Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed.
Glenora Single Malt Whisky

Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.
Scottish Review

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

Sketches of The Character, Manners, and Present State of the Highlanders of Scotland

Part III

Military Annals of the Highland Regiments

Section IX

Expedition to the West Indies, 1795—Tempestuous Weather—Barbadoes—St Lucia, 1796—St Vincent—Trinidad, 1797—Porto Rico—England—Gibraltar—Minorca, 1798—Sir Ralph Abercromby assumes the Command, 1800—Cadiz—Malta.

At this period Sir Ralph Abercromby assumed the command of a numerous armament, preparing for an expedition to the West Indies. The evils sustained in the late unfortunate expedition to the Continent made Government sensible of the necessity of providing the soldiers with a proper equipment, and with articles adapted to the climate and the service in which they were to be engaged. In fitting out the present armament, therefore, a most laudable attention was paid to the comfort of the troops, and the preservation of their health. In the medical department, the zeal and exertions of Dr Thomas Young, the Physician-General, were indefatigable. He was ably supported by Dr William Wright, whose "diversified knowledge, extensive skill in medicine, and long experience in those diseases which attack Europeans in the West Indies," peculiarly fitted him for that duty; and indeed the whole of this department,—so essential an accompaniment in all military enterprises, more especially in tropical climates,—consisted of men of talent, zeal, and experience. Ships of war were appropriated as transports. Sixteen East Indiamen, and a great number of West India ships, all excellent and well appointed, were employed for the same purpose. The troops were furnished with flannel to protect them from the damps and chills of midnight, more destructive to soldiers than heat, in a West India campaign. Abundant supplies of potatoes and other vegetables were assigned for the use of the troops; likewise filtering stones for purifying the water; and nothing, in short, was wanting which could contribute to their comfort while on board the transports. If, therefore, we consider the talents of the commanders, the courage and discipline of the troops, their health and efficiency, the excellent state of the ships, and the skill of those by whom they were navigated, few expeditions have ever sailed from this country more completely appointed.

[The yellow-fever having been very destructive in the West Indies, during the two preceding years, many precautions were taken to guard the soldiers against its effects by a change of clothing, and other measures. Among those changes, the plaid, kilt, and bonnet of the Highlanders were laid aside, and their place supplied by Russia duck pantaloons, and a round hat. On the subject of this alteration their were various opinions. While some argued that no species of dress was worse calculated for service in a tropical climate than that of the Highlanders; others again reprobated the linen pantaloons, which they said were so far improper, that, in the frequent torrents of rain to which the men would necessarily be exposed, the pantaloons, when wet, would stick to their legs and thighs, and before they were dried, after the falling of one shower, would be wet by the next; so that, by keeping the lower parts of the body constantly damp, agues, rheumatisms, and various other diseases, would be generated. And the hat being of a coarse felt, of the value of half-a-crown, the first shower of rain would destroy its shape; it would stick close to the men's heads, and form no protection against the sun. As the felt retained the damp like a sponge, the head would be subject to the diseases incident to the other parts, by the chill of the linen pantaloons; whereas the bonnet, being of thick woollen cloth stuffed with materials of the same substance, and covered with feathers, formed a complete protection against the effects of a vertical sun, and when the ribbon which tightened it behind was loosened, it fell down over the ears, and made a warm and convenient night-cap, without at all injuring its form. Any superabundant moisture might be wrung out, and the thickness of the woollen substance would preserve a heat calculated to prevent any bad effects from the damp. When the kilt and hose got wet, if they were taken off (a very easy operation) and wrung in the same manner, they might be immediately worn with perfect safety. The musquitoes were the most troublesome annoyance to be guarded against by those wearing the kilt; but as these insects seldom attacked people in day-light, and only in particular places at night, this objection might be overcome. Such were the arguments and reasons advanced at the time. The Highlanders made a very unseemly and unmilitary appearance in their felt hats, which hung down on each side of their heads like the ears of a sleuth-hound. Experience has now proved that neither these hats, nor the linen pantaloons, were suited to a campaign in the West Indies during the rainy season. It has been found also, that, as the Russians wear a bonnet similar to the Scotch, which the French imitate, this covering for the head, which was considered so improper, is now discovered to be the most appropriate military head dress, and the bonnet is accordingly worn by half the army as a most convenient undress, serving as a night-cap, and a neat military cap by day; thus almost every article of the garb of the Gael, which has been long despised as the savage dress of a savage people, is coming into fashion. The cavalry have adopted the Highland lance or Lochaber axe. Cavalry and infantry have assumed the bonnet and jacket. The ancient belt is worn by gentlemen; the Highland purse is the modern reticule of the ladies, who have also taken up the fashion of the Highlander's belt, and many young gentlemen make a splendid appearance in the belted plaid, with all its accompaniments.]

In this expedition the Commander-in-Chief was assisted by the following officers: Major-Generals Charles Graham, late of the 42d regiment, second in command, Alexander Campbell of Monzie, and William Morshead; Brigadier-Generals Perryn, John Moore, Colin Mackenzie, the Hon. John Hope, afterwards Earl of Hopetoun, (Adjutant-General), the Hon. John Knox, (Quarter-Master-General); and Lieutenant-Colonel Donald Macdonald of the 55th regiment, commanding the Reserve, which consisted of eighteen companies of Grenadiers, and the Royal Highland regiment. The other corps were the 26th Light Dragoons, 2d or Queen's, 3d or Buffs, 8th or King's, 14th, 19th, 27th or Enniskillen, 28th, 29th, 31st or Young Buffs, 33d, 37th, 38th, 40tb, Royal Highlanders, 44th, 48th, 53d, 55th, 57th, 63d, 88th or Connaught Rangers; in all, 460 cavalry, and 16,479 infantry. During this embarkation, another, intended also for the West Indies, took place at Cork, and consisted of Brigadier-Generals Keppel, Wilford, Churchill, Howe, and Whitelocke, with the 13th, 14th, 17th, 18th, 21st, and 29th Light Dragoons, amounting to 2600 men; and 17th, 32d, 39th, 56th, 67th, 93d, and 99th regiments of foot, amounting to 5680 rank and file, and making the whole force destined for the West Indies, 3060 cavalry, [No part of the Highlands of Scotland is more rugged and broken than the proposed scene of action in Guadaloupe, St Lucia, St Vincent, and Grenada, in all of which there are woods and ravines almost impassable to any four-footed animal, except to such as can scale rocks, or creep beneath the thick underwood. The cavalry were, therefore, found to be totally useless; and the horses died so fast, that, in a few months, the 26th dragoons could not furnish a sufficient number for the duties of carrying the general's dispatches and orders.] and 22,159 infantry.

The embarkation was completed by the 27th October, when the weather, which, for some weeks had been tempestuous beyond all precedent at this season, and to a degree, indeed, unusual at any season of the year, continued to rage with unabated violence. On the 29th, it blew a perfect hurricane, more like what is experienced among the West India Islands than in our climate. Fortunately, it was of short duration; but many ships were driven from their anchors, some dismasted, and others cast away on the beach.

Instead of dispatching the transports in detachments, as the troops embarked, it was unfortunately determined to detain the whole till the embarkation was complete. To this desire of making one great display, the subsequent misfortunes of the expedition may be chiefly attributed; for not only were the colonies thus endangered by the prolonged delay of reinforcements, but several intervals of fine weather and fair wind were lost. All being at length fully prepared, the first attempt to sail was made on the 11th of November, when the fleet, amounting nearly to 300 sail, got under weigh with a favourable breeze. Its progress, however, was unfortunately arrested by an accident which befel the flag-ship. Whilst this vessel (the Impregnable) was turning down from the Motherbank, she struck by the stern on a sand bank; and, before she could get off, her rudder had received so much injury, that she could not proceed. The signal for sailing was then recalled, and the fleet was ordered to come to anchor. One of the transports, the Lord Stanley, having got too far out to sea, did not observe the signal; and, proceeding alone, reached Barbadoes on Christmas day, after a favourable voyage. Hence it may be presumed, that the subsequent disasters would not have befallen this great fleet, if the ships had been able to pursue their voyage in the first instance. Such are the trifling casualties which sometimes defeat the most important and the best-laid plans. The fleet again weighed anchor on the 15th; and the day being uncommonly fine, and the wind favourable, the whole were clear of the Isle of Wight before sunset, except the Middlesex East Indiaman, with 500 men of the 42d on board. The Undaunted frigate being ordered round to hasten the sailing of the convoy, came across the Middlesex, and carried away her bowsprit. The repairs rendered necessary by this accident detained her for some time, and perhaps saved her from a more serious misfortune. For scarcely had this great armament cleared the Channel, when it was dispersed and driven back by a furious gale from the south-west, with the loss of several ships and many hundred lives. [To repair the damage sustained by this disaster was a work of time and labour. Many of the ships were completely disabled. Among these was the Commerce de Marseilles, of 120 guns, having on board the 57th regiment complete, and a company of artillery, which, added to the ship's complement, a-mounted to 1785 persons. By some error in the loading of this fine ship, and by the extraordinary quantity of stores which had been heaped on board, she was so much sunk below the proper gage, that she did not rise on the waves, which broke over her at every surge; and, had it not been for the able seamanship of the commander and crew, it is thought she would have foundered. She never went to sea afterwards.]

The winds continued so adverse, that the next attempt to put to sea could not be made till the 9th of December. A serene sky and favourable breeze promised a prosperous passage, and the hopes of those on board were elevated, but were soon to be cast down by a second and more grevious disappointment. On the 13th, as the fleet was clearing the Channel, a violent storm commenced, and continued with unabated violence for many weeks. The intermissions of the gale were so few, and of such short duration, that the scattered ships could never be collected in any numbers. In these adverse circumstances, however, Admiral Christian persevered until the end of January, when the disabled state of such of the ships as kept with him rendered it impossible to remain longer at sea. He therefore made signal for Portsmouth, where he arrived on the 29th of January, 1796, with about 50 sail, all that remained with him of 328 that sailed from Portsmouth on the 13th December. Many of the fleet were scattered about in different ports in England; and 78 ships, which had successfully persevered in their voyage, reached Barbadoes in a straggling manner.

Thus the object of this great armament was for some time entirely frustrated, It is remarkable that these disasters produced no injurious effects on the health of the troops. This, doubtless, is to be attributed to the excellent state of the ships, the quality of the provisions, the comforts with which they were supplied, and the care employed to prevent the embarkation of any diseased or improper subjects.

Government, dissapointed for a time in the object of this expedition, changed the destination of several regiments which had returned to port. Five companies of the Highlanders, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Dickson, were landed at Portsmouth, and in a few weeks embarked and sailed for Gibraltar. Other destinations were also given to the 19th, 29th, 33d, 37th, 56th, and 70th regiments,—no longer considered as forming part of the West India armament.

The landing of these regiments having left many ships at liberty, the troops were removed from the disabled transports, and, along with the other transports which had been forced back, were ready to follow the Commander-in-Chief, who again sailed, in the Arethusa frigate, on the 14th of February. More fortunate on this occasion, he arrived at Barbadoes on the 14th of March; but, owing to various circumstances, it was not until the morning of the same day that Admiral Christian sailed from Portsmouth, on board the Thunderer.

It has been already mentioned, that the Stanley West Indiaman, with troops on board, reached Barbadoes on the 25th of December. On the 2d of February, the first of the straggling ships that sailed on the 9th of December ar-rived; and for several days following, ships continued to come in. On the 9th of February, the Middlesex arrived, with five companies of the Highlanders, in such a state of health, that only two men, with slight bruises, were on the surgeon's list. So well navigated and appointed was this ship, that in all those gales, in which so many had suffered, the slipping of one block was the only accident sustained from Portsmouth to Barbadoes.

This ship and some others avoided much distress by steering to the west, instead of persevering in the direct course, as the body of the fleet had done. They thus got beyond the course of the gale as early as the 13th of January, when the weather became moderate, and, in a short time, the ships fell in with the trade-winds.

[After so boisterous a passage, nothing could be more delightful than the bright serene atmosphere of Barbadoes, or more agreeable than the seemingly inexhaustible abundance of fruits, vegetables, and all sorts of provisions, perfectly sufficient for the supply of a fleet and army exceeding 30,000 men. Three months' consumption made scarcely any perceptible diminution in quantity, or advance in price. Every article was as plentiful in the market on the last day as on the first; and all this was in an island of only 106,540 acres, containing a population of 85,834 souls, and with a soil barren and unproductive, in comparison with that of some of the neighbouring islands, where, notwithstanding, provisions, and indeed every necessary of life, are scarce and dear. In Barbadoes there are numerous small occupiers of land, who cultivate every spot, and raise every necessary, not only for their own support, but for market. The same abundance was seen in 1809, when Vice-Admiral the Honourable Sir Alexander Cochrane and Lieutenant-General Beckwith had collected a numerous fleet and large army for an attack on Martinique. Thougli assembled there for many weeks, there was no diminution of quantity or increase of price, but the same abundance throughout. In Tobago, St Vincent's, &c. with a soil extremely fertile and highly cultivated, provisions are scarce and high priced. In these islands agriculture is on the great scale; none but men of great capital or credit attempt it; but as in the great agricultural establishments in England, there is more poverty and higher poor's-rates than in any other part of the country, so it is the case with the West Indies, where one half of the large establishments are under mortgage, or in possession of English creditors ; yet so different is it among the small resident settlers in Barbadoes, that there is more independence among them than in any of the islands; and thus, whether in the west or in the east, it seems that a division of the produce of the soil leads to comfort, abundance, and independence.] Part of the newly arrived troops were ordered to reinforce the garrisons of St Vincent's and Grenada, which had suffered much from the active hostilities of the enemy, as well as from the insalubrity of the climate. The 63d regiment was ordered to St Vincent's, and detachments of the 8th and 88th regiments to Grenada.

The first care of Sir Ralph Abercromby, after his arrival, was directed to the preservation of the health of the troops, now confined in transports, and exposed to the heat of a vertical sun in a West India harbour. His success in this respect affords a strong proof of the efficacy of ventilation, exercise, cleanliness, and mental occupation, in averting the pernicious effects which might result from too close confinement in such climates. Of the five companies of the 42d regiment embarked in the Middlesex East Indiaman in October, none died, and only four men, with trifling complaints, were left on board when the troops were disembarked at St Lucia in April. The troops from Cork were not so fortunate in point of health, although they had a good passage and favourable weather. Several officers, and a great number of men, died; and when they reached Barbadoes, the sick were so numerous as to fill the hospitals.

The arrival of the Commander-in-Chief was the signal for general animation and exertion. All looked forward to a successful campaign. The disasters and dangers of the voyage were forgotten; although, by the delay, much of the best of the season for action was lost. Farther delay was occasioned by the absence of the Admiral, who had not yet arrived. On the 15th of April, Major-General Whyte, with part of the division from Cork, consisting of the 39th, 93d, and 99th regiments were ordered to sail, and attack the Dutch settlements of Demerara and Berbice, which surrendered on the 22d, on the first summons.

As it was deemed imprudent, in consequence of the diminished number of the troops, and the disasters sustained by the fleet, to attempt Guadaloupe, particularly at this advanced season, preparations were made for landing on the Island of St Lucia. Admiral Christian having arrived on the 22d of April, the expedition immediately sailed, and on the 26th appeared off St Lucia. A change of brigades now took place. Lieutenant-Colonel Donald Macdonald [Colonel Macdonald had distinguished himself while commanding the 55th regiment under the Duke of York in Flanders in the year 1794, and now received a high mark of approbation, in being, when only a field-officer, appointed to command the reserve of the army, consisting of 18 Grenadier companies, and the Royal Highland regiment.] retained in the reserve all the companies of grenadiers which had arrived, but the Highlanders were put under the command of Brigadier-General John Moore.

The landing was to be effected in four divisions, at Lon-gueville Bay, Pigeon Island, Chock Bay, and Ance la Raze. Major-General Alexander Campbell (of Monzie) commanded the disembarkation at Longueville Bay, directing Brigadier-General Moore, with the Highlanders, to land in a small bay, close under Pigeon Island. This service was easily accomplished; and, on the 27th, the different divisions moved forward from their landing-places, to close in upon Morne Fortunée, the principal post on the island. Before this place could be fully invested, it was necessary to take possession of Morne Chabot, a strong and commanding position, overlooking the principal approach. An attack was accordingly made on two different points, by detachments under the command of Brigadier-Generals Moore and the Honourable John Hope. General Moore's detachment commenced its march at midnight; and, an hour after, General Hope followed by a less circuitous route. Through the mistake of the guides, General Moore's division fell in with the advanced guard of the enemy nearly two hours sooner than was expected. Finding himself discovered, he resolved to make an immediate attack; and, being well seconded by his troops, (the 53d regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Abercromby, son of the Commander-in-Chief,) he pushed forward, and, after a short but smart resistance, carried the post; the enemy flying with such precipitation, that they could not be intercepted by General Hope, who arrived exactly at the appointed time.

On the following day General Moore occupied Morne Duchassaux; and Major-General Morshead moving forward from Ance la Raze, Morne Fortunée was thus completely invested, but not without resistance on the part of the enemy, who attacked the advanced post of Lieutenant-Colonel Macdonald's Grenadiers, with such vivacity, that several officers, and nearly fifty of the Grenadiers, were killed and wounded before the assailants were repulsed.

In order to dispossess the enemy of the batteries which they had erected on the Cul de Sac, Major-General Morshead's division was ordered to advance against two batteries on the left, while Brigadier-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 57th Light infantry, under Captain West, and the Rangers, under Lieutenant-Colonel Malcolm, quickly drove the enemy from the battery; but the other divisions, under Brigadier-General Perryn and Colonel Riddle, meeting with some unexpected obstruction, the intended service was not accomplished, and the Light infantry and Rangers retired under the cover of the Highlanders from the battery, which they had with much gallantry carried. General Hope's detachment lost the brave Colonel Malcolm [This brave young man was one of the most promising officers of that array. His zeal for his profession was enthusiastic. When a lieutenant in the 45th regiment, he was appointed by Sir Charles Grey, in the year 1794, to discipline a small corps of coloured and black troops, who had entered into our service in Guadaloupe and Martinique. On every occasion they conducted themselves with great spirit, and proved how much discipline judiciously administered can accomplish, even with such materials; for, while Colonel Malcolm commanded, he so secured their attachment to his person, that when he fell, they crowded around him, loudly lamenting their loss, which had indeed greater effect upon them than was at first apprehended, for their spirit seemed to die with their leader, and they never afterwards distinguished themselves. This officer, with all his intrepidity and spirit, could not conquer a presentiment which seized him on the night of the attack, that he was then to fall. While marching forward, he frequently mentioned to General Hope his firm belief in his fate, which no argument could shake. The moment he reached the battery, he was struck by a grape-shot. He was son of Sir James Malcolm of Lochore, in the county of Kinross.] killed, and Lieutenant J. J. Fraser, of the 42d, and a few men, wounded. The loss of the other divisions was severe both in officers and men.

Those who have not seen the steep and rugged surface of several of the West India islands, cannot easily form an idea of the difficulty of moving an army over such unfavourable ground. Notwithstanding the zeal and strenuous exertions of the seamen in dragging the guns across the ravines, and up the acclivities of mountains and rocks, it was not till the 14th of May that the first battery was ready to open. In the night of the 17th, the 31st regiment was ordered to take possession of the Vizie, a fortified ridge under the principal fortress. The attempt failed, and the regiment was forced to retire with great loss; but the Grenadiers, who had pushed forward to their support, compelled the enemy to retreat in their turn. A continued fire was now kept up for six days, between the battery and the fort. At length the 27th regiment pushed forward, and, after a brisk engagement, formed a lodgment at two different points, within five hundred yards of the garrison. The enemy sallied out with all their disposable force, to drive back the 27th; but they were repulsed, and retreated within the fort. This was their last attempt: they demanded a suspension of hostilities, which was granted. A capitulation and surrender of the whole island followed, in consequence of which the enemy marched out on the 26th, and became prisoners of war.

The loss of the British was 2 field officers, 3 captains, 5 subalterns, and 184 non-commissioned officers, and rank and file, killed; and 4 field-officers, 12 captains, 15 subalterns, and 523 non-commissioned officers, and rank and file, wounded and missing.

Thus was accomplished the second conquest of this colony within the space of two years; [Sir Charles Grey had taken it in 1794, but it again Jell into the bands of the French in 1795.] a conquest of little value in itself, in comparison with the money and blood expended in its acquisition, but, from its position relative to our colonies, of so much importance as to make its capture necessary for their future security.

This expedition afforded a striking instance of the influence of the mind on bodily health, and of the effect of mental activity in preventing disease. 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 sixty 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 Commander in Chief lost no time in completing his arrangements for the ultimate objects of the campaign. The 27th and 57th regiments were destined to reinforce the garrison of Grenada, and the Buffs, 14th, 42d, and 53d regiments were ordered to St Vincent's, then under the command of Major-General Hunter, with the 63d regiment, lately arrived from Europe, together with the 34th, 54th, 59th, and 2d West Indian regiment. All these corps, except the 63d, were weak in point of numbers, being reduced by climate, and various other causes.

Considerable bodies of the enemy having continued in the woods of St Lucia, and having refused to surrender, conformably to the capitulation, Brigadier-General Moore, with the 31st, 44th, 48th, and 55th regiments, and the corps of Rangers and German Yagers, was appointed to garrison the island. This officer, with that zeal which so eminently distinguished him, having penetrated into the most difficult recesses of the woods, compelled the enemy to surrender at discretion; but so destructive was the climate, and so unwholesome the constant subsistence on salt provisions, that three-fourths of the troops were carried off before the end of the first year. The General himself, persevering to the last extremity, was at length removed on board ship, where, after a severe struggle, he recovered. [During the whole of these operations, the exertions of Brigadier- General Moore were unremitting. He visited in person, at least once in fourteen days, every post, of which there were a great many established in different parts of the island. He was, in fact, almost always in the woods, so careless of any comfort, and so anxious to show an example of privation to his men, that he fared as they did, on salt pork and biscuit, and slept on a cloak, under a bush. Several officers had obtained leave to go to other islands for change of air, and so many were dead or disabled, that there was not a sufficient number for the duty. He therefore issued orders, that none, except in the last necessity, should quit the island. At length he was himself attacked, and when informed that if he did not go on board ship, he could not survive four days, he referred his advisers to his orders, saying, that he was determined to remain at any hazard ; and it was not till he was insensible that he was carried on board.]

The 31st regiment was almost annihilated. After losing twenty-two officers, the remainder was ordered to Barbadoes. On their arrival in December 1796, Lieut-Col. Adam Hay died as the ship dropped anchor, and a blank return of men fit for duty was sent to Major-General Morshead, who commanded in that island. There were now only 74 men alive, although, on the 14th of May preceding, the regiment had landed in St Lucia 915 strong.

At that period a practice prevailed destructive of all hope to the soldiers of returning to their native country,—that of drafting men from one regiment into another; so that when a soldier, by a good constitution, and regularity of conduct, had survived his comrades, instead of being rewarded by a removal to a better climate, or of being sent to his native country, he was turned over from one regiment to another, while life or the power of motion remained. The hospital and the grave were thus the only termination of his hopeless career of service. In this manner, the remains of the fine flank battalion which had accompanied Sir C. Grey to the West Indies in the year 1794, were drafted into the 45th regiment, which continued sixteen years on the West India station. In the garrison of St Lucia, the men fit for duty of the 44th and 48th were drafted into the 55th, which, along with the 87th regiment lately arrived from England, were to remain in St Lucia. This practice is happily abolished, and a good soldier has now a chance of returning to his native country. Amongst the numberless improvements effected by the present Commander in Chief, and for which the army has so much reason to be grateful, not the least beneficial is the regulation established by his Royal Highness, that no soldier be removed from his corps without his own consent. Nor is there reason to believe that his Majesty's service has sustained any loss by this attention to the feelings of the soldiers, On the contrary, experience has shown, that soldiers, when their feelings are consulted, and the proper means adopted, are quite ready to remain in any climate or country where their services may be required.

[At this period the 79th, then in Martinique, was allowed to volunteer into the 42d regiment, ready to embark for England, with permission to such as wished to remain in the West Indies to volunteer into any corps on that sta-tion. A considerable number chose to remain, although they had the immediate prospect of returning to their native country. In 1802, the 14th regiment, then stationed in Barbadoes, was ordered home, with directions that none should be drafted, but liberty given to such as chose to remain to volunteer into any corps stationed in that country. General Greenfield, who then commanded the troops in the West Indies, ordered the regiment to parade, and told them that they were to have their choice, whether they would remain in the country, or embark for England. Standing in front with his watch in his hand, he gave them half an hour for their determination. Twenty-five minutes passed without a man moving, when the General repeated that the King required their service, but that all were at liberty either to remain or return home. Upwards of 500 men stepped out of the ranks to serve in the West Indies. Now, had these men been ordered to leave their original corps as drafts to reinforce another regiment, or to garrison the West Indies, they would have considered the measure as a harsh and unjust banishment;—so easy a thing it is to conciliate a good soldier, that no persuasion is required beyond an explanation of the occasion which his King and country have for his service.]

The troops destined for St Vincent's, landed there on the 8th of June. On the 10th, the necessary arrangements for an attack were completed. The enemy were posted on a high ridge or mountain called the Vizie, on which they had erected four redoubts, stronger by the natural difficulties of the approach, than by the art displayed in their construction. The troops, when within a short distance of this fortified ridge, were drawn up in two divisions, under Major-Generals Peter Hunter and William Morshead. At the same time, Lieutenant-Colonel Dickens, with detachments of the 34th, 40th, and 2d West India regiment, formed on the opposite side of the hill. Some field-pieces having been brought forward, a fire was opened on the redoubts, which continued for some hours with apparently little effect. In the mean time, the Highlanders, with some Rangers, were pushed forward as a feint 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. The 42d pushed up the steep, and, as the regiment had frequently done on other occasions, turned the feint into a real and brisk assault, and, being supported by the Buffs, the whole attacked, and, in less than half an hour, the enemy were driven successively from the first three redoubts. [This day occurred an instance of the power of example and habit in exciting ferocity. In the month of August 1795, I enlisted a lad of seventeen years of age. A few days afterwards one of the soldiers was cut in the head and face in some horse-play with his companions, in consequence of which his face and the front of his body were covered with blood. When the recruit saw him in this state, he turned pale and trembled, saying he was much frightened, as he had never seen a man's blood before. In the assault of these redoubts, as I leaped out of the second to proceed to the third, I found this lad, 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. I touched him on the shoulder, and desired him to let the body alone. "Oh, the Brigand," says he, "I must take off his head." When I told him the man was already dead, and that he had better go and take the head of 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.]

Some of the Highlanders had pushed close under the last and principal redoubt, and were ready to storm it, when supported by more force; but the General, finding that he had the enemy completely in his power, and wishing to spare the lives of the troops, recalled them, and offered the enemy terms of capitulation.

[This recal was marked by a circumstance rather singular, two brothers and an uncle's son being killed by the same volley. In an eager pursuit of the enemy, about 30 soldiers of the 42d had pushed on to the bottom of the last and principal redoubt, which stood in a steep eminence considerably elevated above the rest. In this spot the soldiers were not exposed, as the enemy could not bring their guns to bear upon them. I happened to be with this party, and kept the men under cover from the enemy's shot, waiting for a reinforcement, as nothing could be attempted with such a handful. A narrow ridge of four hundred yards, smooth and level on the top, connected the two redoubts. After some delay, Colonel Abercromby came forward to the front of the third redoubt, and made signals to retire. I then directed the soldiers to run at full speed along the ridge (two-thirds of which was exposed to the enemy's fire), and join their comrades in the third redoubt. The instant the party were seen by the enemy, they poured down a heavy fire, which killed six of the men, and wounded seven. The two brothers and their relation were killed. One of them had enlisted with me at Perth, and was followed by the other two. The name of the brothers was Farquharson.]

The offer was accepted; the conditions being, that the enemy should march on board as prisoners of war. The following night, however, several hundreds of them broke the capitulation, and making their escape into the woods, joined their friends in the farther end of the island. The loss on this occasion was 2 captains, 1 ensign, 1 volunteer, 4 sergeants, 1 drummer, and 31 rank and file, killed ; 2 majors, 1 captain, 4 lieutenants, 1 ensign, 1 volunteer, 15 sergeants, 6 drummers, and 111 rank and file, wounded: the Highlanders had 1 sergeant, and 12 rank and file, killed; Lieutenant Simon Fraser, 2 sergeants, 1 drummer, and 29 rank and file, wounded.

[Among the wounded was a lieutenant of the 40th. A musket-ball had passed through his body, entering below his left breast, and coming out at his back. He fell at the top of a steep hill, which he had mounted with a small party, but from which they were forced back. A sergeant, who was much attached to the officer, wishing to take the body away, and being unable to carry it, took hold of one leg, and dragged it after him more than a mile down the declivity, and left it there with an intention of returning at night to inter it. When he returned it was quite dark, and being somewhat superstitious, was in great consternation when he heard the voice of the person whom he believed to be dead. However, being accompanied by a soldier, they ventured to approach, and finding their officer really alive and able to move, they carried him to the camp, where he was dressed, and was so well recovered in six weeks that he embarked for England.

It has been observed, that, after a severe action, when numbers have fallen on both sides, perhaps many wounded men are left a whole night on the field, and cannot be dressed by the surgeons till the following day; yet those who are thus neglected recover as quickly as those who are immediately dressed, and carried to the quarters. If this be owing to the coolness of the night air checking a fever, it may serve as a hint to surgeons.]

The enemy, who had retreated to the woods, were immediately followed. Lieutenant-Colonel Brent Spencer of the 40th, with 600 men, was detached to Mount Young; Lieutenant-Colonel Gower of the 63d, with 200 men, to Owia; Lieutenant-Colonel James Stewart, with the 42d, to Colonarie; and Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Graham to Rabaca,—Major-General Peter Hunter commanding the whole. The enemy, though despicable as soldiers, were numerous, and naturally inveterate against those whom they considered as usurpers of their country, particularly the Indians or Caribbs, who saw their possessions gradually encroached upon, and themselves in danger of extirpation. It was therefore necessary to force them to submit. For this purpose, military posts were established in the neighbourhood of the country possessed by the Caribbs and Brigands; and parties were sent out to the woods, to discover their fastnesses, and compel them to capitulate. But such was the natural strength of the country, indented with deep and rocky ravines, impassable precipices, tall forests, and almost impenetrable underwood, that this service occupied a longer space of time than had been calculated upon.

On one occasion, two parties of the 42d, and one of the 2d West India regiment, were ordered out, each taking a different direction. The parties of the 42d attacked two stations, and drove the enemy farther into the woods. The party of the 2d West India regiment, marching up the bed of a river, encountered a strong detachment of the enemy, drawn up behind large trees and a kind of redoubt which they had thrown up. Perceiving nothing through the thick foliage, the party advanced close to the trees. In an instant a fire was opened upon them, which, on the first discharge, laid Lieutenant-Colonel Graham senseless, and killed and wounded several of his party; the rest immediately retired. A few men afterwards returned in search of Colonel Graham, and carried him back.

[His recovery from his wound 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 Camperdown, 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. Being afterwards removed to the 27th regiment, he went to Holland in 1799, where he was severely wounded in the left eye, of which he lost the sight; but a good constitution again triumphed, and he accompanied his regiment to Egypt in 1801, regardless of what the consequences would be to his only remaining eye, had he been attacked by the ophthalmia. He is now in vigorous health, a Lieutenant-General, and Lieutenant-Governor of Stirling Castle.

The soldier's wife, who was so useful to him in his extremity, was of a character rather uncommon. She had been long a follower of the camp, and had acquired some of its manners. 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 Vizie, 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 assault. 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 lads," she exclaimed, "see how the Brigands scamper like so many deer!"—"Come," added she, "let us drive them from yonder hill." On inquiry, I found that she had been in the hottest fire cheering and animating the men; and, when action was over, she was as active as any of the surgeons in assisting the wounded.]

The nature of the service and the difficulty of the country, may be conceived from the following notice of one short expedition. In one quarter of the cantonment, the troops were more than usually annoyed by the enemy, who came down in the night, and, by firing at the out-sentinels, gave frequent alarm, and disturbed the rest of the soldiers. These alarms, trifling in themselves, but hurtful to the troops, in depriving them of rest, were repeated almost every night. Anxious to put a stop to this teazing kind of annoyance, and to discover the post or camp whence those nightly parties came, I obtained leave from the general to select a party, consisting of a sergeant and twelve men, and entered the woods at nine o'clock at night, guiding myself by the compass, and the natural formation of the country, which consisted principally of parallel ridges, divided by deep ravines formed by the mountain torrents. The men were provided with strong short cutlasses, to cut their way through the underwood, without which it would have been impossible to penetrate, unless we should accidentally have fallen in with a foot-path frequented by the Caribbs. In this slow progress, nothing occurred till soon after sun-rise, when traces were discovered of people having lately passed through the woods; and the undergrowth being thinner, the men could move on with less noise in clearing an opening. More evident indications appearing that this place had been frequented, I directed the sergeant to follow me, leaving the men to rest, and crept to 'a little distance, in the hope of finding some opening in the woods. We had not gone five hundred paces, when on a sudden we came to an open spot, on which stood a man with a musquet, apparently as a sentinel. The instant he saw us he presented his piece, when a small spaniel, which followed me, sprung forward and seized him by the foot. In the agitation of alarm or pain, the man discharged his musquet at the dog, and, plunging into the woods, was out of sight in an instant, and before the sergeant, who attempted to cut him down with his sword, could get near him. We were now on an elevated spot, with a few feet of clear ground, and on the edge of a perpendicular precipice of great depth, at the bottom of which was seen a small valley, with a crowd of huts, from which swarms of people sprung out when they heard the report of the musquet.

Satisfied that this was the place which we were in search of, I immediately retraced my steps; but we had not marched half way, when we were attacked on both flanks and rear by the enemy, who followed the party. Being excellent climbers, they seemed in an instant to have manned the trees. The wood was in a blaze, but not a man was to be seen, all being perfectly covered by the luxuriant foliage. I directed the men to keep themselves as much as possible under cover, and to retreat from tree to tree, firing at the spot where they perceived the fire of the enemy, who followed with as much rapidity as if they had sprung like monkeys from tree to tree. In this manner we continued retiring till we got clear of the woods. This was considerably delayed by the difficulty of assisting the wounded. Six men were killed, and Lieutenant Towes of the 2d West Indian regiment, (who, with a party, was ordered up to the woods by General Hunter, when he heard the firing,) and eight men wounded, though not one enemy had been seen, so completely were they concealed by the thickness of the woods.

[In the preceding year an attack was made on the enemy in the strong position of the Vizie; but, from some cause, it was not followed up with vigour. The troops suffered considerably. The Grenadiers of the 59th were advanced in a wood, on the side of a steep hill, from which they kept up a fire on the enemy, who returned it, and, to the great surprise of the troops, with a great and unexpected loss on their part, considering that the enemy from whom, as they imagined, the fire proceeded, was at a considerable distance. In this manner the men continued to drop, till at length it was discovered that the fire came from the tops of the trees immediately above them. A small party of the Caribbs, who were in the habit of climbing, had run up the trees, and, covering themselves with the thick foliage, commenced a fire, which, for a time, was unperceived amidst the noise and constant firing kept up by our troops As soon as it was discovered, a volley fired at the tops of the trees brought down seven men. The rest soon followed.]

This kind of petty warfare, equally irksome and inglorious, affording none of those incentives, which, in an active campaign, against a powerful enemy, encourage brave soldiers to despise all privations and difficulties, continued for four months. But such was the force of the example shown by Sir Ralph Abercromby, and by his officers, that this unpleasant service was performed with the utmost alacrity. Although the duty was nearly of the same nature in St Lucia and St Vincent, the climate in the latter was so much more favourable, that the deaths among the troops did not exceed one-third of their number; while, of the four regiments in St Lucia, which consisted of 8890 men, there were only 470 fit for duty at the end of thirteen months. This service was rendered more destructive by the total want of every comfort. A pound of salt-pork or beef, a pound of flour, (till after some time that bread could be procured,) and a glass of rum, formed the daily allowance. There was no tents or covering, except such huts as the soldiers erected to screen themselves from the rain.

Although the enemy were, as I have noticed, weak in every thing but the natural strength of their country, their desperation at the thought of being driven from their native homes made them hold out till the month of September, when they surrendered. The French, including the Brigands, under Marin Pedre, a negro of St Lucia, were sent prisoners to England. The Caribbs, upwards of 5000 in number, were transported to Ratan, an island in the Gulf of Mexico, where they were landed, with six months' provisions, besides seeds, plants, and all sorts of implements for building houses and cultivating the land. They were afterwards removed to South America by the Spaniards, who would not allow a permanent settlement to this wretched people, who it is said were sent to the mines, where they soon perished.

Here I must again remark, in regard to the West India climate, that the health of the troops is always best while in front of an enemy, however constant and harassing the service; whereas, in the less active duties of a common nature, such as a change of stations, either from one island to another, or from one quarter to another in the same island, they seldom failed to be attacked by the diseases incident to the climate. Hence, when the troops remain healthy, the prudence of a change of quarters, without necessity, may be questioned. It sometimes happens, that injurious effects ensue even although the movement has been from an unhealthy to a healthy station, as from St Lucia to Barbadoes. [Examples of this have been seen even in the same island. The Highlanders were removed from the woods in St Vincent, to the barracks near Kingston, a situation considered remarkably healthy. Before a week passed 59 men were in hospital, who left the woods in perfect health, and in ten days 21 men died. The distance they marched was only twenty two miles; they were two days on the march, consequently the fatigue was moderate. With numerous similar instances of great sickness after a change of quarters, of which I have witnessed many striking cases, and where, previous to the removal, the troops had been healthy, the subject appears well worthy of the attention of medical men.] Troops became so accustomed to the unhealthy climate of the former island, that, in twelve months, the deaths did not exceed 50 out of 600 men. Of the same number of men, when removed to Barbadoes, 12 officers and upwards of 200 men have died in a few months, without any apparent alteration in the climate, or any material change in the health of those who were previously in that island. But when troops become unhealthy, no time should be lost in removing them to another station.

The mortality this year among the troops in the West Indies was lamentably great. From May 1796 to June 1797, the deaths amounted to 264 officers and 12,387 soldiers; But of those whose strength of constitution, or mode of life, enabled them to resist the evil effects of the climate, no one enjoyed a more vigorous state of health than the venerable commander, who, although in the sixty-fifth year of his age, generally slept in his body-clothes; indeed, always when in the field. He was on horseback every day an hour before day-light, and was ever found where his presence was necessary. He returned to England in September, when the temporary command of the army devolved upon Major-General Charles Graham, [General Graham was son of Colonel Graham of Drainie, one of the original officers of the Black Watch, and was for many years the commanding officer. General Graham had the benefit of a good example from his father. Born in the regiment in which he had all his life served, he intimately understood the character and peculiar dispositions of the men. An excellent disciplinarian, strict, but judicious, just and humane, with a fine voice, and a clear distinct manner of communicating his orders, and explaining his directions, he was admirably fitted for his situation as commander of the Highland regiment. The promotion to the rank of general officer, which removed him from the command, was a severe loss to the corps. He went out second in command Sir Ralph Abercromby to the West Indies in 1795, and died at Cork, where he commanded, in 1800.] who was this year promoted from the lieutenant-colonelcy of the 42d to be colonel of the 5th West India regiment. Major James Stewart succeeded to the lieutenant-colonelcy, and Captain James Stir ling as major. Some time previously, Captain Alexander Stewart succeeded Major Christie, who died of the fever and Lieutenant David Stewart was promoted to be captain-lieutenant.

The Commander in Chief returned from England early in February 1797, and immediately collected a force for an attack on Trinidad, which surrendered without opposition. Encouraged by this success, and having received intelligence of the favourable disposition of the inhabitants of Porto Rico, he determined to make an attempt on that island. Accordingly, he ordered the 26th Light dragoons, dismounted, the 14th, 42d, 53d, a battalion of the 60th regiment, a detachment of Lowenstein's corps, and the Tobago Rangers, to be assembled at St Christophers, whence they sailed on the 15th of April, and anchored off Congregus's Point on the 17th. A landing was effected, with slight opposition from the enemy, who retreated when the men disembarked.

The town and Moro or castle of Porto Rico stand on a point, separated from the main-land by a narrow arm of the sea, over which was thrown a bridge of eleven arches, forming the only communication with the island. The Moro is strongly fortified with the best materials, and almost inaccessible. The bridge being destroyed, the lagoon could not be crossed in boats, in the face of three tiers of batteries, which the Moro presented. From the outside of the lagoon the distance was too great for the batteries of the invaders to produce any effect, either on the town or castle; and, whatever the disposition of the people had been, no symptom was now shown of any inclination to surrender.

A number of French privateers had taken shelter in the harbour when they heard of the approach of the fleet. The crews landed, and manned the batteries, determined to hold out to the last in defence of their vessels and prizes. In these circumstances, and as our force was insufficient to blockade more than one side of the garrison, or prevent a free communication with the country, the Commander in Chief determined to give up the attempt and reimbark. This was accomplished on the 30th of April, the enemy still keeping within their defences. The loss sustained on this occasion was 1 captain killed, 1 lieutenant-colonel and 1 captain wounded, and 98 rank and file killed and wounded; and a lieutenant and 121 rank and file missing, supposed to have deserted to the enemy. [This officer, and the 121 soldiers, were foreigners in our service.] The troops returned to their different stations, and the Highlanders to Martinique. This was the last attempt against the enemy in that country during the continuance of the war.

The 79th Highlanders having been now two years in Martinique, orders were sent out, as I have already noticed, to allow them to volunteer into the Royal Highlanders, then ready to embark for England, with permission to all who chose to remain to join other corps in the country. The number thus received by the 42d exceeded the casualties of the two preceding years, making the detachment stronger than when they embarked at Portsmouth in October 1795. The order to send the 42d home complete was the first interruption of the system of drafting, which, as I have already mentioned, has since been abolished. The regiment embarked free of sickness, and landing at Portsmouth on the 30th July, in equally good health, marched to Hillsea Barracks. A body of 500 men landing from the West Indies, and marching, without leaving a man behind, was no common spectacle. [A state of the troops on board was sent to the Lieutenant- Governor of Portsmouth, after the ships came to anchor. When it was received, directions were given to correct the mistake of omitting the number of sick arrived from the West Indies!]

After remaining a few weeks in Hillsea, the five compa-panies were again embarked for Gibraltar, where they joined the five companies which had been ordered thither when driven back by the gales of 1795 and 1796.

The regiment was now 1100 strong; but the moral feelings of the troops were sensibly deteriorated. In addition to the number of indifferent characters introduced into the regiment in 1795, the cheap and free indulgence in wine permitted in the garrison affected the conduct of a considerable proportion of the men. However, it had no influence on their health ; for, during a stay of one year in Gibraltar, from October 1797 to October 1798, only 11 died out of 1187 men, including all ranks. But, as I have observed, the moral habits of many evinced a melancholy change. An instance of murder occurred. One of the soldiers, in a fit of rage and intoxication, quarrelled with an inhabitant, and stabbed him to the heart with his bayonet. He was tried and executed. Two men deserted to the Spaniards. One of them had for some years possessed a good character, but latterly had contracted habits of drinking; the only reason that could be assigned for his conduct. He was soon cured of those habits which had led to his defection, and heartily repented his breach of allegiance. He entered the Spanish service, in which the soldier's pay affords nothing to expend on liquor,—nay, sometimes not a sufficiency to procure necessaries, and in which, even if the pay had been more liberal, the example of sobriety which the Spanish soldiers always exhibit would have discountenanced any excess. To his former comrades within the garrison he found means to send communications, in which he deplored his folly, and called upon them to be faithful to their King, and not to make themselves miserable, like him, by joining the enemies of their country. Fortunately, however, for the regiment, they were soon removed to Minorca, where their old habits and conduct were in a great measure restored by the excellent discipline of Brigadier-General Oakes, under whose immediate command they were for several months placed.

Government having determined to attack the Island of Minorca, a small armament was prepared and placed under the command of Lieutenant-General the Honourable Sir Charles Stuart, under whom was Major-General Sir James St Clair Erskine, now Earl of Rosslyne, and Brigadier-Generals John Stuart and Oakes, together with the 28th, 42d, 58th, and 90th regiments; the naval part of the expedition being under the command of Commodore Duckworth. These regiments, which had been quartered in Gibraltar, sailed from thence on the 24th of October 1798, and reached the Island of Minorca on the 6th of November. A landing in the Bay of Addaya was next morning effected without opposition. The first division, consisting of 800 men, disembarked, and repulsed 2000 of the enemy, who, after a feeble resistance, retired. The state of the roads, and the multitude of high and strong stone inclosures, rendered the progress of the army as slow as in a mountainous country. It was therefore the 14th of November before they could invest Cittadella, the principal garrison, where the Spanish Commander had concentrated his forces. Here the judicious arrangements of the General supplied the deficiency of troops, and of the artillery necessary for a siege : he formed his small army on the little eminences which surrounded the garrison, leaving only a few Light infantry, who lay concealed in the intermediate hollows. By this disposition of force, large fires being kept burning at night, and the fires in the hollow spaces being more numerous, and larger than on the ground occupied by the troops, the Spaniards were led to believe that the space of four miles had been completely covered by an army of at least 10,000 men. So strong was their conviction that resistance would be unavailing against such a force, that the island surrendered on the following day, the prisoners considerably outnumbering the invaders. [The prize-money for this capture, though not great, deserves notice, from its prompt payment, and the attention of the General to the interest of his troops. He directed every thing to be sold and converted into money as soon as possible, and the shares to be paid on the spot where the money was conquered. One of the agents, indeed, wished to send the money to England, to lodge it, as he said, in security ; but General Stuart believed that it could not be in better security than in the pockets of those to whom it belonged; and, with his characteristic generosity, he gave his own share to the wives and families of the soldiers, although his private fortune was very circumscribed.]

In 1800, a large force reassembled in Minorca, to be employed on the coast of the Mediterranean, in support of our allies. It was understood that Sir Charles Stuart was to command this army; but these expectations were disappointed, by the arrival of intelligence that he had declined accepting the command. The disappointment, however, of the troops on this occasion was considerably lessened by the happy choice, as successor to their late Commander in Chief, [Sir Charles Stuart died on the 28th March 1801, the very day on which his successor in the command of the army in the Mediterranean died of his wounds in Egypt. Thus Great Britain lost, in one day, two men whose great talents, chivalrous honour, and high character, were qualified to raise the fame of any country, and to add lustre to any period. Indeed, few men of modern times have exhibited a more perfect picture of what may be imagined of a chivalrous knight than General Stuart; and with his high and generous mind was united a person and countenance of the finest proportions and expression, with a most elegant address and polished manners. He was, indeed, a true soldier, a perfect gentleman, and an able, intrepid, accomplished commander of an army.] of Sir Ralph Abercromby, who arrived on the 22d of June, accompanied by Major-Generals Hutchinson and John Moore.

Orders were immediately issued for the embarkation of troops for the relief of Genoa, then closely besieged by the French; and reinforcements were also sent to Colonel Thomas Graham of Balgowan, who blockaded the garrison of La Vallette in the Island of Malta.

The reinforcement for Genoa being too late to prevent the surrender of that place to the enemy, the troops returned to Minorca, and General Pigot was ordered to command the blockading army in Malta.

The season was now far advanced, and, to the great disappointment of the troops, it was understood that no active operations would commence till the arrival of farther instructions from home. This interval the Commander-in-Chief devoted to a strict examination of the internal economy and discipline of the different corps. [During this interval, the system was first suggested to General Moore of marching, firing, and general discipline, which he afterwards carried to such perfection in the 43d and 52d regiments, and which has since been adopted by all the light infantry corps. Major Kenneth Mackenzie, of the 90th regiment (now Lieutenant-General), had practised this mode of discipline for several years, and while he commanded his regiment in Minorca, had brought the men to great perfection in it. One morning as he was at exercise on the Glacis of Fort St Phillips, General Moore, who was present, was so struck with its ex-cellence and simplicity, that, with his usual oppenness and candour, he expressed great surprise that a thing so simple, and so admirably adapted to its purpose, had not before suggested itself to his mind. He was not a man upon whom any useful suggestion was thrown away. Major Mackenzie was next year promoted to the 44th regiment, from which he was removed, by General Moore's recommendation, to his own regiment, the 52d. The new mode of discipline was then commenced, and Lieutenant-Colonel Mackenzie, being supported by the influence, assiduity, and zeal of General Moore, it was speedily brought to a high state of perfection. While it greatly lessens the fatigue of the soldier, it is highly conducive to his success against an enemy.] It was not till the month of August that dispatches were received from England, in consequence of which the army immediately embarked and sailed for Gibraltar, where it arrived on the 14th of September, when accounts were received of the surrender of Malta, after a blockade of nearly two years. It was generally regretted that Colonel Graham, who had conducted the siege and blockade with unwearied zeal and perseverance, had not the satisfaction of receiving the surrender of an enemy whom he had forced to submit. The capitulation was drawn up in the name of General Pigot, who had only commanded for a few weeks.

Different arrangements occupied the time till the 2d of October, when the fleet sailed for Cadiz, for the purpose of landing there, and taking possession of the city and fleet in the harbour of Carraccas. The army under Sir James Pulteney, from Ferrol, formed a junction with Sir Ralph Abercromby; and the following morning a signal was made for landing to the westward of Cadiz. The Reserve under General Moore, the Guards under General Ludlow, and General Craddock's brigade, were ordered for the first disembarkation. For this purpose, the Royal Highlanders, with part of the Reserve, were put into the boats, and ordered to assemble round the Ajax, the Honourable Captain Alexander Cochrane, who was to conduct the debarkation. A body of 2500 men were already on board the boats, waiting with eager expectation for the signal to proceed to the shore, when, about two o'clock, a gun from Cadiz announced the approach of a flag of truce. The object of this communication was to deprecate any attack upon a town and people already suffering under the ravages of a pestilence, which had carried off thousands, and threatened destruction to the whole population. This was a powerful appeal. The Commanders-in-Chief resolved to suspend the attack, and signals were made to re-embark the troops. However judicious and proper this decision might be in such peculiar circumstances, the disappointment of the troops was extreme. They saw themselves doomed to remain on board the transports, without any apparent object, and without knowing when or in what manner they were to be employed.

On the following morning, the fleet got under weigh for the Bay of Tetuan, on the coast of Barbary. But it had lain there only for a few days, when a violent gale came on to blow with great fury into the bay, and compelled it to run to sea with the utmost precipitation, and to take shelter under the lee of Cape Spartell. When the weather moderated, the fleet returned to Gibraltar.

On the 29th of October, Sir James Pulteney, with those regiments whose service was limited to Europe, received orders for Portugal, while the Commander-in-Chief, with the other troops, proceeded to Malta. This was the first intimation of an extended field of service.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus