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The 78th Highlanders or Ross-Shire Buffs


ON the 17th of April 1804, a letter of service was-granted to Major-General Alexander Mackenzie-Fraser, Colonel of the 78th Highlanders, in which his Majesty was pleased to approve of a second battalion being added to that regiment, with a strength of 1000 men.

General Mackenzie-Fraser had been connected with the regiment ever since it was first raised in 1793, his brother-in-law, now Lord Seaforth, having appointed him its first Major; and it was chiefly owing to his unremitting zeal and attention at headquarters, in personally superintending and teaching the recruits, that its energy and discipline in the field became so early conspicuous. He therefore, when called upon to organise a young battalion, threw his whole soul into the task, and his vigorous mind rested not until he had collected around him a body of men in every way worthy of their predecessors.

LIST OF OFFICERS.

Colonel.

Major-General Alexander Mackenzie-Fraser of Castle Fraser, Colonel of 1st battalion.

Lieutenant- Colonel.

Patrick M’Leod, younger of Geanies, from 1st Battalion.

Majors.

David Stewart of Garth (author of the ,Sketches), Colonel, half-pay.
James Macdonell of Glengarry, Colonel and Major, Coldstream Guards.

Captaines

Alexander Wishart, from first battalion.
Duncan Macpherson.
James Macvean.
Charles William Maclean, from 42nd.
Duncan Macgregor, Major, half-pay.
William Anderson.
Robert Henry Dick, from 42nd, and afterwards Lieut.Colonel 42nd.
Colin Campbell Mackay of Bighouse, Major, half-pay. 
George Mackay.

Lieutenants.

William Balvaird, Major, Rifle Brigade.
Patrick Strachan.
James Macpherson, killed in Java, 1814.
William Mackenzie Dick, killed at El Hamet, 1807.
John Matheson, Captain, half-pay.
Cornwallis Bowen.
William Mackenzie, Captain, half-pay.
Malcolm Macgregor.
James Mackay, Captain, half-pay.
Thomas Hamilton.
Robert Nicholson.
Charles Grant, Captain, half-pay.
Horace St Paul, Lieut. -Colonel, half-pay.
George William Bowes.
William Matheson.
William Cameron, Captain, half-pay.

Ensigns.

John Mackenzie Stewart.
John Munro, killed in Java, 1811.
Christopher Macrae, killed at El Hamet, 1807.
Ruderick Macqueen.
Neil Campbell, Captain, half-pay.
John L. Strachan.
Alexander Cameron.
Alexander Gallie.
Robert Burnet, Captain, 14th.

Paymaster — James Ferguson.

Adjutant. — William Mackenzie, Captain.

Quarter-Master. — John Macpherson.

Surgeon. — Thomas Draper, D. I.

Assistant-Surgeon. - William Munro, Surgeon, half-pay.

On the 25th of February 1805 the regiment embarked at Fort George, and landed at Dover on the 9th of March, whence it marched into quarters at Hythe, then under the command of Major-General Sir John Moore.

Major-General Alexander Mackenzie-FraserOn the 19th of the same month they were inspected by their Colonel, Major-General Mackenzie-Fraser, who published an order expressive of his high approval of the condition in which he found the regiment.

On the 23rd of the same month they were inspected by Major-General Sir John Moore, who conveyed in an order his approval of their appearance.

"As one of the objects I have in view is to point out such characteristic traits of disposition, principle, and habits as may be in any way interesting, I shall notice the following circumstance which occurred while this regiment lay at Hythe. In the month of June orders were issued for one field-officer and four subalterns to join the first battalion in India. The day before the field-officer fixed on for this purpose left the regiment the soldiers held conferences with each other in the barracks, and in the evening several deputations were sent to him, entreating him, in the most earnest manner, to make application either to be allowed to remain with them or obtain permission for them to accompany him. He returned his acknowledgments for their attachment and for their spirited offer; but as duty required his presence in India, while their services were at present confined to this country, they must therefore separate for some time. The next evening, when he went from the barracks to the town of Hythe, to take his seat in the coach for London, two-thirds of the soldiers, and officers in the same proportion, accompanied him, all of them complaining of being left behind. They so crowded round the coach as to impede its progress for a considerable length of time, till at last the guard was obliged to desire the coachman to force his way through them. Upon this the soldiers, who hung by the wheels, horses, harness, and coach-doors, gave way, and allowed a passage. There was not a dry eye amongst the younger part of them. Such a scene as this, happening to more than 600 men, and in the streets of a town, could not pass unnoticed, and was quickly reported to General Moore, whose mind was always alive to the advantages of mutual confidence and esteem between officers and soldiers. The circumstance was quite suited to his chivalrous mind. He laid the case before the Commander-in-Chief; and his Royal Highness, with that high feeling which he has always shown when a case has been properly represented, ordered that at present there should be no separation, and that the field-officer should return to the battalion in which he had so many friends ready to follow him to the cannon’s mouth, and when brought in front of an enemy, either to compel them to fly or perish in the field."

Having been ordered for foreign service, the regiment embarked at Portsmouth on the 28th of September 1805; but, hearing that the combined French and Spanish fleets had put to sea from Cadiz, the transports ran into the Tagus, where they remained until intelligence arrived of the total destruction of the enemies flotilla at Trafalgar. They then proceeded to Gibraltar, where they disembarked the first battalion of the 42nd and the second battalion of the 78th.

On the 2nd of May, 1806, the regiment embarked for Sicily, and landed at Messina on the 25th. There it was inspected by Major. General Sir John Stuart, who, at the earnest solicitation of the spirited Queen of Naples, had determined on an expedition to Calabria against the French, Napoleon having annexed to his empire the kingdom of Naples. On the 16th of June, the 78th marched and encamped in the vicinity of Milazzo, under command of Brigadier-General Auckland.

On the 27th of June the regiment embarked at Milazzo, and, on the 1st of July, landed in the Bay of St Euphemia in Calabria without opposition. The force at first numbered 4200, but, being further augmented by the arrival of the 20th Regiment, the total was 4790 men, as opposed to 7000 of the enemy, with the addition of 300 cavalry. General Stuart, who expected a large accession of Calabrian volunteers to his standard, remained at St Euphemia till the 3rd, with the mortification of finding nothing but apathetic indifference among the people, where he had been led to expect a chivalrous loyalty and effectual support. On the evening of that day news was brought to him that General Regnier lay near the village of Maida, about ten miles distant, with a force of 4000 infantry and 300 cavalry, and that he was merely waiting for a reinforcement of 3000 men to attack the British and drive them back upon the sea. Stuart, who had no further assistance to expect, immediately made up his mind to attack the French before the arrival of their fresh troops, which course would at least equalise numbers in the first instance, and give him the chance of beating them in detail. Accordingly, he marched the same night and halted within a short distance of the French camp; and, renewing the march at daylight, he crossed the River Amato, which covered the front of the enemy’s position, near its mouth, and sent forward his skirmishers to the attack. However, as he advanced further into the plain, the truth suddenly broke upon him. Like Wellesley at Assaye, he had expected to encounter merely one-half of his adversary’s force; like him, he found himself deceived. The whole French army was before him.

Stuart was a man of action; his decision once formed, he proceeded to act upon it. He would advance. To retreat would be certain ruin to the expedition, as he should be forced to re-embark even if he escaped defeat; the morale of his troops would be destroyed; and Calabria would be left hopelessly in the hands of the French. He knew that he had the veterans of Napoleon before him in a proportion of nearly two to one; but he preferred to trust to a cool head, British pluck, and British steel. The following was the disposition of his force:-

The light brigade, Lieut. -Colonel James Kempt, was composed of the light infantry companies of the 20th, 27th, 35th, 58th, and 81st Regiments, of two companies of Corsican Rangers under Lieut.-Colonel Hudson Lowe, and of 150 chosen men of the 35th Regiment under Major George Robertson. The first brigade, Brigadier-General Auckland, consisted of the 78th and 81st Regiments. The second, Brigadier-General Lowrie Cole, was formed of the grenadier companies of the 20th, 27th, 35th, 58th, and 81st, under the Hon. Lieutenant - Colonel O’Calloghan, and the 27th Regiment. The reserve, Colonel John Oswald, consisted of the 58th and Watteville Regiment.

Stewart, in his admirable Sketches, gives a most spirited and circumstantial account of the battle; and as he himself fought on the occasion, it has been thought better to give his narrative entire rather than to collate from other sources, especially as the regimental records are very destitute of information:-

"The army was drawn up, having in its rear the head of the bay, and in its front a broad and extensive valley, level in the centre, and bounded on both sides by high, and in some places precipitous, hills, with woods covering their sides in many parts, and in others with corn fields up to a considerable height. This valley, which is of unequal breadth, being in some places four miles and in others not more than two, runs across the Calabrian peninsula, from St Euphemia to Cortona on the Adriatic, intersected at intervals to nearly one-half its breadth by high ridges, which run out at right angles from the mountains, forming the lateral boundaries of the plain. On the summit of one of these ridges, at somewhat more than four miles distant, the army of General Regnier was seen drawn up in columns, apparently ready either to descend to the plains or to wait the attack of the British. General Stuart had now to come to an instant decision. Disappointed of the support of the Calabrese, of whom not more than 1000 had joined, and these badly armed and worse disciplined, and therefore of no use in the attack, and being also informed that a reinforcement of 3000 men was expected by the enemy on the following day, he had no alternative but an immediate advance or a retreat, either to the ships or to some strong position.

"To retreat was little congenial to the spirit of the commander; and accordingly, actuated by the same confidence in his little army which had encouraged him to engage in the enterprise, he resolved upon advancing, little aware that the expected addition to the enemy’s force had already taken place. While General Stuart’s ignorance of this fact confirmed his resolution to attempt the strong position of the enemy, the consciousness of superior numbers gave additional confidence to General Regnier, who, looking down upon his enemy from his elevated position, could now count every file below; and who, as it is said, called out to his troops to mark his confidence in their invincible courage, and his contempt for the English, whose presumption in landing with so small a force he was determined to punish by driving them into the sea. Accordingly giving orders to march, he descended the hill in three lines, through narrow paths in the woods, and formed on the plain below. His army consisted of more than 7000 men, with 300 cavalry, and a considerable train of field artillery. He drew up his troops in two parallel lines of equal numbers, with artillery and cavalry on both flanks, and with field-pieces placed in different parts of the line. To oppose this force, General Stuart placed in the front line the light brigade of Lieut.-Colonel Kempt on the right, the Highland regiment in the centre, and the 81st on the left.

"At eight o’clock in the morning, the corps composing the first line advanced, the enemy commencing his forward march (presenting a parallel front) nearly at the same moment. The distance between the armies was at the time nearly three miles, and the ground perfectly level, intersected only by drains, to carry off the water in the rainy season, but not so large as to intercept the advance of the field-pieces. When the first brigade moved forward, the second halted for a short time, and then proceeded, followed by the reserve. The forward movement of the opposing lines lessened the intervening distance in double ratio. The first brigade passed over several corn-fields with parties of reapers, who eagerly pointed out the advance of the enemy, then at a distance of less than a mile. On a nearer approach they opened their field-pieces; and, contrary to the usual practice of French artillery, with little effect, the greater part of the shot passing over the first line and not reaching the second.

"This was an interesting spectacle. Two armies in parallel lines, in march towards each other, on a smooth and clear plain, and in dead silence, only interrupted by the report of the enemy’s guns; it was more like a chosen field fixed upon by a general officer for exercise, or to exhibit a sham fight, than, as it proved, an accidental encounter and a real battle. No two rival commanders could ever wish for a finer field for a trial of the courage and firmness of their respective combatants; and as there were some present who recollected the contempt with which General Regnier, in his account of the Egyptian expedition, had chosen to treat the British, there was as much feeling, mixed up with the usual excitements, as, perhaps, in any modern engagement, excepting that most important of all modern battles, where Buonaparte for the first, and perhaps the last time, met a British army in the field.

"To the young Highlanders, of whom nearly 600 were under age, the officers, with very few exceptions, being equally young and inexperienced, it was a critical moment. If we consider a formidable line, which, from numbers, greatly outflanked our first line, supported by an equally strong second line, the glancing of whose bayonets was seen over the heads of the first, the advance of so preponderating a force on the three regiments of the first brigade, the second being considerably in the rear was sufficiently trying, particularly for the young Highlanders. . . . I have already noticed that the enemy’s guns were not well served, and pointed too high; not so the British. When our artillery opened, under the direction of Major Lemoine and Captain Dougal Campbell, no practice could be more perfect. Every shot told, and carried off a file of the enemy’s line. When the shot struck the line, two or three files on the right and left of the men thrown down gave way leaving a momentary opening before they recovered and closed up the vacancy. The inexperienced young Highlanders, believing that all the vacant spaces had been carried off, shouted with exultation at the evident superiority. It is not often that in this manner two hostile lines, in a reciprocally forward movement, at a slow but firm pace, can make their observations while advancing, with a seeming determination to conquer or perish on the spot. These criticisms were, however, to be soon checked by the mutual forward movement on which they were founded. The lines were fast closing, but with perfect regularity and firmness. They were now within 300 yards’ distance, and a fire having commenced between the sharp-shooters on the right, it was time to prepare for an immediate shock. The enemy seemed to hesitate, halted, and fired a volley. Our line also halted and returned the salute; and when the men had reloaded, a second volley was thrown in. The precision with which these two volleys were fired, and their effect, were quite remarkable. When the clearing-off of the smoke—there was hardly a breath of wind to dispel it—enabled us to see the French line, the breaks and vacancies caused by the men who had fallen by the fire appeared like a paling of which parts had been thrown down or broken. On our side it was so different, that, glancing along the rear of my regiment, I counted only 14 who had fallen by the enemy’s fire. The smoke having cleared off so that the enemy could be seen, the line advanced at full charge. The enemy, with seeming resolution to stand the shock, kept perfectly steady, till, apparently intimidated by the advance, equally rapid and firm, of an enemy, too, who they were taught to believe would fly before them, their hearts failed, and they faced to the right-about, and fled with speed, but not in confusion. When they approached within a short distance of their second line, they halted, fronted, and opened a fire of musketry on our line, which did not follow up the charge to any distance, but halted to allow the men to draw breath, and to close up any small breaks in the line. They were soon ready, however, to advance again. A constant running fire was now kept up on the march, the enemy continuing the same, but retiring slowly as they fired, until they threw their first line on their second. They then seemed determined to make a resolute stand, thus giving our line the advantage of sooner closing upon them; but they would not stand the shock; they gave way in greater confusion than in the first instance. They had now lost a considerable number of men.

"At this period the enemy’s cavalry attempted to charge, but either from the horses not being properly broke, or rather from the sharp running fire kept up in their faces, the dragoons could not, with all their exertions, bring them to the charge. At last, finding their efforts unavailing, they galloped round the flanks of their line to the rear, turned their horses loose, and fought on foot.

"Both lines of the enemy were now completely intermixed, and Regnier, who was seen riding about, and from his violent gesticulations seemingly in great agitation, seeing himself completely foiled in his attack on the front, and being driven back more than a mile, made an attempt to turn the left flank. For this purpose he brought some battalions by an oblique movement to the British left, and gained so much on that flank that the second line (the grenadier battalions and the 27th Regiment, which now came up under General Cole) could not form the line in continuation. Throwing back their left, they therefore formed an angle of about 60 degrees to the front line, and in this position opened a most admirably directed and destructive fire, which quickly drove back the enemy with great loss. While in this angular formation, the fire was incessantly and admirably sustained, till a circumstance occurred in the centre which gave the enemy a momentary advantage, but from which they afterwards suffered severely.

"On the side of the French there was a Swiss Regiment, commanded by an officer of the family of Watteville, a family which had also a regiment in our service, and in the field that day. The Watteville Regiment in the French service was dressed in a kind of light claret-coloured uniform, something like scarlet when much worn, and with hats so much resembling those of the band of our Wattsville’s, that when this corps was seen advancing from their second line, the Highlanders, in their inexperience, believed they were our own, who had in some manner got to the front; and a word passed quickly to cease firing. The fire had accordingly slackened, before the voice of the mounted officers, whose elevated position enabled them to distinguish more clearly, could be heard, and the enemy, believing this relaxation to proceed from a different cause, advanced with additional boldness. This brought them so close that when the men were undeceived and recommenced firing, it was with such effect that, in ten minutes, the front was cleared, and the enemy driven back with great precipitation. Indeed, the precision with which the men took their aim during the whole action was admirable, and clearly established the perfect self-possession and coolness of their minds.

"Unwilling to break the continuity of the narrative of the proceedings on the centre and the left, where the action was now nearly finished, I have delayed noticing the movements of Lieut.-Colonel Kempt’s light brigade. This corps had for some time been exercised in a uniform manner, under the training of that officer, and they now even exceeded the high expectations formed of them and their spirited commander. The party of the Corsican Rangers attached to the light infantry were on the right. When the line advanced within reach of musketry, they were sent out on the flank and in front to skirmish, but on the first fire from the enemy’s sharpshooters, they retreated in great haste. This, in some cases, would have been an inauspicious, if not a fatal commencement to a battle, when so much was to be done, and so much superior a force to be opposed. But here this repulse did not extend beyond those who gave way to the panic, and the light company of the 20th Regiment, who had the right of the line, rushed forward, and in an instant drove off the party which had advanced on the Corsicans, but with the loss of Captain Maclean, the only officer killed on that day. In a few minutes after this the two hostile lines came within charge distance; and the left of the enemy pushing forward, both lines had nearly met, when at this momentous crisis the enemy became appalled, broke, and endeavoured to fly, but it was too late;—they were overtaken with most dreadful slaughter.

"I now return to the centre and left, which continued hotly engaged, always vigorously pushing the enemy, who still endeavoured to gain upon the flank. But in this he was frustrated by the continued advance of the British, who preserved the same angular formation, the first line moving directly on its original front, and the second in an oblique direction, with its right touching the left of the first.

"The fire now slackened, the enemy having lost much ground, being repulsed in every attempt, and having sustained an unusual, and, indeed, altogether an extraordinary loss of men. But General Regnier, despairing of success against Colonel Kempt’s light corps on the right, and still pushed by the troops in the centre and left, prepared to make a desperate push in order to take our line in flank on the left. At this moment the 20th Regiment marched up, and formed on the left, nearly at right angles to General Cole’s brigade. This regiment had that morning disembarked in the bay from Sicily (the scarcity of transports preventing their earlier arrival), and Lieut.-Colonel Ross having landed with great promptitude the moment he heard the firing, moved forward with such celerity, that he reached the left of the line as the enemy were pushing round to turn the flank. Colonel Ross formed his regiment with his right supported by the left of the 27th, and opposed a full front to the enemy. This reinforcement seemed to destroy all further hopes of the enemy. So feeble was this last attempt, that when Colonel Ross ordered out 80 men to act as sharpshooters in his front, they could not face even the small detachment.

"The battle was now over. The confidence which had animated the enemy during the greater part of the action appeared to have at last totally forsaken them; they gave way at all points in the greatest confusion, numbers, to assist their speed, throwing away their arms, accoutrements, and every encumbrance.

"The disadvantage so frequently experienced in the transmarine expeditions of England, occasioned by the want of ships for the conveyance of a sufficient number of troops, was now severely felt; for though the field was most favourable for the operations of cavalry, that arm was, on the present occasion, totally wanting. As soon as the ships had landed the infantry at St. Euphemia, they were ordered back for the cavalry, who arrived the day after the battle. Few victories, however, have been more complete, and as under equal advantages of ground, of discipline in the troops, and ability in the commanders, a hard fought battle is the most honourable, if gained with little loss to the victors, and with great destruction to the vanquished, so that engagement must be particularly so, in which a greatly superior force is totally routed with a loss in killed of more than 30 to 1: that is, on the present occasion with a loss of 1300 killed of the French to 41 killed of the British.

"The disparity of numbers being so great., the proofs of courage and other military qualities, on the part of the victors, are conclusive Equally decisive were the advantages on the side of the victors in regard to the subsequent operations of the campaign; for while the English army was, on the following morning, but little diminished, and quite prepared to meet a fresh opponent, if such could have been brought against it, the enemy were so dispirited that on no after occasion did they attempt to make a stand, which indeed their reduced numbers rendered impossible. Their loss was 1300 killed and 1100 wounded, left on the field, besides the slightly wounded who retired to the rear. Upwards of 200 of the latter were taken afterwards in the hospital at Cotrone, on the opposite coast of the Adriatic.

"The loss of the Highlanders was 7 rank and file killed; Lieut.-Colonel Patrick M’Leod, Major David Stewart, Captains Duncan Macpherson and Duncan Macgregor, Lieutenant James Mackay, Ensigns Colin Mackenzie and Peter Macgregor, 4 sergeants, 1 drummer, and 69 rank and file wounded."

The British minister at the Sicilian court thus alluded to the battle in his despatch:-

"There is not to be found in the annals of military transactions an enterprise prepared with more deliberate reflection or executed with greater decision, promptitude, and success, than the late invasion of Calabria by Sir John Stuart. I trust, therefore, you will not think me presumptuous for venturing to add my testimony of the high sense entertained by this court of the merits of the British General and of his gallant army, who, on the fertile plains of Maida, have added new trophies to those which the same troops had formerly earned, from the same enemy, on the sandy regions of Egypt."

The King of the Two Sicilies created Sir John Stuart, Count of Maids. In England he received the thanks of Parliament, a pension of £1000 per annum, the Order of the Bath, a sword of honour, and the freedom of the city of London.

In commemoration of this victory a gold medal was struck, and conferred upon all the superior officers who were present.

The troops were re-embarked on the 2nd of August, and on the night of the 9th the regiment made Messina harbour, and having been disembarked, was ordered to take over quarters in the town of Taormina, where it became subjected to the consequences of its fatigue and privations during the late campaign, frequently suffering from ill-health to the extent of from twenty to thirty men per month. On the 13th of October, however, it was ordered round to Syracuse, where it arrived on the 17th, and remained during the rest of its stay in Sicily, until it was ordered to embark and join the Egyptian expedition.

Early in 1807 an armament was fitted out in Sicily for the purpose of occupying Alexandria, Rosetta, and the adjoining coast of Egypt. The force on this occasion consisted of a detachment of artillery, the 20th Light Dragoons, the 31st, 35th, 78th, and De Rolle’s regiment, and the corps of Chassaurs Britanniques, all under the command of Major-General Mackenzie-Fraser. The expedition sailed on the 6th of March, but, encountering bad weather, the "Apollo" frigate and nineteen transports were separated from the fleet. The remainder, with the commodore, anchored on the 16th off the Arab’s Tower to the west of Alexandria. General Fraser, in consequence of the absence of so large a proportion of his force, hesitated about landing; but, being pressed by Major Misset, the British resident, who informed him that the inhabitants were favourably disposed, and that there were not more than 500 men in garrison, he disembarked his troops on the 17th and 18th. On the morning of the 19th took up a position on the same ground that the British army occupied in March 1801. The town, on being summoned, surrendered the next day, and in the evening the other transports anchored in Aboukir bay. Vice-Admiral Duckworth, with a fleet from the Dardanelles, arrived in the bay on the 22nd.

On the 27th of March a detachment, under Major-General Wauchope and Brigadier-General Meade, took possession, without opposition, of the forts and heights of Abfimandor, a little above Rosetta. The capture of this place was the next object. General Wauchope, unconscious of danger, marched into the town at the head of the 31st Regiment. Not a human being was to be seen in the streets, nor was a sound to be heard. The troops wended their way through the narrow and deserted streets towards an open space or market-place in the centre of the town; but they had not proceeded more than half-way when the portentous silence was broken by showers of musketry from every house, from the first floor to the roof. Cooped up in these narrow lanes, the troops were unable to return the fire with any effect, nor, amidst the smoke in which they were enveloped, could they see their assailants, and could only guess their position from the flashes of their guns. They had, therefore, no alternative but to retire as speedily as possible; but, before they had extricated themselves, General Wauchope was killed, and nearly 300 officers and soldiers were killed and wounded. General Meade was among the wounded.

After this repulse the troops returned to Alexandria; but General Fraser, resolved upon the capture of Rosetta, sent back a second detachment, consisting of the 35th, 78th, and De Rolle’s regiment, under the command of Brigadier - General the Hon. William Stewart and Colonel Oswald. This detachment, after some skirmishing, took possession of Abûmandûr on the 7th of April, and on the following day Rosetta was summoned to surrender, but without effect. Batteries were therefore speedily erected, and a position was taken up between the Nile and the gate of Alexandria; but, from the paucity of the troops, it was found impossible to invest the town on all sides, or prevent a free communication across the Nile to the Delta. The batteries opened their fire; but with no other effect than damaging some of the houses.

The enemy having erected some batteries on the Delta for the purpose of taking the British batteries in flank, Major James Macdonell of the 78th, with 250 men, under Lieutenant John Robertson, and 40 seamen from the Tigre, were detached on the 16th across the river, opposite to Abûmandûr, to destroy these batteries. To conceal his movements, Major Macdonell made a considerable circuit, and coming upon the rear of the batteries at sunrise, attacked the enemy, and driving him from the batteries, turned the guns upon the town. But as the enemy soon collected in considerable force, he destroyed the batteries, and embarking the guns, recrossed the river with only four men wounded.

General Stewart had been daily looking for a reinforcement of Mamelukes from Upper Egypt; but he was disappointed in this expectation. While a detachment of De Rolle’s, under Major Vogelsang of that regiment, occupied El Hamet, another detachment, consisting of five companies of the Highlanders, two of the 35th Regiment, and a few cavalry and artillery under Lieut. -Colonel Macleod, was sent on the 20th to occupy a broad dyke or embankment, which, with a dry canal, runs between the Nile and the Lake Etko, a distance of about two miles. On reaching his destination, Colonel Macleod stationed his men, amounting to 720, in three divisions, with an equal number of dragoons and artillery between each. One of these he disposed on the banks of the Nile, another in the centre and the third upon the dry canal.

Meanwhile the enemy was meditating an attack on the position, and on the morning of the 21st, while numerous detached bodies of their cavalry began to assemble round the British posts, a flotilla of about 70 djerms or large boats full of troops was observed slowly descending the Nile. With the intention of concentrating his force, and of retreating if necessary to the camp at Rosetta, Colonel Macleod proceeded to the post on the right, occupied by a company of the 35th and the Highland grenadiers. He had not, however, sufficient time to accomplish this object, as the enemy left their boats with great rapidity; and while they advanced on the left and centre posts, their cavalry, with a body of Albanian infantry, surrounded the right of the position, and attacked it furiously at all points. Colonel Macleod formed his men into a square, which, for a long time, resisted every effort of the enemy. Had this handful of men been attacked in one or two points only, they might have charged the enemy; but they were so completely surrounded that they could not venture to charge to any front of the square, as they would have been assailed in the roar the moment they faced round. At every successive charge made by the cavalry, who attempted, at the point of the bayonets, to cut down the troops, the square was lessened, the soldiers closing in upon the vacancies as their comrades fell. These attacks, though irregular, were bold, and the dexterity with which the assailants handled their swords proved fatal to the British.

This unequal contest continued till Colonel Macleod and all the officers and men were killed, with the exception of Captain Colin Mackay of the 78th and eleven Highlanders, and as many more of the 35th.

["Sergeant John Macrae, a young man, about twenty-two years of age, but of good size and strength of arm, showed that the broadsword, in a firm hand, is as good a weapon in close fighting as the bayonet. If the first push of the bayonet misses its aim, or happens to be parried, it is not easy to recover the weapon and repeat the thrust, when the enemy is bold enough to stand firm; but it is not so with the sword, which may be readily withdrawn from its blow, wielded with celerity, and directed to any part of the body, particularly to the head and arms, whilst its motions defend the person using it. Macrae killed six men, cutting them down with his broadsword (of the kind usually worn by sergeants of Highland corps), when at last he made a dash out of the ranks on a Turk, whom he cut down; but as he was returning to the square he was killed by a blow from behind, his head being nearly split in two by the stroke of a sabre. Lieutenant Christopher Macrae, whom I have already mentioned as having brought eighteen men of his own name to the regiment as part of his quota of recruits, for an ensigncy, was killed in this affair, with six of his followers and namesakes, besides the sergeant. On the passage to Lisbon in October 1805, the same sergeant came to me one evening crying like a child, and complaining that the ship’s cook had called him English names, which he did not understand, and thrown some fat in his face. Thus a lad who, in 1805, was so soft and so childish, displayed in 1807 a courage and vigour worthy a hero of Ossian. Stewart’s Skcetches.]

With this small band, Captain Mackay, who was severely wounded, determined to make a desperate push to join the centre, and several succeeded in the attempt; but the rest were either killed or wounded. Captain Mackay received two wounds, and was about reaching the post when an Arab horseman cut at his neck with such force that his head would have been severed from his body, had not the blow been in some measure neutralised by the cape of his coat and a stuffed neckcloth. The sabre, however, cut to the bone, and the captain fell flat on the ground, when he was taken up by Sergeant (afterwards Lieutenant) Waters, who alone escaped unhurt, and carried by him to the post.

During their contest with the right, the enemy made little exertions against the other posts; but when, by the destruction of the first, they had gained an accession of disposable force, they made a warm onset on the centre. An attempt was at first made to oppose them; but the commanding officer soon saw that resistance was hopeless, and desirous of saving the lives of his men, he hung out a white handkerchief as a signal of surrender. The firing accordingly ceased, and the left, following the example of the centre, also surrendered. A general scramble of a most extraordinary kind now ensued amongst the Turks for prisoners, who, according to their custom, became the private property of the captors. In this melee the British soldiers were pulled about with little ceremony, till the more active amongst the Turkish soldiery had secured their prey, after which they were marched a little distance up the river, where the captors were paid seven dollars for every prisoner they had taken. Some of the horsemen, less intent upon prize-money than their companions, amused themselves by galloping about, each with the head of a British soldier stuck upon the point of his lance.

When General Stewart was informed of the critical situation of Colonel Macleod’s detachment, he marched towards Etko, expecting that it would retreat in that direction, but not falling in with it he proceeded to El Hamet, where, on his arrival, he learned its unfortunate fall. With a force so much reduced by the recent disaster, and in the face of an enemy emboldened by success and daily increasing in numbers, it was vain to think of reducing Rosetta, and therefore General Stewart determined to return to Alexandria. He accordingly commenced his retreat, followed by the enemy, who sallied out from Rosetta; but although the sandy plain over which he marched was peculiarly favourable to their cavalry, they were kept in effectual check by the 35th and the 78th. No further hostile operations were attempted; and the prisoners, who had been sent to Cairo, having been released by capitulation, the whole army embarked for Sicily on the 22nd of September.

The loss of the 78th at El Hamet was 159 men, with Lieut. -Colonel Patrick Macleod, younger of Geanies, Lieutenants William Mackenzie Dick, Christopher Macrae, and Archibald Christie, killed. The officers taken prisoners were Captain Cohn Campbell Mackay (severely wounded), Lieutenants John Matheson, Malcolm Macgregor, Alexander Gaffie, P. Ryrie and Joseph Gregory (wounded), with Assistant Surgeon Alexander Leslie.

Colonel Patrick Macleod of Geanies"The death of Lieut.-Colonel Macleod was sincerely regetted by the battalion which he had hitherto commanded since its formation, and confirmed by his own example. He ever laboured to render the relative duties of officers and men merely habitual; his chief object was to establish a high character to his corps, and those common interests by which he found means to unite every individual.

The regiment still embraces his memory, which, combined with every pleasing retrospect to our little history, shall long be cherished amongst us with feelings of fraternal attachment and sincere respect."

After returning to Sicily, the 78th joined an expedition under Sir John Moore, intended for Lisbon; but the regiment was withdrawn, and ordered to England, where it landed, and was marched to Canterbury in the spring of 1808.

About this time several changes took place amongst the field-officers of the regiment. Lieutenant-Colonel Hercules Scott of the 1st battalion was removed to the 103d Regiment, and was succeeded by Major John Macleod from the 56th. Major David Stewart was promoted to the lieutenant-colonelcy of the Royal West India Rangers, and was succeeded by Major Robert Hamilton from the 79th Highlanders.

Shortly after the return of the regiment to England, it obtained a considerable accession of recruits raised from several Scotch militia regiments, chiefly from that of Perthshire, by Major David Stewart, who, in consequence of a wound received at Maida, had been obliged to return to Scotland. A detachment of 400 men, including 350 of the newly-raised men (of whom 280 were six feet in height and upwards, and of a proportionate strength of limb and person), was drafted to reinforce the second battalion in India. The remainder of the second battalion was then removed from Little Hampton, in Sussex, where they had been for a short time quartered, to the Isle of Wight, where they remained till August 1809, when a detachment of 370 men, with officers and non-commissioned officers, was sent on the unfortunate expedition to Walcheren, being incorporated with a battalion commanded by the Honourable Lieutenant-Colonel Cochrane. The men suffered greatly from fever and ague, which affected the rest of the troops, and were so emaciated that they did not recover their usual strength till the following year. Another draft of all the men fit for service in India was made in 1810, and joined the first battalion at Goa on the eve of the departure of the expedition against Batavia in 1811.

Lieut.-General Mackenzie-Fraser had had the command of a division in the Walcheren expedition, but the fever spared neither rank nor age, and the gallant and veteran colonel of the Ross-shire Buffs was struck down, and expired, to the inexpressible grief of the regiment, with which he had been connected since it was first raised. "Twas now that we were doomed to sustain a loss, which was keenly felt by every rank, in the death of Lieut. -General Mackenzie-Fraser, adored in our first battalion, to whom his virtues were more particularly known; the same manifest qualities could not fail to have endeared him to every member of the second, and to draw from it a genuine tribute of heart-felt regret, whilst it mingles with the public voice its filial homage to the memory of such uncommon worth. Individually we lament the departure of a father and a friend—as a regiment we would weep over the ashes of the most beloved of colonels! Although the undeviating advocate of discipline and good order, never did the star of rank impose a humiliating deference upon those whose affection and esteem he never failed to secure by his boundless benevolence and gentle manners. To indulge in this heart-felt eulogy is not peculiarly our province—his country has already weighed his value — and in its acknowledgments he has amply received what was ever the proudest meed of his soul."

Lieut.-General Sir James Craig succeeded to the command of the regiment on the 15th of September 1809, and on his death, about eighteen months afterwards, the colonelcy was conferred on Sir Samuel Auchmuty.

On the 10th of January, the same day that it landed, the 78th marched to Oudenbosch, the head-quarters of Sir Thomas Graham, and his force of 8000 men, and the following day proceeded to Rosendaal, and thence to Calmpthout. General Bülow had established his headquarters at Breda, and the object of the allied commanders was the investiture and reduction of Antwerp, and the destruction of the docks and shipping. On the 12th Colonel Macleod was ordered to march, so as to come up with the division of Major-General Kenneth Mackenzie, then moving upon Capelle, and arrived just before dark, when, notwithstanding a most fatiguing day’s march, it was found that only three men had fallen out. On the 13th the division was under arms an hour before daylight, and on the arrival of Sir Thomas Graham, Colonel John Macleod was appointed to the command of a brigade, consisting of the 25th (2nd battalion), 33rd, 56th, and 78th, when the command of the latter regiment devolved on Lieut.-Colonel Lindsay. The divisions of Majors-General Kenneth Mackenzie and Cooke, with their guns, were put in motion about 8 o’clock, on the road to Eeckeren, with the intention of feeling the environs of Antwerp, and reconnoitring the position of the enemy’s fleet, in conjunction with the advance of General Bülow’s corps. It was deemed necessary for this purpose to dispossess the enemy of the village of Merxem, within a few hundred yards of the outworks, and this service was confided by Major-General Mackenzie to Colonel Macleod.

The 78th, previously the left centre battalion of the brigade, was now brought to the front, by the special order of Sir Thomas Graham; and its light company, together with that of the 95th (rifle regiment); commenced skirmishing with the enemy among the hedges and thick underwood in advance, and to the left of the road. The regiment then moved forward in oblique echelon through the fields on the right, and formed line on the leading division. In advancing it became exposed to the fire of the enemy’s sharp-shooters, who were firing from behind the hedges in front, the light companies of the 78th and 95th, having uncovered to the left when the line moved forward. It, however, wisely reserved its fire, as it would have had but little effect from the formation of the ground, which was completely intersected with hedges and frozen ditches; but a full view of the enemy was shortly after obtained in a small field close to the village. They appeared to be numerous, but retired before the fire of the 78th, which now opened and appeared to gall them very much. Colonel Macleod, seeing the necessity of an immediate assault, ordered up the Highlanders, who, without a moment’s hesitation, rushed forward at the charge, and falling upon the enemy, drove them through and beyond the village. The light company had crossed the Breda Chaussée (which intersected the advance of the battalion, and forms the principle street of the village), and making a detour round that part of the village beyond it, swept everything before it, and came up on the flank of the battalion, which had arrived on the Antwerp side. "Every appearance at the time, and subsequent accounts from sources likely to be correct, give reason to believe that there were upwards of 3000 men (the French themselves admit of 4 battalions), put to the most shameful flight by the 78th, not quite 300 men, and about 40 riflemen; and it may be assumed that the panic struck that day into the garrison of Antwerp prevented any subsequent sortie from the garrison till the day it was given up."

In their determined and steady onslaught, the 78th was exposed on both flanks to the fire of the enemy who were posted in houses commanding the entrance to the village, and had the regiment hesitated in its movements, their loss must have been very severe; but the rapidity with which they carried out their orders ensured success with a comparatively small loss. The enemy left a large number of killed and wounded in the street, and the regiment took 25 prisoners. Among the dead was found the body of the French Général-de-division, Avy, said to have been an excellent officer. The loss of the regiment in killed was Ensign James Ormsby, who carried the regimental colour, with nine rank and file left on the field; Lieutenant William Mackenzie, who was mortally wounded through the body, and died next morning upon the waggons, going to Calmpthout. Colonel Macleod was very severely wounded in the arm; and Captain Sime and Lieutenants Bath and Chisholm were also severely wounded. Lieutenant Mackenzie was extremely regretted by his brother officers, as he was a young man of a clear and strong mind, and a most promising officer.

His Excellency Sir Thomas Graham, in a general order of January 13th, spoke of the conduct of the 78th and other regiments engaged in the highest terms. "No veteran troops," he said, "ever behaved better than these men, who met the enemy the first time, and whose discipline and gallantry reflect great credit on themselves and their officers."

This was the only enterprise in which the Highlanders were engaged in the Netherlands. Their duties, until the return of the battalion to Scotland in 1816, were confined to the ordinary details of garrison duty at Brussels, Nieuwpoort, and other places.

In the month of March 1815, when in daily expectation of returning to England, accounts were received of the change of affairs in France. Napoleon had returned from Elba, the Bourbons had fled, and the hundred days had commenced. Orders were therefore issued immediately for the army to be in readiness to take the field.

Nieuwpoort, a garrison town, nine miles from Ostend, and regarded as a frontier fortress, had been suffered to fall into a state of dilapidation when in the hands of the French, and since it had come into the possession of the government of the Netherlands, they had done nothing towards placing it in an efficient state for defence. A company of German artillery, with some guns and stores, was sent there on the 19th of March, and the 2nd battalion of the 78th, mustering about 250 effective men, followed on the 22nd, when the garrison was placed under the command of Colonel Macleod. Little respite from duty or labour was to be expected until the place was put out of all danger of being taken by a coup-de-main. On the 24th the garrison was augmented by a Hanoverian battalion, of between 500 and 600 men, and the works progressed so quickly, that they were completed and inspected by His Grace the Duke of Wellington on the 17th of April. At this time the battalion was the least effective British regiment in the Netherlands in point of numbers, and when the army commenced its operations, it was so much further reduced by the unhealthiness of its station, as to have 70, 80, and finally 100 men totally disabled by ague. It was therefore, unhappily, condemned to the daily routine of garrison duty and labour, and did not share in that glorious campaign which culminated in the victory of Waterloo.

After repeated representations to the authorities of the extreme unhealthiness of their quarters, and the alarming increase of the numbers on the sick list, the matter happened to come to the ears of the commander of the forces, when His Grace ordered the immediate removal of the 78th to Brussels. Here it remained for more than three months. During its former stay it had greatly ingratiated itself with the inhabitants, and on the present occasion, as soon as the rumour of its departure was circulated among them, they did all they could to have the order rescinded. Failing this, the Mayor of the city was called upon to make, in their name, the following declaration:— "As Mayor of Brussels, I have pleasure in declaring that the Scotch Highlanders, who were garrisoned in the city during the years 1814 and 1815, called forth the attachment and esteem of all by the mildness and suavity of their manners and excellent conduct, insomuch that a representation was made to me by the inhabitants, requesting me to endeavour to detain the 78th regiment of Scotchmen in the town, and to prevent their being replaced by other troops.

Brussels was the last quarters of the battalion before its return home, but the same spirit as that breathed in the above testimony had been apparent in every part of the country. In no town was the regiment stationed where the inhabitants did not hail its advent with pleasure, and witness its departure with regret.

"This battalion was no more employed except on garrison duties, in the course of which the men conducted themselves so as to secure the esteem of the people of Flanders, as their countrymen of the Black Watch had done seventy years before. It is interesting to observe, at such distant periods, the similarity of character on the one hand, and of feelings of respect on the other. In examining the notices of what passed in 1744 and 1745, we find that an inhabitant of Flanders was happy to have a Highlander quartered in his house, as he was not only kind and peaceable in his own demeanour, but protected his host from the depredations and rudeness of others. We find also that in Germany, in 1761 and 1762, in regard to Keith’s Highlanders, much was said of "the kindness of their dispositions in everything, for the boors were much better treated by those savages, than by the polished French and English." When such accounts are read and compared with those of what passed in 1814 and 1815, in which it is stated that "they were kind as well as brave "—" enfans de la famille" — " Lions in the field, and lambs in the house;" — when these accounts of remote and recent periods are compared, they display a steadiness of principle not proceeding from accidental occurrences, but the result of natural dispositions originally humane and honourable.

"It is only justice to mention, that it was the conduct of this battalion, for eighteen months previous to June 1815, that laid the foundation of that favourable impression in the Netherlands, which was confirmed by the 42nd, and the other Highland regiments who had arrived only just previous to the battle of Waterloo, so that little could have been known to the Flemish of what their conduct in quarters might prove. Enough was known, however, to cause a competition among the inhabitants who should receive them into their houses."

On the 24th of December, orders had been received to reduce the regiment by four companies, and the supernumerary officers had proceeded home.

The six remaining companies marched from Brussels, on the 5th of February, 1816, to Ostend, where they embarked for England, three companies sailing on the 10th, and three on the 11th. The right wing landed at Ramsgate on the 12th, and was ordered to march immediately to Deal Barracks. The left wing arrived at Ramsgate on the 16th, and was forwarded to Canterbury, where it was joined by the right wing next day.

Major-General Sir George Cooke, K.C.B., having been ordered to inspect the regiment, and report upon the number of men fit for service in India, and those to be discharged or placed in veteran battalions, found 20 sergeants, 9 drummers, and 253 rank and file fit for Indian service; and this being reported to the Horse Guards, the men were ordered to be held in readiness for embarkation, to join the 1st battalion.

An order for reducing the 2nd battalion was received from the Horse Guards, and carried into effect on the 29th of February 1816, the effective non-commissioned officers and men being transferred to the 1st battalion.

The colours of the regiment were presented to Colonel Macleod by Sir Samuel Auchmuty the colonel of the regiment, to be by him preserved as "a pledge of the mutual attachment which subsisted between himself and the battalion."

To the records of the 2nd battalion Colonel Macleod appended the following remarks:-

"Colonel Macleod, in reading over the history of the 2nd battalion of the 78th Regiment, and considering its progress and termination under such happy circumstances, would do violence to his own feelings did he not subjoin his testimony to the interesting narrative in which he bore his share for nine years of the period. Were he capable of doing justice to his sentiments on a review of the proceedings of that period of his services in the battalion, those results from the grateful and best feelings of his heart must render the expression of them impracticable.

"To record the merits of all the officers that served under him would be unavailing, but he will sum up with an assertion, that no commanding officer in his Majesty’s service has the pride to boast of never having for nine years found it necessary to place an officer under arrest; that no regulation for the discipline of the army had ever been violated, and that in every instance the rules of good breeding regulated the discharge of the duties of the officer and the gentleman; he never witnessed a dispute at the mess table, nor ever heard of a quarrel from it: with what pleasure must he ever meet those who contributed so much to his personal comforts as a friend, and pride as an officer.

"To the conduct of the non-commissioned officers and men his exultation is equally due in their degree; their order and discipline on every occasion attracted the notice and approbation of general officers and inhabitants in quarters, and their marked admiration in the field. For their individual and collective attachment to him, he must ever consider them the dutiful children of a fond parent.

"As a lasting testimony of his approbation, and thanks to Lieut.-Colonel Lindsay, Major Macpherson, Major Cohn Mackay, Lieut. and Adjutant Smith, Lieut. Chisholm, Quartermaster Gunn, and Surgeon Munro, the field officers and staff who so ably assisted him in the more immediate discharge of his duties at the concluding services of the battalion, he desires that their names, as well as that of every officer composing the battalion, may be inserted in this conclusion of the narrative. He will retain a copy of it to remind him of those who have been his faithful friends, his valuable associates, and sharers in his everlasting esteem."

The reduction having been carried into effect, and the claims of the men to be discharged settled, the dépôt proceeded to Aberdeen, where it remained quartered till July 1817, when it was joined by the 1st battalion newly returned from India, and the two battalions of the 78th were once more consolidated.

On the 13th of July 1817, the 1st battalion landed at Aberdeen, and marched into barracks occupied by the dépôt of the 2nd battalion, with which it was immediately amalgamated, and the regiment has since remained as a single battalion. The regiment, now consisting of 638 rank and file, maintained its headquarters at Aberdeen, with detachments at Perth, and. Forts George, William, and Augustus.

Having received a route for Ireland, the headquarters marched from Aberdeen on the 31st of October, embarked at Port Patrick on the 22nd of November, and a few hours later landed at Donaghadee. Thence the regiment proceeded to Belfast, and having there received orders for Muillingar, it marched thither, and arrived at its destination on the 3rd of December; headquarters and four companies remained at Mullingar, and the remaining five (the 5th company being still in India), under Lieut.-Colonel Lindsay, proceeded to Tullamore, two small detachments being sent to Ballymahon and Longford.

We need not follow the movements of the 78th during its stay in Ireland for nearly nine years, during which time it was broken up into numerous detachments, stationed at various small towns throughout the country, for the purpose of keeping in check the many disturbers of the peace with whom the country was at this period infested. Wherever the regiment was stationed while in Ireland at this time, it invariably won the good-will and respect of the magistrates and people. When about to leave Mullingar, in June 1819, an extremely flattering series of resolutions was sent to Colonel Macleod by a meeting of magistrates and gentlemen held at Trim."

In October 1818 the Highland Society of London presented to the regiment twenty-five copies of the Poems of Ossian in Gaelic, "to be disposed of by the commanding officer of the regiment in such manner as he may judge most expedient, and as best calculated to promote the views of the Society." At the same time the secretary of the Highland Society conveyed the high respect which the Society entertained "for that national and distinguished corps and the wish on their part that it may long continue to cherish, as it now does, the noble sentiments of the patriotic Ossian." We need scarcely say that these sentiments were warmly reciprocated by Colonel Macleod, who then commanded the 78th. About a year after this, in September 1819, Colonel Macleod was promoted to the rank of major-general, and was succeeded in the command of the regiment by Lieutenant-Colonel Lindsay, who, on the reduction of the establishment of the regiment in September 1818, had been placed on half pay.

The regiment was reviewed by the Right Honourable Sir David Baird, Commander of the Forces, on the 24th of July, when its appearance and steadiness called forth his highest approbation.

On the 11th of August 1822, Lieutenant-General Sir Samuel Auchmuty, G.C.B., colonel of the regiment, died in Dublin, having been, a short time previously, appointed to the command of the forces in Ireland. He was succeeded in the regiment by Major-General Sir Edward Barnes, K.C.B.

When the regiment left Kllkenny for Dublin, in August 1824, a letter was received from the grand jury of the county K.ilkenny, expressive of their high sense of the good conduct of the regiment during its stay of two years and a half in that county, and of their satisfaction at the unanimity which had at all times prevailed between them and the inhabitants. The regiment would have changed its station the preceding year, but was allowed to remain at the particular request of the gentlemen of the county. Lieut.-Colonel Lindsay was appointed a magistrate of the counties of Kilkenny and Carlow, and Captain Lardy a magistrate of Carlow.

On the 13th of January 1826, the regiment moved from Fermoy to Cork. Orders were received on the 26th of January for the regiment to hold itself in readiness to embark for Ceylon, in consequence of which four service companies and six dépôt companies were immediately formed. On the 7th of March new arms were issued to the six service companies, and a selection of the old ones made for the dépôt. The old arms had been in possession more than nine years, but not having been originally good, were considered unfit to be taken to a foreign station. Some of the arms issued as new had been previously for a short time in the possession of the 42nd Highlanders.

The service companies of the regiment embarked at the Cove of Cork on board three ships, which sailed together on the morning of the 23rd of April, and arrived at Colombo on the 9th, the 17th, and the 28th of August respectively, after a favourable passage.

The regiment remained in garrison at Colombo, from its disembarkation until the 2nd of October 1828, when the first division marched for Kandy.

"It was a great satisfaction to the officers of the regiment, to receive from the officers of the civil service their testimony to the good conduct of the men, that during nearly three years’ residence in Kandy no complaint had ever been made of ill treatment or injustice by them to any of the natives.

On the 2nd of August 1831, the regiment received routes for four companies to Trincomalee, and to Galle. The companies for Trincomalee, with the headquarters, disembarked at their destination on the 22nd of August.

A year after its arrival the station was attacked by cholera in its most malignant form, and the regiment suffered severely.

The crisis of the disease, both in the fort and in the hulk, was from the night of the 22nd to that of the 24th; in these 48 hours 25 men died. The cases after that became gradually fewer and less virulent, and, by the 2nd of November, the disease may be said to have entirely left the fort, though it continued to rage among the natives outside for a month or six weeks longer. Altogether, in the 78th, there were attacked 182 men, 10 women, and 3 children, and of these there died 56 men, 2 women, and 1 child.

The regiment, after this lamentable visitation, became tolerably healthy, and continued so during the remainder of its stay at Trineomalee; it returned to Colombo in October and November 1834, and remained there until September 1835,when it was ordered to Kandy.

Colonel Lindsay having embarked on leave of absence to England on the 11th of April 1836, the command of the regiment devolved on Major Douglas, who eventually succeeded to the lieutenant-colonelcy, on Colonel Lindsay selling out in April 1837.

The regiment remained in Kandy, detaching a company to Nuwera Ellia, until the orders were received for its return to England on the 28th of March 1837; and on the 1st and 3rd of August it marched in two divisions to Colombo. At the different inspections, Sir John Wilson, the Major-General commanding, expressed his satisfaction with the general appearance and conduct of the regiment, and previous to the embarkation on its return to England, he issued an order conveying the high opinion he had formed of officers and men during their service in Ceylon.

Two companies had embarked on board the "Numa" transport on the 15th of May, and on the 2nd of September following the headquarters embarked on board the "Barossa" transport, and sailed next day.

The deaths which took place during the service of the regiment in Ceylon were—Captains Macleod and Lardy, Paymaster Chisholm, and Assistant-Surgeon Duncan, with 295 men. Detachments had been received at various periods, but of the original number embarked from England, 1 field officer, 2 captains, 1 subaltern, 2 regimental staff, 3 sergeants, 4 drummers, and 208 rank and file returned. The total strength of the regiment on embarkation for England was —1 lieutenant-colonel, 5 captains, 9 subalterns, 3 regimental staff, 30 sergeants, 10 drummers, and 363 rank and file.

The headquarters landed at Limerick on the 9th of February 1838. The division in the "Numa" transport had previously landed at the same place in November 1837, both vessels having been driven into the Shannon by stress of weather and shortness of provisions. In the headquarters’ ship, owing to its being later in the season, the officers and men suffered more severely from the intense cold and wet.

The detachment in the "Numa" transport, after landing, had joined the dépôt at Cork, and the headquarters, after remaining three weeks in Limerick to recover from the general debility occasioned by their late sufferings, marched to Buttevant, where the service and dépôt companies were reunited.

The regiment brought home a young elephant (an elephant being the regimental badge), which had been presented to the officers in Kandy by Major Firebrace of the 58th, and which had been trained to march at the head of the band.

Orders having been given to permit volunteers to be transferred to the 71st, 85th, and 93rd Regiments, to complete these corps previous to their embarking for America, 23 men volunteered to the 71st, and 38 to the 85th; 28 men were discharged as unfit for further service, thus leaving the regiment 183 below its establishment.

The regiment having been ordered to Glasgow, embarked in steamers at Cork, and landed in two divisions on the 8th of June 1838. In Glasgow it remained until August 1839, when it was ordered to Edinburgh. The establishment had been completed in June, and in August the order for augmenting regiments to 800 rank and file was promulgated, when the regiment recommenced recruiting, and finally completed its number in January 1840.

On the 17th of July the regiment embarked at Glasgow for Liverpool, where it arrived on the 22nd. Headquarters were at Burnley, and detachments were sent out to various places.

The regiment remained thus detached, in consequence of disturbances which had taken place in the manufacturing towns of Lancashire, until the 23rd of June 1841, when it was moved to Manchester. This was the first time the regiment had been together since its return from Ceylon. It left Manchester for Dublin on the 19th of November, and on the 1st of April 1842, it re-embarked for Liverpool and proceeded by train to Canterbury, where it arrived on the 8th, having been ordered to hold itself in readiness for India. Volunteers were received from the 72nd, 79th, 92nd, and 93rd Highlanders, and from the 55th Regiment. The embarkation, on board six ships, was very hurried, owing to the disastrous news received from India.

The elephant, which had been brought from Ceylon, was presented to the Zoological Society of Edinburgh, previous to the regiment leaving Dublin.

The 78th sailed from Gravesend about the end of May, in various ships, and had arrived in Bombay by the 30th of July, with the exception of the "Lord Lynedoch," which did not arrive until a month after. The regiment landed at Panwel, en route for Poonah, marching by the same road that it took in 1803, when proceeding to reinstate the Peishwah on his musnud.

The regiment was quartered in Poonah until the 7th of April 1843, when it was ordered to Sindh. The right wing marched on the 7th. Lieutenant-Colonel Douglas being ordered on special duty to Sindh, the command of the regiment was taken over by Major Forbes. After several contradictory orders, a final order was received at Khandallah, to leave the families and heavy baggage, and embark immediately at Panwel for Kurrâchee. There the headquarters and five companies landed on the 20th of May. The left wing having joined from Bombay after the rains, the regiment marched for Sukhur in two divisions. There was no beaten track, and native guides were procured to lead the column, but even these frequently went astray. The march was sometimes through dreary wastes of heavy sand, dotted with the cactus and other bushes, and at other times through the dry bed of a river. Frequently, when the regiment halted, there was no sign of water to be seen, but by digging a few feet down, in certain spots, the water would suddenly well up, and in a short time form a little pond. The water would subside again after some hours, but men, camp followers, and cattle, received their supply, and the skins and other vessels would meanwhile be filled. The regiment marched into Sukhur apparently in excellent health, but disease must have been contracted on the way up, when passing through swampy tracts where the heat of the sun had engendered malaria.

"The excitement of the march kept the scourge from showing itself, but no sooner had the men settled in their barracks than a most virulent fever broke out, which continued. without cessation, throughout the stay of the regiment. Some lingered for weeks, some for days. It was not unfrequent to hear of the death of a man to whom one had spoken but half an hour previously. The hospital, a large one, was of course filled at once; some of the barrack-rooms were converted into wards, and at one time there were upwards of 800 men under treatment. Some hundreds of the less dangerously affected were marched about a few paces, morning and evening, in hopes that by their being called ‘convalescent,’ the mind might act beneficially on the body, but as death called them away the group became less and less.

"Day after day we attended at the hospital for, in fact, funeral parade; for four or five, and then eight or nine, men died daily; you did not ask who had died, but how many. Firing parties were discontinued, not only that the sad volleys might not disturb the dying, but because there were no men for the duty. In the graveyard at Sukhur lie the bodies of hundreds of the regiment—officers, men, women, and children. Major-General Simpson, Sir Charles Napier’s lieutenant (who afterwards commanded our armies in the Crimea), was at Sukhur at the time, and on his return to Hyderabad, caused to be erected there at his own expense a monument to the memory of all those who died, which feeling and tender act filled our hearts with the warmest gratitude. It was the spontaneous effusion of a truly noble mind. The remains of the regiment also erected a monument in St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh, to the memory of their comrades who died in Sindh.

"The regiment lost, between the 1st of September 1844 and 30th of April 1845, 3 officers, 532 men, 68 women, 134 children —total, 737 souls.

"The medical men attributed the sickness in a great degree to the improper time at which the regiment was moved, and the malaria engendered by the heat of the sun on the swampy plains which had been overflowed by the Indus. The deaths continued very frequent all the time we remained, and at last, on the 21st and 25th of December 1844, we embarked, or rather the men crawled, on board common country boats, which conveyed us to Hyderabad. These boats were very imperfectly chuppered, i.e., straw, reed, or matting roofed. The sun struck through the thatching by day, and the very heavy dews penetrated it by night, when it was extremely cold. When we moored in the evening we used to bury our dead, and I sewed up many of the poor fellows in their blankets and rugs, the only substitutes for a coffin we had. We dug the graves deep, and with the bodies buried the boxes and everything else that had belonged to them. We put layers of thorns inside round, and on the top of the graves, in hopes of preserving the remains of our poor comrades from the attacks of the troops of jackals swarming in the neighbourhood. There were no stones to be had, so thorns and bushes well beaten down were all the protection we could give. We were much pleased on learning afterwards that in many cases our efforts had been successful, and that the wild people who live near the river had respected the graves of the white men. The two divisions of the regiment buried between Sukhur and Hyderabad, nearly 100 men, besides women and children. After its arrival the mortality still continued very great, and it was not until the warm weather set in that the sickness began to abate. The miserable remains of as fine a regiment as ever was seen, left Hyderabad in two parties, on the 24th of February and 4th of March 1845, respectively, for the mouth of the river, whence they went by steamer to Bombay. Some of the officers of the regiment, myself among the number, were detained in Sindh on court-martial duty; when relieved some went to Bombay via Kurrâchee, and at the latter place heard reports to the effect that the mortality in the regiment was to be attributed to intemperance. Indignation at this cruel and false charge, which was reported to Major Twopeny, caused him to write to Sir Charles Napier’s military secretary. Had not some of the officers of the regiment passed through Kurrâchee, these reports might have been believed, for every exertion was made at the time to persuade the public that climate had nothing to do with the disease. There was not a murmur heard in the regiment all the time of the plague, but the survivors were determined to relieve the memory of their dead from such a charge, and prove that the will of God, and not alcohol, had caused the mortality. The canteen returns showed how little liquor had been consumed, and the officers, who daily visited the hospital and the barracks, not only in the common course of duty, but to tend, comfort, and read to the men, could not fail to have observed any irregularity, had any existed. The poor dying men were not thinking of intoxicating liquors, but met death with the utmost firmness and resignation. It was an accursed charge, and cannot be too highly censured. When relieved from duty, the officers who had been detained joined the wreck of the regiment at Fort George, Bombay. Invaliding committees sat, and most of the survivors were sent home, so that but a very small remnant of that once splendid corps slowly took its way to Poonah, which, two years before, it had left full of health, strength, and hope. There the regiment got 100 volunteers from the 2nd Queen’s, then going home, and between recruiting and volunteering, by December 1845, 700 had joined. These were afterwards always known as ‘The 700.’"

At Bombay 105 non-commissioned officers and men were invalided, and the regiment in one division, amounting in number to 313 (being reduced by sickness to less than one third its strength), proceeded to Poonah on the 4th of April 1845, but did not arrive there until the 18th, being unable to march more than six or seven miles a day.

"FORT-WILLIAM, 15th August 1845.

"To the Secretary to Government,
"Military Department, Bombay.

"Sir,—I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, No. 3167, of the 14th ultimo, and in reply, to express to you, for the information of the Government of Bombay, the satisfaction with which the Governor-General in Council has perused the correspondence to which it gave cover, so clearly proving, as it does, to be utterly unfounded, the report that intemperance had occasioned the sickness by which Her Majesty’s 78th Highlanders was prostrated in Sinde, and which, unhappily, proved so fatal to that fine corps. —I am, Sir, your most obedient servant,

(Signed) "J. STUART, Lieut.-Col.
"Secretary to Government of India,
"Military Department."

The 78th left Goraporee lines, Poonah, on the 18th of December 1845, for Khirkee, six miles distant. The regiment returned to Poonah on the 14th of February 1846, and marched for Belgaum, under command of Lieutenant - Colonel Douglas, who died of fever at Hyderabad on the 1st of October 1849, while on staff employ, and was succeeded by Major Walter Hamilton.

After being stationed at Khirkee and Belgaum for some time, the regiment left Belgaum for Bombay and Aden, on the 6th and 7th of November 1849. The left wing, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel W. Hamilton, arrived at Aden on the 25th, and the right wing, under the command of Major H. Stisted, proceeded to Colabba, Bombay, where it arrived on the 16th of the same month. An exchange of wings took place in October 1850, the headquarters still remaining at Aden.

During the year 1851 the Arab tribes round Aden committed several outrages, in one of which, near Lahaj, in the month of March, Lieutenant Macpherson of the 78th was very dangerously wounded, having been stabbed in no fewer than seven places. About a fortnight after this affair, as Lieutenant Delisser of the regiment was riding to Steamer Point (about five miles distant from the barracks), at eight o’clock AM., he was attacked by an Arab, armed with a crease or dagger, and wounded severely in the arm and slightly in the stomach. Lieutenant Delisser got off his horse, and, seizing the Arab, wrested the crease from his hand, and with one blow nearly severed his head from his body. The corpse was afterwards hung in chains at the entrance to the fortifications from the interior.

Sir Neil Douglas, K.C.B., K.C.H., became Colonel, Dec. 28, 1851, from Colonel of the 72nd, and died Sept. 30, 1853.

The regiment being ordered to Poonah, the left wing, consisting of the light and Nos. 5, 6, and 7 companies, under command of Major Colin Campbell M’Intyre, left Bombay for that station, Feb. 10, 1853, and arrived on the 18th. The right wing left Aden for Poonah in three detachments in January and February; and thus, after a separation of upwards of three years, the regiment was once more united at Poonah, Mar. 5,1853.

In May 1854 new accoutrements and colours were furnished to the 78th by the estate of the late General Paul Anderson. The alteration in them consisted in a waist and cross-belt, instead of double cross-belts.

The clothing of the whole army having been altered in 1856, the regiment was supplied with the Highland jacket.


 

 


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