The 79th Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
1793 - 1853
The 79th Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
Record of the Formation and Services of the 79th Cameron Highlanders
A transcript of an original hand written document.
1793 - 1853
The Clan Cameron, Raising of the Regiment, Flanders, West Indies, Holland, -Ferrol and Cadiz, Egypt, Ireland, A 2nd battalion, Proposed abolition of the kilt, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Corunna, Spain, The Peninsular War, Busaco,
Foz d’Arouce, Fuentes d'Onor, Death of Colonel Philip Cameron, Lord Wellington’s opinion of the 79th, Salamanca, Siege of Burgos, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes, Toulouse, Home, Quatre Bras, Waterloo, France, Home, Chichester, Portsmouth, Jersey, Ireland, Canada, New Colours, Scotland, England, Gibraltar, "Bailie Nicol Jarvie", Canada, Scotland, Chobham, Portsmouth.
1853 - 1873
War with Russia, New Colours, the 79th parts with some of its best men to the 93rd,
ordered to the Crimea, the Highland Brigade, The Alma, Sebastopol, Balaklava, Valley of Death, Kertch, Yenikali, Sir Colin Campbell, Dr Mackenzie, Home, Madras, Allahabad, Lucknow, Boodaoon, End of the Indian Mutiny, Meeanmeer, Peshawur, Rawul Pindee, Earl of Mayo, Jubbulpoor, the 93rd Highlanders, Nagpoor, Kamptee, Bombay, Home, Isle of Wight, the Queen’s attentions and honours, Colonel Hodgson, Colonel Miller, Ashantee, Coomassie.
1873 - 1886
Aldershot, Edinburgh, Fort
George, Glasgow, Sir John Douglas becomes Colonel, Gibraltar, Proposal to link the Regiment with the Black Watch made and abandoned, Depôt fixed at Inverness, Orders for Egypt, Alexandria, Ramleh, Ismailia, The Desert March, Tel-el-Kebir, Zagazig, Cairo, Sir Archibald Alison’s Farewell Order, Presentation of Medals by General Graham, Expedition up the Nile, Korosko, Wady Haifa, Kosheh and Mograkeh, Giniss, Honours from the Khedive, Return to England.
THE Camerons are well known as one of the bravest and most chivalrous of the Highland clans. They held out to the very last as steadfast adherents to the cause of the Stuarte, and the names of Ewen Cameron, .Donald the "gentle Lochiel," and the unfortunate Dr Cameron, must be associated in the minds of all Scotch-men with everything that is brave, and chivalrous, and generous, and
The clan itself was at one time one of the most powerful in the Highlands; and the regiment which is now known by the clan name has most faithfully upheld the credit of the clan for bravery and loyalty; it ha~ proved a practical comment on the old song," A Cameron never can yield."
This regiment was raised by Alan Cameron of Erracht, to whom letters of service were granted on the 17th of August 1793. No bounty wee allowed by Government, as was the
case with other regiments raised in this manner, the men being recruited solely at the expense of the officers. The regiment was inspected at Stirling in January 1794, and at the end of the same month its strength was raised to 1000 men, Alan Cameron being appointed Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant.1 The 79th was at first designated the "Cameronian Volunteers," but this designation was subsequently changed to "Cameron Highlanders."
The following is the original list of the officers of the 79th:-
Captain-Lieutenant and Captain—Archibald Maclean.
After spending a short time in Ireland and the south of England, the 79th embarked in August 1794 for Flanders. During the following few months it shared in all the disasters of the unfortunate campaign in that
country, losing 200 men from privation and the severity of the climate.
Shortly afterwards the regiment returned to England, and landed in the Isle of Wight, in April 1795. Its strength was ordered to be completed to 1000 men, preparatory to its embarkation for India. While Colonel Cameron was making every exertion to fulfil this order, he received an intimation that directions had been given to draft the Cameron Highlanders into four other regiments. This impolitic order naturally
roused the indignation of the colonel, who in an interview
["At this interview, Colonel Cameron plainly told the Duke, ‘to draft the 79th is more than you or your Royal father dare do.’ The Duke then said, ‘The King my father will certainly send the regiment to the West Indies.’ Colonel Cameron, losing temper, replied, ‘You may tell the King your father from me, that he may send us to h**l if he likes, and I’ll go at the head of them, but he daurna draft us,’ - a line of argument which, it is unnecessary to add, proved to the Royal Duke perfectly irresistible. Jameson’s Historical Record.] with the commander-in-chief deprecated in the strongest terms any such unfeeling and unwise proceeding. His representations were successful, and the destination of the regiment was changed to the West Indies, for which it embarked in the summer of 1795. The 79th remained in Martinique till July 1797, but suffered so much from the climate that an offer was made to such of the men as were fit for duty to volunteer into other corps, the consequence being that upwards of 200 entered the 42nd, while about a dozen joined four other regiments. The 0fficers, with the remainder of the regiment, returned home, landing at Gravesend in August, and taking up their quarters in Chatham Barracks. Orders were issued to fill up the ranks of the 79th, and by the exertions of Colonel Cameron and his officers a fresh body of 780 men was raised, who assembled at Stirling in June 1798. In the following year it was ordered to form part of the expedition to the Holder, landing at Holder Point, in North Holland, in August, when it was brigaded with the 2nd battalion Royals, the 25th, 49th, and 92nd Regiments, under the command of Major-General Moore. After various movements, the fourth division, under the command of Sir Ralph Abercromby, came up, on the 2nd of October, with the enemy, strongly posted near the village of Egmont-op-Zee. Notwithstanding the unfavourable nature of the ground, consisting of loose sand-hills, General Moore’s brigade made such a vigorous attack with the bayonet, that the enemy were quickly driven from their position, and pursued over the sand-hills till night prevented further operations. In this enterprise, Captain James Campbell, Lieutenant Stair Rose, and 13 rank and file, were killed; and Colonel Cameron, Lieutenants Colin Macdonald, Donald Macniel, 4 sergeants, and 54 rank and file wounded. The regiment was specially complimented for its conduct both by the commander-in-chief and by General Moore; the former declaring that nothing could do the regiment more credit than its conduct that day. It embarked in the end of October, and landed in England on on the 1st of November.
In August 1800 the 79th embarked at Southampton as part of the expedition fitted out to destroy the Spanish shipping in the harbours of Ferrol and Cadiz. It arrived be. fore Ferrol on the 25th, and shortly afterwards the brigade of which the regiment formed part, forced the enemy from their position and took possession of the heights of Brion and Balon, which completely commanded the town and harbour of Ferrol. Lieutenant-General Sir James Pulteney, however, did not see meet to follow
out the advantage thus gained, and abandoned the enterprise. In this "insignificant service," as Captain Jameson calls it, the 79th had only Captain Fraser, 2 sergeants, and 2 rank and file wounded.
On the 6th of October the expedition landed before Cadiz, but on account of the very unfavourable state of the weather, the enterprise was abandoned.
In 1801 the Cameron Highlanders took part in the famous operations in Egypt, under Sir Ralph Abercromby; but as minute
details of this campaign are given in the histories of the 42nd and 92nd Regiments, it will be unnecessary to repeat the story here. The 79th was brigaded with the 2nd and 50th Regiments, and took an active part in the action of March 13th, in which it had 5 rank and file killed, and Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick M’Dowall, Lieutenants George Sutherland and John Stewart, Volunteer Alexander Cameron, 2 sergeants, and 56 rank and file wounded.
In the general engagement of March 21st, in
which the brave Abercromby got his death-wound, the light companies of the 79th and the other regiments of its brigade kept the enemy’s riflemen in check in front, while the fight was raging hotly on the right. The regiment lost one sergeant killed, and Lieutenant Patrick Ross, 2 sergeants, and 18 rank and file wounded.
While proceeding towards Cairo with Major-General Craddock’s brigade (to which the Cameron Highlanders had been transferred) and a division of Turks, they had a brush
on the 9th of May with a French force, in which the 79th had Captain M’Dowall and one private wounded. At Cairo the regiment had the honour of being selected to take possession of the advanced gate, the "Gate of the Pyramids," surrendered to the British in terms of a convention with the French.
For its distinguished services during the Egyptian campaign, the Cameron Highlanders, besides receiving the thanks of the king and parliament, was one of the regiments which received
the honour of bearing the figure of a Sphinx, with the word "Egypt," on its colours and appointments.
After staying a short time at Minorca, the regiment returned to Scotland in August 1802, whence, after filling up its thinned ranks, it was removed to Ireland in the beginning of 1803. In 1804 a second battalion was raised, but was never employed on active service, being used only to fill up vacancies as they occurred in the first battalion, until 1815, when it was reduced at
In 1804 the question of abolishing the kilt seems to have been under the consideration of the military authorities, and a correspondence on the subject took place between the Horse-Guards and Colonel Cameron, which deserves to be reproduced for the sake of the Highland Colonel’s intensely characteristic reply. In a letter dated "Horse Guards, 13th October 1804," Colonel Cameron was requested to state his "private opinion as to the expediency of abolishing the
kilt in Highland regiments, and substituting in lieu thereof the tartan trews." To this Colonel Cameron replied in four sentences as follows:-
"GLASGOW, 27th October 1804
‘Sir,—0n my return hither some days ago from Stirling, I received your letter of the 13th inst. (by General Calvert’s orders) respecting the propriety of an alteration in the mode of clothing Highland regiments, in reply to which I beg to state, freely and fully, my sentiments upon that subject,
without a particle of prejudice in either way, but merely founded upon facts as applicable to these corps—at least as far as I am capable, from thirty years’ experience, twenty years of which I have been upon actual service in all climates, with the description of men in question, which, independent of being myself a Highlander, and well knowing all the convenience and inconvenience of our native garb in the field and otherwise, and perhaps, also, aware of the probable source and clashing
motives from which the suggestion now under consideration originally arose. I have to observe progressively, that in the course of the late war several gentlemen proposed to raise Highland regiments, some for general service, but chiefly for home defence ; but most of these corps were called from all quarters, and thereby adulterated with every description of men, that rendered them anything but real Highlanders, or even Scotchmen (which is not strictly synonymous), and the colonels
themselves being generally unacquainted with the language and habits of Highlanders, while prejudiced in favour of, and accustomed to wear breeches, consequently averse to that free congenial circulation of pure wholesome air (as an exhilarating native bracer) which has hitherto so peculiarly befitted the Highlander for activity, and all the other necessary qualities of a soldier, whether for hardship upon scanty fare, readiness in accoutring, or making forced marches, &c., besides the
exclusive advantage, when halted, of drenching his kilt, &c., in the next brook, as well as washing his limbs, and drying both, as it were, by constant fanning, without injury to either, but, on the contrary, feeling clean and comfortable, while the buffoon tartan pantaloon, &c., with all its fringed frippery (as some mongrel Highlanders would have it) sticking wet and dirty to the skin, is not very easily pulled off, and less so to get on again in case of alarm or any other hurry,
and all this time absorbing both wet and dirt, followed up by rheumatism and fevers, which ultimately make great havoc in hot and cold climates ; while it consists with knowledge, that the Highlander in his native garb always appeared more cleanly, and maintained better health in both climates than those who wore even the thick cloth pantaloon. Independent of these circumstances, I feel no hesitation in saying, that the proposed alteration must have proceeded from a whimsical idea, more than
from the real comfort of the Highland soldier, and a wish to lay aside that national martial garb, the very sight of which has, upon many occasions, struck the enemy with terror and confusion,—and now metamorphose the Highlander from his real characteristic appearance and comfort in an odious incompatible dress, to which it will, in my opinion, be difficult to reconcile him, as a poignant grievance to, and a galling reflection upon, Highland corps, &c., as levelling that martial
distinction by which they have been hitherto noticed and respected,—and from my own experience I feel well founded in saying, that if anything was wanted to aid the rack-renting Highland landlords in destroying that source, which has hitherto proved so fruitful for keeping up Highland corps, it will be that of abolishing their native garb, which His Royal Highness the Commander-in chief and the Adjutant-General may rest assured will prove a complete death-warrant to the recruiting service in
that respect. But I sincerely hope His Royal Highness will never acquiesce in so painful and degrading an idea (come from whatever quarter it may) as to strip us of our native garb (admitted hitherto our regimental uniform) and stuff us into a harlequin tartan pantaloon, which, composed of the usual quality that continues, as at present worn, useful and becoming for twelve months, will not endure six weeks fair wear as a pantaloon, and when patched makes a horrible appearance—besides that the
necessary quantity to serve decently throughout the year would become extremely expensive, but, above all, take away completely the appearance and conceit of a Highland soldier, in which case I would rather see him stuffed in breeches, and abolish the distinction at once—I have the honour to be, &c.
(Signed) "Alan CAMERON,
"Colonel 79th or Cameron Highlanders."
"To Henry Thorpe, Esq."
The regiment remained in Ireland till November 1805,
when it was removed to England, where it did duty at various places till July 1807. In that month the 79th formed part of the expedition against Denmark, where it remained till the following November, the only casualties being four men wounded, during the bombardment of Copenhagen.
After a fruitless expedition to Sweden in May 1808, under Lt.-General Sir John Moore, the regiment was ordered, with other reinforcements, to proceed to Portugal, where it landed August 26th, 1808, and
immediately joined the army encamped near Lisbon. After the convention of Cintra, the 79th, as part of Major-General Fane’s brigade, joined the army under Sir John Moore, whose object was to drive the French out of Spain. Moore, being joined by the division under Sir David Baird, at Mayorga, had proceeded as far as Sahagun, when he deemed it advisable to commence the ever memorable retreat to Corunna, details of which have already been given. At Corunna, on the 16th of January 1809, the 79th
had no chance of distinguishing itself in action, its duty being, as part of Lt.General Fraser’s division, to hold the heights immediately in front of the gates of Corunna; but "they also serve who only stand and wait." The embarkation was effected in safety, and on the army arriving in England in February, the 79th marched to Weeley Barracks, in Essex, about 10 miles from Chelmsford, where many of the men were shortly afterwards attacked with fever, though not a man died.
["In 1809, the 79th accomplished what no other regiment did. In January of that year they were in Spain at the Battle of Corunna, and returned to England in February, when 700 men and several officers suffered from a dangerous typhus fever, yet not a man died. In July they embarked 1002 bayonets for Walcheren, were engaged during the whole siege of Flushing in the trenches, yet had not a man wounded, and, whilst there, lost only one individual in fever—Paymaster Baldock, the least
expected of any one. During the three months after their return to England, only ten men died, and in December of that same year again, embarked for the peninsula, 1032 strong."—Note by Dr A. Anderson, Regimental surgeon, p. 44 of H. S. Smith’s List of the Officers of the 79th.]
While in Portugal, Colonel Cameron, who had been appointed commandant of Lisbon with the rank of Brigadier-General, retired from the personal command of the regiment, after leading it in every engagement
and sharing all its privations for fifteen years; "his almost paternal anxiety," as Captain Jameson says, "for his native Highlanders had never permitted him to be absent from their head." He was succeeded in the command of the regiment by his eldest son, Lt.-Colonel Philip Cameron.
After taking part in the siege of Flushing, in August 1809, the regiment returned to England, and again took up its quarters in Weeley Barracks, where it was attacked with fever, which
carried off a number of men, and prostrated many more, upwards of 40 having to be left behind when the regiment embarked for Portugal in January 1810, to join the army acting under Sir Arthur Wellesley.
Meanwhile a number of men of the 79th, who had been left behind in Portugal on the retreat to Corunna, had, along with several officers and men belonging to other regiments, been formed into a corps designated the 1st battalion of detachments. The detachment of the 79th consisted of 5
officers, 4 sergeants, and 45 rank and file; and out of this small number who were engaged at Talavera de Ia Reyna on July 27th and 28th, 1809, 14 rank and file were kiIled and one sergeant and 27 rank and file wounded.
Shortly after landing at Lisbon, the regiment was ordered to proceed to Spain to assist in the defence of Cadiz, where it remained till the middle of August 1810, having had Lts. Patrick M’Crummen, Donald Cameron, and 25 rank and file wounded in performing a small
service against the enemy. After its return to Lisbon, the 79th was equipped for the field, and joined the army under Lord Wellington at Busaco on the 25th of September. The 79th was here brigaded with the 7th and 61st Regiments, under the command of Major-General Alan Cameron.
The regiment had not long to wait before taking part in the active operations carried on against the French by England’s great general Wellington had taken up a strong position along the Sierra de Busaco, to
prevent the further advance of Marshal Massena; and the division of which the 79th formed part was posted at the extreme right of the British line. At daybreak on the 27th of Sept. the French columns, preceded by a swarm of skirmishers, who had nearly surrounded and cut off the picket of the 79th, advanced against the British right, when Captain Neil Douglas gallantly volunteered his company to its support, and opening fire from a favourable position, checked the enemy’s advance, and enabled
the picket to retire in good order. As the enemy’s attack was changed to the centre and left, the 79th had no other opportunity that day of distinguishing itself in action. It, however, lost Captain Alexander Cameron ["This gallant officer commanded the picket of the 79th, and could not be induced to withdraw, he was last seen by Captain (afterwards the late Lieut.-General Sir Neil) Douglas, fighting hand to hand with several French soldiers, to whom he refused to deliver up his sword.
His body was found pierced with seven bayonet wounds. "—Jameson’s Records, p. 24.] and 7 rank and file killed, Captain Neil Douglas, and 41 rank and file wounded.
After this battle, Wellington deemed it prudent to retire within the strong lines of Torres Vedras, whither he was followed by Massena, who remained there till the 14th of November, when he suddenly broke up his camp and retired upon Santarem, followed by Wellington. The French again commenced their retreat in the
beginning of March 1811, closely pursued by the British army. During the pursuit several small skirmishes took place, and in a sharp contest at Fez d’Arouce, the light cornpany of the 79th had 2 men killed, and 7 wounded. In this affair, Lt. Kenneth Cameron of the 79th captured the Lieutenant-Colonel of the 39th French infantry.
On the 2nd of May, Massena, desirous of relieving Almeida, which Wellington had invested, took up a position in front of Dos Casas and Fuentes d’Onor.
"The English position," says Jameson, "was a line whose left extended beyond the brook of Onoro, resting on a hill supported by Fort Conception; the right, which was more accessible, was at Nave d’Aver, and the centre at Villa Formosa."
On the 3rd of May, Massena commenced his attack upon the English position, his strongest efforts being directed against the village of Fuentes d’Onor, which he seemed determined to get possession of. The defence of the position was
entrusted to the 79th, along with the 71st Highlanders, with the 24th regiment and several light companies in support, the whole commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Philip Cameron of the 79th. During the whole of the day the enemy in superior numbers made several desperate attempts to take the village, and indeed did manage to get temporary possession of several parts, "but after a succession of most bloody hand to hand encounters, he was completely driven from it at nightfall, when darkness
put an end to the conflict."
Early on the morning of the 5th of May, Massena, who in the meantime had been making dispositions for a renewal of the contest, again directed his strongest efforts against the position held by the 79th and its comrades. By the force of overwhelming numbers the French did succeed in carrying the lower portion of the village, at the same time surrounding and taking prisoners two companies of the 79th, which had got separated from the main body.
Meantime, in the upper portion of the village a fierce and deadly contest was being waged between the French Grenadiers and the Highlanders, the latter, according to Captain Jameson, in numerous instances using their muskets as clubs instead of acting with the bayonet, so close and deadly was the strife maintained. "About this period of the action, a French soldier was observed to slip aside into a doorway and take deliberate aim at Colonel Cameron, who fell from his horse mortally
wounded. A cry of grief, intermingled with shouts for revenge, arose from the rearmost Highlanders, who witnessed the fall of their commanding officer, and was rapidly communicated to those in front. As Colonel Cameron was being conveyed to the rear by his sorrowing clansmen, the 88th regiment, detached to reinforce the troops at this point, arrived in double-quick time; the men were now at the highest pitch of excitement, arid a charge being ordered by Brigadier-General Mackinnon, the enemy
was driven out of the village with great slaughter. The post was maintained until the evening, when the battle terminated, and the Highlanders being withdrawn, were replaced by a brigade of the light division."
In these fierce contests, besides Lt.-Colonel Cameron, who died of his wound, the 79th had Captain William Imlach, one sergeant, and 30 rank and file killed; Captains Malcolm Fraser and Sinclair Davidson, Lts. James Sinclair, John Calder, Archibald Fraser, Alexander
Cameron, John Webb, and Fulton Robertson, Ensigns Charles Brown and Duncan Cameron, 6 sergeants, and 138 rank and file wounded, besides about 100 missing, many of whom were afterwards reported as killed.
The grief for the loss of Colonel Cameron, son of Major-General Alan Cameron, former and first colonel of the 79th, was deep and wide-spread. Wellington, with all his staff and a large number of general officers, notwithstanding the critical state of matters, attended his funeral,
which was conducted with military honours. Sir Walter Scott, in his "Vision of Don Roderick," thus alludes to Colonel Cameron’s death :-
" And what avails thee that, for Cameron slain,
Wild from his plaided ranks the yell was given?
Vengeance and grief gave mountain-rage the rein,
And, at the bloody spear-point headlong driven,
The despot’s giant guards fled like the rack of heaven."
[In a note to this poem, Scott says that the 71st and 79th, on
seeing Cameron fall, raised a dreadful shriek of grief and rage "they charged with irresistible fury the finest body of French grenadiers ever seen, being a part of Bonaparte’s selected guard. The officer who led the French, a man remarkable for stature and symmetry, was killed on the spot. The Frenchman who stepped out of the ranks to take aim at Colonel Cameron was also bayoneted, pierced with a thousand wounds, and almost torn to pieces by the furious Highlanders, who, under the
command of Colonel Cadogan, bore the enemy out of the contested ground at the point of the bayonet."]
Wellington,—and many other officers of high rank,— sent a special letter of condolence to the colonel’s father, Major-General Cameron, in which he speaks of his son in terms of the highest praise. "I cannot conceive," he says, "a string of circumstances more honourable and glorious than these in which he lost his life in the cause of his country."
Cameron was succeeded in the command of the regiment by Major Alexander Petrie, who, besides receiving a gold medal, had the brevet rank of Lt.-Colonel conferred on him; and the senior captain, Andrew Brown, was promoted to the brevet rank of Major.
How highly Lord Wellington esteemed the services performed by the 79th on these two bloody days, will be seen from the following letter:—
"VILLA FORMOSA, 8th May, 1811.
"Sirs, - I am directed by Lord Wellington to
acquaint you that he will have great pleasure in submitting to the Commander-in-Chief for a commission the name of any non-commissioned officer of the 79th regiment whom you may recommend, as his lordship is anxious to mark the sense of the conduct of the 79th during the late engagement with the enemy.
"I have the honour to be, &c.,
(Signed) FITZROY SOMERSET.
"Major Petrie, Commanding
"79th Highlanders," &c.
M’Intosh was selected for this distinguished honour, and, on the 4th of June 1811, was appointed ensign in the 88th Regiment.
The 79th did not take part in any other engagement till the 22nd of July 1812, when it was present as part of the reserve division under Major-General Campbell at the great victory of Salamanca. Its services, however, were not brought into requisition till the close of the day, and its casualties were only two men wounded. Still it was deemed worthy of having
the honour of bearing the word "Salamanca" on its colours and appointments, and a gold medal was conferred upon the commanding officer, Lt.-Colonel Robert Fulton, who had joined the regiment at Vellajes in September 1811, with a draft of 5 sergeants, and 231 rank and file from the 2nd battalion.
In the interval between Fuentes d’Onor and Salamanca the 79th was moved about to various places, and twice was severely attacked with epidemic sickness.
After the battle of
Salamanca, the 79th, along with the rest of the allied army, entered Madrid about the middle of August, where it remained till the end of that month.
On the 1st of September the 79th, along with the rest of the army, left Madrid under Lord Wellington, to lay siege to Burgos, before which it arrived on the 18th; and on the morning of the 19th, the light battalion, formed by the several light companies of the 24th, 42nd, 58th, 60th, and 79th regiments, commanded by Major the Hon. E. C.
Cocks of the 79th, was selected for the purpose of driving the enemy from their defences on the heights of St Michael’s, consisting of a horn-work and flêches commanding the approach to the castle on the right.
"The attack was made by a simultaneous movement on the two advanced flêches, which were carried in the most gallant manner by the light companies of the 42nd and 79th ; but a small post, close to and on the left of the horn-work, was still occupied by the enemy, from which
he opened a fire upon the attacking party. Lieut. Hugh Grant, with a detachment of the 79th light company, was sent forward to dislodge him, but finding himself opposed to continually increasing numbers, he found it impossible to advance; but being equally resolved not to retire, he drew up his small party under cover of an embankment, and, possessing himself of the musket of a wounded soldier, he fired together with his men and gallantly rnaintained himself. The remainder of the company now
coming up, the enemy was driven within the works; but this brave young officer was unfortunately mortally wounded, and died a few days afterwards, sincerely and deeply regretted.
The two light companies maintained the position until nightfall, when the light battalion was assembled at this point, and orders were issued to storm the horn-work at 11 PM. A detachment of the 42nd and a Portuguese regiment were directed to enter the ditch on the left of the work, and to attempt the escalade
of both demi-bastions, the fire from which was to be kept in check by a direct attack in front by the remainder of the 42nd. The light battalion was to advance along the slope of the hill, parallel to the left flank of the work, which it was to endeavour to enter by its gorge. The attack by the 42nd was to be the signal for the advance of the light battalion, the command of the whole being entrusted to Major. General Sir Denis Pack.
In execution of these arrangements, the troops at the
appointed hour proceeded to the assault. The light companies, on arriving at the gorge of the work, were received with a brisk fire of musketry through the opening in the palisades, causing severe loss ; they, however, continued to advance, and, without waiting for the application of the felling-axes and ladders, with which they were provided, the foremost in the attack were actually lifted over the palisades on each other’s shoulders. In this manner, the first man who entered the work was
Sergeant Jobs Mackenzie of the 79th; Major Cocks, the brave leader of the storming party, next followed, and several others in succession.
In this manner, and by means of the scaling-ladders, the light battalion was, in a few minutes, formed within the work; and a guard, consisting of Sergeant Donald Mackenzie and twelve men of the 79th, having been placed at the gate leading to the castle, a charge was made on the garrison, which, numbering between 400 and 500 men, having by this time
formed itself into a solid mass, defied every attempt to compel a surrender; in this manner the French troops rushed towards the gate, where meeting with the small guard of the 79th, they were enabled, from their overwhelming numbers to overcome every opposition, and to effect their escape to the castle.
Sergeant Mackenzie, who was severely wounded in this affair, ["Sergeant Mackenzie had previously applied to Major Cocks for the use of his dress sabre, which the major readily
granted, and used to relate with great satisfaction that the sergeant returned it to him in a state which indicated that he had used it with effect."] and his small party behaved with the greatest bravery in their endeavonrs to prevent the escape of the French garrison; and bugler Charles Bugle of the 79th, a man of colour, was afterwards found dead at the gate, near a French soldier, the sword of the former and bayonet of the latter through each other’s bodies.
The front attack had in the meantime completely failed, and a severe loss was sustained."
The enemy having opened a destructive fire from the castle on the horn-work, the light battalion was withdrawn to the ditch of the curtain; and strong parties were employed during the night in forming a parapet in the gorge.
Afterwards a series of assaults was made against the castle, with but little success. In one of these Major Andrew Lawrie of the 79th was killed while entering a
ditch, and encouraging on the party he led by escalade; and the Hon. Major Cocks met with a similar fate while rallying his picket during a night sortie of the French. The death of this officer was very much regretted by Wellington, who in his despatch of October 11, 1812, said he considered "his loss as one of the greatest importance to this army and to His Majesty’s service." The army continued before Burgos till Oct. 21, when, being threatened by the advance of strong
reinforcements of the enemy, it was deemed advisable to retreat towards the frontiers of Portugal.
At the siege of Burgos, besides the two officers just mentioned, the 79th had one sergeant and 27 rank and file killed; Captain William Marshall, Lt. Hugh Grant, Kewan J. Leslie, and Angus Macdonald, 5 sergeants, 1 drummer, and 79 rank and file wounded.
The regiment, with the rest of the army, remained in cantonments till the middle of May 1813; and in February of that year
Lt.-Colonel Fulton retired from the command of the regiment, which was assumed by Lt.-Colonel Neil Douglas, from the 2nd battalion.
Breaking up from winter-quarters about the middle of May, the army advanced against the enemy, who occupied various strong positions on the north of the Douro, which, however, were precipitately evacuated during the advance of the British army. The enemy retired towards the north-east, in the direction of Burgos, which the British found had been completely
destroyed by the French. In the action at Vittoria, in which the enemy was completely routed on the 21st of June, the 79th had not a chance of distinguishing itself in action, as it formed part of Major-General Pakenham’s division, whose duty it was to cover the march of the magazines and stores at Medina de Pomar.
At the battle of the "Pyrenees," on the 28th of July, the 6th division, to which the 79th belonged, was assigned a position across the valley of the Lanz, which it
had scarcely assumed when it was attacked by a superior French force, which it gallantly repulsed with severe loss; a similar result occurred at all points, nearly every regiment charging with the bayonet. The loss of the 79th was 1 sergeant and 16 rank and file killed; Lieutenant J. Kynock, 2 sergeants, and 38 rank and file wounded. Lt.-Colonel Neil Douglas had a horse shot under him, and in consequence of his services he was awarded a gold medal; and Major Andrew Brown was promoted to the
brevet rank of Lt.-Colonel for his gallantry.
Along with the rest of the army, the 79th followed the enemy towards the French frontier, the next action in which it took part being that of Nivelle, November 19, 1813, fully described elsewhere. Here the steadiness of its line in advancing up a hill to meet the enemy excited the admiration of Sir Rowland Hill, and although its casualties were few, the part it took in the action gained for the regiment the distinction of inscribing "
Nivelle" on its colours and appointments. Its loss was 1 man killed, and Ensign John Thomson and 5 men wounded.
Continuing to advance with its division, the 79th shared, on the 10th of December, in the successful attack on the enemy’s entrenchments on the banks of the Nive, when it had 5 men killed, and Lt. Alexander Robertson, 2 sergeants, and 24 rank and file wounded.
The enemy having retired to the Gave d’Oléron, and the severity of the weather preventing further
operations, the 79th went into quarters at St Pierre d’Yurbe, and while here, in Feb. 1814, it marched over to the seaport town of St Jean de Luz to get a new supply of clothing, of which it stood very much in need.
In the battle of Orthes, on February 25th, the 79th had no opportunity of taking part, but took an active share, and suffered severely, in the final engagement at Toulouse.
Early on the morning of the 10th, the 6th division, of which the 79th, under the command of
Sir Henry Clinton, formed part, along with the 42nd and 91st regiments, constituting the Highland Brigade of Sir Denis Pack, crossed the Garonne and the Ers at Croix d’Orade, following the 4th division, and halted near the northern extremity of the height (between and running parallel with the canal of Languedoc, and the river Ers) on which the enemy was posted, strongly fortified by entrenchments and redoubts. Arrangements were here made for a combined attack, the 6th division, continuing
its march along the left bank of the Ers, filed by threes in double-quick time, close under the enemy’s guns, from which a heavy cannonade of round and grape-shot was opened, occasioning considerable loss. "The Highland Brigade of Sir Denis Pack." Captain Jameson says, "halted about midway to the position, formed line to the right, and proceeded to ascend the hill. The light companies were now ordered out, and directed to conform to the movements of the brigade, General Pack
having mingled with the former, and cheering them on. The grenadier company of the 79th was brought up as a reinforcement to the light troops; and after a vigorous resistance, the enemy was driven to a considerable distance down the opposite slope of the ridge. The pursuit was then discontinued, and a slackened and desultory fire of advanced posts succeeded.
The brigade had, in the meantime, formed on the Balma road across the height, the light companies were recalled, and final
arrangements completed for an attack on the two centre redoubts of the enemy’s position, designated respectively La Colombette and Le Tour des Augustins. The attack of the former or most advanced redoubt was assigned to the 42nd, and. the latter to the 79th, the 91st and 12th Portuguese being in reserve. Both these redoubts were carried at a run, in the most gallant style, in the face of a terrific fire of round shot, grape, and musketry, by which a very severe loss was sustained. About 100
men of the 79th, headed by several officers, now left the captured work to encounter the enemy on the ridge of the plateau; but, suddenly perceiving a discharge of musketry in the redoubt captured by the 42nd in their rear, and also seeing it again in possession of the enemy, they immediately fell back on the Redoubt des Augustins. The Colombette had been suddenly attacked and entered by a fresh and numerous column of the enemy, when the 42nd was compelled to give way, and, continuing to
retire by a narrow and deep road leading through the redoubt occupied by the 79th (closely pursued by an overwhelming force of the enemy), the alarm communicated itself from one regiment to the other, and both, for a moment, quitted the works.
[Whilst the enemy thus gained a temporary possession of the redoubts, Lieutenant Ford and seven men of the 79th, who were in a detached portion of the work, separated from its front face by a deep road, had their retreat cut off by a whole French
regiment advancing along this road in their rear, when one of the men, with great presence of mind, called out "sit down," which hint was immediately acted on, with the effect of saving the party from being made prisoners, as the enemy supposed them to be wounded, and a French officer shrugged his shoulders in token of inability to render them any assistance !"]
At this critical juncture, Lt.-Colonel Douglas having succeeded in rallying the 79th, the regiment again
advanced, and in a few minutes succeeded in retaking, not only its own former position, but also the redoubt from which the 42nd had been driven. For this service, Lt.-Colonel Douglas received on the field the thanks of Generals Clinton and Pack, commanding the division and brigade; and the regiments in reserve having by this time come up, the brigade was moved to the right, for the purpose of carrying, in conjunction with the Spaniards, the two remaining redoubts on the left of the position.
While, however, the necessary preparations were making for this attack, the enemy was observed to be in the act of abandoning them, thus leaving the British army in complete possession of the plateau and its works. The 79th occupied the Redoubt Colombette during the night of the 10th of April 1814.
The importance of the positions captured by the 42nd and the 79th was so great, and the behaviour of these regiments so intrepid and gallant, that they won special commendation from
Wellington, being two of the four regiments particularly mentioned in his despatch of the 12th of April 1814.
The 79th lost Captains Patrick Purves and John Cameron, Lt. Duncan Cameron, and 16 rank and file killed; the wounded were Captains Thomas Mylne, Peter Innes, James Campbell, and William Marshall; Lts. William M’Barnet, Donald Cameron, James Fraser, Ewen Cameron (1st), John Kynock, Ewen Cameron (2nd), Duncan Macpherson, Charles M’Arthur, and Allan Macdonald; Ensign Allan
Maclean, Adjutant and Lt. Kenneth Cameron, 12 sergeants, 2 drummers, and 182 rank and file. Of those wounded, Lts. M’Barnet, Ewen Cameron (2nd), and 23 men died of their wounds. Of the 494 officers and men of the 79th who went into action at Toulouse, only 263 came out unwounded.
Lt.-Colonel Neil Douglas received the decoration of a gold cross for this action, in substitution of all his former distinctions; Major Duncan Cameron received the brevet rank of Lt.-Colonel in the army; and
the 79th was permitted by royal authority to bear on its colours and appointments the word TOULOUSE, in addition to its other inscriptions. As a proof, likewise, of the distinction earned by it during the successive campaigns in the Peninsula, it was subsequently authorised to have the word PENINSULA inscribed on its colours and appointments.
Napoleon Buonaparte’s abdication having put an end to further hostilities, the regiment, after remaining a few weeks in the south of France,
embarked in July 1814, arriving at Cork on the 26th, and taking up its quarters in the barracks there. While here, in December, its ranks were filled up by a large draft from the 2nd battalion, and in the beginning of Feb. 1815, it set sail, along with several other regiments, for North America, but was driven back by contrary winds; the same happened to the expedition when attempting to sail again on the 1st of March. On the 3rd, the expedition was countermanded; and on the 17th the 79th
sailed for the north of Ireland, to take up its quarters at Belfast, where it remained till May, when, with all the other available forces of Britain, it was called upon to take part in that final and fierce struggle with the great disturber of the peace of Europe, and assist in putting an end to his bloody machinations against the peace of civilised nations. The 79th, having joined Wellington’s army at Brussels, was brigaded with the 28th, 32nd, and 95th Regiments, under the command of
Major-General Sir James Kempt, the three regiments forming the first brigade of the fifth, or Sir Thomas Picton’s division, the Royal Scots, 42nd, 44th, and 92nd regiments forming the other brigade under Major-General Pack.
The events from the night of the 15th to the 18th of June 1815 are so well known, and so many details are given in connection with the 42nd and 92nd Regiments, that it will be sufficient here to indicate the part taken in them by the 79th. The alarm having been
rapidly spread of the approach of the French on the night of the 15th—the night of the famous ball well known to all readers of Byron,— preparations were immediately made for marching out, and by four o’clock on the morning of the 16th, the regiment, with its division, provisioned for three days, was on the road to Charleroi. In the passage of Childe Harold where Byron’s famous description of the episode preceding Quatre Bras occurs, the poet thus refers to the Cameron Highlanders :-
"And wild and high the ‘Cameron’s Gathering‘ rose,
The war-note of Lochiel, which Albyn’s hills
Have heard, and heard, too, have her Saxon foes
how in the noon of night that pibroch thrills
Savage and shrill ! But with the breath which fills
Their mountain-pipe, so fill the mountaineers
With the fierce native daring which instils
The stirring memory of a thousand years,
And Evans, Donald’s fame rings in each clansman’s ears !"
The division halted near
the village of Waterloo to cook its provisions; but before this could be accomplished it was ordered forward towards Quatre Bras, where it halted on the road, at the distance of about half a mile from the enemy, from whom the column was separated by a rising ground. After the two brigade companies had halted for a very short time on this road the division broke off to the left, lining the Namur Road, the banks of which were from ten to fifteen feet high on each side. The Cameron Highlanders
formed the extreme left of the British army, and the 92nd the right of the division, being posted immediately in front of Quatre Bras.
Scarcely had this position been taken up, when the enemy advanced in great force, sending out "a cloud of sharpshooters," who were met by the light companies of the first brigade, along with the 8th company and marksmen of the 79th. These maintained their ground bravely, despite the fearful execution done upon them by the overwhelming numbers
of the enemy’s sharpshooters, who picked out the officers especially, and the artillerymen serving the only two guns yet brought into action. At about four o’clock in the afternoon, the Cameron Highlanders had the honour of being ordered forward to cover the guns and drive the enemy from his advanced position, and gallantly did the regiment perform the service.
"The regiment," says Captain Jameson, "cleared the bank in its front, fired a volley, and, charging with the
bayonet, drove the French advanced troops with great precipitation and in disorder to a hedge about a hundred yards in their rear, where they attempted to re-form, but were followed up with such alacrity that they again gave way, pursued to another hedge about the same distance, from which they were a second time driven in confusion upon their main column, which was formed in great strength upon the opposite rising ground. The regiment, now joined by its detached companies, commenced firing
volleys upon the enemy from behind the last-mentioned hedge, and in the course of fifteen minutes expended nearly all its ammunition. Whilst in this exposed situation, it was ordered to retire, which it accomplished without confusion, although it had a broad ditch to leap, and the first hedge to repass, when it formed line about fifty yards in front of its original position. Being here much exposed to the fire of the enemy’s guns, it was ordered to lie down, and it continued thus for nearly
an hour, when it was again directed to resume its first position on the road, and form in column as circumstances might require. Eeing afterwards repeatedly threatened by cavalry, it formed and moved forward in square, but without being attacked."
Meantime all the other regiments of the division were engaged; indeed, each battalion of the British army had to sustain, in several instances separately and independently, the whole weight of the superior French masses which bore down
upon it. The enemy, however, notwithstanding the many advantages he had, seems to have failed in almost every attack, and the contest for that day ended about dusk decidedly in favour of the British.
The loss of the 79th was Captain John Sinclair, Lt. and Adjutant John Kynock, and 28 rank and file killed ; Lt.-Colonel Neil Douglas, Brevet Lt.-Colonels Andrew Brown and Duncan Cameron; Captains Thomas Mylne, Neil Campbell, William Marshall, Malcolm Fraser, William Bruce, and Robert
Mackay; Lieuts. Thomas Brown, William Maddock, William Leaper, James Fraser, Donald MacPhee, and William A. Riach; Ensign James Robertson, Volunteer Alexander Cameron, 10 sergeants, and 248 rank and file wounded. All the field officers, according to Captain Jameson, in addition to severe wounds, had their horses shot under them.
At dusk on the 17th the division took up its position among some corn-fields near the farm La Haye Salute, under cover of a rising ground, the ridge opposite
to which was lined by the enemy’s columns. The 28th and 79th formed the centre of Picton’s division, the left of the division extending towards Ohain, its right resting on the Brussels road.
About half-past ten on the morning of the 18th of June, the French began to move forward to the attack, under cover of a tremendous cannonade, spiritedly answered by the British artillery, posted in advance of a road which ran along the crest of the rising ground in front of the division, and on
each side of which was a hedge. Kempt’s brigade, deploying into line, advanced to this road, the light companies and the rifles descending into the valley, and maintaining a severe contest against overwhelming numbers. Meantime a heavy column of the enemy’s infantry, advancing towards the right of the division, was warmly received by the 28th; and the 32nd and 79th, following up the advantage, each attacking the column opposed to it, a close and obstinate engagement followed, "shedding
lasting honour on Kempt’s brigade," till at length the enemy gave way in the greatest confusion.
It was during this contest that General Picton was killed and General Kempt severely wounded; but although unable, from the severity of the wound, to sit on horseback, the latter would not allow himself to be carried off the field. The column of the enemy thus routed was shortly afterwards surrounded and taken captive by Ponsonby’s brigade of cavalry.
Shortly after this the
first brigade, being threatened by a body of the enemy’s cavalry, formed into squares, and soon afterwards returned to its former position on the road, ["During the formation, Piper Kenneth Mackay of the 79th, a brave Highlander, stepped outside of the bayonets and continued to play round the outside of the square, the popular air of ‘Cògaidh nà Sith' with much inspiriting effect. "—Jameson’s Historical Record.] lining the hedge nearest the enemy, where it was exposed to a galling
and destructive fire, both from the guns and sharpshooters, against whom the light companies of Kempt’s brigade and the division rifles were several times sent.
After falling back for a supply of ammunition, the first brigade again moved forward, and a general charge having been made along the whole line about seven o’clock, the enemy gave way in all directions, pursued by the Prussians and the English cavalry. The fifth division rested for the night near the farm of La Belle Alliance.
The loss of the 79th was Captain John Cameron, Lts. Duncan Macpherson, Donald Cameron, and Ewen Kennedy, 2 sergeants, and 27 rank and file killed; Captains James Campbell, senior, Neil Campbell ; Lts. Alexander Cameron, Ewen Cameron, Alexander Forbes, Charles Macarthur, and John Powhog; Ensigns A. J. Crawford and J. Nash, 7 sergeants, 4 drummers, and 121 rank and file wounded. Captain Neil Campbell, Lts. Donald Cameron, John Powhug, and 48 men died soon afterwards. The total number of
officers and men who entered the engagement on the 16th was 776, and out of that only 297 came out on the 18th unwounded; the loss of the 79th exceeded by one that of any other regiment in the army, except the 3rd battalion of the 1st Foot Guards, which was almost annihilated.
Wellington, in his despatch of the 19th, mentions the regiment in terms of high praise; and, as in the case of Toulouse, it was one of the only four British regiments—the 28th, 42nd, 79th, and 92nd—specially
mentioned in the despatch. The distinction of a Companionship of the Bath was conferred upon Lt.-Colonel Neil Douglas, and upon Brevet Lt.-Colonels Andrew Brown and Duncan Cameron; Capt. Thomas Mylne was promoted by brevet to be major in the army; and Lt. Alexander Cameron, upon whom, from the great loss sustained in superior officers, the command of the regiment ultimately devolved, was promoted to the brevet rank of major for his distinguished conduct. Each surviving officer and soldier
received the decoration of the "Waterloo" silver medal, and was allowed to reckon two additional years’ service.
The regiment, along with the rest of the army, proceeded on the 19th in pursuit of the enemy, arriving on July 8th at Paris, near which it was encamped till the beginning of December. While here, on the 17th of August, at the special request of the Emperor of Russia, Sergeant Thomas Campbell of the grenadiers, a man of gigantic stature, with Private John Fraser and
Piper Kenneth Mackay, all of the 79th, accompanied by a like number of each rank from the 42nd and 92nd Highlanders, proceeded to the Palais Elysee in Paris, to gratify the Emperor’s desire of examining the dress and equipments of the Highland regiments. Sergeant Campbell especially was most minutely inspected by the Emperor, who, says Campbell, " examined my hose, gaiters, legs, and pinched my skin, thinking I wore something under my kilt, and had the curiosity to lift my kilt to my
navel, so that he might not be deceived." After asking Campbell many questions, the Emperor "requested Lord Cathcart to order me to put John Fraser through the ‘manual and platoon’ exercise, at which performance he was highly pleased. He then requested the pipers to play up, and Lord Cathcart desired them to play the Highland tune ‘ Cògaidh nà Sith’ (‘war or peace’), which he explained to the Emperor, who seemed highly delighted with the music. After the Emperor had done with me,
the veteran Count Plutoff came up to me, and, taking me by the hand, told me in broken English that I was a good and brave soldier, and all my countrymen were. He then pressed my hand to his breast, and gave me his to press to mine.
In the beginning of December 1815, the 79th, as part of the Army of Occupation, went into cantonments in Pas de Calais, where it remained till the end of October 1818, when it embarked for England, taking up its quarters at Chichester on the 8th of November.
After moving from Chichester to Portsmouth, and Portsmouth to Jersey, the regiment, in May 1820, embarked at Plymouth for Ireland, where it took part in the critical and not very agreeable duty necessitated by the disturbed state of the country, details of which will be found in our account of the 42nd Royal Highlanders, who were in Ireland at the same time.
On quitting Jersey, the "States of the lsland" transmitted to the commanding officer of the 79th an address,
praising the regiment in the highest terms for its exemplary conduct while stationed in the island.
The 79th remained in Ireland till August 1825, being quartered successively at Fermoy, Limerick, Templemore, Naas, Dublin, and Kilkenny, furnishing detachments at each of these places to the district and towns in the neighbourhood. The regiment seems to have discharged its unpleasant duties as delicately and satisfactorily as did the 42nd Highlanders, and to have merited the esteem and
respect of the people among whom it was stationed. On leaving Limerick, where it was quartered for nearly two years, the magistrates arid council presented an address to the commanding officer, Lt.-Colonel Douglas, in which they say,:—
"The mild manners and military deportment of the officers, as well as the excellent discipline and moral order of the brave men whom you so well command. are happily evinced in the general order which their uniform good conduct has excited in this
city; and we beg of you to convey to them the expression of our highest approbation."
In April 1825, the regiment was augmented from eight to ten companies, of 740 rank and file, and in August, the six service companies embarked at Cork for Canada, under the command of Colonel Sir Neil Douglas, arriving at Quebec in the month of October, where they remained till June 1828. During this time, with the exception of a few months in Glasgow, the dépôt companies were stationed at
various places in Ireland.
On the 24th of March 1828, It. -General Sir R. C. Ferguson, G.C.B., was appointed colonel of the regiment, in succession to Lt.General Sir Alan Cameron, K.C.B., who had died at Fulham, Middlesex, on the 9th, after being connected with the regiment for about thirty-five years.
On the 18th of June 1828, the anniversary of Waterloo, the 79th, which in that month had removed to Montreal, was presented with new colours, the gift of its new Colonel,
Lt.-General Ferguson. The presentation, which was performed by Lady Douglas, took place on the Champs de Mars, in presence of a very numerous assemblage of the elite of the inhabitants of Montreal.
The regiment returned to Quebec in 1833, where it remained till its embarkation for England in 1836. In the October of that year, the service companies were joined at Glasgow by the dépôt companies, which had in the meantime been moving about from place to place in Ireland, England, and
Scotland, being stationed for most of the time at various towns in the last mentioned country.
In September 1833, by the retirement of Sir Neil Douglas on half-pay, Brevet Lt. Colonel Duncan Macdougal succeeded to the command of the regiment; and on the latter’s retirement in March 1835, he was succeeded by Major Robert Ferguson.
The regiment remained in Glasgow till June 1837, removing thence to Edinburgh, where it was stationed till the following June, when it proceeded to
Dublin. On account of the disturbed state of the manufacturing districts in the north of England in 1839, the regiment was ordered to proceed thither, being quartered at various places. Here it remained till about the end of 1840, when it was again ordered on foreign service, embarking at Deptford for Gibraltar, where it arrived in January 1841, and where it remained performing garrison duty till June 1848.
In April 1841, on the death of Sir R. C. Ferguson, Major-General the Honourable
John Ramsay was appointed Colonel of the 79th, and was succeeded, on his death in July 1842, by Lt-General Sir James Macdonell, G.C.B., whose portrait will be found on the plate of Colonels of the 78th and 79th Regiments. Meantime, on the retirement, in June 1841, of Lt.-Colonel Robert Ferguson, Major Andrew Brown succeeded to the command of the regiment, but exchanged in October following with Colonel John Carter, K.H., from the 1st Royals, who retired in June 1842, and was succeeded by
Major the Hon. Lauderdale Maule.
"The monotony of a regiment’s life at Gibraltar is well known to every corps that has had to perform garrison duty on the Rock. This monotony falls much more heavily on the men than on the officers of a regiment; the former, although they may leave the garrison gate under certain restrictions, cannot pass the lines which separate the neutral ground from Spanish territory.
A few of the more gifted, therefore, of the 79th, during its seven
years’ sojourn at Gibraltar, tried from time to time to enliven the community by such means as were at their command, which were slender enough, but went a long way when properly utilised and duly encouraged. Among these, the most popular, perhaps, was the performance of private theatricals by a small company selected from more or less qualified volunteers; and in truth the way in which they contrived to put small pieces of a broad farcical nature on their improvised stage, did no small
credit to their natural histrionic abilities. These performances at first took place in the schoolroom, or such other well-sized apartments as could be made available, and "the house" was at all times crammed with a most appreciative audience, comprising all ranks, and representing every corps in the garrison.
At a later period the amateurs of the 79th having discovered their strength, and the real merits of one or two stars (of whom more presently), engaged the town theatre,
and gave one or two performances of the national drama "Rob Roy," in a manner which would not have disgraced the boards of many a provincial theatre at home. The one "bright particular star" of the company undoubtedly was a bandsman of the regiment, named C- . His role was broad comedy, and the Liston-like gravity of his immovable features gave irresistible point to the humour of such parts as he was accustomed to fill. But the one special character with which he became
identified in his limited circle, nearly as completely as the late Mr Mackay was with the Edinburgh public, was ‘‘Bathe Nicol Jarvie." Dignity of position, bluntness of perception, dyspepsia itself, were not proof against his quaint delineation of this well-known character.
In 1849 or ‘50 the dramatic corps had been playing "Rob Roy" with much acceptance in an improvised theatre at Quebec, being a large room used for public meetings and so forth in the principal hotel
there. The city is, or was, full of Scotchmen, most of them enthusiastically national, and the performances had been a great success. Unfortunately certain festivities, which were scarcely included in the programme submitted to the commanding officer, followed in connection with these entertainments, and poor C- , among others, was not entirely proof against their seductions. The members of the dramatic corps showed symptoms of falling into habits which could not but be detrimental both to
their own welfare and the discipline of the regiment ; and the performances after a while had to be stopped.
Shortly after this, one fine morning, as the commanding officer, accompanied by the adjutant and one or two other officers, was crossing the barrack square on his way from the orderly-room, the party encountered the unfortunate quondam Thespian in a state of considerable elevation, between two men of the guard, who were conveying him to durance vile. As his dim eye fell on the
form of his commanding officer, a gleam of tipsy humour for a moment lighted up his somewhat grotesque lineaments ; John Barley-corn had, for the time, extinguished all terrors of the august presence. "Hang a bailie I" hiccuped pour C- as he passed the group, who were carefully ignoring his vicinity "Hang a bailie ma conscience !" It is scarcely necessary to say that, when brought up for judgment some four-and-twenty hours afterwards, the unfortunate magistrate was dealt
with as lightly as the code of military discipline permitted. C— was discharged soon afterwards, having served his time and his subsequent career was never, we believe, traced by his former comrades of the 79th."
On leaving Gibraltar, in June 1848, the regiment proceeded to Canada, but before embarking, the officers and men erected by voluntary subscription a handsome marble tablet, in the Wesleyan Chapel at Gibraltar (where divine service was held for the Presbyterian soldiers of
the garrison), to the memory of those noncommissioned officers and soldiers who died during their period of service on the Rock. The regiment arrived at Quebec on the 27th of July 1848, and remained in Canada till August 1851, when it embarked for England, arriving in Leith Roads at the end of the month. On disembarking the headquarters proceeded to Stirling Castle and formed a junction with the dépôt, while three companies were detached to Perth and three to Dundee.
embarking for England, a highly complimentary letter was addressed to Lieutenant-Colonel the Hononrable Lauderdale Maule, by the magistrates and council of Quebec. " It is," says this letter, "with great pleasure that the magistrates bear testimony to the excellent conduct of the men of your regiment during their sojourn in Quebec, where they will be long and favourably remembered." Here also did the officers and men of the 79th erect, in the Scotch Presbyterian Church of
St Andrew’s, a handsome marble tablet to the memory of the non-commissioned officers and soldiers who died during the period of service in Canada.
In February 1849, Major-General James Hay, C.B., was appointed Colonel in succession to Lt.-General Sir James Macdonell, appointed to the Colonelcy of the 71st Regiment; and in December 1852, Major Edmund James Elliot succeeded to the command of the regiment as Lt.-Colonel by the retirement of the Hon. Lauderdale Manic on half-pay.
February 1852 the regiment removed to Edinburgh Castle, where it remained till April 1853, and after spending some time at Bury, Preston, and Weedon, it joined the encampment at Chobham in July, where it was brigaded with the 19th and 97th regiments, under the command of Colonel Lockyer, K.H. Here the regiment remained till the 20th of August, when the encampment was broken up, and the 79th proceeded to Portsmouth.