Queens Own Highlanders

(Seaforth & Camerons)


Regimental Association


The 79th Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
1853 - 1873


The Cameron Highlanders had had a long rest from active service since those two glorious days at Quatre Bras and Waterloo, in the events of which it bore such a prominent and gallant part and lost so many of its braves; now once again the declaration of war with Russia, on the 1st of March 1854, was to afford its untried men a chance to show what stuff they were made of. The 79th was destined to form part of that famous "Highland Brigade," which, under Sir Cohn Campbell, did its duty so gallantly with the allied army in the Crimea.

Previous to its embarkation for the East, Lt.-General W. H. Sewell, C.B., was in March appointed colonel in succession to the deceased Lt.-General James Hay; and on April 2 1st, new colours were, without ceremony, committed to its keeping by Lt.-Col. Edmund James Elliot.

The 79th embarked for active service under rather disheartening circumstances. Only a few weeks before, while it remained uncertain whether it would form part of the expedition, the regiment had been called upon to furnish volunteers to the 93rd regiment, which had received its orders, and was short of its complement. That strange feeling of restlessness which at all times characterises soldiers, added to the natural and praiseworthy wish to be where hot work was expected, had its result in depriving the 79th of some of its best soldiers. Many of the finest flank-company men took the opportunity of changing their tartan, and the officers of the grenadiers and light company were to be seen one fine morning, like Achilles, "arming, weeping, cursing," to attend the parade which was to see their "best and bravest" handed over to a rival corps. Then speedily came similar orders for the 79th, and volunteers for it were hastily summoned. In obedience to the above natural laws forth they came as fast as they were wanted, but not exactly the sort of men to replace those who had gone. However, they did their duty well and bravely throughout the hard days that were in store for them, and it would be wronging them deeply to say a slighting word.

The regiment embarked at Portsmouth in H.M. ship "Simoom" on the 4th of May, and arrived at Scutari on the 20th. Here it was encamped on the plain of Scutari, and was brigaded with the 93rd regiment, the two being joined on June 7th by the 42nd Royal Highlanders; the three regiments, as we have indicated, forming the Highland Brigade under Brigadier General Sir Cohn Campbell, and along with the brigade of Guards the 1st division of our army in the East. The regiment remained at Scutari till June 13th, when along with the other regiments of the division it was removed to Varna, where it encamped on the plain overlooking Lake Devnos, about a mile south of the town. While stationed here, it had the misfortune to lose its two senior field-officers, Lt.-Col. E. J. Elliot, and Brevet Lt.-Col. James Ferguson, from fever. About the same time also died Colonel the Hon. L. Maule, who for many years commanded the regiment, and who was now Assistant Adjutant - General to the second division.

Lt.-Col. Elliot was on August 13th succeeded by Major John Douglas. The regiment remained in the district about Varna till the end of August. the strength of many of the men being very much reduced by fever.

On the 29th of August the 79th embarked at Varna, and along with the rest of the allied army arrived at Kalamita Bay on Sept. 14th, disembarking on the same day. Along with the other regiments of its division it marched four miles inland, and bivouacked for the night near Lake Tuzla.

On the 19th, the army was put in motion along the coast towards Sebastopol. For details as to the order of march and incidents by the way, including the slight skirmish near the Bulganak River, we must refer the reader to our account of the 42nd. This regiment, along with the rest of the army, bivouacked near the Bulganak on the night of the 19th, and on the morning of the 20th advanced towards the River Alma, on the heights forming the left bank of which the Russians had taken up what they thought an impregnable position, and were awaiting the arrival of the invading army, never doubting but that, ere night, it should be utterly routed, if not extinguished.

About half-past one o’clock the action commenced by the Russians opening fire from the redoubt on the left upon the French, who were attempting to assail their position in that direction. The British forces then formed in line, and proceeded to cross the river about the village of Burliuk. The light and second divisions led the way preceded by the skirmishers of the Rifle Brigade, who advanced through the vineyards beyond the village, and spreading themselves along the margin of the river, engaged the Russian riflemen on the opposite bank.

The first division, which formed the left of the allied army, advancing in support, traversed the vineyard and crossed the river, protected by its overhanging banks. On reaching the slope of the hill, the three Highland regiments formed line in échélon, and, "with the precision of a field-day advanced to the attack, the 42nd Royal Highlanders on the right, and the 79th Cameron Highlanders on the left, the extreme left of the allied army."  "The magnificent mile of line," says Captain Jameson, "displayed by the Guards and Highlanders, the prominent bear-skin, the undulating waves of the clan-tartans, the stalwart frames, steady and confident bearing of these young and eager soldiers advancing under fire, can never be forgotten by those who witnessed it, whilst it contributed materially to the discouragement of the enemy, whose columns perceptibly wavered as they approached. His masses of four - and - twenty deep, absolutely reeled and staggered to and fro under the murderous fire of the Scottish line, which was delivered with great effect at a distance of 200 yards."]

From its position, the 79th was the last of the Highland regiments to mount the slope on the Russian side of the river, and its appearance on the crest of the slope was opportune; it came in time to relieve the mind of Sir Colin, who trembled for the left flank of the 93rd, down upon which was bearing a heavy column of the enemy—the left Sousdal column. "Above the crest or swell of the ground," Kinglake tells, "on the left rear of the 93rd, yet another array of the tall bending plumes began to rise up in a long ceaseless line, stretching far into the east, and presently, with all the grace and beauty that marks a Highland regiment when it springs up the side of a hill, the 79th came bounding forward. Without a halt, or with only the halt that was needed for dressing the ranks, it sprang at the flank of the right Sousdal column, and caught it in its sin—caught it daring to march across the front of a battalion advancing in line. Wrapped in the fire thus poured upon its flank, the hapless column could not march, could not live. It broke, and began to fall back in great confusion; and the left Sousdal column being almost at the same time overthrown by the 93rd, and the two columns which had engaged the Black Watch being now in full retreat, the spurs of the hill and the winding dale beyond became thronged with the enemy’s disordered masses."

The three Highland regiments were now once more abreast, and as Kinglake eloquently puts it, the men "could not but see that this, the revoir of the Highlanders, had chanced in a moment of glory. A cheer burst from the reunited Highlanders, and the "hillsides were made to resound with that joyous, assuring cry, which is the natural utterance of a northern people so long as it is warlike and free."

There were still a few battalions of the enemy, about 3000 men, on the rise of a hill separated from the Highland regiments by a hollow; on these the Highland Brigade opened fire, and the Ouglitz column, as it was called, was forced to turn.

The loss in the battle of the Alma of the Cameron Highlanders, who, although they performed most important and trying service, had no chance of being in the thick of the fray, was 2 men killed and 7 wounded.

On account of the conduct of the regiment, a Companionship of the Bath was conferred upon Lt.-Col. John Douglas, and Captain Andrew Hunt was promoted by brevet to be major in the army.

After clearing the Russians out of the way the allied army marched onwards, and on the 26th took up its position before Sebastopol, Balaklava being taken possession of as a base of operations. On the 1st of October the first division encamped on the right of the light division to assist in the duties of the siege; and the 79th afterwards furnished a number of volunteers, to act as sharpshooters in picking off the enemy’s gunners and engage his riflemen. On the 8th of October, Sir Cohn Campbell was appointed to the command of the troops and position of Balaklava, and was succeeded in command of the Highland Brigade by Colonel Sir D. A. Cameron, K.C.B., of the 4 2nd, whose portrait we have given on the steel-plate of colonels of that regiment.

After the battle of Balaklava, on October 25th, the 79th along with the 42nd, was moved to a new position on the heights of the north side of the valley of Balaklava, where it continued till May 1855. "Although the Highland Brigade," says Captain Jameson, "was thus at an early period of the campaign unavoidably withdrawn from the siege operations before Sebastopol, it had all-important duties to perform besides those inseparable from the unremitting vigilance imperatively called for in the defence of the base of operations of the army; for in the months of December 1854, and January and February 1855, all the available duty men of the Highland brigade were usually employed at daylight every morning in the severe fatigue of conveying to the army before Sebastopol round shot, shell, and provisions, the load assigned to each man being generally a 32 lb. shot, carried in a sack, or 56 lbs. of biscuit. The preparation of gabions and fascines for the work of the siege, numerous public fatigue duties in the harbour of Balaklava and elsewhere, as well as the labour required for strengthening the entrenchments, likewise devolved upon the brigade."

During the first four months of 1855, low fever and dysentery prevailed in the regiment to such an extent that it was found necessary to put the 79th under canvass in a position about 300 yards higher up the slope, exposed to the sea breezes from the south-west. Very soon after this move the health of the regiment underwent much improvement.

In connection with what we have just stated, we shall introduce here a striking and intensely pathetic reminiscence of the campaign, which has been furnished us by Lt.-Col. Clephane. It shows how these comparatively raw soldiers of the Cameron Highlanders displayed a gallant devotion to their duty under the most trying circumstances which would have reflected credit upon veterans of a dozen campaigns.

"Shortly after the opening of the bombardment of Sebastopol, the 79th Highlanders furnished a party for trench duty, consisting of about 150 men, under command of a field officer, and accompanied by a similar number detailed from the brigade of Guards. They marched for the post of duty shortly before daybreak, taking the well-known route through the "Valley of Death," as it was called. At that time a foe more dreaded than the Russians had persistently dogged the footsteps of the army, never attacking in force, but picking out a victim here and there, with such unerring certainty that to be sensible of his approach was to feel doomed. The glimmering light was at first insufficient for making out aught more than the dark body of men that moved silently along the above gloomy locality in column of march four deep ; but as the sun approached nearer the horizon, and the eye became accustomed to the glimmer, it was seen that one man was suffering under pain of no ordinary nature, and was far from being fit to go on duty that morning. Indeed, on being closely inspected, it became evident that the destroyer had set his seal on the unfortunate fellow’s brow, and how he had mustered the determination to equip himself and march out with the rest was almost inconceivable. Upon being questioned, however, he persisted that there was not much the matter, though he owned to spasms in his inside and cramps in his legs, and he steadily refused to return to camp without positive orders to that effect, maintaining that he would be better as soon as he could get time to "lie down a bit." All this time the colour of the poor fellow’s face was positively and intensely blue, and the damps of death were standing unmistakeably on his forehead. He staggered as he walked, groaning with clenched teeth but keeping step, and shifting his rifle with the rest in obedience to each word of command. He ought probably to have been at once despatched to the rear, but the party was now close to the scene of action (Gordon’s battery), the firing would immediately commence, and somehow he was for the moment forgotten. The men took their places lining the breastwork, the troops whom they relieved marched off, and the firing began, and was kept up with great fury on both sides. All at once a figure staggered out from the hollow beneath the earthen rampart where the men were lying, and fell groaning upon the earth a few paces to the rear. It was the unfortunate man whose case we have just noticed. He was now in the last extremity, and there was not the ghost of a chance for him in this world; but three or four of his comrades instantly left their place of comparative safety, and surrounded him with a view of doing what they could to alleviate his sufferings. It was not much; they raised him up and rubbed his legs, which were knotted with cramps, and brandy from an officer’s flask was administered without stint. All in vain, of course; but, curiously enough, even then the dying man did not lose heart, or show any weakness under sufferings which must have been frightful. He was grateful to the men who were busy rubbing his agonised limbs, and expressed satisfaction with their efforts, after a fashion that had even some show of piteous humour about it. "Aye." groaned he, as they came upon a knot of sinews as large as a pigeon’s egg, "that’s the vaygabone !" It became evident now that the best thing that could be done would be to get him home to camp, so that he might at least die beyond the reach of shot and shell. The open ground to the rear of the battery was swept by a perfect storm of these misiles; but volunteers at once came forward, and placed upon one of the bloodstained litters the dying man, who, now nearly insensible, was carried back to his tent. This was effected without casualty to the bearers, who forthwith returned to their post, leaving their unfortunate comrade at the point of breathing his last."

Such were the men who upheld the honour of the Scottish name in those days, and such, alas were those who furnished a royal banquet to the destroyer, Death, throughout that melancholy campaign.

The 79th, in the end of May and beginning of June, formed part of the expedition to Kertch, described in the history of the 42nd. This expedition came quite as a little pleasant pic-nic to those regiments who were lucky enough to be told off as part of the force, and the 79th, along with the other regiments of the Highland brigade, had the good fortune to be so. Yenikali had been very hastily evacuated, all its guns being left in perfect order, and signs everywhere of little domestic establishments broken up in what must have been excessive dismay—expensive articles of furniture, ladies’ dresses, little articles of the same sort appertaining to children, all left standing as the owners had left them, fleeing, as they imagined, for their lives. Truth to tell, they would not have been far wrong, but for the presence of the British.

On its return in the middle of June, the Highland brigade took up its old position beside the Guards before Sebastopel, the command of the re-united division being assumed by Sir Cohn Campbell. After this the division was regularly employed in the siege operations, it having been drawn up in reserve during the unsuccessful attack on the Malakoff and Redan on the 18th of June.

In August, on account of the formation of an additional division to the army, the old Highland Brigade was separated from the Guards, and joined to the 1st and 2nd battalion Royals, and the 72nd Highlanders, these now forming the Highland division under Sir Colin Campbell.

On the 8th of September, the 79th, along with the other regiments of the brigade, was marched down to the front to take part in the contemplated assault upon the enemy’s fortifications. About four in the afternoon, the 79th, under command of Lt.-Col. C. H. Taylor, reached the fifth or most advanced parallel, in front of the great Redan, the 72nd being in line on its left. Before this, however, the Redan had been attacked by the right and second divisions, who, "after exhibiting a devotion and courage yet to be surpassed," were compelled to retire with severe loss; the French attack on the Malakoff had at the same time been successful.

The brigade continued to occupy its advanced position during the remainder of the day exposed to a heavy fire, it being appointed to make another assault on the Redan next morning. Such a deadly enterprise, however, fortunately proved unnecessary, as early next morning it was ascertained that the enemy, after having blown up their magazines and other works, were in full retreat across the harbour by the bridge of boats. The only duty devolving upon the 79th was to send two companies to take possession of the Redan and its works.

The loss of the regiment on the day of the assault, and in the various operations during the siege, was 17 rank and file killed, Lt. P. H. M’Barnet, Assistant-Surgeon Edward Louis Lundy, 3 sergeants, 1 drummer, and 39 rank and file wounded. While recording the losses of the regiment, honourable mention ought to be made of Dr Richard James Mackenzie, who gave up a lucrative practice in Edinburgh in order to join the British army in the east. He was appointed to the 79th while the regiment was stationed at Yarna, and until his death on September 25th 1854, shortly after Alma," he rendered to the regiment and the army generally services of the highest importance. He followed the army on foot, undergoing much fatigue and many privations, which, with the arduous labours he took upon himself after the battle, no doubt hastened his much lamented death. After the battle of the Alma, it is said, he performed no fewer than twenty-seven capital operations with his own hand. "So highly were his services appreciated by the 79th, that, after the battle of the Alma, on his coming up to the regiment from attendance on the wounded, several of the men called out, Three cheers for Dr Mackenzie !’ which was promptly and warmly responded to," The regiment, after the notification of peace, erected to his memory a neat tombstone, with an appropriate inscription, fenced in by a stone wall, on the heights of Belbek, near his resting-place.

His heroic and humane deeds on the battle-field of the Alma were thoroughly appreciated by the 79th, and have been recorded by others. We may, however, faintly gather something of them from his letter to his brother Kenneth - the last he ever wrote. It was written on the day after the battle. In this letter he says " We (Dr Scott and himself) were shaking hands with all our friends, when, to my no small surprise end gratification, as you may believe, a voice shouted out from the column as they stood in the ranks— 'Three cheers for Mr Mackenzie,’ and enough I say it who shouldn’t I never heard three better cheers. You will laugh, my dear fellow, when you read this, but I can tell you I could scarcely refrain from doing t’other thing. All I could do was to wave my Glengarry in thanks." As to Dr Mackenzie’s coolness under fire, the quartermaster of the 79th wrote: "During the height of the action I was in conversation with him when a round shot struck the ground, and rebounding over our regiment, flew over our heads and killed an artillery horse a few yards in our rear." Mackenzie quietly remarked, "That is a narrow escape."

The regiment continued in the Crimea till June 1856, on the 15th of which month it embarked at Balaklava, and disembarked at Portsmouth on the 5th of July, proceeding immediately by rail to the camp at AIdershot.

After being stationed for a short time at Shorncliffe and for some months at Canterbury, and having been present at the distribution of the Victoria Cross by her Majesty in Hide Park on Tune 26th 1857, the 79th proceeded to Dublin, where it landed on the 28th. Here, however, it remained but a short time, as on account of the Sepoy revolt in India, it was again ordered to prepare for active service. The regiment was rapidly completed to 1000 rank and file, and set sail in the beginning of August, arriving at Madras Roads early in November, when it received orders to proceed to Calcutta, where it disembarked on the 28th of November and occupied Fort-William. After remaining there for a few days, the 79th, on Dec. 2nd, proceeded by rail to Raneegunge, under the command of Lt.-Colonel John Douglas. ‘I’owards the end of the month the regiment left Raneegunge for Allahabad, where it halted till the 5th of Jan. 1858, a day memorable in the history of the 79th for its having marched upwards of 48 miles, and gained its first victory in the East, viz., that of Secunclragunge, in which happily it had no casualties.

The regiment left Allahabad for Lucknow on the 18th of Jan., and on the 28th of Feb. it joined the force under Sir Cohn Campbell at Camp Bunterah. The regiment was then commanded by Lt.-Colonel Taylor, Lt.-Colonel Douglas having been appointed to the command of the 5th Infantry Brigade. After passing the Goomtee, the 79th joined the force under Sir James Outram, and was brigaded with the 1st battalion of the 23rd Fusiliers and the 1st Bengal Fusiliers, under the command of Brigadier General Douglas. The regiment was present, and performed its part bravely during the siege and capture of Lucknow, from the 2nd to the 16th of March 1858, its loss being 7 non-commissioned officers and privates killed, and 2 officers, Brevet-Major Miller and Ensign Haine, and 21 non-commissioned officers and privates wounded.

After the capture of Lucknow the 79th joined the division under the command of Major-General Walpole, in the advance towards Allahgunge, Shahjehanpoor, and Bareilly. Its next engagement was the action of Boodaoon, where the regiment had only 1 man wounded, who afterwards died of his wounds. On the 22nd of April the 79th was present at the action of Allahgunge, where it had no casualties. On the 27th, Sir Colin Campbell assumed command of the force and marched on Bareihly, the 79th, along with the 42nd and 93rd, forming the Highland brigade. On the 5th of May the 79th was formed in line of battle before Bareihly, when it helped to gain another glorious victory, with a loss of only 2 men killed and 2 wounded. The regiment received the special thanks of Sir Colin Campbell.

The 79th next made a forced march to the relief of Shahjehanpoor, under the command of Brigadier-General John Jones, and on the 21st of May was again under fire at the attack of that place. Thence it went to Mohoomdee, in the attack on which it took part on the 24th and 25th; here it had 2 men wounded, and, according to the Record-Book, upwards of 100 men suffered from sunstroke.

After this last action the regiment once more found itself in quarters at Futtehgurh and Cawnpoor, one wing being detached to Ahlahabad; this, however, was only for a short time, as on the 21st of October an order was received for the 79th to join the brigade in Oudh, under Brigadier-General Wetherall, C. B. On the 3rd of November the 79th was present at the storm and capture of Rampoor Kosilab, the regiment losing only 2 men killed, and 1 sergeant and 6 privates wounded. For its conduct on this occasion the 79th was complimented in General Orders by His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief. Brig.-Gen. Wetherall having left the force, was succeeded in command by Sir Hope Grant, K.C.B., who appointed Lt.-Col. Taylor, 79th, to command the brigade, Major Butt succeeding the latter in command of the 79th.

The 79th proceeded by forced marches to Fyzabad to commence the trans-Ghogra operations, and was present at the action of the passage of the Ghogra on the 25th of November, the skirmish at Muchllgan on the 6th of Dec., and the skirmish at Bundwa Kotee on the 3rd of Jan. 1859. After the last-mentioned engagement the 79th received orders to proceed to Meean Meer in the Punjab, under the command of Lt.-Col. Taylor.

Thus ended the Indian Mutiny, during which the casualties to the 79th Highlanders amounted to 2 officers wounded, and 158 of all ranks killed. For its gallant conduct during the Indian campaign the 79th received the thanks of both Houses of Parliament, and was authorised to bear on its colours the inscription "Capture of Lucknow." Lt.-Col. Douglas was appointed a K.C.B., and Lt.-Col. Taylor a C.B.

The regiment arrived at Meean Meer on the 8th of April 1859, and on the 15th the command passed into the hands of Lt.-Col. Butt, Colonel Taylor having proceeded to Europe on leave. Lt.-Col. Butt continued in command till the 2nd of April 1860, when he was appointed Chief Inspector of Musketry for Bengal, and was succeeded in command of the regiment by Lt.-Col. Hodgson. On the 16th of March, Lt.-Col. Douglas had retired on half-pay, and Lt.-Col. Taylor did the same on the 10th of May following.

The 79th remained in India till Sept. 1871. On the 5th of Nov. 1860, the right wing, consisting of 287 of all ranks, proceeded to Amritzir under the command of Major M’Barnet. Headquarters left Meean Meer on the 19th of Jan. 1861 for Ferozepoor, where it was joined by the wing from Amritzir in April.

The 79th left Ferozepoor in Feb. 1862 for Nowshera, where it remained till the following November, on the 23rd of which the regiment proceeded to Peshawur, on the frontiers of Afghanistan. In the previous March the regiment lost by death its colonel, General W. A. Sewell, who was succeeded by General the Honourable Hugh Arbuthnott, C.B.

During the stay of the regiment in Peshawur it lost two of its officers. A frontier war having broken out, Lts. Dougal and Jones volunteered their services, and were permitted to proceed with the expedition against the Sitana fanatics, under the command of Brigadier-General Sir M. Chamberlain, K.C.B. the former was killed when on picquet duty on the 6th of Nov. 1863, and the latter in action on the 18th of the same month.

The 79th remained in Peshawur till Jan. 1864, when it removed to Rawul Pindee, where it remained till 1866. During its stay it furnished a volunteer working party on the Murree and Abbattabad road, and also during 1864 a detachment of 300 of all ranks, under the command of Captain C. Gordon, to the Camp Durrgaw Gully.

In October 1864 the 79th lost by exchange its senior Lt.-Colonel, Colonel Butt having exchanged with Colonel Best of H.M.’s 86th Regiment. By this exchange Lt.-Colonel Hodgson became senior Lt.-Colonel.

For some time after its arrival at Rawul Pindee the regiment continued to suffer from Peshawur fever, a considerable number of men having had to be invalided to England. On the 8th of May 1865 the headquarters and 650 of all ranks proceeded as a working party to the Murree Hills, where the regiment remained till October, much to the benefit of the men’s health, as in a fortnight after its arrival all traces of Peshawur fever had disappeared. A similar working party, but not so large, was sent to the Murree Hjlls at the same time in the following year.

On the 10th of July of this year (1865) Lt.-Colonel Hodgson received his promotion by brevet to full Colonel in the army.

On the 1st of November 1866, the headquarters and left wing marched from Rawul Pindee for Roorkee, and the right wing under command of Major Maitland for Delhi, the former reaching Roorkee on the 15th and the latter Delhi on Dec. 27th. During the regiment’s stay at these places the two wings exchanged and re-exchanged quarters, both suffering considerably from fever during the spring of 1867. Both wings in the end of March proceeded to Umballah, to take part in the ceremonial attending the meeting between Earl Mayo, Governor-General of India, and Shere Ali Khan, - the Ameer of Cabul; the Cameron Highlanders had been appointed part of His Excellency’s personal escort.

On Dec. 7th the headquarters, under the command of Colonel W. C. Hodgson, left Roorkee en route to Kamptee, and on the 15th it was joined by the right wing from Delhi, at Camp Jubbulpoor. Here the regiment remained until the 24th, when it commenced to move by companies towards Kamptee, at which station the headquarters arrived on the 1st of January 1870. Shortly before leaving Roorkee a highly complimentary farewell letter was sent to Colonel Hodgson from Major-General Colin Troup, C.B., commanding the Meerut Division.

During January 1870 the 93d Sutherland Highlanders passed through Kamptee en route for home, when a very pleasing exchange of civilities took place between that distinguished regiment and their old comrades of the 79th. At a mess meeting held at Nagpoor on the 30th by the officers of the 93d, it was proposed and carried unanimously that a letter be written to the officers of the 79th, proposing that, in consideration of the friendship and cordiality which had so long existed between the two regiments, the officers of the two corps be perpetual honorary members of their respective messes. The compliment was, of course, willingly returned by the 79th, and the officers of the 93rd Highlanders were constituted thenceforth perpetual honorary members of the 79th mess.

The regiment remained at Kamptee for nearly two years, furnishing a detachment to the fort at Nagpoor. A very sad event occurred in the regiment during its stay at Kamptee: on Aug. 28th, 1871, Captain Donald Macdonald when at great gun drill at the artillery barracks, dropped down on parade, died instantaneously, and was buried the same evening. Captain Macdonald was by birth and habit a Highlander, and was most warmly attached to his regiment, in which he had served for seventeen years. Great regret was felt by all ranks in the regiment on account of his premature and unexpected death. He was only 34 years of age, and a monument was erected by his brother officers over his grave at Kamptee.

On the 2nd of August 1871 Colonel Best was appointed to the command of the Nagpoor field force, with the rank of brigadier-general.

In the same month the 79th received orders to be in readiness to proceed to England, and the non-commissioned officers and men were permitted to volunteer into regiments remaining in India. About 177 of all ranks availed themselves of this offer, a considerable number of whom were married men. The regiment left Kamptee in two detachments on Sept. 22nd and 23rd, and proceeded by Nagpoor and Deolahlee to Bombay, where it embarked on board H.M.’s India troop-ship "Jumna" on the 29th and 30th. The "Jumna" sailed for England on the 1st of October, and after a prosperous voyage by way of the Suez Canal arrived at Spithead on the evening of the 6th of November. Next day the regiment was transferred to three ships, and conveyed to West Cowes, Isle of ‘vVight, where it disembarked the same evening, and marched to the Albany Barracks, Parkhurst.

During the fourteen years that the 79th was stationed in India it was inspected by many distinguished general officers, including Sir Colin Campbell (Lord Clyde), Sir William Mansfield (Lord Sandhurst), Sir Hugh Rose (Lord Strathnairn), Sir Hope Grant, &c., all of whom expressed themselves highly satisfied with the appearance, conduct, and discipline of the regiment.

During its sojourn in the Isle of Wight the 79th was highly honoured on more than one occasion by the very particular notice of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. In Feb. 1872, Her Majesty being at Osborne, was pleased to express her desire to see the 79th Highlanders in marching order. The regiment accordingly paraded at 10 o’clock on the morning of the 16th, and proceeded towards Osborne. When the 79th was within a short distance of the approach to the house, Her Majesty, with several members of the Royal Family, appeared at an angle of the road, and watched the marching past of the regiment with great interest. The regiment, after making a detour towards East Cowes, was returning to Parkhurst by way of Newport, when Her Majesty reappeared, paying particular attention to the dress and appearance of the men as they marched past her for the second time.

This was the last occasion on which Colonel Hodgson was destined to command the 79th. On the 1st of March the regiment sustained an irreparable loss in his death, which took place, after a very short illness. Colonel Hodgson was 49 years of age, had served in the 79th for 32 years, and commanded it for 12, and by his invariable kindness and urbanity had endeared himself to all ranks. His sad and unexpected death spread a deep gloom over the whole regiment. Colonel Maitland, in announcing Colonel Hodgson’s death in regimental orders said,— "The officers have to lament the loss of one who was always to them a kind and considerate commanding officer; and the non-commissioned officers and men have been deprived of a true friend, who was ever zealous in guarding their interests and promoting their welfare."

Colonel Hodgson was buried in Carisbrooke Cemetery, and over his grave a handsome monument of Aberdeen granite has been erected by his brother officers and friends.

By Colonel Hodgson’s death Colonel Maitland succeeded to the command of the regiment; he, however, retired on half-pay on the 19th of October following, and Lt.-Colonel Miller was selected to succeed him.

On the 17th of Sept. the 79th had the honour of being reviewed by the late ex-Emperor of the French, Napoleon III., and his son, the Prince Imperial, who lunched with the officers. The Emperor made a minute inspection of the men, and watched the various manoeuvres with evident interest, expressing at the conclusion his admiration of the splendid appearance and physique of the men, the high state of discipline of the corps, and the magnificent manner in which the drill was performed.

During Her Majesty’s stay at Osborne the 79th always furnished a guard of honour at East Cowes at each of her visits. On the 17th of April 1873 Her Majesty bestowed one of the highest honours in her power on the regiment, when on that day she attended at Parkhurst Barracks to present it with new colours. The presentation took place in the drill-field, and was witnessed by a large number of spectators, who were favoured with a bright sky.

At 11 o’clock A.M. the 79th marched into the field under command of Colonel Miller. The ground was kept by the 102nd Fusiliers, the same regiment also furnishing a guard of honour to Her Majesty. General Viscount Templeton, K.C.B., commanding the district, was present, and also Sir John Douglas, K.C.B., commanding in North Britain, with his A.D.C., Lieutenant Boswell Gordon, of the 79th. The Mayor and Corporation of Newport attended officially, in their robes of office. At 11.45 A.M. Her Majesty arrived, attended by their Royal Highnesses Prince Leopold and Princess Beatrice, the Countess of Errol and other ladies, besides the Equerries in Waiting. The royal party having driven along the line, the band and pipers playing, the usual order of presentation was proceeded with.

The old colours were in front of the left of the line, in charge of a colour party and double sentries. The new colours, cased, were in the rear of the centre, in charge of the two senior colour-sergeants, Taylor and Mackie. The old colours having been trooped, these honoured and cherished standards, around which the Cameron Highlanders had so often victoriously rallied, were borne to the rear by Lts. Annesley and Money to the strains of "Auld Lang Syne." The regiment was then formed into three sides of a square, the drums were piled in the centre, the new colours were brought from the rear, and having been uncased by the Majors, were placed against the pile. Then prayer was offered by the Rev. Charles Morrison, formerly chaplain to the 79th in India, who had come from Aberdeen expressly to perform this duty. This being concluded, Major Cumming handed the Queen’s colour and Major Percival the regimental colour to Her Majesty, who presented the former to Lt. Campbell and the latter to Lt. Methven, at the same time addressing them thus:—" It gives me great pleasure to present these new colours to you. In thus entrusting you with this honourable charge, I have the fullest confidence that you will, with the true loyalty and well-known devotion of Highlanders, preserve the honour and reputation of your regiment, which have been so brilliantly earned and so nobly maintained by the 79th Cameron Highlanders."

Colonel Miller then replied as follows:-

"I beg permission, in the name of all ranks of the 79th Cameron IHghlanders, to present our loyal and most grateful acknowledgments of the very high honour it has pleased your Majesty this day to confer on the regiment. The incident will ever remain fresh in the memories of all on parade, and of those also who are unable to have the honour of being present on this occasion, and of others who have formerly served with the 79th; and I beg to assure your Majesty that, wherever the course of events may require these colours to be borne, the remembrance that they were received from the hands of our Most Gracious Queen, will render them doubly precious, and that in future years, as at present, the circumstance of this presentation will be regarded as one of the proudest episodes in the records of the Cameron Highlanders."

After Colonel Miller’s address the regiment re-formed line, and the colours were received with a general salute, after which they were marched to their place in the line in slow time, the band playing "God save the Queen." The ranks having been closed, the regiment broke into column, and marched past Her Majesty in quick and double time, line was then re-formed, and Lt.-Gen. Viscount Templetown, K.C.B., called for three cheers for Her Majesty, a request which was responded to by the regiment in true Highland style. The ranks having been opened, the line advanced in review order, and gave a royal salute, after which the royal carriage withdrew.

After the parade was dismissed, the old colours, carried by Lts. Annesley and Money, escorted by all the sergeants, were played round the barracks, and afterwards taken to the officers’ mess. On the 30th of the month the officers gave a splendid ball at the Town-hall, Ryde, at which about 500 guests were present, the new colours being placed in the centre of the ball-room, guarded on each side by a Highlander in full uniform. To mark the occasion also, Colonel Miller remitted all punishments awarded to the men, and the sergeants entertained their friends at a luncheon and a dance in the drill field.

At the unanimous request of the officers, Colonel Miller offered the old colours to Her Majesty, and she having been graciously pleased to accept them, they were taken to Osborne on the 22nd of April. At 12 o’clock noon of that day the regiment paraded in review order and formed a line along the barracks for the colours to pass, each man presenting arms as they passed him, the band playing "Auld Lang Syne." The colours were then taken by train from Newport to Cowes. At Osborne the East Cowes guard of honour, under command of Captain Allen, with Lts. Bucknell and Smith, was drawn up at each side of the hall door. The old colours, carried by Lts. Annesley and Money, escorted by Quartermaster-Sergeant Knight, Colour-Sergeant Clark, two other sergeants, and four privates, preceded by the pipers, were marched to the door by Colonel Miller, the guard of honour presenting arms. The officers then advanced, and, kneeling, placed the colours at Her Majesty’s feet, when Colonel Miller read a statement, giving a history of the old colours from the time of their presentation at Portsmouth, in the month of April 1854, by Mrs Elliot (the wife of the officer at that time colonel of the regiment), a few days before the regiment embarked for the Crimea.

Colonel Miller then said:—

"It having graciously pleased your Majesty to accept these colours from the Cameron Highlanders, I beg permission to express the gratification which all ranks of the 79th feel in consequence, and to convey most respectfully our highest appreciation of this kind act of condescension on the part of your Majesty."

The Queen replied:—

"I accept these colours with much pleasure, and shall ever value them in remembrance of the gallant services of the 79th Cameron Highlanders I will take them to Scotland, and place them in my dear Highland home at Balmoral."

The guard then presented arms, and the colour party withdrew. Her Majesty afterwards addressed a few words to each of the colour-sergeants.

On the 24th of April, Colonel Miller received orders for the troops of the Parkhurst garrison to march towards Osborne on the following day, for Her Majesty’s inspection, and the troops accordingly paraded at 10 o’clock AM. in review order. On arriving near Osborne the brigade was drawn up in line on the road, the 79th on the right, and the 102nd on the left. Her Majesty was received with a royal salute, and having driven down the line, the royal carriage took up its position at the crossroads, and the regiments passed in fours; the royal carriage then drove round by a bye-road, and the regiment again passed in fours, after which the troops returned to Parkhurst.

We may state here that on the day on which Her Majesty presented the new colours to the regiment, Colonel Ponsonby, by Her Majesty’s desire, wrote to the Field-Marshal Commanding in Chief that "Her Majesty was extremely pleased with the appearance of the men and with the manner in which they moved," and hoped that His Royal Highness might think it right to communicate the Queen’s opinion to Lt.-Colonel Miller. The letter was sent to Colonel Miller.

The Queen still further showed her regard for the 79th by presenting to the regiment four copies of her book, "Leaves from our Journal in the Highlands,"—one to Colonel Miller, one for the officers, one for the noncommissioned officers, and one for the privates.

To crown all these signal marks of Her Majesty’s attachment to the Cameron Highlanders, she was graciously pleased to let them bear her own name as part of the style and title of the regiment, as will be seen by the following letter, dated—

"Horseguards, 10th July 1873.

Sir, —By direction of the Field-Marshal Commanding in Chief, I have the honour to acquaint you that Her Majesty has been pleased to command that the 79th Regiment be in future styled "the 79th Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders," that the facings be accordingly changed from green to bide, and that the regiment be also permitted to bear in the centre of the second colour, as a regimental badge, the Thistle ensigned with the Imperial Crown, being the badge of Scotland as sanctioned by Queen Anne in 1707, after the confirmation of the Act of Union of the kingdoms—I have, &c. &c.

(Signed) " J. W. ARMSTRONO

"Deputy Adjutant-General.
Lieutenant-Colonel Miller,
"Commanding 79th Regiment."

In acknowledgment of this gracious mark of Her Majesty’s regard, Colonel Miller despatched a letter to Major-General Ponsonby, at Osborne, on the 12th of July, in which he requests that officer

"To convey to the Queen, in the name of all ranks of the 79th, our most respectful and grateful acknowledgments for so distinguished a mark of royal condescension, and I beg that you will assure Her Majesty of the gratification felt throughout the regiment in consequence of the above announcement."

Finally, on the 13th of August Colonel Miller received a notification that Her Majesty had expressed a wish that the regiment should be drawn up at East Cowes to form a guard of honour on her departure from the island on the following day. The regiment accordingly marched to East Cowes on the following afternoon, and presented arms as Her Majesty embarked on her way to Balmoral.

On 18th of September of the same year the 79th left Parkhurst for Aldershot, where it arrived on the same afternoon, and was quartered in A and B lines, South Camp, being attached to the 1st or Major-General Parkes’ brigade.

The Black Watch has received great and well-merited praise for its conduct during the Ashantee War, in the march from the Gold Coast to Coomassie. It ought, however, to be borne in mind that a fair share of the glory which the 42nd gained on that dangerous coast, under the able command of Major-General Sir Garnet J. Wolseley, really belongs to the Cameron Highlanders. When the 42nd, at the end of December 1873, was ordered to embark for the Gold Coast, 135 volunteers were asked for from the 79th, to make up its strength, when there at once stepped out 170 fine fellows, most of them over ten years’ service, from whom the requisite number was taken. Lieutenants R. C. Annesley and James M’Callum accompanied these volunteers. Although they wore the badge and uniform of the glorious Black Watch, as much credit is due to the 79th on account of their conduct as if they had fought under the name of the famous Cameron Highlanders, in which regiment they received all that training without which personal bravery is of little avail.




The 79th Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
1873 - 1886


WHILE the volunteers were thus gallantly maintaining the honour of the country in a foreign land, the main body of the regiment at home was passing the time at Aldershot in the usual duties and exercises of that station, and during the time that it remained in the A and B lines of the South Camp in 1873-74-75 there was but little to break the ordinary routine of these proceedings. During the summer of the last of these years, orders were received to proceed to Edinburgh, and on the 2d of August, after a very agreeable passage of four days, the 79th disembarked at Granton and took up quarters at Edinburgh Castle. On landing, the regiment was welcomed by Major-General Sir John Douglas, K.C.B., commanding the North British District, and Colonel J. B. Butt, commanding the 62d sub-district (both formerly of the 79th Highlanders), who accompanied it to the Esplanade. There—after an enthusiastic reception from the dense crowds that lined the streets—square having been formed, Sir John Douglas addressed the regiment, and having complimented all ranks on the character they so justly bore, urged the men not to forget, after an absence of 22 years from their native country, that the regiment had always been noted for its general good bearing in quarters, and to remember that it was the particular duty of each individual to do his utmost to maintain the credit of the Cameron Highlanders— recommendations that were well attended to by all concerned.

During the visit of Her Majesty to Holyrood in 1876, the 79th furnished the Guard of Honour on the 16th, 17th, and 18th of August, and on the 17th assisted in lining the streets through which the Queen passed on her way to unveil the statue of the late Prince Consort in Charlotte Square. The band also played the accompaniment to the Prince’s Chorale, which was sung during the ceremony. On the 24th and 25th of the same month, the annual inspection was made by Major-General J. R. Stuart, C.B., then commanding the North British District, who expressed himself extremely well satisfied with everything he had seen. In September a detachment was sent to Ballater to form a Guard of Honour for the Queen.

On the 12th of October headquarters and the five companies then in Edinburgh proceeded to Granton to embark on H.M.S. "Assistance" for Fort George, which was reached on the 14th. The regiment was accompanied on the route through Edinburgh by an immense crowd, but notwithstanding this, and the great enthusiasm of the farewell, there was no irregularity among the men, and only one private (a recruit) was absent; in consequence of which satisfactory state of matters, Lieutenant-Colonel Miller, C.B., was pleased to remit the unexpired portions of all sentences of confinement to barracks. The only noteworthy events during the stay in the north were the sending of detachments to Ballater as a Royal Guard of Honour in May and August 1877; the annual inspection, which was made on the 6th and 7th of July by Major-General Stuart, C.B., who intimated on parade that he considered the battalion in splendid order, and would have much pleasure in making a favourable report; and the despatch, on the 25th of July, of a draft of 286 rank and file to Malta to join the linked regiment, the 42nd Highlanders.

Orders having been issued for transfer to Glasgow, the 79th, under the command of Major and Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Cumming, embarked on the 18th of October 1877 on H.M.S. "Orontes" for Greenock, and thence proceeded to its destination by rail, headquarters and two companies going to the Gallowgate Barracks, and the other companies to the new barracks at Maryhill, where the men were employed on the works: Lieutenant-Colonel Miller, C.B., having completed his term of command, was, on the 15th of October, placed on half-pay, and was succeeded by Lieutenant-Colonel Cumming. In March 1878, the headquarters was transferred from Gallowgate to Maryhill Barracks, and the usual garrison routine was thereafter broken only by the despatch of detachments to Balmoral in May and August to form Guards of Honour for the Queen; and by the temporary increase in numbers from the 28th of April to the 31st of July, due to the mobilisation of the Army and Militia Reserves, in consequence of the strained relations then existing between Great Britain and Russia.

On the 14th of January 1879, Lieutenant-General Sir John Douglas, G.C.B., was appointed Colonel of the regiment in succession to Sir A. H. Horsford, G.C.B., Military Secretary, who was transferred to the 14th Foot; and on the 15th of May the same year orders were issued to prepare for immediate embarkation to relieve the linked battalion at Gibraltar. For this station the 79th, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Cumming, and with a total strength of 20 officers and 538 non-commissioned officers and men, accordingly sailed from Greenock on the 3d of June on board H.M.S. "Himalaya," and on the 11th quarters were taken up at the Buena-Vista Barracks, changes taking place in the following year, first to Town Range, and afterwards to South Barracks, with detachments at Wellington and North Fronts. The annual inspection in 1880 was made on the 24th and 25th of November by Major-General Anderson, who expressed great satisfaction at the state in which he found the regiment, stating that the books and interior economy were perfect, and that he had never seen cleaner barracks or kits better laid down. With regard to the drill, of course a great many allowances had to be made, owing to the difficulty of getting men on parade, as they were generally engaged on working parties, and he had no doubt that there were several men in the ranks who had not been on parade since last inspection. Taking this, however, into consideration, the close formations were good, and if the regiment did not drill so well as last year, it undoubtedly showed that it was keeping up as much as possible the good instruction it had received at a former period.

In January 1881 the establishment was increased by the addition of 100 men to the rank and file; and in the same month intimation was made of proposals for the reorganisation of the army, the chief changes being, of course, the abolition of linked regiments (double battalions being substituted), and the replacing of the old regimental numbers by territorial designations. As the 79th was at this time linked with the Black Watch, it was at first proposed to make it the 2d battalion of that regiment, and on the 28th of January the following telegram was sent by the Adjutant-General to the officer commanding :—" If 79th is linked to 42nd, will your regiment adopt tartan of the 42nd Regiment ? Linked regiments must wear the same tartan. Wire reply." Lieutenant-Colonel Leith, who was in command of the regiment during the absence of Lieutenant-Colonel Cumming on sick leave, immediately answered—" No. The Cameron Highlanders will not adopt 42nd tartan." He also at the same time sent the following letter to the Adjutant-General:-

"GIBRALTAR, 30th January 1881.

"Sir,—I have the honour to forward a copy of a telegram despatched by me this morning in reply to your telegram received yesterday evening, and which in transmission through Spain had become somewhat illegible. It was with the greatest sorrow that the officers of the 79th Cameron Highlanders heard of the proposal to deprive the regiment of the Cameron tartan, worn by them for so many years, and regarded with pride and affection by all ranks. No one serving in the 79th would willingly adopt the tartan of the 42nd Regiment, which would virtually mean the extinction of the 79th Cameron Highlanders as a regiment. May I most respectfully request that you will have the goodness to move H.R.H. the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief to preserve, if it be possible, for the regiment that tartan which has been their distinctive dress since they were raised by Sir Allan Cameron in 1793, and, as the inscriptions on their colours testify, has been worn with honour in many hard-fought battles."

Nothing more was heard of time matter until the Secretary of State for War, in his comprehensive speech in the House of Commons upon the new scheme, stated that the 79th would be the only single-battalion regiment in the army; and thereafter the following letter, addressed to the commanding officer, was received from the Adjutant-General

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