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Scottish Regiments
Lord MacLeod's Highlanders
1873 - 1886

UNDER the system introduced by the General Order of 17th March 1873, the 71st Highland Light Infantry was linked, for the purposes of enlistment and service, with the 78th Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs), the Highland Light Infantry Militia forming the 3d Battalion, and the administrative battalions of the Elgin, Inverness, Ross and Sutherland Rifle Volunteers being associated with these. Shortly thereafter the service companies of the regiment embarked at Gibraltar for Malta, having previously been inspected by General Sir W. F. Williams, Bart., G.C.B., who, in his address after the inspection, spoke of the appreciation in which the regiment was held by himself, and by the whole garrison and inhabitants of Gibraltar, for its soldier-like qualities, its smartness and steadiness on duty, and its general good conduct, and added, "I myself, personally, regret your approaching departure, and I am certain that feeling is shared by every one in the place; but I also feel convinced that you will equally keep up the same good character in your new quarters. I wish you all health and happiness, and a good passage to your destination." Major-General Bissett, C.B., commanding the Infantry Brigade, also expressed "his sincere regret at losing from his brigade a battalion in such a high state of efficiency," and said that he would "ever remember with pride his association with so splendid a National Regiment. In no Corps in the service can there exist a closer bond of union among all its members than is generated by the high esprit de corps for which the 71st Highland Light Infantry is so remarkable, and in the fostering of which most valuable attribute the commanding officer is so entirely supported by his officers.

"It may appear invidious to mention one regiment in contradistinction to another, yet the 71st Highland Light Infantry has been noted in this garrison for its steadiness on parade, and for its soldier-like qualities on guard, and on all duties.

"The Major-General is convinced that wherever this fine regiment may be stationed, it will be found in as high a state of efficiency for service as it is on leaving this garrison; and in wishing the officers health and prosperity at their new station, he can only hope that he may some day have the honour of serving with them again."

Malta was reached on the 29th of April, and the regiment disembarked on the following day, and marched to the Floriana Barracks, which it occupied till the 1st April 1874, changing then to Fort Verdala. During this time, and subsequently, the duties were simply those of ordinary garrison routine, the only noteworthy event being the death of the colonel, Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Law, K.H. An account of his military career has been already given near the close of the last chapter.

His successor, Lieutenant-General the Hon. George Cadogan, C.B., entered the service as Ensign and Lieutenant of the Grenadier Guards in 1833, and was on duty with that regiment during the insurrection in Canada in 1838, and also during the Crimean War, where he was present throughout the siege of Sebastopol, as well as at the battles of Alma, Balaklava, and Inkerman. From April 1855 till May 1856 he also acted as Her Majesty’s Commissioner with the Sardinian Army, and for his services during the campaign he received the medal, with four clasps, was made a C.B., and a Commander of the second class of St Maurice and St Lazarus, and also received the order of the third class of the Medjidieh, and the Turkish medal. During the War of Italian Independence in 1859, he acted as Military Attache with the Sardinian army, and was again with the Sardinian head-quarters during the war of 1866.

Except the arrival of drafts from the depot, and changes from Fort Verdala to St Elmo Barracks (1874), Fort Ricasoli (1875), Pembroke Camp .(1876), and St Elmo Barracks (1876), the only events of importance for some time were the annual inspections by Major-General C. Elmhirst in 1874, and by Major-General Airey, C.B., in 1876, and again in 1877, the latter requesting the Commanding Officer, Colonel Macdonell, in 1876, to convey to the 71st Highland Light Infantry "how much pleased and gratified he felt with the appearance of the regiment at his annual inspection, their smartness at drill, their neatness in appearance, and the thorough cleanliness and order in the barrack rooms;" and adding, "They are only keeping up their old reputation." In 1877 his report was equally favourable. In October of the same year Colonel the Hon. Sir George Cadogan, K.C.B., was promoted from Lieu tenant-General to General.

Several other changes of quarters took place in Malta, and on 1st April 1878 the establishment was raised to 1103 of all ranks, an increase due to the threatening aspect of affairs in the East, and the probability that Britain would have to interfere actively against the designs of Russia on Constantinople. The urgent state of matters caused Her Majesty to direct that all non-commissioned officers and men, both of the First-Class Army Reserve and of the Militia Reserve, should be ordered to join the headquarters of their respective districts for regular service, and, accordingly, the depôt companies of the 71st at Fort George were augmented by the arrival of 270 men of the First-Class Army Reserve, and of 261 men of the Highland Light Infantry Militia Reserve, so that everything might be ready for emergencies. Eventually the active intervention of British troops was not required, but the Island of Cyprus having been, by a secret convention concluded at Constantinople on the 4th of June 1878 between the British Ambassador (Sir Henry Layard) and the Grand Vizier (Safvet Pasha), placed under British protection and government, the 71st was one of the regiments selected to occupy the newly acquired territory.

Although the service was one of peace rather than of war, no accommodation was available for the women and children, and they had to be left behind, the men embarking, on the 18th July, in H.M.S. "Tamar," for Larnaka, which they reached on the 23d, disembarking and going into camp at Cheflik Pacha, five miles from Larnaka, on the following day. On the occasion of the departure of the regiment from Malta, the Governor-General, Sir A. Borton, K.C.B., notified his pleasure in stating that the men’s "good behaviour while in his command had been favourably commented on by the civil authority," and that the conduct of the Military Police was "particularly mentioned, especially with regard to their successful endeavours to prevent collision or ill-feeling between the soldiers and the civil police and population."

Any chance of active service having been set aside by the terms of the Berlin Treaty, the non-commissioned officers and men of the First-Class Army and Militia Reserves were dismissed and sent home, the establishment being reduced, from 1st September 1878, to 694 of all ranks. On 20th July and 28th August, the men on full service moved from Cheflik Pacha to Camp Dali, where they remained till the 27th of September, except the A and B companies, sent to Haia Vanaro, for the purpose of making roads,—proceeding thereafter to Mattiati, and in December to Larnaka, where, on the 15th, they embarked on H.M.S. "Orontes" for Gibraltar. That place was reached on the 26th, and two companies took up quarters on the hulk "Owen Glendower," the rest of the regiment being sent to the North Front Hutments.

Early in 1879 changes of quarters again took place, some of the companies being transferred to Europa Barracks, and others to Windmill Hill; every one looking forward with eagerness to the return to England, which had been ordered for the early part of April. These hopes were, however, doomed to disappointment, for the relieving regiment having been sent on to South Africa for the Zulu War, the 71st had to remain at Gibraltar for nearly another year. At the annual inspection, on the 17th of November, by Major-General David Anderson, pleasure was expressed at the "clean and soldier-like appearance of the regiment on both parades, and the smartness and steadiness in all the movements and drill, in spite of the unfavourable weather.

"The ‘Bayonet Exercise’ in quick time was admirable, and elicited the warm approbation of the Major-General, who expressed himself extremely satisfied with the inspection in every respect, and requested that his thorough approval might be made known to the men of the regiment." The Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief also considered the confidential report "highly creditable, and most satisfactory," though the number of courts-martial was very heavy.

General Cadogan, the Colonel of the regiment, died in January, and was succeeded by General J. H. E. Dalrymple from the 108th Foot. General Dalrymple entered the army as Ensign and Lieutenant in 1837, and was on active service in the Crimean War, where he was present at the battles of Alma (where he was wounded) and Inkerman, as well as in the trenches at Sebastopol. For his exertions he received the medal with clasps, the fifth class of the Medjidieh, and the Turkish medal. He was also in command of the 2d Battalion of the: Scots Fusilier Guards in New Brunswick, after the "Trent Affair" in 1861-62.

On the 8th of March 1880, the regiment, after a service of 11 years and 4 months at the Mediterranean stations, embarked on H.M.S. "Himalaya" with the welcome route for Home, arriving at Portsmouth on the 13th of March, and at Granton for Edinburgh on the 18th, disembarking and occupying Edinburgh Castle the same day. While in Edinburgh the list furnished a guard of honour to the Queen at Ballater in the autumn of 1880, and again in the spring of 1881; and though it had, shortly after its arrival, the misfortune of losing the services of Colonel Macdonell, who retired on half-pay after having held command for twelve years, and served in the regiment for more than thirty-six years, a worthy successor was found in Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel F. W. Lambton, who now became Lieutenant-ColoneL In his farewell Order, Colonel Macdonell intimated the regret he felt at parting with officers, non-commissioned officers, and men. "His constant endeavour," he said, "and pride has been to uphold the high character for good conduct, esprit de corps, discipline, and reputation for smartness, which the Highland Light Infantry has always borne and maintained since it was first raised in 1777. He now with much regret bids farewell to all ranks, and, though no longer serving with the regiment, will always follow its future career with the keenest interest and pride."

On the 26th of May 1881, the 71st left Edinburgh for Maryhill Barracks, Glasgow, and while there, owing to the reorganisation of the army in accordance with the Territorial Scheme, the Battalion became linked with the 74th Highlanders for the purposes of enlistment and service, the headquarters being fixed at Hamilton, to which place the depot moved from Fort George on the 21st July 1881. The 1st Royal Lanark Militia was added as the reserve battalion, and the grouped regiments were to be styled in order the 1st, 2d, and 3d Battalions of the Highland Light Infantry. The uniform was to be that of the 71st, with the exception of the facings, which were changed from buff to yellow, the Militia Battalion being distinguished by an M on the shoulder-straps. In consequence of the reorganisation, the Colonel of the regiment, General Dalrymple, C.B., was placed on the retired list, but retained his command of the battalion, and the establishment was altered to 24 officers, 83 warrant and non-commissioned officers, and 461 privates, including buglers and pipers,—a total of 568 of all ranks,

The only other incidents of importance in 1881 and 1882 were the removal of the Battalion to the Cunagh---this taking place on the 16th of November in the latter year; the annual inspections by General Alastair M’Ian Macdonald, commanding the North British District who on both occasions found the regiment in excellent condition, "reflecting much credit on Colonel Lambton, and all ranks under his command;" and the very interesting restoration of a Pipe Banner which had been lost at Buenos Ares when the capitulation of 1806 took place. The details are fully given in the following correspondence, addressed to the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief:—

February 15th, 1882.

"Your Royal Highness,—With reference to the accompanying communication from M. Santiago D. Lorca, I beg to enclose a rough sketch, which I have had to make by snatches, of the flag mentioned in this note. I would most respectfully suggest that the Admiral on this station should be commissioned to receive the trophy for its transmission to England by the first man-of-war leaving for home. Under no circumstances would it be advisable that any one on shore should be concerned in the matter, for, were it to transpire that M. Lorca meditated giving up the flag, I have not the slightest doubt but that means would be devised to prevent him giving effect to his intentions.

"The flag is in an excellent state of preservation, thanks to the great care bestowed upon it by the Lorcas, grandfather, father, and son, and I have powerful motives for suggesting that no time should be lost in securing it in the manner I propose.

"I have the honour to subscribe myself
"Your Royal Highness’
"Most obedient Servant,
"(Signed) WILLIAM SLOX."

M. Lorca’s letter referred to was as follows :—

February 15th, 1882.

"YOUR ROYAL HIGHNESS,—In the British expedition against Buenos Ayres in 1806, the list Regiment lost a flag, which came into the possession of my grandfather, Santiago Fernandez de Lorca, Major of H.C.M. Royal Corps of Artillery (Sagento Major del Real Cuerpo de Artillera de S.M.C.), who was sent from Chile, at the request of the Viceroy of Buenos Ayres, in command of the contingent raised in this country for the succour of that city. On the death of my grandfather the flag came into possession of his son, Martino Antonio Lorca, my father, from whom, at his demise, I inherited it.

"My father charged me never to make, on any occasion, any show of the flag, but to guard it carefully; and further, that if at any time during my life any member of the Royal Family of Great Britain should visit Chile, to deliver it up in order that it might be restored to the regiment to which it once belonged.

"I had entertained the hope that the arrival of the Detached Squadron at Valparaiso would have afforded me the opportunity of carrying into effect my father’s wishes; but as there now appears to be no probability that the young Princes, the sons of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, will visit Chile, I have resolved to deliver the flag for the purpose already mentioned, to a person duly commissioned by Her Most Gracious Majesty to receive it, in the manner which will be suggested by my esteemed friend Mr William Slot in a communication accompanying this.

"In taking the present step I desire to leave it on record that I am moved thereto out of sincere respect for the Illustrious Lady who fills the British Throne, and out of esteem for the Great Nation over which she rules.

"I have the honour to subscribe myself
"Your Royal Highness’
"Most obedient Servant,

Subsequent results are best described in a letter of 20th June 1882 from Her Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires at Valparaiso, Sir John Drummond Hay, which says:—

"I received on the 1st instant your letter of the 11th April last in reference to a colour of the 71st Regiment in possession of Mr Santiago Daniel Lorca, and the desire of His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge that I should receive the colour from Mr Lorca. Through the assistance of Mr W. Slox I was enabled to place myself in communication with Mr Lorca, and on the 13th instant had the pleasure of receiving the colour. I gave Mr Lorca a receipt for the colour, and on his intimation that he would feel very much honoured if H.R.H. the Duke of Cambridge would grant him some parchment recognition of the act, I promised to mention his wish.

"I have packed the colour, which is in a good state of preservation, in a tin box sealed with the seal of this Legation, and have addressed it to H.R.H.

"H.M.S. ‘Triumph’ is very shortly bound to England, and I propose giving the small parcel to Captain Markham of that ship for safe transmission to His Royal Highness’ hands."

The banner, thus curiously restored after such a lapse of time, was framed and glazed, and has been hung in the Officers’ Anteroom. It is of red silk, with a gold fringe, and has, embroidered on it, the emblems of the regiment along with the rose and thistle. Considering its age it is in a wonderful state of preservation.

From the Curragh the battalion moved on the 14th August 1883 to Dublin, where it remained at Ship Street and Linnenhill Barracks till 1st May 1884, and thereafter at Beggar’s Bush Barracks till 25th September 1885, when it removed to Belfast, the establishment having been increased on 1st April 1884 to 608 of all ranks, and subsequently on 1st April 1885 to 688. In 1884 Colonel Lambton retired on half-pay. His intimation of the fact to the battalion, in an Order of 24th December, was as follows :—

"Colonel Lambton, on resigning with much regret the command of the regiment, after upwards of 33 years’ service in its various grades, begs to return his most grateful thanks to the officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates for the cordial support he has received from all ranks in keeping up its old established credit in the four and a half years during which he has had the honour of commanding it. He now, with no small feeling of regret, begs to bid farewell to all, and to assure them that he will watch the future career of the regiment, under the command of his successors, with undiminished interest."

Colonel Lambton was succeeded by Lieutenant-Colonel J. E. Allan, who was, however, only with the Battalion for one year and five months, before being placed on half-pay. In his address, in Battalion Orders of 8th April 1886, he expressed his regret at leaving the regiment; and after thanking all ranks for their support, expressed his confidence that the discipline and esprit de corps which had always existed among them was as strong as ever, and said he wished to impress on every one the necessity—seeing the Battalion was for the most part composed of very young soldiers—of the officers and non-commissioned officers taking "every opportunity of explaining to their men how important it is for them to be obedient, and to lead a sober and steady life, so that when their turn comes to leave the old corps, they may join their friends with good characters."

The regiment is now under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel C. T. Wallace, and is still stationed at Belfast, where the services of several detachments were unfortunately required in quelling the party disturbances and riots that took place there during the summer of 1886.

1818-1873 | Return to Index Page


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