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


Military Annals of the Highland Regiments

Seventy-eighth Regiment
or
Ross-shire Highlanders, Second Battalion
1804

While the first battalion of the 78th was employed in India in the year 1804, under the Honourable Major-General Arthur Wellesley, orders were issued to add a second battalion of 800 men to the regiment. The officers were to raise men in certain proportions, according to the rank they were to hold, and to recruit them in Scotland, and, if possible, in the Highlands. [The proportions or quotas, for each rank, were 100 men for a Lieutenant-Colonelcy, 90 for a Majority, 50 for a Company, 25 for a Lieutenancy, and 20 for an Ensigncy; officers to take rank according to the dates of their former commissions.] The latter injunction, however, was not strictly observed, as upwards of forty men were from Ireland, and from the south side of the Border. Of these, twenty-two were old soldiers received from the veteran battalions, for the purpose, as was said, of laying the foundation of discipline in a regiment of very young soldiers, as this was expected to be.

The head-quarters were established at Fort George; this being the fourth battalion embodied in that garrison, under the influence of the family of Seaforth, in the course of thirty years. [The 78th regiment in the year 1779, the 78th in the year 1794, a second battalion of 960 men in the same year, and this battalion in 1804.] But as Lord Seaforth was, at this time, in the West Indies, his influence was less exerted than on former occasions when he himself, like his predecessor, commanded in person. However, two hundred men were raised in the island of Lewis, part of the Seaforth estates; and several other detachments were brought from other parts of this extensive property.

In December 1804, a battalion of 850 men was assembled at Fort George, and inspected by Major-general the Marquis of Huntly in November 1804, when the following officers were appointed:

Colonel, Major-General Alexander Mackenzie Fraser of Castle Fraser, died a Lieutenant-General in 1809.

Lieutenant-Colonel, Patrick Macleod, (Geanies), killed in 1807 at El Hamet.

Majors.

David Stewart, (Garth), Major-General 1825:
James Macdonell, (Glengarry), Colonel and Lieutenant-Colonel, Coldstream Guards.

Captains.

Alexander Wishart, dead.
Duncan Macpherson, Major 78th regiment.
James Macvean, retired.
Charles William Maclean, retired.
Duncan Macgregor, Lieutenant-Colonel on half-pay.
William Anderson, dead.
Robert Henry Dick, Lieutenant-Colonel 42d regiment.
Colin Campbell Mackay, (Bighouse), Major on half-pay.
George Mackay, Major on half-pay.

Lieutenants.

William Balvaird, Major Rifle Brigade.
Patrick Strachan, dead.
James Macpherson, killed in Java in 1813.
William Mackenzie Dick, killed in 1807 at El Hamet.
John Matheson, Captain on half-pay.
Cornwallis Bowen, dead.
William Mackenzie, Captain on half-pay.
Malcolm Macgregor, Captain 78th regiment.
James Mackay, Captain on half-pay.
Thomas Hamilton, dead.
Robert Nicholson, dead.
Charles Grant; Captain on half-pay.
Horace St. Paul, Lieutenant-Colonel on half-pay.
George William Bowes, dead.
William Matheson, dead.
William Cameron, Captain on half-pay.

Ensigns.

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

Paymaster, James Ferguson, dead.
Adjutant,
William Mackenzie, Captain:
Quartermaster,
John Macpherson, retired.
Surgeon,
Thomas Draper, Deputy-Inspector.
Assistant-Surgeon,
William Munro, Surgeon on half-pay.

Several of the officers recruited their quotas very quickly; others were not so successful, which is less a matter of surprise, than that so many men should have been enlisted, considering the number drawn from the Highlands in the same year, and during the first five months of the preceding, being nearly double the number that fought under the Duke of Wellington at the battle of Assaye, under General Stuart at Maida, or under General Graham at Ba-rossa.

[The numbers were,

For the army of Reserve, 1651
Militia.—Inverness, Ross, Argyle, Perth, &c. &c. 2599
Supplementary ditto,  870
Canadian Fencibles, 850
2d Battalion of the 78tb regiment, 714
2d Battalion of the 79th ditto,
618
Highlanders as substitutes in Militia regiments, 963
Recruits enlisted by the parties of the Line, not exactly known, but estimated at 350
Total 8615

In these numbers the native Highlanders only are included; as, for instance, in the Perthshire army of Reserve, there were only 189, and in the Militia only 204 Highlanders, whereas the total number of both forces raised in 1803 for that county was 1469 men.]

This corps, and the second battalion of the 79th, raised the same year, were the last corps recruited in the North, under the influence of any particular family, or by officers for commissions. The system of recruiting for rank has been frequently reprobated, and has, indeed, in many cases, been the means of introducing bad subjects into the Service, as was experienced in 1793 and 1794, when officers, in their eagerness to recruit their complement of men, resorted to large towns; but that this mode of employing gentlemen of family, rank, and influence in the North, was admirably adapted to the character, habits, and circumstances of the people; and that it had been eminently successful there, is manifest from the character of the regiments embodied in the Seven Years' War, and in that of the American Revolution; and still more recently in the last war, in which were raised the 78th, 79th, 92d, and 93d, and many other regiments of the Line and Fencibles. The system upon which these regiments were raised could not, at that period at least, have been a bad one, as it was the means of introducing them into the service; but whether it shall meet with equal success in future, is a question which experience alone can decide.

When this battalion was embodied, General Moore was stationed at Hythe with his Brigade, consisting of the 43d and 52d regiments. At that time these two regiments were the most perfectly disciplined in the service, having been completed in that system of field exercise which, as I have already noticed, was first suggested and put in practice by Lieutenant-Colonel (now Lieutenant-General) Kenneth Mackenzie. Desirous to initiate a young corps in this system, before they had been practised in any other, the General, in a fortunate hour for these young men, applied for their removal to his Brigade. The battalion was, accordingly, embarked at Fort George in February, and reached Hythe in March 1805.

Few young corps were ever instructed in military discipline under more favourable auspices than this which was trained under the immediate direction of Sir John Moore assisted by the non-commissioned officers of his Brigade. He began by instructing the officers and non-commissioned officers in the first principles of regular and connected movements, and in the firelock exercise; and when they were so far complete that they could communicate what they had acquired, they were sent to teach the soldiers. Those that were deficient in the necessary duties, or were slower in acquiring them, remained in the ranks with the soldiers, and no officer was allowed to quit them till he had become a thorough proficient in that in which he was to direct and instruct others. The men were called out four times a day, but never much beyond an hour at a time. During these short periods they went through their task with spirit and without fatigue; their minds were on the alert, and their attention was not suffered to wander.

The General himself was indefatigable, and was frequently four times in one day on the drill ground, going from squad to squad giving directions, and often forming the men in positions with his own hands. Strict and rigorous when necessary, no man was more easy and indulgent when that necessity ceased, or when an officer or soldier properly understood and performed his duty. Of these young soldiers he entertained a very favourable opinion; and often mentioned, that they were, in every way, such as he would wish to mould and form. His firm opinion was, that they would never fail in the hour of trial. Unfortunately, however, the regiment was too early removed from his Brigade, and before their discipline was completely confirmed; as the pressure of the service called them to another quarter.

[As one of the objects I have in view, is to point out such characteristic traits of disposition, principle, and habits, as may be in any way interesting, I shall notice the following circumstance, which occurred while this regiment lay at Hythe. In the month of June, orders were issued for the Senior Major and four subalterns to join the 1st battalion in India. The day before the field-officer fixed on for this purpose left the regiment, the soldiers held conferences with each other in the barracks, and, in the evening, several deputations were sent to him, entreating him, in the most earnest manner, to make application either to be allowed to remain with them, or obtain permission for them to accompany him. He returned his acknowledgments for their attachment, and for their spirited offer ; but stated that, as duty required his presence in India, while their services were at present confined to this country, they must, therefore, separate for some time. The next evening, when he went from the barracks to the town of Hythe, to take his seat in the coach for London, two-thirds of the soldiers, and officers in the same proportion, accompanied him, all of them complaining of being left behind. They so crowded round the coach as to impede its progress for a considerable length of time, till at last the guard was obliged to desire the coachman to force his way through them. Upon this the soldiers, who hung by the wheels, horses, harness, and coach-doors, gave way, and allowed a passage. There was not a dry eye amongst the younger part of them. Such a scene as this, exhibited by more than 600 men, and in the streets of a town, could not pass unnoticed, and was quickly reported to General Moore, whose mind was always alive to the advantages of mutual confidence and esteem between officers and soldiers. The circumstance was quite suited to his chivalrous mind. He laid the case before the Commander-in-Chief; and his Royal Highness, with that high feeling which he has always shown when a case has been properly represented, ordered that at present there should be no separation, and that the field-officer should return to the battalion in which he had so many friends ready to follow him to the cannon's mouth, and when brought in front of an enemy, either to compel them to fly, or perish in the field.]

General Fox, Lieutenant-Governor of Gibraltar, having applied for a change of garrison, two Highland regiments, the 42d and 78th, were ordered on that duty, and, in September 1805, embarked at Portsmouth, being then under the command of the Honourable Major-General John Hope. The fleet, under the convoy of Captain Charles Ogle, encountered part of the bad weather which occasioned such destruction after the battle of Trafalgar, took shelter in the Tagus, and, sailing from thence in the beginning of November, in a few days landed at Gibraltar.

[I have already mentioned the inflammatory disorders and tumours by which the young men were attacked at Hythe, in consequence of a larger allowance of animal food than they had been in the habit of using. The same disorder continued in Gibraltar for some months, although the 42d was remarkably healthy. But the men of that corps had been longer absent from their native country, and had become habituated to animal food.]

In the month of May the regiment was ordered for Sicily, and embarked in good health. But their arrival at Messina was a disappointment to Sir John Stuart, then in command there, who instead of a corps of boys, expected the 42d, having, at that time, in contemplation, the expedition to Calabria. Though I have reason to believe that his disappointment was great, it was not lasting.

Some time previous to the arrival of this regiment in Sicily, the Royal Family of Naples had been forced to take shelter in Palermo, principally under the protection of the British troops then stationed in Sicily. General Stuart was warmly solicited, by the Queen of Naples, to attempt a landing in Calabria, in support of the Calabrese, who had preserved, unshaken, their loyalty to the King, and had continued to oppose the French.

The peninsula of Calabria is mountainous, broken with numberless rocky eminences and deep ravines, and, consequently, extremely well adapted for defensive warfare. The people are a warlike, hardy race; among whom may be discovered many traces of the feudal institutions, and of the rivalry common between the tribes in the North of Scotland previous to the middle of the last century. But, although, in some traits, they bore a resemblance to our Highlanders, in others they greatly differed from them, and in none more than in attachment to their chiefs. The Calabrese nobles, residing much at Court, were unknown to their people, except through the exactions of inferior agents, the severity of which tended to alienate their affections. But, although many were estranged from their immediate superiors, they were loyal to their King, and now declared themselves ready to join any British armament that might land on their coast to support his government.

Encouraged by these assurances, urged by the Queen, and perhaps desirous of performing some exploit calculated to give eclat to his command before the arrival of General Fox appointed to supersede him, General Stuart, fortunately for his military fame and that of his country, determined on a landing in Calabria, with the view of encouraging the Calabrese, and of destroying the military stores, and extensive magazines of provisions which had been established by the French at Monte Leone, and other parts of the province.

The troops intended for this expedition embarked at Melazzo in the end of June 1806. These consisted of the Grenadier and Light infantry battalions, formed of all the Grenadier and Light infantry companies of the army in Sicily, (except those of the 78th, which remained with the regiment), together with the 27th, 58th, 78th, 81st, and Watteville's, regiments, with two companies of the Corsican Rangers, and a detachment of the Royal Artillery under Major Lemoine, amounting in all to 4200 men, exclusive of the 20th regiment, which embarked afterwards, making the whole force 4790 men. The Admiral, Sir Sidney Smith, being employed to the northward on the Neapolitan coast, this armament sailed from Melazzo under convoy of Captain Brenton, and anchored in the extensive bay of St Euphemia on the 1st of July.

The Grenadiers, Light infantry, and Highlanders, were immediately landed without opposition; but as the troops advanced into the country, some resistance was made by a body of the enemy, who were quickly driven back. The army soon followed, and took up a good position close to the village of St Euphemia, where they remained till the evening of the 3d, when information was received that General Regnier had advanced to the neighbourhood of the village of Maida, with an intention of attacking the British the following morning. General Stuart, desirous to anticipate the intentions of his opponent, ordered the troops under arms, and marched along the edge of the bay till eleven o'clock at night, when he halted till day-light of the 4th, and then, resuming his march, crossed the mouth of the Amato, fordable at all points at that dry season, and halted on an extensive plain, where he made his arrangements for an attack. [This little army was brigaded as follows;—The Light brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel James Kempt, was composed of the Light infantry companies of the 20th, 27th, 35th, 58th, and 81st regiments, of two companies of Corsican Rangers, under Leiutenant-Colonel Hudson Lowe, and of 150 chosen men of the 35th regiment, under Major George Robertson. The first brigade, Brigadier-General Auckland, consisted of the 78th and 81st regiments. The second, Brigadier-General Lowrie Cole, was formed of the Grenadier companies of the 20th, 27th, 35th, 58th, and 81st, under the Honourable Lieutenant-Colonel O'Calloghan, and the 27th regiment. The Reserve, Colonel John Oswald, consisted of the 58th and Watteville's regiment.]

The army was drawn up, having in its rear the head of the bay, and in front a broad and extensive valley, level in the centre, and bounded on both sides by high, and, in some places, precipitous hills, with woods covering their sides in many parts, and, in others, with corn fields up to a considerable height. This valley, which is of unequal breadth, being in some places four miles, and in others not more than two, runs across the Calabrian peninsula, from St Euphe-mia to Cotrona, on the Adriatic, intersected, at intervals, to nearly one-half its breadth, by high ridges, which run out at right angles from the mountains forming the lateral boundaries of the plain. These were now covered with ripe corn, part of which had been cut down, while, in different fields, parties of the inhabitants were reaping. The nearest of these collateral ridges, which jut out from the mountains, was steep on the sides, and covered with wood, except on the summit, which was clear and level. On the summit of one of those ridges, at somewhat more than four miles distance, the army of General Regnier was seen drawn up in columns, apparently ready, either to descend to the plains, or to await the attack of the British. General Stuart had now to come to an instant decision. Disappointed of the support of the Calabrese, of whom not more than one thousand had joined, and these badly armed and worse disciplined; and being also informed that a reinforcement of 3000 men was expected by the enemy, on the following day, he had no alternative but an immediate advance; or a retreat, either to the ships or to some strong position.

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

At eight o'clock in the morning, the corps composing the first line advanced, the enemy commencing his forward march (presenting a parallel front) nearly at the same moment. The distance between the armies was, at this time, nearly three miles, and the ground perfectly level, intersect-ed only by drains, to carry off the water in the rainy season, but not so large as to intercept the advance of the field-pieces. When the first Brigade moved forward, the second halted for a short time, and then proceeded, followed by the Reserve. The forward movement of the opposing lines lessened the intervening distance in a double ratio. The first brigade passed over several corn fields, with parties of reapers, who eagerly pointed out the advance of the enemy, then at the distance of less than a mile. [The stubble was so rank and long, that, catching fire from the burning fuses of the guns and musket cartridges, several of the enemy who lay wounded in the field were burnt to death ; or rather, I hope that the wounds were so desperate, that the unfortunate men were either dead, or in such a state as to be insensible to pain.] On a nearer approach they opened their field-pieces, and, contrary to the usual practice of the French artillery, with little effect, the greater part of the shot passing over the first line, and not reaching the second.

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

To the young Highlanders, of whom nearly 600 were under age, the officers, with very few exceptions, being equally young and inexperienced, it was a critical moment. If we consider a formidable line, which, from numbers, greatly out-flanked our first line, supported by an equally strong second line, the glancing of whose bayonets was seen over the heads of the first; the advance of so preponderating a force on the three regiments of the first Brigade, (the second being considerably in the rear), was sufficiently trying, particularly for the young Highlanders. Much depended on the event of the first onset; if that were successful, their native courage would be animated, and would afterwards stand a more severe trial. In this mutual advance, the opposing troops were in full view of each other, which enabled our men to make their remarks on the marching, and on the manner in which the enemy advanced. They did not always preserve a correct steady line, but sometimes allowed openings and intervals by careless marching; showing, as the soldiers observed, that they did not march so steadily as they themselves did. Additional circumstances inspired still greater confidence. I have already noticed that the enemy's guns were not well served, and pointed too high: not so the British. When our artillery opened, under the direction of Major Lemoine, and Captain Dougal Campbell, no practice could be more perfect. Every shot told, and carried off a file of the enemy's line. When the shot struck the line, two or three files, on the right and left of the men thrown down, gave way, leaving a momentary opening before they recovered and closed up the vacancy. The inexperienced young Highlanders, believing that all in the vacant spaces had been carried off, shouted with exultation at the evident superiority. This belief I endeavoured to strengthen by observation, tending to render the comparison more favourable and more strikingly conspicuous. It is not often, that, in this manner, two hostile lines in a reciprocally forward movement, at a slow but firm pace, can make their observations while advancing, with a seeming determination to conquer or perish on the spot. Those criticisms were, however, to be soon checked by the mutual forward movement on which they were founded. The lines were fast closing, but with perfect regularity and firmness. They were now within three hundred yards distance, and a fire having commenced between the sharpshooters on the right, it was time to prepare for an immediate shock. The enemy seemed to hesitate, halted, and fired a volley. Our line also halted, and instantly returned the salute; and when the men had reloaded, a second volley was thrown in. [The precision with which these two volleys were fired, and their effect, were quite remarkable. When the clearing off of the smoke (there was hardly a breath of wind to dispel it) enabled us to see the French line, the breaks and vacancies caused by the men who had fallen by the fire appeared like a paling, of which parts had been thrown down or broken. On our side it was so different, that, glancing along the rear of my regiment, I counted only four-teen who had fallen from the enemy's fire.] As soon as the smoke had cleared off, so that the enemy could be seen the line advanced at full charge. The enemy, with seeming resolution to stand the shock, kept perfectly steady, till, apparently intimidated by the advance, equally rapid and firm of an enemy too, who, they were taught to believe, would fly before them, their hearts failed, they faced to the right about, and fled with speed, but not in confusion. When they approached within a short distance of their second line, they halted, fronted, and opened a fire of musketry on our line, which did not follow up the charge to any distance, but halted, to allow the men to draw breath, and to close up any small breaks in the line. They were soon ready, however, to advance again. A constant running fire was now kept up on the march, the enemy continuing the same, but retiring slowly as they fired, until they threw their first line on the second. They then seemed determined to make a resolute stand, thus giving our line the advantage of sooner closing upon them; but they would not stand the shock; they gave way in greater confusion than in the first instance. They had now lost a considerable number of men.

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

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

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

Unwilling to break the continuity of the narrative of the proceedings on the centre and the left, where the action was now nearly finished, I have delayed noticing the movements of Lieutenant-Colonel Kempt's Light brigade. This corps had for some time been exercised in an uniform manner under the training of that officer, and they now even exceeded the high expectations formed of them and their spirited Commander. The party of the Corsican Rangers attached to the Light infantry were on the right. When the line advanced within reach of musketry, they were sent out on the flank and in front to skirmish, but, on the first fire from the enemy's sharpshooters, they retreated in great haste.

[The extended scale of British warfare, in proportion to our population, renders the employment of foreign troops indispensable. But the practice of filling up the numbers of an armament, or expedition, need not be carried so far as to place untried troops of other nations in the front, or in situations where their failure must endanger the safety or success of an army. It would be unpleasant to state instances of such failures, but I could give several of which I have been an eyewitness. It is not easy to see the necessity of placing foreign troops, many of whom have deserted their own standards, among the choice of the British army, before their courage and fidelity had been fairly proved. I believe General Stuart heartily repented the arrangement he had made.]

This, in some cases, would have been an inauspicious, if not a fatal commencement of a battle, when so much was to be done, and so superior a force to be opposed. But here, this repulse did not extend beyond those who gave way to the panic, and the Light company of the 20th regiment, who had the right of the line, rushed forward, and, in an instant, drove off the party which had advanced on the Corsicans, but with the loss of Captain Maclaine, the only officer killed on that day. In a few minutes after this, the hostile lines came within charge distance; and the left of the enemy pushing forward, both lines had nearly met, when, "at this momentous crisis, the enemy became appalled broke, and endeavoured to fly, but it was too late; they were overtaken with the most dreadful slaughter." [General Stuart's Dispatch.]

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

The fire now slackened, the enemy having lost much ground, been repulsed in every attempt, and sustained an unusual, and, indeed, altogether an extraordinary loss of men. But General Regnier, despairing of success against Colonel Kempt's Light corps on the right, and still pushed by the troops in the centre and left, prepared to make a desperate push, in order to take our line in flank on the left. [The order of battle in both armies happened to be such, that the first Light infantry of the French, who might be called the elite of their corps, were immediately opposed to the British Light corps. It was probably owing to this circumstance, and their idea of their own superiority, that they advanced to the charge on Colonel Kempt's Brigade, while the troops to their right stood without advancing to meet the charge of the Highlanders and the 81st regiment. It is hardly worth while to notice the casual coincidence of the names of the corps of both armies; but the French had a Light corps, a 42d, a Grenadier battalion, an 81st, and a Watteville's regiment. Our Watteville's, being in the Reserve, was never brought forward to the front.] At this moment the 20th regiment marched up, and formed on the left, nearly at right angles to General Cole's brigade. This regiment had, that morning, disembarked in the Bay from Sicily, (the scarcity of transports preventing their earlier arrival), and Lieutenant-Colonel Ross (afterwards killed in America) having landed with great promptitude, moved forward with such celerity, the moment he heard the firing, that he reached the left of the line as the enemy were pushing round to turn the flank. Colonel Ross formed his regiment with his right supported by the left of the 27th, and opposed a full front to the enemy. This reinforcement seemed to destroy all farther hopes of the enemy. So feeble was this last attempt, that when Colonel Ross ordered out 80 men to act as sharpshooters in his front, their usual spirit was gone, and they could not face even this small number.

The battle was now over. The confidence which had animated the enemy during the greater part of the action appeared to have at last utterly forsaken them; they gave way at all points, in the greatest confusion; numbers, to assist their speed, throwing away their arms, accoutrements, and every incumbrance. The length of the action; the excessive heat of a mid-day sun in the south of Italy on the 4th of July; the want of rest, and the fatigue during the previous night, the men having lain on their arms; and, above all, the rapidity with which the enemy retreated, rendered the capture of many prisoners impossible. The Light infantry and the Highlanders were ordered out in pursuit, but in vain ; the fugitives ran too swiftly; neither the Highlanders, with their light loose garb, nor the Light infantry, the choice of the army, could overtake them. I have more than once had occasion to mention, that few things increase a man's speed more effectually than the terror of a bayonet or bullet in his rear. The pursuer, having no such excitement, will not, perhaps, so eagerly exert his speed. If General Stuart had on this day had a few hundred cavalry to gallop round the flank, and intercept the flying enemy in front, while the infantry were pursuing in their rear, the whole must have surrendered.

[Any person who has seen the banks of the Tay in the Highlands of Perthshire, can form some idea of the ground occupied by both armies previous to the battle, as well as of the field on which it was fought, by imagining that General Regnier had stationed his troops on a height at the eastern point of the wooded hill or ridge north of Taymouth Castle, looking down towards the Point or Lyon, where that river joins the Tay, and that he descended from this high and commanding position, and fording the Lyon, formed his army on the opposite bank of the river at the extremity of a plain of five miles in length and one in breadth, perfectly level, and bounded on right and left by hills and rocky precipices thickly covered in many places by woods of large growth; while, on the other hand, General Stuart had stationed his army at Tay Bridge, at the farther extremity of the plain or valley. Both armies being thus upwards of four miles distant, the ground between them being a dead flat, they formed their line of battle, and commenced a forward movement, towards each other, almost at the same moment; and so equal was their rate of marching, at a slow and steady pace, that the first conflict took place, as it were, two miles west of Castle-Menzies, half-way between Tay Bridge, and the Point of Lyon, their original position. When the enemy were finally routed, without a hope of rallying, they fled through a valley quite in the direction and distance in which Garth Castle and the surrounding grounds lie from the valley just described, protected in their flight from a close pursuit by woods, ravines, and precipitous rocks. Indeed, the resemblance and appearances of both countries, with the nature of the mountains, and the direction of the river and valleys, is altogether striking and remarkable; and no plan or description can afford so vivid an idea of the scene of action, and of the grounds on which the various movements took place, as by a reference to those glens of Perthshire, with their fertile plain, en-compassed by mountains and picturesque accompaniments, so much in character with that district of Calabria in which Maida is situated.]

The disadvantage so frequently experienced in the transmarine expeditions of England occasioned by the want of ships for the conveyance of a sufficient number of troops, was now severely felt; for although the field was most favourable for the operations of cavalry, that arm was, on the present occasion, entirely wanting. As soon as the ships had landed the infantry at St Euphemia, they were ordered back for the cavalry, who arrived the day after the battle. Few victories, however, have been more complete; and as under equal advantages of ground, of discipline in the troops, and ability in the commanders, a hard fought battle is the more honourable, if gained with little loss to the victors, and with great destruction to the vanquished; so that engagement must be particularly so in which a greatly superior force of tried and veteran troops is totally routed with a loss in killed of more than 30 to 1;—that is, on the present occasion, with a loss of 1300 killed of the French to 41 of the British. The disparity of numbers being so great, the proofs of courage and other military qualities, on the part of the victors, are conclusive. Equally decisive were the advantages on the side of the victors, in regard to the subsequent operations of the campaign; for while the English army was, on the following morning, but little diminished, and quite prepared to meet a fresh opponent, if such could have been brought against it, the enemy were so dispirited, that, on no after occasion, did they attempt to make a stand, which indeed, their reduced numbers rendered impossible. Their loss was 1300 killed, and 1100 wounded, left on the field, besides the slightly wounded who retired to their rear. Upwards of 200 of the latter were taken afterwards, in the hospital of Cotrona, on the opposite coast of the Adriatic.

The loss of the British was, Captain Maclaine, a high-spirited officer, of the 20th regiment, 3 sergeants, and 41 rank and file, killed; and 11 officers, 8 sergeants, and 261 rank and file, wounded. The loss of the Highlanders was 7 rank and file killed, Lieutenant- Colonel Patrick Macleod, Major David Stewart, Captains Duncan M'Pherson and Duncan M'Gregor, Lieutenant James Mackay, Ensigns Colin Mackenzie, and Peter M'Gregor, 4 sergeants, 1 drummer, and 69 rank and file, wounded.

It was not till after the action that the full extent of the advantages acquired, and the numerical superiority of the French, were completely known. The reinforcement expected by the enemy,—the supposed non-arrival of which had induced Sir John Stuart to attack, without waiting for the cavalry and the 20th regiment,—had joined General Regnier the preceding evening, and had augmented his army to upwards of 7000 men. [One of the prisoners, an officer of rank, told me that their force exceeded 8000, but returns found after the battle stated the number at 7600. General Regnier's second in command, a Lieutenant-General, with several field officers, were taken prisoners.] But this accession of force, instead of securing to the French General the certain conquest he expected, was, in fact, the probable cause of his defeat. The additional confidence inspired into a mind already disposed to look on his enemy with contempt, made him descend from a position so easily defensible, and so difficult of approach, that, had he maintained it, the boldest attempts of his opponents would, in all probability, have been fruitless, or, if successful, attended with a loss which would have rendered further operations impossible. But, blinded by excessive confidence, he surrendered this great natural advantage, and marched down to the plain, "to drive the English into the sea."  [The remarks on the British army, in General Regnier's work on the expedition to Egypt, and his attempts to lessen the honour of that conquest, are well known. It will be recollected, that, in his account of the battle of Alexandria, he stated, that the Highland soldiers (of the 42d) took shelter under the bellies of the French horses. I cannot fully contradict this assertion, as it is impossible to see every circumstance in a field of battle. I can only say, I saw nothing like the fact thus asserted, nor have I ever met with any who did; and it may easily be supposed, that a better expedient for attaining personal safety might have been divised than that of creeping under the bellies of furious horses. Indeed, it must have required some courage to adopt it, considering that well armed dragoons were on the backs of these novel protectors. General Regnier, when he left Monte Leone to meet General Stuart, invited the inhabitants to a grand fete, which he was to give them in honour of the victory he was confident of gaining.]

In this battle, the whole force of the enemy was brought into action. On the side of the British, the Reserve was not brought into the line at all. Colonel Kempt's brigade, and the Highlanders, and 81st regiment, composing the first line, amounting to about 2060 men, drove the enemy to a considerable distance, forcing back their first line on their second, and had completely defeated Regnier's object in front, before our second line, of 1145 men, came up. These soon drove the enemy from their front, so that, when the 20th regiment, consisting of 564 men, arrived, the battle was so far finished, that, as has been mentioned, when the 80 men ordered by Lieutenant-Colonel Ross to his front advanced to clear the ground, the total rout took place. And thus, in fact, 2060 men of the front line discomfited the enemy in the first instance, and gave a complete shock to their sanguine hopes, while the whole number of British engaged only amounted to 3769 firelocks, besides 50 artillery men.

But however complete were the defeat and dispersion of the enemy, this short campaign ended, as was then but too common in our expeditions, from the want of a sufficient force to preserve what had been previously acquired. In a few days the army marched to Monte Leone, where a quantity of stores was seized and destroyed, and after traversing all the southern peninsula of Calabria, embarked in August at Reggio for Sicily, but not before the malaria or pestilential air of the country, which is so deadly at that season of the year, had attacked some of the troops. Lieutenant-Colonel Johnstone and eight officers of the 58th regiment fell a sacrifice, before the troops passed over to Sicily, where Lieutenant-General Fox had arrived and taken the command, on the 29th of July. In a few months afterwards, Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore arrived from England, with a reinforcement of troops.

[The ophthalmia, from which the troops in the Mediterranean suffered so much a few years before, had now entirely disappeared in that part of the world, and a case did not occur till the 52d and other regiments, then arrived under General Moore, brought the disease from England, where they had caught it from those who had been in Egypt in 1801; and thus the men in these corps, who had never been from home, now spread the contagion among the troops in Sicily. It seems extraordinary, that a disease, supposed to originate from the sun, and a white, hot soil, should be retained in the gloomy, cloudy, climate of England and Scotland, (Dundee barracks were strongly infected with it for several years,) and totally disappear in the sunshine of the Mediterranean,—more particularly in Malta, where the white rocks, reflecting the rays of the sun with force, must necessarily be prejudicial to the eyes. An inquiry, by a competent individual, into the causes of this remarkable fact, could hardly fail to prove very interesting.]

Sicily now contained a considerable British force, but no active operations were attempted till March 1807, when Major-General Mackenzie Fraser embarked with a detachment of artillery, the 20th Light dragoons, the 31st, 35th, the Highland, and De Rolle's regiment only, and the corps of Chasseurs Britanniques, having with him Major-General Wauchope and Brigadier-Generals the Honourable William Stewart and the Honourable Robert Meade.

The object of this armament was to occupy Alexandria, Rosetta, and that part of the coast of Egypt. The troops sailed on the 6th of March. Some bad weather occurring on the passage, the Apollo frigate, with nineteen transports, parted company, but the Commodore, with the others, anchored on the 16th off Arabs Tower, to the west of Alexandria. Major Misset, who had been left as British Resident, when General John Stuart, with the army, evacuated Egypt in 1802, immediately sent off letters to the commanders, pressing them to land immediately, as the inhabitants were favourably disposed, and informing them that the troops in garrison did not exceed 500 men. Owing, however, to the absence of so large a proportion of his force, the General hesitated to comply; but the Resident, making more urgent representations on the danger of delay, part of the troops were landed on the 17th, and the remainder on the 18th. On the same evening they moved forward with an intention of attacking the city, or of getting round to the eastward, beyond Pompey's Pillar, in order thus to be nearer their supplies from the fleet in Aboukir Bay.

The troops attacked and forced an entrenchment with a deep ditch, having Fort de Bains on its right flank, mounted with thirteen guns, which played with little effect. When they reached Pompey's Pillar, they found the garrison prepared to receive them, and the walls lined with troops. This preparation for resistance to his small force induced the General to proceed farther to the eastward; and accordingly, on the morning of the 19th, he took up a position on the ground which had been occupied in March 1801. On the 20th the town was summoned, and surrendered on the same day. In the evening the Apollo, with the other transports which had parted company in the gale, anchored in Aboukir Bay; and, on the 22d, Vice-Admiral Duckworth, with a fleet from the Dardanelles, arrived at the same anchorage.

On the 27th of March, Major-General Wauchope and Brigadier-General Meade, with the 31st regiment, and the corps of Chasseurs Britanniques, were detached for the purpose of taking possession of the forts and heights of Aboumondour on the banks of the Nile, at a short distance above Rosetta, and from thence of Rosetta itself. The first part of the service was accomplished without opposition.

A town, like Rosetta, with high houses, flat roofed, and windows like loop-holes, and with streets only a few feet wide, forms a better defence to a weak enemy, than a walled town which brave troops might scale in the face of strong opposition. General Wauchope, in the firmness of his own mind, slighted these defences, and forgetting that an imbecile enemy may become formidable if placed out of danger, he marched into the town at the head of the 31st regiment, directing his course to an open space or market place, in the centre of the town. The streets were totally deserted, not a sound was to be heard, nor a person to be seen. When they had proceeded half-way to the market place, in an instant every house was in a blaze from the first floor to the roof; showers of musketry were fired from every part, while the troops were unable to return a shot with any effect. There was not a man in sight, nor had they any thing to direct their fire but the smoke, and flashes from the muzzles of their opponent's guns, pointed out of the loop-hole windows, and over the eaves and roofs of the houses. To remain in this situation, exposed to an invisible and sheltered enemy, would only have been a sacrifice of the troops. They, therefore, retired with the loss of the brave General killed, General Meade wounded, and nearly 300 soldiers and officers killed and wounded.

This repulse disconcerted the whole enterprise, and the troops retired to Aboukir, whence they were ordered to Alexandria. The General being still anxious to get possession of Rosetta, a second attempt was made, and the 35th, 78th, and De Rolle's regiment, were ordered on this service, under the command of Brigadier-General the honourable William Stewart and Colonel Oswald; General Fraser remained at Alexandria, with the 31st and the Chasseurs.

This detachment marched on the 3d, and, after some trifling skirmishes, took possession of Aboumondour on the 7th of April. The enemy were quickly driven into the town, which, on the following day, was summoned to surrender. The summons being ineffectual, batteries were commenced, and, on the soft sandy soil, were soon ready to open. From the extent of the town, in comparison of the limited number of troops, it was impossible to invest the whole, or to prevent a free communication across the Nile to the Delta, whence reinforcements, and supplies of provisions, could be easily received. A line was taken up between the Nile and the gate of Alexandria. The batteries opened their fire, but with little effect, on the heavy and strong masses of buildings. The shot, plunging and burying itself in the houses, did but little damage, as they contained scarcely any furniture. The Turks and Albanians gave themselves no concern about the fate of the inhabitants, looking upon them with the same indifference as the Dey of Algiers did on his subjects, when a British Admiral threatened to bombard and blow the town about his ears. He asked what would be the probable expense to the English of destroying the town, and being informed, answered, "At that rate, and to save them some money, I will undertake to do it myself for half the sum."

There was but little chance that such an enemy would be affected by the destruction of lives or houses. General Stewart was wounded at the commencement of these operations, but with his usual spirit and zeal, he refused to retire on account of a wound that did not totally disable him, and kept the field during the whole time. At this period, much was expected from the cooperation of the Mamalukes from Upper Egypt, but no intelligence had hitherto been received respecting them.

On the 16th, Major James Macdonell, of the 78th, with 250 men, and Lieutenant John Robertson, with 40 seamen from the Tigre, were detached across the river opposite to Aboumondour, to destroy some batteries which the enemy had erected on the Delta, for the purpose of taking our batteries in flank. After a considerable circuit to prevent his movements from being observed, Major Macdonell came upon the rear of the batteries at sun-rise, and attacked the enemy with such spirit and vigour, that an effectual resistance was impracticable. He immediately turned the guns upon the town; but the enemy soon collecting in force, he destroyed the batteries, embarked the guns, and recrossed the river, with only 4 men wounded.

On the 19th, little impression was made on the town, nor was there any appearance of the Mamalukes; while the enemy were increasing in number and boldness, and made several attacks on the picquets, and advanced posts between the Lake Etko and El Hamet. One of the picquets commanded by Captain Rheinach of De Rolle's, was cut off, and the whole either killed or taken.

El Hamet is a village on the Nile, nearly six miles above Rosetta. A dry canal, with a broad dike or embankment, runs between the Nile and the Lake Etko, a distance of about two miles. - Major Vogelsang of De Rolle's, with a detachment of his. regiment, had been sent to El Hamet, and, on the 20th, Lieutenant-Colonel Macleod, with five companies of the Highlanders, two of the 35th regiment, and a few cavalry and artillery, was ordered to reinforce and take the command of the position. When Colonel Macleod arrived, he stationed his men, amounting to 720, in three divisions, proportioning the dragoons and artillery between each: one party on the banks of the Nile, one in the centre, and the third on the dry canal. The ground was well adapted for the movements of cavalry, without any impediment except what the dike and dry canal presented. On the evening of the 20th all was quiet; but on the morning of the 21st, about seventy gherms, or large boats, full of troops, were seen slowly descending the Nile, and numerous bodies of cavalry collecting round the British posts, which remained in their different detached positions. Colonel Macleod proceeded to the post on the right, occupied by a company of the 35th and the Highland Grenadiers, with an intention of concentrating his force, and, if unable to make an effectual opposition, of retreating to the camp at Rosetta.

The enemy landed from their boats with unusual alertness, and advanced on the left and centre posts, while the cavalry, with a body of Albanian infantry, surrounded the right of the position, and attacked it from all points with great fury. Forming a circle round the position, they fired in their usual confused manner, and directing their shot with so little aim to the centre, that, passing over, it struck their own men and horses on the opposite side. But their numbers and their bravery supplied the deficiency of discipline. The cavalry, charging up to the points of the bayonets, attempted to cut the soldiers down in the front of the square, which was every minute thinning in numbers, and lessening in extent, the soldiers closing in upon the vacancies, as their comrades fell. Completely surrounded as they were, they could not venture to charge to either front of the square; for, if they attempted to advance on one front, an equal number of the enemy were ready to attack them in the rear the instant they faced. Thus were they beset on every front by a force so numerous, that the cavalry, in their different evolutions, as they advanced on the square, and were forced to retreat by its fire, frequently impeded their own movements by crossing and jostling each other. But the boldness of their attacks, however irregular, and the dexterity with which they handled the sword, proved destructive to the British. Colonel Macleod and all the officers were killed except Captain Colin Mackay of the Highlanders, who was severely wounded.

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

But neither the loss of their officers, nor the perseverance of the enemy, could dismay the few now remaining, or shake their firmness, which was then the more necessary, as their diminished numbers gave fresh animation to the enemy. At length, when there were only eleven of the Highlanders, and an equally small number of the 35th, left standing, Captain Mackay, seeing that farther resistance would only expose the whole to speedy destruction, determined to make a desperate push to join the centre. He charged through the enemy, when several succeeded in gaining the position, but others dropped on the way, either killed or wounded. Captain Mackay was wounded in two places before he pushed off to the centre position. When he had nearly reached the post, an Arab horseman cut at his neck with such force, that, had it not been for the cape of his coat, and a stuffed neckcloth, both of which were unusually thick, his head would no doubt have been severed from his body. As it was, the sabre cut to the bone, and laid him flat on the ground, when he was taken up and carried in to the post by sergeant Waters, afterwards a lieutenant in the regiment, the only individual who escaped unhurt. The muscles of the neck were so much injured, that they could not bear the weight of the head without support, till some time afterwards, that the parts had united and gained strength.

Having been successful on the right, the enemy attacked the other posts with less vigour, being apparently satisfied with surrounding each till the fate of the operations on the right should be decided, and thus preventing any movement for its relief. Unfortunately the officers in charge of these posts, either from want of orders, or some other cause, made no attempt to close on each other, or on the post so hotly engaged. The enemy, by the destruction of that post, having gained an accession of disposable force, turned their whole weight on the centre, which made less resistance. The commanding officer hung out a white handkerchief as a token of submission, and the signal being understood, the firing ceased. The same took place on the left; and now an extraordinary scene followed, in the struggle and scrambling of the enemy for prisoners, who, according to the custom of the Turks, became the private property of the person who took them, and for each of whom a ransom was expected. In this contest for prize-money, the men were pulled and hauled about with little ceremony, and were immediately marched a short distance up the river, when every Turkish soldier received payment on the spot for his prisoners, at the rate of seven dollars a head. During these transactions, a number of horsemen were galloping about, each with the head of a British soldier stuck on the point of his lance.

[It has been frequently observed, that when a military commander is unsuccessful, his account of the operations is generally longer and more in detail, than the reports of the greatest victories. The dispatches of the Dukes of Marlborough and Wellington, are remarkable for their concise, artless, and clear statements. Accounts have been seen of a bush-skirmish with Brigands in the est Indies, or of driving a party of Hindoos from a jungle in the East, co-ing as much paper as was occupied in describing the operations at Ramilies Vittoria. Suwaroff's dispatch to the Empress Catharine on the capture of Ismael is a masterpiece of brevity.

In attempting a detail of the unfortunate affair at El Hamet, I have been necessarily short and general, as, owing to the death of the officer commanding, I have lost the means of procuring proper information as to his plans and intended mode of proceeding; and in this ignorance it would be unsatisfactory, and indeed unfair, to pronounce conjectural opinions. He had a clear and animated style of writing, and had he survived that day, he would have given a full and satisfactory account of transactions, of which I have only attempted a mere outline, confining myself to a few leading facts, interesting in themselves, but which would have been incomparably more so, could a connected account of the whole have been given by the commanding officer.

However much success adds to the brilliancy and eclat of men's actions, as much determined resolution, talent, and honourable conduct, may be exhibited in a thorough defeat, as in a complete victory; and while the affair of El Hamet was a thorough discomfiture, no general or commander need ever ask for a finer display of the best parts of a soldier's character, than was exhibited on that day, by the invincible little band who stood their ground against multitudes^ for, as I have noticed on another occasion, nothing can well be more nearly allied to invincibility, than that firmness of nerve, and that strength arm, which resists an enemy while life remains, or, until overwhelmed by superiority of numbers, which no human strength or courage can oppose: And in no victory of the late war, so fruitful in gallant actions, was more honour gained than by those who, or. the 21st April 1807, fought at El Hamet against the most fearful odds, till they fell on the ground they occupied.]

The treatment on the way to Cairo was such as might have been expected from such ferocious conductors, who, on the morning after the battle, exhibited in front of the place of confinement a pile of upwards of one hundred stuffed scalps arranged in regular order. When the captives arrived at Cairo, they were paraded through the city for seven hours exposed to all kinds of scoffs and insults of the people who cried, "There are our English friends, who came from their ships to kill us and our children!" This was a melancholy contrast to the esteem in which the British were held in the same country a few years preceding; and perhaps it was not without cause that the people complained of this unexpected attack and invasion of their country by those whom they had looked upon as their friends and deliverers. However, at the conclusion of this mortifying procession, the officers were conducted to the presence of the Pacha, who expressed great regret that any change of measures in England should have occasioned such an attack on their ancient allies and friends, adding, that he was himself friendly to the English, and promised them protection and good usage while under his command; a pledge which he honourably and completely redeemed. [Several of the soldiers were not released, and remained in the country, where they were in general well treated. A young man, a drummer in this regiment, of the name of Macleod, who enlisted with me at Perth, had been in the habit of frequenting the regimental hospital, and being a smart lad, made useful to the surgeon, who occasionally employed him to administer medicines, applying poultices, and the like. With this knowledge of surgery, and the Egyptians not being good judges of medical science, he began to prescribe to his master's family, and thence extending his practice, Macleod was employment as a physician in Cairo when he was last heard of, three years ago; and being very handsome, he made a respectable appearance in his Turkish robes and turban.]

During the proceedings at El Hamet, General Stewart, aware of the critical situation of the detachment, immediately got under arms, and marched towards Etko, on the supposition that Colonel Macleod had retreated in that direction ; but seeing no appearance of the detachment, he turned towards El Hamet, where, on his arrival, nothing was seen but the wrecks of the recent disaster. No alternative now remained, but to retire to Alexandria, surrounded by the enemy, who sallied out from Rosetta when the retreat-commenced. The march was over a sandy plain, affording great advantage to the enemy's cavalry, of which they boldly, but ineffectually, endeavoured to avail themselves; the 35th and 78th opening so steady a fire as to repulse them on every advance, and to keep them at such a distance, that they could make no impression, while the regiment itself suffered little or no loss. This was the last hostile attack on either side. The army remained in Alexandria till the 22d of September, when the whole embarked (the prisoners at Cairo having been restored by capitulation), and sailed for Sicily.

The troops were comparatively healthy while in Egypt, and the deaths few. Lieutenant Thomas Hamilton, a promising officer of the Highlanders, died of fever, and a number of the men were affected with ophthalmia. After the army returned to Sicily, the regiments were sent to different destinations; the 78th joined an expedition under Sir John Moore intended for Lisbon, but they were afterwards ordered for England, where they landed, and were quartered in Canterbury in the spring of 1808. From this place they proceeded to Little Hampton in Sussex, preparatory to the drafting of the men to reinforce the first battalion in India.

[The men were still subject to ophthalmia, the disease sometimes breaking out, and then subsiding so suddenly, as within two days to leave no other an. pearance than a slight weakness in the eyes. These attacks were frequently occasioned by the north-east wind; and, being temporary, the surgeon reported those only who were actually unable to perform their duty. A circumstance occurred, however, which led to an investigation as to the cause of the frequent recurrence and disappearance of this disease. A medical inspector, going round the district to view the different hospitals, came to the barracks of the 78th one morning, after a field exercise, the wind having come round to the north-east while the men were in the field. Without reporting his arrival, he went immediately to the barracks, and was astonished to find upwards of 200 of the men labouring under an apparently virulent ophthalmia, with yellow matter discharging from their eyes, which were at the same time in a state of high inflammation ; while only three cases had been reported by the surgeon. This appeared so extraordinary, that he immediately left the barracks, and stated the circumstance to the Medical Board, who called upon the surgeon to ac-count for his conduct. At that time I commanded the regiment; and, being partly implicated, both from my having inadvertently been the occasion of this particular access of disease, by keeping the men in the field after the wind had changed, and having also recommended to the surgeon not to return such oph-thalmia cases as never kept the men from their duty, I therefore stated the ease very fully to the Medical Board ; adding, that, on any day when the wind was easterly, I could show half the regiment affected with an apparently virulent ophthalmia, while, in two days afterwards, if the weather was mild, and the wind south or west, all appearance of disease would have wholly disappeared.

The surgeon's conduct was approved, and directions given not to expose the men unnecessarily in the state of the weather which seemed to affect them so peculiarly.]

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

The imperfect sketch which I have thus attempted to give of the service of this battalion, will convey some idea of the character of the young men who composed it. They had now been together four years, and had assumed the form and manners of experienced troops. When they embarked at Portsmouth less than three years before, they were in reality boys in their habits, as well as in their appearance. This manly character was acquired at the expense of no material loss of their original simple habits. Indeed, I may say that there was no change of principles or of morals. Notwithstanding the buoyancy of spirits, and the happiness experienced on returning in safety to their native country, and a considerable supply of money saved during their long confinement on board ship from Egypt, not an individual came under the notice of the commanding officer for any fault deserving of punishment. For many months the guard-house, the usual place of confinement, was empty; the only restraint required for any negligence or breach of orders, was a confinement for a day or more within the barrack-yard, while their comrades were under no restraint. The officers, who were as young and inexperienced as the soldiers, had now also acquired professional knowledge and experience, and lived together in the habits of friendship, and in the confidential intimacy of a family. The same happy cordiality extended to the men, and influenced their conduct. This was so well known at head-quarters, that, from the recollection of the feeling exhibited at Hythe in 1805, and the regret expressed by the men when the same field-officer was promoted to another regiment, he was directed to remain for a certain time in the command of men between whom and himself such sentiments existed; it being considered desirable that no separation should take place till the soldiers were reconciled to it, and the causes and circumstances explained The officer who was appointed to the battalion was directed not to join or interfere in the command. But, to men actuated by such feelings and principles as these, it was only necessary to explain their duty, and what their King and country expected of them, as was seen in this instance. After remaining some time with the battalion, the officer in question applied for leave to join his new corps; the officer recently promoted joined, and took the command of the battalion; and the former parted with his old friends, impressed with those sentiments of regret, esteem, and attachment, which their conduct in general, and towards him in particular, called for from him.

A short time previous to this period, a detachment of 400 men embarked for India to reinforce the first battalion in Bombay.

[The personal appearance of this detachment attracted particular notice. Of the 400 men, 350 were volunteers from Perthshire, Ross-shire, and other Scotch militia regiments; and of these 280 were six feet and upwards, with strength of limb and person equal to their height.

In consequence of a wound received at Maida, which annoyed me for many years, I was obliged to return to Scotland, and did not join my regiment again till after the expedition to Egypt in 1807; but, as the wound was in the arm, it did not disable me for travelling. I therefore employed part of the time I was absent in procuring men for the regiment; and when the act passed for allowing volunteers from the militia, I went to the quarters of several Scotch militia regiments, and got a considerable number of volunteers, particularly from my county regiment the Perthshire, then stationed in Kent.

As these volunteers were destined for India, they expressed a strong desire to return to Scotland and visit their friends once more. I therefore represented the circumstance to the Duke of York, through General Calvert, the Adjutant-General, when his Royal Highness, with that kind and gracious feeling he has ever shown towards soldiers, complied with their request, and all the volunteers were accordingly ordered to Perth. I mention the circumstance more particularly on account of the influence this attention to their wishes ha upon the soldiers and their conduct. While their personal appearance was such as I have already described, they were equally conspicuous for regularity and every duty becoming good soldiers; and, as they often declared, were anxious to prove, by their conduct, that they were worthy of the kindness shown them. When the orders for their removal to England, to embark for the East Indies, arrived in Perth, all to a man expressed their gratitude to the Duke of York for allowing them to see their native country and friends before their departure. Such are the happy consequences of condescending attention the feelings of good men, and so easy a thing is it to secure the dutiful gra-itude of a true soldier, who, when thus treated, will die at his post rather than fail in his duty to his King and his country.]

The second battalion was ordered to the Isle of Wight, and remained there till August 1809, when a detachment of 370 men, with officers and non-commissoned officers, was incorporated with a battalion commanded by the Honourable Lieutenant-Colonel Cochrane, and ordered to join the expedition to Zealand, under the Earl of Chatham. At the conclusion of this service, they returned to the Isle of Wight, considerably affected by the Walcheren fever and ague. Although few died, it was not till the following year that the men recovered their usual strength and vigour. In 1810, all who were fit for service in an eastern climate were embarked, and joined the first battalion at Goa a short time previous to the embarkation of the expedition against Batavia in 1811. This reinforcement, in addition to the fine detachment just mentioned, and which had joined some time previously, enabled the 78th to take the field under General Achmuty in as complete condition as any regiment ever seen in the East Indies; indeed, few battalions have exceeded them in appearance, character, and efficiency, in any service.

The officers, non-commissioned officers, and men, left behind with the second battalion, were ordered to Aberdeen, where they were stationed nearly four years, employed in the necessary duty of recruiting, but with very moderate success in respect to numbers; although the recruits were of a good description, being all healthy country lads, with dispositions unadulturated, and ready to receive every good impression. They were also, what all national corps ought to be, natives of the Highlands whose name they bore. It was not, however, till December 1813, that they mustered 400 men, when they embarked for Holland, landed there, and joined the army under Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Graham.

Early in January 1814, the Prussian General Bulow, intending to circumscribe the operations of the enemy in the neighbourhood of Antwerp, attacked them on the morning of the 11th, and, after an obstinate resistance, drove them to the neighbourhood of the Brischat, whence they retired the following day, on the farther advance of the Prussians, and took up a position close to Antwerp. During these operations, General Graham moved forward the divisions of Major-Generals Coke and Kenneth Mackenzie, to cover the right of the Prussians, and to be ready to cooperate with and support their attack. While they were engaged on the morning of the 13th to the left of Merexem, General Mackenzie, with a detachment of the Rifle Corps, and the 78th regiment, supported by the second battalion of the 25th, and the 33d regiment, attacked this village, occupied by a considerable body of troops. The only approach was by the high road, which entered the village at the centre. On this point the enemy were drawn up in force, seemingly prepared to make a determined resistance. The Highlanders leading, advanced in column, both flanks of which were exposed to the fire of the enemy, who occupied the houses to the right and left of the entrance into the village. If the advance, in such circumstances, had been slow or hesitating, the loss must have been considerable; but "an immediate charge with the bayonet by the 78th, ordered by Lieutenant-Colonel Lindsay, decided the contest." [General Graham's Dispatch.] The enemy were routed at all points with considerable loss, and forced to take shelter in Antwerp, while that of the Highlanders was trifling in comparison of the nature and importance of the service performed. "No veterans ever behaved better than those men who then met the enemy for the first time. The discipline and intrepidity of the Highland battalion, which had the good fortune to lead the attack into the village, reflect equal credit on the officers and the men. The same spirit was manifested by the other troops employed."

Thus it will be seen, that, although the individuals were changed, there was no change of character, and that the honour and good name of their native country were nobly upheld by those boys, of whom only forty-three exceeded twenty-two years of age.

The loss was, Lieutenant "William Mackenzie, Ensign James Ormsby, and 9 rank and file, killed; and Lieutenant-Colonel John Macleod (commanding a brigade), Lieutenants William Bath, John Chisholm, and 26 rank and file, wounded. [The number of the enemy at Merexem was estimated at 3000 men. Buonaparte, who was not prone to miscalculate against himself, acknowledged four battalions in his account of this affair. Taking the lowest calculation, a sufficient number is left to show the spirit of the young men who led this attack, which so quickly defeated the enemy with a loss of killed, wounded, ta-ken, and drowned in the ditches in their hasty flight, exceeding] 100 men. This proved the just estimate General Graham had formed of their character; and that his confidence in this corps of boys was not misplaced when be appointed them to attack so great and preponderating a force of an enemy, approachable only by a causeway, posted advantageously, and supported by artillery.]

The battalion was not employed in the attempt on Bergen-op-Zoom on the 8th of March following. Had the result of that bold enterprise been as successful as the previous plan was admirably conceived, and had it not been disconcerted by one of those unforeseen misfortunes which often ruin the best laid designs, and this, too, after the commander had completely accomplished his share of the duty by lodging his troops within the walls, and after they had got possession of eleven of the fifteen bastions which compose the garrison; the capture of Bergen-op-Zoom, which had resisted so many sieges, and had been the grave of so many brave soldiers, would have been a noble conclusion of the war in the north; while the battle of Toulouse, and the possession of the capital of Languedoc, had completed the career of honour and success in the south.

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

It is only justice to mention, that it was the conduct of this battalion, for eighteen months previous to June 1815, that laid the foundation of that favourable impression in the Netherlands, [The following testimony is from the chief magistrate of Brussels:—"As Mayor of Brussels, I have pleasure in declaring, that the Scotch Highlanders, who were garrisoned in this city during the years 1814 and 1815, called forth the attachment and esteem of all, by the mildness and suavity of their manners and excellent conduct, insomuch that a representation was made to me by the inhabitants, requesting me to endeavour to detain the 78th regiment of Scotchmen in the town, and to prevent their being replaced by other troops.'] which was confirmed by the 42d, and the other Highland regiments who had arrived just previously to the battle of Waterloo; so that little could have been known to the Flemish of what their conduct in quarters might have proved. Enough was known, however, to cause a competition among the inhabitants who should receive them into their houses.

The 78th, which was removed to Nieuport, and quartered there in the summer of 1815, had not the good fortune to be called up to the battle of Waterloo, and to have an opportunity of proving whether the spirited conduct of the battalion at Merexem proceeded from an innate principle of intrepidity, or from momentary impulse. The corps had the more cause to regret their absence on such a day, as ages to come may not afford to soldiers such another opportunity of displaying their firmness and discipline. In the unhealthy quarters of Nieuport, more men were lost by sickness than would probably have fallen by the enemy in the hottest of the fight of Waterloo.

[Other Highland corps marched to the interior of France, after the battle of Waterloo, and formed a part of the hostile garrison that occupied Paris after its fall. As a Scots Highlander, I may perhaps be pardoned for inserting a stanza in which that circumstance is recorded. Most of my readers know the old Jacobite song called " Bannocks of Barley." The verse with which it usually concludes is as follows:

"Wha, in his wae days, were loyal to Charlie?
Wha but the lads wi' the bannocks o' barley?
Bannocks o' bear meal," &c.

In allusion to the unparalleled event which I have just mentioned, the following stanza has been added, as I understand on good authority, by Sir Walter Scott:

"Wha now keep guard at Versailles and at Marli?
Wha but the lads wi' the bannocks o' barley?
Bannocks o' bear meal," &c.]

In 1816 the battalion was ordered to Scotland, and, in the course of that year, the officers were put on half-pay. All the men who had been disabled by the fevers and agues of West Flanders were discharged, while the rest were stationed in Scotland till the arrival of the first battalion from India in summer 1817.


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