This regiment took its
original name from Lord Macleod, eldest
son of the Earl of Cromarty, both of whom were engaged in the rebellion of
1745. Having, on account of his youth, received an unconditional pardon
for his share in that transaction, Lord Macleod went abroad in quest of
employment in foreign service. He sojourned some time at Berlin with Field
Marshal Keith, through whose interest, it is believed, he obtained a
commission in the Swedish army. At this time his means were so limited
that he was unable to equip himself for the service, but the Chevalier de
St George, on the recommendation of Lord George Murray, sent him a sum of
money to defray the expenses of his outfit. He is described by Lord George
as "a young man of real merit," who, he was hopeful, would gain the good
opinion of those under whom he was to serve. This expectation was fully
realized, and after serving the crown of Sweden twenty-seven years with
distinguished efficiency, he obtained the rank of Lieutenant-general.
Though exiled so long from
his native country, his attachment to the land of
his birth was not in the least abated, and,
desirous of revisiting it, he returned to England in the year 1777, and
was presented to George III., who
received him very graciously. At the suggestion of Colonel Duff of Muirtown, who had served
in Keith’s Highlanders, and encouraged by the favourable reception he met
with in the North, he offered his services to raise a regiment. The offer
was accepted, and although without property or political consequence, yet
so great was the influence of his name, that 840 Highlanders were raised
and marched to Elgin in a very short time. In addition to these, 236
Lowlanders were raised by Captains the Honourable John Lindsay, David
Baird, James Fowlis, and other officers, besides 34 English and Irish, who
were enlisted in Glasgow, making in all 1100 men. The corps was embodied
at Elgin, and inspected there by General Skene in April 1778. About this
time letters of service were issued for raising a second battalion of the
same size as the first,—a service which was speedily performed. The men of
both battalions, of whom nearly 1800 were from those parts of the
Highlands where the interest of Lord Macleod’s family had once
predominated, were of a robust
constitution and of exemplary behaviour.
Colonel—John Lord Macleod.
John Elphinston. James
George Mackenzie. Hugh
Alexander Gilchrist. Hon. James Lindsay.
John Shaw. David Baird.
Captain Lieutenant and Captain
A. Geddes Mackenzie. Simon Mackenzie.
Hon. John Lindsay. Philip Melvill.
Abraham Mackenzie, Adjt. John Mackenzie.
Alexander Mackenzie. John Borthwick.
James Robertson. William Gunn.
John Hamilton. William Charles Gorrie.
John Hamilton. Hugh Sibbald.
Lewis Urquhart David Rainnie.
George Ogilvie. Charles Munro.
James Duncan. George
Simon Mackenzie. James Thrail.
Alexander Mackenzie. Hugh Dalrymple.
Colonel—John Lord Macleod.
Lieut.—Colonel—The Hon. George Mackenzie.
Hamilton Maxwell. Norman Macleod.
Hon. Colin Lindsay. Mackay Hugh Baillie.
John Mackintosh. Stair Park Dalrymple.
James Foulis. David Ross.
Robert Sinclair. Adam Colt
Norman Maclean. Angus Mackintosh.
John Irving. John Fraser.
Rod. Mackenzie, senior. Robert Arbuthnot.
Charles Douglas. David MacCulloch.
Rod. Mackenzie, junior. Murdoch Mackenzie.
Phineas Mackintosh. George Fraser.
John Mackenzie, senior. John Mackenzie, junior.
Alexander Mackenzie. Martin Eccles Lindsay.
Phipps Wharton. John Dallas.
Laughlan MacLaughlan. David Ross.
Kenneth Mackenzie. William Erskine.
John Fraser. John Forbes.
John MacDougal. AEneas Fraser.
Hugh Gray. William Rose.
John Mackenzie. Simon Fraser, Adjutant
The first battalion, under Lord Macleod, embarked for
the East Indies in January 1779, and arrived in Madras Roads on the 20th
of January 1780. The second battalion, under the command of the Honourable
Lieut.-Colonel George Mackenzie, brother of Lord Macleod, was sent to
Gibraltar, where it landed two days before the arrival of the first
battalion at Madras.
The second battalion formed part of the garrison of
Gibraltar during the siege, which lasted upwards of three years. In this,
the only service in which it was engaged, the battalion had 30 privates
killed and 7 sergeants, and 121 rank and file wounded. In May 1783 it
returned to England, and was reduced at Stirling in October following. The
officers who were regimentally senior in rank had liberty granted to join
the first battalion in India.
The first battalion joined the army under Major-General
Sir Hector Munro, and assembled at St Thomas’s Mount, near Madras, in July
1780. This force amounted to 5209 men, and, with the exception of one
battalion of the Company’s European troops and the Grenadiers of another
and 800 Highlanders, consisted of native troops.
This young and untried regiment had scarcely arrived in
India, when Hyder Ali, forcing his way through the Ghants, at the head of
100,000 men, burst like a mountain torrent into the Carnatic. He had
interposed his vast army between that of the British, commanded by Sir
Hector Monro, and a smaller force, under the command of Colonel Baillie,
which were endeavouring to form a junction. The latter having, though
victorious, sustained a serious loss in an engagement with Hyder All’s
troops, sent to the commander an account of his difficult position,
stating that, from the loss he had sustained and his total want of
provisions, he was equally unable to advance or remain in his then
situation. With the advice of a council of war, Sir Hector judged the only
course was to endeavour to aid Colonel Baillie, with such a reinforcement
as would enable him to push forward in defiance of the enemy. The
detachment selected for this enterprise consisted of about 1,000 men under
Colonel Fletcher; and its main force was composed of the grenadier and
infantry companies of Lord Macleod’s regiment, commanded by Captain Baird.
Hyder Ali having gained intelligence of this movement, sent a strong body
to cut them off on their way, but, by adopting a long circuitous route,
and marching by night, they at length safely effected a junction with
Colonel Baillie. With the most consummate skill, however, Hyde,
determining that they should never return, prepared an ambuscade, into
which, early on the morning of the 10th of September, they unwarily
advanced. The enemy, with admirable coolness and self-command, reserved
their fire till the unhappy British were in the very midst of them. The
army under the command of Colonels Baillie and Fletcher, and Captain
Baird, marched in column. On a sudden, whilst in a narrow defile, a
battery of twelve guns opened upon them, and, loaded with grape-shot,
poured in upon their right flank. The British faced about; another battery
opened immediately upon their rear. They had no choice therefore, but to
advance; other batteries met them here likewise, and in less than half an
hour fifty-seven pieces of cannon, brought to bear on them at all points,
penetrated into every part of the British line. By seven o’clock in the
morning, the enemy poured down upon them in thousands: Captain Baird and
his grenadiers fought with the greatest heroism. Surrounded and attacked
on all sides, by 25,000 cavalry, by thirty regiments of Sepoy infantry,
besides Hyder’s European corps, and a numerous artillery playing upon them
from all quarters, within grape shot distance, yet did this gallant column
stand firm and undaunted, alternately facing their enemies on every side
of attack. The French officers in Hyder’s camp beheld with astonishment
the British Grenadiers, under Captain Baird’s command, performing their
evolutions in the midst of all the tumult and extreme peril, with as much
precision, coolness, and steadiness, as if upon a parade ground. The
little army, so unexpectedly assailed, had only ten pieces of cannon, but
these made such havoc amongst the enemy, that after a doubtful contest of
three hours, from six in the morning till nine, victory began to declare
for the British. The flower of the Mysore cavalry, after many bloody
repulses, were at length entirely defeated, with great slaughter, and the
right wing, composed of Ryder’s best forces, was thrown into disordor.
Ryder himself was about to give orders for retreat, and the French officer
who directed the artillery began to draw it off, when an unforeseen and
unavoidable disaster occurred, which totally changed the fortune of the
day. By some unhappy accident the tumbrils which contained the ammunition
suddenly blew up in the centre of the British lines. One whole face of
their column was thus entirely laid open, and their artillery overturned
and destroyed. The destruction of men was great, but the total loss of
their ammunition was still more fatal to the survivors. Tippoo Sahib, the
son of Ryder, instantly seized the moment of advantage, and without
waiting for orders, fell with the utmost rapidity, at the head of the
Mogul and Carnatic horse, into the broken square, which had not had time
to recover its form and order. This attack by the enemy’s cavalry being
immediately seconded by the French corps and by the first line of
infantry, determined at once the fate of our unfortunate army. After
successive prodigies of valour, the brave Sepoys were almost to a man cut
to pieces. Colonels Baillie and Fletchar, assisted by Captain Baird, made
one more desperate effort. They rallied the Europeans, and, under the fire
of the whole immense artillery of the enemy, gained a little eminence, and
formed themselves into a new square. In this form did this intrepid band,
though totally without ammunition, the officers fighting only with their
swords and the soldiers with their bayonets, resist and repulse the
myriads of the enemy in thirteen different attacks; until at length,
incapable of withstanding the successive torrents of fresh troops which
were continually pouring upon them, they were fairly borne down and
trampled upon, many of them still continuing to fight under the very legs
of the horses and elephants. To save the lives of the few brave men who
survived, Colonel Baillie had displayed his handkerchief on his sword, as
a flag of truce; quarter was promised, but no sooner had the troops laid
down their arms than they were attacked with savage fury by the enemy. By
the humane interference, however, of the French officers in Hyder’s
service, many lives were saved. Colonel Fletcher was slain on the field.
Colonel Baillie, severely wounded, and several other officers, with two
hundred Europeans, were made prisoners. When brought into the presence of
Hyder, he, with true Asiatic barbarism, received them with the most
insolent triumph. The British officers, with a spirit worthy of their
country, retorted with an indignant coolness and contempt. "Your son will
inform you," said Colonel Baillie, "that you owe the victory to our
disaster, rather than to our defeat." Hyder angrily ordered them from his
presence, and commanded them instantly to prison. Captain Baird had
received two sabre-wounds on his heed, a ball in his thigh, and a
pike-wound in his arm. He lay a long time on the field of battle, narrowly
escaping death from some of the more ferocious of the Mysore cavalry, who
traversed the field spearing the wounded, and at last being unable to
reach the force under Munro, he was obliged to surrender to the enemy.
The result of this battle was the immediate retreat of
the main army under Sir Hector Munro to Madras. Colonel Baillie, Captain
Baird, and five other British officers were marched to one of Hyder’s
nearest forts, and afterwards removed to Seringapatam, where they were
joined by others of their captive countrymen, and subjected to a most
horrible and protracted imprisonment. It was commonly believed in Scotland
that Captain Baird was chained by the leg to another man; and Sir Walter
Scott, writing in May 1821 to his son, then a cornet of dragoons, with his
regiment in Ireland, when Sir David was commander of the forces there,
says, "I remember a story that when report came to Europe that Tippoo’s
prisoners (of whom Baird was one) were chained together two and two, his
mother said, ‘God pity the poor lad that’s chained to our
Davie!" She knew him to be active,
spirited and daring, and probably thought that he would make some
desperate effort to escape. But it was not the case that he was chained to
another. On the 10th of May all the prisoners had been put in irons except
Captain Baird; this indignity he was not subjected to till the 10th of
November following. "When they were about," says his biographer, "to put
the irons on Captain Baird, who was completely disabled in his right leg,
in which the wound was still open, and whence the ball had just then been
extracted, his friend Captain Lucas, who spoke the language perfectly,
sprang forward, and represented in very strong terms to the Myar the
barbarity of fettering him while in such a dreadful state, and assured him
that death would be the inevitable termination of Captain Baird’s
sufferings if the intention were persisted in. The Myar replied that the
Circar had sent as many pairs of irons as there were prisoners, and they
must be put on. Captain Lucas then offered to wear two sets himself, in
order to save his friend. This noble act of generosity moved the
compassion even of the Myar, who said he would send to the Kellidar,
(commander of the fort,) to open the book of fate. He did so, and when the
messenger returned, he said the book had been opened, and Captain Baird’s
fate was good; and the irons were in consequence not put on at that time.
Could they really have looked into the volume of futurity, Baird would
undoubtedly have been the last man to be spared." Each pair of irons was
nine pounds weight. Captain Lucas died in prison. Captain Baird lived to
revenge the sufferings which he and his fellow-prisoners endured by the
glorious conquest of Seringapatam on the 4th of May, 1799.
Some time after the battle of Conjeveram, Lord Macleod
took ship for England, having, it is said, differed in opinion with
General Munro on the subject of his movements, particularly those
preceding Colonel Baillie’s disaster. He was succeeded in the command of
the 73d by Colonel James Crawford who, with the regiment now reduced to
500 men, joined the army under Sir Eyre Coote on the morning of the 1st of
July 1781, when about to attack the enemy at Perth Novo.
General Coote’s army did not exceed 8000 men, of which
the 73d was the only British regiment. The force under Hyder Ali consisted
of 25 battalions of infantry, 400 Europeans, between 40,000 and 50,000
horse, and above 100,000 matchlock men, peons, and polygars, with 47
pieces of cannon. Nothwithstanding this immense disparity of force, Sir
Eyre Coote determined to attack Hyder, and, accordingly, drew up his army
in two lines, the first commanded by Major-general Hector Munro, and the
second by Major-general James Stewart. A plain divided the two armies,
beyond which the enemy were drawn up on ground strengthened by front and
flanking redoubts and batteries. General Coote advanced to the attack at
nine o’clock, and, after a contest of eight hours, the enemy was forced
from all his entrenchments, and compelled to retire.
The 73d was on the right of the first line, and led all
the attacks, to the full approbation of General Coote, whose notice was
particularly attracted by one of the pipers, who always blew up his most
warlike sounds whenever the fire became hotter than ordinary. This so
pleased the General that he cried aloud, "Well done, my brave fellow, you
shall have a pair of silver pipes for this!" The promise was not
forgotten, and a handsome pair of pipes was presented to the regiment,
with an inscription in testimony of the General’s esteem for its conduct
After a variety of movements, both armies again met,
August 27th, near Perambaucum, the spot so fatal to Colonel Baillie’s
"Perhaps there come not within the wide range of human
imagination scenes more affecting, or circumstances more touching, than
many of our army had that day to witness and to bear. On the very spot
where they stood lay strewed amongst their feet the relics of their
dearest fellow soldiers and friends, who near twelve months before had
been slain by the hands of those very inhuman monsters that now appeared a
second time eager to complete the work of blood. One poor soldier, with
the tear of affection glistening in his eye, picked up the decaying
spatterdash of his valued brother, with the name yet entire upon it which
the tinge of blood and effects of weather had kindly spared. Another
discovered the club or plaited hair of his bosom friend, which he himself
had helped to form, and knew by the tie and still remaining colour. A
third mournfully recognised the feather which had decorated the cap of his
inseparable companion. The scattered clothes and wings of the flank
companies of the 73d were everywhere perceptible, as also their helmets
and skulls, both of which bore the marks of many furrowed cuts.
These horrid spectacles, too melancholy to dwell upon,
while they melted the hardest hearts, inflamed our soldiers with an
enthusiasm and thirst of revenge such as render men invincible; but their
ardour was necessarily checked by the involved situation of the army."
Hyder All, in anticipation of an attack, had taken up a
strong position on ground intersected by deep water courses and ravines.
The British commander formed his line of battle under a heavy fire, which
the troops bore with firmness. An obstinate contest took place, which
lasted from nine in the morning till sun-set. Hyder then abandoned his
position, leaving General Coote master of the field of battle. The loss of
the British was upwards of 400 killed and wounded, almost all native
Colonel Crawford having become second in command, in
consequence of the departure of General Munro for England, and the
disabling of General Stewart in the last-mentioned action, Captain Shaw
assumed the command of the 73d regiment It continued attached to General
Coote’s army, and was present at the battles of Sholungar on the 27th of
September 1781, and of Arnee on the 2d of June 1782.
[In these encounters the regiment suffered little loss.
Munro in his narrative mentions the following case: "I take this
opportunity of commemorating the fall of John Doune Mackay, corporal in
Macleod’s Highlanders, son of Robert Doune, the bard whose singular talent
for the beautiful and extemporaneous composition of Gaelic poetry, was
held in such esteem. This son of the bard had frequently revived the
spirits of his countrymen, when drooping in a long march, by singing the
humorous and lively productions of his father. He was killed by a
cannon-shot, and buried with military honours by his comrades the same
Having obtained reinforcements from England, General
Stewart, who had recovered from his wounds, and succeeded to the command
of the army on the death of General Coote, who died in April 1783,
resolved to attack Cuddalore, the garrison of which had also obtained
considerable additions from the Isle of France. General Stuart accordingly
appeared before the place on the 6th of June 1783, and as M. Bussy, who
commanded the garrison, was active in increasing his means of defence, he
determined to make a speedy attack, and fixed the morning of the 13th for
that purpose. The firing of three guns from a hill was to be the signal
for a simultaneous assault at three different points; but in consequence
of the noise of the cannonade which was immediately opened, the signals
were not distinguished, and the attacks were not made at the same time.
The enemy were thus enabled to direct their whole forces against each
successive attack, and the result was, that one of the divisions was
driven back. In the ardour of the pursuit, the besieged evacuated their
redoubts, which were instantly taken possession of by Lieutenant-colonel
Cathcart with the Grenadiers, and Lieutenant-colonel Stuart "with the
precious remains of the 73d regiment." Though Colonel Stuart’s party were
forced to retire from the more advanced posts, yet as they retained
possession of the principal redoubts, the advantage already was on the
side of the British. In the belief that the French would retire from all
their advanced posts during the night, General Stuart did not attempt to
carry them. This expectation was realised. In this affair the 73d had
Captains Alexander Mackenzie, and the Honourable James Lindsay,
Lieutenants Simon Mackenzie and James Trail, 4 sergeants and 80 rank and
file killed; and Captain John Hamilton, Lieutenants Charles Gorrie, David
Rannie, John Sinclair, James Duncan, and George Sutherland, 5 sergeants,
and 107 rank and file wounded. The casualties of the enemy exceeded 1000
The following flattering compliment formed part of the
general orders issued by the Commander-in-chief at the conclusion of the
battle:—" I am also grateful to Captain Lamont and the officers under his
command, who gallantly led the precious remains of the 73d regiment
through the most perilous road to glory, until exactly one half of the
officers and men of the battalion were either killed or wounded."
With the aid of 2400 men from the fleet, under Admiral
Suffrein, Bussy made a spirited sortie on the 25th of June, but was driven
back with great loss. Hostilities terminated on the 1st of July in
consequence of accounts of the signature of preliminaries of peace between
Great Britain and France having been received. The army returned to St
Thomas’s Mount at the conclusion of the definitive treaty of peace, in
In consequence of the arrangements made when the second
battalion was reduced, the Honourable Lieutenant-Colonel George Mackenzie,
and some other officers of that corps, joined the regiment in 1785. Next
year the number of the regiment was changed to the 71st, on which occasion
it received new colours. The same year the corps sustained a heavy loss by
the death of Colonel Mackenzie, when Captain (afterwards General Sir
David) Baird was appointed Major. Lord Macleod died in 1789, and was
succeeded in the Colonelcy by the Honourable Major-General William Gordon.
The strength of the regiment was at this time about 800 men, having been
kept up to that number by occasional detachments from Scotland.
The war between Tippoo Sahib and the East India
Company, which broke out in 1790, brought the regiment again into active
service. In May of that year, the 71st and Seaforth’s Highlanders (now the
72d), joined a large army assembled at Trichinopoly, the command of of
which was assumed by Major-General Meadows. The right wing was commanded
by Lieutenant-Colonel James Stuart, and the left by Lieutenant-Colonel
Bridges, while the two Highland regiments formed the second brigade. In
the campaign against Tippoo, the 71st followed all the movements of the
army. The flank companies were employed in the attack on Dundegul, and the
regiment was after the capture of that place, engaged in the siege of
Lord Cornwallis joined the army early in 1791 as
Commander-in-chief, and, after various movements, encamped close to
Bangalore on the 5th of March. He made an assault on the 21st, and carried
the place with little loss. The attack was led by the flank companies,
including those of the 71st, all under the cornmand of the Honourable John
Lindsay and Captain James Robertson, son of Principal Robertson the
Having obtained a reinforcement of 10,000 well-mounted
native cavalry and some European troops from the Carnatic, Lord Cornwallis
advanced upon Seringapatam, and on the 13th of May came within sight of
the enemy, drawn up a few miles from the town, having the river on their
right, and the heights of Carrighaut on their left. On the 15th the enemy
were forced from a strong position, and drives across the river into the
island on which the capital stands. In this affair the 71st had Lieutenant
Roderick Mackenzie, and 7 rank and file killed; and Ensign (afterwards
Lieutenant-Colonel of the 50th regiment) Chas. Stewart, and 74 rank and
The advanced state of the season, and other
unfavourable circumstances operating against a siege, Lord Cornwallis
retired to Bangalore. From this place he detached Major Gowdie to attack
Nundydroog, a strong fortified granite rock of great height. Except on one
side this fortress was inaccessible, and care had been taken to strengthen
that part by a double line of ramparts; and an outwork covered the gate by
a flanking fire. Notwithstanding its great elevation, and very steep
ascent, Nundydroog could still be approached, though it required immense
labour to render the approaches available. After fourteen days’ intense
exertion, the besiegers succeeded in drawing up some guns, and erecting
batteries on the face of a craggy precipice, from which they made two
breaches, one on the re-entering angle of the outwork, and the other in
the curtain of the outer wall.
Moving with his whole army towards Nundydroog, on the
18th of October, Lord Cornwallis made preparations for storming the place.
An assault by night having been determined upon, Lieutenant Hugh
Mackenzie, (afterwards paymaster of the 71st,) with twenty grenadiers of
the 36th and 71st regiments, was to lead the attack on the right, and
Lieutenant Moore, with twenty light infantry, and two flank companies of
the same regiment, under the command of Lieutenants Duncan and Kenneth
Mackenzie, was to lead the left. The whole was under the command of
Captain (afterwards Lieutenant-General) James Robertson, supported by
Captain (afterwards Major-General) Burns, with the grenadiers, and Captain
Hartly with the light infantry of the 36th regiment. Whilst waiting the
signal to advance, one of the soldiers whispered something about a
mine. General Meadows overhearing the observation, took advantage of
the circumstance, by intimating that there was a mine, but it was
"a mine of gold." This remark was not thrown away upon the troops.
Apprehensive of an assault, the enemy had provided
themselves with huge masses of granite, to hurl down upon the besiegers
when they should attempt to ascend the rock. The assault was made on the
morning of the 19th of October, in a clear moonlight, and in spite of
every obstacle the assailants effected a lodgement within one hundred
yards of the breach. Driven from the outward rocks, the enemy attempted to
barricade the gate of the inner rampart; but it was soon forced, and the
place carried with the loss of 30 men amongst the native troops killed and
wounded, principally from the stones which were rolled down the rock.
Encouraged by this success, Lord Cornwallis next laid
siege to Savendroog, the strongest rock in the Mysore, and hitherto deemed
impregnable. This stronghold was considerably higher than Nundydroog, and
was separated by a chasm into two parts at the top, on each of which parts
was a fort, but each independent of the other. The arduous duty of
reducing this stronghold was intrusted to Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart, who
had already distinguished himself in other enterprises. Some of the
outworks were battered, preparatory to an assault, which was fixed for the
21st of December. Accordingly on the morning of that day, the flank
companies of the 52d, the two Highland regiments and the 76th, were
assembled under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Nisbet of the 52d, and
at eleven o’clock in the forenoon, the party advanced to the assault to
the air of Britons Strike Home, performed by the band of the 52d
regiment. The assailants then ascended the rock, clambering up a precipice
which was so nearly perpendicular, that after the capture of the place the
men were afraid to descend. The citadel on the eastern top was soon
carried, and eventually the whole of the rock, the assailants losing only
two men. This success was soon followed by the capture of all the other
strongholds in the Mysore.
Bent upon the capture of the Sultan’s capital, the
possession of which would, it was supposed, finish the war, Lord
Cornwallis, in the month of January 1792, put his army in motion for
Seringapatam, of which place he came in sight on the 4th of February. On
the evening of the 6th he formed his army into three columns; the right
column consisting of the 36th and 76th regiments, being under the command
of General Meadows; the centre one, consisting of the 52d, with the 71st
and 74th Highland regiments, under Lord Cornwallis, with
Lieutenant-Colonels James Stuart and the Honourable John Knox; and the
left column, being the 72d Highland regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel
Maxwell. The native troops were divided in proportion to each column.
General Meadows was to penetrate the enemy’s left, after which he was to
attempt to open and preserve the communication with Lord Cornwallis’s
division, by directing all his efforts towards the centre. Part of the
centre division, under Colonel Stewart, was to pierce through the centre
of the enemy’s camp, and attack the works on the island, while Colonel
Maxwell with the left wing was directed to force the works on Carrighaut
Hill, and descending thence to turn the right of the main division, and
unite with Colonel Stuart. The three columns began to move at eight
o’clock in the evening. "The head of the centre column led by the flank
companies of the regiment, after twice crossing the Lockary, which covered
the right wing of the enemy, came in contact with their first line, which
was instantly driven across the north branch of the Cavery, at the foot of
the glacis of the fort of Seringapatam. Captain Lindsay, with the
grenadiers of the 71st, attempted to push into the body of the place, but
was prevented by the raising of the drawbridge a few minutes before he
advanced. He was here joined by some grenadiers and light infantry of the
52d and 76th regiments. With this united force he pushed down to the Loll
Bang, where he was fiercely attacked by a body of the enemy, whom he
quickly drove back with the bayonet. His numbers were soon afterwards
increased by the grenadier company of the 74th, when he attempted to force
his way into the Pettah (or town,) but was opposed by such overwhelming
numbers that he did not succeed. He then took post in a small redoubt,
where he maintained himself till morning, when he moved to the north bank
of the river, and joined Lieutenant-Colonels Knox and Baird, with the
troops who formed the left of the attack. During these operations the
battalion companies of the 52d, 71st, and 72d regiments forced their way
across the river to the island, overpowering all that opposed them. At
this moment, Captain Archdeacon, commanding a battalion of Bengal seapoys,
was killed. This threw the corps into some confusion, and caused it to
fall back on the 71st, at the moment that Major Dalrymple was preparing to
attack the Sultan’s redoubt, and thus impeded his movements. However, the
redoubt was attacked, and instantly carried. The command was given to
Captain Sibbald, who had led the attack with his company of the 71st. The
animating example and courage of this officer made the men equally
irresistible in attack, and firm in the defence of the post they had
gained. The enemy made several vain attempts to retake it. In one of these
the brave Captain Sibbald was killed. Out of compliment to this officer,
the Commander-in-chief changed the name from Sultan’s to Sibbald’s
redoubt. In this obstinate defence the men had consumed their ammunition,
when, by a fortunate circumstance, two loaded oxen of the enemy,
frightened by the firing, broke loose from their drivers, and taking
shelter in the ditch of this redoubt, afforded an ample and seasonable
supply. The command of this post was assumed by Major Kelly of the 74th
regiment, who had gone up with orders from the Commander-in-chief, and
remained there after the death of Captain Sibbald. The Sultan seemed
determined to recover this redoubt distinguished by his own name, and
directed the French troops to attack it. But they met with no better
success than the former, notwithstanding their superior discipline."
The loss of the enemy in this affair was estimated at
4000 men and 80 pieces of cannon. That on the side of the assailants was
535 men killed and wounded. Of the 71st, Captain Sibbald and Lieutenant
Baine, 2 sergeants, and 34 rank and file were killed; and Ensigns Duncan
Mackenzie, and William Baillie, 3 sergeants, and 67 rank and file wounded.
On the 9th of February Major-General Robert Abercromby,
with the army from Bombay, consisting of the 73d and 75th Highland, and
77th, besides some native regiments, joined the besieging army. Operations
for the siege were begun the same day; but nothing particular occurred
till the 18th, when Major Dalrymple, to cover the opening of the trenches,
crossed the Cavory at nine o’clock at night, and surprised and routed a
camp of Tippoo’s horse. During the three following days traverses were
finished; and on the 22d, the enemy, after a warm contest, were defeated
by a part of the Bombay army under General Abercromby. This was the last
effort of the Sultan, who sued for peace, and obtained it at the expense
of nearly one-half of his dominions, which he ceded to the East India
On the termination of the war, the 71st, now under the
command of Lieutenant-colonel David Baird, was marched to the neighbour
hood of Trichinopoly, where they remained till the breaking out of the war
with France in 1793. The flank companies were employed on the expedition
against Ceylon, in the month of August that year, in which enterprise
Captain Genie was severely wounded, and 11 men were killed and wounded.
On the 2d of January 1797, the regiment was inspected by Major-general
Clarke, who issued the following general order :—
"Major-General Clarke has experienced infinite satisfaction, this
morning, at the review of His Majesty’s 71st regiment.
"He cannot say that on any occasion of field exercise he ever was
present at a more perfect performance.
"When a corps is so striking in appearance, and so
complete in every branch of its discipline, little can occur to the
Commander-in-chief to particularise. He cannot but notice, however, that
the 71st regiment has excited his admiration for its expertness in those
parts of its exercise which are most essential, and most difficult to
execute. He alludes to its order and regularity when moving in line; its
extreme accuracy in preserving distances, and the neatness and promptitude
that are so evident in all its formations. So much perfection in a corps,
whose services in India will long be held in remembrance, does the
greatest honour to Lieut.-Colonel Baird and all his officers, to whom, and
the corps at large, the Commander-in-chief desires to offer his best
In October 1797, in consequence of orders, all the
soldiers fit for service, amounting to 560 men, were drafted into the 73d
and 74th regiments; those unfit for service, along with the officers and
non-commissioned officers, sailed from Madras for England on the 17th of
October, and arrived in the Thames in August 1798. The regiment was then
removed to Leith, and thence to Stirling, after an absence of nearly 18
years from Scotland. [On the 28d of May 1821, His Majesty King George the
Fourth was graciously pleased to authorise the 71st to bear on the
regimental colour and appointments the word "HINDOOSTAN," in commemoration
of its distinguished services in the several actions in which it had been
engaged, while in India, between the years 1780 and 1797.]
As a mark of indulgence, a general leave of 2 months
was granted to the officers and men of the 71st, to enable them to visit
their friends and families, after so long an absence from their native
The regiment remained in Scotland till June, 1800, when
it was removed to Ireland, having previously received an accession of 600
volunteers from the Scottish fencible regiments. This augmented the corps
to 800 men, of whom 600 were Highlanders. On the 24th of April, 1801,
Lieutenant-Colonel Pack joined and assumed command of the regiment. In
August 1803, Major-General Sir John Francis Cradock was appointed Colonel
of the 71st, in succession to General the Honourable William Gordon. A
second battalion was ordered to be embodied at Dumbarton, in the year
1804. From the success with which the recruiting for this battalion was
carried on in Glasgow, and the favour shown to the men by the
in-habitants, the corps acquired the name of the "Glasgow Highland Light
The first battalion sailed from Cork on the 5th of
August, 1805, on the expedition against the Cape of Good Hope, (of which
an account will be found under the head of the Sutherland Regiment,) and
reached its destination on the 4th of January 1806. On this service the
regiment had 6 rank and file killed, and Brevet-Lieutenant-Colonel Robert
Campbell, 5 sergeants, and 67 rank and file wounded.
This enterprise was followed by that against Buenos
Ayres, of which the 71st formed the chief force. The expedition reached
the Rio de la Plata on the 8th of June, and passing Monte Video, anchored
opposite to the city of Buenos Ayres, on the 24th. The troops and the
marines of the fleet, amounting together to about 1400 men, landed the
following evening without opposition. Next forenoon the troops moved
forward to the village of Reduction in full view of the enemy, who were
posted on the brow of an adjoining eminence. The enemy, after firing a few
shots, retired into the city. On the 27th the passage of the Rio Chuelo
was forced, and the result was that the city surrendered. The Spaniards,
however, soon attempted to regain what they had lost, and in the beginning
of August collected a force of 1500 men in the neighbourhood; but these
were attacked and dispersed by General Beresford, with a detachment of the
71st, and the corps of St Helena. Notwithstanding their dispersion,
however, these troops collected again, and on the 10th of August,
surprised and cut off a sergeant’s guard. Next day the town was abandoned
by the British, who retired to the fort, and seeing no prospect of relief,
capitulated the same evening. The 71st lost in this expedition Lieutenant
Mitchell and Ensign Lucas, and 91 non-commissioned officers and privates
were killed and wounded.
After the capitulation of General Whitelock’s army, the
regiment was restored to liberty, and embarked with the troops for
England. The regiment landed in Ireland and marched to Middleton and
afterwards to Cork, where it received a reinforcement of 200 men from the
second battalion, by which the effective force was increased to 920 men.
On the 21st of April, 1808, the regiment received new colours instead of
those they had surrendered at Buenos Ayres. The colours were presented by
General Floyd, a veteran officer, who had frequently witnessed the
gallantry of the 71st in India. He made an eloquent speech on the
occasion, the conclusion of which was as follows:-
"I am directed to perform the honourable duty of
presenting your colours.
"Brave SEVENTY-FIRST! The world is well acquainted with
your gallant conduct at the capture of Buenos Ayres, in South
America, under one of His Majesty’s bravest generals.
"It is well known that you defended your conquest with
the utmost courage, good conduct, and discipline to the last extremity.
When diminished to a handful, hopeless of succour, and destitute of
provisions, you were overwhelmed by multitudes, and reduced by the fortune
of war to lose your liberty, and your well-defended colours, but not your
honour. Your honour, SEVENTY-FIRST regiment, remains unsullied. Your last
act in the field covered you with glory. Your generous despair, calling
upon your general to suffer you to die with arms in your hands proceeded
from the genuine spirit of British soldiers. Your behaviour in
prosperity,—your sufferings in captivity,— and your faithful discharge of
your duty to your King and country, are appreciated by all.
"You who now stand on this parade, in defiance of the
allurements held out to base desertion, are endeared to the army and to
the country, and your conduct will ensure you the esteem of all true
soldiers,—of all worthy men,—and fill every one of you with honest martial
"It has been my good fortune to have witnessed, in a
remote part of the world, the early glories and gallant conduct of the
SEVENTY-FIRST regiment in the field; and it is with great satisfaction I
meet you again, with replenished ranks, and with good arms in your hands,
and with stout hearts in your bosoms.
"Look forward, officers and soldiers, to the
achievement of new honours and the acquirement of fresh fame.
"Officers, be the friends and guardians of these brave
fellows committed to your charge.
‘Soldiers, give your confidence to your officers. They
have shared with you the chances of war; they have bravely bled along with
you; they will always do honour to themselves and you. Preserve your
regiment’s reputation for valour in the field and regularity in quarters.
"I have now the honour to present the
This is the KING’S COLOUR.
"I have now the honour to present your REGIMENTAL
"This is the colour of the SEVENTY-FIRST regiment.
"May victory for ever crown these colours."
The expectations which General Floyd had formed of the
regiment were soon to be realised. In the mouth of June the first
battalion of the regiment embarked at Cork for Portugal, in the expedition
under Sir Arthur Wellesley, which sailed on the 13th of July. The fleet
arrived in Mondego Bay on the 29th, and the forces, amounting to 10,000
men, landed early in August. In a few days a body of 5000 troops from
Gibraltar joined the army. General Wellesley made a forward movement
towards Lisbon on the 9th of August, and was joined on the 11th by 6000
Portuguese, but being destitute of provisions and military stores he could
not proceed. The British army reached Caldas on the 14th—four companies of
the 60th and Rifle corps pushing forward to the village of Brilos, then in
possession of the enemy. An affair of advanced posts now took place, which
ended in the occupation of the village by the British. This was the
commencement of a series of battles and operations which raised the
military fame of Great Britain to the highest pitch, overtopping all the
glories of Marlborough’s campaigns. Lieutenant Bunbury and a few privates
of the Rifle corps were killed on this occasion.
The French under General Laborde, amounting to upwards
of 5000 men, took up a position on the heights of Roleia, whither they
were followed by the British on the 17th. These heights were steep and
very difficult of access, with only a narrow path leading to the summit;
but notwithstanding the almost insuperable obstacles which presented
themselves, the position was carried by the British, after a gallant
resistance by the French, who were forced to retreat at all points. The
light company of the 71st was the only part of the regiment engaged, the
remainder being employed in manoeuvring on the right flank of the French.
The company had only one man killed and one wounded.
The regiment acted a conspicuous part in the battle of
Vimeiro, which took place on the 21st of August 1808.
It was Sunday morning, and the men were engaged in
washing their clothes, cleaning their fire-locks, and in other
employments, when the French columns made their appearance on the opposite
hills, about half-past eight. "To arms" was sounded, and everything being
packed up as soon as possible, the 71st, along with the other brigaded
regiments, left the camp ground, and moved across a valley to the heights
on the east of Vimeiro.
The grenadier company of the 71st greatly distinguished
itself, in conjunction with a sub-division of the light company of the
36th regiment. Captain Alexander Forbes, who commanded the grenadier
company, was ordered to the support of some British artillery, and,
seizing a favourable opportunity, made a dash at a battery of the enemy’s
artillery immediately in his front. He succeeded in capturing five guns
and a howitzer, with horses, caissons, and equipment complete. In this
affair alone the grenadier company had Lieutenants John Pratt and Ralph
Dudgeon and 13 rank and file wounded, together with 2 men killed.
[Lieut.-General Sir Harry Burrard landed during the action, but did not
assume the command. Lieut-General Sir Hew Dalrymple landed on the
following day, and took command of the army. The force under Lieut.
-General Sir John Moore was also disembarked during the negotiation, which
subsequently took place, making the British army amount to 32,000 men.]
The French made a daring effort to retake their
artillery, both with cavalry and infantry; but the gallant conduct of the
grenadier company, and the advance of Major-General Ferguson’s brigade,
finally left the guns in the possession of those who had so gallantly
George Clark, one of the pipers of the regiment, and
afterwards piper to the Highland Society of London, was wounded in this
action, and being unable to accompany his corps in the advance against the
enemy, put his pipes in order, and struck up a favourite regimental air,
to the great delight of his comrades. This is the second instance in which
the pipers of the 71st have behaved with particular gallantry, and evinced
high feeling for the credit and honour of the corps.
During the advance of the battalion, several prisoners
were taken, among whom was the French general, Brennier. Corporal John
M’Kay, of the 71st, who took him, was afterwards promoted to an ensigncy
in the Fourth West India Regiment.
The result of this battle was the total defeat of the
enemy, who subsequently retreated on Lisbon, with the loss of twenty-one
pieces of cannon, twenty-three ammunition waggons, with powder, shells,
stores of all descriptions, and 20,000 rounds of musket ammunition,
together with a great many officers and soldiers killed, wounded, and
The conduct of the battalion, and of its commanding
office; Lieut.-Colonel Pack, was noticed in the public despatches, and the
thanks of both Houses of Parliament were conferred on the troops.
The following officers of the 71st were wounded in the
battle of Vimeiro :—Captains Arthur Jones and Maxwell Mackenzie;
Lieutenants John Pratt, William Hartley, Augustus M’Intyre, and Ralph
Dudgeon; Ensign James Campbell, and Acting Adjutant R. M’Alpin.
The 71st subsequently received the royal authority to
bear the word " Vimeiro" on the regimental colour and appointments,
in commemoration of this battle.
The "Convention of Cintra," signed on the 30th
of August, was the result of this victory. By its provisions the French
army evacuated Portugal, which thus became freed from its oppressors.
In September, Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore assumed
the command and made dispositions for entering Spain. The 71st was
brigaded with the 36th and 92d regiments under Brigadier-General Catlin
Crawfurd, and placed in the division under the command of
Lieutenant-General the Honourable John Hope, afterwards the Earl of
Hopetoun. On the 27th October the division left Lisbon, and joined the
forces under Moore at Salanianca. The regiment took part in the disastrous
retreat under Sir John Moore to Corunna, and along with the rest of the
army suffered dreadfully from the severity of the weather, want of food
and clothing, and disease.
"At this period the situation of the British army was
dispiriting in the extreme. In the midst of winter, in a dreary and
desolate country, the soldiers, chilled and drenched with the heavy rains,
and wearied by long and rapid marches, were almost destitute of fuel to
cook their victuals, and it was with extreme difficulty that they could
procure shelter. Provisions were scarce, irregularly issued, and difficult
of attainment. The waggons, in which were their magazines, baggage, and
stores, were often deserted in the night by the Spanish drivers, who were
terrified by the approach of the French. Thus baggage, ammunition, stores,
and even money were destroyed to prevent them falling into the hands of
the enemy; and the weak, the sick, and the wounded were necessarily left
behind. The 71st suffered in proportion with the rest, and by weakness,
sickness, and fatigue, lost about 93 men."
In January 1809, Lieutenant-General Francis Dundas was
appointed from the 94th regiment to be Colonel of the 71st, in succession
to Sir John Francis Cradock, removed to the 43d.
On the 11th of January the army under Moore arrived at
Corunna, where the furious battle was fought in which this famous leader
got his death-wound. We have already, in our account of the 42d, given
sufficient details of this engagement. While waiting for the transports
some skirmishing took place with the French, in which four companies of
the 71st were warmly engaged, and lost several men in killed and wounded.
In the general battle on the 16th, the 71st, being placed on the extreme
left of the British line, had little to do therein. In commemoration of
this battle, and of the conduct of the regiment during the expedition, the
71st was authorised to hear the word
Corunna on the regimental colours and appointments.
On the 17th of January the army embarked for England,
and reached Plymouth about the end of the month, where the men were
received by the people with the utmost enthusiasm, and were welcomed into
every house as if they had been relations. The battalion in which was the
71st was marched to Ashford barracks, where it remained for some time. In
June the first battalion was increased by the addition of several officers
and 311 non-commissioned officers and men from the second battalion which
continued to be stationed in Scotland, and by a number of volunteers from
In March 1809, the royal authority was granted for the
71st to be formed into a light infantry regiment, when it was directed
that the clothing, arming, and discipline should be the same as those of
other regiments of a similar kind. However, it cannot be said to have
ceased to be a Highland regiment, for the men were permitted to retain
such parts of the national dress as might not be inconsistent with their
duties as a light corps. Lieutenant-Colonel Pack wrote to the
Adjutant-General, in April 1810, on the subject, and received the
following reply from headquarters :—
"Horse Guards, 12th April, 1810.
"Sir,—Having submitted to the Commander-in Chief your
letter of the 4th instant, I am directed to state, that there is no
objection to the 71st being denominated Highland Light Infantry
Regiment, or to the retaining of their pipes, and the Highland garb
for the pipers; and that they will, of course, be permitted to wear caps
according to the pattern which was lately approved and sealed by
[The bonnet cocked Is the pattern cap to which
allusion is made in the above letter. This was in accordance with
Lieutenant-Colonel Pack’s application; and with respect to retaining the
pipes, and dressing the pipers in the Highland garb, he added, "It cannot
be forgotten how these pipes were obtained, and how constantly the
regiment has upheld its title to them. These are the honourable
characteristics which must preserve to future times the precious remains
of the old corps, and of which I feel confident His Majesty will never
have reason to deprive the list regiment."]
"I have, &e.
The 71st was next employed on the disastrous expedition
to Walcheren, for which the most gigantic preparations had been made. The
troops amounted to 40,000 men, commanded by Lieutenant-General the Earl of
Chatham, while the naval portion consisted of 39 ships of the line, 36
frigates, and numerous gunboats and bomb-vessels, and ether small craft,
under Admiral Sir James Strachan.
On the 16th of July, the first battalion of the 71st,
consisting of 3 field-officers, 6 captains, 27 subalterns, 48 sergeants,
and 974 drummers and rank and file, embarked at Portsmouth on board the
Belleisle and Impérzeuse. The expedition sailed from the Downs
on the 28th of July, and in about thirty hours reached Roompet Channel,
when the 71st was the first to disembark. It was brigaded with the 68th
and 85th regiments, under the command of Brigadier-General the Baron de
Rottenburg, in the division commanded by Lieutenant-General Alexander
Mackenzie Fraser, and the corps of Lieutenant-General Sir Eyre Coote. The
light brigade, consisting of the 71st, 68th, and 85th light infantry, were
landed under cover of the fire of some small craft, and immediately on
landing came in contact with the enemy’s sharpshooters, who fell back
skirmishing. Two of the companies of the 71st captured four guns and
several prisoners. A battery and flagstaff on the coast were taken
possession of by the 10th company of the 71st, and in place of a flag, a
soldier’s red jacket was hoisted on it. Further details of this expedition
we take the liberty of copying from Cannon’s history of this regiment.
"This advance having succeeded at all points, and the
enemy having fallen back on Flushing and Middelburg, the
army was disembarked. The advance then dividing, proceeded by different
routes. The 71st moved by the sea dyke on a fort called Ter Veer,
the situation and strength of which was not sufficiently known, an enemy’s
deserter having given but imperfect intelligence respecting it.
After nightfall the column continued to advance in
perfect silence, with orders to attack with the bayonet, when, on a
sudden, the advance-guard fell in with an enemy’s party, who came out for
the purpose of firing some houses which overlooked the works. The column
following the advance guard, had entered an avenue or road leading to the
fort, when the advance commenced the action with the enemy, who, retiring
within the place, opened a tremendous fire from his works with artillery
and musketry. Some guns pointing down the road by which the battalion
advanced did great execution, and the 71st had Surgeon Charles Henry Quin
killed, and about 18 men killed and wounded. The column, after some
firing, retired, and the place was the next day regularly invested by sea
and land. It took three days to reduce it, when it capitulated, with its
stores, and a garrison of 800 men.
Flushing having been invested on the 1st of August, the
71st, after the surrender of Ter Veer, were ordered into the line of
circumvallation, and placed on the extreme left, resting on the Scheldt.
The preparations for the attack on the town having been completed, on the
13th a dreadful fire was opened from the batteries and bomb-vessels, and
congreve rockets having been thrown into the town, it was on fire in many
places. The ships having joined in the attack, the enemy’s fire gradually
slackened, and at length cessed. A summons being sent in, a delay was
demanded, but being rejected, the firing recommenced.
On the 14th of August one of the outworks was carried
at the point of the bayonet by a party of detachments and two companies of
the 71st under Lieutenant-Colonel Pack.
In this affair Ensign Donald Sinclair, of the 71st, was
killed; Captain George Spottiswoode and a few men were wounded.
Flushing, with its garrison of 6000 men, capitulated on
the 15th of August, and the right gate was occupied by a detachment of 300
men of the first or Royal Scots, and the left gate by a detachment of
similar strength of the 71st under Major Arthur Jones. The naval arsenal,
and some vessels of war which were on the stocks, fell into the hands of
The 71st shortly after proceeded to Middelburg, where
the battalion remained for a few days, when it was ordered to occupy
Ter Veer, of which place
Lieutenant-Colonel Pack was appointed commandant, and Lieutenant Henry
Clements, of the 71st, town major. The battalion remained doing duty in
the garrison until this island, after the works, &c., were destroyed, was
finally evacuated on the 22d of December.
On the 23d of December, the battalion embarked in
transports, and sailed for England, after a service of five months in a
very unhealthy climate, which cost the battalion the loss of 90 officers
In passing Cadsand, that fort opened a fire on the
transports, one of which, having part of the 71st on board, was struck by
a round shot, which carried off Sergeant Steele’s legs above the knees.
On the 25th of December, the first battalion of the
71st disembarked at Deal, and marched to Brabourne-Lees Barracks, in Kent,
where it was again brigaded with the 68th and 85th light infantry, and was
occupied in putting itself in an efficient state for active service."
In May 1810, the battalion removed to Deal Barracks,
and while here Lieutenant-Colonel Pack was removed from the regiment to
become a brigadier in the Portuguese army. In the early part of September
the battalion received orders to prepare six companies for foreign
service, which was done by drafting into the 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 6th, and
10th companies the most effective officers and men belonging to the other
companies. When completed, the companies altogether consisted of 30
officers, 42 sergeants, and 615 rank and file. These companies sailed on
the 15th September from the Downs in two frigates, and disembarked at
Lisbon on the 26th of the same month, when the men were quartered in two
convents. "To my great joy," says the Journal of a
Soldier of the 71st, "we paraded in the grand square, on the
seventh day after our arrival, and marched in sections, to the music of
our bugles, to join the army: having got our camp equipments, consisting
of a camp-kettle and bill-hook, to every six men; a blanket, a canteen,
and haversack, to each man. Orders had been given that each soldier, on
his march, should carry along with him three days’ provision. Our mess of
six cast lots who should be cook the first day, as we were to carry the
kettle day about; the lot fell to me. My knapsack contained two shirts,
two pairs of stockings, one pair of overalls, two shoe-brushes, a shaving
box, one pair of spare shoes, and a few other articles; my great-coat and
blanket above the knapsack; my canteen with water was slung over my
shoulder, on one side; my haversack, with beef and bread, on the other;
sixty round of ball-cartridge, and the camp-kettle above all."
At Mafra, to which place the detachment marched on the
2nd of October, it was joined by Lieutenant-Colonel the Honourable Henry
Cadogan, who assumed the command. The detachment joined the army under
Wellington at Sobral on the 10th, and was brigaded with the 50th and 92d
regiments, under Major. General Sir William Erskine, in the first division
under Lieutenant-General Sir Brent Spencer. We cannot do better than quote
from the simple but graphic journal already referred to :—
"We had not been three hours in the town, and were busy
cooking, when the alarm sounded. There were nine British and three
Portuguese regiments in the town. We were all drawn up and remained under
arms, expecting every moment to receive the enemy, whose skirmishers
covered Windmill Hill. In about an hour the light companies of all the
regiments were ordered out, along-with the 71st. Colonel Cadogan called to
us, at the foot of the hill, ‘My lads, this is the first affair I have
ever been in with you; show me what you can do, now or never.’ We gave a
hurra, and advanced up the hill, driving their advanced skirmishers before
us, until about half-way up, when we commenced a heavy fire, and were as
hotly received. In the meantime the remaining regiments evacuated the
town. The enemy pressed so hard upon us, we were forced to make the best
of our way down the hill, and were closely followed by the French, through
the town, up Gallows Hill. We got behind a mud wall, and kept our ground
in spite of their utmost efforts. Here we lay upon our arms all night.
Next morning, by day-break, there was not a Frenchman
to be seen. As soon as the sun was fairly up, we advanced into the town,
and began a search for provisions, which had now become very scarce; and,
to our great joy, we found a large store-house full of dry fish, flour,
rice, and sugar, besides bales of cloth. All now became bustle and mirth;
fires were kindled, and every man became a cook. Scones [Thin fish cakes]
were the order of the day, Neither flour nor sugar were wanting, and the
water was plenty; so I fell to bake myself a flour scone. Mine was mixed
and laid upon the fire, and I, hungry enough, watching it. Though neither
neat nor comely, I was anticipating the moment when it would be eatable.
Scarce was it warm ere the bugle sounded to arms. Then was the joy that
reigned a moment before turned to execrations. I snatched my scone off the
fire, raw as it was, put it into my haversack, and formed. We remained
under arms until dark, and then took up our old quarters upon Gallows
Hill, where I ate my raw scone, sweetly seasoned by hunger. In our advance
to the town we were much entertained by some of our men who had got over a
wall the day before, when the enemy were in the rear; and now were put to
their shifts to get over again, and scarce could make it out.
Next morning the French advanced to a mud wall, about
forty yards in front of the one we lay behind. It rained heavily this day,
and there was very little firing. During the night we received orders to
cover the bugle and tartans of our bonnets with black crape, which had
been served out to us during the day, and to put on our great-coats. Next
morning the French, seeing us thus, thought we had retired, and left
Portuguese to guard the heights. With dreadful shouts they leaped over
that wall before which they had stood, when guarded by British. We were
scarce able to withstand their fury. To retreat was impossible; all behind
being ploughed land, rendered deep by the rain. There was not a moment to
hesitate. To it we fell, pell-mell, French and British mixed together. It
was a trial of strength in single combat: every man had his opponent. many
had two." In the first of these affairs the detachment had 8 men killed
and 34 wounded. In Wellington’s despatch concerning the affair of the
14th, the names of Lieutenant-Colonels Cadogan and Reynell were
particularly mentioned. John Rea, a soldier of the 6th company of the 71st
behaved on this occasion with so much gallantry, and so particularly
distinguished himself, that he received a silver medal, inscribed "To John
Rea, for his exemplary courage and good conduct as a soldier at Sobral,
14th October 1810."
On the 15th October the 71st retired between the lines
at Tibreira, a continuation of those at Torres Vedras. Here the detachment
remained along with the other regiments watching Marshal Massena, until
the latter was compelled to retire from want of provisions in the nights
between the 14th and 15th November. He was followed by the allied forces,
and the 71st, along with the rest of its division, were quartered in and
about Almoster from the 20th to the 26th. Massena took up a position in
the vicinity of Santarem, and Wellington, after some manoeuvring, placed
himself in front of the enemy, having his headquarters at Cartano. The
71st was quartered in a convent at Alquintrinha, where the detachment
remained until March 1811. In this month two companies of the 1st
battalion arrived in the Peninsula to reinforce the regiment, other two
coming out in July. On the night of the 5th of March, the French gave the
British army the slip, deceiving the latter by placing wooden guns in
their batteries, and stuffing old clothes with straw, which they put in
place of their sentinels. It was two days before the trick was discovered.
The British army immediately followed in pursuit, but did not come up with
the enemy until they reached the Aguida on the 9th of April. The division,
in which was the 71st, was posted at Abergaria, a small town on the
frontiers of Spain, where it remained till the 30th April, when, on
account of the movements of the enemy, the British army was moved out of
its cantonments, and was formed in line on the high ground about two miles
in rear of Fuentes d’Onor.
"On the 3rd of May, at day-break, all the cavalry and
sixteen light companies occupied the town. We stood under arms until three
o’clock, when a staff-officer rode up to our colonel, and gave orders for
our advance. Colonel Cadogan put himself at our head, saying, ‘My lads,
you have had no provisions these two days; there is plenty in the hollow
in front, let us down and divide.’ We advanced as quick as we could run,
and met the light companies retreating as fast as they could. We continued
to advance at doable-quick time, our firelocks at the trail, our bonnets
in our hands. They called to us, ‘Seventy-first, you will come back
quicker than you advance.’ We soon came full in front of the enemy. The
colonel cried, ‘Here is food, my lads; cut away.’ Thrice we waved our
bonnets, and thrice we cheered; brought our firelocks to the charge, and
forced them back through the town.
How different the duty of the French officers from
ours! They, stimulating the men by their example; the men vociferating,
each chafing each until they appear in a fury, shouting, to the points of
our bayonets. After the first huzza, the British officers, restraining
their man, still as death—’Steady, lads, steady,’ is all you hear, and
that in an under tone.
During this day the loss of men was great. In our
retreat back to the town, when we halted to check the enemy, who bore hard
upon us, in their attempts to break our line, often was I obliged to stand
with a foot upon each side of a wounded man, who wrung my soul with
prayers I could not answer, and pierced my heart with his cries to be
lifted out of the way of the cavalry. While my heart bled for them, I have
shaken them rudely off.
We kept up our fire until long after dark. About one
o’clock in the morning we got four ounces of bread served out to each man,
which had been collected out of the haversacks of the Foot Guards. After
the firing had ceased, we began to search through the town, and found
plenty of flour, bacon, and sausages, on which we feasted heartily, and
lay down in our blankets, wearied to death. Soon as it was light the
firing commenced, and was kept up until about ten o’clock, when Lieutenant
Stewart, of our regiment, was sent with a flag of truce, for leave to
carry off our wounded from the enemy’s lines, which was granted; and, at
the same time, they carried off theirs from ours. We lay down, fully
accoutred, as usual, and slept in our blankets. An hour before day we were
ready to receive the enemy.
About half-past nine o’clock, a great gun from the
French line, which was answered by one from ours, was the signal to
engage. Down they came, shouting as usual. We kept them at bay, in spite
of their cries and formidable looks. How different their appearance from
ours! their hats set round with feathers, their beards long and black,
gave them a fierce look. Their stature was superior to ours; most of us
were young. We looked like boys; they like savages. But we had the true
spirit in us. We foiled them in every attempt to take the town, until
about eleven o’clock, when we were overpowered, and forced through the
streets, contesting every inch.
During the preceding night we had been reinforced by
the 79th regiment, Colonel Cameron commanding, who was killed about this
time. Notwithstanding all our efforts, the enemy forced us out of the
town, then halted, and formed close column betwixt us and it. While they
stood thus the havoc amongst them was dreadful. Gap after gap was made by
our cannon, and as quickly filled up. Our lose was not so severe, as we
stood in open files. While we stood thus, firing at each other as quick as
we could, the 88th regiment advanced from the lines, charged the enemy,
and forced them to give way. As we passed over the ground where they had
stood, it lay two and three deep of dead and wounded. While we drove them
before us through the town, in turn, they were reinforced, which only
served to increase the slaughter. We forced them out, and kept possession
The 71st took 10 officers and 100 men prisoners, but
lost about half their number in killed and wounded. Those killed were
Lieutenants John Consell, William Houston, and John Graham, and Ensign
Donald John Kearns, together with 4 serjeants and 22 rank and file.
Captains Peter Adamson and James M'Intyre, Lieutenants
William M’Craw, Humphrey Fox, and Robert Law (Adjutant), Ensigns Charles
Cox, John Vandeleur, and Carique Lewin, 6 serjeants, 3 buglers, and 100
rank and file, were wounded. Two officers, with several men, were taken
In commemoration of the gallantry displayed in this
prolonged action, the 71st subsequently received the royal authority to
bear the words ‘Fuentes d'Onor" on the regimental colour and
Viscount Wellington particularly mentioned the name of
Lieut.-Colonel the Honourable Henry Cadogan in his despatch, and being
highly gratified with the conduct of the 71st on this occasion, directed
that a non-commissioned officer should be selected for a commission.
According to his Lordship’s recommendation, Quartermaster-Serjeant William
Gavin was shortly afterwards promoted to an ensigncy in the regiment.
The 71st, on the 14th of May, returned to Albergaria,
where it remained till the 26th, when it was marched to reinforce Marshal
Beresford’s army, then beseiging Badajot. After a variety of marchings,
the battalion went into camp at Toro de Moro, where it remained a month,
and was recruited by a detachment of 350 from the 2d battalion, stationed
at Deal. The battalion returned along with Wellington’s army on the 20th
of July to Borba, where it remained until the 1st of September, when it
removed to Portalegre, and thence marched to Castello do Vido on October
On the 22nd of October, we received information that
General Girard, with 4000 men, infantry and cavalry, was collecting
contributions in Estremadura, and had cut off part of our baggage and
supplies. We immediately set off from Portalegre, along with the brigade
commanded by General Hill, and, after a most fatiguing march, the weather
being very bad, we arrived at Malpartida. The French were only ten miles
distant. By a near cut, on the Merida road, through Aldea del Cane, we got
close up to them, on the 27th, at Alcuesca, and were drawn up in columns,
with great guns ready to receive them. They had heard nothing of our
approach. We went into the town. It was now nigh ten o’clock; the enemy
were in Arroyo del Molino, only three miles distant. We got half a pound
of rice served out to each man, to be cooked immediately. Hunger made
little cooking necessary. The officers had orders to keep their men
silent. We were placed in the houses; but our wet and heavy accoutrements
were, on no account, to be taken off. At twelve o’clock we received our
allowance of rum; and, shortly after, the serjeants tapped at the doors,
calling not above their breath. We turned out, and at slow time continued
The whole night was one continued pour of rain. Weary,
and wet to the skin, we trudged on, without exchanging a word; nothing
breaking the silence of the night save the howling of the wolves. The
tread of the men was drowned by the pattering of the rain. When day at
length broke we were close upon the town. The French posts had been
withdrawn into it, but the embers still glowed in their fires. During the
whole march the 71st had been with the cavalry and horse-artillery, as an
General Hill rode up to our colonel, and ordered him to
make us clean out our pans (as the rain had wet all the priming), form
square, and retire a short distance, lest the French cavalry had seen us,
and should make an attack; however, the drift was so thick, they could
not—it blew right in their faces when they looked our way. The Colonel
told us off in three divisions, and gave us orders to charge up three
separate streets of the town, and force our way, without halting, to the
other side. We shouldered our arms. The general, taking off his hat, said,
‘God be with you—quick march.’ On reaching the gates, we gave three
cheers, and in we went; the inhabitants calling, ‘Live the English,’ our
piper playing ‘Hey Johnny Cope;’ the French swearing, fighting in
confusion, running here and there, some in their shirts, some half
accoutred. The streets were crowded with baggage, and men ready to march,
all now in one heap of confusion. On we drove: our orders were to take no
prisoners, neither to turn to the right nor left, until we reached the
other side of the town.
As we advanced I saw the French general come out of a
house, frantic with rage. Never shall I forget the grotesque figure he
made, as he threw his cocked hat upon the ground, and stamping upon it,
gnashed his teeth. When I got the first glance of him he had many medals
on his breast. In a minute his coat was as bare as a private’s.
We formed under cover of some old walls. A brigade of
French stood in view. We got orders to fire: not ten pieces in a company
went off, the powder was again so wet with the rain. A brigade of
Portuguese artillery came up. We gave the enemy another volley, leaped the
wall, formed column, and drove them over the hill; down which they threw
all their baggage, before they surrendered. In this affair we took about
3000 prisoners, 1600 horse, and 6 pieces of artillery, with a great
quantity of baggage, &c.
We were again marched back to Portalegre, where the
horses were sold and divided amongst the men according to their rank. I
got 2s. 6d."
The 71st remained in Portalegre till March 1812, having
taken part, during the January of that year, in the expulsion of the
French from Estremadura. After the capture of Badajoz by Wellington on the
6th of April, the 71st, and the other troops under the command of
Lieutenant. General Sir Rowland Hill, retired into Andalusia. Wellington,
having armed the Tagus against Marshal Marmont, Sir Rowland Hill’s force
took post at Almendralejos for the purpose of watching Marshal Soult. Here
the list remained from the 13th April to the 11th May, when it along with
the rest of Sir R. Hill’s corps marched to Almaraz to destroy the bridge
of boats there. On the 18th of May it reached the height on which the
castle of Mirabete stands, five miles from Almaraz.
"On the evening of the third day, General Hill ordered
our left companies to move down to the valley, to cover his reconnaisance.
When he returned, the officers were called. A scaling ladder was given to
each section of a company of the left wing, with the exception of two
companies. We moved down the hill in a dismal manner; it was so dark we
could not see three yards before us. The hill was very steep, and we were
forced to wade through whins and scramble down rocks, still carrying the
ladders. When day-light, on the morning of the 19th, at length showed us
to each other, we were scattered all over the foot of the hill like
strayed sheep, not more in one place than were held together by a ladder.
We halted, formed, and collected the ladders, then moved on. We had a
hollow to pass through to get at the battery. The French had cut a part of
the brae-face away, and had a gun that swept right through into the
hollow. We made a rush past it, to get under the brae on the other side.
The French were busy cooking, and preparing to support the other fort,
thinking we would attack it first, as we had lain next it.
On our approach the French sentinel fired and retired.
We halted, fixed bayonets, and moved on in double-quick time. We did not
receive above four shots from the battery, until we were under the works,
and had the ladders placed to the walls. Their entrenchment proved deeper
than we expected, which caused us to splice our ladders under the wall;
during which time they annoyed us much, by throwing grenades, stones, and
logs over it; for we stood with our pieces cocked and presented. As soon
as the ladders were spliced, we forced them from the works, and out of the
town, at the point of the bayonet, down the hill and over the bridge. They
were in such haste, they cut the bridge before all their men had got over,
and numbers were either drowned or taken prisoners. One of our men had the
honour to be the first to mount the works.
Fort Napoleon fired two or three shots into Fort
Almaraz. We took the hint from this circumstance, and turned the guns of
Almaraz on Fart Napoleon, and forced the enemy to leave it.
We moved forward to the village of Almaraz, and found
plenty of provisions, which had been very scarce with us for some days."
The whole of this brilliant affair was concluded in
about 15 minutes, the regiment losing Captain Lewis Grant, 1 sergeant, and
7 rank and file, killed; Lieutenants William Lockwood and Donald Ross, 3
sergeants, and 29 rank and file wounded. The names of 36 non-commissioned
officers and soldiers were inserted in regimental orders for conspicuous
bravery on this occasion, and "Almaraz" was henceforth inscribed
upon the regimental colours. Both in the Brigade and General Orders, the
71st was particularly mentioned.
From this time to the 7th of November the 71st was
occupied with many tedious marchings and counter marchings in accordance
with the movements of the enemy. It occupied Alba de Tormes from the 7th
till the 13th of November, and during that period sustained a loss, in
action with the enemy, of 1 sergeant and 6 rank and file killed, and 1
bugler and 5 rank and file wounded. The army retired from this part and
began to return on Portugal; and after various slight skirmishes with the
enemy, reached Puerto de Baños in December, where it remained till April
1813, being then removed to Bejar, which it occupied till May 21st. In
December the 1st battalion was joined by a draft of 150 men from the 2nd.
On the 20th of June the battalion along with the rest of its division
encamped at La Puebla, in the neighbourhood of Vitoria.
On the morning of the 21st, the two armies being in
position, the 71st was ordered to ascend the heights of La Puebla to
support the Spanish forces under General Morillo. Forward they moved up
the hill under a very heavy fire, in which fell mortally wounded their
commander Colonel Cadogan, who, in falling requested to be carried to a
neighbouring height, from which he might take a last farewell of the
regiment and the field.
"The French had possession of the top, but we soon
forced them back, and drew up in column on the height, sending out four
companies to our left to skirmish. The remainder moved on to the opposite
Scarce were we upon the height, when a heavy
column, dressed in great-coats, with white covers on their hats, exactly
resembling the Spanish, gave us a volley, which put us to the right about
at double-quick time down the hill, the French close behind, through the
whins. The four companies got the word, the French were on them. They
likewise thought them Spaniards, until they got a volley that killed or
wounded almost every one of them. We retired to the height, covered by the
50th, who gave the pursuing column a volley which checked their speed. We
moved up the remains of our shattered regiment to the height. Being in
great want of ammunition, we were again served with sixty rounds a man,
and kept up our fire for some time, until the bugle sounded to cease
We lay on the height for some time. Our drought was
excessive; there was no water upon the height, save one small spring,
which was rendered useless. At this time the major had the command, our
second colonel being wounded. There were not 300 of us on the height able
to do duty, out of above 1000 who drew rations in the morning. The cries
of the wounded were most heart-rending.
The French, on the opposite height, were getting under
arms: we could give no assistance, as the enemy appeared to be six to one
of us. Our orders were to maintain the height while there was a man of us.
The word was given to shoulder arms. The French at the same moment got
under arms. The engagement began in the plains. The French were amazed,
and soon put to the right about, through Vitoria. We followed, as quick as
our weary limbs would carry us. Our legs were full of thorns, and our feet
bruised upon the roots of the trees. Coming to a bean field at the bottom
of the heights, the column was immediately broken, and every man filled
his haversack. We continued to advance until it was dark, and then
encamped on a height above Vitoria.
This was the dullest encampment I ever made. We had
left 700 men behind. None spoke; each hung his head, mourning the loss of
a friend and comrade. About twelve o’clock a man of each company was sent
to receive half a pound of flour for each man at the rate of our morning’s
strength, so that there was more than could be used by those who had
escaped. I had fired 108 rounds this day."
The loss of the regiment in the battle of Vitoria was
dreadful. Colonel the Honourable Henry Cadogan, Captain Hall, Lieutenants
Fox and Mackenzie, 6 serjeants, 1 bugler, and 78 rank and file were
killed; Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Cother; Captains Reed, Pidgeon, and
Grant; Lieutenants Duff, Richards, M’Intyre, Cox., Torriano, Campbell, and
Cummeline; 13 serjeants, 2 buglers, and 255 rank and file were wounded.
The enemy retired to Pamplona, followed by the British,
who afterwards marched towards the Pyrenees, the 71st reaching Maya upon
the 8th of July. At Maya, on July 25th,—of which, as of other Peninsular
battles, details will be found in the account of the 42nd,—the 71st
behaved with marked bravery, maintaining their position to the last, and,
when their ammunition was exhausted, hurling stones upon the enemy to
impede their advance. The 71st had 3 sergeants and 54 rank and file
killed, and 6 sergeants and 77 rank and file wounded.
The army under General Hill continued retiring until
the 30th of July, when a strong position was taken up at Lizasso. Here
they were attacked by the French, the 71st taking an active part in the
engagement, and losing 1 sergeant, and 23 rank and file killed, and 2
sergeants and 34 rank and file wounded.
In the action in the pass of Della Maria on the 31st,
the 71st distinguished itself, and had 1 sergeant and 29 rank and file
killed, and 2 sergeants and 45 rank and file wounded. For the part taken
in these engagements the 71st was authorised to bear the word
"Pyrenees" on its colours and appointments. Between the 14th of June
and the 7th August, the regiment lost in killed and wounded, 33 officers,
6 buglers, and 553 rank and file.
For nearly three months after the last engagement the
regiment was encamped on the heights of Roncesvalles, where the men were
principally engaged in the construction of block-houses and batteries, and
in the formation of roads for artillery, during which they suffered
dreadfully from the inclemency of the weather. On the night of October
11th a strong party of the French made an attack upon an advance of 15 men
of the 71st under Sergeant James Ross, but the small band, favoured
somewhat by their position and the darkness, maintained its ground, and
forced the enemy to retire. At the request of Lieutenant-General Sir
William Stewart, each of the 16 men was presented with a medal.
After the battle of Nivelle, in which the 71st did not
take part, the regiment occupied part of the town of Cambo, and was there
joined by a detachment of 16 men of the 2nd battalion (then in Glasgow),
under the command of Lieutenant Charles Henderson. On the 9th of December
the 71st crossed the Nive without loss, the regiment forming upon the top
of the opposite height, and sending out two companies after the enemy,
who, however, eluded pursuit. The enemy retired on Bayonne, and General
Hill disposed his army with the right on the Adour, the left above the
Nive, and the centre, in which was the 71st, at St Pierre, across the high
road to St Jean Pied-de-Pert.
"All the night of the 11th December we lay in camp upon
the face of a height, near the Spaniards. In the afternoon of the 12th, we
received orders to move round towards Bayonne, where we were quartered
along the main road. There we remained until we received orders to march
to our own right, to assist a Spanish force which was engaged with
superior numbers. We set off by day-light on the morning of the 13th
towards them, and were moving on, when General Hill sent an aide-de-camp
after us, saying, ‘That is not the direction,—follow me.’ We put to
right-about, to the main road towards Bayonne. We soon came to the scene
of action, and were immediately engaged. We had continued firing, without
intermission, for five hours, advancing and retreating, and lost a great
number of men, but could not gain a bit of ground. Towards evening we were
relieved by a brigade which belonged to another division. As many of us as
could be collected were drawn up. General Hill gave us great praise for
our behaviour this day, and ordered an extra allowance of liquor to each
man. We were marched back to our old quarters along the road-side. We lay
upon the road-side for two or three days, having two companies three
leagues to the rear, carrying the wounded to the hospital. We were next
cantoned three leagues above Bayonne, along the side of the river. We had
strong picquets planted along the banks. The French were cantoned upon the
ether side. Never a night passed that we were not molested by boats
passing up and down the river, with provisions and necessaries to the
town. Our orders were to turn out and keep up a constant fire upon them
while passing. We had two grasshopper guns planted upon the side of the
river, by means of which we one night sunk a boat loaded with clothing for
the army, setting it on fire with red-hot shot.
Next day we were encamped in the rear of the town,
being relieved by a brigade of Portuguese. We remained in camp two or
three days, expecting to be attacked, the enemy having crossed above us on
the river. We posted picquets in the town, near our camp. At length,
receiving orders to march, we moved on, until we came to a river on our
right, which ran very swift. Part of the regiment having crossed, we got
orders to come to the right-about, and were marched back to our old
campground. Next morning we received orders to take another road toward
Salvatierra, where we encamped that night, and remained until the whole
army assembled the following day.
About two o’clock in the afternoon we were under arms,
and moved towards the river, covered by a brigade of artillery. We forded,
and continued to skirmish along the heights until the town was taken. We
lost only one man during the whole time. We encamped upon the other side
of the town; and next morning followed the line of march, until we came
before a town called Aris. We had severe fighting before we got into it.
We were led on by an aide-de-camp. The contest lasted until after dark. We
planted picquets in different streets of the town; the enemy did the same
in others. Different patroles were sent out during the night, but the
French were always found on the alert. They retired before day-light, and
we marched into the town with our music at the head of the regiments. The
town appeared then quite desolate, not worth two pence; but we were not
three days in it, until the French inhabitants came back, opened their
shops and houses, and it became a fine lively place."
In the action of the 13th December the list lost
Lieutenant-Colonel Mackenzie, Lieutenants Campbell and Henderson,
2 sergeants, and 24 men killed;
Captains Barclay and Grant, Lieutenants M’Intyre and Torriano, and 37 men
wounded. For these services the regiment bears "Nive" on its
colours. On the 26th February 1814 the regiment was in action at
Sauveterre, and on the 27th took part in the battle of Orthez, although it
appears that in the latter it sustained little or no loss. It bears
"Orthez" on its colours.
Two divisions of the French army having retired to Aire,
after the action of the 27th of February, Lieutenant-General Sir Rowland
Hill moved upon that town to dislodge them. Upon the 2d of March the
French were found strongly posted upon a ridge of hills, extending across
the great road in front of the town, having their right on the Adour. The
second division attacked them along the road, seconded by a Portuguese
brigade, and drove them from their position in gallant style. Lieutenant
James Anderson and 17 rank and file were tilled; Lieutenant Henry
Frederick Lockyer, 1 sergeant, and 19 rank and file, were wounded.
A detachment from the second battalion, consisting of 1
captain, 4 subalterns, and 134 rank and file, under the command of Major
Arthur Jones, joined at Aire.
On the 25th of March part of the battalion was engaged
in an affair at Tarbes, in which Lieutenant Robert Law was wounded, and
upon the 10th of April was in position at Toulouse, where some of the
companies were employed skirmishing, and sustained a loss of 1 sergeant
and 3 rank and file killed; 6 rank and file were wounded.
On the 10th of April the regiment marched to Toulouse,
in order to attack it. It was drawn up in column behind a house, and sent
out the flank companies to skirmish; the French, however, evacuated
Toulouse on the night of the 11th, when the 71st and the other regiments
entered the town. The following interesting incident, in connection with
the attack on Toulouse, is narrated by a soldier of the 71st in his
"I shall ever remember an adventure that happened to
me, towards the afternoon. We were in extended order, firing and retiring.
I had just risen to run behind my file, when a spent shot struck me on the
groin, and took the breath from me. ‘God receive my soul!' I said, and sat
down resigned. The French were advancing fast I laid my musket down and
gasped for breath. I was sick, and put my canteen to my head, but could
not taste the water; however, I washed my mouth, and grew less faint. I
looked to my thigh, and seeing no blood, took resolution to put my hand to
the part, to feel the wound. My hand was unstained by blood, but the part
was so painful that I could not touch it. At this moment of helplessness
the French came up. One of them made a charge at me, as I sat pale as
death. In another moment I would have been transfixed, had not his next
man forced the point past me: ‘Do not touch the good Scot,’ said he; and
then addressing himself to me, added, ‘Do you remember me?’ I had not
recovered my breath sufficiently to speak distinctly: I answered, ‘No.’ ‘I
saw you at Sobral,’ he replied. Immediately I recognised him to be a
soldier whose life I had saved from a Portuguese, who was going to kill
him as he lay wounded. ‘Yes, I know you,’ I replied. ‘God bless you!’
cried he; and, giving me a pancake out of his hat, moved on with his
fellows; the rear of whom took my knapsack, and left me lying. I had
fallen down for greater security. I soon recovered so far as to walk,
though with pain, and joined the regiment next advance."
On the afternoon of April 12th word came that Napoleon
had abdicated, and shortly after peace was proclaimed, and a treaty
concluded between France and England.
The 71st marched from Toulouse to Blaachfort, where it
was encamped for about a fortnight, after which it proceeded to Bordeaux,
where it embarked on the 15th of July, arriving in Cork on the 28th of
that month. Shortly afterwards the regiment proceeded to Limerick, where
it lay for the rest of the year, and where Colonel Reynell assumed the
command in December. In January 1815 the first battalion of the 71st
embarked at Cork, and proceeded to America; but peace having been
concluded with the United States, its destination was changed, in
consequence of Napoleon having again broken loose, and resumed his former
dignity of Emperor of the French. Thus England was once more embroiled in
war. The 71st was in consequence transhipped in a small craft, and sent to
Ostend, where it disembarked on April 22nd. It was then marched to Leuze,
where, quartered in the surrounding villages, it lay til June 16th, 1815,
under the command of Colonel Reynell. It was brigaded with the first
battalion of the 52nd, and eight companies of the 95th regiment (Rifles),
the brigade being commanded by Major-General Frederick Adam, and the
division by Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton. The first battalion had
at this time 997 rank and file. The regiment was drilled every day, and on
the morning of June 16 was proceeding to its drill-ground as usual, when
it was ordered immediately to advance upon Nivelles, where it arrived late
at night. On the same day Blucher had been attacked at Ligny, and
Wellington had successfully met Marshal Ney at Quatre Eras, in which
action the 71st had no chance of taking part, although they had their own
share of the fighting at Waterloo. On the morning of the 17th the 71st
took the road to Waterloo, and along with the other regiments of the
brigade took up a position behind Hougoumont, where they lay under arms,
amid pouring rain, all night. Two hours after daybreak, General Hill came
down and took away the 10th company to cover his reconnaissance, and
shortly after, the regiment set to cleaning their arms, and preparing for
action. All the opposite heights were covered by the enemy.
The artillery had been tearing away since day break in
different parts of the line. About twelve o’clock we received orders to
fall in for attack. We then marched up to our position, where we lay on
the face of a brae, covering a brigade of guns. We were so overcome by the
fatigue of the two days’ march, that scarce had we lain down until many of
us fell asleep. We lay thus about an hour and a half, under a dreadful
fire, which cost us about 60 men, while we had never fired a shot. The
balls were falling thick amongst us.
About two o’clock a squadron of lancers came down,
hurrahing, to charge the brigade of guns: they knew not what was in the
rear. The general gave the word, ‘Form square.’ In a moment the whole
brigade were on their feet, ready to receive the enemy. The general said,
‘Seventy-first, I have often heard of your bravery, I hope it will not be
worse to-day than it has been.’ Down they came upon our square. We soon
put them to the right-about.
Shortly after we received orders to move to the
heights. Onwards we marched, and stood, for a short time, in square,
receiving cavalry every now and then. The noise and smoke were dreadful.
We then moved on in column for a considerable way, and formed line; gave
three cheers, fired a few volleys, charged the enemy, and drove them back.
At this moment a squadron of cavalry rode furiously
down upon our line. Scarce had we time to form. The square was only
complete in front when they were upon the points of our bayonets. Many of
our men were out of place. There was a good deal of jostling for a minute
or two, and a good deal of laughing. Our quarter-master lost his bonnet in
riding into the square; got it up, put it on, back foremost, and wore it
thus all day. Not a moment had we to regard our dress. A French general
lay dead in the square; he had a number of ornaments upon his breast. Our
men fell to plucking them off, pushing each other as they passed, and
snatching at them.
We stood in square for some time, whilst the 13th
dragoons and a squadron of French dragoons were engaged. The 13th dragoons
retiring to the rear of our column, we gave the French a volley, which put
them to the right-about; then the 13th at them again. They did this for
some time; we cheering the 13th, and feeling every blow they received.
The whole army retired to the heights in the rear; the
French closely pursuing to our formation where we stood, four deep, for a
considerable time. As we fell back, a shot cut the straps of the knapsack
of one near me: it fell, and was rolling away. He snatched it up, saying
‘I am not to lose you that way, you are all I have in the world,’ tied it
on the best manner he could, and marched on.
Lord Wellington came riding up. We formed square, with
him in our centre, to receive cavalry. Shortly the whole army received
orders to advance. We moved forwards in two columns, four deep, the French
retiring at the same time. We were charged several times in our advance.
This was our last effort; nothing could impede us. The whole of the enemy
retired, leaving their guns and ammunition, and every other thing behind.
We moved on towards a village, and charged right through, killing great
number!, the village was so crowded. We then formed on the other side of
it, and lay down under the canopy of heaven, hungry and weary to death. We
had been oppressed, all day, by the weight of our blankets and
great-coats, which were drenched with rain, and lay upon our shoulders
like logs of wood."
The 71st had Brevet Major Edmund L’Estrange,
aide-de-camp to Major-General Sir Denis Pack, and Ensign John Tod killed.
The following officers were wounded: the Lieutenant-Colonel commanding the
battalion, Colonel Thomas Reynell; Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Jones;
Captains Samuel Reed, Donald Campbell, William Alexander Grant, James
Henderson, and Brevet Major Charles Johnstone; Lieutenants Joseph
Barrallier, Robert Lind, John Roberts, James Coates, Robert Law, Carique
Lewin, and Lieutenant and Adjutant William Anderson.
The number of serjeants, buglers, and rank and file
killed amounted to 29; 166 were wounded, and 36 died of their wounds."
The 71st afterwards marched to Paris with the rest of
the army, and was encamped in the Champs Elysées, continuing there till
the beginning of November, when it proceeded to Versailles, and to Viarmes
in December. On the 21st of December the second battalion was disbanded at
Glasgow, the effective officers and men being transferred to the first
In January 1816 the regiment marched to the Pas de
Calais, where it was cantoned in several villages. On the 21st of June the
71st was formed in hollow square upon the bruyère of Rombly for the
purpose of receiving the medals which had been granted by the Prince
Regent to the officers and men for their services at Waterloo, when
Colonel Reynell addressed the regiment as follows:-
"SEVENTY-FIRST,—The deep interest which you will all
give me credit for feeling in everything that affects the corps, cannot
fail to be awakened upon an occasion such as the present, when holding in
my hands, to transfer to yours, these honourable rewards bestowed by your
sovereign for your share in the great and glorious exertions of the army
of His Grace the Duke of Wellington upon the field of Waterloo, when the
utmost efforts of the army of France, directed by Napoleon, reputed to be
the first captain of the age, were not only paralysed at the moment, but
blasted beyond the power of even a second struggle.
"To have participated in a contest crowned with victory
so decisive, and productive of consequences that have diffused peace,
security, and happiness throughout Europe, may be to each of you a source
of honourable pride, as well as of gratitude to the Omnipotent Arbiter of
all human contests, who preserved you in such peril, and without whose
protecting hand the battle belongs not to the strong, nor the race to the
"I acknowledge to feel an honest and, I trust,
excusable exultation in having had the honour to command you on that day;
and in dispensing these medals, destined to record in your families the
share you had in the ever memorable battle of Waterloo, it is a peculiar
satisfaction to me that I can present them to those by whom they have been
fairly and honourably earned, and that I can here solemnly declare that,
in the course of that eventful day, I did not observe a soldier of this
good regiment whose conduct was not only creditable to the English nation,
but such as his dearest friends could desire.
"Under such agreeable reflections, I request you to
accept these medals, and to wear them with becoming pride, as they are
incontestable proofs of a faithful discharge of your duty to your king and
your country. I trust that they will act as powerful talismans, to keep
you, in your future lives, in the paths of honour, sobriety, and virtue."
The regiment received new colours on the 13th of
January 1817; they were presented by Major-General Sir Denis Pack, a name
intimately associated with some of our Highland regiments. On this
occasion he addressed them as follows:-
"SEVENTY-FIRST REGIMENT, —Officers, non-commissioned
officers, and soldiers, it affords me the greatest satisfaction, at the
request of your commanding office; Colonel Reynell, to have the honour of
presenting these colours to you.
"There are many who could perform the office with a
better grace, but there is no one, believe me, who is more sensible of the
merit of the corps, or who is more anxious for its honour and welfare.
"I might justly pay to the valour and good conduct of
those present the compliments usual on such occasions, but I had rather
offer the expression of my regard and admiration of that excellent
esprit-de-corps and real worth which a ten years’ intimate knowledge
of the regiment has taught me so highly to appreciate. I shall always look
back with pleasure to that long period in which I had the good fortune to
be your commanding officer, and during which time I received from the
officers the most cordial and zealous assistance in support of discipline;
from the non-comissioned officers proofs of the most disinterested regard
for His Majesty’s service and the welfare of their regiment; and I
witnessed on the part of the privates and the corps at large a fidelity to
their colours in South America, as remarkable under such trying
circumstances as their valour has at all times been conspicuous in the
field. I am most happy to think that there is no drawback to the pleasure
all should feel on this occasion. Your former colours were mislaid after a
fête given in London to celebrate the Duke of Wellington’s return after
his glorious termination, of the peninsular war, and your colonel, General
Francis Dundas, has sent you three very handsome ones to replace them. On
them are emblasoned some of His Grace’s victories, in which the list bore
a most distinguished part, and more might be enumerated which the corps
might well be proud of. There are still in our ranks valuable officers who
have witnessed the early glories of the regiment in the East, and its
splendid career since is fresh in the memory of all. Never, indeed, did
the character of the corps stand higher; never was the fame of the British
arms, or the glory of the British empire more pre-eminent than at this
moment, an enthusiastic recollection of which the sight of these colours
must always inspire.
"While you have your present commanding officer to lead
you, it is unnecessary for me to add anything to excite such a spirit; but
were I called upon to do so, I should have only to hold up the example of
those who have fallen in your ranks, and, above all, point to the memory
of that hero who so gloriously fall at your head."
After remaining in France until the end of October
1818, the 71st embarked for England, and arrived at Dover on the 29th of
that month, proceeding to Chelmsford, where the establishment was reduced
from 810 to 650 rank and file.