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


II, Page 253.  Earl of Crawfurd, Colonel of the Highland Regiment

This nobleman, although of Lowland extraction, had been bred a Highlander. He was educated by John Duke of Argyll, in whose castle of Inverary he passed his early years. He entered the army as an ensign in the Foot Guards in 1723. In 1733, he attained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and in 1739 was appointed to the command of the new Highland regiment.

In the years 1738 and 1739 he had served as a volunteer in the Russian and Imperial service in the wars against the Turks. At the battle of Crotzla, in Hungary, in July 1739, he was severely wounded in different parts of the body, and left on the field. When he recovered, he was carried to Belgrade, where he remained some months, but never sufficiently recovered from the effects of his wounds.

The moment he was able to move, his active mind not allowing him to be idle, he joined the army in Flanders in 1741, where he was appointed Adjutant General, and proved himself a most enterprising, intelligent, and successful partisan, ever on the alert, procuring the best information, counteracting the plans, and cutting off the supplies of the enemy. He was no less discerning and penetrating into their designs, than fearless and judicious in the attack, and displayed the greatest presence of mind in extricating himself from any unexpected difficulty.

["Lord Crawfurd, so remarkable for his courage, and thirst of glory, exhibited a marked instance of presence of mind on the morning of the battle of Rocoux, and the 1st October 1746, where Sir John Ligonier, the Earls of Crawfurd and Rothes Brigadier Douglas, and other officers of the British troops, distinguished themselves by their gallantry and conduct. Accompanied by some volunteers, and by his aid-de-camp, and attended by two orderly dragoons, he had rode out before day to reconnoitre the situation of the enemy, and fell in with one of their advanced guards. The sergeant who commanded it immediately turned out his men, and their pieces were presented when the Earl first perceived them. Without betraying the least mark of disorder, he rode up to the sergeant, and, assuming the character of a French General, told him in that language that there was no occasion for such ceremony. Then he asked if they had perceived any of the enemy's parties, and being answered in the negative, "Very well," said he, "be upon your guard, and if you should be attacked, I will take care that you shall be sustained." So saying, he and his com-pany retired before the sergeant could recollect himself from the surprise occasioned by this unexpected address. In all probability he was soon sensible of his mistake, for the incident was that very day publicly mentioned in the French army. The Prince of Imgray, an officer in the Austrian service, having been taken prisoner in the battle that ensued, dined with Marshall Count Saxe, who dismissed him on his parole, and desired he would charge himself with his compliments to his old friend the Earl of Crawfurd. He wished his Lordship joy of being a French General, and said he could not help being displeased with the sergeant, as he had not procured him the honour of his Lordship's company to dinner. (Smollett's Continuation of Hume. )]

Rolt, in his Life of the Earl of Crawfurd, after recapitulating his numerous and important services, proceeds:

"From what has been thus represented, it is evident that the Earl of Crawfurd was born a soldier, and it was his ambition to die as such in the field of battle. His person was of a middle size, well shaped, finely proportioned, and very strong. His generosity was equal to his bravery, as many distressed widows of officers have experienced. His temper was serene and dispassionate. His judgment strong, his discernment penetrating ; he was splendid in his retinue, but temperate at his table, so that he was completely formed for a great commander. His Lordship had a most exact eye in the surveying of grounds, and a wonderful quickness in discovering the strength or weakness of his situations, either for encamping an army to such an advantage that it could not be attacked or annoyed without manifest loss to the assaulters, or from attacking an enemy that was encamped with the greatest advantage the ground could afford."

Lord Crawfurd's military genius was much improved by John Duke of Argyll, with whom he lived when absent from his studies. He was much at Inveraray, where, along with his warlike accomplishments, he acquired the language of the country, and became attached to the people, their manners, and their dress. "He was not more remarkable for his elegance in dancing than in his noble way of performing the Highland dance, habited in that dress, and flourishing a naked broadsword to the evolutions of the body, which is somewhat similar to the Pyrrhic dance. [This dance was called Makinorsair. I have seen it performed by old men, but it has now disappeared. As arms were not in use in later times, an oaken staff supplied the place of the sword.] He was so celebrated for his performance, that he was requested to perform before his Britannic Majesty, which he did at a numerous court, to the great satisfaction of the King and company. He also performed it at the request of General Linden, before a grand assembly at Cormorra, in Hungary, when he was habited in the dress of that country, which became the danca extremely well, when his Lordship gave them infinite pleasure."

In March 1747, Lord Crawfurd married Lady Jane Murray, daughter of the Duke of Atholl, but she did not live beyond the following October ; and he died in December 1749, in consequence of the breaking out of his wounds, which indeed had never been properly healed. His active mind allowing no rest to his weakened body, his constitution sunk under the exertion.

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