Queens Own Highlanders

(Seaforth & Camerons)


Regimental Association


The 78th Highlanders or Ross-Shire Buffs

The 78th Highlanders or Ross-Shire Buffs


UNDER the new system of localisation of regiments, it was notified in a Horse Guards General Order that the 71st Highland Light Infantry and the 78th Highlanders would form the line portion of the 55th infantry sub-district, and be associated for the purposes of enlistment and service, the counties included in the sub-district being Orkney and Shetland, Sutherland, Caithness, Ross and Cromarty, Inverness, Kairn and Elgin, and the station assigned to the brigade depot Fort George. In accordance with this scheme, Major Feilden, with a small detachment, proceeded to Fort George on the 9th of April to form part of the depot, and the main body of the regiment, under the command of Colonel Mackenzie, C. B., embarked at Belfast on the 3d of May en route for the same place. The streets along the line of march were densely crowded, and the inhabitants showed their good feeling towards the 78th by cheering repeatedly as the men marched from the barracks to the quay, and went on board H.M.S. "Himalaya." After sailing round the west and north coasts of Scotland, the transport anchored in Cromarty Bay on the evening of the 7th, and, after disembarking headquarters and six companies opposite Fort George next day, proceeded with the two remaining companies to Aberdeen. This detachment furnished a guard of honour to Her Majesty the Queen at Ballater on the 15th of May, and also on the 14th of August. On the 19th of May, and again on the 8th of July, the regiment was inspected by Major-General Sir John Douglas, K.C.B., whose reports as to what he saw were considered by the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief as. "most satisfactory." The establishment at the time was 27 officers, 64 non-commissioned officers, drummers, and pipers, and 520 rank and file—a total strength of 611.

The 78th remained at Fort George for only one year, embarking on the 11th of May 1874, under command of Colonel Mackenzie, on H.M.S. "Jumna," for conveyance to Portsmouth. After disembarking on the 15th, the regiment proceeded by rail to Fainborough, and thence by road to Aldershot, where it had not been stationed before for twelve years. On the 19th of the same month, the troops in camp were inspected by His Imperial Highness the Emperor of Russia, in the Long Valley, the 78th being brigaded on the occasion with the 42nd, 79th, and 93rd Highlanders, under the command of Major-General W. Parke, C.B. It is worthy of note that these four kilted regiments had not been together since the siege and final capture of Lucknow in 1858; and by a curious coincidence, the commanding officers, Colonels Macleod, Mackenzie, M’Bean, and Miller, had all then served with the regiments they now led.

On the 21st of May, and again on the 6th of August, the Ross-shire Buffs were inspected by Major-General Parke, C.B., who expressed himself particularly well pleased with the fine appearance and discipline of the regiment. During the summers of 1874 and 1875 the 78th took part in the usual drills and maneuvers, but, with the exception of the arrival of drafts from the depot at Fort George, and the despatch of men to join the linked battalion at Malta, the only event of any importance in 1874 was the issue of the Martini-Henry rifle, which came into use in December.

In 1875 the annual inspection took place on the 24th of June, the inspecting officer, Major-General Primrose, expressing himself perfectly satisfied with the appearance and discipline of the men; and on the 27th of July the regiment proceeded from Aldershot to Dover, where the E, G, and H companies were stationed in the Main Shaft Barracks, headquarters and the other companies going to the South Front Barracks. In 1876 the annual inspection was made on the 10th of July by Major-General Parke, C.B., who again expressed himself highly satisfied with the interior economy of the regiment and its state of perfect discipline under arms. On the 9th of October the 78th proceeded by rail from Dover to Queenborough, where it embarked on H.M.S. "Assistance" for conveyance to Granton, which was reached on the 12th, quarters being taken up at Edinburgh Castle the same day.

With reference to the departure of the regiment from Dover, the following letters were received:-


"20th October 1876.

"Sir,—By desire of His Royal Highness, the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, I have the honour to enclose, for transmission to the Officer Commanding 78th Highlanders, copy of a letter which by His Royal Highness s command has been addressed to the General Officer Commanding the troops at Dover in reference to his report of his inspection of that Regiment on their leaving the South Eastern District.

‘‘I have, &c.,

"(Signed) G. R. GREAVES, A.A.G. for AG.
"The General Officer
"Commanding the Troops,


"20th October 1876.

‘‘Sir—By desire of the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 9th instant, and to convey to you the expression of His Royal Highness’s great satisfaction at the most favourable and creditable report you have made of the general good conduct of the 78th Highlanders while serving in the district under your command, and also the admirable manner in which they marched out for embarkation for their new quarters."

The duties at Edinburgh were of the usual routine nature, and but few note-worthy events occurred during the stay at the Castle. On the 25th of October a draft of 75 rank and file was despatched to Malta to join the 71st Highland Light Infantry; and on the 25th of July 1877, another, consisting of 245 men, left for the same destination, the strength of the home battalion being kept up partly by the arrival of recruits from the brigade depot, and partly by the reception later on, in September and October, of 80 volunteers from other corps. On the 25th of July the regiment had also to lament the death of Lieutenant and Adjutant A. D. Fordyce, whose loss was deeply regretted by all ranks. The annual inspection took place on the 31st of July, when Major-General Stuart, C.B., the general-officer commanding the North British District, expressed himself highly satisfied with the appearance of the regiment under arms, and intimation was subsequently received from the Adjutant-General at the Horse Guards, that the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief considered the confidential report "satisfactory, excepting as regards the crime of Desertion and the excessive number of Courts-Martial, which are not creditable to the regiment; but His Royal Highness trusts that its removal from the temptations of a large town like Edinburgh will have the effect of lessening the amount of crime shown in the report." This removal was effected by change of quarters to the Curragh Camp, Kildare, for which the regiment set out on the 4th of March 1878, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Warren, and with a total strength of 17 officers and 476 non-commissioned officers and men. The journey from Edinburgh to Greenock was made by rail, and from the latter place to Kingstown in H.M.S. "Orontes." The passage was very rough, and though the "Orontes" reached Kingstown on the morning of the 6th, she was then unable to proceed inside the breakwater, and the 78th did not disembark till the 9th, when it landed by wings, and reached the Curragh the same afternoon. On the 27th of March, Colonel Mackenzie, C.B., who had held command of the Ross-shire Buffs since 1867, retired from the service with a pension and the rank of Major-General. His farewell regimental address issued on that day was as follows:-

"The time having now arrived when I must bid farewell to the 78th (my own County Regiment), in which I have served for upwards of eight-and-thirty years—nearly eleven of these as Commanding Officer — I do so with feelings of profound regret, as throughout that long period I found the regiment an agreeable and very happy home.

"During the time I was in, command of it, although the position involved weighty responsibility, I found the burden greatly lightened by the cordial support of the officers, the cheerful assistance rendered by the non-commissioned officers, and the ready obedience and general good conduct of the men, which, I am proud to say, has met with the approbation of every general-officer that inspected the regiment during the time I had the honour of commanding it.

‘‘I shall ever follow with lively interest the future movements of the Ross-shire Buffs, who, I am certain, will continue to maintain the distinguished reputation which they have so honourably won.

‘‘If the regiment shall at any time be called on to engage in active service, I feel sure it will uphold the fame it has acquired by its gallantry in enemy field on which it has been engaged from Assays to Lucknow.

"Officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the 78th Highlanders,—in parting from you I now say ‘Good-bye’ to each and all of you, trusting that the cordiality and friendship which always existed between us will still continue notwithstanding our separation."

In consequence of the threatening state of affairs on the Continent at the close of the Russo-Turkish war, and the possibility of an outbreak of hostilities between Great Britain and Russia, the strength of the battalion was increased by the reception, in March, of 218 volunteers from other regiments, and by the addition in April of 72 volunteers from other corps, and of 385 men frorn the First Class Army and Militia Reserve, the former being, on this occasion, mobilised for the first time, with the highly satisfactory result that the men promptly responded to the call made upon them. Owing, however, to the pacific settlement of European affairs arrived at by the Berlin Congress, the Reserves were dismissed to their homes within a very short time, those attached to the 78th being sent off to their several pension districts on the 26th of July. The annual inspection of the regiment by Major-General W. H. Seymour, C.B., commanding the Curragh brigade, took place on the 6th of September, and the inspecting officer was able to report "most favourably in all respects."

On the 2d of January 1879, the 78th moved from the Curragh to the Royal Barracks, Dublin, where, however, it was destined to remain for only a very short time, orders being received within six days that the regiment was to be held in readiness to embark for India early in March, a date immediately afterwards altered to the middle of February. Preparations for departure were at once begun. One hundred and forty-four men were sent to the brigade depot, while 207 volunteers were received from other corps. The arms and equipment were inspected by a board of officers, who, in a communication addressed to the commanding officer, intimated that they thought it right "to place upon record the exceptionally good condition of the equipment, and also the good system pursued in the regiment," and added, "The Quartermaster, Mr Campbell, has shown himself well up in his work and knowledge of his duties, and greatly facilitated the work of the board. The Armourer-Sergeant also has proved himself a careful and zealous man in his special duties." On the 11th of February the regiment was inspected by Major-General J. R. Glyn, who expressed himself in every way satisfied, and in connection with his confidential report subsequently forwarded to the War Office, the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief was "pleased to express his gratification at its satisfactory nature and the commendable condition of the regiment." On the 14th of February the 78th proceeded by rail to Cork, and on the following morning embarked at Queenstown on H.M.S. "Malabar," the total strength being 27 officers and 815 non-commissioned officers and privates—a number increased at Gibraltar by the addition of 80 men from the 71st Highland Light Infantry.

The voyage was stormy and somewhat unpleasant till Malta was passed, but very agreeable thereafter until its termination, on the 19th of March, at Bombay, whence the regiment proceeded on the following day by rail to Poonah, from which detachments were afterwards at different times sent to various stations in the surrounding districts. Except for these movements, and the part taken by the 78th along with the other troops in garrison in extinguishing a great fire which broke out on the 14th of May in the native town, nothing of importance occurred till the 31st of March 1880, when the annual inspection was made by Brigadier-General G. T. Brice, commanding the Poonah Division, who said, at the close of his examination, that it gave him great pleasure to inform the regiment that he would be able to make a most favourable report on the state of the 78th Highlanders. The remarks of the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief on the confidential report were that "excepting the low figure of merit obtained, and the large number of men not exercised in musketry, His Royal Highness has been pleased to commend the most satisfactory and creditable state of this corps."

The disastrous results of the conflict at Maiwand in Afghanistan having become known at Poonah on the 29th of July 1880, orders were received on the 3d of August to hold the 78th Highlanders in immediate readiness for active service, and on the 9th headquarters and the E, F, and H companies started for Bombay, there to embark for Kurrachee, the other companies being ordered to meet them at the port of embarkation. After a rough passage of three days on board the steam transport "Huzara" and the Indian troopship "Dalhousie," the whole regiment disembarked at Kurrachee on the 13th, and took up quarters at the Kapier Barracks awaiting further orders. These having been received on the 22d, headquarters and the D and E companies started for Quetta on the 24th, F and G companies on the 25th, and B and H companies on the 26th; but the A and C companies, which should have followed on the 27th, were detained for four days by the rumour which afterwards became known as "the Kurrachee scare," and which was to the eflect, that a large body of Pathans had collected among the hills with the intention of making an attack in force on Kurrachee and Hyderabad. All precautions were taken accordingly, a detachment of 100 men under Lieutenant Craigie-Halkett being sent to Hyderabad, and the remainder of the force available under Captain D. Stewart and Lieutenant Lund detained at Kurrachee until the 1st of September, when, as the alarm had been ascertained to be groundless, the advance was resumed.

Under ordinary circumstances the railway journey from Kurrachee to Sibi does not occupy more than 40 hours, but owing to the great heat which prevails in Upper Scinde and the Indus valley in the end of August and the beginning of September, it was considered dangerous to keep the men continuously entrained for so long a time, and each detachment was, therefore, halted for 24 hours, after the first night’s journey, at the small station of Larkana, where tents had been pitched—a precaution very necessary considering that the thermometer, even during the night, sometimes registered 118°. From Sibi the marches had to be doubled, as General Phayre had already pushed on towards Kandahar, leaving no European infantry at Quetta; and the great toil thus involved was still further increased by the condition of the baggage animals.

The transport supplied to the regiment was bullock carts and a fixed proportion of ponies, and the original intention had been that, in addition to the baggage carried in every cart, two men should be told off to each, one to walk while the other rode, so that the baggage guard might have some rest on the long marches. So great, however, had been the amount of labour imposed on the poor animals, as regiment after regiment had, during the previous month, been hurried through the Bolan Pass in steady succession, that they were now thoroughly worn out and hardly able to draw the baggage alone, and the men had, in consequence, more than enough to do in assisting the cattle to drag the carts through the deep sand, and over the numerous fords and rough roads, without thinking of riding themselves. On the second march, for instance, from Pir Chowkey to North Kirta, a distance of 20 miles, the Bolan River had to be crossed 17 times, but after Dozan, 33 miles farther on and 31 miles from Quetta, the fatigue was less, as the height above sea-level (4000 feet) rendered the temperature much lower. The first detachment reached Quetta on the 3d of September, and the second and third on the 4th and 6th respectively, but the A and C companies did not arrive till the 20th, having been still further detained at North Kirta by the heavy flooding of the Bolan River. The delay was, however, of the less importance, as news had arrived on the 3d of the glorious victory of Sir Frederick Roberts at Kandahar over the forces of Ayub Khan.

During the stay at Quetta, which lasted till the 3d of November, the weather was very hot during the day, but (the station being 5600 feet above sea-level) very cold at night, and, in consequence, the 78th, which was quartered in excessively cold and draughty disused Native Infantry Barracks without doors or windows, suffered severely from pneumonia and dysentery, no fewer than 105 men being invalided to India. On the 3d of November, the right half-battalion, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Warren, marched for Kandahar, the left half-battalion remaining at Quetta until relieved by the 61st Regiment in December. The nights were cold and frosty, and the weather otherwise fine; and the only very fatiguing march during the whole distance of 142 miles, was that between Killa Abdoola and Chaman, where the Khojac Pass (7200 feet above sea-level), at the northern entrance of the Pishin Valley, had to be passed. On arriving at Kandahar on the 15th of November, quarters were assigned to the regiment in one of the old barrack squares erected in 1841, but as the buildings had been very much injured during the recent siege by the forces of Mohammed Ayub Khan, neither roofs, doors, nor windows remained, and the men were at first accommodated in tents pitched inside the square, and were besides excused from all parades until the rooms were made habitable for the coming cold weather.

On the 11th of December, Major-General R. Hume, C.B., then commanding in Southern Afghanistan, inspected the regiment, and expressed himself much pleased with its appearance; while on the 19th, Brigadier-General Brown, who commanded the second Brigade. (to which the 78th was attached), having been invalided, Lieutenant-Colonel Warren succeeded to the brigade command, which he retained till the 22d of March the following year. On the 25th and 26th of February 1881, the regiment was inspected by Brigadier General Walker, commanding the 3d Infantry Brigade, who, after a most minute examination, stated that he would have great pleasure in reporting most favourably on its state of efficiency for the information of H.R.H. the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief; and the latter, in his remarks on the confidential report, was subsequently pleased to say:- "The highly satisfactory state of this regiment is most creditable to Lieutenant-Colonel Warren, and to all ranks, and has been commended by His Royal Highness." Such was the severity of the weather and the trying nature of the climate generally, that, during the trooping season of 1880-81, 230 men were invalided, and out of a total of 757 of all ranks on the roll, only 597 were at regimental headquarters, the rest being invalids at the depot at Poonah.

The orders issued for the evacuation of Kandahar could not at first be carried out through the wetness of the weather and the swollen condition of the streams, but on the 20th of April, the second Brigade began its return journey, one day’s halt being made at Killa Abdoola, and another at Gulistan Karez, so that Quetta was not reached till the 4th of May. From this point, all the way down the Bolan Pass, the marches were much easier than on the upward journey, and as the railway had meanwhile been brought up to Pir Chowkey, the tedious sands intervening between that place and Sibi were avoided. At Pir Chowkey the regiment was broken up by orders from Simla, headquarters with B, C, D, and G companies proceeding to Sitapur, and the rest of the battalion to Benares, both in Bengal. The first detachment reached its destination on the 26th of May, and the other on the 22d, and it is gratifying to note that, though the journey of the regiment had lasted from the 19th of April, and had led through parts of the country dangerous to the health of Europeans, especially at such a late period of the year, when the men were often subjected to most intense heat, and were continually exposed to the sun, not a single casualty occurred among either officers or rank and file. As a reward for the services of the Ross-shire Buffs in Afghanistan, the gracious permission of Her Majesty the Queen was, on the 7th of June, accorded to the regiment to add to the distinctions already on the colours or appointments, the words "Afghanistan, 1879-80."

In consequence of the reorganisation of the army, based on the territorial system, which came into operation on the 1st of July 1881, the 78th Highlanders were dissociated from the 71st, and became linked with the 72nd Regiment as the 2d Battalion of the Sea-forth Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs, Duke of Albany’s), the Highland Rifle Militia forming the 3d Battalion. On the same date Lieutenant-Colonel Warren was promoted to a Colonelcy, Captains and Brevet-Majors Smith and Murray and Captain Graham to Majorities, and Second Lieutenants Christopher, Brown, Lund, MacIntyre, and Mackenzie, to full Lieutenancies, the rank of second lieutenant having been abolished. The change of designation was at first received with some disfavour, and an effort was made to have the name altered from Seaforth to Seaforth’s Highlanders, but this was refused on the ground that the latter was not a territorial title.

The depot was moved from Poonah and joined headquarters in the end of July, and on the 20th of February 1882 the whole regiment was once more re-united at Lucknow. There, on the 6th of May, Lieutenant-General Cureton, C.B., commanding the Oude Division, presented the bronze stars granted for the march from Kabul to Kandahar to 60 men who had served in the 72nd Regiment, and who had volunteered to the 2d Battalion Seaforth Highlanders on the departure of the 1st Battalion to Aden. Two volunteers from the 92nd Gordon Highlanders were also similarly decorated on the occasion. The regiment was drawn up so as to form three sides of a square, and for the first time the officers and men appeared in khaki. The men to be decorated were in two rows immediately fronting General Cureton as he took up his position near the centre of the square, and the crosses having been handed to him by one of the staff, the General distributed them, one by one, as each of the gallant fellows advanced to the front to receive his well-merited guerdon. Previous to the presentation, General Cureton addressed the regiment as follows:-

"Second Battalion Seaforth Highlanders,—Your Colonel has asked me to distribute, in presence of you all, the crosses gained by 60 men now present, who served in Afghanistan in your 1st Battalion, late 72nd Highlanders—but most of whom have since volunteered to this Battalion—for service under General Roberts on the march from Kabul to Kandahar. I am much obliged to Colonel Warren for the honour he has done me in asking me to distribute these crosses. It is always a source of the greatest pleasure to me to be the means of conveying decorations granted by the Queen to those of her soldiers upon whom they have been bestowed.

"It is unnecessary for me to dilate on the good service done by the 72nd Highlanders in Afghanistan. The long and trying march of his column, and the gallant fight near Kandahar, have not only been ably told by General Roberts himself, but they have been described and praised, not only by the press of our own country, but by the press of every nation in Europe. The Germans allude to it as the best conducted action fought by the British since Waterloo. However this may be, it was a grand march ending in a most successful action. The 72nd lost in this fight their gallant Colonel and many a good soldier, and received unqualified praise for their conduct in this episode of the war, as they had done for their conduct in the whole campaign. They were second to none.

"Wherever the two distinguished battalions, now called the Seaforth Highlanders, have been called upon to serve, they have proved themselves as gallant in the field as they have invariably been steady and well disciplined in quarters. This is not the first time I have served with the 78th. About twenty four years ago I was in camp with them under Lord Clyde, not very far from this ; and about this season we were constantly engaged with the mutineers, and the heat was excessive ; but, under all trials, the 78th were then, as they have always been, renowned for their gallant and soldier like qualities."

Addressing the men about to be decorated, the General said:-

"I congratulate you all most sincerely on receiving these crosses granted by Her Majesty, and I envy you for having been through the late campaign with General Sir F. Roberts."

After the distribution, Colonel Warren, commanding the regiment, thanked General Cureton in the following terms:-

"General Cureton, — On behalf of both battalions of the Seaforth Highlanders, in the name of all ranks, I thank you for your great kindness in being present on parade this morning and presenting these decorations. I can assure you their value, and the pleasure of receiving them, is much enhanced by their coming from the hands of an officer who not only commands the Oude Division, but has also himself seen such varied and splendid service in many parts of India. The volunteers whom you have now decorated, by their steadiness on parade and admirable behaviour in quarters, are nobly maintaining the honour and credit of the magnificent regiment that reared them, and I have the greatest pleasure in now publicly testifying to you, sir, the high character they bear with us, and the satisfaction we old hands experience in seeing them in our ranks."

At the conclusion of the gallant Colonel’s short but appropriate speech, the parade was broken up and the regiment dismissed to quarters. The medals for the Afghan Campaign were distributed in July both to the volunteers from the 1st Battalion and to the whole of the 2d Battalion who had served in Southern Afghanistan.

On the 5th of July 1882 orders were received for two companies of the battalion to proceed to Aden to reinforce the 1st Battalion which was under orders for active service in Egypt, and on the 15th of July, after inspection by the Lieutenant-General commanding, who expressed himself highly pleased with the appearance of the men, this detachment, consisting of B and F companies, with a total strength of 224 officers and men, under the command of Major Andrew Murray, left Lucknow for Bombay, where, on the 22d, they embarked on the steam-transport "Bancoora." Aden was reached on the 1st of August, and there the 1st Battalion came on board on the following day, and by its movements those of the detachment were thence-forward regulated. The subsequent events having been already narrated in connection with the 72nd Regiment, nothing here remains to be added to the accounts of the affair at Shalouf, or of the marches to Tel-Mahuta and Kassassin, and but little to the incidents following Tel-el-Kebir. After passing Arabi’s camp on the north side of the Canal, the battalion halted at Tel-el-Kebir lock for about a quarter of an hour, until orders were received to push on to Zagazig, and after marching till 5 P.M. in the execution of this movement, it was met, when within about five miles of its destination, by one of the trains captured by Sir Herbert Macpherson, which had been sent out to bring the whole regiment into town. About 100 men of the detachment of the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders, for whom there was no room, had to be left behind, as well as the Field Hospital; and it may here be noted, that though a distance of 30 miles had been already covered since leaving Kassassin (not to speak of the fighting), only four or five men of the detachment had fallen out, and none of them required to be carried.

After taking part in the great march past before H.H. the Khedive, the detachment received orders to return to India; and on the 9th of October Major-General Sir Herbert Macpherson, V.C., K.C.B., commanding the Indian Contingent, made his farewell inspection, and, in a few remarks at the close, spoke in very high terms of the conduct of all, and of the pleasure and pride he had had in commanding them. On the same afternoon the men of the 2d Battalion were conveyed by rail to Suez, and thence on board the steam-transport "India" to Bombay, which was reached on the 25th. Here the detachment was detained for an entertainment and banquet given on the 28th by the inhabitants to the troops, European and native, who had returned from Egypt, and accordingly did not rejoin the main body (to the movements of which we now return) at Lucknow till the 4th of November. Only one man was wounded during the time spent in Egypt but Captain Justice, who was invalided through disease brought on by exposure, unfortunately died at sea on the 30th of December while on the voyage to England.

On the 27th and 28th of February 1883 the battalion was inspected by Lieutenant. General Cureton, C.B., commanding the Oude Division, who stated that he would have great pleasure in reporting favourably oni its state of efficiency for the information of H.R.H. the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief; and on the 27th of the following month Colonel Warren, having completed his term of five years in command, was placed on half-pay, and was succeeded by Lieutenant-Colonel G. Forbes. The only other noteworthy events in 1883 were the addition, by gradous permission of Her Majesty, of "Tel-el-Kebir" to the distinctions already borne on the colours and appointments; the completion of a memorial in the Residency Garden at Lucknow to the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the regiment who died during the suppression of the Indian Mutiny; and the deposition in St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh, of one of the old stands of colours. The monument is in the form of a lofty Celtic cross placed on a stepped base. The arms and shaft bear the usual ornaments, along with the deer’s head (the Cabar Féidh) and elephant, the badges of the regiment, while on a panel at the base is carved the following inscription:-

"Sacred to the Memory of the Officers, Non-commissioned Officers, and Private Soldiers of the 78th Highland Regiment who fell in the suppression of the Mutiny of the Native Army in India in the years 1857 and 1858. This Monument is erected as a tribute of respect by their surviving brother officers and comrades, and by many officers who formerly belonged to the Regiment. A.D. 1883."

The stand of colours was placed in St Giles along with those of many of the other Scottish regiments on the 14th of November, the ceremony of presentation to the Cathedral authorities—who were represented by the Rev. Dr Cameron Lees, minister of the church, and by Lord-Provost Harrison, Lord-President Inglis, Mr Robert Chambers, and Mr R. Herdman, R.S.A., for the Cathedral Board—being performed by H.R.H. the Duke of Cambridge, Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief. The representatives of the 78th who bore the relics were Major Hilton and Lieutenant Fraser, the escort consisting of Colour-Sergeants Bain and Marshall from the depot at Fort George; and the stand obtained was that retired in 1854, and now gifted for this purpose by Major Hamilton of the 1st Scottish Rifles, into whose possession it had come by inheritance from his relative General Walter Hamilton, C.B., who was Lieutenant-Colonel of the 78th from 1849 till 1859, when he was appointed Inspecting Field Officer. The regimental colour bears the Gaelic motto of the battalion, "Cuidich ‘n Righ," which curiously enough does not appear in the Emblazoned Register of Colours, executed under official sanction and authority in 1820, and preserved in the office of the Inspector of Regimental Colours, notwithstanding that it is embroidered on standards of older date that have been preserved, and that on the 1st of April 1825 His Majesty George IV. was "pleased to approve of the 78th Regiment of Foot retaining" the words on its colours. This stand finds a fitting resting-place in its present position, as, though the flags saw but little active service, and were in none of the great historic regimental achievements, they are those that were at Sukhur in Scinde in 1843, when an outbreak of malignant fever almost annihilated the regiment, and claimed the many victims to whose memory a monument was, at the time, placed on the walls of St Giles by the sorrowing survivors (see p. 701). Some have thought that the historical stand carried by the "Saviours of India" through the Indian Mutiny, would have been better suited for the purpose, but that is too well cared for, and too highly valued, at Dingwall, where it was deposited in the Town Hall on its retirement in 1868, to be lightly disturbed; and besides, as Colonel Mackenzie wrote, when, on behalf of the officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates of the Ross-shire Buffs, he offered these colours to the Town Council of the county town of the regimental district :—"The regiment can never forget the very hearty welcome they received from the people of Ross-shire and Cromartyshire on returning from India in 1859, nor the generosity and kindness lavished upon them at that time, of which the magnificent pieces of plate presented to the officers’ and non-commissioned officers’ messes are lasting records. They feel that nowhere can the old colours of the regiment be more worthily placed than in that country where the corps were first embodied, and that their presence there may induce many a fine fellow to join the ranks of the Ross-shire Buffs."

On the 28th of February 1884, the battalion was again inspected by Lieutenant-General Cureton, C.B., who stated that the appearance on parade was smart and soldier-like, that the result of the inspection was satisfactory, and that he should report most favourably to the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief. On the 21st of October the regiment had to regret the loss of the services of Lieutenant-Colonel Forbes, who was on that date invalided to England, where he died in Netley Hospital on the 26th of December. The temporary command devolved on Lieutenant. Colonel Murray.

On the 4th of February 1885, the annual inspection was made by Major-General Dillon, C.B., C.S.I., who expressed a high opinion of the appearance of the regiment on parade, and of its state of efficiency, and who subsequently addressed the following letter to the Lieutenant-Colonel commanding, on the occasion of the departure of the battalion from Lucknow for new quarters at Bareilly:-

"March 8th, 1885.

"My DEAR COLONEL MURRAY,—No soldier of the Second Battalion Seaforth Highlanders can have visited the Residency without feeling just pride that he inherits the traditions of the 78th of Assaye and Lucknow, and, should he take the field, that he would strive individually to maintain that high reputation. The good discipline, steadiness under arms, and the excellent shooting of the Battalion, mark the spirit pervading it in every grade, and which will carry it honourably through any ordeal that the exigencies of our extended Empire may demand from a British regiment.

"May I request that you will express to your Battalion my full appreciation of its merits, and my regret that it passes from the Division which I command.

Believe me
‘‘Yours very sincerely,

(Signed) "M. A. DILLON, M. -General."

The move from Lucknow to Bareilly was made by rail on the 9th of March, but hardly had camp been pitched when orders were received that the regiment was to proceed at once to Rawal Pindi to form part of the escort of H.E. the Viceroy at the reception of the Ameer of Afghanistan; and thither, accordingly, it was conveyed by troop-train on the 11th, halts being made on the journey at Meerut, Umballah, and Mean Meer. While at Rawal Pindi, the battalion took part in all the maneuvres of the force, including the march past, in presence of the Ameer.

The return to Bareilly took place between the 17th and 21st of April, and there ordinary routine station duties were performed till the 30th of November, when, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Murray (Colonel Guinness, who succeeded to the command on the death of Colonel Forbes, having exchanged to the 1st Battalion), the regiment started for Delhi to form part of the southern force at the great camp of exercise to be held at that place. The strength of the battalion was 17 officers and 459 non-commissioned officers and men, but as this was increased on arrival at Moradabad by 4 officers and 101 noncommissioned officers and men stationed there, the grand total was 21 officers and 560 non-commissioned officers and men. The battalion arrived at Delhi on the 14th of December, and, after marching next day to Suttanpur, where the 2d Division of the Southern Field Force under command of Sir Charles Macgregor was encamped, was told off to form part of the 1st Brigade under command of Colonel M. C. Farrington, South Yorkshire Regiment—the other regiments of the brigade being the 2nd Battalion Highland Light Infantry, the 5th Bengal Infantry, and the 27th Punjaub Infantry. The exercises, which lasted till the 31st of December, consisted of brigade, divisional, and interdivisional maneuvres, guarding of convoys, etc., the whole operations being under the immediate superintendence of Sir Charles Gough, V.C., commanding the Southern Field Force. After the 2d of January 1886, all operations were understood to be conducted as if in an enemy’s country. The force advanced by daily marches on Kurnaul, and met the Northern Army at Paniput. The cavalry and horse artillery of the latter body, which occupied the village, were driven out, and next day the infantry of the northern force having arrived, there was a general engagement, the southern force being repulsed and compelled to retire on Delhi. There they were supposed to receive reinforcements, and a fresh attack of the Northern Army was not only repulsed, but the latter was defeated. This concluded the practical part of the maneuvres, and the operations terminated in a march past, the effect of which was sadly marred by an incessant downpour of rain. On the dissolution of the division the following Order was published by Major-General Sir Charles Macgregor:-

‘‘As Sir Charles Macgregor has to return to his command, he must say Good-Bye to the 1st Division. A glance was sufficient to show him what a fine body of men the 1st Division was composed of, and a month has shown Sir C. Macgregor that their appearance has not belied them. Sir Charles Macgregor has endeavoured, during his brief command of this fine Division, not to worry any one unnecessarily, and he is grateful to find that no one has worried him. He certainly will report very favourably of every regiment in the Division, and he proposes to ask the Commander-in-Chief, in consideration of their fine soldierly bearing and good conduct in the Camp, to give them as early a chance as possible of seeing service. Of this Sir Charles Macgregor is certain, that if he ever had the luck to command a division on service, he would wish nothing better than the officers and men of the 1st Division to back him up."

The regiment marched out of Delhi on the 26th of January 1886, reaching Moradabad on the 30th, and Bareilly on the 7th of February. The annual inspection was made on the 15th and 16th of February by Brigadier-General T. E, Gordon, C.B., C.S.J., commanding the Rohileund district, from whom the following letter was afterwards received by Lieutenant-Colonel Murray on the 28th of June:-

"I hadn’t an opportunity of seeing you before I left Bareilly to tell you how thoroughly satisfactory in every particular was my inspection of your Battalion, and that I had great pleasure in recording this in my report. I went into full detail, and showed that an excellent spirit, fostered and stimulated by the Commanding Officer, pervaded all ranks, and that the Battalion was in most reliable and admirable hands."

On the 17th of October Field-Marshal Sir Patrick Grant, the Colonel of the regiment, was gazetted to the colonelcy of the Royal Horse Guards (the Blues), and a letter was written to him by the president of the Mess Committee tendering him on behalf of the 2d Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders their hearty congratulations on the honour that had been conferred on him, though expressing at the same time their regret at the severance of the mutual connection. The following is an extract from his reply:-

"From my heart I thank you for the terms in which you have expressed yourselves in the note of the 31st January, addressed to me, at your desire, by the President of the Mess Committee. I can never cease to cherish with pride and gratification my long connection of more than twenty years’ duration with so highly-distinguished a regiment as the 78th Highlanders."

Sir Patrick Grant was the last Colonel of the 78th as a separate regiment, his successor being Sir E. S. Smyth, K.C.M.G., who had been in command of the linked battalion (the old 72nd Regiment) since 1881, and who was now appointed to command the two battalions of the territorial regiment.

Since the 72nd and 78th were linked and associated with a distinct territorial district, both battalions have striven to make this connection real as well as nominal, and in September 1886, a detachment of nine Gaelic-speaking non-commissioned officers and men of the 1st Battalion (the old 72nd), with pipers, was sent from Edinburgh, not as a recruiting party (the members having no power to enlist any one), but at the private expense of the officers, on a six weeks’ furlough tour through the "Seaforth Country" and the different parts of the mainland of Ross and Inverness included within the regimental district, and thereafter to Skye and Lewis, for the purpose of trying to remove the many prejudices against military life that have sprung up in the Highlands since the first raising of the Highland Regiments, and to let the men of the Isles know that there is still a welcome and a home for them in the ranks of the old corps in which so many of their ancestors have in bygone days shown the good qualities and gallantry that laid the foundation of the renown that has made the names of all the Highland Regiments household words throughout the length and breadth of the land. A detachment of 50 men of all ranks with pipers, under command of Lieutenant Barlow, is also at present (May 1887) on a similar visit to Stornoway, where it is to be stationed for two months. This time the visit is distinctly for recruiting purposes. About 40 of this party are young Lewismen who have enlisted within the last few years, and in connection with this it may be noted, that since the rearrangement of the recruiting districts, a considerable impetus has been given to enlistment all over the north and north-west of Scotland, so that in Lewis and other districts from which for many years not a single recruit was drawn, many have recently come to join the colours, and if this movement be only carefully and sufficiently fostered and encouraged, as is being done by both battalions of the Seaforth Highlanders, there is hope that the Highland regiments may soon again be truly Highland and national in composition as well as in name.

The full dress of the Seaforth Highlanders, which may, with the necessary differences in tartans, badges, and minor details, be taken as representative of that of all the kilted regiments, is as follows:-

Officers.—Kilt and belted plaid of Mackenzie tartan ; scarlet Highland doublet, trimmed with gold lace according to rank, buff facings (patrol jacket and trews for fatigue dress) ; bonnet of black ostrich plumes, with white vulture hackle ; Menzies tartan hose, red garter knots, and white spatterdashes (shoes and gold buckles, and Mackenzie tartan hose and green garter knots for ball dress) sporran of white goat’s hair, with eight gold tassels (two long black tassels undress) ; buff leather shoulder-belt, with gilt breast plate ; red morocco dirk belt, embroidered with gold thistles; dirk and skean-dhu, mounted in cairngorm and silver gilt; the claymore, with steel scabbard round silver-gilt shoulder brooch, surmounted by a crown. The field officers wear trews, shoulder plaid, and waist belt. The Cabar Féidh on all appointments, with the Elephant, superscribed "Assaye".

Mess Dress —Scarlet shell jacket, with buff rolling collar and facings, and gold shoulder-knots; Mackenzie tartan vest, with cairngorm buttons.

Serge cents. —Same as privates, with the exception of finer cloth and tartan. First-Class staff sergeants wear the buff waist belt and claymore, and shoulder plaid with brooch.

Privates. —Kilt and fly of Mackenzie tartan; scarlet Highland doublet, buff facings (buff jacket and trews for fatigue dress) ; bonnet of black ostrich plumes, with white hackle sporran of white goat a hair, with two long black tassels ; Menzies tartan hose, red garter knots, and white spatterdashes ; the Cabar Féidh and the Elephant on the appointments.

Band. —Same as privates, with the exception of red hackles, sporrans of white goat’s hair, buff waist-belts and dirks, and shoulder plaids and brooch.

Pipers. —Same as privates, with the exception of green doublets, green hackles, Mackenzie tartan hose, green garter knots, grey sporrans, black shoulder and dirk belts, claymore, dirk, and skean-dhu, and shoulder plaids with round brooch.

Colonel Mackenzie, C.B., Major Forbes, and the company officers of the 78th presented their pipers, on the 21st of May 1875, with a beautiful set of pipe banners of the value of £100. The mottoes, devices, and honours of the corps are emblazoned on them, and they are considered the most costly flags that have ever been presented to the pipers of any regiment.

Here ends our account of the Ross-shire Buffs


THE clan Mackenzie was, next to the Campbells, the most considerable in the Western Highlands, having built its greatness upon the fallen fortunes of the Macdonalds. Its military strength was estimated in 1704, at 1200 men; by Marshal Wade in 1715, at 3000 men; and by Lord President Forbes in 1745, at 2500 men; but probably all these conjectures were below the mark.

The clan Mackenzie furnished large contingents to the present 71st and 72nd Regiments when they were first raised.

In 1793, Francis Humberstone Mackenzie, heir-male of the family, and afterwards Lord Seaforth, raised the present 78th Highlanders, and a second battalion in the following year, when nearly all the men enlisted were from his own or his clansmen’s estates in Ross-shire and the Lewis. Another second battalion was subsequently raised in 1804,when, Lord Seaforth being absent as Governor of Demerara, his personal influence was not of so much avail. However, again the greater part of the men were recruited on the estates of the clan by his brother-in-law, Colonel Alexander Mackenzie of Belmaduthy (who afterwards adopted the additional surname of Fraser, on succeeding to the Castle Fraser estates in right of his mother) and Colonel J. R. Mackenzie of Suddie. Several Fencible, Militia, and local Volunteer regiments were also raised among the Mackenzies at the end of the last and beginning of the 19th century.

As the early history of the 78th is a little complicated, owing to its having been twice augmented with a 2nd battalion, it is as well to remember the following chronology

1st Battalion—Letter of Service dated 7th March 1793.
2nd Battalion—Letter of Service dated 10th February 1794.
(Both Battalions amalgamated, June 1796.)
2nd Battalion—Letter of Service, dated 17th April 1804.
(Both Battalions amalgamated, July 1817.)

The regiment has ever since remained as a single battalion.

As early as the autumn of 1787 (when the 74th, 75th, 76th, and 77th Regiments were ordered to be raised for service in India), Francis Humberstone Mackenzie of Seaforth, lineal descendant and representative of the old earls of Seaforth, had made an offer to the King for the raising of a Highland corps on his estates in Ross-shire and the Isles, to be commanded by himself. As the Government, however, merely accepted his services in the matter of procuring recruits for the regiments of Sir Archibald Campbell and Colonel Abercromby (the 74th and 75th), he did not come prominently forward. On the 19th of May 1790, he again renewed his offer, but was informed that Government did not contemplate raising fresh corps, the establishment of the army having been finally fixed at 77 regiments.

Undismayed, however, by the manner in which his offers had been hitherto shelved, he was the first to step forward, on the declaration of war, and place his great influence in the Highlands at the disposal of the Crown. Accordingly, a Letter of Service, dated 7th March, 1793, was granted to him, empowering him, as Lieut. - Colonel Commandant, to raise a Highland battalion, which, as the first to be embodied during the war, was to be numbered the 78th. The strength of the battalion was to be 1 company of grenadiers, 1 of light infantry, and 8 battalion companies. Seaforth immediately appointed as his major his brother-in-law, Alexander Mackenzie of Belmaduthy, son of Mackenzie of Kilcoy, a captain in the 73rd Regiment, and a man in every way fitted for the post. A notice was then posted through the counties of Ross and Cromarty, and the island of Lewis.

Applications for commissions now poured in upon Seaforth; and, besides his own personal friends, many who were but slightly known to him solicited favours for their relatives. The following is a list of those whose names were approved by the King:—


Lieut.-Colonel Commandant.—F. H. Mackenzie, afterwards Lord Seaforth, Lieut.-Gen. 1808. Died 1815.

Lieut.-Colonel. —Alexander Mackenzie of Belmaduthy, afterwards of Castle Fraser, when he assumed the name of Fraser. Lieut. -General 1808. Died 1809.


George, Earl of Errol, died 1799.
Alexander Mackenzie of Fairburn, Lieut. General 1809.


Alexander Malcolm, died 1798.
Thomas Fraser of Leadclune.
John Mackenzie (Gairloch).
Gabriel Murray, Brevet-Major, killed at Tuil, 1794.
Alexander Grant, died 1807.
J. R. Mackenzie of Suddie, Major-General, killed at Tatavera 1809.
Alexander Adams, Major-General 1814.
Hon. Geo. Cochrane, son of the Earl of Dundonald.
Captain-Lieutenant—Duncan Munro of Culcairn.


Cohn Mackenzie.
James Fraser, retired 1795.
Charles Rose.
Hugh Munro, Captain of Invalids.
Charles Adamson.
William Douglas, son of Brigton, Lieut.-Colonel 91st Regiment.
George Bayley, promoted to 44th.
Thomas, Lord Cochrane, Captain Royal Navy.


Duncan Macrae.
John Macleod, Colonel 1813.
J. Mackenzie Scott, Captain 57th, killed at Albuera, 1811.
Charles Mackenzie (Kilcoy).
John Reid.
David Forbes, Lieut. -Colonel, H.P.
Alexander Rose, Major of Veterans.
John Fraser.

Chaplain—The Rev. Alexander Downie, D.D.

Adjutant—James Fraser.

Quarter-Master—Archibald Macdougall.

Surgeon—Thomas Baillie. He died in India.

The martial spirit of the nation was now so thoroughly roused, and recruits poured in so rapidly, that, on the 10th of July, 1793, only four months after the granting of the Letter of Service, the regiment was inspected at Fort George, and passed by Lieut.-General Sir Hector Munro. Orders were then issued to augment the corps to 1000 rank and file, and 5 companies, including the flank ones, under the command of Major Alexander Mackenzie, were embarked for Guernsey. In October of the same year the remaining 5 companies were ordered to join their comrades.

"This was an excellent body of men, healthy, vigorous, and efficient; attached and obedient to their officers, temperate and regular; in short, possessing those principles of integrity and moral conduct which constitute a valuable soldier. The duty of officers was easy with such men, who only required to be told what duty was expected of them. A young officer, endowed with sufficient judgment to direct them in the field, possessing energy and spirit to ensure the respect and confidence of soldiers, and prepared on every occasion to show them the eye of the enemy, need not desire a command that would sooner and more permanently establish his professional character, if employed on an active campaign, than that of 1000 such men as composed this regiment.

"Colonel Mackenzie knew his men, and the value which they attached to a good name, by tarnishing which they would bring shame on their country and kindred. In case of any misconduct, he had only to remonstrate, or threaten to transmit to their parents a report of their misbehaviour. This was, indeed, to them a grievous punishment, acting like the curse of Kehama, as a perpetual banishment from a country to which they could not return with a bad character."

After being stationed a short time in Guernsey and the Isle of Wight, the 78th, in September 1794, embarked with the 80th to join Lord Mulgrave’s force in Walcheren. While detained by contrary winds in the Downs, fever broke out on board the transports, which had recently brought back prisoners of war from the West Indies, and had not been properly purified; thus several men fell victims to the disease.

The British troops had landed in Holland, on the 5th of March, 1793, and since then the war had been progressing with varying success. Without, therefore, giving details of their operations during the first year and a half, we shall merely sketch the position they occupied when the 78th landed at Flushing.

On the 1st of July, 1794, the allies having decided to abandon the line of the Scheldt, the Duke of York retired behind the Pyle, and was there joined by Lord Moira and 8000 men. ~On the 22nd the Duke, having separated from the Austrians, established himself at iRosendaal, and there remained inactive in his camp the whole of August and the early part of September; but, on the 15th of September, Boxtel having fallen into the hands of General Pichegru, he was constrained to break camp and retire across the Meuse, and finally across the Waal, establishing his head-quarters at Nimeguen.

At this juncture the 78th and 80th reached Flushing, and found that Lord Mulgrave was ordered home. They therefore embarked with the 79th, 84th, and 85th, to join the Duke’s army. Early in October the 78th lauded at Tuil, and proceeded to occupy the village of Rossem in the Bommeler-Waart, or Island of Bommel, where they first saw the enemy, scarcely one hundred yards distant, on the opposite side of the river. Here, through the negligence of a Dutch Emigrant Officer, a sad accident occured. This person hearing voices on the bank of the river, and dreading a surprise, ordered his gunners to fire an iron 12-pounder, loaded with case shot, by which discharge the officer of the day, Lieut. Archibald Christie, 78th, and a sergeant, were seriously wounded while visiting a sentry. They both recovered, but were unable to serve again; strange to say, the sentry escaped untouched. While quartered here, by a tacit understanding, the sentries exchanged no shots, but it was observed that the French frequently fired howitzers with effect when the troops were under arms, and that, before the fire commenced, the sails of a certain windmill were invariably put in motion. The owner was arrested, found guilty as a spy, and condemned to death, but was reprieved through the lenity of Lieut.-Colonel Mackenzie, the commandant, with the full understanding that, on a repetition of the offence, the last penalty would be enforced.

About the end of October the 78th proceeded to Arnheim, the Duke of York’s headquarters, and thence, by a night march, to Nimeguen, against which place the French were erecting batteries, On the 4th of November a sortie was made, when the 78th was for the first time under fire, and did such execution with the bayonet, as to call forth the highest encomiums from experienced and veteran officers. The loss of the regiment in this engagement was Lieutenant Martin Cameron (died of his wounds) and seven men, killed; wounded, Major Malcolm, Captain Hugh Munro, Captain Colin Mackenzie, Lieutenant Bayley, 4 sergeants, and 56 rank and file.

On the 6th the regiment marched from Nimeguen to Arnheim, and finally to Dodewaart on the Waal, where they were brigaded with the 12th, the 33rd, under Lieut.-Colonel Arthur Wellesley (afterwards Duke of Wellington), and the 42nd under Major Dickson. The General going home on leave, the command devolved on Colonel Alexander Mackenzie of the 78th, who, however, still remained with his regiment.

On the 2nd of December the Duke of York quitted Arnheim for England, and handed over his command to Lieut.-General Harcourt.

On the 29th of December General Daendels, having crossed the Waal on the ice and driven back the Dutch, Major-General Sir David Dundas was ordered to dislodge him, he, therefore, marched towards Thiel by Buren and Geldermalsen, and came up with the enemy at Tuil, which village he carried at the point of the bayonet with comparatively little loss, though Brevet Major Murray and three men of the light company, 78th, were killed by the bursting of a shell thrown from a distant battery. After the action the troops lay on their arms in the snow until the evening of the 31st, and the French recrossed the Waal.

On the 3rd of January 1795 the French repossessed themselves of Tuil, and on the 5th they drove in the British outposts at Meteren, capturing two three-pounders, which were, however, recovered later in the day. They then attacked Geldermalsen. The 78th were in advance, supported by the 42nd, when they were charged by a Republican cavalry corps, dressed in the same uniform as the French Emigrant Regiment of Choiseul. They advanced towards the Highlanders with loud cries of "Choiseul ! Choiseul !" and the 78th, believing them to be that regiment, forbore to fire upon them until they were quite close, when, discovering the mistake, they gave them a warm reception, and those of the enemy who had penetrated beyond their line were destroyed by the 42nd. The infantry then came up, the officers shouting "Avançez, Carmagnoles !" but the 78th, reserving their fire till the foe had almost closed with them, poured in such a withering volley, that they were completely demoralised and retreated in great confusion. It was remarked that in this action the French were all half drunk, and one officer, who was wounded and taken, was completely tipsy. The loss of the 78th was four men killed, and Captain Duncan Munro and seven men wounded. It was on this occasion that a company of the 78th, commanded by Lieutenant Forbes, showed an example of steadiness that would have done honour to the oldest soldiers, presenting and recovering arms without firing a shot upon the cavalry as they were coming down. The whole behaved with great coolness, and fired nearly 60 rounds per man.

On the night of the 5th the troops retired to Buren. On the 6th the British and Hanoverians retired across the Leek, with the exception of the 6th Brigade, Lord Cathcart’s, which remained at Kuilenburg. On the 8th both parties assumed the offensive, but the British advance was countermanded on account of the severity of the weather. It happened, however, luckily for the picquet of the 4th Brigade, which was at Burenmalsen, opposite to Geldermalsen, that the order did not reach Lord Cathcart until he had arrived at Buren, as being driven in, it must otherwise have been taken. Here a long action took place, which ended in the repulse of the French. The 4th and a Hessian Brigade went into Buren, and the British into the castle.

The day the troops remained here, a man in the town was discovered selling gin to the soldiers at such a low price as must have caused him an obvious loss, and several of the men being already drunk, the liquor was seized, and ordered by General Dundas to be divided among the different corps, to be issued at the discretion of commanding officers. Thus what the French intended to be a means of destruction, turned out to be of the greatest comfort and assistance to the men during their fearful marches through ice and snow. During the afternoon a man was apprehended at the outposts, who had been sent to ascertain whether the trick had taken effect, and whether the troops were sufficiently drunk to be attacked with success.

Abercromby and Hammerstein having been unable to reach Thiel, were, with Wurmb’s Hessians, united to Pandas at Buren. On the 10th the French crossed the Waal, and General Regnier crossing the Oeg, drove the British from Opheusden, back upon Wageningen and Arnheim, with a loss of fifty killed and wounded. Abercromby, therefore, withdrew, and the British retired across the Rhine at Rhenen. This sealed the fate of Holland, and on the 20th General Pichegru entered Amsterdam.

The inclemency of the season increased, and the rivers, estuaries, and inundations froze as they had never been known to do before, so that the whole country, land and water, was one unbroken sheet of ice.

The Rhine was thus crossed on the ice on the night of the 9th of February, and for two more nights the 78th lay upon their arms in the snow, and then marched for Wyk. On the 14th Rhenen was attacked by the French, who were repulsed by the Guards, with a loss of 20 men; however, the same night it was determined to abandon the Rhine, and thus Rhenen, the Grand Hospital of the army, fell into the hands of the French, who, nevertheless, treated the sick and wounded with consideration. After resting two hours in the snow during the night, the 78th resumed their march, passed through Amersfoort, and about 11 A.M. on the 15th lay down in some tobacco barns, having marched nearly 40 miles. It had been decided to occupy the line of the Yssel, and Deventer therefore became the destination. On the 16th at daybreak the regiment commenced its march across the horrible waste called the Veluwe. Food was not to be obtained, the inhabitants were inhospitable; with the enemy in their rear, the snow knee deep, and blown in swirls by the wind into their faces, until they were partially or entirely blinded, their plight was most pitiable.

They had now a new enemy to encounter. Not only was the weather still most severe, and the Republicans supposed to be in pursuit, but the British had, in consequence of French ermissaries, a concealed enemy in every Dutch town and village through which they had to pass. Notwithstanding the severity of the climate,—the cold being so intense that brandy froze in bottles—the 78th, 79th (both young soldiers), and the recruits of the 42nd, wore their kilts, and yet the loss was incomparably less than that sustained by the other corps.

After halting at Loo to allow the officers and men to take off their accoutrements, which they had worn day and night since the 26th December, they on the 18th marched to Hattern on theYssel. Finally, on the 28th of March the 78th entered Bremen, and the army being embarked, the fleet sailed on the 12th of April.

On the 9th of May, 1795, the shores of Old England brought tears into the eyes of the war-worn soldiers, and the first battalion of the Ross-shire Buffs landed at Harwich, and proceeded to Chelmsford, where they took over the barracks. After making up the returns, and striking off the names of all men supposed to be dead or prisoners, the regiment, which had embarked on the previous September 950 strong, and in excellent health, was found to be reduced to 600 men, which number included the disabled and sick who had not been yet invalided. The 78th remained three weeks at Chelmsford, and marched to Harwich, where it was brigaded with the 19th, under command of General Sir Ralph Abercromby. It then proceeded to Nutshalling (now Nursling) Common, where a force was assembling under the Earl of Moira, with a view to making a descent on the French coast.

On the 18th of August the 78th, in company with the 12th, 80th, and 90th Regiments, and some artillery, embarked under the command of Major-General W. Ellis Doyle, and sailed for Quiberon Bay; the design was to assist the French Royalists. They bore down on Noirmoutier, but finding the island strongly reinforced, and a landing impracticable, they made for L’Ile Dieu, where they landed without opposition. Here they remained for some time, enduring the hardships entailed by continued wet weather and a want of proper accommodation, coupled with an almost total failure of the commissariat, but were unable to assist Charette or his royalist companions in any way. Finally, the expedition embarked in the middle of December, joined the grand fleet in Quiberon Bay, and proceeded with it to Spithead.

On the 13th of October 1793, Seaforth made an offer to Government to raise a second battalion for the ‘78th Highlanders; and on the 30th Lord Amherst signed the king’s approval of his raising 500 additional men on his then existing letter of service. However, this was not what he wanted; and on the 28th of December he submitted three proposals for a second battalion to Government.

On the 7th of February 1794, the Government agreed to one battalion being raised, with eight battalion and two flank companies, each company to consist of "one hundred private men," with the usual complement of officers and non-commissioned officers. But Seaforth’s services were ill requited by Government; for while he contemplated raising a second battalion to his regiment, Lord Amherst had issued orders that it was to be considered as a separate corps. The following is a copy of the letter addressed to Mr Secretary Dundas by Lieut.-Colonel Commandant F. H. Mackenzie:

'8th Feb, 1794

"SIR,—I had sincerely hoped I should not be obliged to trouble you again; but on my going to-day to the War Office about my letter of service (having yesterday, as I thought, finally agreed with Lord Amherst), I was, to my amazement, told that Lord Amherst had ordered that the 1000 men I am to raise were not to be a second battalion of the 78th, but a separate corps. It will, I am sure, occur to you that should I undertake such a thing, it would destroy my influence among the people of my country entirely; and instead of appearing as a loyal honest chieftain calling out his friends to support their king and country, I should be gibbeted as a jobber of the attachment my neighbours bear to me. Recollecting what passed between you and me, I barely state this circumstance; and I am, with great respect and attachment, Sir, your most obliged and obedient servant,


This argument had its weight; Lord Amherst’s order was rescinded, and on the 10th February 1794, a letter of service was granted to Seaforth, empowering him, as Lieut.-Colonel Commandant, to add a second battalion to the 78th Highlanders, of which the strength was to be "one company of grenadiers, one of light infantry, and eight battalion companies."

Stewart states that of this number 560 men were of the same country and character as the first, and 190 from different parts of Scotland; but he alludes to the first six companies, as the regiment was almost entirely composed of Highlanders.

The following is a listof the officers appointed to the regiment

Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant. - F. H. Mackenzie of Seaforth.

Lieutenant-Colonel. - Alexander Mackenzie of Fairburn, from first battalion.


J. R. Mackenzie of Suddie, from first battalion.
Michael Monypenuy, promoted to 73d, dead.


J. H. Brown, killed in a duel in India.
Simon Mackenzie.
William Campbell, Major, killed in Java, 1811.
John Mackenzie, Major-General, 1813.
Patrick M’Leod (Geanies), killed at El Hamet, 1807.
Hercules Scott of Benholm, Lieut. -Colonel 103d Regiment, 1814, killed in Canada.
John Scott.
John Macleod, Colonel, 1813, from first battalion.


James Hanson.
Alexander Macneil.
Eneas Sutherland.
Murdoch Mackenzie.
Archd. C. B. Crawford.
Norman Macleod, Lieut. - Colonel Royal Scots.
Thomas Leslie.
Alexander Sutherland, sen.
Alexander Sutherland, jun.
P. Macintosh.
John Douglas.
George Macgregor.
B. G. Mackay.
Donald Cameron.
James Hay.
Thomas Davidson.
William Gordon.
Robert Johnstone.
Hon. W. D. Halyburton, Colonel, half-pay.
John Macneil.
John Dunbar.


George Macgregor, Lieut. -Colonel 59th Regiment.
Donald Cameron.
John Macneil.
William Polson.
Alexander Wishart.

Chaplain.—The Rev. Charles Proby.

Adjutant.—James Hanson.

Quarter--Master.--—Alexander Wishart.

The records of this battalion having been lost many years since, the only knowledge we can derive of its movements is to be obtained from the Seaforth papers. The regiment was inspected and passed at Fort-George by Sir Hector Munro in June 1794. In July his Majesty authorised the regiment to adopt the name of "The Ross-shire Buffs" as a distinctive title. In August six companies embarked for England, and proceeded to Netley Camp, where they were brigaded with the 90th, 97th, and 98th. The troops suffered much from fever, ague, and rheumatism, the situation being very unfavourable; but here again the 78th was found to be more healthy than their neighhours. The young battalion was chafing at this enforced idleness, and longed to go on active service. On the 5th of November, the regiment marched from Netley, four companies proceeding to Poole, one to Wimborne, and one to Wareham, Corff Castle, &c.

In the end of February 1795, the second battalion of the 78th Highlanders, Lieut.-Colonel Alexander Mackenzie of Fairburn in command, embarked, under Major-General Craig, with a secret expedition. Major J. R. Mackenzie of Suddie, writing to Seaforth under date "Portsmouth, 4th March 1795," narrates the following unpleasant circumstance which happened on the day previous to embarkation:

"The orders for marching from Poole were so sudden that there was no time then for settling the men’s arrears. They were perfectly satisfied then, and expressed their utmost confidence in their officers, which continued until they marched into this infernal place. Here the publicans and some of the invalids persuaded the men that they were to be em barked without their officers, and that they would be sold, as well as lose their arrears. This operated so far on men who had never behaved ill before in a single instance, that they desired to have their accounts settled before they embarked. Several publicans and other villains in this place were guilty of the most atrocious conduct even on the parade, urging on the men to demand their rights, as they called it. Fairburn having some intimation of what was passing, and unwilling that it should come to any height, addressed the men, told them it was impossible to settle their accounts in the short time previous to embarkation, but that he had ordered a sum to be paid to each man nearly equal to the amount of their credit. This was all the publicans wanted, among whom the greatest part of the money rested. Next morning the men embarked in the best and quietest manner possible, and I believe they were most thoroughly ashamed of their conduct. I passed a most miserable time from receiving Fairburn’s letter in London till I came down here, when it had all ended so well; for well as I knew the inclinations of the men to have been, it was impossible to say how far they might have been misled.

"There is little doubt of the expedition being intended for the East. It is said the fleet is to run down the coast of Guinea, proceed to the Cape, which they hope to take by negotiation; but if unsuccessful, to go on to the other Dutch possessions."

The fleet sailed on the morning of Sunday the 1st of March. 1 major, 1 ensign, 4 sergeants, 1 drummer, and 124 privates were left behind; and the most of them, with others, were incorporated with the first battalion, on its amalgamation with the second battalion.

Holland having entirely submitted to France, as detailed in the record of the first battalion, and Britain being fully aware that submission to France became equivalent to a compulsory declaration of war against her, it behoved her to turn her attention to the Dutch colonies, which, from their promixity to India, would prove of immense importance to an enemy.

In June 1795 a British fleet under Sir G. Elphinstone arrived off the Cape, having Major-General Craig and the 78th Highlanders (second battalion) on board; and the commanders immediately entered into negotiations with Governor Slugsken for the cession of the colony to Great Britain in trust for the Stadtholder. A determination to resist the force having been openly expressed, the commanders determined to disembark their troops and occupy a position. Accordingly, the 78th and the Marines were landed at Simon’s Bay on the 14th, and proceeded to take possession of Simon’s Town without opposition. The Dutch were strongly posted in their fortified camp at Muysenberg, six miles on this side of Capetown; and accordingly a force of 800 seamen having been sent to co-operate with the troops on shore, the whole body moved to its attack; while the ships of the fleet, covering them from the sea, opened such a terrific fire upon the colonists that they fled precipitately. Muysenberg was taken on the 7th of August, and on the 9th a detachment arrived from St Helena with some field-pieces; but it was not till the 3rd of September, when Sir A. Clarke, at the head of three regiments, put into the bay, that an advance became practicable. Accordingly, the Dutch position at Wineberg was forced on the 14th, and on the 15th Capetown capitulated, the garrison marching out with the honours of war. Thus, after a two months campaign, during which they suffered severely from the unhealthiness of their situation, the scarcity of provisions, and the frequent night attacks of the enemy, this young battalion, whose conduct throughout had been exemplary in the highest degree, saw the object of the expedition accomplished, and the colony taken possession of in the name of his Britannic Majesty.

Under date "Cape of Good Hope, 19th September 1795," Lieut.-Colonel Alexander Mackenzie of Fairburn, commanding the second battalion of the 78th Higlanders, sends a long account of the transactions at the Cape to Lieut.-Colonel F. H. Mackenzie of Seaforth. We are sorry that our space permits us to give only the following extracts:

"I think if you will not be inclined to allow that the hardships have been so great, you will at all events grant that the comforts have been few, when I assure you that I have not had my clothes off for nearly nine weeks, nor my boots, except when I could get a dry pair to put on.

If the regiment is put on the East India establishment, which is supposed will be the case, it will be equally the same for you as if they were in India. I must observe it is fortunate for us that we are in a warm climate, as we are actually without a coat to put on; we are so naked that we can do no duty in town.

"I cannot tell you how much I am puzzled about clothing. The other corps have all two years’ clothing not made up, and I should not be surprised if this alone was to turn the scale with regard to their going to India. General Clarke advises me to buy cloth, but I fear putting you to expense; however, if the clothing does not come out in the first ship I shall be obliged to do something, but what, I am sure I don’t know. I hope your first battalion may come out, as there cannot be a more desirable quarter for the colonel or the regiment. We are getting into excellent barracks, and the regiment will soon get well of the dysentry and other complaints. They are now immensely rich and I shall endeavour to lay out their money properly for them. I shall bid you adieu by saying that I do not care how soon a good peace may be brought about. I think we have at last turned up a good trump card for you, and I daresay the Ministry will play the negotiating game as well."

In Capetown the regiment remained quartered until the arrival of the first battalion in June 1796.



Click your back button to return to previous page