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The Brave Sons of Skye
By Lieut.-Col. John MacInnes, V.D., 5th Volunteer Battalion (Princess Louise's) Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (1899)


MY researches (which began several years ago) regarding " The Brave Sons of Skye," having now come to a close, it only remains for me to offer, once more, my warmest thanks to those ladies and gentlemen who have so cordially helped me in my work, and without whose enthusiastic assistance this book would never have seen daylight. Much of the military history of the Island of Skye has undoubtedly been lost for ever; but, while we deplore this loss, we have reason to be proud of the noble heritage of valorous deeds—some of which are still unique in the annals of war—that has come down to us from the " brave and the true " of our kith and kin. Let this fact be remembered for ever, to the credit of the people of Skye, that, in the many official records (and they lie not, neither do they screen the worthless) which were searched in the course of this inquiry, only three cases of alleged misconduct against Skyemen came to light, and that, after due investigation, all the three charges broke down, and the individuals concerned were " honourably acquitted."

The ordinary daily pay of private soldiers varies from one shilling to one shilling and ninepence, and of non-commissioned officers from one shilling and threepence to six shillings, according to rank and branch of the service. A private soldier receives without payment a daily ration of three-quarters of a pound of good meat and one pound of bread. Vegetables and groceries are provided for by a stoppage from his pay of threepence or threepence-halfpenny a day. On active service a fuller ration, including vegetables and groceries, is issued free. After deducting all stoppages, however, a well-conducted soldier has, at his own disposal, about five shillings a week. Gratuities varying from £2 to £12, according to length of service, are paid to men passing from the colours to the reserve. Soldiers serving in the reserve are paid fourpence or sixpence a day according to the class in which they are placed.

If a soldier stays in the army for twenty-one years, and serves for at least three years as a non-commissioned officer, he earns a pension for life varying from £22 to £50, according to his rank and service as a noncommissioned officer. If he becomes a warrant officer he can earn a pension of £80 a year.

A soldier may, if he qualifies himself for it, rise to be a commissioned officer. There are at the present time in the army over seven hundred officers who enlisted as private soldiers. With the view of affording Government employment to deserving soldiers, the Postmaster-General has decided that certain vacancies among provincial letter carriers, and the auxiliary postmen in London, are in future to be offered to discharged soldiers and Army Reserve men. Work is also provided for many old soldiers in the Royal Arsenal, the Royal Army Clothing Department, the Army Ordnance Department, the Customs, and other Government Departments, as well as in the Police forces, Railway Companies, Corps of Commissionaires, and otherwise through agencies established for the purpose at the headquarters of all regimental districts, and by means of the National Association for the Employment of Reserve and Discharged Soldiers whose chief office is in London, but of which numerous branch offices have been established in other large towns.


Schools for the education of non-commissioned officers and men are established in nearly all military stations, with a view to enable men who are desirous of promotion to obtain the qualifying certificate of education. The schools are under the control of the generals commanding districts, and are managed and conducted by experienced schoolmasters. There are no charges for tuition, and books and all the necessary materials are supplied free. During the daytime the schools are used for the education — free — of soldiers’ children and the children of pensioners in the employment of the Crown.

Regimental Institutes

In every unit there is a Regimental Institute, formed for the exclusive benefit and convenience of the troops, and with the following objects :— To supply them with good articles at reasonable prices, without in any way interfering with their right to resort to any other shops or markets, and to organize and maintain the means available for their recreation and amusement.

The Regimental Institute is divided into two branches:—

(1.) Refreshment department, which includes the canteen, grocery shop, and coffee room.

(2.) Recreation department, which embraces the library, recreationroom, skittle alley, shooting gallery, cricket, football, sports, theatricals, &c., &c.


Libraries are established in all military stations. Their object is to afford to the troops the means, within the barracks, of employing their leisure hours usefully.

Libraries are established in all military stations. Their object is to afford to the troops the means, within the barracks, of employing their leisure hours usefully.

The books embrace every subject, including light literature, sciences, languages, travels, adventures, &c., &c.

Recreation Rooms.

Recreation rooms are established with the same object as libraries.

When the construction of barracks affords it, there are two rooms. One is used as a recreation room, the other as a room for games. Usually in the latter a coffee bar is placed, where the soldier can obtain refreshments of almost every description, at nearly the cost price of the articles.

Writing materials are also supplied and every facility given to the men to spend their leisure moments in a profitable manner. The rooms are well furnished, lighted, warmed, and supplied with every necessary.

John MacInnes.


Territorially considered the Isle of Skye does not occupy a high place among the islands of the world, occupying only some 700 square miles of the earth’s surface, yet wherever the Gaelic language is spoken and Skye mentioned it is almost invariably referred to as “the Island” (“An t.-Eilean”) par excellence.

Tradition tells us of the heroine, Princess Sgathach, who dwelt at Diin-Sgathaich in Sleat (so named after herself), where she presided over the most notable military college of that dim and distant time. Skilful of thrust, cunning of fence, and matchless in the use of the “gath-bolg” were the pupils of the royal school of Diin-Sgathaich; but first and foremost among them all was the mighty chief of Skye, Cuchullin, who led a party of his countrymen against the Romans.

Be the many marvellous tales regarding Skye’s heroes and heroines of prehistoric times true or not, a spirit of warlike enterprise has existed in the island from the earliest period of which we have any authentic record, and has been fostered by passing events (involving the strife of arms) century after century up to the present day. But it is with the share that “the Brave Sons of Skye” took in Britain’s great wars in foreign lands that this work more particularly deals.

William Pitt (afterwards Earl of Chatham), addressing the House of Commons, said: “I have sought for merit wherever it could be found. It is my boast that I was the first Minister who looked for it, and found it in the mountains of the north. I called it forth, and drew into your service a hardy and intrepid race of men; men who, when left by your jealousy, became a prey to the artifices of your enemies, and had gone nigh to have overturned the State in the war before last. These men in the last war were brought to combat on your side; they served with fidelity, as they fought with valour in every quarter of the globe.”

“The Island of Mist” made a noble response to the patriotic appeal of the great Minister. We have it on the authority of a former Adjutant-General of the Forces that, in the 40 years preceding 1837, Skye had furnished for the public service 21 Lieutenant-Generals and Major-Generals, 45 Lieutenant-Colonels, 600 Majors, Captains, and subalterns, 10,000 private soldiers, 120 pipers, four Governors of British Colonies, one Governor-General of India, and one Adjutant-General of the British army. It has also been stated on the same testimony that 1,600 Skyemen fought in the British ranks at the battle of Waterloo.

“They have had representatives in every Peninsular and Indian battlefield. Of the miniatures kept in every family more than one half are soldiers, and several have attained to no mean rank. . . . And in other services the Islesman has drawn his sword. Marshal MacDonald had Hebridian blood in his veins. . . . The tartans waved through the smoke of every British battle, and there were no such desperate bayonet charges as those which rushed to the yell of the bag-pipe. At the close of the last and the beginning of the present century half the farms in Skye were rented by half-pay officers. The Army List was to the island what the Post Office Directory is to London.”

Download the book here in pdf format

Hi Alastair,

I’m writing to introduce my book on the life and experiences of the 92nd Foot Highlander ‘Private Donald Campbell’.

Donald Campbell was born in 1784 in Teangue, Parish of Sleat, Isle of Skye, and signed-on for ‘unlimited service’ in the 92nd Regiment of Foot (the Gordon Highlanders) in 1803 when war was declared on Napoleonic France.

In January 1809, after most of the British army had been evacuated from Corunna, Donald was left behind and was placed in the 1st Battalion of Detachments. In 1809 he fought at the Battle of Talavera where he was shot in the left arm. Donald was shot in the bridge of the nose during the Battle of Nivelle in 1813, and in 1814 he was shot in the forehead at the Battle of Garris, the ball rolling around the inside of his skull and exiting the back of his head. This information is recorded on his discharge document and in ‘The Brave Sons of Skye’ by Lt. Col. John MacInnes.

Donald survived all his injuries and carried on fighting. He was awarded five clasps with his General Service Medal, and received the Waterloo medal. He was discharged in Port Royal, Jamaica in 1822 where many had died of yellow fever during the preceding 3 years.

In 1822, at the age of 38 years, Donald returned to Teangue, Isle of Skye as a Chelsea out-pensioner, receiving an army pension of one shilling per day, and continued his life as a crofter. In 1824 he married and had 6 children.

This book describes the dramatic events and experiences during Donald’s lifetime in historical context, and is projected through eye-witness diaries, military records and contemporary accounts. Donald experienced the extreme trauma of campaigning, witnessed the horrors of war, survived wounds and diseases, and became one of ‘The Brave Sons of Skye’.


Malcolm ‘Don’ Campbell

The paperback and eBook are available exclusively on Amazon, and can be found by typing ‘Private Donald Campbell’.


I’ve attached the ‘Life in Teangue’ chapter from my book ‘Private Donald Campbell’ that you may like to add to your website.

I’ve also attached the Table of Contents from the eBook version. Please note that the Sheldt Expedition chapter was added to the book for historical context and continuity, as many troops died of ‘Walcheren fever’ or suffered long-term symptoms of it. Donald Campbell was not on the Sheldt Expedition as he was not evacuated from Corunna. He fought instead at the Battle of Talavera in the 1st Battalion of Detachments where he was wounded, and then returned to England to rejoin the 92nd.

The chapters ‘Life in Teangue’, ‘Return to Teangue’ and ‘Final Chapter’ all contain social history, but of course the majority of the book is regarding the campaigning of the 92nd Foot.

To set the scene there’s a brief chapter ‘Background History’ which includes the sub-chapters of ‘Clan Kinship to Patriarchal Tenancy’, ‘18th Century Highlands’, ‘French Revolution’ and ‘The Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte’.

In addition, throughout the book there are short descriptions of background history as a reference to the military action of the 92nd.

A ‘family tree’ of the Campbells of Teangue has been added for those that may be interested in linking their genealogy to Skye and the parish of Sleat.

I hope the above and attached info will be of interest to your readers.



Table of Contents
Private Donald Campbell (92nd Foot)
Historical Background
Life In Teangue
Map - Teangue (Teanga), Isle of Skye
Art – Highland Whisky Still
Art - Crofters’ huts and interior
Art - Croft cottage
Art - Crofter with caschrom
Recruitment and Early Service
Art – Infantry Barracks, Castlehill, Aberdeen circa 1800
Art - Satire of Napoleon with George III, June 1803
The Danish Expedition
Map - Køge
Map - British artillery around Copenhagen, Sept.1807
The Swedish Expedition
First Peninsular Campaign
Art - Maceira Creek, August 1808
Art - Lisbon from Chapel Hill
Art - Lisbon at Convent de St. Jerome de Belem, circa 1808
Map - Retreat to Corunna and Vigo
Art – Villafranca 1809
Art - On the road to Corunna
Battle of Corunna
Map - Battle of Corunna
Art - Corunna, 17th January 1809
The Sheldt Expedition
Map - British army movements in the Sheldt
Second Peninsular Campaign (part 1)
Combat of Grijó
Crossing of the Douro
Map - Crossing of the Douro at 3 positions, May 1809
Map – Crossing Of The Douro, May 1809
Art - Bridge of boats across the Douro
Map - Army movements in northern Portugal
Combat of Salamonde
Map - Talavera Campaign
Battle of Talavera
Art - Troops drinking at Portina brook
Map - Battle of Talavera 3pm-5pm 28th July 1809
Return to England
Second Peninsular Campaign (part 2)
Map - The Lines of Torres Vedras 1810
Map - Portugal and Spain
Battle of Fuentes d’Onoro
Map - Battle of Fuentes d’Onoro, 3rd May 1811
Map - Battle of Fuentes d’Onoro, 5th May 1811
Battle of Arroyo Dos Molinos
Map - Battle of Arroyo dos Molinos
Combat of Almaraz
Map - Combat of Almaraz
Combat of Alba de Tormes
Art - Soult at Alba de Tormes
Art - The Billets at Banos, Feb. 1813
Battle of Vitoria
Art - The Plains and City of Vitoria
Map - Battle of Vitoria
Map - Army movements during the Battle of Vitoria
Art - Flight of Joseph Bonaparte from Vitoria
Combat at Maya Pass
Map - Combat at Maya Pass
Combat of Beunza
Map - Combat of Beunza and 2nd Battle of Sorauren
Combat of Venta De Urroz
Battle of the Nivelle
Map - Battle of the Nivelle
Passage of the Nive
Art - Lt. Col. Cameron and the 92nd crossing the Nive
Battle of the Nive
Map – Battle of the Nive
Battle of St. Pierre
Art - The 3 Pipers at St. Pierre
Map - Battle of St.Pierre
Map – Bayonne to Orthes
Battle of Garris
Map - Battle of Garris
Passage of the Gave at Arriverete
Battle of Orthes
Map – Battle of Orthes
Map - French retreat, Orthes to Aire
Combat of Aire
Map - Combat of Aire
Map - Orthes to Toulouse
Battle of Tarbes
Map - Battle of Tarbes
Battle of Toulouse
Map – Battle of Toulouse
Combat at Bayonne
Map - Bayonne and St.Etienne
The Waterloo Campaign
Battle of Quatre Bras
Map - Battle of Quatre Bras 3pm
Map - Battle of Quatre Bras 9pm
Battle of Waterloo
Map - Battle of Waterloo 11:15am
Map - Battle of Waterloo 7:45pm
Art - Battle of Waterloo
Map - Battle of Waterloo 8:05pm
Art - French lampoon of Highlanders in mini-kilts (Paris 1815)
Service after Waterloo
Map - Kingston and Port Royal Harbours
Return to Teangue
Art - Croft cottage interior
The Final Chapter
The Campbells of Teangue

See also Life in Teangue from ‘Private Donald Campbell 92nd Foot 1803-1822


Please find attached a short article I’ve written for your website entitled
Skye and the Napier Commission

By 1883 the British government could no longer ignore the evictions and brutal treatment of the crofting tenants in the Highlands and Islands.

Led by Francis Napier as chairman, the Napier Commission gave the crofters an opportunity to reveal their hardships.

The interviews conducted at Isle Ornsay on the 17th May 1883 included those for the hamlet of Teangue. The representative for Teangue was Allan Campbell. Allan was the eldest son of Donald Campbell, of whom the life and military service in the Napoleonic Wars is recorded in the book ‘Private Donald Campbell 92nd Foot 1803-1822’.

Allan’s evidence to the Napier Commission is shown at the end of the article which I hope your readers will find interesting.



I’ve attached a file named ‘The 92nd Gordon Highlanders at Waterloo’.

This is an extract from the Chapter ‘The Waterloo Campaign 1815’ from my book ‘Private Donald Campbell 92nd Foot 1803-1822’ that you may like to add to your website.

The charge of only 230 remaining infantry of the 92nd towards Marcognet’s French column of 3,000 infantry at Waterloo is legendary.

The distinguished reputation of the Gordon Highlanders is celebrated in the Netherlands by the re-enactment group ‘The Gordons Living History’. Their primary focus is the regiment during the Napoleonic wars where they portray the Light Company of the 92nd Regiment, and often work together with their sister unit based in Germany which portrays the Grenadier Company. They also show the civilians who would have been in the camp and followed the army.

In Austria, ‘The Gordon Highlanders of Austria’ is a mix of Scottish tradition with Burgenland culture. In the spring of 1995 the ‘Schottenverein Donnerskirchen’, the ‘Gordon Highlanders of Austria’ was officially included in the register of associations in Austria. Every year since 1996 the association has held the Highland Games. In 2000, the association was given its own march ‘The Donnerskirchen Highlander’. In 2002 the association received the Europe-wide award, the ‘St. Andrews Award’ for efforts to promote Scottish culture. In addition to dealing with everything Scottish such as whiskey tastings, trips to Scotland are one the programs of the association. In 2009 their own pipe band, ‘The Drums & Pipes Gordon Highlanders’, was formed.

I hope my attached extract and info above will be of interest to your readers.

Kind regards,


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