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


Military Annals of the Highland Regiments

Ninety-second
or
Gordon Highlanders
1794

Whatever notions might have been entertained regarding the loyalty of the family of Gordon, in the year 1715, when the Marquis of Huntly was an active leader in opposition to the Government of that time, or in the year 1745, when Lord Lewis, the Duke of Gordon's brother, was equally zealous in the same cause, and in supporting, what he believed, the just claims of an unfortunate Prince; the loyalty and patriotism of the present representative of this great family—which has been, for upwards of four hundred years so distinguished in the annals of Scotland, and particularly of the Highlands—have made ample atonement for those ebullitions of attachment to a legitimate but expatriated race of Princes, evinced by the conduct of some of his ancestors.

Soon after the reign of Robert Bruce, this family became powerful in the North. By the extinction of the Cummings, (of whom there were thirty-two Noblemen and Barons in that reign), the Gordons acquired large pos-sessions in Badenoch and Strathspey, in addition to those which they had previously held in the Lowlands of Elgin, Banff, and Aberdeen;—possessions which were greatly in-creased and extended in the Highlands by those of the Lords of the Isles, part of whose estates, in Lochaber, came into their hands by purchase and by royal grants, on the failure of that great and powerful family. In this manner the Gordons acquired a property extending from the east coast of Scotland to Inverlochay on the west; indented here and there by the lands of several smaller proprietors, but not so entirely as to prevent a circuitous line from being drawn, so as to connect the Gordon estate, without interruption, from the Atlantic on the west, to the German Ocean on the east. This extensive territory, with its numerous population, secures to the Duke of Gordon an influence which few British subjects enjoy. His feudal power was indeed small in proportion to the number of people and the extent of territory. The patriarchal sway of the chiefs of families, or, as they were called, natural-born chiefs of their own blood, superseded the authority of the feudal lord, of whom several chiefs and lairds held their lands. Independently of any vassalage or subjection, these chiefs commanded their own followers, acknowledging no power as superior, except that of the Sovereign. But al-though they did not publicly acknowledge a superior power in the Chief of the Gordons, of whom they held, they, on many occasions, allowed him to influence their actions, particularly if his measures did not run counter to their peculiar feelings and political prejudices. Thus, in 1715, a number of the Badenoch and Lochaber Highlanders were ready to follow the Marquis of Huntly in support of the claims of the exiled Royal Family; but, when the father of the present Duke of Gordon attempted to call out his people in arms to support Government, in the year 1745, none of the Highlanders of his estates moved, except to follow their own immediate Chiefs and Lairds, all of whom took the opposite side. In this manner, many of the Duke's vassals and tenants were at Culloden opposed to his brother Lord Adam Gordon, who was in the Duke of Cumberland's army. But although these circumstances lessened the power of the Gordon family (so far as regarded the command of men), in comparison with the families of Atholl and Argyll, each of which could assemble in the field three thousand men, supported by as many more of their adherents and friends; yet the influence of this family has been ever pre-eminent. Personal ascendancy frequently ruled where feudal powers would have been disregarded; and in later times, when the feudal system had ceased to exist, many instances of this influence have occurred.

It will be seen that three regiments were raised by the influence of this family in the years 1759, 1779, and 1793. The last, being a Fencible corps, the Marquis of Huntly, then a Captain in the 3d Foot Guards, offered to raise a regiment for more extended service. For this purpose he received Letters of Service on the 10th of February 1794. On recollecting the celerity with which regiments have at various times been assembled in the North, and in endeavouring to account for the fact, I have been led to assign different causes; on the present occasion, it is only necessary to say, that the Duke and Dutchess of Gordon, and the Marquis of Huntly, recruited in their own persons. On the 24th of June, the corps was inspected at Aberdeen by Major-General Sir Hector Munro, and embodied under the denomination of the Gordon Highlanders. Three-fourths of the men were from the estates of Gordon and others in the Highlands; the other fourth was from the Lowlands of Aberdeenshire and the adjacent counties. The following list will show the original officers:

Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant, George Marquis of Huntly, date of commission 10th of February 1794.

Majors.

Charles Erskine of Cardross, killed in Egypt in 1801.
Donald Macdonald of Boisdale, died in 1795.

Captains.

Alexander Napier of Blackstone, killed at Corunna in 1809.
John Cameron, Fassafern, killed at Quatre Bras, 16th June in 1815.
Honourable John Ramsay, son of Lord Dalhousie, Colonel on half-pay.
Andrew Paton, retired.
William Mackintosh of Aberarder, killed in Holland in 1799.
Alexander Gordon, son of Lord Rockville, killed at Talavera in 1808, Lieutenant-Colonel 83d regiment. Simon Macdonald of Morer, retired, dead.

Captain-Lieutenant, John Gordon, retired as Major.

Lieutenants.

Peter Grant, died in 1817 Major on half-pay.
Archibald Macdonell, died in 1813, Lieutenant- Colonel of Veterans.
Alexander Stewart, Colonel on half-pay.
Sir John Maclean, Major-General, K. C. B. 1825, ditto.
Peter Gordon, died 1806.
Thomas Forbes, killed at Toulouse in 1814, Lieutenant-Colonel of the 45th regiment.
Ewan Macpherson, Lieutenant-Colonel of Veterans.
George H. Gordon.

Ensigns.

Charles Dowle, died of wounds in Egypt in 1801.
George Davidson, killed at Quatre Bras in 1815, then Captain in the 42d regiment.
Archibald Macdonald, retired.
Alexander Fraser, killed 2d October 1799.
William Tod, retired.
James Mitchell, Lieutenant-Colonel in 1815, retired in 1819.

Chaplain, William Gordon.
Adjutant,
James Henderson, died in 1796,
Quarter-Master, Peter Wilkie, died in 1806.
Surgeon, William Findlay, died in Egypt in 1801.

That this body of men were what is usually called serviceable, has been proved in a course of twenty-four years of unremitting employment, in almost every part of Europe, where the British army has been called into action. Moral, well principled, and brave, they have never failed in any kind of duty intrusted to them, and on several occasions, where an opportunity offered, they have, by their uniform intrepidity and firmness in the field, contributed to raise the military character of their native districts. Few of the men who laid the foundation of the character of this corps, which has been so well sustained, now remain in the regiment; but although they have disappeared, and given place to others, their example has been powerful in its effects, and will no doubt be permanent in its operations. No good soldier of the Gordon Highlanders will tarnish the fair fame so nobly obtained, and so steadily upheld by his predecessors. It is well known that corps, who have been unfortunate in the field, or defective in their internal economy, require much time, judgment, and unwearied attention, to restore them to a proper state. On the other hand, the management must indeed be deplorably bad which lowers the character of a corps, whose good name has been long established. So strong is the motive which impels a good soldier to preserve the reputation of his corps, that nothing but the destruction of his own sense of shame, and the utter loss of all principle, will ever make him resist it; or, if he wavers, it is when he is affected by the force of example, and when he sees men of loose habits, and careless of their own honour, and that of the corps, introduced into the ranks. The 92d regiment has not suffered this misfortune, for their dtfferent reinforcements have been always composed of expent materials.

[Since the first edition was published, this corps has not been fortunate in the reinforcements, sent to it, and has thus afforded a full but painful confirmation of the truth and correctness of the opinion stated in the text. No care has been taken in the choice of recruits, or rather of the drafts of men with which the regiment was filled up from other corps which had been stationed in Jamaica, and which, when the 92d embarked for Britain, transferred to it several detachments of the most dissolute and worst-behaved of their men. Thus the old stock of that regiment, who had always maintained the honour and character of the corps, saw themselves debased and contaminated by the comrades introduced into their ranks, men whose crimes brought disgrace upon them all: they also saw themselves held in such small consideration by their superiors, that any men, however low in character, were considered as fit companions for them. Hence they believed their fair fame, and original good name to be tarnished, if not irrecoverably lost. The consequences have been, not a favourable change in the character of the strangers, whose misdemeanours and crimes were, indeed, too numerous and too various to be checked or influenced by the example of the good men among whom they were placed; but that the force of bad example has prevailed, and in this corps, in which, under more auspicious management, and when purely a national regiment, disgraceful punishments were unknown, because unnecessary, now that matters are differently managed, upwards of two hundred have been brought to the halberts in one twelvemonth; and the country where the Gordon Highlanders originally sprung, compelled to disown the actual successors of the brave and honourable men who originally composed the corps, and established that character which has been thus tarnished and disgraced.

An experience of eighty-five years, since the Black Watch was formed into a regiment in 1740, has fully proved, that no system has more eminently contributed to excite an honourable spirit of emulation, and to produce a consequent high character among soldiers, than that of National and District corps; but then the system must be rigidly acted on; a mixture destroys all. If such distinctions are to be preserved, let them he so in reality, and not in form and appearance. Unless the ranks be filled by men from the districts whose names are born by different corps, better far would it be to put an end to the system at once. We have before us a recent and deplorable instance of the ruinous effects of mixing bad soldiers with good. In pages 408 and 428 of volume first, I have given similar instances which happened to the 42d regiment in the year 1780 and 1795, and noticed the fatal change which followed in the honourable feeling and conduct previously displayed. It would be painful to give more instances of this sort, to many of which I have been an eyewitness. With the warmest feelings for the honour and welfare of a profession to which I have many years belonged, I have now to express my fervent hope, that National Corps will either be entirely dissolved and discontinued, or preserved pure and unmixed, both in officers and men.]

Although not now commanded by their original Colonel, they are connected with him by many kindly ties. By many considerations of vital importance he is powerfully induced to watch over the preservation of that poor, but virtuous peasantry, whose sons have so frequently filled the ranks of his family regiments; and if high example, and a generous regard to their happiness and independence, can avert the extirpation of the ancient race, it is such men as the Duke of Gordon and the Marquis of Huntly that can effect so desirable an object, and check the engrossing system, which is rapidly placing many districts in the hands of a few wealthy individuals, and lowering the condition, breaking the spirit, or extirpating the whole race of the ancient peasantry.

It may, probably, appear to some that I recur too frequently to the necessity of preserving the people independent, virtuous, and loyal; but the extreme importance of the subject must plead my apology. A population which has filled the ranks and supported the character of the Gordon Highlanders, deserves some consideration, if not protection, and better treatment than expulsion from their native country, to say nothing of the scurrility with which the morals, religion, and character of the Highlanders are assailed. [In the reports of some religious societies recently published, the Highlanders are represented as guilty of "the basest vices," as "Christians only by name," as "savage heathens; and it is gravely stated, that in many parts of that unfortunate country, the people know not the name of their Saviour!] The ranks of this regiment have not been always filled with men from the same part of the country, but ever since the organization of the corps, the proportion has continued so equal, that the same characteristic traits and habits have been uniformly preserved.

But to return to the military service of the corps. From Aberdeen they marched to Fort George, embarked there on the 9th of July 1794, and, landing at Southampton in August, were ordered to join the camp on Netley Common. It was not until that period that the Gordon Highlanders were put on the list of numbered corps as the 100th regiment.

On the 5th of September they embarked, under the command of Colonel Lord Huntly for Gibraltar, and performed the usual duties of that garrison till the 11th June 1795 when they were removed to Corsica, and stationed in that Island, having a detachment in Elba. In September 1796, they returned to Gibraltar, and resumed their former station and duty till the spring of 1798, at which time they embarked for England, landed at Portsmouth in the middle of May, and were soon after embarked for Ireland. During the unhappy troubles in that country, the regiment was actively employed, and was kept in constant motion, till the re-establishment of tranquillity. [On one occasion, the regiment, when under the command of General Moore, marched ninety-six Irish miles in three successive days, with arms, ammunition, and knapsacks.] In the whole of this service, as well as in the garrison duties of Gibraltar and Corsica, they received unvarying testimonials of high approbation from every commander. The similarity of language in which all express themselves, indicates an undeviating line of conduct on the part of the regiment, which was "exemplary in all duties; sober, orderly, and regular in quarters." In an address to the Marquis of Huntly, by the magistrates and inhabitants, on leaving one of the stations in Ireland, it was said that "peace and order were re-established, rapine had disappeared, confidence in the Government was restored, and the happiest cordiality subsisted, since his regiment came among them."

While this honourable body of men received such high marks of approbation, and secured the esteem of the commanders whom they obeyed, and of the people whom they were unhappily sent to coerce, they had not yet had an opportunity of proving—what, indeed, required no proof-that as they were trust-worthy and steady in quarters, they would be equally brave and firm in the field. This, however, happened in the course of the following year. In June 1799, they were ordered to Cork, to embark for England, and join an armament preparing there for a descent on the coast of Holland.

Some months previous to this, the late 91st, 92d, and other regjments, were reduced. On this account, the number of the Gordons was changed from the 100th to the 92d, under which they have often distinguished themselves, and on twenty-six occasions, in which they met the enemy (several of these, to be sure, being very trifling affairs, while others were very desperate), from 1799 to 1815, the latter invairably gave way before them. [The defence of the Pass of Maya in the Pyrenees, when the troops were attacked by a greatly superior force, was one of the finest examples of deter-mined resistance and intrepidity exhibited in the course of these campaigns.] This fact has, in a very particular manner, attracted the notice of the brave and experienced enemy to whom this country was so long opposed.

The first division of the expedition to the Helder sailed from Ramsgate on the 11th of August, but, owing to tempestuous weather, a landing was not effected till the morn-ing of the 27th. No opposition was made to the landing; but the troops had scarcely formed on a ridge of sand hills, at a short distance from the beach, when the enemy made an attack, and persevered in it till five o'clock in the evening, when they retired, after a hard contest. The 92d, which formed part of Major-General Moore's brigade, was not engaged ; but in the great action of the 2d of October it had an active share, and displayed conduct so much to the satisfaction of General Moore, that, when he was made a Knight of the Bath, and obtained a grant of supporters or his armorial bearings, he took a soldier of the Gordon Highlanders, in full uniform,' as one of these supporters, and a lion as the other.

As I have not been able to procure minute details of the movements, nor any anecdotes or circumstances relative to this respectable corps, either individually or collectively, I can do little more than mention the principal services in which they have been subsequently engaged. The loss in Holland, as well as in all other places where they were opposed to the enemy, will be found in the general list of casualties. [See Appendix for List of Casualties.]

On the conclusion of this service, the regiment returned to England, and was again embarked on the 27th May 1800, and sailed for the coast of France. Nothing decisive was done on that occasion, and the fleet proceeded to Minorca, where the 92d landed on the 20th of July. The farther movements of the corps, up to the 13th of March

1801, will be seen in the article on the 42d Regiment. On the morning of that day the army was formed in three columns of regiments, and in this formation, moved for-ward to the attack. The 90th (or Perthshire) regiment led the advance of the centre column, and the Gordon Highlanders the left, the Reserve marching on the right parallel with the other two columns. The enemy were seen drawn up on a rising ground, seemingly strong in cavalry and artillery. The regiments in advance immediately formed line, which was hardly completed when the enemy opened a heavy fire of cannon on the 92d, and advanced with great boldness to the attack. This was received and resisted with coolness and intrepidity; and though they repeated their attack, supported by a powerful and well served artillery, they were driven back with loss; and this regiment singly maintained its ground against every effort till the line was formed, and moved forward. The loss, as might have been expected in such circumstances, was considerable.

The regiment had previously suffered much from sickness while on the passage from Minorca to Egypt. Before embarking in England, a number of young re-cruits joined from the Highlands, whose constitutions suffered a severe shock from the confinement and heat on board the transports in a Mediterranean summer, and from the salt provisions, so different from the milk and vegetable diet to which they had been accustomed in their native country. At this time a notion was very prevalent that the Highland garb was highly improper for soldiers in any situation, particularly in hot climates. Colonel Erskine gave in to this opinion, and put his men in trowsers of the strong thick cloth, of which the great-coats are made. In this he was strongly supported by the advice of the surgeon and many others; but this new dress was too much for the constitutions of young men who had been recently so thinly clothed even in a cold climate. The increased warmth and confinement were followed by an inflammatory fever, which broke out in the transports of the regiment. Of this malady a number of the finest young men died, and a great many were so debilitated as to be totally unfit for service in Egypt. Their brave commander saw how inadvertently he had followed this advice, and declared he would never again alter the uniform. But, unfortunately for his corps and the service in general, he did not long survive, for he died of the wounds he received on the 13th March 1801, leaving, in his profession, few officers of higher spirit and greater promise.

Another circumstance contributed to confirm the resolutions of this spirited and excellent officer. When his regiment lay in Minorca in 1800, the men made a most unmilitary appearance in their grey pantaloons, which, in addition to the thick texture of the cloth, were loose and badly shaped. The 42d, which had been some time stationed in the island, was quartered in the same barrack, and had been recently supplied with new clothing. The martial appearance of the men, their erect air, walk, and carriage, were striking; the late absurd deviation from the original national garb

[One of these deviations ought to be discontinued, as it endangers the health of the soldiers in hot weather. Several years ago the shape of the soldiers coats was altered, and they were made to button close round the body. This was an improvement in the English uniform, as it gave additional warmth to the back and bowels; but when it was adopted by Highland corps, the nature of the garb was overlooked. The numerous plaits and folds of the belted plaid and little kilt form so thick a covering, that when the coat is added, the warmth is so great, that on a march it debilitates those parts of the body; whereas the former cut of the jacket, with the skirts thrown back, and the breast open, left them uncovered; and the waistcoat being white, relieved the uniform, which, from the dark shade of green in the plaid, and the blue and green facings of the 42d and 97th regiments, gave those corps a rather sombre appearance when drawn up in line.]

had not then commenced, and no attempts had been made to throw ridicule on the Celtic uniform, by covering the hose with white spatterdashes, and forming the bonnet into the shape of a German grenadier's cap; with other innovations, as unnecessary as they are in bad taste.

[Colonel Cameron of the 79th was, at the same time, and in the same manner as Colonel Erskine, prevailed upon, altogether contrary to his inclination, to put his men in pantaloons. A field-officer of his regiment, his principal adviser, enforced his argument, by saying, that he understood the 42d never wore a dress so improper in hot climates.

When the fleet was off Cadiz, and the troops were descending into the boats for the landing, Colonel Cameron was standing on deck with this officer by his side, when the Colonel perceived the men of the 42d going down to the boats in kilts. He hastily turned round to his adviser to ask how this happened, but he was gone. He ran down below, and took care not to show himself again before his Colonel any more that day. This was the last time the Cameron Highlanders ever appeared in pantaloons.]

By the action of the 13th March, and the previous sickness, the regiment was so reduced in numbers that General Abercromby ordered it to the rear to take post on the shore at Aboukir. This was the night before the battle of the 21st of March. Major Napier, who then commanded in consequence of the death of Colonel Erskine, [This estimable young officer was so desperately wounded in the leg, that amputation was necessary. Having an excellent constitution, the surgeons expected a complete and speedy recovery ; but Colonel Erskine himself was deeply impressed with the belief that the loss of his leg would render him incapable of future service, and he considered his military career for ever closed. His high and chivalrous mind could not brook this disappointment of his hopes, and his spirit sunk under it: he lost his rest, and with that his strength. He died the ninth day, literally of a broken heart, while the wound was healing most rapidly. Another valuable man, and excellent officer, Colonel Macdowall of the 79th, having also lost a leg on the 21st of March, died in similar circumstances. Colonel Erskine was son of Mr Erskine of Cardross, in Perthshire, who lived to lament the loss of another son this year. He was first Lieutenant to Lord Keith in the Queen Charlotte, and was one of the unfortunate sufferers when she was burnt by accident off Leghorn in 1800.] left his ground an hour before the action commenced. When he heard the firing, and understood from its extent that the action was general, he hurried back and took up his former action was position in the line.

The regiment soon recovered its health and strength, and shared in all the movements of the army in Egypt till the conclusion of hostilities, when they embarked for Ireland, and landed at Cork on the 30th of January 1802. From thence they were removed to Glasgow, and soon after the renewal of hostilities in 1803, marched to Leith, and embarked for Harwich and Weely Camp.

At this period, a second battalion of 1000 men was embodied. The men raised by the Army of Reserve Act, for the counties of Nairn, Inverness, Moray, Banff; and Aberdeen, were sent to this battalion ; which, along with those recruited in the usual manner, speedily completed the requisite number. This battalion was a nursery of good recruits to supply the casualties consequent on the more active duties of the 1st battalion, till the peace in 1814.

The first of these duties in the late war was the expedition against Copenhagen in 1807, where the regiment served in Sir Arthur Wellesley's brigade. [On this service, the only instance offered was one in which this regiment distinguished itself by a spirited and successful charge with the bayonet, and by driving back an enemy greatly outnumbering their assailants.] In 1808 they embarked again, under Sir John Moore, for Sweden. This expedition came to a speedy and unexpected conclusion; and immediately on the return of the army to England, they were ordered for Portugal, under the same commander, accompanying all his movements till the close of the whole at Corunna on the 17th of January 1809, where this regiment was unfortunate in losing another excellent commanding officer, Colonel Napier of Blackstone, who was killed on that occasion.

After landing in England, they were marched to Weely, where a reinforcement of good recruits joined the corps. This increased the number to 1001 soldiers; but, in tire-next service in Walcheren, the fever and ague were found a more deadly enemy, and did more execution, than this regiment ever experienced from the French. The loss sustained was, however, again speedily repaired by recruit from the second battalion. On the 21st of September 1810, they embarked for Portugal, and in the following month joined the British army under Lord Wellington at the lines of Torres Vedras.

Having, as already stated, received no notice of the ser-vice of this regiment beyond what may be seen in the general details of events, I can only add, that, in the course of all the numerous trials of courage and military discipline to which the corps was exposed during the eventful period that elapsed till the war was terminated by the peace of 1814, they preserved that honourable line of conduct which both justified, and added to the estimation in which they were formerly held. The same spirit existed, and was conspicuous at Quatre Bras and Waterloo.

At Quatre Bras the 92d, under the command of Colonel Cameron, was in brigade with the Royal Scots, the 42d, and 44th regiments, under Major-General Pack. At this village the roads from Charleroi to Brussels, and from Nivelles to Ligny, intersect each other. The right of the Prussian army extended to Ligny, and therefore Quatre Bras, which united so many communications, was of great importance. To preserve this important position, the Duke of Wellington placed General Pack's brigade, and that of Major-General Kempt, consisting of the 28th, 32d, 79th, and 95th regiments, supported by a brigade of Hanoverians, the Brunswick cavalry and infantry, and a corps of Belgians. The French army, under Marshal Ney, was drawn up on an almost parallel position, and in great force. A thick wood (Bois de Boissu) covered a portion of the plain which divided the opposing forces: the part clear of wood was covered with corn.

General Kempt's brigade extended on the plain to the left, being formed into separate columns of regiments, and were soon hotly engaged with an enemy possessing a great preponderance of numerical force, which was nevertheless resisted with firmness and success. The enemy continuing to push forward fresh troops, the 42d and 44th were ordered out to the plain, in support of those engaged; a desperate conflict ensued, and every charge of an impetuous enemy, whether of cavalry or infantry, or whether directed against a single battalion, or more, was equally unavailing.

The Gordon Highlanders were formed in line in a ditch bounding the great Namur road, with their right on the farm of Quatre Bras, and the Hanoverian brigade and Brunswick infantry on their left, but a little to the rear; the Brunswick cavalry were drawn up on the road, covered by a few field-pieces. While in this position, the Brunswick Hussars pushed forward to check a column of French cavalry considerably in advance of the main body. In this spirited charge their brave Prince was mortally wounded,— an irreparable misfortune at such a moment; and, although it was the means of rendering his followers more desperate, and desirous of revenge at an after period, in the present instance it threw them into a confusion of which the enemy taking advantage, charged them with redoubled vigour, and forced them to retire hotly pursued, in the direction of the, Gordon Highlanders, who were concealed by the ditch along which they had been drawn up. Coolly waiting till the enemy came within reach, they opened a well directed and most destructive fire. Surprised by this unexpected attack, the enemy got into irretrievable confusion and fled, having suffered such a loss in killed and wounded, as might be expected from repeated volleys of musketry, aimed with the correctness of such experienced soldiers, as were those of the 92d regiment. It was now six o'clock in the evening. The battle had continued three hours, and had consisted chiefly in a succession of numerous charges and repulses, each charge being made with the desperation of an enemy seemingly determined to conquer; but they were met by men reeved to die on the ground they occupied, rather than sully their own honour, or forget their duty to their King and country.

When troops are thus opposed, the contest must be desperate, and unless there is a great preponderance of force to overwhelm the lesser number, it must be also of long duration. In this case, the preponderance on the side of the enemy is said to have been great; indeed, remarkably so, which enhances the credit of the successful resistance made to their bold and desperate attacks. But, at six o'clock, this disparity of force was lessened by a reinforcement from Brussels, consisting of a brigade of Guards, and of the 30th, 33d, G9th, and 73d regiments, together with a brigade of Hanoverians, and one of the German Legion. The Guards were stationed on the right of Quatre Bras, and the other brigades on the left. This reinforcement, however, did not intimidate the enemy, who commenced a fresh attack by a general discharge from a numerous artillery, which were so stationed as to cover the whole of the British line. Either with a view of thinning the ranks of the allies, before the columns advanced to the attack, or of waiting for reinforcements, nearly an hour elapsed before the enemy pushed forward in two columns, directing their march, the one on the high road, the other through a hollow along the skirts of the Bois de Boissu. Covered by the wood and hedges, the enemy had silently and unperceived occupied a house on the Charleroi road, some hundred yards distant from the village; they had also got possession of a garden, and of several thickset hedges, contiguous to the house. Without waiting to be attacked, the 92d prepared to drive the enemy from the house and hedges. One part headed by Colonel Cameron, and accompanied by General Barnes (then Adjutant-General), who was eager to witness this trial of strength, of men who had served in his brigade in the Peninsular war, rapidly moved forward on the road, while another party pushed round by their right. The enemy possessing the advantages of the house and hedges, by which they were partly covered, it was not without considerable time, and the greatest exertions of resolution and personal courage combined, that the Highlanders were enabled to drive the French from their position. This they at last accomplished, with the loss of their brave commander, Colonel Cameron, and some other valuable lives. [As a mark of respect for the talents and eminent services of this brave of-hcer, his Majesty granted a patent of baronetcy to his father, Ewen Cameron of Fassfern, with two Highlanders as supporters to his armorial bearings, and several heraldic distinctions indicating the particular services of Colonel Cameron.] But while battles are fought, and there is a brave enemy to be overcome, lives must be sacrificed. In this case, an enemy greatly more numerous than their assailants, covered by houses and hedges, and, consequently, more able to take deliberate aim, were driven from their post with a loss to the Highlanders of only 11 men killed, and were pursued more than a quarter of a mile along the route by which they had advanced. The pursuit continued till checked by the advance of a large body of French cavalry and infantry, preceded by artillery, when the Highlanders, unable to resist such a force, retired along the edge of the wood of Boissu, and occupied their original position. Although the enemy had hitherto made no progress, and, indeed, had failed or been driven back in all their principal attacks, Marshal Ney still preserved and attempted to force the wood, now defended by the Guards, a corps of Brunswick infantry, and the 92d. Every attempt failed, and at nine o'clock, the enemy, despairing of success, finally retired, leaving their opponents on the ground they had occupied when the battle commenced at three o'clock.

After such proofs of the determination of the enemy, no time was to be lost in bringing forward all the disposable troops of the Allied army. Accordingly, the whole were assembled before eight o'clock the following morning, in the neighbourhood of Quatre Bras. But it was not on this spot that the great and final struggle was destined to take place;—a struggle which settled the fate of empires, sealed the destiny of one of the greatest, most ambitious, and most successful conquerors, of this or almost any other age; put to the test the courage, discipline, and firmness, of the choicest troops of Europe; and proved to this country, that in the day of trial the most perfect confidence may be reposed in her sons,—that no excitement beyond a sense of duty is required for its performance,—and that, if commanded with judgment, and their courage and physical powers be properly directed, it is probable that no foe of equal numbers will ever be victorious over them. It was on the field of Waterloo that the commander of the Allied army, with his usual prescience, fixed for the great trial. On that ground there was an open field, no woods to cover the advance of an enemy, no natural or artificial impediments to check the full exercise of British courage and discipline, or to interrupt the charges of an enemy.

As if it were in prelude to the approaching terrestrial warfare, that of the elements the night previous to, and the morning of the battle, was awful and sublime. The thunder and the lightning were such as few had witnessed, and reminded those who had been at Salamanca in July 1812, of the similar ushering in of the morning of that memorable battle. If superstition be at all allowable, it must be on such occasions as this, when the soldiers anticipated the same success as had crowned their exertions at Salamanca. This anticipation of success raised the hopes and invigorate ed the spirits of the army, although drenched and chilled by a deluge of rain from as furious a tempest as any on record.

At Waterloo, as at Quatre Bras, the Gordon Highland-ders, under the command of Major Donald Macdonald, in consequence of Colonel Cameron's death, and the wound of Lieutenant-Colonel Mitchell, were in the 9th brigade, with the Royal Scots, the Royal Highlanders, and the 44th regiment. This brigade was stationed on the left wing of the army on the crest of a gentle eminence, which formed one side of the hollow, or low valley, that divided the hostile armies. Along this crest, for nearly two-thirds of its length, ran a hedge. In front of this hedge were posted a brigade

of Belgians, a brigade of Hanoverians, and General Ponson-by's brigade of the 1st or Royal Dragoons, Scots Greys, and Inniskillings. It was not till about two o'clock that this part of the line was attacked. Under cover of a heavy fire of artillery, the enemy advanced in a solid column of S000 infantry of the Guard, with drums beating, and every accompaniment of military array, directing their march on the position of the Belgians, who immediately opened a fire, which, together with that of the artillery, checked the advance of the enemy. But the check was temporary. The troops of Nassau gave way, and retired behind the protecting ridge or crest of the eminence, leaving a large space open for the enemy. To occupy this space, and, if possible, force the enemy to retreat, the third battalion of the Royal Scots, and second battalion of the 44th, were ordered up. A sharp conflict of some duration ensued. The enemy's columns continuing to press forward, these two regiments lost many men, and expended their ammunition. General Pack observing this, ordered up the Highlanders, calling out, "Ninety-second, now is your time—charge!" The order was repeated by Major Macdonald, the soldiers answering by a shout. The regiment, then reduced to less than 250 men, instantly formed and rushed to the front, against a column equal in length to their whole line, which was only two men in depth, while the column was ten or twelve. The enemy stood, as if in suspense, till the Highlanders approached, when, panic-struck, they wheeled to the rear, and fled in the utmost confusion. Their flight was too rapid for the Highlanders to overtake them,—for a flying enemy generally runs faster than his pursuer. But however rapid the retreat, (and in this case the French threw away their arms and every other incumbrance), the cavalry overtook the fugitives. General Ponsonby, seizing on the moment, darted forward at full speed, and, cutting into the centre of the column, killed numbers, and took nearly 1800 prisoners. When the Greys galloped past the Highlanders, there was a mutual cheer, "Scotland for ever!" The word was electric. The name of their country, with its accompanying recollections, animated all to a degree of enthusiasm that made their efforts in the present case irresistible; and Napoleon had some reason when he expressed surprise and admiration at the movements of these regiments—"Qu'ils sont terribles ces Chevaux Gris!" When he saw the Greys cut down his best troops, and when the small body of Highlanders forced one of his chosen columns to fly in terror and confusion, the feelings of a gallant soldier overcame his disappointment, and he openly declared his admiration of "les braves Ecossais." In the enthusiasm of the moment, the Greys pushed forward, passed the column which had surrendered or were destroyed, and charged up to the line of the French position; but, being unsupported, they suffered considerably before they got back to their own ground.

The 92d was engaged in the further movements and fatigues of the day; but I cannot conclude this short and unsatisfactory account of the regiment better than with this charge, which was crowned with merited success;—a success our troops may always expect, if, animated with the same spirit, they close upon their enemy with equal alacrity and courage. A column of such strength, composed of veteran troops, filled with the usual confidence of the soldiers of France, thus giving way to so inferior a force, and by their retreat exposing themselves to certain destruction from the charges of cavalry ready to pour in and overwhelm them, can only be accounted for by the manner in which the attack was made, and is one of the numerous advantages of that mode of attack I have had so often occasion to notice. Had the Highlanders, with their inferior numbers, hesitated and stood at a distance, exposed to the fire of the enemy, half an hour would have been sufficient to have annihilated them, whereas, in their bold and rapid advance, they lost only four men ! The two regiments, which for some time resisted the attacks of the same column, were unable to force them back. They remained stationary to receive the enemy, who were thus allowed time and opportunity to take a cool and steady aim, and, encouraged by a prospect of success, they doubled their efforts; indeed, so confident were the enemy, that, when they reached the plain on the summit of the ascent, they ordered their arms, as if to rest after their victory. The handful of Highlanders soon proved on whose side the victory lay. Their bold and rapid charge struck their confident opponents with terror, paralyzed their sight and aim, and deprived both of point and object. The consequence was, as it will always be in nine cases out of ten in similar circumstances, that the loss of the 92d regiment was, as I have just stated, only four men, while the other corps in their stationary position lost eight times that number. The almost certain success of this mode of attack, the consequent honour to our troops, and the saving of lives, will, I trust, render an apology for my frequent recurrence to the subject the less necessary.

This was the last military service of the Gordon Highlanders. May all Highland corps imitate their example, and may they continue to preserve the same principles and conduct which at that time particularly attracted the notice of the inhabitants of Flanders! A favourable impression had indeed been early produced in that country by the conduct of the Seaforth Highlanders, who had been eighteen months stationed there, and who had so conducted themselves as to be considered by the inhabitants as "enfans de la famille." Several authors who have given an account of the march of the troops from Brussels to Quatre Bras, on the morning of the 16th of June, notice the warm interest which the Highlanders excited in the spectators. The warlike appearance of the garb must have considerably increased this sentiment, but it was produced by their quiet and regular habits. Mr Simpson, in his account of his visit to Flanders, states that, on that morning, "his friend was most affected with, and loved most to recount the steady, serious, and business-like march of the Highland regiments, who were about to justify, and exceed the utmost that has been said and expected of them in the Netherlands: 'God protect the brave Scotch,' 'God cover the heads of our gallant friends,' were exclamations often repeated as they passed along, and many a flower was thrown by many a fair hand into their ranks." The same author says that, at Antwerp, "a gentleman, whom he saw, had seen the wounded arrive. He himself had been recognised, and spoken to by a poor wounded Highlander, which absolutely gave him a kind of consideration in the crowd. He felt prouder than if a prince had smiled upon him. "

In the same manner it is said, in the "Circumstantial Detail," that regiment after regiment formed with the utmost regularity, and marched out of Brussels about four o'clock in the morning. "The 42d and 92d Highland regiments marched through the Place Royale and the Park. One could not but admire their fine appearance, their firm, collected, steady, military demeanour, with their bagpipes playing before them, and the beams of the rising sun shining upon their glittering arms. On many a Highland hill and Lowland valley long will the deeds of these men be remembered. [This "Near Observer," perhaps, did not know that, on many a Highland hill, and in many a Highland glen, few are left to mourn the death, or rejoice over the deeds of the departed brave. New views of Highland statistics have changed the birth-place of many a brave soldier, and defender of the honour, prosperity, and independence of this country, to a desolate waste, where no maimed soldier can now find a home or shelter, and where the sound of the pipes, and the voice of innocent gaiety and happiness, are no longer heard.] It was impossible to witness such a scene unmoved. "

A character that calls forth such feelings is worth preserving. So long as these corps are preserved as national, the character of their country is deeply interested in their conduct. If a corps retrograde in reputation and conduct, men will believe that the country whence they came is also descending in the scale, and will judge of the soil from the produce. If the produce continue the same as that exhibited in the Gordon Highlanders, the character of the country is safe.

In the Appendix is a list of officers killed and wounded, and of the number of soldiers who have fallen in battle from 1794; to 1815 inclusive: the number of officers killed previous to the peace of 1814 was 7, and of soldiers 181; at Quatre Bras, the loss was 5 officers and 33 soldiers, at Waterloo, 13 soldiers; in all, from 1794 to 1815 inclusive, 12 officers and 227 soldiers. Of the soldiers discharged, 329 are on the strength of Chelsea Hospital. Of these a great proportion has been called out to serve in the Veteran Battalions, as they are still fit for military duty.

This regiment is now stationed in Jamaica, where they lost more officers and men by climate in four months, than by the hand of the enemy in an active war of twenty-two years, in the progress of which it was twenty-six times in battle. The same intrepidity which made the fire of the enemy so comparatively harmless, did not avail against the fevers of Jamaica. But the men were unfortunately introduced into that climate at the most unhealthy season of the year. Had they landed there in the beginning of winter, and had some months' seasoning to prepare them for the heat, heavy rains, and consequent diseases of summer, it is probable that their constitutions would have withstood the climate as well as those of their countrymen of the 42d, who, in a harassing warfare under Sir Ralph Abercromby, in different Islands, in 1796 and 1797, only lost 49 men by fever and dysentery, 14 from accidents and sores in the legs, or incurable gangrenes, 33 from diseased liver and general debility, and 25 from various causes* in all 121, besides killed and dead of wounds;—a moderate loss considering the circumstances, that the yellow fever was raging at the time, that the men were living on salt provisions, and that fourteen months were spent in the woods without tents or covering, except temporary huts built by themselves.

But while the recent loss of the 92d is to be considered only as the inevitable consequence of the nature of their professional duty, it must be matter of regret that Black corps have been removed from the service. The prejudice against arming any part of the black population is strongly felt in the colonies; but an experience of twenty-five years has shown that the black soldiers showed no disposition towards those of their own colour, that could lead to danger in the event of any disturbance. On the contrary, there was more of jealousy and hatred than of cordiality betwixt the black soldiers and the negroes. The former saw themselves on a footing with British soldiers; they were well dressed, well fed, had the command of money, and looked with a contempt, which they did not conceal, on their less favoured black brethren, who in return regarded them with hatred and envy. These feelings were increased by the gay appearance of the black soldiers attracting the notice of the negro women,—a fertile and never failing source of jealousy, hatred, and revenge. So long as these causes existed, the danger of black troops joining in any negro insurrection must have been small; and although it is not to be expected that they can oppose European troops without hazard, yet they are regular in quarters, and have shown few symptoms of insubordination. If their ignorance of the English language, and incapability of comprehending instructions, had been recollected, a mild system of discipline would, in the first instance, have been more efficacious, and probably those acts of insubordination would have been avoided. The black regiments would have formed a valuable addition to our West India garrisons, by placing a proportion in each colony, along with the white troops, who would thus have been relieved from the most unhealthy duties; for, while hot, close, low situations, such as many West India towns present, destroy the health of European troops, they agree best with the blacks; and while the latter could have performed the duties there, the former might have been kept in those high, cool, and healthy spots, which abound in all the islands; and in this way many of our European soldiers would have been saved. Certainly any plan that would tend to preserve the lives of such soldiers as those of the 50th and 92d regiments, (who had served together under Sir Ralph Abercromby, Sir John Moore, and the Duke of Wellington), is worth some risk, even if there were any, which, in the present case, it is hoped there is not. The 92d are now healthy, and have a prospect of a long continuance of this blessing, which may enable them to return to England, as the 42d did from the West Indies in 1797, with scarcely one in 507 on the sick list. And when, in future, the Gordon Highlanders receive recruits, may they be such men as those, who, in the early service of the corps under Lord Huntly, so conducted themselves, that, when a short time quartered in disturbed countries, "peace and order were established, rapine had disappeared, confidence in the Government was restored, and the happiest cordiality subsisted, since his regiment came among them."


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