perfect confidence. They struggled unremittingly for two hours to force the breach, and, taking advantage of some confusion occasioned by an explosion of ammunition within the ramparts, they redoubled their efforts, and by assisting each other got over the walls and ruins. After struggling about an hour among their works, the French retreated with great loss to the castle, leaving the town, which was now reduced to a heap of ruins, in the possession of the assailants. This success was dearly purchased,—the loss of the allies, in killed and wounded, being upwards of 2000 men. Soult made an attempt to raise the siege, by crossing the Bidassoa on the very day the assault was made with a force of nearly 40,000 men; but he was obliged, after repeated attacks, to repass the river.

Having determined to carry the war into France, Lord Wellington crossed the Bidassoa at low water, near its mouth, on the 7th of October. After a series of successful operations, the allied army was established in the French territories; but as Pampluna still held out, the commander-in-chief delayed his advance for a time. Parnpluna surrendered on the 31st of October, after a blockade of four months. Lord Wellington having now the whole allied force, amounting to upwards of 85,000 men, at his disposal, resolved to cornmence operations.

Since the battle of the Pyrenees, the French had occupied a position with their right towards the sea, at a short distance from St Jean de Luz, their centre on a village in Sare, and on the heights behind it, with their left resting on a stony height in the rear of Ainhoe. This position, strong by nature, had been rendered still stronger by art. The attack on the French lines was to be made in columns of divisions. In consequence of heavy falls of snow and rain, Lord Wellington was obliged to defer his attack till the 10th of November, on the morning of which day the allies moved forward against the enemy.

The attack was begun by General Cole’s division, which attacked and carried the principal redoubt in front of Sam with such rapidity, that several of the enemy were taken in it before it could be evacuated. Another redoubt on the left was carried in the same rapid manner by Lord Dalhousie’s division, commanded in his absence by Colonel Le Coy. General Cole’s division thereupon took possession of the village. General Alten having carried La Petite Rhune, the whole centre divisions united, and made a joint attack on the enemy’s principal position behind the village. Sir Thomas Picton’s division (now commanded in his absence by General Colville), and that of Le Cor, carried the redoubt on the left of the enemy’s centre. The light division advancing from La Petite Rhune, attacked the works in their front, supported by the 52d regiment, which, crossing with great rapidity a narrow neck of land, was here exposed to the fire of two flanking batteries, rushed up the hill with such impetuosity, that the enemy grew alarmed, and fled with precipitation.

Meanwhile the right, under General Hill, attacked the heights of Ainhoe. The attack was led by General Clinton’s division, which, marching on the left of five redoubts, forded the Kivelle, the banks of which were steep and difficult, and attacked the troops in front of the works. These were immediately driven back with loss, and General Hamilton joining in the attack on the other redoubt, the enemy hastily retired. The brigade of General Stewart’s division, under General Pringle. drove in the enemy’s picquets in front of Ainhoe, whilst General Byng’s brigade attacked and drove the enemy from the entrenchments, and from a 1 redoubt farther to the left.

The enemy at length seeing further resistance hopeless, abandoned all their positions and works in front of St Jean do Luz and retired upon Bidart, after destroying all the bridges on the Lower Nivelle. In these successful and complicated movements, the allies had 21 officers and 244 soldiers killed, and 120 officers and 1657 soldiers wounded. Of the 42d regiment, Captain Mungo Macpherson and Lieutenant Kenneth Macdougall were wounded, one private only killed, and 2 sergeants and 23 rank and file wounded. The French lost 31 pieces of cannon, 1300 prisoners, and had a proportional number killed and wounded.

In consequence of the heavy rains and the destruction of the bridges, the allies were prevented from pursuing the enemy, who retired to an entrenched camp near Bayonne. The allied troops were cantoned between the Nivelle and the sea, and made preparations for dislodging the French from their new position; but the incessant rains, which continued till December, put an entire stop to all active movements. Having thrown bridges over the Nive in the beginning of December, Lord Wellington commenced operations on the 9th for the passage of that river. As the position of the enemy was considered too strong to be attacked in front, the commander-in-chief determined to make a movement to the right, and by thus threatening Soult’s rear, he hoped to induce him to abandon his position. Accordingly the allied army crossed the Nive at different points on the 9th. General Hope met with little opposition, and General Hill, who crossed by the ford of Cambo, was scarcely opposed. In danger of being intercepted by General Clinton’s division, which had crossed at Ustariz, the enemy retired in great haste, and assembled in considerable numbers at Villefranche, but they were driven from this post by the light infantry and two Portuguese regiments, under Colonels Douglas and Browne. General Hill next day took up a position with his division, with his left on Villefranche and his right on the Adouir, in consequence of which he cut off the communication between Bayonne and St Jean Pied de Port. In this situation the French troops stationed at the latter place were forced to retire on St Palais.

Leaving a force to keep General Hill in check, Marshal Soult left his entrenched camp on the morning of the 10th, and making an impetuous attack on the light division of General Hope’s wing, drove back his outposts. Then establishing himself on a ridge between the corps of Baron Alten and Major-General Andrew Hay’s fifth division, he turned upon the latter, and attacked it with a determined bravery which it was almost impossible to withstand; but after an arduous struggle the enemy were repulsed by Brigadier-general Robinson’s brigade of the fifth division, and Brigadier-general Archibald Campbell’s Portuguese brigade. The enemy, no way discouraged by these repulses, renewed the attack about three o’clock, but with the same want of success.

During the night, Soult made dispositions for attacking the light division at Arcangues; but Sir John Hope perceiving his intention, moved towards the threatened point. Anticipated in this movement, the experienced Marshal again changed his dispositions to the left, but General Hope, equally on the alert, met him also in that direction. With the exception of some partial skirmishing between the out posts, no occurrence of any importance took place on the following day; but on the 12th the enemy renewed the attack on the left without success.

Thus foiled in all his attempts, Soult resolved to change entirely his plan of operations, and accordingly, during the night of the 12th, he drew his army through Bayonne, and on the morning of the 13th attempted to force his way between the centre and right of the British position, at the head of 30,000 men. Advancing with great vigour and celerity, he might have succeeded, had not General Hill, with his usual promptitude and decision, ordered his troops on the flanks to support the centre. The enemy, after a violent struggle, were repulsed with great loss, and retired with such precipitation that they were out of reach before the arrival of the sixth division, which had been ordered up to support General Hill.

Whilst this contest was going on, General Byng’s brigade, supported by the Portuguese brigade under General Buchan, carried an important height, from which the enemy made several attempts to dislodge them, but being unsuccessful at all points, they at length retired to their entrenchments, whither they were followed by General Hill, who took up a parallel position. At the passage of the Nive the 42d had Captain George Stewart and Lieutenant James Stewart killed, and 11 rank and file wounded.

The inclemency of the weather, and a succession of heavy rains which had swelled the rivers and destroyed the roads, rendering farther movements impracticable for a time, Marshal Soult availed himself of the interruption thus given to the progress of the allied army to strengthen his position. The weather becoming favourable about the middle of February 1814, Lord Wellington began a series of movements with the view of inducing Soult to withdraw from his strong position, or, should be decline, to cut off his communication with France, by marching the allied army into the heart of that country. By these movements the British general obtained the command of the Adour, which obliged Soult, who obtained his supplies down that river from the interior, to withdraw from Bayonne in the direction of Dane. He left, however, a strong garrison in the place.

Leaving General Hope to blockade Bayonne, Lord Wellington made a general movement with the right and centre of the army on the 24th of February. Next day they marched forward to dislodge the enemy from a position they had taken up on the Gave de Pau at Orthés. Between the extreme points of this position ran a chain of heights receding in a line, bending inwards, the centre of which was so retired as to be protected by the guns of both wings. On his left, Soult was supported in this strong position by the town and the river; his right rested on a commanding height in rear of the village of St Bois; whilst the centre, accommodating itself to the incurvation of the heights, described a horizontal reversed segment of a circle protected by the strong position of both wings.

In a short time every point was carried, but the enemy retired in a very orderly manner, firing by echelons of divisions, each covering the other as they retreated. Observing General Hill, who had just crossed the river, advancing upon their left flank, on the road from Orthtis to St Sever, the enemy became at once apprehensive that they would be intercepted, and, instead of continuing their masterly retreat, they ran off at full speed, followed by their pursuers. The latter continued the chase for nearly three miles at a full trot, and the French at length breaking their lines, threw away their arms, and fled in all directions. The pursuit was continued however as far as Sault de Navailles, on reaching which the remains even of an army were no longer to be seen. The loss of the enemy was estimated at 8000 men in killed, wounded, and prisoners. The loss of the allies in killed and wounded amounted to about 1600. Of the 42d, Lieutenant John Innes was the only officer killed, besides 1 sergeant, and 3 rank and file. Major William Cowell, Captain James Walker, Lieutenants Duncan Stewart and James Brander, 5 sergeants, and 85 rank and file were wounded.

The French army, lately so formidable, was now broken and dispersed, and many of the soldiers, dispirited by their reverses, returned to their homes; others, for the first time, abandoned their standards, and went over to the allies. Soult, however, undismayed by these difficulties, collected the remains of that part of his army which still remained faithful, and exerted all his energies to arrest the progress of the victors, but his efforts were unavailing; and after sustaining a defeat at Ayre, where he attempted to cover the removal of considerable magazines, he retreated to Tarbes. All the western part of Gascony being thus left exposed to the operations of the allied army, Lord Wellington detached Marshal Berostèrd and Lord Dalhousie, with three divisions, to Bordeaux, which they entered amidst the acclamations of the inhabitants.

Having obtained reinforcements from Spain and England, Lord Wellington, after leaving 4000 men at Bordeaux under Lord Dalhousie, again put his army in motion. Soult attempted to make a stand at Vicq with two divisions, but he was driven from this position by General Picton with the third division, and forced to retire beyond Tarbes. With the apparent intention of disputing the farther advance of the allies, the Marshal concentrated his whole force at this point, but he was dislodged from this position by a series of combined movements. It was now discovered that the enemy were drawn up on two hills running parallel to those from which their advance had been driven, and it was farther ascertained that this commanding position could not be gained by an advance in front without a great sacrifice of men, reinforced as it had been by the troops driven from the heights in front. It was therefore determined to attack it on flank, but, before the necessary arrangements could be completed, night came on, and Soult taking advantage of the darkness, moved off towards Toulouse, whither he was followed next morning by the allies, who reached the banks of the Garoxine on the 27th of March.

This river was much swollen by recent rains and the melting of the snow on the Pyrenees. There being only one bridge at Toulouse, and that being in possession of the enemy, it became necessary to procure pontoons to enable the army to pass. Whilst the necessary preparations were going on for this purpose, Marshal Soult made the most extraordinary exertions to put himself in a proper posture of defence. He was not even yet without hopes of success, and although it is generally believed that he was now aware of the abdication of Buonaparte, an event which, he must have known, would put an immediate end to the war, he was unwilling to let slip the only opportunity he now had of wiping off the disgrace of his recent defeats.

The city of Toulouse is defended by an ancient wall, flanked with towers. On three sides it is surrounded by the great canal of Languedoc and by the Garonne, and on the fourth side it is flanked by a range of hills close to the canal, over which pass all the roads on that side the town. On the summit of the nearest of these hills the French had erected a chain of five redoubts, between which and the defences of the town they formed entrenchments and lines of connection. These defences consisted of extensive field-works, and of some of the ancient buildings in the suburbs well fortified. At the foot of the height, and along one-half its length, ran the small river Ers the bridges of which had all been destroyed; on the top of the height was an elevated and elongated plain in a state of cultivation, and towards the end next the town there stood a farmhouse and offices. Some trenches had been cut around this house, and three redoubts raised on its front and left. Such was the field selected by Soult to redeem, if possible, by a last effort, his fallen reputation, and to vindicate the tarnished honour of the French arms.

Pontoons having been procured, part of the allied army crossed the Garonne on the 4th of April; but the melting of the snow on the Pyrences, owing to a few days of hot weather, swelled the river so much that it became necessary to remove the pontoons, and it was not till the 8th that they could be replaced. On that day the whole army crossed the river, except General Hill’s division, which remained opposite the town in front of the great bridge, to keep the enemy in check on that side. From the insulated nature of the town, no mode of attack was left to Lord Wellington but to attempt the works in front.

Accordingly, on the 10th of April, he made the following dispositions: —The Spaniards under Don Manuel Freyre were to attack the redoubts fronting the town; General Picton and the light division were to keep the enemy in check on the great road to Paris, but not to attack; and Marshal Beresford, with General Clinton and the sixth division, was to attack the centre of the entrenchments, whilst General Cole with the fourth marched against the right. The part taken by the 42d in this struggle is so well and fully described by Mr Malcolm, formerly of the 42d, in his Reminiscence of a Campaign in 1814, that we shall quote his description here:-

"Early on Sunday morning, the 10th of April, our tents were struck, and we moved with the other regiments of the sixth division towards the neighbourhood of Toulouse, until ordered to halt on a level ground, from whence we had a distinct view of the enemy’s position on the ridge of hills already mentioned. At the same time we saw Lord Wellington, accompanied by his staff, riding back from the front at a hard trot. Some of the men called out, 'There goes Wellington, my lads; we shall have some hot work presently.’

"At that moment Major General Pack, who commanded our brigade, came up, and calling its officers and non-commissoned officers round him, addressed them to the following effect:-

‘We are this day to attack the enemy; your business will be to take possession of those fortified heights, which you see towards the front. I have only to warn you to be prepared to form close column in case of a charge of cavalry; to restrain the impetuosity of the men; and to prevent them from wasting their ammunition.’ The drums then beat to arms, and we received orders to move towards the enemy’s position.

"Our division (the sixth) approached the foot of the ridge of heights on the enemy’s right and moved in a direction parallel to them, until we reached the point of attack. We advanced under a heavy cannonade, and arrived in front of a redoubt, which protected the right of the enemy’s position, where we were formed in two lines,—the first, consisting of some Portuguese regiments,—and the reserve, of the Highland Brigade.

"Darkening the whole hill, flanked by clouds of cavalry, and covered by the fire of their redoubt, the enemy came down upon us like a torrent. Their generals and field-officers riding in front, and waving their hats amidst shouts of the multitude, resembling the roar of an ocean. Our Highlanders, as if actuated by one instinctive impulse, took off their bonnets, and waving them in the air, returned their greeting with three cheers.

"A deathlike silence ensued for some moments, and we could observe a visible pause in the advance of the enemy. At that moment the light company of the Forty-second Regiment, by a well-directed fire, brought down some of the French officers of distinction, as they rode in front of their respective corps. The enemy immediately fired a volley into our lines, and advanced upon us amidst a deafening roar of musketry and artillery. Our troops answered their fire only once, and unappalled by their furious onset, advanced up the hill, and met them at the charge. Upon reaching the summit of the ridge of heights, the redoubt, which had covered their advance, fell into our possession; but they still retained four others, with their connecting lines of intrenchments, upon the level of the same heights on which we were now established, and into which they had retired.

"Meantime, our troops were drawn up along a road, which passed over the hill, and which having a high bank at each side, protected us in some measure from the general fire of their last line of redoubts. Here our brigade remained until Marshal Beresford’s Artillery, which, in consequence of the badness of the roads, had been left in the village of Mont Blanc, could be brought up, and until the Spaniards under General Don Manuel Freyre, who, in proceeding along the left of the Ers, had been repulsed, could be reformed, and brought back to the attack. Marshal Beresford’s artillery having arrived, and the Spanish troops being once more brought forward, Major-General Pack rode up in front of our brigade, and made the following announcement:—’ I have just now been with General Clinton, and he has been pleased to grant my request, that in the charge which we are now to make upon the enemy’s redoubts, the Forty-second regiment shall have the honour of leading on the attack; the Forty-second will advance.’

"We immediately began to form for the charge upon the redoubts, which were about two or three hundred yards distant, and to which we had to pass over some ploughed fields. The grenadiers of the Forty-second regiment followed by the other companies, led the way, and began to ascend from the road; but no sooner were the feathers of their bonnets seen rising over the embankment, than such a tremendous fire was opened from the redoubts and intrenchments, as in a very short time would have annihilated them. The right wing, therefore, hastily formed into line, and without waiting for the left, which was ascending by companies from the road, rushed upon the batteries, which vomited forth a most furious and terrific storm of fire, grape-shot, and musketry.

"The redoubts were erected along the side of a road, and defended by broad ditches filled with water. Just before our troops reached the obstruction, however, the enemy deserted them and fled in all directions, leaving their last line of strongholds in our possession; but they still possessed two fortified houses close by, from which they kept up a galling and destructive fire. Out of about 500 men, which the Forty-second brought into action, scarcely 90 reached the fatal redoubt from which the enemy had fled.

"Our colonel was a brave man, but there are moments when a well-timed manoeuvre is of more advantage than courage. The regiment stood on the road with its front exactly to the enemy, and if the left wing had been ordered forward, it could have sprung up the bank in line and dashed forward on the enemy at once. Instead of this, the colonel faced the right wing to its right, counter-marched in rear of the left, and when the leading rank cleared the left flank it was made to file up the bank, and as soon as it made its appearance the shot, shell, and musketry poured in with deadly destruction; and in this exposed position we had to make a second countermarch on purpose to bring our front to the enemy. These movements consumed much time, and by this unnecessary exposure exasperated the men to madness. The word ‘Forward—double-quick!’ dispelled the gloom, and forward we drove, in the face of apparent destruction. The field had been lately rough ploughed or under fallow, and when a man fell he tripped the one behind, thus the ranks were opening as we approached the point whence all this hostile vengeance proceeded; but the rush forward had received an impulse from desperation, ‘the spring of the men’s patience had been strained until ready to snap, and when left to the freedom of its own extension, ceased not to act until the point to which it was directed was attained.’ In a minute every obstacle was surmounted; the enemy fled as we leaped over the trenches and mounds like a pack of noisy hounds in pursuit, frightening them more by our wild hurrahs than actually hurting them by ball or bayonet.

"Two officers (Captain Campbell and Lieutenant Young) and about 60 of inferior rank were all that now remained without a wound of the right wing of the regiment that entered the field in the morning. The flag was hanging in tatters, and stained with the blood of those who had fallen over it The standard, cut in two, had been successively placed in the hands of three officers, who fell as we advanced; it was now borne by a sergeant, while the few remaining soldiers who rallied around it, defiled with mire, sweat, smoke, and blood, stood ready to oppose with the bayonet the advancing column, the front files of which were pouring in destructive showers of musketry among our confused ranks. To have disputed the post with such overwhelming numbers, would have been hazarding the loss of our colours, and could serve no general interest to our army, as we stood between the front of our advancing support and the enemy; we were therefore ordered to retire. The greater number passed through the cottage, now filled with wounded and dying, and leaped from the door that was over the road into the trench of the redoubt among the killed and wounded.

"We were now between two fires of musketry, the enemy to our left and rear, the 79th and left wing of our own regiment in our front. Fortunately the intermediate space did not exceed a hundred paces, and our safe retreat depended upon the speed with which we could perform it. We rushed along like a crowd of boys pursuing the bounding ball to its distant limit, and in an instant plunged into a trench that had been cut across the road: the balls were whistling amongst us and over us; while those in front were struggling to get out, those behind were holding them fast for assistance, and we became firmly wedged together. until a horse without a rider came plunging down on the heads and bayonets of those in his way; they on whom he fell were drowned or smothered, and the gap thus made gave way for the rest to get out.

"The right wing of the regiment, thus broken down and in disorder, was rallied by Captain Campbell (afterwards brevet lieutenant-colonel) and the adjutant (Lieutenant Young) on a narrow road, the steep banks of which served as a cover from the showers of grape that swept over our heads.

"As soon as the smoke began to clear away, the enemy made a last attempt to retake their redoubts, and for this purpose advanced in great force : they were a second time repulsed with great loss, and their whole army was driven into Toulouse." [in a conversation between General Hill and Major-General Stewart (Garth), a few days after the battle, the former, alluding to the attempt of the enemy to take the redoubt, said to General Stewart, "I saw your old friends the Highlanders in a most perilous situation; and had I not known their firmness I should have trembled for the result. As it was, they could not have resisted the force brought against them if they had not been so instantaneously supported." Being asked by General Stewart what was the amount at which he calculated the strength of the enemy’s column of attack, he replied, "Not less than 6000 men." In passing soon afterwards through Languedoc, Stewart stopped to view a brigade of French infantry exercising. The French commanding officer rode up to him, and invited him, with great politeness, to accompany him through the ranks. Talking of the recent battles, the French general concluded his observations thus,— "Well, we are quite satisfied if the English army think we fought bravely, and did our duty well." General Stewart mentioning the Highland corps, "Ah!" said the Frenchman, "these are brave soldiers. If they had good officers, I should not like to meet them unless I was well supported. I put them to the proof on that day." Being asked in what manner, he answered ‘‘that he led the division which attempted to retake the redoubt ;" and on a further question as to the strength of the column, he replied, " More than 6000 men." As General Hill was more than two miles from the field of action, the accuracy of his calculation is remarkable.]

Finding the city, which was now within reach of the guns of the allies, quite untenable, Soult evacuated it the same evening, and was allowed to retire without molestation. Even had he been able to have withstood a siege, he must have soon surrendered for want of the provisions necessary for the support of a population of 60,000 inhabitants, and of his own army, which was now reduced by the casualties of war and recent desertions to 30,000 men.

The loss of the 42d in the battle of Toulouse, was 4 officers, 3 sergeants, and 47 rank and file killed; and 21 officers, 14 sergeants, 1 drummer, and 231 rank and file wounded. The names of the officers killed were Captain John Swanson, Lieutenant William Gordon, Ensigns John Latta and Donald Maccrummen; the wounded were Lieutenant-colonel Robert Macara, Captains James Walker, John Henderson (who died of his wounds), Alexander Mackenzie, and Lieutenants Donald Mackenzie, Thomas Munro, Hugh Angus Fraser, James Robertson, R. A. Mackinnon, Roger Stewart Robert Gordon, Charles Maclaren, Alexander Strange, Donald Farquharson (who died of his wounds), James Watson, William Urquhart; Ensigns Thomas Macniven, Cohn Walker, James Geddes, John Malcolm, and Mungo Macpherson.

The allies entered Toulouse on the morning after the battle, and were received with enthusiasm by the inhabitants, who, doubtless, considered themselves extremely fortunate in being relieved from the presence of the French army, whose retention of the city a few hours longer would have exposed it to all the horrors of a bombardment. By a singular coincidence, official accounts reached Toulouse in the course of the day of the abdication of Buonaparte, and the restoration of Louis XVIII.; but it is said that these despatches had been kept back on the road.

At this time the clothing of the army at large, but the Highland brigade in particular, was in a very tattered state. The clothing of the 91st regiment had been two years in wear; the men were thus under the necessity of repairing their old garments in the best manner they could: some had the elbows of the coats mended with gray cloth, others had the one-half of the sleeves of a different colour from the body; and their troo$er$ were in as bad a condition as their coats.

The 42d, which was the only corps in the brigade that wore the kilt, was beginning to lose it by degrees; men falling sick and left in the rear frequently got the kilt made into troo$er$, and on joining the regiment again no plaid could be furnished to supply the loss; thus a great want of uniformity prevailed; but this was of minor importance when compared to the want of shoes. As the march continued daily, no time was to be found to repair them, until completely worn out; this left a number to march with bare feet. These men being occasionally permitted to straggle out of the ranks to select the soft part of the roads or fields adjoining, others who had not the same reason to offer for this indulgence followed the example, until each regiment marched regardless of rank, and sometimes mixed with other corps in front and rear.

In consequence of the cessation of hostilities, the British troops removed without delay to their appointed destinations, and the three Highland regiments were embarked for Ireland, where they remained till May 1815, when they were shipped for Flanders, on the return of Buonaparte from Elba. In Ireland the 1st battalion was joined by the effective men of the 2d, which had been disbanded at Aberdeen in October 1814.

The intelligence of Buonaparte’s advance reached Brussels on the evening of the 15th of June, when orders were immediately issued by the Duke of Wellington for the assembling of the troops. The men of the 42d and 92d regiments had become great favourites in Brussels, and were on such terms of friendly intercourse with the inhabitants in whose houses they were quartered, that it was no uncommon thing to see a Highland soldier taking care of the children, and even keeping the shop of his host,—an instance of confidence perhaps unexampled. These two regiments were the first to muster. They assembled with the utmost alacrity to the sound of the well-known pibroch, Come to me and I will give you flesh, - an invitation to the wolf and the raven, for which the next day did, in fact, spread an ample banquet at the expense of our brave countrymen, as well as of their enemies. . . . About four o’clock in the morning of the 16th of June, the 42d and 92d Highland regiments marched through the Place Royal and the Parc. One could not hut admire their fine appearance; their firm, collected, steady, military demeanour, as they went rejoicing to battle, with their bagpipes playing before them, and the beams of the rising sun shining upon their glittering arms. Before that sun had set in the night, how many of that gallant band were laid low! . . . The kind and generous inhabitants assembled in crowds to witness the departure of their gallant friends, and as the Highlanders marched onward with a steady and collected air, the people breathed many a fervent expression for their safety."

The important part taken in the action of Quatre Bras by the Black Watch could not be told better than in the simple words of one who was present, and did his own share of the work, Sergeant Anton of the 42d:-

"On the morning of the 16th June, before the sun rose over the dark forest of Soignes, our brigade, consisting of the 1st, 44th, and 92d regiments, stood in column, Sir Denis Pack at its head, waiting impatiently for the 42d, the commanding-officer of which was chidden severely by Sir Denis for being so dilatory. We took our place in the column, and the whole marched off to the strains of martial music, and amidst the shouts of the surrounding multitude. As we entered the forest of Soignes, our stream of ranks following ranks, in successive sections, moved on in silent but speedy course, like some river confined between two equal banks.

"The forest is of immense extent, and we continued to move on under its welcome shade until we came to a small hamlet, or auberge, imbosomed in the wood to the right of the road. Here we turned to our left, halted, and were in the act of lighting fires, on purpose to set about cooking. We were flattering ourselves that we were to rest there until next day, for whatever reports had reached the ears of our commanders, no alarm had yet rung on ours. Some were stretched under the shade to rest; others sat in groups draining the cup, and we always loved a large one, and it was now almost emptied of three days’ allowance of spirits, a greater quantity than was usually served at once to us on a campaign; others were busily occupied in bringing water and preparing the camp-kettles, for we were of the opinion, as I have already said, that we were to halt there for the day. But, "hark ! a gun one exclaims; every ear is set to catch the sound, and every mouth seems half opened, as if to supersede the faithless ear that doubts of hearing. Again another and another feebly floats through the forest. Every ear now catches the sound, and every man grasps his musket. No pensive looks are seen; our generals’ weather-beaten, war-worn countenances are all well known to the old soldiers, and no throb of fear palpitates in a single breast; all are again ready in column, and again we tread the wood-lined road.

"The distant report of the guns becomes more loud, and our march is urged on with greater speed. We pass through Waterloo, and leave behind the bright fields of Wellington’s fame, —our army’s future glory and England’s pride. Quatre Bras appears in view; the frightened peasantry come running breathless and panting along the way. We move off to the left of the road, behind a gently rising eminence; form column of companies, regardless of the growing crop, and ascend the rising ground: a beautiful plain appears in view, surrounded with belts of wood, and the main road from Brussels runs through it. We now descend to the plain by an echelon movement towards our right, halted on the road (from which we had lately diverged to the left), formed in line, fronting a bank on the right side, whilst the other regiments took up their position to right and left, as directed by our general. A luxuriant crop of grain hid from our view the contending skirmishers beyond, and presented a considerable obstacle to our advance. We were in the act of lying down by the side of the road, in our usual careless manner, as we were wont when enjoying a rest on the line of march, some throwing back their heads on their knapsacks, intending to take a sleep, when General Pack came galloping up, and chid the colonel for not having the bayonets fixed. This roused our attention, and the bayonets were instantly on the pieces.

"Our pieces were loaded, and perhaps never did a regiment in the field seem so short taken. We had the name of a crack corps, but certainly it was not then in that state of discipline which it could justly boast of a few years afterwards. Yet notwithstanding this disadvantage, none could be animated with a fitter feeling for the work before us than prevailed at that moment.

"We were all ready and in line,—"Forward!" was the word of command, and forward we hastened, though we saw no enemy in front. The stalks of the rye, like the reeds that grow on the margin of some swamp, opposed our advance; the tops were up to our bonnets, and we strode and groped our way through as fast as we could. By the time we reached a field of clover on the other side, we were very much straggled; however, we united in line as fast as time and our speedy advance would permit. The Belgic skirmishers retired through our ranks, and in an instant we were on their victorious pursuers. Our sudden appearance seemed to paralyse their advance. The singular appearance of our dress, combined no doubt with our sudden debut, tended to stagger their resolution: we were on them, our pieces were loaded, and our bayonets glittered, impatient to drink their blood. Those who had so proudly driven the Belgians before them, turned now to fly, whilst our loud cheers made the fields echo to our wild hurrahs. France fled or fell before us, and we thought the field our own. We had not yet lost a man, for the victors seldom lose many, except in protracted bard-contested struggles: with one’s face to the enemy, he may shun the deadly thrust or stroke; it is the retreating soldier that destruction pursues.

"We drove on so fast that we almost appeared like a mob following the rout of some defeated faction. Marshal Ney, who commanded the enemy, observed our wild unguarded zeal, and ordered a regiment of lancers to bear down upon us. We saw their approach at a distance, as they issued from a wood, and took them for Brunswickers coming to cut up the f!ying infantry; and as cavalry on all occasions have the advantage of retreating foot, on a fair field, we were halted in order to let them take their way: they were approaching our right flank, from which our skirmishers were extended, and we were far from being in a formation fit to repel an attack, if intended, or to afford regular support to our friends if requiring our aid. I think we stood with too much confidence, gaging towards them as if they had been our friends, anticipating the gallant charge they would make on the flying foe, and we were making no preparative movement to receive them as enemies, further than the reloading of the muskets, until a German orderly dragoon galloped up, exclaiming, "Frauchee! Franchee !" and, wheeling about, galloped off. We instantly formed a rallying square; no time for particularity; every man’s piece was loaded, and our enemies approached at full charge; the feet of their horses seemed to tear up the ground. Our skirmishers having been impressed with the same opinion, that these were Brunswick cavalry, fell beneath their lances, and few escaped death or wounds; our brave colonel fell at this time, pierced through the chin until the point of the lance reached the brain. Captain (now major) Menzies fell, covered with wounds, and a momentary conflict took place over him; he was a powerful man, and, hand to hand, more than a match for six ordinary men. The grenadiers, whom he commanded, pressed round to save or avenge him, but fell beneath the enemy’s lances.

"Of all descriptions of cavalry, certainly the lancers seem the most formidable to infantry, as the lance can be projected with considerable precision, and with deadly effect, without bringing the horse to the point of the bayonet; and it was only by the rapid and well-directed fire of musketry that these formidable assailants were repulsed.

"Colonel Dick assumed the command on the fall of Sir Robert Macara, and was severely wounded. Brevet-maj or Davidson succeeded, and was mortally wounded; to him succeeded Brevet-major Campbell. Thus, in a few minutes we had been placed under four different commanding-officers.

"An attempt was now made to form us in line; for we stood mixed in one irregular mass, —grenadier, light, and battalion companies,—a noisy group; such is the inevitable consequence of a rapid succession of commanders. Our covering sergeants were called out on purpose that each company might form on the right of its sergeants; an excellent plan had it been adopted, but a cry arose that another charge of cavalry was approaching, and this plan was abandoned. We now formed a line on the left of the grenadiers, while the cavalry that had been announced were cutting through the ranks of the 69th regiment. Meantime the other regiments, to our right and left, suffered no less than we; the superiority of the enemy in cavalry afforded him a decided advantage on the open plain, for our British cavalry and artillery had not yet reached the field. We were at this time about two furlongs past the farm of Quatre Bras, as I suppose, and a line of French infantry was about the same distance from us in front, and we had commenced firing at that line, when we were ordered to form square to oppose cavalry. General Pack was at our head, and Major Campbell commanded the regiment. We formed square in an instant, in the centre were several wounded French soldiers witnessing our formation round them; they doubtless considered themselves devoted to certain death among us seeming barbarians; but they had no occasion to speak ill of us afterwards; for as they were already incapable of injuring us, we moved about them regardful of their wounds and suffering.

"Our last file had got into square, and into its proper place, so far as unequalised companies could form a square, when the cuirassiers dashed full on two of its faces: their heavy horses and steel armour seemed sufficient to bury us under them, had they been pushed forward on our bayonets.

"A moment’s pause ensued; it was the pause of death. General Pack was on the right angle of the front face of the square, and he lifted his hat towards the French officer as he was wont to do when returning a salute. I suppose our assailants construed our forbearance as an indication of surrendering: a false idea; not a blow had been struck nor a musket levelled; but when the general raised his hat, it served as a signal, though not a preconcerted one, but entirely accidental; for we were doubtful whether our officer commanding was protracting the order, waiting for the general’s command, as he was present. Be this as it may, a most destructive fire was opened; riders, cased in heavy armour, fell tumbling from their horses; the horses reared, plunged, and fell on the dismounted riders; steel helmets and cuirasses rung against unsheathed sabres, as they fell to the ground; shrieks and groans of men, lte neighing of horses, and the discharge of musketry, rent the air, as men and horses mixed together in one heap of indiscriminate slaughter. Those who were able to fly, fled towards a wood on our right, whence they had issued to the attack, and which seemed to afford an extensive cover to an immense reserve not yet brought into action.

"Once more clear of those formidable and daring assailants, we formed line, examined our ammunition boxes, and found them getting empty. Our officer commanding pointed towards the pouches of our dead and dying comrades, and from them a sufficient supply was obtained.

"We lay down behind the gentle rise of a trodden down field of grain, and enjoyed a few minutes’ rest to our wearied limbs; but not in safety from the flying messengers of death, the whistling music of which was far from lulling us to sleep.

"Afternoon was now far spent, and we were resting in line, without having equalized the companies, for this would have been extremely dangerous in so exposed a position; for the field afforded no cover, and we were in advance of the other regiments. The enemy were at no great distance, and, I may add, firing very actively upon us.

"Our position being, as I have already observed, without any cover from the fire of the enemy, we were commanded to retire to the rear of the farm, where we took up our bivouac on the field for the night.

"Six privates fell into the enemy’s hands; among these was a little lad (Smith Fyfe) about five feet high. The French general, on seeing this diminutive looking lad, is said to have lifted him up by the collar or breech and exclaimed to the soldiers who were near him, "Behold the sample of the men of whom you seem afraid." This lad returned a few days afterwards, dressed in the clothing of a French grenadier, and was saluted by the name of Napoleon, which he retained until he was discharged.

"The night passed off in silence: no fires were lit; every man lay down in rear of his arms, and silence was enjoined for the night. Round us lay the dying and the dead, the latter not yet interred, and many of the former, wishing to breathe their last where they fell, slept to death with their heads on the same pillow on which those who had to toil through the future fortunes of the field reposed."

The principal loss sustained by the Highlanders was at the first onset; yet it was by no means so severe as might have been expected. Lieutenant-colonel Sir Robert Macara, Lieutenant Robert Gordon, and Ensign William Gerrard, 2 sergeants, and 40 rank and file were killed. Including officers, there were 243 wounded.

In the battle of Waterloo, in which the regiment was partially engaged, the 42d had only 5 men killed and 45 wounded. In these last are included the following officers, viz.: Captain Mango Macpherson, Lieutenants John Orr, George Gunn Munro, Hugh Angus Fraser, and James Brander, and Quarter-master Donald Mackintosh. "They fought like heroes, and like heroes they fell—an honour to their country. On many a Highland hill, and through many a Lowland valley, long will the deeds of these brave men he fondly remembered, and their fate deeply deplored. Never did a finer body of men take the field, never did men march to battle that were destined to perform such services to their country, and to obtain such immortal renown."

The Duke of Wellington in his public despatches concerning Quatro Bras and Waterloo paid a high compliment to the 42d. "Among other regiments, I must particularly mention the 28th, 42d, 79th, and 92d, and the battalion of Hanoverian's."

The word "Waterloo," borne on the colours of the regiment, by royal authority, commemorates the gallantry displayed by the regiment on this occasion; a medal was conferred on each officer and soldier; and the privilege of reckoning two years’ service, towards additional pay and pension on discharge, was also granted to the men. It may not be uninteresting to give here a list of the officers of the regiment who were present at the battle of Quatre Bras and Waterloo. It will be seen that while only 3 were killed, few escaped without a wound.

It has been observed, as a remarkable circumstance in the history of the Royal Highlanders, that on every occasion when they fired a shot at an enemy (except at Ticonderoga, where success was almost impossible), they were successful to such an extent at least, that whatever the general issue of the battle might be, that part of the enemy opposed to them never stood their ground, unless the Highlanders were by insurmountable obstacles prevented from closing upon them. Fontenoy even does not form an exception; for although the allies were defeated, the Highlanders carried the points assigned them, and then, as at Ticonderoga, they were the last to leave the field.

As the battle of Waterloo terminates a period of active service and hard lighting in the case of the 42d, as well as of other regiments, and as it had a rest of many years during the long peace, we shall here give a summary of the number of men that entered the regiment, from its formation down to the battle of Waterloo, and the number of those who were killed, wounded, died of sickness, or were discharged during that period.

The grand total of men embodied in the Black Watch and 42d or Royal Highland regiment, from its origin at Tay Bridge in April 1740, to 24th June 1815, exclusive of the second battalion of 1780 and that of 1803, was 8792.

Of these there were killed, during that period, exclusive of 35 officers, 816

Wounded during the same period, exclusive of 133 officers 2413

Died by sickness, wounds, and various casualties, including those who were discharged and those who volunteered into other regiments, when the 42d left America in 1767, up to 25th June 1793, 2275.

Died by sickness, wounds, and various casualties, from 25th June 1793 to 24th June 1815, 11356.

Discharged during same period, 1485

Unaccounted for during same period, having been left sick in an enemy’s country, prisoners., &c.138.

Total - 8262.

Number remaining in the first battalion on 24th June 1815, 530.

When it is considered that out of seventy-five year’s service, forty-five were spent in active warfare, the trifling loss of the regiment by the enemy will appear extraordinary; and the smallness of that loss can only be accounted for by the determined bravery and firmness of the men, it being now the opinion of military men that troops, who act vigorously, suffer less than those who are slow and cautious in their operations.

After spending several months in the vicinity of Paris, the regiment marched to Calais and embarked for England, arriving at Ramsgate, December 19th 1815. The regiment proceeded by Deal and Dover to Hythe, where it lay two weeks, when it marched to Chelmsford.

After staying two weeks in Chelmsford Barracks, the regiment proceeded northwards to Scotland by easy stages, and was everywhere received with overwhelming enthusiasm and lavish hospitality. At Cambridge, for example, Sergeant Anton, in his Military Life, tells us, the bells welcomed the Royal Highlanders with joy; every table smoked with savoury viands for their entertainment, and every cellar contributed a liberal supply of its best October for their refreshment. The same thing occurred at Huntingdon and other towns, and at several places the men received a donation equal to two day’s pay. And so it was at every town through which the regiment had to pass; the men were feted and petted as if they had saved their country from destruction.

As they approached Edinburgh, the whole population seemed to have poured to welcome them to its arms. Preceded by a guard of cavalry, with its band of music, they entered the city amidst the loud cheering and congratulatory acclamations of friends ; while over their heads, "from a thousand windows, waved as many banners, plaided scarfs, or other symbols of courtly greetings." At Edinburgh they were entertained in a manner that would have made the men of any regiment but a "crack" one completely lose their heads ; but the self-possessed Royal Highlanders, while heartily enjoying the many good things provided for them, and grateful for their hearty welcome, seem never to have forgotten the high reputation they had to maintain.

After this, for many years, the Royal Highlanders had a rest from active service.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The following is an extract from the account published at the time.

Tuesday, the first division of the 42d regiment, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Henry Dick (who succeeded to the command of the regiment, on the death of Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Robert Macara, killed at Quatse Bras), marched into the Castle. Major-General Hope, commander of the district, and Colonel David Stewart of Garth, accompanied time Lieutenant-Colonel at time head of the regiment. Not only the streets of the city were crowded beyond all former precedent with spectators, but the windows, and even the house-tops, were occupied. The road from Musselburgh, a distance of six miles, was filled with relations and friends and so great was the crowd, that it was after four o’clock before they arrived at the Castle Hill, although they passed through Portobello about two o’clock. It was almost impossible for these gallant men to get through the people, particularly in the city. All the bells were rung, and they were everywhere received with the loudest acclamations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Part Twenty Two The Black Watch - 1816 - 1854

WE have already narrated the proceedings at the meeting of the Highland Society, after the Egyptian campaign, with reference to the 42d. From 1811 to 1817, endeavours had been frequently made to establish a better feeling between the officers and the Highland Society, but in vain: the Egyptians would not yield, and in the meantime the vase remained at the makers.

After the return of the regiment from the Waterloo Campaign in 1816, H.R.H. The Duke of York became the mediator, and arranged that the vase should be accepted on the 21st March 1817, the anniversary of the battle of Alexandria. By this time only two of the officers who had served in Egypt were in the regiment, therefore the amicable arrangement was more easily arrived at.

It was at Armagh barracks, on Wednesday the 18th of June 1817, that the vase was presented to the regiment. At the time companies were detached to Newry, and several other detachments were absent from Armagh; therefore not more than about 3 companies were present at the ceremony. The parade was in review order, in side arms, and a square of two deep was formed. On a table in the centre was the vase, covered, and several small kegs of Highland whisky, brought over from Scotland for the express purpose. A portion of the correspondence with the Highland Society was read by the Adjutant: Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Henry Dick addressed the regiment: the casks of whisky were broached, and the cup filled. The Colonel drank to the officers and men, the staff officers followed, and afterwards the captains and officers drank to the health of their respective companies, and the cup, held by both hands, and kept well replenished, went three times down the ranks. All was happiness and hilarity, not only on the parade, but for the remainder of the day.

Thus was introduced to the regiment the beautiful vase, which, for elegance and design, is hardly to be surpassed.

vase.jpg

Of the officers and men present on the occasion, perhaps Lieutenant-Colonel Wheatley is the only one now alive (1874). Of the officers in the regiment at the time, the last of them, Captain Donald M’Donald, died at Musselburgh, on the 24th September 1865, aged 82.

The day of "the Cup" was long remembered amongst the men, and it was always enthusiastically spoken of as to the quality and quantity of the whisky. The vase has lately (1869) been renovated, and placed on an ebony stand, which has given additional grandeur to its elegance.

The regiment left Glasgow in April of this year, and proceeded to Ireland, landing at Donaghadee, marching thence to Armagh, and detaching parties to all the adjacent towns. The regiment remained in Ireland till 1825, moving about from place to place, and occasionally taking part in the duties to which the troops were liable, on account of the disturbed state of the country. Many of these duties were far from pleasant, yet the 42d discharged them in such a manner as to gain the respect and goodwill of the natives among whom they adjourned.

In June 1818, the regiment marched to Dundalk; and in May 1819, to Dublin, where it remained upwards of twelve months, receiving highly commendatory notices in orders, from Major-General White, Major-General Bulwer, and Major-General Sir Colquhoun Grant.

On the 29th of January 1820, the colonelcy of the regiment was conferred on Lieutenant-General John Earl of Hopetoun, G.C.B., from the 92d Highlanders, in succession to General the Marquis of Huntly.

From Dublin the regiment marched, in August, to Kilkenny and Clonmel, and while at these stations its appearance and discipline were commended in orders by Major-General Sir Thomas Brisbane, and Major-General Egerton.

The regiment marched, in October 1821, to Rathkeale, and took part in the harassing duties to which the troops in the county of Limerick were exposed during the disturbed state of the country, and its conduct procured the unqualified approbation of the general officers under whom it served.

In July 1822, the regiment marched to Limerick, and the orders issued after the usual half-yearly inspections, by Major-General Sir John Lambert, and Major-General Sir John Elley, were highly commendatory.

From Limerick the regiment proceeded to Buttevant, in July 1823, and afterwards occupied many detached stations in the county of Cork, where it preserved its high reputation for correct discipline, and for general efficiency, which procured for it the encomiums of the inspecting generals.

On the death of General the Earl of Hopetoun, G.C.B., the colonelcy was conferred on Major-General Sir George Murray, G.C.B., G.C.H. from the 72d, or the Duke of Albany’s Own Highlanders, by commission, dated the 6th of September 1823.

The following details, for which we are indebted to Lieutenant-Colonel Wheatley, will give the reader a vivid idea of the state of Ireland at this time, as well as of the critical nature of the duties which the 42d had to perform:-

The 42d, which was quartered at Rathkeale, were joined in these duties by the 79th and 93d; the former quartered at Limerick, and the latter at Ennis, County Clare. All three regiments were highly and deservedly popular with the inhabitants.

Detachments were posted all over the country in every village or hamlet, where a house could be hired to hold from 12 to 30 men. But little could be done towards putting the White-boys down, as the only offence against the law was being caught in arms. But as soon as the Parliament met, the "Insurrection Act" was hurried through both houses, and became law Feb. 28, 1822. By the Act transportation for seven years was the punishment inflicted on any one found out of his dwelling-place any time between one hour after sunset and sunrise in a proclaimed district. It was harrassing duty patrolling over the country, sometimes all night, calling the rolls,* and apprehending such as had been found absent on former occasions. The law was carried out by what was called a "Bench of Magistrates," two or more, with a Sergeant-at-Law as president. All field officers and captains were magistrates, and seven years’ transportation was the only sentence the bench could give; the prisoner had either to be let off with an admonition or transported. When the prisoner was brought in, evidence was simply taken that he was found out of his dwelling-place at an unlawful hour, or that he was absent from his habitation on such a night when the roll was called. The local magistrates knew the character he bore, a few minutes consultation was held, when sentence was given, and an escort being already at the court-house door, the prisoner was handcuffed and put on a cart. The words were given "with cartridge prime and load, quick march," and off to the Cove of Cork, where a ship was at anchor to receive them. This summary procedure soon put an end to the nightly depredations. The convicted were at once sent off to Botany Bay, now Sydney. Here is one instance.

Every road leading out of Rathkeale had a guard or outpost to prevent a surprise, and near to the Askeaton-road guard lived a character known as "the red haired man," a noted White-boy (so named from wearing shirts over their clothes when on their nocturnal excursions), who had taken care of’ himself from the passing of the Insurrection Act, although still a leader and director of their doings. His house was close to the guard, and there were special orders to watch him, and at uncertain hours to visit the house, to find him absent, if possible. On an evening in June, the sentry called to the sergeant of the guard that "the red haired man," half an hour back, had gone into a house where he was still." The sergeant walked about, the retreat beat, and watch in hand, he kept his look-out; one hour after sunset "the red haired man" came out without his hat, and laughing heartily: he was taken prisoner, and next day was on his way to the Cove of Cork!

Pages could be filled with anecdotes connected with the doings of the several portions of the regiment in their various quarters. One more, to show the natural inborn Irish inclination for fighting.—The major commanding at Shannagolden, while standing on the street on a fair-day, was thus accosted by a tall, gaunt, wiry man, of some 60 years of age. "Good morning to your honour." " Good morning, Mr Sullivan." "I’ve a favour to ask of you, Major." "Well, Mr Sullivan, what can I do for you?" "Well, your honour knows that I’ve been a loyal man, that during thorn disturbed times I always advised the boys to give up the foolish night-work; that I’ve caused a great many arms to be given up to yourself, Major." Mr Sullivan’s detail of his services and his appreciation of them being much too long to go over, it ended in :—" It’s a long time, Major, since the boys have had a fight, and all that I want is, that yourself and your men will just keep out of sight, and remain at this end of the town, till me and my boys go up to the fair, and stretch a few of the Whichgeralds." (Fitzgeralds, the opposite faction.) "Oh, then, Major, we’ll not be long about it, just to stretch a dozen or two of them Whichgeralds, and then I’ll engage we’ll go home quietly." Much to Mr Sullivan’s dissppointment, the Major replied that he could not allow the peace to be broken, and grievously crest-fallen, Mr S. went to report the failure of his request to the fine set of young Sullivans who were in sight, waiting the issue of the singular application, and ready to be let loose on the Fitzgeralds. A Mr V—, a local magistrate, who was standing with the Major, said that it would tend much to break up the combination of Whiteboyism to let the factions fight among themselves, and that he could not do better than to wink at the Sullivans having a turn with their opponents; but the Major would not entertain the idea of having, possibly, half-a-dozen murders to think of.

In 1821, on the day the head-quarter division marched out of the city of Limerick, en route from Kilkenny to Ratlikeale, a man dropped out of the ranks without leave, parting with some friends of the 79th, then quartered in Limerick, when the rear guard came up; poor David Hill was found senseless on the road, with a deep cut on the back of his head, and his musket gone. On reaching Rathkeale, he was tried by a Court Martial held in a square, formed there and then, before the regiment was dismissed. He was sentenced to 300 lashes, and to pay for his musket. It was what would rightly now be considered an unnecessarily cruel individual suffering, though the most stringent discipline was required, as the regiment was virtually in an enemys country.

About three months afterwards an officer of the 79th was out snipe shooting, near to the scene of poor Hill’s misfortune. A countryman entered into conversation with the officer, watched his opportunity, knocked him over, and was off with the gun. Two of the 3d light dragoons on dispatch duty, from Rathkeale for Limerick, saw it; one of them leaped wall after wall, and apprehended the culprit. A special commission was at the time sitting in Limerick, by which he was tried next day, and hanged a day or two after. On the scafold he confessed that it was he who had knocked over the Highlander (Hill), and told the priest where the gun was hid. When it was recovered it was found cut down to make it a "handy gun." It was given over to Hill.

Lieutenant-Colonel Wheatley, who was with the 42d at this time, was himself an ear-witness to the following :—About ten minutes after he and his comrade reached their billets at Rathkeale, the man of the house came in from his work, evidently not aware of the soldiers’ presence. From the kitchen and stable, one apartment, there was overheard the following catechism between the father and a child about four years old :—" Well Dan, have you been a good boy all day ?" "Yes, father." "Come to my knee, Dan ; now tell me, what will you do to the peeler, Dan ?" "I’ll shoot him, father, I will" "You’ll shoot him, will you ?" "Yes, father, when I’m big like brother Phill." "Ah, you’re a fine fellow, Dan; there’s a penny for you to buy bread." Comment is unnecessary.

In September 1823 the 42d, along with the other regiments in the Munster district, was taught the "Torrance" system of drill, which this year superseded the cumbrous old "Dundas." This system effected an entire change in the drill, particularly in the field movements and the platoon exercise. Before this the wheeling or counter-marching of a column was unknown. He was a rash commanding officer who attempted an echelon movement in quick time, and it was not to be presumed upon before a general officer. The marching past in slow time was such a curiosity, that it is worthy of record. At every angle, the command "Halt, left wheel, halt, dress, march," was given, and such work it was again to step off in time with the preceding company; about one in twenty could do it. Altogether, a drill book of "Dundas’s 18 manoeuvres" would be a curious study for the present day; and that corps was to be admired whose Colonel could put them through "the 18 manoeuvres." At present the whole could be done in 20 minutes, and as to skirmishing it was almost unknown, except in rifle and light infantry corps.

Long marches were common in those days. The following account of a long march while in Ireland, illustrates well the sad want of system at this time in connection with the army, and the little attention paid to the men’s welfare.

In the month of May 1819, the regiment was ordered from Dundalk to Dublin. The detachment (of one subaltern and twenty men) at Cootehill, in County Cavan, was ordered, when relieved, to march to Ardee, and thence to Drogheda, to join a division under a field officer for Dublin. The relieving party of the 3d Buffs did not arrive until after mid-day on the 21st of May, when the detachment of the 42d marched by Shercock under the belief that they would halt at Kingscourt for the night, 18 miles from Cootehill. But, alas! they marched on amidst pelting rain, and reached Ardee between 11 and 12 o’clock at night, 13 miles from Kingscourt, with the pipe-clay so thoroughly washed from their belts (cross in those days), that they were quite brown. The question will naturally arise, why did they not stop at Kingscourt ? even that distance being a long day’s march. There was a reason. The end of the month was the 24th day at this time, and from some neglect or mistake the officer was short of money to keep the men all night at Kingscourt. But 42d soldiers made no complaints, on any occasion, in those days. With the consolatory saying, "what we march to-day we will not have to march to-morrow," the march was, with few exceptions, made cheerfully, although every man carried his full kit.

At this period there was a lamentable want of organisation and good management in many particulars. For instance, there was a garrison field day every Thursday (in Dublin 1819—20), and the guards who went on at ten o’clock the previous day had nothing sent to them in the way of food from the scanty dinner of Wednesday, till they reached their barracks about seven or eight the following evening.

Pay-sergeants were always consulted in all matters of interior economy, whether it regarded the supply of necessaries or improvements in messing, and they looked upon it as an innovation on their rights to propose any plan for the good of the soldiers, by which the smallest portion of the pay would have been diverted from passing through their (the pay sergeants’) hands; and thus a great portion of the men were always in debt. A baneful system it was, when men were allowed to be in debt to the sergeant to the extent of several pounds.

During the time the regiment was quartered in Dublin in 1819, a breakfast mess was established, much to the benefit of the soldier, who until this time had pleased himself regarding that meal. Bread and water satisfied some, while others indulged themselves according to their taste or ability to procure what was agreeable to them.

In 1819 a regimental medal (bearing on one side the names Corunna, Fuentes D’Onor, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthès, Toulouse, Peninsula) was struck in Dublin, and issued to those entitled to wear it—at their own expense. The authority of His Royal Highness the Duke of York, at the time commander-in-chief, was obtained for the wearing of it. Many good and gallant soldiers wore them in the regiment for years, but they quickly disappeared, although few of them were discharged under 19 and 20 years’ service. The last of them were discharged between 1830 and 1834. Many inquiries have been made concerning this medal, which has puzzled collectors, but on the authority of Lieutenant-Colonel Wheatley, the above is a correct account of its origin and history.

Leaving the province of Munster, in June 1825, the regiment received a highly commendatory communication from Lieutenant-General Sir John Lambert, expressing the high sense he entertained of the discipline and conduct of the corps. It afterwards marched to Dublin, where it was stationed three months.

The regiment was divided into six service and four depot companies, and the service companies received orders to proceed to the celebrated fortress of Gibraltar. They accordingly marched from Dublin, for embarkation at the Cove of Cork, on board His Majesty’s ship "Albion," and the " Sovereign" and Numa" transports the last division arrived at Gibraltar in the middle of December. The depot companies were removed from Ireland to Scotland.

On arrival at Gibraltar, the regiment occupied Windmill-hill Barracks, and was afterwards removed to Rosia, where it was stationed during the year 1827.

In February 1828, the regiment took possession of a wing of the grand casemates. As an epidemic fever prevailed in the garrison, from which the regiment suffered severely, it encamped, in September, on the neutral ground. Its loss from the fever was, Ensign Charles Stewart, 6 sergeants, and 53 rank and file.

The regiment returned to the grand casemates on the 9th of January 1829 ; again encamped in the neutral ground in July, leaving in barracks the men who had recovered from the fever. It returned within the fortress in October.

As there is little or nothing to record with regard to the doings of the regiment during the six years it was at Gibraltar, where it took its share of the usual garrison work, we shall again recur to Lieutenant-Colonel Wheatley’s memoranda, and present the reader with some interesting notes on the manners, customs, &c., of the regiment about this time. Let us, however, note here, that in 1825, the regiment was armed with "The Long Land Tower" musket, being the only corps of the line to which it was issued; and again, in 1840, it was the first corps to receive the percussion musket, in both cases, through the interest of Sir George Murray, its colonel.

The bugle, for barrack duty, was introduced in 1828, whilst the 42d was encamped on the neutral ground, Gibraltar, during the epidemic fever. Before this the solitary bugler of the regiment sounded part of "quick march" for the guard, and had about half-a-dozen calls for the light company, whose knowledge of skirmishing barely extended to the covering of an advance in line. In the following year, and 1830, it was taken up in reality, and the corps soon became famous for their skirmishing: not that either the bugle calls for barracks or the light infantry drill was without its enemies. Indeed, in general, the officers were averse to the "new fangled innovations," and, in some instances, complained that they could not understand the bugle even for the men’s breakfast, dinner, &c., and wished a return to the drum! However, the innovations, with numerous others, were supported by the commanding officers, and in due time the 42d became equal to its neighbours.

While at Gibraltar, in 1830, a regimental library was started, and continued in a flourishing condition for many years. Its history, as told by one of its originators. Lieutenant-Colonel Wheatley, is extremely interesting. It deserves to be recorded, as it was creditable to the corps, and equally so to the men who so nobly supported it. At this time, such institutions were unknown in the army; indeed, if anything, they were discouraged.

The regiment was quartered with the 43d in the grand casemates, in February 1830. The sergeant-major of that corps had a small library, his private property, collected at sales of books from time to time, from the famous garrison library; he from that formed a circulating library, lending books at a certain rate per month. It was spoken of in the orderly-room one day, after the finish of the morning’s duty, and Sir Charles Gordon expressed his surprise that in a Scotch regiment nothing of the kind had been instituted. As soon as he left, the pay sergeants were called, and desired, by nine o’clock the following morning, to give a return of the number of subscribers willing to pay six days’ pay of their rank, to be levied in three monthly instalments, and after the third month, to pay a subscription of sixpence a month. A return of 224 was given in, and it having willingly been approved of by Sir Charles, immediate steps were taken to establish the library. A large order was sent off to the Messrs Tegg, of London, and within a month, what from a purchase of old works from the garrison library, and donations of books from the officers, the library was in good reading order. The officers were most liberal in their donations. The members continued to increase, and various alterations were made from time to time, and in 1836 the subscriptions were reduced to fourpence. The funds were always fully able to meet any charge of conveyance whilst at home, from 1836 to 1841, and again from 1852 to 1854. On being ordered to Turkey in 1854, the whole of the books were disposed of, because the Government reading-rooms and libraries had been in force some time before this, and some corps had been ordered to do away with the regimental ones. At the time of its being broken up, it contained nearly 3000 volumes, and during its existence was highly creditable to the regiment.

In 1832, the regiment received orders to leave Gibraltar and proceed to Malta, embarking on the 13th January, when the governor, Sir William Houston, expressed in garrison orders "that the 42d Royal Highlanders had embarked in a manner fully supporting their high character for discipline and good conduct, and he regretted their departure." After remaining at Malta till December 1834, the regiment was removed to the Ionian Islands, where it stayed till June 1836, having by that time completed a period of ten years and six months’ service in the Mediterranean.

The 42d left Corfu for Britain on the 30th of June, and was accompanied to the place of embarkation by the Lord High Commissioner, Major-General Sir Howard Douglas, who, on its being formed on the esplanade, addressed it in the following terms:-

"Colonel Middleton, Qfficers, Non-Commissioned Officers, and Soldiers of the Royal Highlanders,

"I have come hither to assure you, that the conduct of the Forty-second has given me the highest degree of satisfaction during the time it has been under my orders, and I wish to express to you the deep regret I feel at the departure of this gallant and distinguished corps from the station under my command.

"The highest professional obligation of a regiment, is to act so as to render itself dreaded as well as respected by enemies. This the Forty-second has hitherto nobly and effectually done; and that power, though it exists unimpaired in the condition of this regiment, reposes for the present happily in peace.

"It is peculiarly the duty of a British soldier to conciliate, by personal demeanour and individual conduct, the esteem and regard of his fellow-subjects at home, and wherever he may be serving abroad, to cultivate the best terms, and gain the respect and good will of all classes of persons in the community of the place where he may be quartered. This, too, Forty-second, you have well done! The good terms which so happily subsist between the protector and the protected here, have not only been undisturbed, but cemented by your good conduct; and it affords me the greatest pleasure to have heard it declared by the highest authorities here, that you take with you the regard, respect, and good wishes of this population. As I was honoured by having this regiment placed under my orders, and I am highly satisfied with the conduct of the corps to the moment of its departure, so should I feel gratified if I should have the good fortune to have you again under my command. If this should be in peace, I shall have the pleasure of renewing the agreeable intercourse I have had with the officers, and the pleasing duties I have had to discharge with you. Should a renewal of the connection take place in war, it will afford me much delight and satisfaction, and I shall feel great honour conferred upon me by being again associated with a corps, which, I well know, would acquire fresh inscriptions to its own renown, and to the honour of our country, on the banners which have braved many a hard-fought battle-field, and which have waved triumphantly over many a victory Forty-second, farewell !"

The regiment, on landing at Leith, on the 7th September 1836, after 19 years absence from Scotland, was joined by the depot companies awaiting it in Edinburgh Castle. It remained till the spring of 1838, when it embarked from Glasgow for Dublin, where it remained until the beginning of 1841. While in Ireland, new colours were presented to the 42d, March 7,1839.

While at Limerick, Lieutenant-Colonel Middleton reluctantly retired from the command of the regiment, and issued the following pathetic farewell order

"NEW BARRACKS, LIMERICK,

12th August, 1S39.

"Regimental Order.

"The Lieutenant-Colonel is persuaded that the officers, non-commissioned officers, and the soldiers of the regiment will enter into his feelings, and easily believe that it caused him many a heart-rending struggle before he brought himself to the sad conclusion of severing ties which connected his destiny for thirty-six years with that of the 42d, and which, but for one consideration, nothing on this side the grave could have induced him to do. That consideration they cannot be ignorant of, and which he is sure they will duly appreciate.

"It remains with him, therefore, only to return them, collectively and individually, the warmest expression of his thanks for the cordial and unremitting manner with which they cooperated with him in the various duties connected with his command, which made his situation truly an enviable one; indeed, he may with truth assert without alloy, until now, when bidding the regiment farewell. In his sorrow, however, it affords him consolation to think that he resigns his proud and enviable charge into the hands of Major Johnstone, so capable in every way of maintaining their discipline, and watching over the best interest of the regiment. The Lieutenant-Colonel hopes the officers, non-commissioned officers, and soldiers, will give the same undeviating support to him that they have on every occasion given the Lieutenant-Colonel, the recollection of which can never be banished from his mind; and wherever his future lot may be cast, his heart will always be with the Royal Highlanders; in saying which, should a tablet be over his tomb. the only epitaph he would wish engraved upon it would be, that he once belonged to the 42d."

In January 1841, the six service companies left Ireland for the Ionian Islands, and in May following, the depot companies left Dublin for Scotland, being stationed at Stirling, which they quitted in March 1842, for Aberdeen.

The 42d and eight other regiments having been augmented to an establishment of 1 lieutenant-colonel, 2 majors, 12 captains, 14 lieutenants, 10 ensigns, 6 staff officers, 67 sergeants, 25 drummers, and 1200 rank and file; the Royal Highlanders received upwards of 400 Scots volunteers from other corps (80 of whom were furnished by the 72d, 79th, 92d, and 93d Highland regiments), towards the completion of their new establishment; and the depot was moved to Aberdeen in May, where it was formed into 6 companies, to be termed the Reserve Battalion, and its organisation rapidly proceeded.

In August 1842, when her Majesty the Queen Victoria visited Scotland, the reserve battalion of the Royal Highlanders furnished a guard of honour for Her Majesty at Dupplin, Tayrnouth, Drummond, and Stirling Castles, and the brevet rank of lieutenant-colonel was conferred on the commanding officer, Major James Macdougall.

In November 1842, the reserve battalion embarked from Cosport for Malta, to be joined by the first battalion from the Ionian Islands.

The head-quarters and three companies of the first battalion, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Johnstone, embarked at Cephalonia, and landed at Malta on the 20th February; the other three companies arrived at Malta from Zante on the 27th March.

When the regiment embarked at Cephalonia, the Regent, the Bishop, and all the dignitaries saw Colonel Johnstone, the officers and men to the boats, and the leave-taking was nearly as touching as the one at Corfu in 1836. The Regent of the Island and the Civil authorities subsequently sent a large gold medal to Colonel Johnstone, with Cephalos and his dog on one side of it, and the Colonel’s name on the other.

On the 29th of December 1843, General the Right Honourable Sir George Murray, G.C.B., was removed to the 1st, or the Royal Regiment of Foot, in succession to General Lord Lynedoch, deceased; and the colonelcy of the 42d Royal Highlanders was conferred on Lieutenant-General Sir John Macdonald, K.C.B. (Adjutant-General of the Forces), from the 67th regiment. Sir George Murray on his removal, addressed a letter to Lieutenant-Colonel Cameron, commanding the regiment, from which the following are extracts:-

"I cannot leave the command of the Forty-second Royal Highlanders without requesting you to express to them, in the strongest terms, how high an honour I shall always esteem it to have been for upwards of twenty years the colonel of a regiment, which, by its exemplary conduct in every situation, and by its distinguished valour in many a well-fought field, has earned for itself so large a share of esteem and of renown as that which belongs to the FORTY-SECOND regiment.

"Wherever the military service of our country may hereafter require the presence of the Royal Highlanders, my most friendly wishes and best hopes will always accompany them, and it will afford me the greatest pleasure to learn that harmony and mutual goodwill continue, as heretofore, to prevail throughout their ranks; and that discipline, so essential to the honour and success of every military body, is upheld amongst them, not more by the vigilance and the good example of those in command, than by the desire of all to discharge regularly, faithfully, and zealously, the several duties which it belongs to each respectively to perform. Whilst the Royal Highlanders persevere (as I feel confident, by my long acquaintance with them, both before and during the period of my having the honour to command them, that they always will) in the same path of duty which they have hitherto allowed, they will never cease to add to that high reputation which they have already achieved for themselves, and for their native land."

Until the 42d went to Corfu, in December 1834, according to Lieutenant-Colonel Wheatley, no Highland regiment had ever been seen there, and the natives flocked from all parts of the island to see the wonderful soldiers. Many of the natives, no doubt, had heard something of the dress, but could only think of it as being like the Albanian kilt, nor would they believe that the knees were bare. The Greeks, says the Colonel, are very stoical, but at the parade next day (Sunday), on the esplanade, they could not conceal their excitement. Both the officers and men of the 42d were very popular at Corfu; and when, after an absence of four years and a-half on home service, the regiment returned to the island in 1841, the islanders regarded it as a compliment, and declared that "the regiment had only been sent to England to get percussion muskets."

On February 10th, 1846, was killed in action at Sobraon in India, Major-General Sir R. H. Dick, who had entered the 42d as ensign in 1800. He served with the second battalion of the 78th in Sicily in 1806; was wounded at the battle of Maida; was in Calabria and Egypt, in 1807; and was severely wounded at Rosetta. He was in the Peninsula from 1809, and was wounded at Waterloo. In the entrance of St Giles’ Church, Edinburgh, is a tablet to his memory, erected by the officers of the 42d in 1846.

The two battalions remained at Malta until 1847, when both were ordered to Bermuda. The first sailed on the 27th February, and landed three companies (head-quarters) at Hamilton, and three companies at Ireland Island on the 16th April. The reserve battalion embarked in March, and landed at St. George’s Island on the 24th of April.

On the 1st April 1850, the reserve battalion was consolidated into the first, forming a regiment of ten companies of 1000 rank and file. In May 1851, three companies were separated from the regiment to be sent to Scotland, to be joined by the depot company from the Isle of Wight, and on 4th June, the six service companies embarked on board the "Resistance," and on the following day sailed for Halifax (Nova Scotia), where they arrived on the 12th, sending out detachments to Prince Edward’s Island, Cape Breton, and Annapolis, in all 200 officers and men.

The regiment was relieved by the 56th at Bermuda, and replaced the 88th at Halifax, ordered home. The depot left Bermuda for Aberdeen on 13th July.

Before leaving, a letter, complimenting the regiment highly on its commendable conduct while in Bermuda, was forwarded to Colonel Cameron by his Excellency the governor. We give the following address from "the Corporation and other inhabitants of the town and parish of St. George," which was presented to Colonel Cameron on June 3d, 1851.

"To Lieutenant-Colonel D. A. Cameron,

42d R. H. Commandant, &c, &c, &c.

"Sir,—As Her Majesty’s 42d regiment under your command is about to leave these Islands, we cannot allow its departure without expressing our esteem for the kindly feelings which have existed between the inhabitants and the 42d, during the four years’ residence in this garrison. The urbanity and affability of the officers, the steady and upright conduct of the non-commissioned officers and men, have been eminently conspicuous. To our knowledge, not a man of your gallant and distinguished corps has been convicted of any crime before the civil authorities of this colony; a very gratifying circumstance, and bespeaking the high state of discipline of the regiment.

"To yourself, Sir, officers, and men, we sincerely tender our best wishes for your future welfare; and assured are we, that should the time arrive for the ‘Forty-second’ to be called into active service, they will display that loyalty and valour for which they are so justly renowned. Wishing you a safe and pleasant passage,—We have time honour to be, Sir, your obedient, humble servants:-

"(Signed by the Mayor, Corporation, and other Inhabitants of the town and parish of St George.)"

To this Colonel Cameron made a suitable reply.

This shows the esteem in which the regiment was held by the inhabitants of Bermuda, and it was well deserved. Not a man had been convicted before the civil authorities; it was something new to the Bermudans, and a subject which they often dwelt upon.

The mean strength of the regiment in the Islands for four years and two months, viz:- April 1847 to June 1851, was 1090 and the deaths, including accidents, &c., were only 31, being much less than the usual mortality at home. The regiment that the 42d had relieved (1st and reserve battalions of the 20th) sustained a heavy loss—several hundreds—from cholera; and the 56th, which replaced it, lost 6 officers and 224 men, in the autumn of 1853.

Early in 1852, the several detachments rejoined at Halifax, and on the 29th May the regiment (again in the "Resistance") embarked to return home, and on July 16th anchored at Greenock. They landed on the 19th, and proceeded by rail to Stirling, three companies going to Perth, and two to Dundee. The depot was waiting the arrival of the service companies in Stirling Castle. The regiment had been absent from Scotland upwards of 14 years, viz., since embarking at Glasgow for Dublin in 1838.

Early in April 1853, the regiment was ordered to be in readiness to proceed to England. On the 22d headquarters left Stirling, and proceeded to Weedon, detaching two companies to Northampton. On the 14th of June left Weedon for Chobham. It was there encamped with the 1st Life Guards; 6th Dragoon Guards; 13th Light Dragoons; 17th Lancers ; 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards; 1st Battalion Scots Fusiliers; 1st Battalion Coldstreams; 38th, 50th, 93d, and 95th regiments; and 2d Battalion Rifle Brigade, &c., &c.

On the 14th July, the whole of the troops were replaced, and the regiment proceeded to Haslar and Gosport (Fort Monckton), detaching three companies, under Major Cumberland, to Weymouth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Part Twenty Three The Black Watch - 1854 - 1856

EARLY in 1854, the regiment was removed to Portsea, preparatory to embarking for Turkey, in consequence of hostilities with Russia.

About 200 Volunteers were received from depots in Ireland, and for the first time for upwards of 45 years, without regard to country. The ten service companies embarked in the hired screw ship the "Hydaspes," Captain John Baker, on the 20th May, and sailed next morning. They consisted of 32 officers, 45 sergeants, 20 Drummers and Pipers, and 850 Rank and File. On 1st June they went into Malta, and on the 7th anchored off Scutari. They landed and encamped on the 9th, joining in Brigade with the 79th and 93d.

On the 13th the division, consisting of the Brigade of Guards and the Highlanders, embarked and reached Varna next day, and disembarked on 15th, encamping near to Yarns. On the 1st of July they moved to Aladyne; on the 28th to Gevrekler ("The three springs"); and on 16th August repassed Varna to Galatabourna, where the regiment was in camp until the embarkation of the army on the 29th, on which day it went on board the ss. ‘Emeu," and sailed with the expedition on the 5th September.

The British force consisted of 27,000 men of all arms; the French about 30,000; and the Turks 7000; making a total of 63,000 men, with 128 guns. Lord Raglan was the chief of the British forces, while Marshal St Arnaud commanded the army of France. The English infantry consisted of four divisions; the Light, First, Second, and Third Divisions. The First Division, under the command of H. R. H. the Duke of Cambridge, consisted of the third battalion of the Grenadier Guards, and the first battalions of the Coldstream and Scotch Fusilier Guards, commanded by Major-General Bentinck. Major-General Sir Colin Campbell (Lord Clyde), was commander of the other half of this division (the Highland Brigade), composed of the 42d, 79th, and 93d Highlanders. The 42d was commanded by Colonel Cameron, who had joined the regiment in 1825, and was made lieutenant-general in 1868.

On the 14th of September 1854, the allied armies of England and France, landed unopposed at Old Fort, Kalamita Bay, about 30 miles north of Sebastopol.

"The seamen knew," says Kinglake, the fascinating historian of the Crimean War, "that it concerned the health and comfort of the soldiers to be landed dry, so they lifted or handed the men ashore with an almost tender care: yet not without mirth— nay, not without laughter far heard—when, as though they were giant maidens, THE TALL HLGHLANDERS OF THE FORTY-SECOND, placed their hands in the hands of the sailor, and sprang, by his aid, to the shore, their kilts floating out wide while they leapt." It was not until the 19th that all the soldiers and their accompaniments were landed, and not until the 19th that the march southwards on Sebastopol commenced. On the first night of their march, the allies bivouacked on the banks of the stream of the Bulganak, six miles from their landing place.

"During the march, the foot-soldiers of the Allied armies suffered thirst; but early in the afternoon the troops in advance reached the long-desired stream of the Bulganak; and as soon as a division came in sight of the water, the men broke from their ranks, and ran forward that they might plunge their lips deep in the cool, turbid, grateful stream. In one brigade a stronger governance was maintained. Sir Colin Campbell would not allow that even the rage of thirst should loosen the discipline of his grand Highland regiments. He halted them a little before they reached the stream, and so ordered it that, by being saved from the confusion that would have been wrought by their own wild haste, they gained in comfort, and knew that they were gainers. When men toil in organised masses, they owe what well being they have to wise and firm commanders."

When the allied forces came in sight of the Alma, they found the Russians intrenched in what looked a very formidable position, on the hills which rise from its left or southern bank. For a short distance from the mouth of the river, the banks rise precipitously from the river and form a table-land above, accessible by several gorges or passes. Further up the river the banks rise more gently, and the slope of the hills southwards is more gradual; everywhere are the heights cut up by passes or ravines into knolls and separate rounded heights. "From the sea-shore to the easternmost spot occupied by Russian troops, the distance for a man going straight was nearly five miles and a-half; but if he were to go all the way on the Russian bank of the river, he would have to pass over more ground, for the Alma here makes a strong bend and leaves open the chord of the arc to invaders who come from the north."’ All over the heights extending from near the sea to this distance eastwards along the south-side of the river, the Russian force, amounting to 39,000 men and 106 guns, was massed on the side of the various slopes, in formidable looking columns. On the right of the Russian position rose gradually from the banks of the river a gentle slope, which terminated in a large rounded knoll, known as the Kourganè-hill. At about 300 yards from the river, the Russians had thrown up a large breastwork armed with fourteen heavy guns; this was known as the Great Redoubt. With this work Prince Mentschikoff, the Russian commander, was delighted; indeed, he fancied his position so impregnable, that he expected to hold out for three days, by which time he was confident the allies would be utterly exhausted, and fall an easy prey to his northern legions. On the same hill, but higher up, and more to his right, the Prince threw up another slight breast-work, which he armed with a battery of field guns. This was the Lesser Redoubt. At many other points which commanded the approaches to his position he had large batteries planted, and the vineyards which skirted the north bank of the river were marked and cleared, so as to give effect to the action of the artillery.

As it would be out of place here to give a general account of the battle of the Alma, we shall content ourselves mainly with setting forth the part taken in it by the 42d Royal Highlanders, the actual strength of which regiment going into action was 27 officers, 40 sergeants, 20 pipers and drummers, and 703 rank and file. The work done by the other Highland regiments will be told in the proper place. The French and Turks, who formed the right of the allied army, were appointed to attack the left of the Russian position, while the British had to bear the brunt of the battle, and engage the enemy in front and on the right, being thus exposed to the full force of the murderous fire from the above-mentioned batteries.

"The right wing of the Russian army was the force destined to confront, first our Light Division, and then the Guards and the Highlanders. It was posted on the slopes of the Kourganè Hill. Here was the Great Redoubt, armed with its fourteen heavy guns; and Prince Mentschikoff was so keen to defend this part of the ground, that he gathered round the work, on the slopes of the hill, a force of no less than sixteen battalions of regular infantry, besides the two battalions of Sailors, and four batteries of field-artillery. The right of the forces on the Kourganè Hill rested on a slope to the east of the Lesser Redoubt, and the left on the great road. Twelve of the battalions of regular infantry were disposed into battalion-columns posted at intervals and checkerwise on the flanks of the Great Redoubt; the other four battalions, drawn up in one massive column, were held as a reserve for the right wing on the higher slope of the hill. Of the four field-batteries, one armed the Lesser Redoubt, another was on the high ground commanding and supporting the Great Redoubt, and the remaining two were held in reserve.. General Kvetzinski commanded the troops in this part of the field. On his extreme right, and posted at intervals along a curve drawn from his right front to his centre rear, Prince Mentschikoff placed his cavalry,—a force comprising 3400 lances, with three batteries of horse-artillery.

"Each of these bodies of horse, when brought within sight of the Allies, was always massed in column.

"Thus, then, it was to bar the Pass and the great road, to defend the Kourganè Hill and to cover his right flank, that the Russian General gathered his main strength; and this was the part of the field destined to be assailed by our troops. That portion of the Russian force which directly confronted the English army, consisted of 3400 cavalry, twenty-four battalions of infantry, and seven batteries of field-artillery, besides the fourteen heavy guns in the Great Redoubt, making together 23,400 men and eighty-six guns."

In the march from its bivouac on the night of the 19th there were two or three protracted halts, one caused by a slight brush with some Cossack cavalry and artillery. The rest we must relate mainly in the charming words of Kinglake, after whose narrative all others are stale.

"The last of these took place at a distance of about a mile and a half from the banks of the Alma. From the spot where the forces were halted the ground sloped gently down to the river’s side; and though some men lay prostrate under the burning sun, with little thought except of fatigue, there were others who keenly scanned the ground before them, well knowing that now at last the long-expected conflict would begin. They could make out the course of the river from the dark belt of gardens and vineyards which marked its banks; and men with good eyes could descry a slight seam running across a rising-ground beyond the river, and could see, too, some dark squares or oblongs, encroaching like small patches of culture upon the broad downs. The scam was the Great Redoubt; the square-looking marks that stained the green sides of the hills were an army in order of battle.

"That 20th of September on the Alma was like some remembered day of June in England, for the sun was unclouded, and the soft breeze of the morning had lulled to a breath at noontide, and was creeping faintly along the hills. It was then that in the Allied armies there occurred a singular pause of sound—a pause so general as to have been observed and remembered by many in remote parts of the ground, and so marked that its interruption by the mere neighing of an angry horse seized the attention of thousands; and although this strange silence was the mere result of weariness and chance, it seemed to carry a meaning; for it was now that, after near forty years of peace, the great nations of Europe were once more meeting for battle.

"Even after the sailing of the expedition, the troops had been followed by reports that the war, after all, would be stayed; and the long frequent halts, and the quiet of the armies on the sunny slope, seemed to harmonise with the idea of disbelief in the coming of the long-promised fight. But in the midst of this repose Sir Cohn Campbell said to one of his officers, ‘This will be a good time for the men to get loose half their cartridges;’ and when the command travelled on along the ranks of the Highlanders, it lit up the faces of the men one after another, assuring them that now at length, and after long expectance, they indeed would go into action. They began obeying the order, and with beaming joy, for they came of a warlike race; yet not without emotion of a graver kind— they were young soldiers, new to battle."

The Light Division formed the right of the British army, and the duty of the Highland Brigade and the Guards was to support this division in its attack on the right of the Russian position. The 42d formed the right of the Highland Brigade, the 93d the centre, and the 79th the left. The Konrganè hill, which had to be assailed by the Light Division, supported by the Highlanders and Guards, was defended by two redoubts, by 42 guns, and by a force of some 17,000 men.

The battle commenced about half-past one P.M., and lasted a little over two hours. The French attack on the left was comparatively a failure, and their losses small, for they had but little of the fighting to sustain. The battle on the part of the English was commenced by the Light and Second Divisions crossing the Alma, the former getting first to the other or Russian side, driving the Russian skirmishers and riflemen before them at the point of the bayonet. As soon as they got out of the vineyards, double the number of guns opened upon them with grape and canister, still they moved on, keeping up a telling fire against the Russian gunners. By the time they reached the great redoubt they were terribly shattered, but, nevertheless, successfully carried it and captured two guns. Being, however, now comparatively few in number, and unsupported, they were compelled to leave the redoubt by a huge body of Russian infantry, upon whom, they never turned their backs. Other operations, with more or less success, were going on in other parts of the hillside, but our place, is with the Highlanders of the First Division, who, along with the Guards, were now advancing to support the Light Division, so sore bestead. "This magnificent division, the flower of the British army, had crossed the river rather higher up than the Light Division, and consequently were on its left. . . The First Division formed-up after crossing the Alma, and although they incurred considerable loss in so doing, they nevertheless advanced in most beautiful order—really as if on parade. I shall never forget that sight—one felt so proud of them." Lord Raglan had been looking on all this time from some high ground, where he and his staff were posted, and where he obtained a comprehensive view of the battle-field. When he saw the First Division coming up in support, he said, "Look how well the Guards and Highlanders advance!" We must allow Mr Kinglake to tell the rest.

"Further to the left (of the Guards), and in the same formation (of line), the three battalions of the Highland Brigade were extended. But the 42d had found less difficulty than the 93d in getting through the thick ground and the river, and again the 93d had found less difficulty than the 79th; so, as each regiment had been formed and moved forward with all the speed it could command, the brigade fell naturally into direct echelon of regiments, the 42d in front. And although this order was occasioned by the nature of the ground traversed and not by design, it was so well suited to the work in hand that Sir Cohn Campbell did not for a moment seek to change it.

"These young soldiers, distinguished to the vulgar eye by their tall stature, their tartan uniforms, and the plumes of their Highland bonnets, were yet more marked in the eyes of those who know what soldiers are by the warlike carriage of the men, and their strong, lithesome, resolute step. And Sir Cohn Campbell was known to be so proud of them, that already, like the Guards, they had a kind of prominence in the army, which was sure to make their bearing in action a broad mark for blame or for praise."

[We shall take the liberty of quoting here the same author’s sketch of Campbell’s career:-

Whilst Ensign Campbell was passing from boyhood to man’s estate, he was made partaker in the great transactions which were then beginning to work out the liberation of Europe. In the May of 1808 he received his first commission—a commission in the 9th Foot; and a few weeks afterwards—then too young to carry the colours—he was serving with his regiment upon the heights of Vimieira. ‘Where the lad saw the turning of a tide in human affairs ; saw the opening of the mighty strife between ‘Column’ and ‘ Line ;‘ saw France, long unmatched upon the Continent, retreat before British infantry; saw the first of Napoleon’s stumbles, and the fame of Sir Arthur Wellesley beginning to dawn over Europe.

He was in Sir John Moore’s campaign, and at its closing scene—Corunna. He was with the Walcheren expedition; and afterwards, returning to the Peninsula, he was at the battle of Barossa, the defence of Tarifa, the relief of Taragona, and the combats at Malaga and Osma. He led a forlorn hope at the storming of St Sebastian, and was there wounded twice; he was at Vittoria ; he was at the passage of the Bidassoa ; he took part in the American war of 1814 ; he served in the ‘West Indies he served in the Chinese war of 1842. These occasions he had so well used that his quality as a soldier was perfectly well known. He had been praised and praised again and again; but since he was not so connected as to be able to move the dispensers of military rank, he gained promotion slowly, and it was not until the second Sikh war that he had a cornmand as a general: even then he had no rank in the army above that of a colonel. At Chilianwalla he commanded a division. Marching in person with one of the two brigades, he had gained the heights on the extreme right of the Sikh position, and then bringing round the left shoulder, lie bad rolled up the enemy’s line and won the day ; but since his other brigade (being separated from him by a long distance) had wanted his personal control, and fallen into trouble, the brilliancy of the general result which he had achieved did not save him altogether from criticism. That day he was wounded for the fourth time. He commanded a division at the great battle of Gujerat; and, being charged to press the enemy’s retreat, he had so executed his task that 158 guns and the ruin of the foe were the fruit of the victory. In 1851 and the following year he commanded against the hill-tribes. It was he who forced the Kohat Pass. It was he who, with only a few horsemen and some guns, at Punj Pao, compelled the submission of the combined tribes then acting against him with a force of 8000 men, It was he who, at Ishakote, with a force of less than 3000 men, was able to end the strife ; and when he had brought to submission all those beyond the lndus who were in arms against the Government, he instantly gave proof of the breadth and scope of his mind as well as of the force of his character ; for he withstood the angry impatience of men in authority over him, and, insisted that he must be suffered to deal with the conquered people in the spirit of a politic and merciful ruler.

‘‘After serving with all this glory for some forty-four years, he came back to England ; hot between the Queen and him there stood a dense crowd of families—men, women, and children—extending further than the eye could reach, and armed with strange precedents which made it out to be right that people who lead seen no service should be invested with high command, and that Sir Colin Campbell should be only a colonel. Yet he was of so fine a nature that, although he did not always avoid great bursts of anger, there was no ignoble bitterness in his sense of wrong. He awaited the time when perhaps he might have high command, and be able to serve his country in a sphere proportioned to his strength. His friends, however, were angry for his sake; and along with their strong devotion towards him there was bred a face hatred of a system of military dispensation which could keep in the background a man thus tried and thus known.

Upon the breaking-out of the war with Russia, Sir Colin was appointed—not to the command of a division, but of a brigade. It was not till the June of 1854 that his rank in the army became higher than that of a colonel."]

"The other battalions of the Highland Brigade were approaching; but the 42d—the far-famed ‘Black Watch‘— had already come up. It was ranged in line. The ancient glory of the corps was a treasure now committed to the charge of young soldiers new to battle; but Campbell knew them—was sure of their excellence—and was sure, too, of Colonel Cameron, their commanding officer. Very eager—for the Guards were now engaged with the enemy’s columns—very eager, yet silent and majestic, the battalion stood ready.

"Before the action had begun, and whilst his men were still in column, Campbell had spoken to his brigade a few words—words simple, and, for the most part, workmanlike, yet touched with the fire of war-like sentiment. ‘Now, men, you are going into action. Remember this: whoever is wounded—I don’t care what his rank is—whoever is wounded must he where he falls till the bandsmen come to attend to him. No soldiers must go carrying off wounded men. If any soldier does such a thing, his name shall be stuck up in his parish church. Don’t be in a hurry about firing. Your officers will tell you when it is time to open fire. Be steady. Keep silence. Fire low. Now, men’—those who know the old soldier can tell how his voice would falter the while his features were kindling—’Now, men, the army will watch us; make me proud of the Highland Brigade’

"It was before the battle that this, or the like of this, was addressed to the brigade and now, when Sir Colin rode up to the corps which awaited his signal, he only gave it two words. But because of his accustomed manner of utterance, and because he was a true, faithful lover of war, the two words he spoke were as the roll of the drum: ‘Forward, 42d !‘ This was all he then said; and, ‘as a steed that knows his rider,’ the great heart of the battalion bounded proudly to his touch.

"Sir Colin Campbell went forward in front of the 42d; but before he had ridden far, he saw that his reckoning was already made good by the event, and that the column which had engaged the Coldstream was moving off obliquely towards its right rear. Then with his Staff he rode up a good way in advance, for he was swift to hope that the withdrawal of the column from the line of the redoubt might give him the means of learning the ground before him, and seeing how the enemy’s strength was disposed in this part of the field. In a few moments he was abreast of the redoubt, and upon the ridge or crest which divided the slope he had just ascended from the broad and rather deep hollow which lay before him. On his right he had the now empty redoubt, on his right front the higher slopes of the Kourganè Hill. Straight before him there was the hollow, or basin, just spoken of; bounded on its farther side by a swelling wave or ridge of ground which he called the ‘inner crest.’ Beyond that, whilst he looked straight before him, he could see that the ground fell off into a valley; but when he glanced towards his left front he observed that the hollow which lay on his front was, so to speak, bridged over by a bending rib which connected the inner with the outer crest— bridged over in such a way that a column on his left front might march to the spot where he stood without having first to descend into the lower ground. More towards his left, the ground was high, but so undulating and varied that it would not necessarily disclose any troops which might be posted in that part of the field.

"Confronting Sir Colin Campbell from the other side of the hollow, the enemy had a strong column—the two right battalions of the Kazan corps—and it was towards this body that the Vladimir column, moving off from the line of the redoubt, was all this time making its way. The Russians saw that they were the subject of a general officer’s studies; and Campbell’s horse at this time was twice struck by shot, but not disabled. When the retiring column came abreast of the right Kazan column it faced about to the front, and, striving to recover its formation, took part with the Kazan column in opposing a strength of four battalions —four battalions hard-worked and much thinned —to the one which, eager and fresh, was following the steps of the Highland General.

"Few were the moments that Campbell took to learn the ground before him, and to read the enemy’s mind; but, few though they were, they were all but enough to bring the 42d to the crest where their General stood. The ground they had to ascend was a good deal more steep and more broken than the slope close beneath the redoubt. In the land where those Scots were bred, there are shadows of sailing clouds skimming straight up the mountain’s side, and their paths are rugged, are steep, yet their course is smooth, easy, and swift. Smoothly, easily, swiftly, the ‘ Black Watch’ seemed to glide up the hill. A few instants before, and their tartans ranged dark in the valley—now, their plumes were on the crest. The small knot of horsemen who had ridden on before them were still there. Any stranger looking into the group might almost be able to know—might know by the mere carriage of the head—that he in the plain, dark-coloured frock, he whose sword-belt hung crosswise from his shoulder, was the man there charged with command; for in battle, men who have to obey sit erect in their saddles; he who has on him the care of the fight seems always to fall into the pensive yet eager bend which the Greeks—keen perceivers of truth— used to join with their conception of Mind brought to bear upon War. It is on board ship, perhaps, more commonly than ashore, that people in peace-time have been used to see their fate hanging upon the skill of one man. Often, landsmen at sea have watched the skilled, weather-worn sailor when he seems to look through the gale, and search deep into the home of the storm. He sees what they cannot see; he knows what, except from his lips, they never will be able to learn. They stand silent, but they question him with their eyes. So men new to war gaze upon the veteran commander, when, with knitted brow and steady eyes, he measures the enemy’s power, and draws near to his final resolve. Campbell, fastening his eyes on the two columns standing before him, and on the heavier and more distant column on his left front, seemed not to think lightly of the enemy’s strength; but in another instant (for his mind was made up, and his Highland blood took fire at the coming array of the tartans) his features put on that glow which, seen in men of his race—race known by the kindling grey eye, and the light, stubborn crisping hair—discloses the rapture of instant fight. Although at that moment the 42d was alone, and was confronted by the two columns on the farther side of the hollow, yet Campbell, having a steadfast faith in Colonel Cameron and in the regiment he commanded, resolved to go straight on, and at once, with his forward movement. He allowed the battalion to descend alone into the hollow, marching straight against the two columns. Moreover, he suffered it to undertake a manoeuvre which (except with troops of great steadiness and highly instructed) can hardly be tried with safety against regiments still unshaken. The ‘Black watch’ 'advanced firing.’

"But whilst this fight was going on between the 42d and the two Russian columns, grave danger from another quarter seemed to threaten the Highland battalion; for, before it had gone many paces, Campbell saw that the column which had appeared on his left front was boldly marching forward; and such was the direction it took, and such the nature of the ground, that the column, if it were suffered to go on with this movement, would be able to strike at the flank of the 42d without having first to descend into lower ground.

"Halting the 42d in the hollow Campbell swiftly measured the strength of the approaching column, and he reckoned it so strong that he resolved to prepare for it a front of no less than five companies. He was upon the point of giving the order for effecting this bend in the line of the 42d, when looking to his left rear, he saw his centre battalion springing up to the outer crest." This was the 93d.

"Campbell’s charger, twice wounded already, but hitherto not much hurt, was now struck by a shot in the heart. Without a stumble or a plunge the horse sank down gently to the earth, and was dead. Campbell took his aide de-carnp’s charger; but he had not been long in Shadweil’s saddle when up came Sir Colin’s groom with his second horse. The man, perhaps, under some former master, had been used to be charged with the ‘second horse’ in the hunting-field. At all events, here he was; and if Sir Colin was angered by the apparition, he could not deny that it was opportune. The man touched his cap, and excused himself for being where he was. In the dry, terse way of those Englishmen who are much accustomed to horses, he explained that towards the rear the balls had been dropping about very thick, and that, fearing some harm might come to his master’s second horse, he had thought it best to bring him up to the front.

When the 93d had recovered the perfectness of its array, it again moved forward, but at the steady pace imposed upon it by the chief. The 42d had already resumed its forward movement; it still advanced firing.

"The turning moment of a fight is a moment of trial for the soul, and not for the body; and it is, therefore, that such courage as men are able to gather from being gross in numbers, can be easily outweighed by the warlike virtue of a few. To the stately ‘Black Watch’ and the hot 93d, with Campbell leading them on, there was vouchsafed that stronger heart for which the brave pious Muscovites had prayed. Over the souls of the men in the columns there was spread, first the gloom, then the swarm of vain delusions, and at last the sheer horror which might be the work of the Angel of Darkness. The two lines marched straight on. The three columns shook. They were not yet subdued. They were stubborn; but every moment the two advancing battalions grew nearer and nearer, and although—dimly masking the scant numbers of the Highlanders— there was still the white curtain of smoke which always rolled on before them, yet, fitfully, and from moment to moment, the signs of them could be traced on the right hand and on the left in a long, shadowy line, and their coming was ceaseless.

"But moreover, the Highlanders being men of great stature, and in strange garb, their plumes being tall, and the view of them being broken and distorted by the wreaths of the smoke, and there being, too, an ominous silence in their ranks, there were men among the Russians who began to conceive a vague terror—the terror of things unearthly; and some, they say, imagined that they were charged by horsemen strange, silent, monstrous, bestriding giant chargers. Unless help should come from elsewhere, the three columns would have to give way; but help came. From the high ground on our left another heavy column—the column composed of the two right Sousdal battalions—was seen coming down. It moved straight at the flank of the 93d." This was met by the 79th.

"Without a halt, or with only the halt that was needed for dressing the ranks, it sprang at the flank of the right Sousdal column, and caught it in its sin —caught it daring to march across the front of a battalion advancing in line. Wrapped in the fire thus poured upon its flank, the hapless column could not march, could not live. It broke, and began to fall back in great confusion; and the left Sousdal column being almost at the same time overthrown by the 93d, and the two columns which had engaged the ‘Black Watch’ being now in full retreat, the spurs of the hill and the winding dale beyond became thronged with the enemy’s disordered masses.

"Then again, they say, there was heard the sorrowful wail that bursts from the heart of the brave Russian infantry when they have to suffer defeat; but this time the wail was the wail of eight battalions; and the warlike grief of the soldiery could no longer kindle the fierce intent which, only a little before, had spurred forward the Vladimir column. Hope had fled.

"After having been parted from one another by the nature of the ground, and thus thrown for some time into echelon, the battalions of Sir Colin’s brigade were now once more close abreast; and since the men looked upon ground where the grey remains of the enemy’s broken strength were mournfully rolling away, they could not but see that this, the revoir of the Highlanders, had chanced in a moment of glory. Knowing their hearts, and deeming that the time was one when the voice of his people might fitly enough be heard, the Chief touched or half lifted his hat in the way of a man assenting. Then along the Kourgan slopes, and thence west almost home to the Causeway, the hill-sides were made to resound with that joyous, assuring cry, which is the natural utterance of a northern people so long as it is warlike and free.

"The three Highland regiments were now re-formed, and Sir Colin Campbell, careful in the midst of victory, looked to see whether the supports were near enough to warrant him in pressing the enemy’s retreat with his Highland Brigade. He judged that, since Cathcart was still a good way off, the Highlanders ought to be established on the ground which they had already won; and, never forgetting that, all this while, he was on the extreme left of the whole infantry array of the Allies, he made a bend in his line, which caused it to show a front towards the south-east as well as towards the south.

"This achievement of the Guards and the highland Brigade was so rapid, and was executed with so steadfast a faith in the prowess of our soldiery and the ascendancy of Line over Column, that in vanquishing great masses of infantry 12,000 strong, and in going straight through with an onset which tore open the Russian position, the six battalions together did not lose 500 men."

The British loss was 25 officers and 19 sergeants killed, and 81 officers and 102 sergeants wounded; 318 rank and file killed, and 1438 wounded, making, with 19 missing, a total loss of 2002. The French loss was probably not more than 60 killed and 500 wounded, while the Russian killed and wounded amounted to considerably above 6000. The 42d in killed and wounded lost only 37 men.

After the battle, it was a touching sight to see the meeting between Lord Raglan and Sir Colin Campbell. The latter was on foot, as his horse had been killed in the earlier period of the action. Lord Raglan rode up, and highly complimented Campbell and his brigade. Sir Colin, with tears in his eyes, said it was not the first battle-field they had won together, and that, now that the battle was over, he had a favour to ask his lordship, which he hoped he would not refuse—to wear a bonnet with his brigade while he had the honour to command it.

The request was at once granted, and the making up of the bonnet was intrusted secretly to Lieutenant and Adjutant Drysdale of the 42d. There was a difficulty next morning as to the description of heckle to combine the three regiments of the Brigade. It was at last decided to have one-third of it red, to represent the 42d, and the remaining two-thirds white at the bottom, for the 79th and 93d. Not more than half a dozen knew about the preparation of the bonnet, and these were confined to the 42d. A brigade parade was ordered on the morning of 22d September on the field of Alma, "as the General was desirous of thanking them for their conduct on the 20th." The square was formed in readiness for his arrival, and he rode into it with the bonnet on. No order or signal was given for it, but he was greeted with such a succession of cheers, again and again, that both the French and English armies were startled into a perfect state of wonder as to what had taken place. Such is the history of "the bonnet gained."

The 42d had its own share in the harassing and tedious work which devolved on the British soldiers while lying before Sebastopol, although it so happened that it took no part in any of the important actions which followed Alma. Here, as elsewhere, the men supported the well-known character of the regiment in all respects. On the first anniversary of the battle of the Alma, September 20, 1855, the first distribution of medals was made to the soldiers in the Crimea, on which occasion Lieutenant-General Sir Colin Campbell issued the following stirring address, duty preventing him from being present:-

"Highland Brigade,

"On the first anniversary of the glorious battle of the Alma, our gracious Sovereign has commanded the Crimean medal to be presented to her gallant soldiers, who were the first to meet the Russians and defeat them on their own territory. The fatigues and hardships of last year are well known, and have greatly thinned our ranks since we scaled the Alma heights together; but happy am I to see so many faces around me, who, on that day, by their courage, steadiness, and discipline, so materially assisted in routing the Russian hordes from their vaunted impregnable position. To that day Scotchmen can look with pride, (and Scotchmen are everywhere). For your deeds upon that day you received the marked encomiums of Lord Raglan, the thanks of the Queen, and admiration of all. Scotchmen are proud of you! I, too, am a Scotchman, and proud of the honour of commanding so distinguished a Brigade; and still prouder, that through all the trying seventies of the winter, its incessant labours, and decimating disease, you have still maintained the same unflinching courage and energy with which your discipline, obedience, and steadiness, in whatever circumstances you have been placed, make you so unrivalled (and none more so than the oldest regiment of the brigade), and your commander confident of success, however numerous and determined your foe. The young soldiers who have not this day been presented with a medal, nor shared in the glories of the Alma, may soon win equal honours, for many an Alma will yet be fought, when I hope they will prove themselves worthy comrades of those who have struck home for Scotland, and for honours for their breast.

"Many have shared the greatest portion of the hardships of this campaign, and were ready upon the 8th (September) to do their duty, and eager for the morning of the 9th, when if we had been required I am positive would have gained renown.

"The honour of these last days all are equally entitled to, and I hope soon again to be presenting the young soldiers with their medals.

"I cannot conclude without bringing to your minds, that the eyes of your countrymen are upon you. I know you think of it, and will endeavour by every effort to maintain your famed and admirable discipline; also that your conduct in private equals your prowess in the field; and when the day arrives that your services are no longer required in the field, welcome arms will be ready to meet you with pride, and give you the blessings your deeds have so materially aided to bring to your country. And in after years, when recalling the scenes of the Crimea by your ingle side, your greatest pride will be that you too were there, and proved yourself a worthy son of sires who, in by-gone days, on many a field added lustre to their country’s fame."

The brave Sir Colin seems to have been particularly fond of the old Black Watch, "the senior regiment" of the Highland Brigade, as will be seen from the above address, as well as from the following, in which, after regretting he was not present at the distribution of medals and clasps on the 20th September, he proceeds

"Your steadiness and gallantry at the battle of Alma were most conspicuous and most gratifying to me, whilst your intrepidity, when before the enemy, has been equalled by the discipline which you have invariably preserved.

"Remember never to lose sight of the circumstance, that you are natives of Scotland; that your country admires you for your bravery; that it still expects much from you; and, as Scotchmen, strive to maintain the name and fame of our countrymen, who are everywhere, and who have nobly fought and bled in all quarters of the globe. In short, let every one consider himself an hero of Scotland. It is my pride, and shall also be my boast amongst the few friends which Providence has left me, and those which I have acquired, that this decoration of the order of the Bath, which I now wear, has been conferred upon me on account of the distinguished gallantry you have displayed. Long may you wear your medals, for you well deserve them! And now for a word to the younger officers and soldiers. It is not only by bravery in action that you can anticipate success; much depends upon steadiness and discipline. Remember this, for it is owing to the high state of discipline heretofore maintained in the Highland Brigade, and in the senior regiment thereof in particular, that such results have been obtained as to warrant the highest degree of confidence in you, in whatever position the fortune of war may place you.

"Endeavour, therefore, to maintain steadiness and discipline, by which you will be able to emulate the deeds of your older comrades in arms, for we may yet have many Almas to fight, where you will have the opportunity of acquiring such distinction as now adorn your comrades."

From the 19th of October, the Highland Brigade was commanded by Colonel Cameron of the 42d, Sir Colin having been appointed to command the forces in and about Balaclava. In January 1855, the establishment was increased to 16 companies, and on the 3d of May, the regiment was embarked to take part in the Kertch expedition, but was recalled on the 6th. It again embarked on the 2d May, and landed at Kertch on the 24th, whence it marched to Yenikale. Two of the 42d men, while the regiment was at the last-mentioned place, were shot in rather an extraordinary manner. They were standing in a crowd which had assembled round a house for the purpose of "looting" it, when a Frenchman, having struck at the door with the butt of his musket, the piece went off, killing one 42d man on the spot and wounding the other. These, so far as we can ascertain, were the only casualties suffered by the regiment in this expedition. The 42d returned to Balaclava on the 9th of June, and on the 16th of the same month, took up its position in front of Sebastopol. On June 18th it formed one of the regiments of reserve in the assault of the out-works of Sebastopol, and was engaged in siege operations until August 24th, when the regiment marched to Kamara, in consequence of the Russians having again appeared in force on the flank of the allied armies. On September 8th, it marched to Sebastopol, took part in the assault and capture, returned to Kamara the following day, and remained there until the peace, 30th March 1856.

On June 15th, the regiment embarked at Kamiesh for England, landed at Portsmouth on the 24th of July, proceeded by rail to Aldershot, and was reviewed by Her Majesty Queen Victoria, after which it proceeded by rail to Dover, in garrison with the 41st, 44th, 79th, and 93d regiments.

The positive losses of the regiment in the Crimea from actual contact with the enemy, were nothing compared with the sad ravages made upon it, along with the rest of the army, by disease and privation, and want of the actual necessaries of life. During the campaign only 1 officer and 38 men were killed in action, while there died of wounds and disease, 1 officer and 226 men, besides 140 officers and men who had to be sent to England on account of wounds and ill-health.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Part Twenty Four The Black Watch - 1856 - 1869

ON December 1856, the establishment was reduced to 12 companies. On July 31st 1857, the regiment proceeded to Portsmouth, and on the 4th of August following it was reviewed by Her Majesty the Queen, who expressed herself highly satisfied with the fine appearance of the regiment. Between this date and the 14th the corps embarked in six different ships for the east, to assist in putting down the Indian Mutiny, and arrived at Calcutta in the October and November following.

The headquarters, with five companies of the 42d Royal Highlanders, had orders to march for Cawnpore on the night of the 28th November; but the news of the state of affairs at Cawnpore having reached Allahabad, the column was recalled, and ordered to form an intrenched camp at Cheemee. Next morning the work was begun, and progressed favourably until the 1st of December. Meanwhile the party was reinforced by awing of Her Majesty’s 38th Regiment, a wing of the 3d battalion Rifle Brigade, a party of Sappers and Artillery, making in all a force of 1050 men, with two 8-inch howitzers and four field-pieces.

At 5 A.M. on the 2d December, a messenger arrived in camp with a despatch from the Commander-in-chief, ordering the column to make forced marches to Cawnpore. It marched accordingly at 8 P.M. on the same day, and reached Cawnpore about noon on the 5th, having marched a distance of 78 miles in three days, though the men were fairly exhausted through fatigue and want of sleep.

The position which the rebels held at Cawnpore was one of great strength. Their left was posted amongst the wooded high grounds, intersected with nullahs, and thickly sprinkled with ruined bungalows and public buildings, which lie between the town and the Ganges. Their centre occupied the town itself, which was of great extent, and traversed only by narrow winding streets, singularly susceptible of defence. The position facing the intrenchment was uncovered; but from the British camp it was separated by the Ganges canal, which, descending through the centre of the Doab, falls into that river below Cawnpore. Their right stretched out behind this canal into the plain, and they held a bridge over it, and some lime-kilns and mounds of brick in front of it.

The camp of the Gwalior contingent of 10,000 was situated in this plain, about two miles in rear of the right, at the point where the Calpee road comes in. The united force, amounting now, with reinforcements which had arrived, to about 25,000 men, with 40 guns, consisted of two distinct bodies, having two distinct lines of operation and retreat ;—that of the Nana Sahib (and under the command of his brothers), whose line of retreat was in rear of the left on Bithoor; and that of the Gwalior contingent, whose retreat lay from the right upon Calpee.

General Windham, commanding in the fort, opened a heavy fire from every available gun and mortar from the intrenchment upon the hostile left and their centre in the town, so as to draw their attention entirely to that side and lead them to accumulate their troops there. Brigadier Greathed, with his brigade of 8th, 64th, and 2d Punjaub infantry, held the line of intrenchment, and engaged the enemy by a brisk attack. To the left, Brigadier Walpolo, with the 2d and 3d battalion Rifle brigade and a wing of 38th foot, crossed the canal just above the town, and advancing, skirted its walls, marking as he reached them every gate leading into the country, and throwing back the head of every column which tried to debouch thence to the aid of the right; whilst to the left, Brigadier Hope, with his Sikhs, and Highlanders, the 42d and 93d, and the 53d foot, and Brigadier Inglis, with the 23d, 32d, and 82d, moved into the plain, in front of the brick-mound, covering the enemy’s bridge on the road to Calpee. Meanwhile the whole cavalry and horse artillery made a wide sweep to the left, and crossed the canal by a bridge two miles farther up, in order to turn the flank of the rebels.

The battle commenced on the morning of the 6th with the roar of Windham’s guns from the intrenchment. After a few hours this tremendous cannonade slackened, and the rattle of Greathed’s musketry was heard closing rapidly on the side of the canal. Walpole’s riflemen pushed on in haste; and Hope and Inglis’s brigades, in parallel lines, advanced directly against the high brick mound, behind which the enemy were formed in great masses, and their guns, worked with great precision, sent a shower of shot and shell upon the plain. The field batteries on the British side opened briskly, whilst the cavalry were seen moving on the left. The 42d skirmishers now rushed on and closed upon the mound, from which the enemy fell back to the bridge. Lieutenant-Colonel Thorold, commanding, riding in front of the centre of the regiment, here had his horse shot under him by a round shot, which swept through the line and killed private Mark Grant. The gallant old Colonel sprung to his feet, and with his drawn sword in hand, marched in front of the regiment during the remainder of the action, and the pursuit of the flying enemy.

After a moment’s pause, the infantry again pushed on, and rushed upon the bridge. The fire was heavy in the extreme, when the sound of heavy guns was heard, and Peel’s noble sailors, dragging with them their heavy 24-pounders, came up to the bridge, and brought them into action. The enthusiasm of the men was now indescribable; they rushed on, either crossing the bridge or fording the canal, came upon the enemy’s camp, and took some guns at the point of the bayonet. A Bengal field-battery galloped up and opened fire at easy range, sending volleys of grape through the tents. The enemy, completely surprised at the onslaught, fled in great haste, leaving everything in their camp as it stood;—the rout was complete. The cavalry and horse artillery coming down on the flank of the flying enemy, cut up great numbers of them, and pursued along the Calpee road, followed by the 42d, 53d, and Sikhs, for 14 miles. The slaughter was great, till at last, the rebels despairing of effecting their retreat by the road, threw away their arms and accoutrements, dispersed over the country into the jungle, and hid themselves from the sabres and lances of the horsemen. Night coming on, the wearied forces returned to Cawnpore, carrying with them 17 captured guns. The strength and courage of the young men of the Royal Highlanders was remarkable. Many of them were mere lads, and had never seen a shot fired before, yet during the whole of this day’s action and long march, not a single man fell out, or complained of his hardships.

As soon as the Gwalior contingent was routed on the right, a severe contest took place with the Nana Sahib’s men in the town, at a place called the Sonbadar’s Tank, but before nightfall all Cawnpore was in our possession.

The Nana's men fled in great confusion along the road to Bithoor, whither they were pursued on the 8th by Brigadier-General Hope Grant, at the head of the cavalry, light artillery, and Hope’s brigade of infantry (42d and 93d Highlanders, 53d, and 4th Punjaub rifles). Bithoor was evacuated, but the force pushed on, marching all night, and came upon the enemy at the ferry of Seria-Ghat on the Ganges, 25 miles from Cawnpore, at daylight on the 9th. The rebels had reached the ferry, but had not time to cross. They received the British force with a heavy cannonade, and tried to capture the guns with a charge of cavalry, but the horsemen of the British drove them away. Their infantry got amongst the enclosures and trees; but the whole of the guns, amounting to 15 pieces, were captured, together with a large quantity of provisions, camp equipage, and ammunition.

Lieutenant-Colonel Thorold, commanding the regiment, and Captain J. C. M’Leod, commanding the rear guard, are honourably mentioned by Brigadier-General Hope Grant, in his despatch dated 11th December 1857.

The grenadier company, when destroying some baggage-carts, &c., found a very large gong, which was kept as a trophy by the regiment. The troops encamped near the Ghat on the 9th and 10th, and on the 11th marched back to Bithoor, where they were employed till the 28th December, destroying the palace of the Xana Sahib, and searching for treasure,— a great quantity of which was found in a tank,— with a considerable amount of labour, the flow of water being so great that 200 men were employed night and day baling it out, so as to keep it sufficiently low to enable the sappers to work.

The remainder of the regiment—Nos. 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 companies—under the command of Major Wilkinson, joined at Bithoor on the 22d December 1857. Lieutenant-Colonel Cameron and Major Priestley, who had been left at Calcutta, joined head-quarters on the 12th December.

The Commander-in-chief with the forces at Cawnpore, marched towards Futteghur on the 25th December, and the column at Bithoor followed on the 2 8th, overtaking the headquarter’s column on the 29th at Merukie Serai. The regiment marched from the latter place, and at 1 o’clock, P.M. joined the head-quarters camp at Jooshia-Gunge—the whole force a few days after proceeding to Futteghur. After various skirmishes with the enemy during January 1858, about Futteghur, the force on the 1st February commenced a retrograde march on Cawnpore, which it reached on the 7th. On the 10th the 42d and 93d Highlanders crossed the Ganges into Oudh, as a guard on the immense siege-train which had been collected in Cawnpore for service at Lucknow. On the 11th they marched to Onao, where, with other troops the regiment remained, acting as convoy escort to the immense train of provisions and military materials being sent forward towards Lucknow.

On the 21st the regiment moved forward and on the morning of the 26th, met their old companions in arms, the 79th Highlanders, at Camp Purneah. A cordial greeting took place between old comrades, after which the regiments proceeded together to Bunteerah the same morning. Here the whole of the Commander-in-chief’s force assembled. The siege train, &c., was gradually brought forward, and all necessary preparations made for the attack on Lucknow.

The force marched from Bunteerah on the 1st March, and passing through Alum Bagb (the post held by Major-General Sir James Outram) and by the old fort of Jellalahabad on the left, soon met the enemy’s outposts, which, after a few rounds from their field-guns, retired to the city. The palace of Dalkoosh was seized without opposition, and being close to the river Goomptee, formed the right of the British position. The intervening space between this and the Alum Bagh on the left was held by strong bodies of troops posted under cover, for the hour of action had not yet arrived.

Lucknow had been fortified by every means that native art could devise to make a strong defence. The canal was scarped, and an immense parapet of earth raised on the inner side, which was loop-holed in all directions. Every street was barricaded, and every house loop-holed. The Kaizerbagh was so. strengthened as to form a kind of citadel, and the place was alive with its 50,000 mutinous sepoys, besides a population in arms of one kind, or other of double that number.

Brigadier Franks, who had marched from Benares with a column, by way of Sultanpore, having been joined by the Nepaulese contingent under General Jung Bahadoor, reached Lucknow on the 5th March; and on the 6th a division, under command of Sir James Outram, crossed the Goomptee, opposite the Dalkoosha park, and moved round towards the old Presidency. driving in the enemy’s posts. Sir James Outram, from his position on the opposite bank of the river, was enabled to enfilade, and take in reverse a great portion of the great canal embankment, and effectually to shell the enemy within his works.

The enemy’s most advanced position was La Martinibre, a large public building surrounded on three sides by high walls and ruined houses, and its front covered by the river.

The plan of attack having been arranged the 42d Highlanders were ordered to storm the Martiniere, which they did in gallant style on the 9th. Four companies, under Major E. R. Priestley, advanced in extended order, the remaining five advanced in line under Lieutenant-Colonel Cameron. The Highlanders went steadily on until within two hundred yards of the place, when, giving three cheers, they rushed on in double time, the pipers playing "The Campbells are coming." The enemy became so alarmed, that they bolted from their trenches without waiting to fire more than their first round. Thus, the first position in Lucknow was gained without the loss of a single man.

Till the flying enemy, having been joined by reinforcements at their second line of intrenchment, summoned fresh courage, and showed battle to the four skirmishing companies who had followed up; a very smart affair ensued, in which the regiment suffered several calamities. The enemy from behind their works were enabled to do this without themselves being seen.

The five companies under Lieutenant-Colonel Cameron were ordered to take position in an old village to the right of La Martinicre about 300 yards, in passing to which they were exposed to a heavy fire upon the great parapet of the canal; but on reaching the village it was observed that the parapet near the river was undefended, having at that end been enfiladed by General Outram’s guns. The 42d, with the 4th Punjaub rifles, under Major Wyld, making steps in the face of the parapet with bayonets, &c., scrambled up, and taking ground to the left, cleared the line of work as far nearly as Bank’s bungalow. Reinforcements were brought up, and the position was held for the night. Early next morning, the several companies of the regiment were collected together, and the order was given to occupy Bank’s bungalow and the houses and gardens adjacent. These points were also carded with little opposition, the enemy nowhere attempting to stand, but keeping up a constant fire of all kind of missiles from the tops of houses, loop-holes, and other points.

The regiment was now close under the Begum Kcotee, an extensive mass of solid buildings, comprising several courts, a mosque, bazaar, &c. This place was strongly fortified, and became an important post. Two 68-pound naval guns were at once brought up and commenced breaching; within Bank’s bungalow were placed 16 mortars and cohorns, from which shells were pitched at the Kootee that day, and all night, until the following day about 2 o’clock (March 11th), when the 93d Highlanders stormed the breach, and carried the place in gallant style. Upwards of 500 corpses told the slaughter which took place within those princely courts. During the attack, the 42d grenadier and light companies were ordered to protect the left flank of the 93d, in doing which several casualties took place, caused by the fire of the enemy from a loop-holed gateway near which the light company had to pass. After occupying Bank’s bungalow, two companies of the 42d were sent under Major Priestley to clear and occupy some ruined houses on the left front. This party, having advanced rather farther than this point, got hotly engaged with the enemy, but held their original ground.

A large section of the city being now in possession of the British, operations were commenced against the Kaizer Bagh, from the direction of the Begum Kootee, as well as from Sir James Outram’s side. He took the Mess-house by storm, and other outworks in that direction, and on the morning of the 14th got into this great palace. The place was now almost wholly in possession of the British forces; at no one point did the enemy attempt to make a stand, but fled in every direction.

By the 20th the rebels had been everywhere put down, and peace partially restored. On the 22d the 42d Royal Highlanders were moved to the Observatory Mess-house and old Presidency, where they remained doing duty until the 2d April. During this time the men suffered greatly from fever, brought on by hardship and exposure to the sun. They had now been a whole month constantly on duty, their uniform and accoutrements never off their backs; and the effiuvium arising from the many putrid half-buried carcases in the city, especially about the Presidency, rendered the air very impure. Notwithstanding the hard work performed by the regiment at Lucknow only 5 rank and file were killed, and Lieutenant F. E. H. Farquharson and 41 non-commissioned officers and privates wounded. Lieutenant Farquharson was awarded the Victoria Cross "for a distinguished act of bravery at Lucknow, 9th March 1858."

On the evening of the 2d April, the regiment marched to camp at the Dalkoosha, having been ordered to form part of the Rohilcund field force under Brigadier Walpole. On the morning of the 8th the regiment marched from camp, accompanied by the 79th and 93d Highlanders, to the Moosha Bagh, a short distance beyond which the brigade encamped; and having been joined by the remainder of the force and the new Brigadier, commenced a march through Oudh, keeping the line of the Ganges. Nothing of note occurred until the 15th. On reaching Rhoadamow, Nurpert Sing, a celebrated rebel chief, shut up in Fort Ruhya, refused to give his submission. The fort was situated in a dense jungle, which almost completely hid it from view. Four companies of the 42d, with the 4th Punjaub rifles, were sent forward in extended order, to cover the guns and reconnoitre, and were brought so much under the enemy’s fire from the parapet and the tops of trees, that a great many casualties occurred in a very short time. Brigadier Adrian hope and Lieutenants Douglas and Bramleyhere received their death wounds. Alter remaining in this exposed condition for six hours, and after losing so many men, the Brigadier withdrew his force about sunset, and encamped about two miles off. During the night, the rebel chief retired quietly with all his men and material. Besides the two officers above mentioned, 1 sergeant and 6 privates were killed, and 3 sergeants and 34 privates wounded. Quarter-Master Sergeant John Simpson, Lance-Corporal Alexander Thompson, and Private James Davis were awarded the Victoria Cross.

Nothing of importance occurred till the force reached Bareilly, when they came up with the enemy’s outposts at daybreak on the 5th May. After a short cannonade for about half-an-hour, the enemy fell back from the bridge and nullah, and occupied the topes (clumps of trees) and ruined houses in the cantonments. In this position it was necessary to shell every tope and house before advancing, which caused considerable delay all the time the sun was shining on the troops with full force. About 10 A.M. the enemy made a bold attempt to turn the British left flank, and the 42d were ordered forward in support of the 4th Punjaub rifles, who had been sent to occupy the old cavalry lines, but were there surprised by the enemy in great numbers. Just as the 42d reached the old lines, they were met by the Punjabees in full flight, followed by a lot of Gazees carrying tulwars and shields. These rushed furiously on, and the men for a moment were undecided whether they should fire on them or not, their friends the Punjabees being mixed up with them when, as if by magic, the Commander-in-chief appeared behind the line, and his familiar voice, loud and clear, was heard calling out, "Fire away, men; shoot them down, every man jack of them!" Then the line opened fire upon them; but in the meantime, some of these Gazees had even reached the line, and cut at the men, wounding several. Four of them seized Colonel Cameron in rear of the line, and would have dragged him off his horse, when Colour-Sergeant Gardner stepped from the ranks and bayoneted them, the Colonel escaping with only a slight wound on his wrist. For this act of bravery Gardner was awarded the Victoria Cross. In this affair 1 private was killed, and 2 officers, 1 sergeant, and 12 privates wounded. No. 5 company 42d took possession of the fort which was abandoned, and a line of piquets of the 42d and 79th Highlanders was posted from the fort to the extreme right of the commander-in-chief’s camp. Next day the place was cleared of rebels.

The regiment was told off as a part of the Bareilly brigade, and on the 5th June detached a wing to Mooradabad under command of Lieutenant Colonel Wilkinson. This wing marched to Bedaon with a squadron of carbineers, and joined Brigadier Coke’s force, but received orders to leave the carbineers with Brigadier Coke, and proceed to Mooradabad. On this march the men suffered from exhaustion and the heat. Indeed, the men who were still under canvas now began to suffer very much from sun-stroke, fevers, diarrhoea, &c. Every exertion was made to get them into temporary barracks, but this was not effected until the middle of July, just in time to escape the rains.

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Cameron died of fever on the 9th August, and Lieutenant Colonel F. G. Wilkinson succeeded to the command of the regiment.

The headquarters and left wing were ordered to Peeleebheet on the 14th October, where it remained encamped till the 24th November. when, in order the better to guard against the rebels crossing from Oudh into Rohilkund, Colonel Smyth, Bengal Artillery, in command of a small column, was ordered to take up a position on the banks of the Sarda, to watch the Ghauts. No. 6, Captain Lawson’s company, joined Colonel Smyth’s column. At the same time, Major M’Leod was ordered, with the troops under his command, viz., 4 companies 42d Royal Highlanders, 2 squadrons Punjaub cavalry, 1 company Kumaon levies, and 2 guns, to proceed to Madho-Tanda, being a central position whence support might be sent in any direction required. This force subsequently moved close to the Sarda, in consequence of the numerous reports of the approach of the enemy, but all remained quiet until the morning of the 15th January 1859. The enemy having been pursued in the Khyreegurh district by a force under command of Colonel Dennis, attempted to force his way into Rohilkund, with the view, as was supposed, of getting into Rampore. Early on the morning of the 15th the enemy, about 2000 strong, effected the passage of the Sarda, at Maylah Ghaut, about three miles above Colonel Smyth’s camp, at daylight. The alarm having been given, the whole of the troops in camp moved out with all speed, and attacked the rebels in the dense jungle, close to the river. Ensign Coleridge, 42d, was detached in command of a piquet of 40 men of Captain Lawson’s company, and 40 men Kumaon levies, and was so placed as to be cut off from the remainder of the force. The jungle was so dense, that the cavalry could not act; the Eumaon levies were all raw recruits, who were with difficulty kept to their posts, so the fighting fell almost wholly to the lot of the 37 men under command of Captain Lawson. The enemy, desperate, and emboldened by the appearance of so small a force before them, made repeated attempts to break through the thin line of skirmishers, but the latter nobly held their ground. Captain Lawson received a gun-shot wound in his left knee, early in the day; Colour Sergeant Landles was shot and cut to pieces, two corporals-—-Ritchie and Thompson—were also killed, and several other casualties had greatly weakened them. The company now without either officers or noncommissioned officers, yet bravely held on their ground, and, cheered on by the old soldiers, kept the enemy at bay from sunrise to sunset. Privates Walter Cook and Duncan Miller, for their conspicuous bravery during this affair were awarded the Victoria Cross.

Major M’Leod’s force was then at a place called Sunguree on the Sarda, 22 miles from Colonel Smyth’s force. About 8 A.M. when the numbers and nature of the enemy’s attack were discovered, a Sowar was despatched to Major M’Leod (in temporary command) for a reinforcement of two companies, and ordering the remainder of the force to proceed with all speed to Madho-Tanda to await the result of the battle. No. 7 and 8 companies were dispatched from Sunguree about noon, but did not reach the scene of action till after 5 P.M. Their arrival turned the tide of battle altogether. Such of the enemy as could recrossed the river in the dark, and next morning nothing remained on the field, but the dead and dying, 2 small guns, and some cattle belonging to the rebels. Lord Clyde complimented the regiment very highly on this occasion, and in particular, spoke of Captain Lawson’s company as a pattern of valour and discipline.

General Walpole having received intelligence about the 22d that a body of rebels were hovering about, under Gooiah Sing, in the Khyrugher jungles, two companies of the 42d Royal Highlanders at Colonel Smyth’s camp, a squadron of the Punjaub cavalry, a squadron of Crossman’s Horse, and three companies of Ghoorkhas, under command of Colonel Wilkinson, were ordered to cross the river at the spot where the rebels came over, and march to Gulori, 40 miles in the interior, under the Nepaul hills. Gulori was reached in 4 days, but Goolah Sing had secured himself in a fort under Nepauleese protection. Colonel Dennis, with a force from Sultanpore had orders to march on a village 20 miles from Gulori, and also sweep the jungles and communicate with Colonel Wilkinson. As he never arrived, and the jungles being free from rebels, the force recrossed the river and returned to camp.

The left wing of the 42d remained on the Sarda until the 14th of March, when it returned to Bareilly, and joined the right wing, which had returned from Mooradabad on the 18th February, having been relieved by a wing of the 82d regiment; but information having been received that the rebels were again appearing in force in the Khyreegurh districts, the right wing, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Priestley, was sent to the Sarda to join Colonel Smyth on the 13th March, where it remained until the 15th May 1859, when it returned to Bareilly, the weather being by this time very hot and the district perfectly quiet. About this time, Lieutenant-Colonel Wilkinson went on leave to England, and was appointed to a depot battalion, and on the 27th September Lieutenant-Colonel Priestley succeeded to the command of the regiment.

The regiment occupied the temporary barracks at the old Kutchery, Berkley’s House, and the Jail, during the hot and rainy seasons. The men were remarkably healthy, and very few casualties occurred.

His Excellency, Sir Hugh Rose, Commander-in-chief in India having been invited on the 18th September, by Lieutenant-Colonel Priestley in the name of the officers and soldiers of the 42d Royal Highlanders, to present new colours to the regiment, arrived in Bareilly for that purpose on the 1st of January 1861. After the old colours had been lodged, and the new been presented by His Excellency, and trooped with the usual ceremonies, Sir Hugh Rose addressed the regiment in the following speech:-

"42d Royal Highlanders,

"I do not ask you to defend the colours I have presented to you this day. It would be superfluous: you have defended them for nearly 150 years with the best blood of Scotland.

"I do not ask you to carry these colours to the front should you again be called into the field; you have borne them round the world with success. But I do ask the officers and soldiers of this gallant and devoted regiment not to forget, because they are of ancient date, but to treasure in their memories the recollection of the brilliant deeds of arms of their forefathers and kinsmen, the scenes of which are inscribed on these colours. There is not a name on them which is not a study; there is not a name on them which is not connected with the most important events of the world’s history, or with the pages of the military annals of England.

"The soldiers of the 42d cannot have a better or more instructive history than their regimental records. They tell how, 100 years ago, the 42d won the honoured name of ‘Royal' at Ticonderoga in America, losing, although one battalion, 647 killed and wounded. How the 42d gained the ‘Red Heckle’ in Flanders. How Abercromby and Moore in Egypt and in Spain, dying in the arms of victory, thanked, with parting breath, the 42d. Well might the heroes do so! The fields of honour on which they were expiring were strewed with the dead and wounded soldiers of the 42d.

"The 42d enjoy the greatest distinction to which British regiments can aspire. They have been led and commanded by the great Master in War, the Duke of Wellington. Look at your colours: their badges will tell you how often—and this distinction is the more to be valued, because his Grace, so soldierlike and just was he, never would sanction a regiment’s wearing a badge, if the battle in which they had been engaged, no matter how bravely they may have fought in it, was not only an important one, but a victory.

"In the Crimea, in the late campaign in this country, the 42d again did excellent service under my very gallant and distinguished predecessor, Lord Clyde. The last entry in the regimental records shows that the spirit of the ‘Black Watch’ of 1729 was the same in 1859, when No. 6 company of the 42d, aided only by a company of the Kumaon levy, four guns, and a squadron of irregular cavalry, under Sir Robert Walpole, beat back, after several hours obstinate fighting, and with severe loss, 2000 rebels of all arms, and gained the day. Lord Clyde bestowed the highest praise on the company that a general can do,—His Lordship thanked them for their valour and their discipline.

"I am sincerely obliged to Lieutenant. Colonel Priestley for having, on the part of the 42d Royal Highlanders, requested me to present them with their new colours. It is an honour and a favour which I highly prize, the more so, because I am of Highland origin, and have worn for many years the tartan of another regiment which does undying honour to Scotland— the 92d Highlanders.

"I have chosen this day—New Year’s day- for the presentation of colours, because on New Year’s day in 1785 the colours were given to the 42d under which they won their red plume. Besides, New Year’s day, all over the world, particularly in Scotland, is a happy day. Heaven grant that it may be a fortunate one for this regiment."

On the 3d, after inspecting the regiment, His Excellency desired Lieutenant-Colonel Priestley to thank them for the admirable condition in which he found them, and for their regularity and good conduct. His Excellency further called several officers and soldiers to the front of the battalion and thanked them for their gallant conduct on various occasions, and No. 6 company for the valour and discipline evinced by them on the occasion alluded to in His Excellency’s speech.

On the 8th of March three companies were detached to Futteghur. On 23d March headquarters moved from Bareilly to Agra, where they arrived on the 8th of April, and were garrisoned along with the 107th regiment. On 27th July the regiment moved into camp, on account of cholera having broken out, and returned to barracks on 12th August, having lost from cholera 1 officer and 40 non-commissioned officers and men. After returning to barracks, the regiment was prostrated by fever and ague, so many as 450 men having been at one time unfit for duty out of seven companies.

On 12th September the regiment was delighted by having its old name reconferred upon it, as a distinguished mark of honour. A notification was received that on 8th July 1861 Her Majesty had been pleased graciously to authorise The Royal Highland Regiment to be distinguished, in addition to that title, by the name by which it was first known— "The Black Watch."

In March 1862, Lieutenant-General, the Marquis of Tweeddale, was appointed Colonel in place of the deceased Sir James Douglas. The Marquis, however, in September of the following year, removed to the 2d Lifeguards, and was succeeded by the regiment’s former commander, who led them up the slopes of Alma—Major-General Sir Duncan Cameron.

On 6th December 1863, the Black Watch marched by forced marches from Lahore to Rawal Pundee, on account of active operations having been commenced against some of the hill tribes. It arrived at the latter place on December 19. Affairs on the frontier having, however, assumed a favourable aspect, the regiment returned to Dugshai, which it reached on the 13th February 1864, but returned to Rawal Pundee, where on 14th December it was put into garrison with the 79th. It left the latter place in October 1865, and proceeded to Peshawur, where it was in garrison with the first battalion of the 19th regiment, and subsequently with the 77th. In 1867, while at Peshawur, cholera broke out in the cantonments, and on the 21st of May five companies, under Major Macpherson, were removed to camp; these were followed on the 25th by headquarters and the other five companies. From the 20th to the 31st May, 66 men, 1 woman, rnd 4 children died of cholera. On the 1st of June the regiment commenced its march ho Cheroat, a mountain of the Kultoch range, where headquarters was established on the 15th. The health of the regiment was not, however, immediately restored, and the number of deaths at Cheroat were 1 officer, 15 non-commissioned officers and men, 2 women, and 1 child. The total deaths in the regiment, from 20th May to 17th October, including casualties at depot, were 2 officers, 86 non-commissioned officers and men, 5 women, and 9 children ;— altogether 102, or nearly one-sixth of the whole regiment.

On 17th October was commenced the march towards Kurrachee, preparatory to embarkation for England. On January 17, 1868, the regiment embarked at Kurrachee for Bombay, and on the 21st was trans-shipped to the Indian troopship "Euphrates," which landed it at Suez on 15th February. On the 18th it embarked at Alexandria on board the "Serapis," which reached Portsmouth on the 4th of March, when the regiment immediately left by sea for Scotland and landed at Burntisland on the 7th, headquarters and 1 company proceeding to Stirling Castle, 5 companies to Perth, and 4 to Dundee. Colonel Priestley came home with the regiment from India, and carried on his duties till the 24th of March, the day before his death. He was succeeded by Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel M’Leod, who joined the regiment in 1846. On 12th October headquarters moved by rail from Stirling to Edinburgh Castle, and the detachments from Perth and Dundee followed soon after. The reception accorded to Scotland’s favourite and oldest regiment, on its arrival in Edinburgh, was as overwhelmingly enthusiastic as in the days of old, when the military spirit was in its glory. The reader will have an idea of the enthusiasm with which this regiment is still regarded, and will be so so long as its ranks are mainly recruited from Scotland, by the following account of its reception, for which we are indebted to the Scotsman newspaper of the day following the regiment’s arrival :—" The train arrived at the station about 10 minutes past 1, but long before that hour large and anxious crowds had collected on the Waverley Bridge, in Princes Street Garden, on the Mound, the Calton Hill, the Castle, and every other point from which a view of the passing regiment could be obtained. The crowd collected on the Waverley Bridge above must have numbered several thousands. The scene altogether was very imposing and animated. Such a turn-out of spectators has not been witnessed on the occasion of the arrival of any regiment here since the 78th Highlanders came from India, nearly ten years ago. Immediately after the train entered the station, the bugle sounded, and the men were arranged in companies, under the command of their respective captains. The regiment was under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel J. C. M’Leod, assisted by Major Cluny M’Pherson, Major F. C. Scott, and Adjutant J. E. Christie, and was drawn up in 8 companies. On emerging from the station the band struck up ‘Scotland yet,’ and the appearance of the regiment was hailed with hearty cheers from the spectators. The crowd in Canal Street was so great that it was with some difficulty the soldiers managed to keep their ranks. Their line of march lay along Princes Street, and every window and housetop from which a view of the gallant 42d could be obtained was crowded with spectators. The regiment proceeded by the Mound, Bank Street, and Lawnmarket, and was loudly cheered at every turn. On the Castle esplanade the crowd was, if possible, more dense than anywhere else. A large number of people had taken up their position on the top of the Reservoir, while every staircase from which a view could be obtained was thronged with anxious spectators. Large numbers had also gained admission to the Castle, and all the parapets and embrasures commanding a view of the route were crowded with people.

"On the regiment arriving at this point, loud cheers were raised by the immense crowd assembled on the esplanade, which were immediately taken up by those in the Castle, and enthusiastically continued. On arriving at the Castle gate, the band ceased playing, and the pipes struck up a merry tune. Even after the regiment had passed into the Castle, large numbers of people, including many relatives of the soldiers, continued to linger about the esplanade. It is now thirty-two years since the regiment was in Edinburgh, and certainly the reception which they received yesterday was a very enthusiastic one. Four companies came from Perth, and joined the headquarters at Stirling, and the whole regiment proceeded from thence to Edinburgh."

We cannot refrain here from quoting some verses of a short poem on the Black Watch, which appeared about this time, so happy and spirited that it deserves a more permanent resting-place than a newspaper.

THE BLACK WATCH

A Historic Ode, by Dugald Dhu

Written for Waterloo Day, 1868.

Hail, gallant regiment! Freiceadan Dubh!

Whenever Albion needs thine aid,

"Aye ready" for whatever foe,

Shall dare to meet "the black brigade !"

Witness disastrous Fontenoy,

When all seemed lost, who brought us through?

Who saved defeat! secured retreat?

And bore the brunt ?—the "Forty-Two !’

So, at Corunn’s grand retreat,

When, far outnumbered by the foe,

The patriot Moore made glorious halt,

Like setting sun in fiery glow.

Before us foam’d the rolling sea,

Behind, the carrion eagles flew;

But Scotland’s "Watch" proved Gallia’s match,

And won the game by’ Forty-Two !"

The last time France stood British fire

"The Watch" gained glory at its cost;

At Quatre Bras and Hugomont,

Three dreadful days they kept their post.

Ten hundred there, who form’d in sguare,

Before the close a handful grew;

The little phalanx never flinched,

Till " Boney" ran from Waterloo!

The "Forty-Second" never dies—

It hath a regimental soul;

Fond Scotia, weeping, filled the blanks

Which Quatre Bras left in its roll.

At Alma, at Sevastopol,

At Lucknow, waved its bonnets blue!

Its dark green tartan, who but knows?

What heart but warms to " Forty-Two!"

But while we glory in the corps,

We’ll mind their martial brethren too;

The Ninety-Second, Seventy-Ninth,

And Seventy-First—all Waterloo!

The Seventy-Second, Seventy-Fourth—

The Ninety-Third—all tried and true!

The Seventy-Eight, real, "men of Ross;"

Come, count their honours, "Forty-Two!"

Eight noble regiments of the Queen,

God grant they long support her crown!

"Shoulder to shoulder," Hielandmen!

United rivals in renown!

We’ll wreath the rose with heath that blows

Where barley-rigs yield mountain dew;

And pledge the Celt, in trews or kilt,

Whence Scotland drafts her "Forty-Two!"

It is worthy of remark, that from the time that the regiment embarked at Leith for England in May 1803, until October 1868, a period of upwards of 65 years, it was quartered in Edinburgh only 15 months—6 months in 1816, and 9 months in 1836—7. At its last visit it remained only about a year, taking its departure on November 9, 1869, when it embarked at Granton in the troop-ship "Orontes," for Portsmouth, en route for the camp at Aldershot, where it arrived on the 12th. The enthusiasm of the inhabitants of Edinburgh appears to have been even far greater to the Black Watch on its departure than on its entry into the northern metropolis. During their residence in Edinburgh the Highlanders conducted themselves in such a manner as to win the favourable opinions of all classes of the community, and to keep up the ancient prestige and unbroken good name of the regiment. The following is the Scotsman’s account of its departure:

"After a sojourn in Scotland of eighteen months, twelve of which have been passed in Edinburgh, the 42d Royal Highlanders departed yesterday from the city, taking with them the best wishes of the inhabitants. Since the arrival of the 78th Highlanders, immediately after the close of the Indian mutiny, such a degree of excitement as was displayed yesterday has not been witnessed in connection with any military event in the metropolis. It was generally known that 9 A.M. had been fixed for the evacuation of the Castle by the Highlanders, and long before that hour the Lawnmarket and the esplanade were crowded with an eager and excited multitude. At 9 o’clock the crowd increased fourfold, by the thousands of work-people, who, set free at that time, determined to spend their breakfast-hour in witnessing the departure of the gallant ‘Black Watch.’ At half-past nine, the regiment, which had assembled in heavy marching order in the Cast]e Square, began to move off under the command of Colonel M’Leod, the band playing ‘Scotland Yet,’ and afterwards ‘Bonnets o’ Blue.’ As the waving plumes were seen slowly wending down the serpentine path which leads to the esplanade, an enthusiastic and prolonged cheer burst from the spectators. As soon as the regiment had passed the drawbridge, a rush was made by the onlookers to get clear of the Esplanade. The narrow opening leading to the Lawnmarket was speedily blocked, and the manner in which the living mass swayed to and fro was most alarming—the din created by the crowd completely drowning the music of the band. The pressure of the crowd was so great that for a time the ranks of the regiment were broken, and a word of praise is due to the Highlanders for their forbearance under the jostling which they received from their perhaps too demonstratively affectionate friends. The line of route taken was Lawnmarket, Bank Street, the Mound, Hanover Street, Pitt Street, Brandon Street, to Inverleith Row, and thence by the highway to Granton. The whole way to the port of embarkation the regiment had literally to force its passage through the dense masses which blocked the streets, and every now and again a parting cheer was raised by the spectators. The crowd, as has already been mentioned, was the largest that has been seen in Edinburgh for many years, and has been roughly estimated as numbering from fifty to sixty thousand persona.

During the march to Inverleith toll, the band played ‘Scotland for Ever,’ the ‘Red, White, and Blue,’ ‘Home, sweet Home,’ and ‘Loudon’s bonnie Woods and Braes.’ Shortly after pressing through the toll, and when within a mile of Granton, the Highlanders were met by the 90th Regiment of Foot (Perthshire Volunteers), who were en route to Edinburgh to succeed the ‘Black Watch’ as the garrison of the Castle. According to military custom, the junior regiment drew up alongside the roadway, and presented arms to the Highlanders, who fixed bayonets and brought their rifles to the shoulder as they marched past. At this interesting ceremony the band of the Highlanders played ‘Blue Bonnets over the Border,’ while that of the 90th struck up the ‘Gathering of the Grahams.’ Granton was reached about 11 o’clock, and as the Highlanders marched along the pier, ‘Auld Langsyne’ was appropriately played by the band. The slopes leading down to the harbour and the wharfs were thickly covered with spectators, who lustily cheered the Highlanders, and who showed the liveliest interest in the process of embarkation."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't get me wrong Larry, I love what you are doing here, but do you know if they have any books that have all of this info so one could have a hard copy? Thanks and great info!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Part Twenty Five The Black Watch - 1817 - 1873

Account of Variations in Dress of the Black Watch, Regimental Pets, "Pincher", " Donald the Deer", "The Grenadiers’ Cat", Monument to Black Watch in Dunkeld Cathedral, Conclusion.

BEFORE concluding our history of this, the oldest Highland regiment, we shall present a brief account of the variations which have from time to time taken place in the dress of the regiment, and wind up with short biographies of the regimental pets. For our information on both these matters, as well as for the greater part of the modern history of the regiment, we must again express our large indebtedness to the manuscript memorials of Lieutenant-Colonel Wheatley.

It is a curious study to note the many alterations that have taken place in the uniform of officers and men since 1817. In 1817 the officers had a short-skirted coatee, elaborately covered with rich gold lace, about nine bars on the breast over blue lappels, hooked in the centre. It was also thickly covered with lace on the collar, cuffs, and skirts. All ranks wore two heavy epaulets of rich bullion. The field officers only wore scarves, which were their distinguishing mark of rank. All the officers wore richly braided scarlet waistcoats, and frills plaited very small, the shirt collar well exposed above the black silk stock. Sky-blue cloth troo$er$, with a broad stripe of gold lace edged with scarlet was the usual parade uniform; and parade invariably took place morning and afternoon, every officer present, and in the above-mentioned uniform, and with feathered bonnet. The gold-laced troo$er$ were abolished in 1823, and blue-gray substituted without lace, which was continued until 1829, when Sir Charles Gordon introduced the trews of regimental tartan, which were fringed round the bottom, and up the outer seams. The fringe system was continued for some years, when it was also done away with.

The undress in barracks was in general a light gray long frock coat; but leaving the barracks, the officers invariably appeared in the coatee and a tartan bonnet without feathers, with a short red heckle in front, confined by a gold ring about one-third up. This handy bonnet was also worn on the line of march with the coatee. It was replaced in 1824 by a tartan shako, with black silk cord ornaments and a heavy red ostrich plume, which again gave way to the regular forage cap in 1826, first introduced with a broad top, and stiff in appearance, with a small gold embroidered thistle in front. Before 1830, when the single-breasted blue frock-coat, without any shoulder ornaments, was introduced into the army, a richly braided blue frock-coat was worn; but it was optional. White Cashmere troo$er$, narrow at the ankles with a gold stripe edged with scarlet, silk socks, and long quartered shoes with buckles, was also permitted for the evening (about 1819—20).

Before the adoption of the tartan troo$er$, the officers’ dress was a strange mixture of Highland and line. For instance, at the guard mounting parade in Dublin in 1819—20, could anything, in the way of dress, be more absurd in a Highland regiment than to see the officers for the Castle guards in full Highland dress, and the five or six for other guards, the field officer, adjutant, quarter-master, and medical officer, in white Cashmere pantaloons, and short (under the knee) Hessian tassled boots, and that with a feathered bonnet? All officers for guard ought to have been in the full dress of the regiment, but it was put on by them with the greatest reluctance, and so seldom, that the officers could not dress themselves, and their remarks reached the barrack rooms, through their servants, which caused the dislike to the dress to descend to the men, and for years had the direct effect of causing the men to rail much against it. Since 1843, officers and men alike wear it on duty and on parade, which ought always to have been the case. In 1823—24 the officers all wore wings, rich and heavy, which were discontinued in 1830, by order, and epaulets, with bullion according to rank (for the first time) substituted; and. it is a singular fact that the men were authorised to wear wings, by regulation, the same year; and still more singular, until the epaulets were abolished 25 years afterwards, the non-commissioned officers and men wore wings, and the officers epaulets. The laced lappels and braided waistcoats disappeared in 1830, when lace was generally done away with on the breast of the coat in the army. When the regiment returned from the Peninsula in 1814, from being so long in the field, the feathers had disappeared from the bonnet, and a little red feather on the front, the same as on a shako, had been adopted. When the bonnets were renewed, the rank and file were not allowed to have foxtails, under the impression that it caused an unsteady appearance in the ranks. Why not the officers and sergeants cause an unsteady appearance? Be that as it may, to the disgust of the men, and a source of amusement to all the other Highland regiments, was our "craw’s wing," a wirework 8 inches above the cloth, covered with flats (almost free of anything like ostrich feathers) having a large unmeaning open gap at the right side, famous for catching the wind, which was ornamented with a large loose worsted tuft of white for the grenadiers, green for the light company, and red for the others. Yet this hideous thing was continued until the summer of 1821, when most willingly the men paid about thirty shillings each to have the addition of "foxtails;" yet these were a draw back, as the tails were not to hang lower than the top of the dice of the tartan. The grand point was, however, gained in getting rid of the frightful craw’s wing, and by degrees the tails descended to a proper length. At this time there were a variety of heckles worn in the bonnet, another piece of bad taste—white for the grenadiers, green for the light company, the band white, and the drummers yellow, with each of them two inches of red at the top, and the other eight companies (called battalion companies) red. On going to Dublin in 1825, from Buttevant, the colonel of the regiment, Sir George Murray, was the commander of the forces, and at the first garrison parade, noticing the extraordinary variety of heckles, asked an explanation as to the reason of any heckle being worn in the regiment other than the red, it being "a special mark of distinction," and desired that all other colours should disappear. The next day every officer and man was in possession of a red heckle.

The white jacket was first worn with the kilt in 1821, which was considered at first to be very odd. Up to 1819, it was sometimes served out without sleeves; and when sleeves became general, the soldiers were charged is. 3d. for them," for the colonel’s credit." Until 1821 it was used as a waistcoat, or for barrack-room wear. It is still in use in the Guards and Highland regiments, notwithstanding its being a most useless article to the soldier. Instead of being used, it has to be carefully put up ready for the next parade. Moreover, why were the Guards and Highlanders left to suffer under it, when the reason for doing away with it in 1830 was—"It having been represented to the general commanding-in-chief that the frequent use of dry pipe-clay, in the cleaning of the white jacket, is prejudicial to the health of the soldiers." Surely the lungs of the Guards and Highlanders were as vulnerable as those of the rest of the army, and their health and lives equally precious. Many a time it was brought to notice; but "to be like the Guards" was sufficient to continue it. Yet there is no doubt the honour would be willingly dispensed with, and the getting rid of it would be much to the men’s comfort. Let us hope it will soon disappear, as well as the white coats of the band, still in use for all the army in 1873.

Until about 1840, never more than 4 yards of tartan were put into the kilt, and until lately, it never exceeded 4 to 5. The plaid up to 1830 contained about 2½ yards, for no use or purpose but to be pushed up under the waist of the coat, taking from the figure of the man.

Until 1822, to have troo$er$ was optional, even on guard at night. Many men were without them, and cloth of all colours, and fustian, was to be seen. From soon after the return of the regiment to Edinburgh after Waterloo, long-quartered shoes and buckles were worn on all occasions. The shoes were deserving of the name given to them —" toe cases." To such a ridiculous extent was the use of shoes and buckles carried, that after a matching order parade, the spats had to be taken off, and buckles put on before being permitted to leave the barracks. The red and white hose cloth up to 1819 was of a warm, woolly, genial stuff; but, for appearance, a hard cold thin article was encouraged, and soon became so general, that it was finally adopted, and the warm articles put out of use. At this time the regiment was in Richmond Barracks, Dublin (1819—20), and, consequently had to go to the Royal Barracks for guard mounting, and often from a mile or two farther to the guard, in the shoe already described. In rainy weather, it was quite a common occurrence to see men reach the guard almost shoeless, with the hose entirely spoiled, and no change for twenty-four hours; yet, bad as this was, it had its consolation, that "it was better than breeches and leggings," the guard and review dress for the infantry at this time. Had gaiters been taken into use, even in winter, and the strong shoe, it would have added much to the comfort of the men. The hose being made out of the piece, with coarse seams, were also badly adapted for the march, and not a man in twenty had half hose and socks. The soldier in general is thoughtless, and at this time no consideration for his comfort was taken by those whose duty it was do so, either in eating or clothing. As a proof of it, we have seen that no breakfast mess was established until 1819.

It was at Gibraltar, in the beginning of 1826, that the gaiters were taken into daily wear and for guard; and the frill, the pest of the men (because of the care that had to be taken of it), and the soldiers’ wives who did the washing. There were individuals who rejoiced in these frills, and to excel, paid from 2s. 6d. to 4s. for them. White leather pipeclayed gloves were also part of the soldier’s dress at all parades, and "gloves off" became a regular word of command before "the manual and platoon." In short, what with shoes and buckles, frills, a stock up to the ears, about six yards of garters on each leg, muskets with clear locks (burnished in many cases), and well bees-waxed stocks and barrels, they were a roost singularly equipped set of soldiers. Yet such was the force of habit, and what the eye had been accustomed to, when the frills and buckles disappeared, many (officers) considered it as an unwarrantable innovation; but not so the soldiers, who derived more comfort from the change than can well be imagined.

In 1820, shoulder tufts, about four inches, were substituted for the smaller ones hitherto worn by the battalion companies. The following year they became a little longer. In 1824, though still short of a regular wing, a shell was added, but without lace, stiffened with pasteboard. In 1827 a little lace was added, and in 1830 the ambition of having wings was consummated, as it became regulation for the non-commissioned officers and men of Highland regiments to wear wings, although, as already mentioned, the officers continued to wear epaulets.

Patent leather chin straps were first used in 1822. Before that a few only had narrow tape, which was not always approved of~ it resting upon the whim of the officers or sergeant-major.

Until about 1840, the lace on the coats of both cavalry and infantry was of great variety, a few corps having it all white, but, in general with a "worm" of one or two colours of from one-fifth to one-third of the breadth of the lace. The 42d wore white lace, with a red "worm" three-fourths of the white on one side of the red, and one-fourth on the other. The 73d had the same lace, continued from the time it was the 2d battalion of the regiment.

The breast, cuffs, collars, and skirts were covered with lace, the cause of much dry pipeclaying. Some corps had it with square bars, others in "frogs." The 42d had the latter. The abolishing (about 1830) of the silver-lace worn by the sergeants was regretted by many because it was an old-established custom, since 1769, and also as it added much to the appearance of the sergeants’ uniform; but when it came to be worn at a cost of from six to seven pounds for lace and fringe, it was, without doubt, a hardship, and Sir Charles Gordon did well in abolishing. [We omitted to notice the death of this excellent officer in the proper place. It occurred while the regiment was at Vido in 1835. Sir Charles had gone on leave to Switzerland, with unaccountable reluctance it is said, though he was in apparently perfect health, and died at Geneva, after a short illness, on 30th September. His loss was deeply lamented by all ranks. The announcement of his unexpected death cast a gloom over the regiment, which was long felt. His gentlemanly bearing and kindly disposition made him universally loved and respected both by officers and men. The regiment was fortunate in his successor—Major William Middleton, who had served in the corps from 1803]

All the staff-sergeants wore the turned-back blue lappels, barred with square lace, and hooked in the middle, which was particularly handsome, and much admired. They ceased to wear the silver at the same time as the others, more to their regret, as a coat served many of them for years. The sergeant-major and quarter-sergeant only continued it, being furnished to them, with handsome bullion wings, along with their clothing.

The only changes of late years have been the Highland jacket and dark hose, both for the better, and the bonnet much reduced in size, also a decided improvement, all introduced after the Crimean war. The kilt is also more ample, and better made, adding to the better figure and appearance of the men, who are in all better dressed at present (1873) than at any previous period. May they always continue to be the pattern, as they ought to be, to all the Highland regiments, and that not only in dress, but also in all the qualities of good soldiers.

Out of the many pets of the regiment, we present our readers with the Jives of these three, as being on the whole most worthy of record,—the dog "Pincher," "Donald" the Deer, and the "Grenadiers’ Cat."

"Pincher" was a small smooth-skinned terrier that attached himself to the regiment on the march in Ireland, at some stage near to Naas, its destination on coming home after the Peninsular war in 1814. Pincher was truly a regimental dog. If he had any partiality, it was slightly towards the light company. He marched to Kilkenny with the regiment, back from Naas, remained with it during the winter, and embarked for Flanders in the spring; went into action with it at Quatre Bras, and was wounded somewhat severely in the neck and shoulder, but, like a good soldier, would not quit the field. He was again in action at Waterloo, accompanied his regiment to Paris, and, amidst armies of all nations, Pincher never lost himself, came home, kept to his post, and went over to his native country in 1817. Late in that year, or early in 1818, he went with some men going on furlough to Scotland, who were landed at Irvine. Poor Pincher ran after some rabbits in an open warren, and was shot by a keeper, to the general grief of the regiment, when the intelligence reached it, which was not until one the men returned from Scotland to join. In the meantime, Pincher had hardly been missed. There was some wonder at Armagh, and remarks made that Pincher was long on his rounds, but no anxiety regarding him, because it was well known, that from the time of his joining the regiment in 1814, it mattered not how many detachments were out from headquarters, in turn he visited them all ; and it was often a matter of wonder how he arrived, and by what instinct he found them out. Poor Pincher was a good and faithful soldier’s dog, and, like many a good soldier, died an inglorious death. His memory was respected while his generation existed in the regiment.

"Donald" the Deer was with the depot which awaited the regiment when it went into Edinburgh Castle in September 1836 after landing at Granton from Corfu. He was a youth at the time, and not so formidable as to cause his antlers to be cut, which had to be done afterwards. He marched the three days to Glasgow in June 1837. He was some what mischievous that year, sometimes stopping the way when he chose to make his lair, or with the meddlers and intruders on the Green when the regiment was out at exercise. But it was in Dublin, in the summer of 1838, that Donald came out. Without any training, he took his place at the head of the regiment alongside of the sergeant-major. Whether marching to and from the Phoenix Park for exercise, marching out in winter, or at guard mounting on the day the 42d furnished the band and staff, Donald was never absent. He accompanied the regiment to all garrison field-days, went to feed until the time came for going home, was often a mile from them, but always at his post when the time came. With one exception, about the third-field day, the 79th were there for the first time, and Donald trotted up to them when marching off. He somehow discovered his mistake, and became uneasy and bumptious, and on reaching Island Bridge, when the 79th had to turn off to Richmond Barracks, declined to accompany his new friends any farther. Colonel Ferguson desired half a dozen men to hand over their muskets to their comrades, and to drive Donald towards the Royal Barracks. He went willingly, and happened to rejoin his own corps at the Park gate, evidently delighted. He never committed a similar mistake. When the regiment had the duty, he invariably went with the guard to the Castle; and whether going or coming, the crowd was always dense, although a daily occurrence, but Donald made his way, and kept it clear too, and the roughs knew better than to attempt to annoy him. Indeed, he has been known to single out an individual who did so, and give chase after him through the crowd. There was never any concern about him, as he could well defend himself. The Greys were in the Royal Barracks with the 42d, and permitted Donald to make his bed, even by tossing down their litter, fed him with oats daily, &c. But early in 1839 the Greys left, and the Bays’ succeeded them. It was very soon evident that Donald and the new comers did not understand each other. The Bays would not allow him to make his bed, nor did they give oats, and Donald declared war against all Bays, when and wherever they came near him, till at last a Bay man could hardly venture to cross the Royal square, without looking out that Donald was out of the way. It gave rise to a clever sketch made on the wall of the officers’ room at the Bank guard of the "Stag at Bay," where Donald was represented as having one of them up against a wall. In May 1839, he made nine days’ march to Limerick, although very foot-sore and out of temper, and. woe to the ostlers in the hotel-yard who interfered with him after a day’s march. Donald had another failing, which his countrymen are accused of which was a great liking for whisky or sherry. He suffered after a debauch, and it was forbidden to indulge Donald in his liking in that way. At Limerick, as soon as the officers’ dinner pip went, he made his way to the mess-room windows, which were on the ground floor, to look for sherry, until a high fine had to be made on any one who gave it to him. Donald afterwards marched to Templemore, and finally to Cork. He had by this time become so formidable in his temper, particularly to strangers, that it was clear he could not be taken on board a ship to Corfu, even if the captain of the troopship would permit it; and, to the regret of all, it was decided that Donald must be transferred to strangers. Colonel Johnstone arranged with Lord Bandon, who promised that Donald should have the run of his fine park at Bandon Castle while he lived, and it was Donald’s own fault that it was not so. It was really an effecting sight to see poor Donald thrown over and tied with ropes by those he loved so well, and put into a cart to be carried off. His cries were pitiful, and he actually shed tears, and so did some of his friends, for Donald was a universal favourite. Thus the regiment parted with dear old Donald, and nothing more was heard of him for many years.

In 1862, nearly 22 years afterwards, Lieutenant-Colonel Wheatley being appointed to the Cork district, soon after arriving at Cork, took steps to ascertain the subsequent history of Donald. The reply was, "That from the day he was set at liberty in the park, he declined having any intercourse with either man or beast. That summer and winter he kept in out-of-the-way places to which no one could approach; and that there had been so many complaints against him, that about the end of two years his lordship reluctantly sanctioned his being shot." Poor Donald ! the regiment and its ways was the only home he ever knew, and his happiness left him when separated from it. So has it been with many others besides Donald.

The "Grenadier’s Cat" was picked up by the company in one of the encampments in Bulgaria, probably in Gevrecklar, and was embarked at Varna for the Crimea. Having seen it at the bivouac at Lake Touzla, Lieutenant-Colonel Wheatley was induced, after the action at Alma had commenced, to ask what had become of poor puss, when one of No. 1 company called, "It is here, sir," and opening his haversack, the animal looked out quite contented. It was shut up again, and on making inquiry next morning, it was found that "Bell" had escaped both death and wounds, and was amongst them in the bivouac, well taken care of in so far as having an ample share of the rations. It appears that the man who carried the cat and took care of it, was exempted by the company from fatigue duties, or his turn of carrying the cooking-kettles, &c. Like all the pets, it did not come to a peaceful end. It finally became an inmate of the regimental hospital, being the only quiet place to be found for it, got worried, and died at Balaclava. Such was the end of Bulgarian "Bell," the only instance, probably, of a cat going into action.

On 2d April 1872 took place one of the most interesting events in connection with the history of the Black Watch, viz., the unveiling in Dunkeld Cathedral of a magnificent monument (a plate of which we give) to the memory of the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the regiment, who fell in war from the creation of the regiment to the close of the Indian mutiny. The monument, which had been in preparation for several years, was subscribed for by the officers of the regiment, and was executed by Mr John Steell, R.S.A., the celebrated Scottish sculptor. It is placed in the vestibule of the cathedral, at the east end of the choir, and is the largest and one of the finest mural monuments ever erected in Scotland.

The monument, as we have indicated, is a mural one, having for its principal feature a beautiful piece of sculpture in alto relievo. As originally designed by the artist, this composition was on a comparatively small scale. When, however, the sketch came to be submitted to the officers of the regiment, they were so much pleased with the idea embodied in it that they resolved to have the figures executed of life size, and increased their contributions accordingly. Standing out against a large pointed panel of white marble, the sculptured group, which is worked out in the same material as the background, represents an officer of the 42d visiting a battle-field at the close of an engagment to look for some missing comrade. The point of time selected is the moment in which the searcher, having just discovered the body of his friend, stands with uncovered head, paying mute homage to departed valour. The central figure of the composition is admirably modelled, the expression of the soldier’s countenance being in fine keeping with the calm and subdued tone which pervades the whole work. On the left, beneath the remains of a shattered gun-carriage, lies the body of a young ensign, his hand still grasping the flag he had stoutly defended, and his face wearing a peaceful expression, as befitted a man who had died at his post. Other accessories combine with those just mentioned to suggest the grim realities of war; but the artist has so toned his composition that the mind is insensibly led to dwell on that other aspect of the battlefield in which it speaks of danger braved and duty nobly done. A slab underneath the sculpture bears the following inscription:-

IN MEMORY OF

THE OFFICERS, NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICERS,

AND

PRIVATE SOLDIERS

OF THE

42d ROYAL HIGHLANDERS—THE BLACK WATCH—

WHO FELL IN WAR

FROM

THE CREATION OF THE REGIMENT

TO

THE CLOSE OF THE INDIAN MUTINY,

1859.

THE TEN INDEPENDENT COMPANIES OF THE PREACADAN

DUCH, OR BLACK WATCH, WERE FORMED INTO A

REGIMENT ON THE 25TH OCTOBER 1739, AND THE

FIRST MUSTER TOOK PLACE IN MAY 1740,

IN A FIELD BETWEEN TAYBRIDGE

AND ABERFELDY.

Here, ‘mong the hills that nursed each hardy Gael,

Our votive marble tells the soldier’s tale;

Art’s magic power each perished friend recalls,

And heroes haunt these old Cathedral walls.

Erected by the Officers of the Corp.

1872.

On either side of the above inscription are recorded the names of the hard-fought fields in which the regiment gained its enviable reputation. How many memories are recalled as one reads the long roll of historic battlegrounds—" Fontenoy, Flanders, Ticonderoga, Martinique, Guadaloupe, Havannah, Egypt, Corunna, Fuentes D’Onor, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes, Toulouse, Peninsula, Waterloo, Alma, Sebastopol, Lucknow !" The selection of a site for the monument was determined by considerations connected with the history of the regiment. The gallant 42d having been originally drawn chiefly from Perthshire, it was felt to be appropriate that the memorial intended to commemorate its fallen heroes should be erected in that county; and all will concur in the propriety of the arrangement by which a shrine has been found for it within the venerable Cathedral of Dunkeld.

For the following account of the ceremony we are indebted to the Scotsman of 3d April :-1872

A detachment of the 42d, under the command of Major Macpherson, had been sent down from Devonport to perform the ceremony of handing over the monument to the custody of the Duke of Athole, and also to place over it the colours under which the regiment had fought on many a bloody field. In the vestibule of the cathedral were the Duke and Duchess of Athole, the Duchess Dowager of Athole, and many other distinguished persons.

Upon entering the vestibule, Major Macpherson, younger of Cluny, placed the old colours of the regiment over the monument. He then requested the Duchess-Dowager to unveil the monument; which having been done, Major Macpherson said—May it please your Grace, ladies, and gentlemen—We, a detachment of the 42d Royal Highlanders, have come here to deposit the old colours of the regiment in Dunkeld Cathedral—a place which has been selected by the regiment as the most fitting receptacle for the colours of the 42d—a regiment which has been essentially connected with Pertlishire. In the name of the officers of the regiment, I have to express to his Grace the Duke of Athole our kindest thanks for the great interest he has taken in this memorial, which I have had the too great honour to ask the Duchess-Dowager to unveil; and if I may be allowed, I would express to your Grace the kindest thanks of the regiment for the great interest the late Duke of Athole took in this monument.

The Duke of Athole then said—You have this day paid a great compliment to the county of Perth, and to this district in particular. By the placing of this beautiful monument in our cathedral you have enhanced its value, and by placing over it your time and battle-worn colours. I can assure you we shall value the possession of this monument excessively, and do our utmost to preserve it from all harm. I trust that the cloud which is now hanging over the connection between the 42d and Perthshire will yet be dispelled, and that the old ties may not be broken, and that we may yet see the ‘Freiceadan Dubh’ localised in Perth. I need not allude to the services of the 42d—they are far too well known to require comment on my part. One of the earliest colonels of the regiment was one of my own family—Lord John Murray; and at different times a great many men from Athole have served in your ranks. Members of almost every large family in Athole have at one time or other been officers in the corps. Many relatives and friends of my own have likewise served with the regiment. His Grace concluded by asking Major Macpherson to convey to the officers of the 42d the thanks of the county of Perth for the honour they had done to the county.

At the close of the proceedings a salute of 21 guns was fired from a battery placed on Stanley Hill.

After the ceremony the Duchess-Dowager entertained a select party at her residence to lunch. The detachment of the 42d and the Athole Highlanders at the same time partook of dinner in the Servants’ Hall. When the dinner had been concluded, the Duchess-Dowager, the Duke and Duchess of Athole, and party, entered the Servants’ Hall, where the Dowager-Duchess proposed the health of the 42d, a detachment of which regiment had come such a long distance in order to place their beautiful colours in the Cathedral of Dunkeld. Her Grace having made a touching allusion to the various battles in which the colours had been borne, remarked that there was no better place where the regiment could lodge them than the old historical cathedral of the city where the corps was chiefly raised. The colours had been given in charge to the Athole Highlanders, and she was sure that they would be as proud to look upon them hanging on the walls of the Cathedral as the 42nd themselves would be to see them in the midst of battle, and she might assure the detachment that the utmost care would be taken of them.

Major Macpherson returned thanks on behalf of the officers and men of the 42nd. He stated that the officers had taken a vote as to where the colours should be lodged, and the majority were in favour of having them placed over this monument in Dunkeld Cathedral, on the banks of the Tay, where the regiment was originally formed. He begged, on behalf of the officers and men, to thank Her Grace for the exceedingly kind reception which had been accorded to them during their stay in Dunkeld, and concluded by calling upon the men to drink to the health of the Duchess-Dowager of Athole. The original colours of the 42nd are in the Tower of London.

The colours placed in Dunkeld Cathedral were carried through the Crimean campaign and the Indian Mutiny.

In the autumnal maneuvres of 1871, the Black Watch, as might be surmised, performed their part brilliantly, and to the satisfaction and gratification of all present, the foreign officers especially awarding them the palm as models in every respect of what soldiers ought to be; indeed, their praises were in the mouths of all.

In September 1871, the regiment went to Devonport; and in February 1873, in accordance with the scheme for the establishment of military centres, they were allocated to Perth in conjunction with the 79th.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Part Twenty Six The Black Watch - 1873 - 1881

NOT many months elapsed from the time of their allocation to Perth before the Black Watch were again called upon to engage in actual service. On the Gold Coast of Africa, mischief had been brewing for many years, and during the course of 1873 the conduct of Coffee Calcallee, king of the barbarous country of Ashantee, had been such that unless a decisive blow were immediately struck, Britain would be compelled to resign possession of her territory in that part of the African coast. With the Dutch possessions on the Gold Coast, ceded in 1872, English territory extended for many miles east and west of Cape Coast Castle, the seat of government The Ashantee territory extends northwards from the Gold Coast to a distance of about 300 miles, its middle being traversed by the river Prah, which flows in the upper part of its course from east to west, but turns at Prah-su towards the south, and reaches the sea at Chamah, to the west of Cape Coast Castle. The capital of the Ashantee territory is Coomassie, about 100 miles directly north from Cape Coast Castle, and about half that distance north of Prah-su. The population of Coomassie at the commencement of the campaign was probably between 20,000 and 30,000. Here the despotic King of Ashantee lived in great state, and in the indulgence of the superstitious and terribly cruel practices known as the Ashantee " Customs."

The measures hitherto taken to keep the Ashantees in their place had been so inadequate, that their kings had become intolerably bold and confident, and had indeed acquired an utter contempt of the British power on the Gold Coast. King Coffee Calcallee resolved, about the end of 1872, - to strike such a blow as would utterly stamp out the British rule on that coast, and in January 1873 an army of 60,000 warriors—and the Ashantees, though cruel, are brave and warlike—was in full march upon Cape Coast Castle. The whole force at the disposal of Colonel Harley, in whom the administration was vested, was about 1000 men, mainly West India troops and Houssa police, with some marines. It was estimated that a contingent of about 60,000 would be raised from the friendly tribes, but this number figured only on paper. By April the Ashantees were within a few miles of Cape Coast Castle, and things were getting desperate, when, in the beginning of June, a small force of marines, under Lt.Col. Festing, arrived from England. With this and other small reinforcements, the English managed to keep the barbarians at bay until the arrival, on October 2d, with his staff, of Major-General Sir Garnet J. Wolseley, who had been selected to command a force which was being organised in England to sweep back the threatened horde. His arrival inspired the troops with confidence, and by the end of November, after much hard preliminary work, the Ashantee force was in full retreat on Coomassie, and in another month General Wolseley, with his staff and 500 sailors and marines, was at Prah-su.

Meantime the small force which had been organising in England was on its way to the scene of operations. The 42nd was the principal regiment of the line, as a large part of the 23rd Welsh Fusileers had to re-embark, owing to the desertion of some thousands of native carriers who had been engaged to carry the necessary baggage. The Black Watch, accompanied by a considerable number of volunteers from the 79th, left Portsmouth on the 4th of December 1873, and disembarked on the 3d and 4th of January 1874. Besides the 23rd, 42nd, and 2d battalion Rifle Brigade, there were detachments of Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, and Royal Marines, which, with the force already on the ground, formed the army with which Sir Garnet Wolseley was to pierce into the very heart of the Ashantee kingdom, through a country of marshes and matted forests, the growth of centuries, and forming an almost impenetrable ambush for the enemy. As Lord Derby remarked, this was to be "an engineers’ and doctors’ war." The engineers worked admirably in the construction of roads, bridges, telegraphs, and camps; and it became simply a question whether the British soldiers would be able to hold out against the pestiferous climate long enough to enable them to reach Coomassie and return to the Gold Coast ere the heavy rains set in in the end of February. Happily the energy, skill, and knowledge of General Wolseley were quite equal to the emergency; and backed by an able and determined staff and his small force of brave and willing soldiers, he accomplished his mission with complete success.

The difficulty in procuring native carriers caused some delay after the landing of the force at Mansu, some distance to the north of Cape Coast Castle,—which delay, a 42nd officer said with truth, "did more harm to our men than all the hard work in Ashantee." To Europeans idleness in such a climate is utterly prostrating. In the dearth of carriers, the 42nd men themselves, greatly to their honour, volunteered to act as porters. On the 23d of January General Wolseley with the advanced guard had crossed the Adansi Hills, and fixed his headquarters at Fomannah, the palace of the Adansi king. On the 26th Colonel M’Leod of the 42nd, who commanded the advanced guard, took Borborassie. After this service the 23rd Fusileers, 42nd, Rifle Brigade, the 2nd West India Regiment, and the Naval Brigade, which by this time had reached Prah-su, were brought forward, resting on Insarfu. They encamped on the night of the 30th about that place, and about two miles north of it, towards the enemy’s main position at AmoafuL The advanced guard, under Colonel M’Leod, was at Quarman, within a mile or two of the enemy’s position.

The entire country hereabout is one dense mass of brush, penetrated by a few narrow lanes, "where the ground, hollowed by rains, is so uneven and steep at the sides as to give scanty footing. A passenger," to quote the London News’ narrative, "between the two wails of foliage, may wander for hours before he finds that he has mistaken his path. To cross the country from one narrow clearing to another, axes or knives must be used at every step. There is no looking over the hedge in this oppressive and bewildering maze. Such was the battlefield of January 31st. The enemy’s army was never seen, but its numbers are reported by Ashantees to have been 15,000 or 20,000. Its chief commander was Amanquatia, the Ashantee general. The Ashantees were generally armed with muskets, firing slugs; but some had rifles. As they were entirely concealed in the bush, while our countrymen stood in the lane or in the newly-cut spaces, precision of aim was no advantage to our side."

The main body of the enemy was encamped on the hill rising towards the town of Amoaful; but thousands of them also must have been skulking in the bush through which the small British force had to march before reaching the encampment. At early dawn on the 31st the British force moved upon the village of Egginassie, where the first shots were fired from an Ashantee ambush. The force was carefully arranged to suit the nature of the ground, with a front column, a left column, a right column, and a rear column, all so disposed that when they closed up they would form a square, the columns taking in spaces to the right and left of the central line of advance, so as to prevent any attack on the advancing front centre.

The front column was commanded by Brigadier-General Sir Archibald Alison, Bart., C.B. It consisted of the 42nd, under Major Baird, Major Duncan Macpherson, and Major Scott, a detachment of the 23rd Fusileers, Captain Rait’s Artillery, manned by Houssas, and a detachment of the Royal Engineers. The left column was commanded by Brigadier-Colonel M’Leod of the 42nd, and the right column by Lt.-Col. Evelyn Wood, 90th Light Infantry; part of the right column consisted of miscellaneous native African levies, under Captain Furze of the 42nd. The paths through the jungle were cut for each column of troops by large parties of native labourers.

Thus clearing their way through the jungle, and often scarcely able to obtain foothold from the slippery state of the marshy ground, the force advanced against the enemy. When the front of the small force had got a few hundred yards beyond the village of Egginassie, it was assailed by a tremendous fire of musketry from an unseen foe, very trying to the nerves even of an experienced and well-trained soldier. By this time five companies of the 42nd were in skirmishing order. The slugs were dropping thick and fast; had they been bullets, scarcely a man of the Black Watch would have lived to tell the tale. As it was, there were few of the officers who did not receive a scratch, and nearly 100 of the men were wounded. Major Macpherson was shot in the leg, but limped on with a stick, and kept the command for some time, when he was compelled to give it up to Major Scott. It was at this critical moment that Capt. Rait’s gun—there was no room for two —came into action at 50 yards from the enemy, on the direct line of advance. It soon forced the enemy to clear the road. In a moment they gave way upon their own left, and, pressed by the 42nd, began to yield ground.

This manoeuvre was repeated, until Sir Archibald Alison, seeing that the moment had come, and observing the high spirits of the men, ordered the pipers to play and the regiment to charge. Forward they sprang, with a ringing cheer, straight at the concealed foe, who, immediately giving way, scrambled pell mell down the hill and up to the village of Amoaful on the opposite side. By half-past eleven the village was in the hands of the British force. It was not, however, till after two that the fighting was over, as the flank parties, commanded by the Colonel of the 42nd, had much more trouble and numerous casualties in fighting and clearing their way through the bush. Of the 42nd Bt.-Major Baird was severely wounded, from which he died at Sierra Leone on the 6th of March. Major Macpherson, Captains Creagh and Whitehead, Lts. Berwick, Stevenson, Cumberland, and Mowbray, and 104 men wounded.

On Feb. 1st, the day after this signal victory, the adjacent village of Becqueh was captured and destroyed by Col. M’Leod, with the naval brigade and several detachments, supported by portions of the 42nd and 23rd. On the 2d, the army was at Agemanu, six miles beyond Amoaful, every inch of the ground between the two places being disputed by the enemy. On this day Lt. Wauchope of the 42nd was slightly wounded. On the 3d, Sir Garnet moved by the westerly road, branching off to the left from Agemanu, through Adwabin and Detchiasa to the river Dah or Ordah, the enemy again opposing the advance and hanging round the flanks of the force. King Coffee Calcallee had tried to stop the advance of the British by offering to pay an indemnity, but in vain, as no reliance whatever could be put in any of his promises; the King therefore resolved to dispute the passage of the river. The battle of Ordah-su, as it is called, was fought on Feb. 4th, and lasted seven hours. The troops reached the Dah on the evening of the 3d. The engineers worked through the night at the bridge, and in the morning the advanced guard, the Rifle Brigade, and some native troops under Col. M‘Leod, crossed over. Sir Garnet Wolseley, in his despatch dated Coomassie, Feb. 5th, thus describes the subsequent action:-

"The advanced guard, under the command of Col. M’Leod, 42nd Highlanders, was brought to a standstill shortly after the advance began; and a general action soon developed itself, lasting for more than six hours. The enemy did not, however, fight with the same courage as at Amoaful; for although their resistance was most determined, their fire was wild, and they did not generally attack us at such close quarters as in the former action.

mcleod.jpg

Sir John M'Leod, K.C.B

"The village of Ordah-su having been carried by the Rifle Brigade at nine o’clock, I massed all my force there, having previously passed all the reserve ammunition, field hospitals, and supplies through the troops, who held the road between the river and the village, a distance of about a mile. The enemy then attacked the village with large numbers from all sides, and for some hours we could make no progress, but steadily held our ground. The 42nd Highlanders being then sent to the front, advanced with pipes playing, and carried the enemy’s position to the north of the village in the most gallant style; Captain Rait’s artillery doing most effective service in covering the attack, which was led by Col. M’Leod.

"After some further fighting on the front line, a panic seems to have seized the enemy, who fled along the road to Coomassie in cornplete rout. Although the columns they had detailed to assault our flanks and rear continued for some time afterwards to make partial attacks upon the village, we followed close upon the enemy’s heels into Coomassie. The town was still occupied by large numbers of armed men, who did not attempt to resist. The King had fled no one knew whither. Our troops had undergone a most fatiguing day’s work, no water fit for drinking having been obtained during the action or the subsequent advance, and the previous night’s rest having been broken by a tornado, which drenched our bivouac. It was nearly six o’clock when the troops formed up in the main street of Coomassie, and gave three cheers for the Queen."

Mr H. M. Stanley, the well-known correspondent of the New York Herald, in describing the advance on Coomassie, wrote as follows of the bravery of the Black Watch:-

"The conduct of the 42nd Highlanders on many fields has been considerably belauded, but mere laudation is not enough for the gallantry which has distinguished this regiment when in action. Its bearing has been beyond praise as a model regiment, exceedingly disciplined, and individually nothing could surpass the standing and gallantry which distinguished each member of the 42nd or the Black Watch. They proceeded along the well-ambushed road as if on parade, by twos. ‘The forty-second will fire by companies, front rank to the right, rear rank to the left,’ shouted Col. M’Leod. ‘A company, front rank fire! rear rank fire!’ and so on; and thus vomiting out two score of bullets to the right and two score to the left, the companies volleyed and thundered as they marched past the ambuscades, the bagpipes playing, the cheers rising from the throats of the lusty Scots, until the forest rang again with discordant medley of musketry, bagpipe music, and vocal sounds. It was the audacious spirit and true military bearing on the part of the Highlanders, as they moved down the road toward Coomassie, which challenged admiration this day. Very many were borne back frightfully disfigured and seriously wounded, but the regiment never halted nor wavered; on it went, until the Ashantees, perceiving it useless to fight against men who would advance heedless of ambuscades, rose from their coverts, and fled panic-stricken towards Coomassie, being perforated by balls whenever they showed themselves to the hawk-eyed Scots. Indeed, I only wish I had enough time given me to frame in fit words the unqualified admiration which the conduct of the 42nd kindled in all who saw or heard of it. One man exhibited himself eminently brave among brave men. His name was Thomas Adams. It is said that he led the way to Coomassie, and kept himself about ten yards ahead of his regiment, the target for many hundred guns; but that, despite the annoying noise of iron and leaden slugs, the man bounded on the road like a well-trained hound on a hot scent. This example, together with the cool, calm commands of Col. M’Leod, had a marvellous effect upon the Highland battalion."

In the action on the 4th, Capt. Moore and Lts. Grogan and Wauchope of the 42nd were wounded, the latter severely this time; 14 men were also wounded.

Thus, in the space of about a month, by the decision and energy of the leader of the expedition, and the willingness of his officers and troops, was the great object of the campaign accomplished in the most masterly manner, and the Ashantees humbled as they had never been before, and taught a lesson they are not likely soon to forget. As during the 5th there seemed no hope of the treacherous king coming to terms, and as it was absolutely necessary for the health of the troops that the return march should be immediately commenced, Sir Garnet resolved to destroy Coomassie, and set out at once. Having, therefore, sent off all the wounded, he issued orders for an advance on the morning of the 6th. Early on that morning the homeward movements commenced, headed by the naval brigade, and covered by a rear guard of the 42nd, which did not retire till the town had been set on fire in every quarter, and the mines which had been placed under the palace fired. A tornado had raged during the previous night, but the destruction of the town by fire was complete.

Thus the campaign was virtually at an end, and Gen. Wolseley made all possible haste to bring his little army back to Cape Coast, Castle, which, notwithstanding the swollen state of the rivers, he accomplished by February 19th. While on his way back, Gen. Wolseley received the unqualified submission of the humbled king. No time was lost in getting the troops out of the influence of the deadly climate. Without delay, therefore, the embarkation took place. The 42nd embarked in the "Nebraska" on the 23d, and sailed on the 27th in the "Sarmatian," arriving at Portsmouth on March 23d. Here the troops, who had all suffered more or less from the effects of the climate, were received with the greatest enthusiasm.

Among the officers specially mentioned by Sir Garnet Wolseley for having performed prominent services during the campaign were Col. M’Leod, C.B., who was afterwards made a K.C.B.; Majors Macpherson and Scott; Capts. Farquharson, V.C., Furze, and Kidston; and Lt. Wauchope. The special thanks of Parliament were awarded to the troops, and honours were showered upon the Commander by the Queen and country. Majors Macpherson and Scott were made Lieutenant-Colonels and C.B., and had the brevet of Lieutenant-Colonel conferred on them. Captains Bayly, Farquharson, V.C. (who died shortly afterwards), and Furze were made Bt.-Majors. The Victoria Cross was conferred on Sergt. Samuel M’Gaw. The non-commissioned officers and men selected to have medals "for distinguished conduct in the field" at the hand of the Sovereign—and had them presented by Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle on the 16th of May 1874, in presence of Colonel Sir John M’Leod, K.C.B., commanding the regiment, were—Wm. Street, sergt.-instructor of musketry; Sergt. Henry Barton; Privates John White, George Ritchie, George Cameron, and William Bell; Piper James Wetherspoon; Privates Henry Jones, Wm. Nichol, and Thomas Adams. Also, Sergeant-Major Barclay was awarded the medal for "meritorious services" for distinguished conduct during the campaign.

The regiment remained at Portsmouth until Nov. 15th, when it embarked for Malta under the command of Colonel Sir John M’Leod. Its strength on embarkation was 26 officers, 43 sergeants, 21 drummers and pipers, and 630 rank and file. It arrived at Malta, after calling at Queenstown, on the 27th, and, after being a few days under canvas, went into Isola barracks, the same that was occupied by the regiment in 1832, and again in 1844.

The preparation and distribution of the Ashantee medals was not completed until 1875, when the following Regimental Order was issued:-

"MALTA. 24th May 1875.

"Sir John M’Leod believes the Ashantee War medals now received in full and issued to the regiment, will be worn with satisfaction by the men. He thinks, though the expedition for which it is granted was only a little war, that the medal may take its place, not unworthily, beside the other decorations on the breast. Though little, the war had a magnitude and audacity about it to awaken the interest of the civilised world, and to exhibit in a marked degree those same qualities latent in you which sustained the corps of old in the Savannah, in Flanders, and in other unhealthy places, where, be it remembered, they were not cared for as you were on the Gold Coast by a beneficent Government. Men who can act as you acted—and the bush has terrors of its own—altogether, as though the honour of the regiment was committed to each individual member of it, have given evidence of a standard of character blending a perfect obedience with a just self-reliance. There is no page in your regiment’s annals brighter than that which tells of your encounter with your savage foe in the murky bottoms at Amoaful ; of the valour and discipline which carried you into the gaping chasrn of the forest at Ordah-su; through the fetid Soubang swamp, headed by Colour-Sergeant Barton, who, though wounded at Amoaful, continued working hard, hardly missing a shot, never halting until you had set your foot in the market-place of Coomassie. And on this day it is fitting to remember the distinguished conduct of Privates Alexander Hedge and John Arthur carrying Major Baird, more desperately wounded than themselves, to a place of safety ; and the noble heroism of Private W. Thompson, one of the party, sacrificing himself rather than see his captain fall into the hands of the enemy, how Sergeant M’Gaw won the Victoria Cross ; the sustained gallantry throughout of Privates Thomas Adams and George Ritchie ; the cheerful disregard of personal danger of Sergeant-Instructor of Musketry Street, though badly wounded in the thigh; of Quartermaster-Sergeant Patterson running the gantlet of fire upon the road for a hammock to carry the dangerously wounded Sergeant-Major to the rear, assisted by the Paymaster-Sergeant Bateman ; of Pioneer-Sergeant Gairns’ look of scorn, when, disabled in the right arm, he was advised to fall to the rear! How was the flame of battle to be fed if he were at the rear and not there to serve out the ammunition? How Sergeant Butters, shot through the leg at Amoaful, marched with his company till again struck down in the gloomy Pass of Ordah-su; of Sergeant Graham Gillies, and Privates Jones and John Grant of B Company, and Private W. Nichol, always to the front; how wounded Piper Wetherspoon, taking the rifle and place of dead Corporal Samuel, fought till overpowered with wounds, of Sergeant Mime and Private Hector White, and gallant Privates W. Bell, Imray, and M’Phail fighting with remarkable bravery. But the space I would allow myself is more than filled ; and I have before me Sergeant John Simpson, Colour-Sergeant Farqnharson, Privates Calderwood, W. Armstrong, J. Miller, Peter Jeffrey, Colour-Sergeant Cooper, and Piper Honeyman, ‘tangled in the bush,’ and lost to his company ; Surgeon-Major Clutterbuek, your old doctor, using few hammocks, how he marched all the way, his own recipe for surmounting all difficulties, defended successfully his helpless wounded on the road side with his revolver; and Hospital Orderly M‘Cudden—the hammock men hesitating to follow the regiment into the dread Pass of Ordah-su—encouragingly he threw aside his sword and revolver, placed himself at their head, led thus into Coomassie; and Quartermaster Forbes —unsurpassed — how, in the hottest of the fray, you had your ammunition always handy; your ration—sometimes more—ready. The first to swim the Ordah on your return, few will forget the hot tea he welcomed you with to your bivouac on that wet dreary night. Private Johnston, the last to pass over, how he lost his clothes in the dark, and was sandwiched by the doctor between two hammocks, faring not so badly ; and others unmentioned, generous men, and remembered. Scattered as you are at present over Cottonera, I regret I have been unable with my own hand, and the fever on me, to give to each of you his well-earned medal. But I address you, on this the Queen’s birthday, that you may be sure your good conduct is not forgotten. Wear the medal, with its ribbon yellow and black, significant colours to you. If any man ever makes away with it for unworthy ends, it will be a double disgrace to him."

In 1876 Her Majesty directed the word "Ashantee" to be added to the honorary distinctions on the colours of the regiment.

The regiment remained intact at Malta with little incident save an occasional change of quarters until January 9th, 1878, when the right half Battalion was ordered to the adjacent island of Gozo, consequent on the anticipated arrival of the Indian Expeditionary Force, as well as the impending increase to the garrison of troops from England, rendered necessary through the strained aspect of affairs between England and Russia, this being the first time the island had been occupied by troops for many years. Shortly after, on February 5th, Headquarters and the left half Battalion moved to Fort Manoel from Pembroke Camp. In September of the previous year Colonel M’Leod had retired, and Colonel Macpherson was now in command.

From April 1st, 1878, the establishment of the regiment was increased to 1103 of all ranks, preparatory to orders received on July 9th for the regiment to hold itself in readiness to embark for service. This service, as it ultimately proved, was to form part of the Expeditionary Force to occupy the island of Cyprus. The force, consisting of 10,000 men, including the Indian Contingent, sailed from Malta on the 18th and following days. The 42nd, along with half a Battalion of the 101st Regiment, embarked on board H.M.S. "Himalaya," which also conveyed General Sir Garnet Wolseley, G.C.B., &c., Commanding Force and Staff.

The "Himalaya" arrived at Larnaca on the 22d, and the regiment disembarked on the 23d, and marched to Chifflick Pasha Camp, about 7 miles distant, there to be encamped. On landing, news was received of the sudden death of Sergeant M’Gaw, V.C., who had accompanied an advance detachment on the previous day.

It soon became evident that Chifflick Pasha was far from being a healthy part of the island, and by August 17th the whole regiment had been removed to Kyrenia with the exception of two companies who were to proceed to Paphos on August 20th.

Whilst stationed at Kyrenia the men had the unpleasant duty of guarding two or three hundred Turkish convicts, who were confined in the old Fort of Kyrenia. The regiment was now reduced to an establishment of 693 of all ranks, and was engaged in building huts, which were only just completed when, on November 9th, orders were received for the regiment to be held in readiness for another move—to Gibraltar.

The camps at Kyrenia and Paphos were accordingly brought together to Larnaca by H.M.S. "Humber," whence they embarked on board H.M.S. "Jumna," and by the 27th, after only a few hours’ stoppage at Malta, Gibraltar was safely reached.

On June 10th, the "Himalaya" arrived with the 79th on board, who landed on the 12th, so that there were at one time no fewer than four Highland regiments on the Rock —the 42nd, 71st, 79th, 93rd.

On account of the health of the men the regiment was now ordered for Home Service, and on the 14th embarked on board H.M.S. "Himalaya," anchoring off Cowes early in the morning of the 19th. Here they took up the quarters vacated by the 56th, the establishment of the regiment being reduced by 4 officers and 120 privates.

The most noteworthy of the official inspections at this time was that by the Queen (August 13th), who expressed her great satisfaction at the general appearance of the regiment after their return from foreign service.

The regiment was removed to Aldershot on 21st June, and, on the formation of the Army Corps for the Summer Drills, was brigaded with the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards and 2d Battalion Scots Guards, under the command of Colonel Gipps, Scots Guards, forming 1st Brigade, 1st Division. Colonel Macpherson, C.B., having been appointed to command the 2d Brigade, 1st Division, the command of the regiment devolved on Major P. K. Bayly. The Army Corps marched from Aldershot to Ascot on July 13th, and on the following day to Windsor Great Park, where it was reviewed by Her Majesty the Queen. The march back to Ascot commenced at 5 P.M., and was performed in splendid order during a terrific storm of thunder and rain, camp being reached about 9.20 P.M.

On the occasion of the inspection by Major-General Spurgin, C.B., C.S.I., on 1st and 2d September, H.R.H. the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief wrote from the War Office expressing his satisfaction at the favourable character of the report.

The long absence of the regiment from their native land was now at last to come to an end. On April 1st, 1881, the establishment was raised to 1047 of all ranks, and on the 6th inst. orders were received for an immediate removal to Edinburgh for the purpose of recruiting.

At 8 AM. on May 24th they sailed on board the s.s. "Holland" from Portsmouth for Granton. After experiencing much difficulty in passing up the Forth owing to the dense fog, and at one time having narrowly escaped grounding, the vessel arrived safely at Granton on the 26th.

Disembarking at 6 P.M., the regiment met with a most enthusiastic reception, the streets and windows being thronged with spectators, many of whom had waited patiently from an early hour in the morning, as the "Holland" had been expected about 7 AM. The Castle was reached at 7.30 P.M., when quarters were taken up after an absence from Edinburgh of twelve years.

On the 1st July, by Royal Warrant, regiments lost their numerical titles, and the 42nd, or Royal Highland Regiment, "The Black Watch," became The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders). The 73rd Perthshire regiment, which had originally been the 2d Battalion of the regiment, now again became 2d Battalion.

During the great Volunteer Review of 1881 the Black Watch were on the ground, and on that occasion Her Majesty visited the Castle, her last visit there having been made in 1842.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Part Twenty Seven The Black Watch - 1882 - 1886

WITH the exception of movements of minor importance, the regiment remained in Edinburgh without incident until the 21st July 1882, when the battalion received orders to be held in immediate readiness for active service in the field, the destination being Egypt.

For long, affairs in that country had been in a most unsatisfactory state. The authority of the Khedive was being virtually set aside by the military party, led by Arabi Pasha, who, under pretence of patriotic motives, was trying to gratify his own ambition, and threatening to throw the country into a state of complete anarchy. The continuance of good government being of the utmost importance to England in view of monetary and other highly important considerations, interference was deemed necessary. It would be out of place here to enter into the details of political action at this time—suffice it to say that, after various diplomatic proceedings which have now become matter of history, a British fleet was despatched to Alexandria to enforce the Khedive’s authority, and that, on the continued defiance of Arabi and his army, aggravated by a relentless massacre of Europeans, the campaign known as the Egyptian War was opened on July 11th, 1882, with the bombardment of the city by the fleet. Among the troops subsequently despatched to follow up this action was the 42nd, whose part in the campaign will now be traced.

The strength of the regiment was as follows Officers 31, warrant officers 1, sergeants 48, drummers 21, rank and file 701; total of all ranks, 802, which was made up partly by the reserves of 1881 and 1882, who contributed 188 men—the remainder of the battalion and reserves going to the 2nd battalion with Captains Moubray and Munroe. The regiment marched out of Edinburgh on the evening of the 7th of August, and proceeded by train to the Albert Docks, Woolwich, where it embarked on the s.s. "Nepaul" on the morning of the 8th of August, after having been inspected by His Royal Highness the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief. The officers were as follows, viz. :—Colonel Duncan Macpherson, C.B., commanding; Lieut.-Col. W. Green, Major R. K. Bayly, Major A. F. Kidston, Major Walker Aitken, Major J. S. Walker, Captain R. C. Coveny, Captain G. M. Fox, Captain C. J. Eden, Captain A. G. Wauchope, C. M. G., Captain N. W. P. Brophy, Lieut. Edward Lee, Adjutant; Lieut. H. F. Elliot, Lieut. Lord A. Kennedy, Lieut. E. P. Campbell, Lieut. A. G. Duff, Lieut. Norman M’Leod, Lieut. T. F. A. Kennedy (regimental transport officer), Lieut. F. L. Speid, Lieut. J. A. Park, Lieut. G. S. A. Harvey, Lieut. J. N. E. F. Livingston, 2d battalion; Lieut. J. G. Maxwell, Lieut. T. J. Graham Stirling, Lieut. James Home, Lieut. C. P. Livingstone, Lieut. K. M. N. Cox, Lient. J. G. M’Neill, Quartermaster John Forbes, Surgeon-Major C. T. Pollock, AMP.; Paymaster W. R. Thornhull (Captain), A. P. D.

The regiment sailed from Gravesend on the morning of the 9th inst., and on the 20th of August 1882 arrived in Alexandria harbour, where it disembarked, proceeding by train to Ramleh, and there joining the Highland Brigade under Major-General Sir Archibald Alison, K.C.B. This now consisted of the 1st battalion Black Watch, 2d battalion Highland Light Infantry, 1st Gordon Highlanders, and Cameron Highlanders—Lieut. -General Hamley commanding the whole division. At Ramleh it remained under canvas until the 30th August, when the Highland Brigade was re-embarked—the 1st battalion Black Watch on board the s.s. "Nepaul,"—and proceeded to Port Said and through the Canal to Ismailia, which was reached on the evening of the 1st September. This movement was rendered necessary by the operations for the captuer of Cairo, for the success of which it was important to obtain possession of Zagazig— some 45 miles west of Ismailia—which is the key of the railway system in Egypt, and also commands the great fresh water canal supplying all the stations along the railway from Suez to Zagazig and along the southern portion of the Suez Canal. Arabi Pasha, recognising the importance of the position, and having adopted Todleben’s principle of advancing his works against the attacking forces, had pushed forward from Zagazig to Tel-el-Kebir (the great mound), 15 miles to the east, and there formed a strong, fortified camp, consisting of a line of solid intrenchments bound together with wattles, extending about 3½ miles from flank to flank, with, at intervals, bastions mounting guns. The parapet was 4 feet high, and in front was a ditch 6 feet wide and 4 deep, while some of the interior defences had ditches 10 feet deep. Behind this, on the south, another line of works turned off almost at right angles, extending backwards towards Arabi’s camp.

The capture of this formidable position was the first important step in the campaign, and the part taken therein by the 42nd and the other regiments forming the Highland Brigade is now our immediate concern. Lieut.-General Sir Garnet Wolseley, the Commander-in-Chief of the expedition, having disguised his real plans by a concentration of his forces at Alexandria for a pretended attack on the forts at Aboukir, which were held in Arabi’s interest, suddenly and rapidly changed his base of operations to Ismailia, near the middle of the Suez Canal; and by the time the Highland Brigade—after waiting eight days at Ismailia for the arrival of stores, &c.— landed on the evening of the 9th September, part of the British forces were firmly established—though not without some stubborn fighting, both at El Magfa and at Kassassin itself—at Kassassin lock on the fresh water canal, about 21 miles west of Ismailia; and here the forces were concentrated for the advance on the lines of Tel-el-Kebir.

charge.jpg

The Black Watch charging the Intrenchments at Tel-el-Kebir

But little rest was granted to the Highlanders, as time was of the utmost importance. On the night of their landing they pushed across the desert to El Magfa, and, hard work as it was, "but very few fell out, and a little tea on arriving at the camping ground made the men comfortable, as they felt so done up that none cared to touch the biscuit, of which every one carried two days’ supply, but gladly lying down, with their haversacks for pillows, they turned their faces to the stars, and slept the sleep of the weary. After a short early march on the 10th (to Tel-Mahuta), they rested through the heat of the day, improvising shelter from the sun by hanging blankets across their rifles and bayonets, setting out again in the evening, and reaching Kassassin the following day."

On the evening of the 12th September, the tents of the Kassassin camp were struck at nightfall, and the attacking forces moved forward into the desert, to bivouac for a short time, and then to start at such an hour as would bring them to the enemy’s lines at the proper time for attack—namely about daybreak. The Highland Brigade, 3000 strong, formed the left hand front portion of the attacking force, and was so placed as to be about 1000 yards in advance of the right hand portion. The formation was in column of half-battalions in double companies, with the Black Watch on the right; and the march began with distances of 40 to 50 yards between half-battalions, and of 150 to 200 yards between regiments; "but," says Lieut.General Sir E. B. Hamley, "as it was most desirable that the men should march at ease, these intervals almost disappeared, and the brigade presented practically the appearance of two almost continuous lines, one about 50 yards behind the other, and occupying a front of about half a mile." At half-past one A.M. the bivouac was broken up, and, almost immediately after, the advance began—all that was known of the enemy’s works being that they were about five miles distant, and that they would be reached just at dawn. The Highland Brigade moved parallel to the railway and fresh water canal, and at a distance from them of about 2000 yards, and was guided in its westward march by Lieutenant Wyatt Rawson, RN., who rode opposite the centre of the brigade, and kept his course by the stars. Only one brief incident marked the march, when, on a short halt being called, the right and left wings advanced after the centre stopped, and, swinging round, "absolutely faced each other at a distance of some fifty yards." Had either mistaken the other for a body of Egyptians, the result might have been serious; but the error was at once discovered and rectified. About a quarter before five on the morning of the 13th, just as signs of daybreak began to appear, a few scattered shots, the sound of a bugle in front, and a dark line looming above the sandhills, showed that the time had come. The order was at once given, "Fix bayonets !" and just as this was done the whole line of intrenchment in front was lit up by a blaze of rifle-fire. The order was to attack with the bayonet without firing, and "at the magic word ‘Charge!’ the whole brigade sprang to its feet and rushed straight at the blazing line." The distance to be traversed was only some 150 yards, but in that short space nearly 200 men fell. The point attacked by the Highlanders was almost in the centre of the enemy’s line, and, occupying the highest ground, was, with the bastions on either side, the key to the whole position. Bearing the entire brunt of the earlier portion of the assault—for it attacked just before daybreak, while the right-hand portion of the attacking force was still over 1200 yards distant—and exposed to a heavy fire from almost overwhelming masses of Arabi’s troops, the brigade suffered a momentary check; but General Hamley met this by pushing forward some small bodies he had kept in reserve at the ditch, and on the arrival of the 60th and 46th regiments—which formed the reserve behind the Highland Brigade—he advanced with the whole body against the lines of intrenchment already mentioned as leading back towards Arabi’s camp. "Up the bank," says one of the Black Watch, "we went, and it was full of men, and they turned on us like rats in a trap; but the infantry did not stand long. However, honour to whom honour is due— the artillerymen stood to their guns like men, and we had to bayonet them. .As soon as that job was done, I saw two regiments of cavalry forming up on the right. ‘Prepare for cavalry’ was given, and in less time than it takes to write this we formed in a square, and were waiting for them; but when they saw this they wheeled to the right-about and off; they would not face a square of Scottish steel." The fighting was indeed over, and all that remained for the Highlanders to do was to occupy Arabi’s camp and capture the railway station. They "had done their work; they had secured a number of trains, the engines only escaping; had captured the immense commissariat stores and thousands of camels; and by seven o’clock had sat down comfortably to breakfast on the scene of the victory." The assault began at five minutes to five, the station was captured at half-past six, and at seven the whole brigade was again in order. "Thus," says General Hamley, "in that interval of time, the Highland Brigade had broken, under a tremendous fire, into the middle of the enemy’s intrenchments; had maintained itself there in an arduous and dubious conflict for twenty minutes; had then captured two miles of works and batteries, piercing the enemy’s centre, and loosening their whole system of defence; and had finished by taking the camp and the railway trains, and again assembling ready for any further enterprise. No doubt these troops were somewhat elated—perhaps even fancied that they had done something worthy of particular note and remembrance. And, in fact, the Scottish people may be satisfied with the bearing of those who represented them in the land of the Pharaohs."

The total loss of the second division was 258 killed and wounded—a large number as compared with the casualties among the other troops engaged. The losses of the Black Watch were:-

Killed—Lieut. T. J. Graham Stirling, Lieut. J. G. M’Neill, Sergeant-Major J. M’Neil. Died of wounds—Lieut. J. A. Park; 5 privates killed. Wounded—3 captains, S lieutenants, 4 sergeants, 33 sank and file. Lieut. Park survived his wound souse three days.

On the afternoon of the same day the regiment proceeded by train to within a few miles of Zagazig, reaching that place on the morning of the 14th September, and Belbeis, an important junction on the edge of the Desert, that same evening. There the regiment remained without tents until the 23d September, when it proceeded by train to Camp Ghezireh near Cairo, and was again quartered with the Highland Brigade.

A gracious message was sent by the Queen congratulating the army on its victory, and at the same time the Commander-in-Chief in Egypt published a General Order congratulating the army on its success against the enemy all through the campaign;....

"and finally on the 13th September at Tel-el-Kebir, when after an arduous night-march it inflicted upon him an overwhelming defeat, taking his strongly entrenched, position at the point of the bayonet, and capturing all his guns, about 60 in number. In recapitulating the events which marked this short and decisive campaign, the General Commanding-in-Chief feels proud to place upon record the fact that these brilliant achievements are to be ascribed to the high military courage and noble devotion to duty which have animated all ranks under his command, called upon to show discipline under exceptional privations, to give proof of fortitude in extreme toil, and to show contempt of danger in battle.

"The general officers, officers, non-commissioned officers, and soldiers of the army have responded with zealous alacrity, adding another chapter to the long roll of British victories.

"This order to be read at the head of every regiment on three successive parades."

On the 30th of September the regiment took part in a great review of the British army quartered in Cairo, when the army corps marched past before H. H. the Khedive of Egypt, and the Black Watch had the honour of receiving the second cheer of the day, the first having been given to the Naval Brigade.

On the 6th of October, Lieut.-General Sir E. Hamley bade farewell to the Highland Brigade in the following words, which were, by his order, read at a parade of each regiment —" Lieut.-General Sir E. Hamley wishes to assure the Highland Brigade that there is no point in his military life to which he will look back with so much satisfaction and pride, as to the day when he had the good fortune to be the leader of the 2d division at the battle of Tel-el-Kebir."

Except the sending of a company for three days to Tel-el-Kebir to bury the dead, and the reception of a draft from Cyprus, consisting of 4 sergeants, 5 corporals, 2 drummers, and 140 privates—under Captain Moubray, with Lieuts. Silver and Moulton-Barrett of the 2d battalion—nothing of importance occurred till the 21st October, when Sir Archibald Alison paraded the Highland Brigade, and after addressing them on parade, issued the following Brigade Morning Order:-

"Major-General Sir A. Alison cannot quit the Highland Brigade without expressing his sincere thanks to the officers commanding regiments for the assistance and support which he has uniformly received from them, and to the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men for the admirable conduct in quarters, and their brilliant gallantry in the field, during the brief but stirring period of his command. The campaign which has just closed is one which will not soon be forgotten in the annals of European war, and the Highland Brigade was fortunate enough to be permitted to take a distinguished part in it. He does not think he will be accused of partiality when he says that the steadiness of the Brigade throughout the night march, and the determined courage shown in the storming of the works of Telel-Kebir, is not unworthy as a deed of arms of the descendants of that historical brigade which Sir Colin Campbell led up the slopes of Alma."

On the same day Major-General Graham assumed command of the Brigade.

For the campaign the following officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates were recommended for distinguished conduct in the field :—Colonel D. Macpherson, C.B., Lieut.-Colonel W. Green, Major R. Coveny, Captain G. Fox, Colour-Sergeant J. Young, Colour-Sergt. T. Watt, Private W. M’Donald; and the following officers received their promotion: Major R. Coveny to be Brevet Lieut.Colonel, and Lieut. and Quartermaster Forbes to be Captain; and the following decorations were bestowed by H.H. the Khedive: Colonel Duncan Macpherson, C.B., the 3d class of the Medjidieh; Lieut.-Colonel W. Green, 4th class of Osmanlie; Lieut.-Col. R. K. Bayly, 4th class of Osmanlie; and Major A. F. Kidston, 4th class of Osmanlie.

On 21st November 1882, the regiment broke up camp at Ghezireh and proceeded to take up its quarters at Kasr-el-Nih.

On 1st December, by Her Majesty’s special command, the following General Order was published:-

"H.R.H. the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief has received the Queen’s command to convey to General Sir Garnet J. Wolseley, G. C. B., K.C.M.G., &c., and the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of all the branches of the Expeditionary Forces, Her Majesty’s admiration of their conduct during the recent campaign, in which she has great satisfaction in feeling that her son, Major-General H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, took an active part.

"The troops of all ranks, in the face of obstacles of no ordinary character, have shown a marked devotion to duty. For a time without shelter, in the desert under a burning sun, in a climate proverbially adverse to Europeans, their courage and discipline were nobly maintained throughout; and to this, under brave and experienced leaders, may be attributed the success which has distinguished this campaign.

‘‘The defeat of the enemy in every engagement, including the brilliant cavalry charge of Kassassin, culminated in the action of Tel-el-Kebir, in which, after an arduous night-march, his position was carried at the point of the bayonet, his guns were captured, and his whole army, notwithstanding his great numerical superiority, was completely dispersed."

On 12th December, Colonel Duncan Macpherson, C.B., whose term of command had expired, handed over the charge of the regiment to Lieut.-Col. W. Green. Colonel Macpherson, on leaving the regiment, stated in Regimental Orders:-

"that he could not leave the regiment without expressing his deep sorrow at relinquishing his position as commanding officer of a regiment any officer would be as proud as he is of having command. His greatest wish as a subaltern was that one day he might succeed to the command of the regiment with which he has been connected for years ; and he is proud to say that his wish has been accomplished, having had the honour to command the regiment in two campaigns, the last of which has added another page to the glorious history of the Black Watch. To Lieut.-Col. Green, Lieut.-Col. Bayly, and the officers of the regiment generally, he begs to tender his best thanks for the cordial support he has received from them in maintaining discipline and the high character the regiment has always borne. To Lieut. Lee his special thanks are due for his unwearied zeal displayed in performing the arduous duties of adjutant. He also begs to tender his best thanks to Captain Forbes, quartermaster, whose excellent services deserve his highest commendation.

"To the late Sergt.-Major M’Neil, who fell at Tel-el-Kebir nobly doing his duty, his thanks would have been conveyed had he survived ; to the present Sergt.-major and non-commissioned officers he, in bidding them farewell, thanks them one and all for their uniform good behaviour and gallantry.

"To the rank and file he begs to say that he hopes they will continue to have the same exprit de corps which has earned the approbation of H. R. H. the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, and of the various generals under whom they have served and carried the colours of the Black Watch to victory."

The Egyptian medals for the campaign of 1882 were presented to the men by the Lieut.Colonel Commanding on 26th February; Lieut.-General Sir Archibald Alison, who had been requested to present them, being unable to undertake the duty. The following is an extract taken from his reply to Lieut.-Colonel Green:-

"There is no regiment in the army to which I would present medals with such sincere pleasure as the Black Watch. In two campaigns they have been in my brigade, and I have been with them in three actions. I am sorry to say, however, that my doctor gives me no hope of being able to name any time when I could do so."

The gratuity for the Egyptian campaign of 1882 was issued to the men on 22cl March, sergeants receiving from £8 to £4, corporals from £3, privates from £2.

On 13th April, grey serge frocks became the marching and walking out dress of the battalion in Egypt; and on the 16th, F company, under Major Aitken, was sent on detachment duty to Ismailia, which place it left for Port Said on 15th May.

Except for a brief period, the Black Watch continued till the 14th February 1884 to form part of the Army of Occupation at Cairo, and shared in the praises bestowed on it by both H.E. the Earl of Dufferin and Lieut.-General Sir A. Alison. The former, in a letter addressed to the Lieut.-General Commanding at Cairo, said:-

"Before quitting Egypt, there is one more duty I feel it incumbent upon me to perform, namely, to acquaint you with the pride and satisfaction with which I have observed the bearing of the officers and men of the British Army of Occupation in Cairo during the last six months. Their sobriety and unobtrusive and orderly behaviour, and the good humoured and friendly manner in which they treat the natives, has done more than anything else to convince the Egyptian people of the amicable feelings with which we were actuated towards them. If it were not too presumptuous a request, I should be very much obliged if you would make known to the officers and men under your distinguished command the deep sense of obligation which I feel toward them."

Lieut.-General Sir A. Alison, K.C.B., relinquished the command of the troops in Egypt on 13th May, and published the following Order:-

"The Lieut.-General Commanding cannot quit Egypt without tendering his best thanks to the Generals commanding brigades, to the officers of the staff and departments, to the officers commanding regiments and corps, and to all the officers serving under their orders, for the ready support he has uniformly received from them; to the non-commissioned officers and men for their admirable conduct during this, the first period of the occupation, a conduct which has called forth from Lord Dufferin those graceful and generous words of commendation which have appeared in a recent General Order.

"The Lieut. -General feels proud at having had under him such a body of officers and men, and he will ever look upon his command in Egypt as one of the happiest periods of his life.

"In handing over the command to his successor the Lieut. -General hopes that the same good conduct and kindly feeling towards the natives which have distinguished our Army of Occupation will continue undiminished. He wishes all health and happiness to the troops to whom he now bids farewell.’

But few incidents of importance marked the period of the stay at Cairo. On the 18th May the regiment had to mourn the loss of Captain and Adjutant E. Lee, who died of typhoid fever. On the 24th of May, on the occasion of the review in Mehemet Ali Square in honour of Her Majesty’s birthday, the Royal Highlanders trooped the Queen’s colour, and in the following terms the Major-General Commanding, Sir Gerald Graham, V.C., K.C.B., expressed by letter to the commanding officer his satisfaction at the way in which the ceremony had been performed by the Battalion.

"The steadiness of the Battalion throughout was all that could be desired, and reflects great credit on all ranks."

On the 29th May Lieut.-General Stephenson, C.B.,—who had assumed command of the troops in Egypt on his arrival at Cairo on the 26th,—inspected the Battalion on its private parade, and on the following day expressed to the commanding officer his approval of the smart and clean appearance of the regiment on parade, and the cleanliness and order of the barrack-rooms generally.

Cholera having broken out at Cairo on the 15th July, the whole regiment was moved to Suez on the 20th, except G company under Captain Eden, which went to a cholera camp at Heluan on the 23d, leaving at Cairo one sergeant and eight rank and file. At Suez the regiment formed a cholera camp, in which it remained till the 16th August, when it proceeded to Geneffe by half Battalions, and remained in camp there until 3d September, thereafter returning to its quarters in Kasr-el-Nil, Cairo, where it was rejoined by F and G companies under Major Aitken and Captain Eden from Port Said and Heluan respectively.

On the 7th January the Annual Inspection of the regiment by Major-General Sir Gerald Graham, V.C., K.C.B., commanding the Brigade, took place; and on the 13th February, by Local General Orders of that date, the regiment was ordered to hold itself in immediate readiness to proceed to Suakim as part of a field force under Major-General Sir Gerald Graham, V.C., K.C.B., which was to operate in the Eastern Soudan, such an expedition being deemed necessary for the relief of a number of Egyptian garrisons beset by Soudanese tribes who had rebelled against the Egyptian Government.

On 14th February the regiment paraded at 6 A.M. in marching order, all present, and proceeded to Suez, where it embarked on board H.M.S. "Orontes" for Suakim. On arriving off that port, orders were given to proceed on shipboard to Trinkitat, which was reached on the 19th, the disembarkation taking place on the 21st, late in the evening. The regimental transport, under Lieut. T. F. Kennedy, which had been sent from Suez in the s.s. "Neiera," was delayed by that vessel running aground 20 miles off Suakim, but, after transference to H.M.S. "Hecla," reached Trinkitat in safety on the 27th.

On the 29th February, at about 8.30 AM., the Force proceeded to the relief of Tokar in the following order of march, which was also to be that of battle:-

Order of March.—lst Brigade, under Major-General Sir R. Buller, V.C., C.B., K.C.M.G.

The 1st Gordon Highlanders, when halted, in line; when advancing, in column of companies.

The 2d Battalion Royal Irish Fusileers, forming the right face of the square at a distance of twenty-five yards from the right of the Gordon Highlanders, in open column of companies.

The 3d Battalion King’s Royal Rifles, in open column of companies, in rear of the right of the Gordon Highlanders, twenty-five paces to the left of the Royal Irish Fusileers.

2d Brigade, under Major-General J. Davis.

The 1st Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment forming left face of the square on the left flank of the Gordon Highlanders, at twenty-five yards interval, in open column of companies.

The Royal Marines, in open column of companies, twenty-five yards to the right of the York and Lancaster Regiment.

The 1st Battalion The Black Watch in line, when halted forming rear face, and twenty-five yards to the rear of the right and left faces of the square; on the march advancing in line.

The Naval Brigade in two detachments of three guns each; the right detachment on the right of the Gordon Highlanders, the left detachment on the left of the Gordon Highlanders.

The Royal Artillery, in two half-batteries. Three guns in rear of the King’s Royal Rifles; four guns in rear of the Royal Marines.

The Royal Engineers detachment in rear of the Gordon Highlanders.

The Cavalry Brigade, under Colonel H. Stewart, C.B., in rear, and placed so as to avoid masking the infantry fire, with the exception of two squadrons covering the advance of the Force.

At 11 A.M. the enemy were observed drawn up in position, covering the wells of El Teb, and parallel to the line of advance on Tokar, and about 11.15 A.M. their guns opened on the British square, which was in the act of marching past the enemy’s left flank at some six or seven hundred yards’ distance, with the object of turning his position. Though this fire rapidly took effect, the march was continued in silence until the square was opposite the enemy’s left flank, on which the attack was to be delivered, the original left side of the square being now the front. The British guns then opened, and about 11.45 A.M. the two-gun battery on which the enemy’s left rested was captured. A further change of direction converted the original rear of the square into its front, and thus the Black Watch and the York and Lancaster Regiment bore the brunt of the Arab charges. To the former fell the main attack on the right and centre of the enemy’s position, just where his chief strength lay, for it was protected by skilfully-constructed rifle-pits, defended by resolute men, ready to die rather than give way.

The struggle was a fierce one, nor were the pits carried until all their gallant defenders had been shot down. Many brave deeds were done, and for one such act of cool and daring courage, Lieut. Norman M’Leod was recommended by the Commanding Officer for the Victoria Cross. That night the regiment, with the rest of the force, bivouacked on the field of battle.

The casualties were Killed or died of wounds —4 privates. Wounded—4 sergeants, 1 corporal, 17 privates, Lieut. N. M’Leod, Lieut. Wolrige Gordon.

On the following day the force proceeded to Tokar, six companies of the regiment remaining in garrison at El Teb under Lieut. -Col. Green. The remainder, under Lieut. -Col. Bayly, accompanied the force, and before they marched off the Major-General Commanding addressed these two companies, speaking in the highest terms of approbation of the gallant conduct of the regiment when in action on the previous day.

On the 2d March the detachment under Lieut.-Colonel Bayly returned to Headquarters, and on the 4th, the regiment returned to its camp at Trinkitat. On the 6th it embarked on the s.s. "Teddington," and returned to Suakim, which was reached on the 7th, and there the regiment remained till the 10th, when, new operations having become necessary, it marched to Baker’s Zareba, and was joined there by the rest of the expeditionary force on the 11th.

On 12th March, about 1 P.M., the whole force, with the exception of one company 1st Battalion Black Watch, under Major Kidston, which remained to guard the post, marched some six miles inland, encamping that evening at No. 2 Zareba, in close proximity to the enemy, who, during the night, opened an irritating fire on the square, and kept it up, with little intermission, until daylight. This fire, though excessively annoying, was not replied to, and did very little harm.

The force to be engaged in the coming battle of Tamaai was the same as that which fought at El Teb; but on this occasion each brigade was to form a separate square, and these were to advance in echelon, with an interval of 300 yards—the 2d Brigade leading; and Major-General Sir Gerald Graham, Commanding the Forces, accompanied the leading square. Part of the front and the left side of the square was formed by the Black Watch; the rest of the front and the right side by the York and Lancaster Regiment; and the rear by the Royal Marines. The Naval Brigade, with their Gatling and Gardner guns, occupied the centre of the front.

Immediately after the advance commenced, the enemy opened a well-sustained fire from a ravine about 900 yards in front, and the mounted infantry, who had been covering the front, retired. When about 150 yards from the ravine, Major-General Sir Gerald Graham, who was in the 2d Brigade square, and riding alongside the officer commanding the Black Watch, ordered him to charge, an order which was promptly obeyed. The enemy at once disappeared from the front, and when within a few paces of the ravine, Lieut.-Col. Green halted the battalion, wheeled the companies on the left flank into line, and had the whole regiment carefully dressed, there being no enemy before them to prevent this. The officers were then ordered to the front to keep down unnecessary fire.

When the order was given to the officer commanding the Black Watch to charge, no such order was conveyed to the other officers commanding corps forming the square, and the result was, that when the Black Watch charged, the York and Lancaster Regiment of their own accord, and without orders, hurried their pace to keep up, which, as a matter of course, they were imperfectly able to do. The consequence was, that when the square halted, there were gaps in front. The enemy, keen to remark a blunder, saw their chance, and attacked where the gaps were to be seen. So soon as the attack had been developed, D Company (Captain Stephenson) of the Black Watch was brought up at right angles to the front face, and thence opened a very effective fire on the enemy, until the Naval Brigade were able to bring their Gatlings and Gardners into action, when the company was brought back into its place in the square. The morning being dull, the smoke of the machine guns hung about so heavily that it was impossible to see across the square what was going on. Presently a shout was heard, and it was observed that the enemy had broken into the square, and were rushing in great numbers to attack the Black Watch in rear. The commanding officer had hardly time to turn the battalion about, when a desperate struggle commenced. Nothing could have exceeded the bravery and cool discipline of all ranks, and although many were young soldiers, with their rifles loaded, they obeyed orders, and fought only with the bayonet, readily realising how dangerous it would be for their comrades, and the men of the York and Lancaster Regiment, many of whom had been forced back fighting, if they fired.

The four companies of the regiment forming part of the original front face of the square were now compelled to retire. Attacked on all sides, they got into clusters contesting every inch of ground, and supported to some extent by the three companies on the left side, who, in retiring to their left rear, were able to show a better front; and thus gradually the regiment was able to reform. The Gatlings, however, had for the moment to be left in the hands of the enemy, but the sailors manning them had, before retiring, rendered them useless. The 1st Brigade, however, moved up steadily, and as soon as protected by its fire, Davis’s Brigade rallied, and, advancing again in good order, the guns were in a very few minutes recaptured. The loss of officers and noncommissioned officers was, however, heavy. "When a square is pierced," says a military critic, "though only in one place, the usual result is hopeless confusion and disaster. Not a man of the square can fire a shot against the enemy rampaging within, without running the risk of shooting a comrade; and it is in the highest degree creditable to the troops composing the broken square [at Tamaai], as it would have been to the hardiest of veterans in a like case, that they were able to rally so soon from the helpless and confused mass to which for some doubtful minutes they were reduced." The struggle was hard while it lasted, but "at length the terrible fire of the breechloaders prevailed over valour as brilliant and heroic as was ever witnessed," and the enemy were compelled slowly and unwillingly to give way. The 1st Brigade advanced across the ravine to the village of Tamaai, which was burnt, thereafter returning to the wells; and about 4 P.M., the whole force retired to the zareba which they had left in the morning, where the dead were buried in the dark.

The casualties in the battle were as follows: Killed Major Walker Aitken, 8 sergeants, 1 drummer, 50 privates. Wounded—Lieut. -Col. W. Green, Captain N. K. Brophy, Lieut. D. A. M’Leod, 1 sergeant, 3 corporals, 22 privates.

The regiment returned to Suakim on the 14th March, and remained there encamped in its old lines until 24th March. On 13th March the following telegram from Her Majesty to the Major-General Commanding was published :—" Congratulate you on success today, and express warm thanks to all engaged, as well as deep sorrow at loss, and much anxiety for wounded;" while on the same date the Adjutant-General, Lord Wolseley, telegraphed :—"Well done, old comrades of the Black Watch."

At about 1 P.M. on 25th March the whole force marched out of Suakim by the Sincat road to a zareba which had been constructed 10 miles out by the 1st Gordon Highlanders. There it encamped for the night, and on the following morning Major-General Sir R. Buller proceeded to the front with the 1st Brigade, the Black Watch and 3rd King’s Royal Rifles joining at dusk at a newly constructed zareba some five miles off.

At daylight on 27th March the force advanced—three companies of the 3rd King’s Royal Rifles being left in the zareba—with the object of reaching the wells of Tamanieb, and also of feeling for the enemy. The wells were occupied without any casualties, and the village of Tamanieb, consisting of about 300 huts, was burned, the whole force returning thereafter to the zareba, and on the morning of the 28th to Suakim, where the regiment remained until 1st April, when it embarked on board H.M.S. "Orontes" for Suez. The regiment disembarked on 7th April 1884, and arriving at Cairo on the same day, returned to its old quarters at Kasr-el-Kil.

The names of the officers who took part in the campaign in the Eastern Soudan, 1884, are :— Lieut.-Col. W. Green, Commanding (wounded); Lieut.-Col. E. K. Bayly, Major A. F. Kidston, Major W. Aitken (killed); Major H. C. Coveny, Bt.Lieut.-Colonel; Major C. J. Eden, Captain A. G. Wauchope, C.M.G., served on staff (wounded); Captain N. W. P. Brophy (wounded); Captain A. Scott Stevenson (joined at Suakim, 7th April 1884), Captain H. F. Elliot, Lieut. Lord A. Kennedy, Lient. A. G. Duff (Adjutant), Lieut. N. M’Leod, Lieut. T. F. A. Kennedy, Lieut. F. L. Speid, Lieut. J. Home, Lieut. C. P. Livingstone (with mounted infantry), Lieut. A. C. Bald, Lieut. N. Cuthbertson, Lieut. D. A. M’Leod, Lieut. A. G. FerrierKerr, Lieut. W. G. Wolrige-Gordon, Lieut. J. Macrae (joined at Suakim, 12th March 1884), Quartermaster C. Sinclair.

Those mentioned in despatches—Lieut.Col. Green decorated with C.B., Major Kidston promoted Bt.-Lieut.-Col., Major Eden promoted Bt.-Lieut.-Col., Major Wauchope promoted Bt.-Lieut.-Col., Major Aitken would have been promoted, Captain Brophy promoted to Brevet-Major, Sergeant Sutherland, distinguished-conduct medal; Sergeant Davidson, distinguished-conduct medal; Private Shires, distinguished-conduct medal; Drummer Mumcord, distinguished-conduct medal; Private Edwards, Victoria Cross.

The following Order was issued by Lieut. General Stephenson, C.B., on the return of the troops:-

"The operations of the Expeditionary Force being now brought to a close, the Lieut. -General Commanding, in welcoming the troops on their return to quarters, congratulates officers and, men of all ranks upon the brilliant successes which, under their brilliant commander, they have obtained during the late campaign. He thanks them, not only for the good name which will attach to the Army of Occupation in Egypt through their gallant conduct, but also for the additional lustre which they have shed upon the whole British Army."

On 26th May 1884 a telegram from the Secretary of State for War was published, notifying that the Egyptian medal, with a clasp bearing the word "Suakim," was to be given to the troops who took part in the recent operations near that place. Those who had the medal were to receive the clasp. A gratuity of £2 per man was also to be given. Sergeants, £4; corporals, £3.

On 4th July, the following extract from General Order 99 of 1884 was published for general information:-

"I. The Queen has been graciously pleased to signify her pleasure that the Egyptian medal (pattern of 1882) be granted to those of Her Majesty’s forces engaged in the recent operations in the neighbourhood of Suakim, under the command of Major-General Sir Gerald Graham, K. C. B., V. C., who have not previously received it, and a clasp inscribed to those who have. II. Her Majesty has further approved of a clasp being issued to all those who were actually present at either or both of the actions on 29th February and 18th March. This clasp will be inscribed ‘El Teb—Tamaai’ for those who were in both actions, and ‘El Teb’ or ‘Taniaai’ for those who were in one or other, but not in both."

The regiment was inspected by Major-General Davis, C.B., on 26th August, and on 16th September by General Lord Wolseley, G.C.B., who, after the inspectio4, addressed the battalion as follows:-

"Black Watch,—I am very glad of this chance of again meeting you. I have often been with you before, in Ashantee, in Cyprus, and in the Egyptian campaign ; and, as I say, I am proud and glad to be once more associated with you. During the late campaign in the Eastern Soudan you were opposed to a most brave and determined enemy. You will believe me when I tell you that the people at home, and not only your own countrymen, were proud of the gallant way in which you upheld the honour of your splendid and historic regiment ; and there was no one in all England, I can assure you, thought more of you than I did. Colonel Bayly, officers, and men, I am proud of the highly-efficient state in which you have turned out this morning. It reflects the highest credit on all of you.

"In the coming campaign I do not think there will be much fighting, but there will be very hard work, and I shall want you to show that you can work hard as well as fight. If there is any fighting to be done, I know that I have only to call on the Black Watch, and you will behave as you have always done."

The "coming campaign" referred to was the expedition up the Nile for the relief of General Gordon and the garrison at Khartoum, and on the evening of the 23d September the regiment proceeded by rail to Assiout, there to embark for conveyance to Assouan in two steamers and four barges. The strength was :—20 officers, 1 warrant officer, 39 sergeants, 14 drummers, 624 rank and file. The officers were:- Col. and Lieut.-Col. W. Green, Lieut.-Col. R. K. Bayly, Major and Brevet-Lieut.-Col. A. F. Kidston, Major and Brevet-Lieut.-Col. P. O. Ooveny, Major and Brevet-Lieut.-Col. C. J. Eden, Major and Brevet-Lieut.-Col. A. G. Wauchope, C.M. G.; Captain and Brevet-Major N. W. P. Brophy, Captain W. H. H. Moubray, Captain H. F. Elliot, Lieut. Lord A. Kennedy, Lieut. A. G. Duff (Adjutant), Lieut. T. F. A. Kennedy, Lieut. F. L. Speid, Lieut. G. Silver, 2d battalion Lieut. P. J. C. Livingstone, Lieut. St G. E. W. Burton, 2d battalion; Lieut. T. M. M. Berkeley, 2d battalion; Lieut. J. H. Home, Lieut. C. P. Livingstone (with Mounted Infantry), Lieut. A. C. Bald, Lieut. P. A. M’Leod, Lient. T. Souter, Lieut. A. G. Ferrier-Kerr, Lieut. W. G. Wolrige-Gordon, Lieut. J. Macrae, Lieut. G. H. Galbraith, Lieut. H. Rose, Lieut. D. L. Wilson, Quartermaster C. Sinclair, Paymaster W. H. Thornhill (Major), Chaplain Rev. J. M. Taggart.

On 5th October 1884 the regiment arrived at Assouan, and disembarked on the following morning, but, owing to two cases of smallpox among the men, had to march two miles down the river, and to encamp in a palm grove on the banks of the Nile, where it remained in quarantine until the 12th November, when the real forward movement for the relief of General Gordon commenced as far as the Black Watch were concerned.

When Lord Wolseley determined to advance to the relief of Khartoum and General Gordon in whale-boats along the Nile, the British soldier—" capable of going anywhere and doing anything "—had for the nonce to convert himself into a boatman; and that he had much to learn in this capacity may be gathered from one of the jokes familiar to the expeditionary force, to the effect that the man at the helm, on receiving the order "Put your helm down," immediately proceeded to place the tiller in the bottom of the boat, and to await further orders! The boats provided were about 30 feet long, 7 feet beam, and with a draught of 2½ feet. As the boats were destined each to be self supporting, they had, when finally loaded, provisions, ammunition, and ordnance and cornmissariat stores for 14 men for one hundred days, these not to be touched until the river column should concentrate at Hamdab. Extra rations for immediate consumption were also carried, these being replenished from the different commissariat stations then in course of formation along the line of the river to Hamdab. Consequently, it was not unusual for the whale-boats to be carrying practically 120 days’ rations and other stores, with reserve ammunition, for 14 men, with a crew of about eight men in each boat; and this obtained as far as Korti, about 600 miles away, where the last redistribution of crews and lading of the boats was destined to take place. Each boat was also accompanied by a Canadian voyageur as pilot.

From Cairo to Wady Halfa there was but little difficulty, the journey being made partly by rail and partly by sailing diabehas, the last company leaving Assouan on the 22d November. At Wady Halfa, or rather at Sarras —17 miles to the southward—the real difficulties were, however, to commence, and here the regiment embarked in the 84 whale-boats provided for them.

As the Nile between Sarras and Sarkamotto rushes through the gates of Semneh, the cataracts of Wady Attireh, Ambigol, Tanjour, Ockma, Akasheh, and Dal, it had always been reported by travellers, as well as by natives, as in most parts impracticable for boats even at high Nile. It may be imagined that with a falling river the dangers and difficulties were increased, for boats were continually striking sunk rocks and springing leaks, which necessitated their being hauled up on the river bank, unloaded of their tons of stores, and then repaired by the soldiers themselves, for there was no one else to do it. In this section, too, the boats generally had to be tracked over the swift water, which was very painful for the men, the constant hauling causing bad sores on their hands; and yet this difficult and very trying time saw the regiment in splendid health and spirits, a circumstance greatly due to the quantity and excellent quality of the rations served out then, as indeed all through the expedition. As for clothes the trews were worn out in a fortnight, and there was no possibility of their being replaced. The men therefore rowed in grey suits, reserving the kilts and red serges.

The reach of the river between Sarkametto and Abu-Fatmeh was easier, but yet the difficulties at the cataracts of Amara, Shaban, and Hannek will not soon be forgotten by those who had to encounter them. From Abu-Fatmeh to New Dongola sailing and rowing combined was more or less the order of the day, comparatively little tracking being required; and the progress made was rapid, several companies having completed in this stretch over thirty miles a day, and this against a swift and constant current, which, with the squally nature of the wind, made the navigation difficult and dangerous; and yet it was not until Dongola had been passed, on the reach from that place to Korti, that the first fatal accident took place, when Major Brophy was drowned through the swamping of his boat when under sail.

In the first week of January 1885 the leading companies of the regiment arrived at Korti, and on 13th January the headquarters rowed into Hamdab with 54 boats. By the 20th the whole regiment was once more together at the latter place, forming—with the South Staffordshire, the 2d Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, the 1st Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders, one squadron of the 19th Hussars, an Egyptian Battery of six 7-pounders, an Egyptian Camel Corps, and a section of Engineers and Bluejackets—the Nile River Column, under Major-General Earle, and intended to advance on Khartoum by Berber.

On the 24th January the column advanced from Hamdab, and on the 25th the right half battalion was on the further side of the Edermih Cataract, the left getting through on the following day. This cataract appeared to the force as difficult a one as any yet surmounted.

On the 27th the Kab-el-Abd Cataract was passed, but the river seemed to be getting worse and worse, and it was only by the daring skill of the Canadian voyageurs and the constant toil of the whole force, that the boats were got over this cataract, as well as those of Rahami and Gamra, which latter place is about seven miles distant from Birti. At Gamra the regiment bivouacked on 3d February.

It was at first believed that the enemy would make a stand at Birti, but on that place being reached on the 4th February it was found to be deserted. The advance continued on the 5th, and on that evening the 1st South Staflordshire and the Black Watch bivouacked at Castle Camp, some seven miles further on, where the men were employed in destroying the wells of the country, as a punishment to the Arabs of the Monassir district, who were known to have been concerned in the murder of Colonel Stewart. At Castle Camp the two advanced regiments, the South Staffordshire and the Black Watch, remained for three days, no forward movement taking place until 10 A.M. on the 8th February, when this force advanced to Dulka Island, which it reached on the evening of 9th February, with the exception of G company of the regiment, left at Castle Camp with the Duke of Cornwall’s Regiment, the Gordon Highlanders being still at Birti.

It was evident on the evening of the 9th that the enemy was in force some 2000 yards in front, occupying a high rocky ridge near the river, but at right angles to it, and completely commanding the entrance of the Shokook Pass, through which defile the boats had to go. There was nothing for it, therefore, but to drive the Arabs from their strong position, and, if possible, give them a lesson which would at least rid the army of their presence during its advance through the Shokook Pass. The necessary preparations were soon made, and the kilts and red serges taken out of the boats, for it had been decided before that red was to be the fighting dress of the River Column.

The night passed without any unusual incident, and at 6.45 A.M. on the 10th the force, consisting of six companies of the South Staffordshire, six companies of the 1st Black Watch, the squadron of the 19th Hussars, and the native Camel Corps, marched out of camp, which was left in charge of Lieut.Colonel Eden, and one company of the Highlanders, with the section of Royal Engineers and Bluejackets, who guarded the boats and baggage.

Two companies of the South Staffordshire, with two guns, under Lieut.-Colonel Alleyne, R.A., with orders to hold the enemy in front if possible, had preceded the main body under the Major-General Commanding, which was to turn the enemy’s position, and get into his rear.

About 8.45 A.M. the outer flank of the enemy was reached without a shot being fired, and the column then changed direction, so that soon it was marching back towards the river, the force being thus placed between the Arabs and their line of retreat, their only chance of flight being now across the river to their left.

On Colonel Alleyne’s guns opening fire at 9.15 the Arabs immediately began to reply hotly and with good aim, but happily, a rocky ledge, to which the column advanced, screened and protected it from the fire.

The enemy were seen at this time in large numbers escaping across the river, but the standards flying defiantly on the rocky ridge and koppies, or hillocks, overhanging the Nile itself, where the broken ground had been strengthened by loop-holed walls, told that there the Dervishes were determined to stand out to the bitter end.

The British line, which was by this time completely in the rear of the enemy, with the flank resting on the Nile, now advanced, and Major-General Earle, finding that it was impossible to dislodge the Arabs by musketry fire alone, gave orders for the Black Watch to carry the position with the bayonet. The regiment responded gallantly to the order. The pipers struck up, and with a cheer the Black Watch moved forward, with a steadiness and valour which the enemy was unable to resist, and which called forth the admiration of the General. From the loop-holed walls the rifle puffs shot out continuously; but without a check the Black Watch advanced, scaled the rocks, and at the point of the bayonet drove the enemy from their shelter. Meanwhile the cavalry had captured the enemy’s camp, and the South Staffordshire Regiment having gallantly stormed the last remaining portion of the ridge, the battle of Kirbekan was won. General Earle was unfortunately killed on the very summit, just at the close of the general assault, and the Black Watch lost Lieut. -Colonel Coveny and 5 men killed, Lieut.-Colonel Wauchope and 21 non-commissioned officers and men wounded. At sunset the bodies of General Earle, Colonel Eyre, and Colonel Coveny were buried side by side in deep graves, the men by the river bank where they had fallen.

The command now devolved on Major-General H. Brackenbury, C.B.; and on the morning of 11th February the advance was resumed, the troops beginning to pass through the troublesome rapid close to the Island of Dulka, and then for seven miles through the Shokook Pass, with its great black rocks frowning on the river. At the end of the pass the two very difficult cataracts of Uss and Sherrari were encountered; but in spite of all difficulties, the boats with sick and wounded arrived on 18th February at Salamat, the headquarters of Sulieman Wad Gamir, the chief of the Monassirs, and the individual responsible for the cruel murder of Colonel Stewart while descending the Nile from Khartoum.

The Gordon Highlanders having again joined the force, it was now once more complete; and opposite to Hebbeh the whole column crossed from the left to the right bank of the Nile—an operation which was completed by the 21st, with the loss of only three camels and one donkey.

Everywhere about Hebbeh, which was the scene of Colonel Stewart’s murder—his wrecked steamer still lying here—the wells and all the property that could be got at were destroyed by order of the General Commanding.

Thence to the next station, El Kab, the current was very swift; but so well did the men row that no tracking was required, and the distance, some seven miles, was done by the 215 boats of the force in wonderfully quick time, and so was the journey of the following day—some ten miles over swift water—to Huella, which was reached by an early hour in the afternoon of 23d February.

This was destined to be the furthest point to which the expedition was to penetrate. On 25th January 1885 Khartoum had fallen; on 13th February Sir Redvers Buller, with the Desert Column, had evacuated Gubat, and therefore the reason for the occupation of Berber by the River Column had practically ceased, and in consequence of this the Commander-in-Chief had sent a message to the Nile Column ordering it to return. This messenger arrived at Huella on the morning of 24th February, when the message of Lord Wolseley was read to the troops:

"Please express to the troops Lord Wolseley’s high appreciation of their gallant conduct in action, and of the military spirit they have displayed in overcoming the great difficulties presented by the river. Having punished the Monassir people for Colonel Stewart’s murder, it is not intended to undertake any further military operations until after the approaching hot season."

All was over, and by noon the River Column had commenced its backward journey. That evening and the following day the army rested at Hebbeh.

The men had become experienced hands in taking the heavily-laden boats up the cataracts, but the taking of them down the swift and broken waters was altogether a new experience. It was evident the dangers had increased tenfold. The force had, however, some 85 Canadians, and in the next few days they proved to be worth their weight in gold; indeed at all the most difficult cataracts the boats were taken in charge by the Canadians - as a rule, one steering, another in the bow paddling. By this means the boats’ crews rowing felt that they were being guided at the most dangerous places by tried and skilled men in whom they placed the utmost reliance. So through the several cataracts they rowed with all their might and main, and thus averted the great danger of losing steerage way in rushing water.

The rapid of Uss was passed on the 27th, and the Shokook Pass on the 28th February, every preparation having been made in case of an attack, but the enemy in no way molested the army. Evidently the lesson of Kirbekan was still fresh in their minds. A determined resistance by a few men against the retreating boats as they moved through the Shokook might have had serious results.

On 2d March Birti was reached, and there the column rested all night before resuming the return journey through the Rahami Cataract—a triumph of skill over a difficulty that to any one unaccustomed to such work would have seemed insuperable. General Brackenbury, in his book, thus describes it:

" Boat after boat came down at lightning speed, the men giving way with all their power so as to give steeling power, the bowman standing cool and collected watching the water, and only using the oar should the steersman seem to need help, the steersman bringing round the boat with marvellous judgment at the right moment. Now and then an error of half a second brought a boat on to the edge of the left hand rock, and. she rose and fell like a horse jumping a fence. But in the day’s work only one boat of the Gordons and one of the Staffords were wrecked."

At Kab-el-Abd there was also difficulty:

"It was a long straight run of a mile and a half or more (distances are hard to measure when flying like an express train) of water broken and rough, studded with rocks, both seen and unseen, a dangerous rapid to the unskilled or careless, yet safe to the trained eye and skilled hand. As my boat shot down we passed the Adjutant of the Gordons with his boat stuck fast in the very centre of the boiling rapid, a useful beacon to the following boats. His was not the only boat that struck, four others of the same Battalion were on the rocks. Three were repaired, but two of the five sank and were abandoned. The Quartermaster was thrown into the water and lost all his kit. The Adjutant had a narrow escape for his life. Thrown into the water, as his boat sank, his head had struck a sharp rock, and he was severely cut. The Black Watch had also to abandon a boat that struck on a rock near Kaboor."

On the 4th of March, to quote again from General Brackenbury:-

"The remaining boats passed through the fourth cataract with a loss of three boats wrecked, and, alas with the first fatal accident in all our downward journey.

"The course to be steered through the cataract was a very tortuous one. The boats had to go from midstream over close to the right bank, and there pass between a rock and the shore, turning again to the let into midstream.

"Officers and a voyageur were stationed with their boats on the rocky islands to show the direction to be taken, but unfortunately a boat stuck across the stream in the narrow channel near the right bank, blocking it.

"Instead of the remaining boats being turned into the bank to wait till the channel was clear, they were by some error directed off into midstream, and the greater part of the boats of three Battalions shot over a fall of about three feet like a Thames weir in flood. That only one accident occurred is marvellous.

"One boat of the South Staffordshire having safely shot the weir, struck a rock and upset. Unfortunately she had in her two wounded men, both of whom with a sergeant were drowned."

Half of the Black Watch, which regiment had from Salamat downwards formed the rear guard, still performed the same duty on this night at the bottom of the cataract, while the remainder of the force encamped opposite Hamdab, having thus descended in nine days what it had taken thirty-one days to ascend. On the morning of the 5th the force moved to Abu-Dom, and that night the whole column, with the exception of a few of the Mounted Corps, was on the left bank of the Nile, and on the following day, for the first and last time, was viewed and inspected on parade by Major-General H. Brackenbury, who afterwards spoke of them as "two thousand of the finest fighting men that it was ever man’s lot to command."

During the ascent of the river from Hamdab to Huella six boats had been wrecked and one man drowned; on the return journey two boats were wrecked and one man drowned. Seven men were killed or died of wounds.

On 7th February Major-General Brackenbury, with the other regiments that had formed the River Column, left Abu-Dom, leaving those in garrison under Colonel Butler, C.B, the 1st Battalion of the Black Watch, one troop of Hussars, the Egyptian Camel Corps with six 7-pounder guns, a section of Engineers, the Naval Brigade with one Gatling gun, and one hundred transport camels.

The following River Column After-order was published in Regimental Orders on 7th March 1885.

"The Brigadier-General Commanding has received General Wolseley’s instructions to publish the following Special General Order to the soldiers and sailors of the Nile Expeditionary Force:-

"The Queen, who has watched with deepest interest the doings of her sailors and soldiers, has desired me to express to you her admiration for your courage and your self-devotion.

"To have commanded such men is to me a source of the highest pride; no greater honour can be in store than that to which I looked forward of leading you, please God, into Khartoum, before the year is out. Your noble efforts to save General Gordon have been unsuccessful, but through no fault of yours; both on the river and in the desert you have borne hardship and privation without a murmur.

"In action you have been uniformly victorious, all that men could do to save a comrade you have done, but Khartoum fell through treachery two days before the advanced troops reached it. A period of comparative inaction may now be expected this army was not constituted with a view to undertaking the siege of Khartoum, and for the moment we must content ourselves with preparations for the autumn advance. You will, I know, face the heat of the summer, and the necessary though less exciting work which has now to be done with the same courage and endurance you have shown hitherto. I thank you heartily for all you have done in the past. I can wish nothing better, I can ask nothing more of you in the future than the same uncomplaining devotion to duty which has characterised your conduct during the recent operation.

"(Signed) WOLSELEY, General."

Merawi was by far the most advanced position now occupied by the British Army, —the next held by our troops being Tanni, some 45 miles down the river—and commanded the road to Berber, the telegraph, and the fertile track of country along both banks of the Nile to Korti, a district where the people had all along been friendly to us, and therefore particularly obnoxious to the enemy. It was therefore also the post of danger, for at any moment an army of dervishes marching from Mettameh to Korti —at which latter place there was nothing to stop them but a small force of Bashi Bazouks under Captain Baker, Royal Navy,—had it in their power to completely sever the Brigade under Colonel Butler, from the remainder of the army.

During the next two months, therefore, the regiment was for ever on the alert both by night and by day, in the most trying part of the Soudan, at a place where a year before it would have been held by all authorities as out of the question for European troops to remain in the hot season, especially with a meagre supply of tentage, and none of the comforts generally considered to be essential for the preservation of the health of British troops in a climate such as this. The devotion to duty and the discipline of all ranks remained nevertheless perfect.

The men were as soon as possible employed in erecting huts, those in hospital being soon accommodated in that respect, and the work was rapidly carried on, as was testified to by General Wolseley himself after his inspection of the station, when he expressed his satisfaction with the work which had already been done, and addressed the regiment in most complimentary terms. By the 20th of May following, the whole regiment was hutted, with the exception of the officers and staff sergeants. During this period the health of the officers and men was excellent, though the heat in the day in the shade ranged from 115° to 119°, falling in the night and early morning often to 58°.

The strength of the station had been materially added to by the construction early in April of a small fort some 900 yards inland, and to the front of the old fort which had been erected by the Mudir’s troops. This new work was by order of Colonel Butler christened Fort St Andrew in honour of the regiment, and during its excavation the remains of an ancient temple were discovered.

On 25th May orders were issued for the evacuation of the station, and on the following morning the forts were blown up, and the regiment once more took to its boats,— now reduced to 51 in number. That night the flotilla reached to within six miles of Korti, and on the 1st June camped at Abu Fatmeh at 10 A.M., the right half-battalion starting the same afternoon, under Colonel Green, to shoot the Hannek Cataract (third cataract), reaching the bottom that evening. The left half-battalion under Lieut. -Col. Bayly did the same on the following morning. At the Shaban Cataract, on the 2d, whilst the right half-battalion was passing through that most dangerous water, one of the boats was upset exactly in midstream, having struck a rock on the brink of the rapid.

Three men were saved for the moment by jumping on to the rock. Of the ten men who clung to the boat, nine were rescued by Captain Ivloubray, who, with presence of mind, launched his boat most opportunely just as the struggling men were drowning one, Private Williams, was drowned.

The men who were left in a most dangerous position on the rock were saved, after eight hours of ineffectual efforts, by Lieutenant Macrae and six men, who, in a boat, were lowered gradually down the rushing waters to within a few yards of their comrades, whom they succeeded in bringing into the boat by means of a life-belt and rope. That night the battalion encamped some nine miles from Kyber; and by the 7th inst. arrived at Sarkametto. Here the regiment disembarked, and on the 8th marched across to the foot of the Great Pal Cataract, where they embarked in fresh whalers, proceeding to Akasheh that night. After an intensely hot march of 24 miles, the regiment took train for Wady Halfa, and reached Shellal on the afternoon of the 16th June. There the regiment disembarked, and proceeded by train to Assouan, whence they were conveyed by steamers and diabehas to Assiout, and thereafter by train to Cairo, where they arrived on the morning of the 27th June. General Lord Wolseley, who met the regiment here, telegraphed home to the Commander-in-Chief:— "Black Watch has arrived in splendid condition, and looking the picture of military efficiency." On the same morning Colonel Green received a letter from Lord Wolseley offering him the command of a Brigade at Assouan; and on his acceptance he was on the 4th July appointed a Brigadier-General on the Staff, and was succeeded in the command of the regiment by Lieut.-Colonel R. K. Bayly.

General Green’s appointment was confirmed in the London Gazette on 10th July.

On 10th July the Lieut.-General Commanding in Egypt, Sir Frederick Stephenson, K.C.B., inspected the Battalion, and desired the following to be communicated to the regiment in Regimental Orders:-

"The Lieut. -General Commanding desires that the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men should know that he was much pleased at the smart, clean, and soldier like appearance of the regiment at his inspection this morning. The Lieut. -General remarked on the steadiness of the men during inspection of the line."

Major Barrow in command of the Mounted Infantry communicated with the Commanding Officer in regard to the conduct of the men of the regiment under his command during the late campaign, and in consequence there appeared in Regimental Orders on 18th July the following:-

"The Commanding Officer has much pleasure in placing on record the very excellent report received by him from Major Barlow as to the conduct and discipline of the Mounted Infantry during the late operations, a report that reflects credit on the detachment and on the regiment."

In the London Gazette of 26th August 1886, which published the despatch of General Lord Wolseley commanding Her Majesty’s Forces in Egypt, reviewing the 1884 and 1885 campaign, the names of the following officers and non.-com. officers of the regiment were given as deserving of special mention, viz. :—Colonel W. Green, C.B., Lieut.-Colonel Bayly, Captain A. S. Stevenson, Captain Lord A. Kennedy, Lieut. Maxwell, Colour-Sergeant Tweedie, and Colour-Sergeant Connon. The same Gazette also announced the appointment of Lieut.Col. Bayly to a Companionship of the Bath; and the promotion of Captain Lord A. Kennedy to a Majority. Subsequently Lieut.-Col. Bayly received also the Royal licence to accept and wear the 3d Class of the Medjidieh, and Major A. S. Stevenson was promoted to a Brevet Lieut.-Colonelcy, while Colour-Sergeants D. Morrison, J. Tweedie, and Connon, Sergeant T. Watt, Private J. Henderson, and Private F. West received distinguished-conduct medals.

In consequence of the absence of crime in the regiment the Soudan gratuity for 1884 and 1885—Sergeants, £10; Corporals, £7, 10s.; Privates, £5—was paid direct to the men instead of being credited to their monthly accounts.

Major-General J. Davis, C.B., inspected the regiment at Kasr-el-Nil on 14th January 1886; and the medals for the late campaign, with clasps inscribed Nile and Kirbekan, were issued on 13th March.

On 1st May 1886 the Black Watch left Cairo, in the s.s. "Poonah," for Malta, where it disembarked on 5th May, headquarters and three companies going to Fort Ricasoli; one and a half companies to Salvatore, one to Vittoriosa, and two and a half to Fort Jsola.

In 1887 it was proposed by the inhabitants of Perthshire to commemorate the connection of the regiment with the county by the erection, by public subscription, of a memorial near the spot where the regiment was embodied. Meetings were held in the different districts, the co-operation of natives of the county resident elsewhere was invited, and the appeal of the influential committee appointed to collect funds met with a ready and generous response, notwithstanding the considerable amount of warm feeling displayed over the choice of a site. That the embodiment took place near the bridge across the Tay, within a quarter of a mile of Aberfeldy, is not disputed, but regimental and local tradition agree in fixing the exact spot on the north side of the river at Boltachan—a view taken also by Stewart of Garth in his Sketches, published early in the present century —while other accounts, and particularly a manuscript history of the regiment belonging to the War Office, and written in 1831, many years after General Stewart’s work, assert that the ceremony took place on the south side of the Tay, between the village and the bridge. So far as the memorial is concerned, the committee have decided in favour of the latter theory, the site selected being a triangular piece of ground between Aberfeldy and the Tay, immediately to the west of the bridge road. The monument itself, designed by Mr W. B. Rhind, Edinburgh, will consist of a large rough cairn, surmounted by a statue 10 feet high, representing a Highlander in the original costume of the 42nd. Below, on the principal front, is a life-sized figure of a Highlander in the present dress of the regiment, inscribing on a tablet the distinctions borne on the colours. The estimated cost is £400, and the structure will attain a height of about 40 feet. The ground is the gift of the Marquis of Breadalbane, and the space not occupied by the cairn is to be laid out as a public pleasure-garden.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Part Twenty Eight Kevin Baverstock's book "Breaking the Panzers"



by Tom Kyle from the Daily Mail Aug 2, 2002

AT DAWN on July 1, 1916 - alongside countless thousands of others — the Tyneside Scottish Brigade went over the top at the Battle of the Somme. By the end of that terrible day, 940 of its men had been killed and 1,600 wounded - nearly 80 per cent of the four battalions.

Exactly 28 years later, on July 1, 1944, a new generation of the Geordie Jocks again faced the German Army head-on in Northern France - and again suffered fearful casualties.

Three weeks after D-Day, the battalion was dug in on the high ground south of the village of Rauray in Normandy, awaiting the counter-attack from the 55 Panzer divisions that Hitler expected to sweep the Allies back into the English Channel.

At the start of World War II, the name Tyneside Scottish - originally a ‘pals’ brigade of Tynesiders with Scottish ancestry - had been revived and the unit, of battalion strength, affiliated to The Black watch, based in Perth. They were posted to France in April 1940, just in time to mount a desperate last stand at Ficheux, where they held up Rommel’s Panzers for five hours to win vital time for the evacuation of the troops trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk.

Over the next three years, the battalion was reinforced and retrained, particularly in mortar and anti-tank warfare, in Iceland, Scotland and Wales. The Tyneside Scots missed D-Day itself; landing in France almost a week later on June 12.

Three weeks after D-Day, the Allies were still desperately trying to force a breakout from Normandy. Field Marshall Montgomery launched Operation Epsom, an attack designed to cross the River Odon and take the area south of Caen, the pivotal point in the breakout strategy.

To protect the right flank of Epsom, Operation Martlet was initiated a day earlier, on June 25, to secure the high ground around Rauray.

The success of Martlet in capturing the Rauray Spur - despite severe casualties among the Royal Highland Fusiliers and significant ones to the Tyneside Scottish — eased the pressure on the main assault.

Despite this, little progress was made on the Epsom front until, against all odds, the 2nd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders took the bridge over the Odon at Tourmauville.

On June 30, with Rauray secured, the Tyneside Scottish, flanked by the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and the Durham Light Infantry, constructed slit trenches and defensive gun emplacements around the village. All that was left to do was wait - for the dawn and the hated and feared SS fanatics.

In his new book, Breaking the Panzers, Kevin Baverstock (whose father Leonard was a Tyneside Scottish private at Rauray) tells the story of that day, July 1, 1944, through official regimental communications and the eyewitness accounts of the men:

WITH A, B and C Companies dug in south of the village and D Company in reserve, the first signal of the day was pencilled into the log. C Company heard tanks limbering up around the village of Brettevillette, about 1,000 yards to the south-east.

Soon after, the German mortar fire began. At 0415 a reconnaissance patrol reported that the enemy was forming up for a big armoured drive. At 0500, the first light of day was dulled by a wave of smoke laid down by the Germans to mask the attack.

Rifleman A Corris: ‘Dawn broke. We were in a mist. To my surprise, it lifted in seconds and I realised it had been a smokescreen. In the field immediately to our front and at about 500 yards were rows of tanks, silent and motionless. They had crept up in the night.’

THE German barrage was at its height to soften up the defenders before the first assault. At 0640, C Company was under attack. The Germans were advancing rapidly in groups of five Panzers with supporting infantry. Machine guns and snipers raked the slit trenches at close quarters. C Company took heavy machine gun casualties, but hung on as the Panzers rolled on towards B Company.

By 0655 the Tyneside Scots were frantically firing non-stop to withstand the onslaught.

Stretcher bearer DW Jarvis: ‘Jerry opened fire with everything he had. I watched the tanks coming through, followed by the infantry.’

AFTER barely 20 minutes, the frontline troops had been severely mauled, but the Germans had not managed to achieve their primary objective of bursting through the British front. The hard-pressed B Company put up a spirited fight. Sergeant David Watson’s six-pounder gun detachment stopped the Panzers in their tracks, knocking out at least five and, by some accounts, ten.

The initial attack had been blunted, although C Company was dangerously short of men. A Company was also in need of urgent assistance.

Sgt D Watson: ‘Someone shouted "Tanks" and everyone got to their positions. My Bren gunner was severely wounded, but we kept on firing at the tanks. Then my aimer was struck in the face and blinded. I took on his job and with the speed that the loader kept pushing the shells in, we managed to take a few of the tanks - but we were running short of ammunition. Then I was hit In the leg and my loader on the hand. We were bleeding but just carried on firing until we, had no ammunition left. As we were both wounded, we had nothing else to do but leave the gun.’

Sgt Watson was later awarded the Military Medal.

DESPITE the sterling work by the anti-tank guns, the outer defences had been penetrated and Panzers were threatening to enter Rauray.

By 0822, C Company’s position was looking pretty hopeless, with some men already taken prisoner. The order was given to fall back and make a stand on the southern edge of the village. B Company had become disjointed, but Captain HP Calderwood was still sending radio messages back to direct the British armour and artillery fire. The scattered sections of A Company were drifting towards the KOSB on their left.

Lt SF McLaren: ‘All the Jocks I could see were banging away, but the enemy tanks were more or less on our position and I had no contact with Company HQ.

‘I could see little sign of life and ordered the few troops I was in contact with to fall back.’

PANZERS had infiltrated deep into the territory defended by the Tyneside Scottish. What was left of B Company had been completely pinned down by machine gun fire and could only wait and hope for reinforcements. In reserve, D Company made ready for action.

Pte (Acting Cpl) J W Barnes: ‘Word was passed on that they had smashed up B Company with tanks and infantry, had partially overrun A Company ‘s perimeter and were heading our way.’

WITH the first phase of the battle over, the Durham Light Infantry’s situation was reasonably under control to the west, but the state of affairs with the Tyneside Scottish on the eastern flank was less certain. There was no news of A Company and B Company was once more being encircled.

Virtually isolated, its position was very serious. Reinforcements from D Company were ordered to fight their way through to join what was left of B Company, but met with stiff resistance.

Pte (Acting CpI) J W Barnes: ‘Lt J McAllan’s Bren carrier was movin forward when it was hit by a tank shell. A large plume of smoke went up. The driver was very badly injured or dying and Lt McAllan seriously wounded. As we attempted to staunch some of the blood, I saw the tank commander climb out of the turret and sit down on the front. He lit a cigarette and watched us through binoculars as we carried our wounded men away.’

THE battle had reached a crisis point for the Tyneside Scottish. It was crucial B Company was reinforced or it could not hope to hold out much longer.

At 11.15, the second German attack was launched, under cover of a heavy mortar bombardment. Under attack from enemy tanks, the KOSB, with only one anti-tank gun left operational, were in a similar plight to their Tyneside Scottish comrades.

Reinforcements were still edging forward, but losses were high, including D Company commander, Major S Brewis, who was very seriously wounded attacking an enemy machine gun.

Gunner P Moss (55th Anti-tank Regiment): ‘We saw a young Scot crawling along a hedgerow. His hand was severed and hanging at the wrist. I carried him back to the Aid Post. He seemed more bothered about his pal who he had left behind than himself.’

THE Germans’ second serious push had been held, but the Panzers and infantry were already reforming for another effort.

Captain Shaw, of the KOSB, alerted HQ to the threat and within a short space of time every available British gun was brought to bear on the enemy build-up. The assault still came, however, and the Tyneside Scottish bore the brunt. Still B Company held out, in anticipation of the imminent arrival of reinforcements.

At 1230, disaster befell A Company. The battalion’s left flank began to crumble as the encircling Panzers swung round to blast the slit trenches from the side. Cut off from the KOSB, the shell-shocked and confused soldiers staggered back towards Rauray.

Pte JLR Samson: ‘We saw the remnants of A Company coming back, some without weapons some without helmets, practically all without webbing.

There were no NCOs and no anti-tank weapons. We attempted to rally the boys, but even the threat of being fired upon by us could not halt them. They were finished - and I for one could not blame them.’

THE arrival of reinforcements gave B Company a much-needed boost. But the Germans, having overrun A Company; were making a determined strike at the battalion’s left flank. At 13.43, more Panzers passed B Company, heading straight for C Company’s front.

Pte P Lawton: ‘Within minutes of my leaving a slit trench a shell hit it. I went back to see what could be done and found Pte Hamer had been virtually cut in half by the shell. Pte Holt didn’t appear to have suffered any physical damaqe at all, but he was taken off suffering from shock. I never saw him again, but I have no doubt he has felt the effects of that moment ever since.’

THE Panzers were queuing up to attack what remained of the Tyneside Scottish, but Captain Calderwood managed to call down another artillery barrage.

B Company came under renewed attack, but Major W K Angus somehow rallied 30 survivors from C Company who had been cut off. Following the fourth attack, the battalion’s position was even more unstable. Losses had been appalling and reinforcements, of whatever calibre, were urgently required.

L/Cpl K Taylorson: ‘I was issuing petrol behind the lines, but we all knew it was something big by the number of wounded that were coming back. At one point there was a rumour that all cooks, clerks and drivers not really needed were to be sent up the line.’

AFTER nine hours of fighting and four major assaults, the end was in sight. At 16.05, the enemy prepared to make one last attack.

Once again Capt Calderwood called for artillery. Radio procedure had been abandoned and he increasingly shouted: ‘For mercy’s sake, give us fire.’ Again a great barrage came down and the fifth and final German attack failed before it really started.

The captain was awarded the Military Cross for remaining at his critical forward post throughout the battle, under more or less constant bombardment. Then British flame-throwing Churchill tanks, known as Crocodiles, arrived.

Pte J Munro: ‘Everyone was tired and flaky. Our initial relief came in the form of Crocodiles. These proceeded to flush out any pockets of enemy activity.’

BY late afternoon, enemy snipers and machine gunners were being cleared from the fields around Rauray. At 18.10, the counterattack began. B Company was relieved and A Company’s original position was retaken, while the remnants of C Company joined in an attack to flush the enemy from the company’s initial position. To the left, the Royal Highland Fusiliers moved forward to straighten the line held by the KOSB. After dark, the guns fell silent. Rauray had been held and the Panzers repulsed.

Pte (Acting CpI) JW Barnes: ‘The company areas were a mass of debris, bodies and burning tanks. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, it was a kind of Armageddon.’

Cpt G Cowie: ‘The next day, the survivors paraded and the RSM called the battalion roll. More than 850-strong. Perhaps the same number answered their names as those that did not.’

The Tyneside Scottish CO, Lt Col RWM de Winton, received the following message from Maj-Gen EH Barker, Commander of 49th Division: ‘Will you please pass on to your troops my congratulations on the magnificent stand made by you today. You have made a great name for yourselves. I deplore the casualties you have sustained, but it is most gratifying to know that the gallant band who remained were successfully relieved.’

Weeks after Rauray, the ‘Tyneside Scottish received a stunning blow when it learned it was to be disbanded. Due to the desperate manpower shortage, the brigade was to be broken up and used to reinforce the rest of the Army.

Although some went to the Argylls and the Royal Highland Fusiliers, most joined their parent regiment, The Black Watch. With them they brought a major battle honour that remains on The Black Watch Colours to this day: The Defence of Rauray, July 1, 1944.

Breaking the Panzers, by Kevin Baverstock, is out now at £25 from publishers Sutton.

And so end the history of The Black Watch..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

STANDING OVATION!!! Damm Fine Sir!!!!

Thank You.

BlackWatch-2.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here are a couple of pictures that Kilted Carver sent to go along with the lesson..

Black Watch from Battle of Ticonderoga

blackwatchticonderoga.jpg

The Charge of the Highlanders at The Battle of Bushy Run

battleofbushyrunchargeofthehighland.jpg

Thanks Eric, They are fantastic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this