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The 92nd Gordon Highlanders
1794 - 1816

THE Marquis of Huntly, whilst a captain in the 3rd Foot Guards, having offered to raise a regiment for general service, letters were granted to him for this purpose on the 10th of February 1794. In his zeal for the service the marquis was backed by his father and mother, the Duke and Duchess of Gordon, both of whom, along with the marquis himself, took an active share in the recruiting. It is quite a true story that the beautiful Duchess of Gordon recruited in person on horseback at markets, wearing a regimental jacket and bonnet, and offering for recruits the irresistible bounty of a kiss and a guinea. The result was, that, within the short space of four months, the requisite number of men was raised, and on the 24th of June the corps was inspected at Aberdeen by Major-General Sir Hector Munro, and embodied under the denomination of the "Gordon Highlanders."

["Here the Lochaber men (raised by Captain Cameron) showed at once the influence of that clan-feeling under which they had consented to go to war. When it was proposed to draft them into the separate divisions of grenadiers and light troops, they at once declared that they would neither be separated from each other, nor serve under any captain except Cameron, that they had followed him as their leader, and him only they would serve. It required all his persuasion to induce them to submit to the rules of the service; but, assisted by his relative, Major Campbell of Auch,—a man of weight and experience,—and promising that he himself would always watch over their interests in whatever division they were ranked, he prevailed on them to submit; and as we shall subsequently see, none of them ever had cause to reproach him with forgetting his pledge." Memoir of Colonel Cameron, by Rev. A. Clerk—When Huntly first resolved to raise the regiment, he called on old Fassifern, and offered to his son John a captain’s commission in it. Fassifern, however, declined the gratifying offer on the ground that he was unable to raise the number of men necessary to entitle his son to such a rank; whereupon the marquis offered the captaincy without any stipulation or condition, saying he would be glad to have John Cameron as a captain in his regiment, though he brought not a single recruit.]

The officers appointed were

Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant
George, Marquis of Huntly.

Charles Erskine of Cadross, killed in Egypt in 1801.
Donald Macdonald of Boisdsle, died in 1795.

Alexander Napier of Blackstone, killed at Coruuna in 1809.
John Cameron of Fassifern, killed at Quatre Bras, 16th June, 1815.
Honourable John Bamsay, son of Lord Dalhousie.
Andrew Paton.
William Mackintosh of Aberarder, killed in Holland in 1799.
Alexander Gordon, son of Lord Rockville, killed at Talaverain 1808, Lieutenant-Colonel 83rd regiment.
Simon Macdonald of Morar.

John Gordon, retired as Major.

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

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

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

It is apt to be supposed that because the Gordon estates now lie only in Aberdeen and Banff, and because the regiment was first collected at Aberdeen, that it belongs particularly to that district; but this is quite a mistake. The 92nd was raised principally in the highland districts of the Gordon estates, and from the estates of the officers or their relations; but it should be remembered that these estates then extended, or the Duke had seignorities over the lands, as far west as Ballachulish and Lochiel, taking in Strathspey, and Lochaber, and it was from these highland districts, of which Fort William is the centre, that it was mostly raised and for a long time after recruited. It also drew very many of its men from Argyll and the Western Isles. The 92nd along with the 79th should be classed with the Inverness-shire, &c., Militia, and, in conjunction with the 91st and 74th, along with the Argyllshire; the 92nd being connected with North Argyll and Isles, the 91st with Loin, and the 74th with Cowal and Kintyre. It has always been particular in its recruiting; even after giving nearly all its men as volunteers to regiments going to the Crimea, and stress being laid upon it to fill up quickly, the commanding officers determined to enlist, as usual, only Scotchmen, and hence the great popularity of the corps in Scotland. Although the men (with the exception of volunteers from other regiments), are still all Scotch, they are not so entirely from the Highlands as formerly; yet the regiment is quite an example in spirit and feeling of the old Highland clan, and M’Donald is still the most common name in its ranks. Several Gaelic poets or "bards" have worn its tartan, the most distinguished being Corporal Alexander M’Kinnon, a native of Arasaig, in Inverness-shire, whose descriptions of the battles of Bergen-op-Zoom and the war in Egypt are among the most spirited modern Gaelic poems. The officers have all along been mostly taken from among good Scottish families; and so highly were its non-commissioned officers thought of in the army, that it was, and is, no uncommon thing for them to be promoted as sergeant-majors and as adjutants into other corps, and to be selected as adjutants of militia and volunteers.

The regiment embarked at Fort-George on the 9th of July 1794, and joined the camp on Netley Common in August, when it was put on the list of numbered corps as the 100th regiment. The first five years of its service were spent at Gibraltar, Corsica, Elba, and Ireland, in which latter place it had most arduous and trying duties to perform; these, however, it performed with the best results to the country.

The Gordon Highlanders left Ireland in June 1799 for England, to join an armament then preparing for the coast of Holland. The number of the regiment was changed about this time to the 92nd, the former regiment of that number, and others, having been reduced.

The first division of the army, of which the 92nd formed part, landed on the Dutch coast, near the Helder, on the morning of the 27th of August, without opposition; but the troops had scarcely formed on a ridge of sand hills, at a little distance from the beach, when they were attacked by the enemy, who were however driven back, after a sharp contest of some hours’ duration. The 92nd, which formed a part of General Moore’s brigade, was not engaged in this affair; but in the battle which took place between Bergen and Egmont on the 2nd of October it took a very distinguished share. General Moore was so well pleased with the heroic conduct of the corps on this occasion, that, when he was made a knight of the Bath, and obtained a grant of supporters for his armorial bearings, he took a soldier of the Gordon Highlanders in full uniform as one of them.

In the action alluded to, the 92nd had Captain William Mackintosh, Lts. Alexander Fraser, Gordon M’Hardy, 3 sergeants, and 54 rank and file, killed; and Colonel, the Marquis of Huntly, Captains John Cameron, Alexander Gordon, Peter Grant, John Maclean, Lieutenants George Fraser, Charles Chadd, Norman Macleod, Donald Macdonald, Ensigns Charles Cameron, John Macpherson, James Bent, G. W. Holmes, 6 sergeants, 1 drummer, and 175 rank and file, wounded.

After returning to England, the regiment again embarked on the 27th of May 1800, and sailed for the coast of France; but no landing took place, and the fleet proceeded to Minorca, where the 92nd disembarked on the 20th of July. It formed part of the expedition against Egypt, details of which will be found in the account of the service of the 42nd regiment. The Gordon Highlanders particularly distinguished themselves in the battle of the 13th of March 1801. The British army moved forward to the attack in three columns of regiments; the 90th, or Perthshire regiment, led the advance of the first or centre column, and the Gordon Highlanders that of the second or left, the reserve marching on the right, covering the movements of the first line, and running parallel with the other two columns. The enemy were strongly fortified on a rising ground, and well appointed with cavalry and artillery. As soon as the regiments in advance had cleared some palm and date trees they began to deploy into line; but before the whole army had formed the enemy opened a heavy fire of cannon and musketry, and descended from the heights to attack the 92nd, which had by this time formed in line. The fire was quickly returned by the Gordon Highlanders, who not only firmly maintained their ground singly against the attacks of the enemy supported by a powerful artillery, but drove them back with loss. In this action the 92nd had 19 rank and file killed; and Lt-Col. Charles Erskine (who afterwards died of his wounds), Captains the Honourable John Ramsay, Archibald Macdonald, Lts. Norman Macleod, Charles Dowle (both of whom also died of their wounds), Donald Macdonald, Tomlin Campbell, Alexander Clarke (the two last died of their wounds), Ronald Macdonald, Alexander Cameron, Ensign Peter Wilson, 10 sergeants, and 100 rank and file wounded.

The regiment had suffered much from sickness during the voyage from Minorca to Egypt, and with this and its recent loss in battle it was so reduced in numbers that General Abercromby ordered it to the rear on the night of the 20th of March, in order to take post upon the shore at Aboukir. Major Napier, on whom the command of the 92nd had devolved in consequence of the death of Col. Erskine, did not, however, remain long in this position, but hurried back as soon as he heard the firing, and assumed his former place in the line. The regiment lost 3 rank and file killed, and Captain John Cameron, Lt. Stewart Matheson, and 37 rank and file wounded.

At the battle of Alexandria, Corporal M’Kinnon, the Gaelic poet already alluded to, was severely wounded, and was nearly buried for dead, when his friend, Sergeant M’Lean, saved him. He composed a Gaelic poem, full of spirit, on the battle, part of which we give in a translation by the Rev. Dr Maclauchlan...


It was not heard in the course of history,
In the conflict or strife of arms,
That fifteen thousand men so famous as you
Drew swords under their King.
Glorious was the Scottish champion
Who had that matter entrusted to him;
They were not clowns who were chosen with him,
To bring their deeds of arms to an issue.
* * * * *
The brave heroes were drawn
Into a heavy, fierce body;
Powerful, strong were the hands,
The fine spark going off;
Seeking a place where they might kneel,
If any enemy were to meet them,
The ground would be left bloody
With steel that pierces men’s bodies.
There were hearty, vigorous lads there,
Who never yielded in fear,
Following them as best they might.
Fifty horse were turned by their exploits.
It was a vain thought for the horsemen
That they could not find men to contend with them;
And the heroes, who could not be shaken,
Chasing them out on the hill.
* * * * *
We were ready on our legs,
To pursue with all speed,
On the thirteenth morning which they fixed,
With our noble fearless commander.
The two youngest of our regiments—
The Grahams and the Gordons—
Running swiftly to meet them
Pouring down from the hill.
* * * * *
Heavy was the flight for them,
Hard as ever was heard of;
Abercromby was up with them,
With his men who were ready at hand.
Were it not for the town which they reached
With cannon all surrounded,
More of them were in their graves,
And had got cold upon the hill.

In a short time the regiment recovered its health, and shared in all the movements of the army in Egypt till the termination of hostilities, when it embarked for Ireland, and landed at Cork on the 30th of January 1802.

For their services in Egypt, King George III. conferred upon the 92nd and other regiments the honour of bearing on their colours and appointments the "Sphinx," and the word "Egypt." The Grand Seignior established the order of the Knighthood of the Crescent, of which the general officers were made members; and gold medals were presented to the field-officers, captains, and subalterns.

The regiment was removed from Ireland to Glasgow, where it arrived on June 6th, and remained until the renewal of hostilities in 1803, when it was marched to Leith, and embarked for the camp which was then forming at Weeley. At this time was embodied a second battalion of 1000 men, raised under the Army of Reserve Act, in the counties of Nairn, Inverness, Moray, Banff, and Aberdeen. This corps served as a nursery for the regiment during the war.

In January 1806 Major-General the Honourable John Hope was made colonel, in room of the Marquis of Huntly removed to the 42nd.

The regiment formed part of the expedition sent against Copenhagen in 1807, and served in Sir Arthur Wellesley’s brigade. The only instance which offered on this occasion to the regiment to distinguish itself was a spirited and successful charge with the bayonet, when it drove back a greatly superior number of the enemy.

In the year 1808 the regiment embarked for Sweden under Sir John Moore, but its services were not made use of; and immediately upon the return of the expedition to England the troops employed were ordered to Portugal under the same commander, landing on the 27th of August. The 92nd accompanied all the movements of General Moore’s army, and had the misfortune to lose its commanding officer, Col Napier of Blackstone, who was killed at Corunna, where the first battalion was posted towards the left of the army on the road leading to Betanzos, "and throughout the day supported its former reputation." Col. Napier was adored by the regiment, to which he was more like a father than a commanding officer. The regiment had only 3 rank and file killed, and 12 wounded; among the latter was Lt. Archibald Macdonald, who afterwards died of his wounds.

On its return to England the regiment was quartered at Weeley, where it received a reinforcement of recruits, which increased the strength of the corps to rather more than 1000 men. This number was, however, greatly reduced in the Walcheren expedition, only 300 out of the 1000 returning fit for duty; but the loss was speedily supplied by recruits from the second battalion. The regiment embarked for Portugal on the 21st of September 1810, and joined the British army under Lord Wellington at the lines of Torres Vedras, in the following month.

The service of the 92nd in the Spanish Peninsu]a and the south of France is so blended with the operations of Lord Wellington’s army that, to give a complete idea of it, it would be necessary to enter into details which the limited space allotted to this division of the history will not admit of and the most important of which have been given in our notices of the other Highland regiments, especially the 42nd and 71st. In all the actions in which they were engaged, the Gordon Highlanders upheld the high military reputation which they had acquired in Egypt, and supported the honour of their native country in a manner worthy of Highlanders.

The 92nd was brigaded with the 50th and 71st under the command of Sir William Erskine at Fuentes d’Onor, May 5th, 1811. The first battalion of the 92nd was stationed to the right of the town, covering a brigade of nine-pounders, and was exposed to a very heavy cannonade. The regiment had 7 rank and file killed, and 2 officers, Major Peter Grant and Lt. Allan M’Nab, and 35 rank and file wounded. Lt.-General Rowland Hill having driven the French from their post at Caceres, the latter, on the approach of the British, retired, halting at Arroyo de Molinos. After a very fatiguing march from Portalegre, the first battalion of the 92nd arrived close to Arroyo on the 27th of October 1811, and next day took part in a well fought battle. The 92nd was placed in the centre of its brigade, and was ordered to proceed to the market-square, and, if possible, to the other side of the town. As the regiment was proceeding along one of the streets, the French, taken by surprise, came out to see what was the matter, and the Prince D’Aremberg was taken prisoner in a half-naked state by a sergeant of the 92nd. The French, however, soon assembled, threw themselves across the head of the street, and commenced firing upon the advancing regiment, the shot taking deadly effect, owing to the narrowness of the street. By this time great confusion and uproar prevailed in the town. The 71st moved down to the assistance of the 92nd, while the 50th secured all the passages to the town, and captured the French artillery. The 92nd thus reinforced now pushed its way through the suburbs, and cleared the town of the enemy. The latter, however, afterwards formed in a field, and fired down a lane upon the advancing regiment. The 92nd had 3 men killed, and Col. Cameron, Brevet-Major Dunbar, and Captains M’Donald and M’Pherson, and 7 rank and file wounded.

At Almaraz, on May 19th, 1812, the 92nd again did good service in assisting materially to destroy the bridge and fortifications. This point was of great importance to the enemy, as it secured the only direct communication between his two armies, which were now in effect placed several days more distant. The 92nd had only 2 rank and file wounded.

At Alba de Tormes, on November 10th and 11th, the 92nd had 8 rank and file killed, and 1 officer and 33 rank and file wounded.

At the battle of Vittoria, fought on June 21st, 1813, the 92nd distinguished itself by seizing the height occupied by the village of Puebla, holding it against a most determined resistance, and, after a fierce struggle, put the enemy to flight. Its casualties were 4 rank and file killed, and 16 wounded. A medal was conferred on Lt.-Col. John Cameron of the 92nd.

In the various actions connected with the passage of the Pyrenees the 92nd took a prominent part, behaving itself in its usual valorous manner; in the words of Sir William Napier, "the stern valour of the 92nd would have graced Thermopylae."

On the 25th of July 1813, the 92nd was stationed in the Maya Pass, on the right of the road leading from Urdax, and the 71st still farther to the left. The enemy collected a force of about 15,000 men behind some rocky ground in front of the British right, and with this overwhelming force drove in the light companies of the second brigade, gaining the high rock on the right of the allied position before the arrival of the second brigade from Maya, which was therefore compelled to retrace its steps towards the village, instead of falling back to its left on the first brigade. Lt.Col. Cameron detached the 50th to the right the moment the action commenced. That regiment was severely engaged, and was forced to retire along the ridge. The right wing of the 92nd, under Major John M’Pherson, was sent to its support, and for some time had to stand the whole brunt of the enemy’s column. The right wing of the 71st regiment was also brought up, but such was the advantage of the position the enemy had gained by separating the two brigades, and in a manner descending upon the Pass of Maya, while a fresh division was pushing up to it from the direction of Urdax, that the small body of troops received orders to retire to a high rock on the left of the position. This movement was covered by the left wings of the 71st and 92nd regiments, which, relieving each other with the utmost order and regularity, and disputing every inch of ground, left nothing for the enemy to boast of. The brigade continued to hold the rock until the arrival of Major-General Edward Barnes’ brigade, when a general charge was made, and every inch of ground recovered as far as the Maya Pass.

On this occasion the 92nd was ordered by Lt.-General the Honourable Sir William Stewart not to charge, the battalion having been hotly engaged for ten successive hours, and in want of ammunition. The 92nd, however, for the first time disregarded an order, and not only charged, but led the charge.

The 92nd behaved with equal bravery on July 30th and 31st and August 1st, its casualties altogether during the passage of the Pyrenees being 53 rank and file killed, 26 officers and 363 rank and file wounded.

In the passage of the Nive the 92nd had its full share of the fighting. On the 13th of December, besides being exposed during the day to a continued fire of musketry and artillery, the battalion made four distinct charges with the bayonet, each time driving the enemy to his original position in front of his entrenchments. At one time the 92nd while pressing onwards was arrested by a fearful storm of artillery. Of one of these charges Sergeant Robertson writes: —

"The order was given to charge with the left wing of the 92nd, while the right should act as riflemen in the fields to the left of the road. The left wing went down the road in a dashing manner, led by Cal. Cameron, who had his horse shot under him, and was obliged to walk on foot. As soon as we came up to the French many of them called out for quarter, and were made prisoners. After the enemy had maintained their ground for a short time, they saw that it was impossible for them to stand against us. The road was soon covered with the dead and dying. The French now broke offto their own right, and got into the fields and between the hedges, where they kept up the contest until night. Although the action ended thus in our favour, we did not gain any new ground. After the battle was over, we were formed on a piece of rising ground about a mile to our own rear, when Lord Wellington came in person to thank the 92nd for their gallant conduct and manly bearing during the action, and ordered a double allowance of rum, and that we should go into quarters on the following day."

On this occasion Lts. Duncan M'Pherson, Thomas Mitchell, and Alan M’Donald were killed. Major John M’Pherson (mortally), Captains George W. Holmes, Ronald M’Donald, and Donald M’Pherson; Lts. John Catenaugh, Ronald M’Donald, James John Chisholm, Robert Winchester, and George Mitchell, and Ensign William Fraser were wounded. 28 rank and file were killed, and 143 wounded.

In commemoration of this action an honorary badge was conferred by His Majesty on Lt.Col. Cameron, bearing the word "Nive," and the senior captain of the regiment (Captain James Seaton) was promoted to the brevet rank of major. The royal authority was also granted for the 92nd to bear the word "Nive" on its regimental colour and appointments.

On the morning of the 15th of Feb., the 92nd marched in pursuit of the enemy, who was discovered late in the evening, strongly posted on the heights in front of Garris, which the division attacked and carried in gallant style. The French obstinately disputed their ground, and made several attempts to recover it after dark, but finding the British troops immovable, they retreated with considerable loss through St Palais. On this occasion Major James Seaton was mortally wounded, and expired on the 22nd of the following month. The other casualties were 3 rank and file wounded.

During the night the enemy destroyed the bridge at St Palais, and every exertion was made to repair it. On the 16th of Feb., the 92nd crossed in the afternoon, and occupied a position in advance.

On the 17th of Feb., the enemy was discovered in the village of Arriverete, on the right bank of the Gave de Mauléon, endeavouring to destroy the bridge over it. A ford was discovered a little higher up, which the 92nd crossed under cover of the British artillery, and immediately attacking the troops in the village with its usual success, drove the enemy out of it, and secured the bridge by which the troops were enabled to cross. The enemy retired across the Gave d’Oléron, and the battalion, which had 10 rank and file wounded in this enterprise, was cantoned in Arriverete and the neighbouring villages.

In honour of this occasion, it was granted by royal warrant, that Lt.-Col. Cameron should bear for his crest a Highlander of the 92nd regiment, up to the middle in water, grasping in his right hand a broad sword, and in his left a banner inscribed 92nd, within a wreath of laurel; and as a motto over it the word "Arriverete."

At Orthes the 42nd, 79th, and 92nd met for the first time in the Peninsula, and a joyful meeting it was, as the men of the three regiments were almost all Scotchmen, many of whom were old friends. Lord Wellington was so much pleased with the scene at the meeting of these regiments that he ordered them to encamp beside each other for the night.

In the affair at Aire there were 3 rank and file killed, and 3 officers and 29 men wounded. His Majesty granted permission to Lt.-Col Cameron to bear upon his shield a view of the town, with the word "Aire." Both in Division and General Orders the 92nd was specially mentioned, along with the 50th, as deserving to have "the good fortune of yesterday’s action decidedly attributed to it." Moreover, a special letter from the Mayor of Aire warmly thanked Col Cameron for the conduct of his men, and for having preserved the town from pillage and destruction. The losses of the regiment in these actions were not great, being altogether, according to General Stewart, 2 rank and file killed, and 5 officers and 55 rank and file wounded.

On the 10th of April the 92nd advanced by the Muret road to the vicinity of Toulouse, and drove Marshal Soult’s outposts into his entrenchments on that side. The services of the battalion were not again required during this day; it however witnessed the gallant conduct of its comrades on the opposite bank of the river, driving the enemy from his redoubts above the town, and gaining a complete victory.

During the 11th of April nothing particular occurred beyond a skirmish, and confining the enemy to the suburbs. The French evacuated Toulouse during the night, and the white flag was hoisted. On the 12th of April the Marquis of Wellington entered the city amidst the acclamations of the inhabitants. The 92nd followed the enemy on the Villa Franche road, and encamped in advance of that town.

In the course of the afternoon of the 12th of April, intelligence was received of the abdication of Napoleon: had not the express been delayed on the journey by the French police, the sacrifice of many valuable lives would have been prevented.

A disbelief in the truth of this intelligence occasioned much unnecessary bloodshed at Bayonne, the garrison of which made a desperate sortie on the 14th of April, and Lt.General Sir John Hope (afterwards Earl of Hopetoun), the colonel of the 92nd regiment, was taken prisoner. Major-General Andrew Hay was killed, and Major-General Stopford was wounded. This was the last action of the Peninsular war.

On April 20, 1814, the 92nd marched into Villa Franche; on the 24th to Beziège; and on the 25th occupied quarters in Toulouse.

After peace had been established between Britain and France, the 92nd returned home, disembarking at Monkstown, Ireland, on the 29th of July, and proceeding to Fermoy Barracks, at which the thanks of Parliament were communicated to the regiment for "the meritorious and eminent services it had rendered to the King and country during the course of the war."

On the 24th of October 1814, the second battalion was disbanded at Edinburgh, and 12 sergeants, 13 drummers, and 161 rank and file were transferred to the first battalion.

The 92nd, however, had not long to rest at home, being called again into active service, to take part in the grand concluding act of the drama enacted by Napoleon for so many years on the theatre of Europe. The regiment sailed from the Cove of Cork on the 1st May 1815, and arrived at Ostend on the 9th. On the 11th the regiment went to Ghent, where it stayed till the 28th, when it removed to Brussels, the men being billeted throughout the city. Here they were served with four days’ bread, and supplied with camp-kettles, bill-hooks, and everything necessary for a campaign, which, according to all accounts, was fast approaching. The inhabitants of Brussels like those of Ghent treated the Highlanders with great kindness, the latter, by their civility and good behaviour, making themselves great favourites.

On the evening of the 15th of June the alarm was sounded in Brussels, and hasty preparations were made to go out to meet the enemy. Col. Cameron, who had that day been invested with the order of the Bath, and who was present at the famous ball given by the Duke of Wellington when the alarm was given, was quickly at the head of the regiment. The march was commenced at daybreak on the 16th by the Namur gate. Lt.-General Sir Thomas Picton’s division, to which the 92nd belonged, came under fire about two o’clock in front of Genappe, at Quatre Bras, where the main road from Charleroi to Brussels is crossed by another from Nivelles to Namur, and which served as the British communication with the Prussians on the left. The 92nd was formed in front of Quatre Bras farm-house on the road, lining a ditch, with its rear to the walls of the building and garden, its right resting on the crossroads, and its left extending down the front. Shortly after the 92nd was thus formed, the Duke of Wellington and his staff came and dismounted in the rear of the centre of the regiment. The enemy poured a very hot fire of artillery on this post, and his cavalry charged it, but was received by a well-directed volley from the regiment, and forced to retire with great loss of men and horses. Immediately after this the French infantry attacked the position on the right and in front, and the Gordon Highlanders, who had been standing impatiently eager for action, were now ordered to charge the advancing enemy: "92nd, you must charge these fellows," the Duke said, and with one bound the regiment was over the ditch advancing at full speed, and making the French give way on all sides. The 92nd continued to pursue the enemy, and was hotly engaged till nightfall, when the action ceased. It was very much cut up both in officers and men, as it was among the first to go into action, and, along with the other Highland regiments, had for a long time to resist the attack of the entire French army. Undoubtedly its greatest loss on this hot day was the brave and high-minded Col. Cameron, concerning whom we give a few details below.

[John Cameron was son of Ewen Cameron of Fassifern, a nephew of the "Gentle Lochiel" As we have seen, he entered the regiment at its formation, and took part in most of its hard services. He was universally beloved and respected, especially by the Highland soldiers, in each man of whom he took the interest of a father, and felt himself responsible for their welfare and good conduct. The following account of his death is taken from his biography, written by the Rev. Dr Archibald Clerk of Kilmallie :—" The regiment lined a ditch in front of the Namur road. The Duke of Wellington happened to be stationed among them. Colonel Cameron seeing the French advance asked permission to charge them. The Duke replied, ‘Have patience, you will have plenty of work by and by.’ As they took possession of the farm-house Cameron again asked leave to charge, which was again refused. At length, as they began to push on the Charleroi road, the Duke exclaimed, ‘Now, Cameron, is your time, take care of the road.’ He instantly gave the spur to his horse, the regiment cleared the ditch at a bound, charged, and rapidly drove back the French; but, while doing so, their leader was mortally wounded. A shot fired from the upper storey of the farm-house passed through his body, and his horse, pierced by several bullets, fell under him. His men raised a wild shout, rushed madly on the fated house, and, according to all recounts, inflicted dread vengeance on its doomed occupants. Ewen Macmillan (Cameron’s foster brother), who was ever near his master and his friend, speedily gave such aid as he could. Carrying him with the aid of another private beyond reach of the firing, he procured a cart, whereon he laid him, carefully and tenderly propping his head on a breast than which none was more faithful." He was carried to the village of Waterloo, and laid in a deserted house by the roadside, stretched upon the floor. "He anxiously inquired how the day had gone, and how his beloved Highlanders had acquitted themselves. Hearing that, as usual, they had been victorious, he said, ‘I die happy, and I trust my dear country will believe that I have served her faithfully.’ . . . . Thus he met with a warrior’s death, and more, with a Highland warrior’s death. His remains were hastily interred in a green alley—Alée verte—on the Ghent road, under the terrific storm of the 17th." In the April of the following year his remains were removed to Scotland, and from Leith conveyed in a King’s ship to Lochaber, and committed to their final resting-place in the churchyard of Kilmallie, where lie many chiefs of the Cameron clan. His age was only 44 years. In honour of Cameron’s distinguished service his father was created Baronet of Fassifern. A handsome monument—an obelisk—was afterwards erected to Cameron at Kilmallie, for which an inscription was written by Sir Walter Scott, who seems to have had an intense admiration for the brave and chivalrous Highland hero, and who, in his Dance of Death, speaks of him thus:-

"Through battle, rout, and reel, 
Through storm of shot, and hedge of steel, 
Led the grandson of Lochiel,
The valiant Fassifern.

Through steel and shot he leads no more,
Low laid ‘mid friend’s and foemen’s gore;
But long his native lake’s wild shore,
And Sunart rough, and wild Ardgour, 
And Morven long shall tell;

And proud Ben Nevis hear with awe, 
How, at the bloody Quatre Bras, 
Brave Cameron heard the wild hurrah
Of conquest as he fell." ]

Besides their colonel, the 92nd lost in the action Captain William Little, Lt. J. J. Chisholm, Ensigns Abel Becker and John M. R. Macpherson, 2 sergeants, and 33 rank and file. The wounded officers were Major James Mitchell (afterwards lieutenant-colonel); Captains G. W. Holmes, Dugald Campbell, W. C. Grant (who died of his wounds); Lts. Thomas Hobbs, Thomas Mackintosh, Robert Winchester, Ronald Macdonnell, James Kerr Ross, George Logan, John Mackinlay, George Mackie, Alexander Macpherson, Ewen Ross, Hector M’Tnnes; Ensigns John Barnwell, Robert Logan, Angus Macdonald, Robert Hewit, and Assistant-Surgeon John Stewart; also 13 sergeants, 1 drummer, and 212 rank and file. On the morning of the 17th Lord Wellington had collected the whole of his army in the position of Waterloo, and was combining his measures to attack the enemy; but having received information that Marshal Blucher had been obliged, after the battle of Ligny, to abandon his position at Sombref, and to fall back upon Wavre, his lordship found it necessary to make a corresponding movement. He accordingly retired upon Genappe, and thence upon Waterloo. Although the march took place in the middle of the day the enemy made no attempt to molest the rear, except by following, with a large body of cavalry brought from his right, the cavalry under the Earl of Uxbridge. On the former debouching from the village of Genappe, the earl made a gallant charge with the Life Guards, and repulsed the enemy’s cavalry.

Lord Wellington took up a position in front of Waterloo. The rain fell in torrents during the night, and the morning of the 18th was ushered in by a dreadful thunder-storm; a prelude which superstition might have regarded as ominous of the events of that memorable and decisive day. The allied army was drawn up across the high roads from Charleroi and Nivelles, with its right thrown back to a ravine near Merke Braine, which was occupied, and its left extended to a height above the hamlet Ter-la-Haye, which was also occupied. In front of the right centre, and near the Nivelles road, the allies occupied the house and farm of Hougoumont, and in front of the left centre they possessed the farm of La Haye Sainte. The Gordon Highlanders, who were commanded by Major Donald Macdonald, in consequence of the wound of Lt.-Col. Mitchell, who had succeeded Col. Cameron in the command, were in the ninth brigade with the Royal Scots, the Royal Highlanders, and the 44th regiment. This brigade was stationed on the left wing upon the crest of a small eminence, forming one side of the hollow, or low valley, which divided the two hostile armies. A hedge ran along this crest for nearly two-thirds its whole length. A brigade of Belgians, another of Hanoverians, and General Ponsonby’s brigade of the 1st or Royal Dragoons, Scotch Greys, and Inniskillings, were posted in front of this hedge. Bonaparte drew up his army on a range of heights in front of the allies, and about ten o’clock in the morning he commenced a furious attack upon the post at Hougoumont. This he accompanied with a very heavy cannonade upon the whole line of the allies; but it was not till about two o’clock that the brigades already mentioned were attacked. At that time the enemy, covered by a heavy fire of artillery, advanced in a solid column of 3000 infantry of the guard, with drums beating, and all the accompaniments of military array, towards the position of the Belgians. The enemy received a temporary check from the fire of the Belgians and from some artillery; but the troops of Nassau gave way, and, retiring behind the crest of the eminence, left a large space open to the enemy. To prevent the enemy from entering by this gap, the third battalion of the Royal Scots, and the second battalion of the 44th, were ordered up to occupy the ground so abandoned; and here a warm conflict of some duration took place, in which the two regiments lost many men and expended their ammunition. The enemy’s columns continuing to press forward, General Pack ordered up the Highlanders, calling out, "Ninetysecond, now is your time; charge." This order being repeated by Major Macdonald, the soldiers answered it by a shout. Though then reduced to less than 250 men, the regiment instantly formed two men deep, and rushed to the front, against a column ten or twelve men deep, and equal in length to their whole line. The enemy, as if appalled by the advance of the Highlanders, stood motionless, and upon a nearer approach they became panic-stricken, and, wheeling to the rear, fled in the most disorderly manner, throwing away their arms and every thing that incumbered them. So rapid was their flight, that the Highlanders, notwithstanding their nimbleness of foot, were unable to overtake them ; but General Ponsonby pursued them with the cavalry at full speed, and cutting into the centre of the column, killed numbers and took nearly 1800 prisoners. The animating sentiment, "Scotland for ever I" received a mutual cheer as the Greys galloped past the Highlanders, and the former felt the effect of the appeal so powerfully, that, not content with the destruction or surrender of the flying column, they passed it, and charged up to the line of the French position. "Les braves Ecossais; qu’ils sent terribles ces Chevaux Gris I" Napoleon is said to have exclaimed, when, in succession, he saw the small body of Highlanders forcing one of his chosen columns to fly, and the Greys charging almost into his very line.

During the remainder of the day the 92nd regiment remained at the post assigned it, but no opportunity afterwards occurred of giving another proof of its prowess. The important service it rendered at a critical moment, by charging and routing the elite of the French infantry, entitle the 92nd to share largely in the honours of the victory.

"A column of such strength, composed of veteran troops, filled with the usual confidence of the soldiers of France, thus giving way to so inferior a force, and by their retreat exposing themselves to certain destruction from the charges of cavalry ready to pour in and overwhelm them, can only be accounted for by the manner in which the attack was made, and is one of the numerous advantages of that mode of attack I have had so often occasion to notice. Had the Highlanders, with their inferior numbers, hesitated and remained at a distance, exposed to the fire of the enemy, half an hour would have been sufficient to annihilate them, whereas in their bold and rapid advance they lost only four men. The two regiments, which for some time resisted the attacks of the same column, were unable to force them back. They remained stationary to receive the enemy, who were thus allowed time and opportunity to take a cool and steady aim; encouraged by a prospect of success, the latter doubled their efforts; indeed, so confident were they, that when they reached the plain upon the summit of the ascent, they ordered their arms, as if to rest after their victory. But the handful of Highlanders soon proved on which side the victory lay. Their bold and rapid charge struck their confident opponents with terror, paralysed their sight and aim, and deprived both of point and object. The consequence was, as it will always be in nine cases out of ten in similar circumstances, that the loss of the 92nd regiment was, as I have just stated, only 4 men, whilst the other corps in the stationary position lost eight times that number."

At Waterloo the 92nd had 14 rank and file killed, and Captains Peter Wilkie and Archibald Ferrier, Lts. Robert Winchester, Donald Macdonald, James Kerr Ross, and James Hope, 3 sergeants, and 96 rank and file wounded.

After Waterloo, the 92nd, along with the rest of the army, proceeded to Paris, in the neighbourhood of which it encamped on the 3rd of July. Shortly after leaving Waterloo, while halting near a small village for the night, the Duke of Wellington in person came up and thanked the 92nd for the manner in which the men had conducted themselves during the engagement, and lavished upon them the highest eulogiums for their exertions to uphold the reputation of the British army. The Highland Society of Scotland unanimously passed a vote of thanks "for the determined valour and exertions displayed by the regiment, and for the credit which it did its country in the memorable battles of the 16th and 18th of June 1815."

The 92nd stayed at Paris till the end of November, when it was marched to Boulogne, and on December 17th it embarked at Calais, landing at Margate on the 19th. After staying at various places in England, it marched from Berwick-on-Tweed to Edinburgh on the 7th of September 1816, and took up its quarters in Edinburgh Castle on the 12th, this being the second visit to its native country since its embodiment. Like the 42nd in similar circumstances, the men of the 92nd were treated with the greatest kindness, and entertained with profuse hospitality at almost every place on the way. On their entry into Edinburgh, a vast crowd assembled in the roads and streets. The 42nd, between which and the 92nd there has always been a friendly rivalry, had been there shortly before, and a man of that regiment standing among the crowd cried in banter to a passing company of the 92nd, "This is nothing to what it was when we came home; we could hardly make our way through the crowd." A 92nd man quickly retorted, "You should have sent for us to clear the way for you, as we have often done before."



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