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|93rd Regiment of Foot|
|March||The Thin Red Line
The Campbell March
|Sir Colin Campbell|
The 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot was a Line Infantry Regiment of the British Army. In 1881, during the Childers Reforms, it was united with the 91st (Argyllshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot to form the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's).
The regiment was raised three times (as the Sutherland Fencibles) before it became the Sutherland Highlanders.
The 93rd Regiment was recruited in 1799 from the recently disbanded Sutherland Fencibles by their old colonel William Wemyss, at this time a Major General in the British Army, on behalf of his 16-year-old cousin Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland. Wemyss had the remaining volunteers from all over Sutherland lined up by parish, selected those he thought most suitable and issued each of these a pinch of snuff, a dram of whisky and their bounty money. When the regiment first mustered, in Strathnaver in August 1800, not a single man selected by Wemyss failed to report. There is a cairn at Skail, in Strathnaver, marking the spot where this muster took place.
One of the soldiers who had served with the Fencibles and then with the 93rd was Sergeant Samuel Macdonald. Sergeant Macdonald was reputed to be a veritable giant, standing six feet ten inches and a chest measuring 48 inches. A one time actor, being cast in a Drury Lane production of Cymon and Imphigenia as Hercules, Macdonald served in the 3rd Sutherland Fencibles as a sergeant of the Colonel's company. With the raising of the 93rd, he volunteered for the new regiment, being accepted by Wemyss. Countess Sutherland, upon seeing Sergeant Macdonald, donated a special allowance of 2 shillings 6 pence a day. She is reported to have said that anyone as large as Sergeant Macdonald "must require more sustenance than his military pay can afford."
On 28 December 1814, the British advanced up the left bank of the Mississippi River towards New Orleans. The 93rd Highlanders came under fire 750 yards from Andrew Jackson's parapet, from the defenders and from a schooner on the river. The men laid for five hours in the rain, sleet and bombardment until the British pulled back. On 1 January 1815, the British attempted a reconnaissance in force during which torrential rain bogs down the advance of the artillery and the troops. The left flank of the Americans was routed, but this went unperceived by British until it was too late in the day to take advantage.
The final British assault took place on 8 January. The British had some early success, but mistakes and bad luck accumulated. The American position on the right bank of river was overrun and captured while on the left bank, the American advance redoubt was taken by detachment of light infantry companies including that of the 93rd. Soon, the British right flank assault faltered. The 93rd aborted support of the captured redoubt and crossed the field to support the faltering right flank, but is halted 100 yards from the parapet. When Lt. Col. Dale was killed, there were no orders to either advance or withdraw so that the 93rd stood fast and was mown down. General Edward Pakenham was also killed. Orders were finally received and, after futile attempt to advance, the 93rd withdrew from the field.
The "immense bravery" shown by the 93rd in this advance was noted by the American Paul Wellman, General Jackson's biographer:
To the very edge of the canal before the rampart the few that were left of the kilted regiment marched, then halted there. The men who had been detailed to bring scaling ladders and fascines had failed to come up. Unable to go forward, too proud to retreat, although the regiment behind them had all fallen back. At length a mere handful of what had been the magnificent regiment slowly retired, still in unbroken order, still turning to face the foe. From the ramparts the Americans cheered them wildly. All rifle fire ceased. - The Thin Red Line, Regimental Journal, January 1968
(It must be noted the 93rd was NOT in kilts for this campaign, having been ordered by GOC Plymouth before embarking to sew the new tartan issue into trousers.)
British losses were 2,000 and the 93rd contributed 300 to 550 to the number of killed, wounded and captured. On 18–30 January, the British withdraw downriver to their ships to embark. The British captured Ft. Bowyer outside Mobile, Alabama on 11 February. The 93rd and others landed on Dauphin Island outside Mobile Bay. Finally, on 13 February, a Sloop-of-War brought news of preliminaries of peace at Ghent and women and children of the 93rd were allowed ashore.
The 93rd Sutherland Highlanders became famous for its actions during the Crimean War. The regiment was sent to the Crimea in 1854, after war broke out against Russia, as part of Colin Campbell's Highland Brigade. It took part in the storming of the height above the Alma River followed by a move to Sevastopol. On 25 October, it was stationed outside the British-controlled port of Balaklava as part of its very thin defences. The Russian Army sent a massive force to attack Balaklava, the Russian force had an advantage of 25,000 soldiers; but only their massed cavalry pushed right forward down the road to Balaklava. Part of this threat was parried by the immortal charge of General Scarlett's Heavy Cavalry Brigade.
|“||The rest, a formidable mass, swept on to charge the 93rd drawn up in line, two deep. "There is no retreat from here, men," Campbell told them as he rode down the line, "you must die where you stand." And the reply of John Scott, the right-hand man, was taken up by them all: "Ay, Sir Colin. An needs be, we'll do that." They fired two volleys and the cavalry charge split in half, galloping to right and left and finally into full retreat. Some of the younger soldiers started excitedly forward for a bayonet charge, but Sir Colin called out, "93rd, 93rd, damn all that eagerness!".||”|
|“||The Times correspondent, W. H. Russell, who standing on the hills above could clearly see that nothing stood between the Russian cavalry and the defenceless British base but the "thin red streak tipped with a line of steel" of the 93rd. Condensed almost immediately into "The Thin Red Line", the phrase has survived to this day as the chosen symbol of everything for which The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders believe themselves to stand.
Asked why he had been so unorthodox as to receive a cavalry charge in line instead of in a square. Sir Colin Campbell said; "I knew the 93rd, and I did not think it worth the trouble of forming a square."
A more staid historical author, Thomas Carter, also gave due credit. In describing the engagement, he wrote "Advancing in great strength, supported by artillery, the Russian cavalry appeared on the scene. One portion of them assailed the front and right flank of the 93rd., but were instantly driven back by the vigorous and steady fire of that distinguished regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Ainslie." Col. William Bernard Ainslie was made a Companion of Bath (C.B.) for his leadership during the campaign.
July 1881, the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders was united with the 91st (Argyllshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot to form the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Princess Louise's (Sutherland and Argyll Highlanders), later renamed Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's) . The traditions and character of the 93rd remained so strong that members of the 2nd Battalion would continue to refer to themselves as the 93rd right up until that battalions move in to suspended animation in 1947. For ten years a clumsy arrangement of the 1st and 2nd Battalions receding and taking front place with each other continued until the Colonel charged the 1st Battalion (old 91st) with absorbing and embodying the traditions of the 93rd.
Like most British regiments, the 93rd Highlanders developed its own traditions and character, some of which survived amalgamations. The 93rd Highlanders were reputed to be the most religious regiment in the British Army, outdoing even the Cameronians, who were originally formed from religious zealots. The regiment formed its own parish, with ministers and elders chosen from the ranks by the ranks. Two sergeants, two corporals, and two privates would be elected to serve as elders. The regiment was also said to be the only regiment with its own regular communion plate.
The 93rd Sutherland Highlander Regiment is known for being the “Thin Red Line” of the British Army at the Battle of Balaclava in 1854. But the most important characteristic that set them apart as a regiment was a religious spirit. There was a large majority both of officers and men came from native Gaelic speaker’s area of Sutherland, assembled in the traditions of the family, clan and parish, In terms of tradition, no more than six families’ worship was not regularly kept both morning and evening. In addition, “The early training of the Highlander was round home fireside, he was taught to revere parents and ancestors, to be faithful to trust, to despise danger, to be respectful to superiors, to fear God and honour the King.” At that period, not many soldiers had well educated to recognize literatures, but the 93rd was amazing in that nearly every man could read and write. Nearly each soldier had his own Bible - often having been given to him by his family, and were therefore untied by a common bond of love for the highland homes they had left, and such a link between all ranks was bound to produce a magnificent spirit in a Regiment. It made the Regiment a spiritual family more than a bravery regiment. The Regiment had its own missionary fund, a regimental library, and a fund to support for widows and orphans of deceased soldiers. Whatever a man left the Regiment from sickness, wound or hurt it was the custom to subscribe a day’s pay a man as a presentation on quitting them. Also about 500 men regularly received the Sacrament from 750 men. Away from home and their local church service so often, the 93rd men launched its own officially recognized congregation of the Church of Scotland at Foreign Service. The first Free Church Communion Service ever held in South Africa was with the forefather of this church, of the 90 foundation members, all about 27 were soldiers with the 93rd Regiment of Sutherland Highlanders. In 1813, the first free English Speaking Church was established at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. It normally considers the Cape Town Congregational Church began as a soldiers’ church. The example showed a remarkable sign of moral and religious influence and Christian charity of the 93rd regimental religious respect. There were also other Scottish regiments had Christian respect, but the 93rd is the unique one known to had its own Church and Communion Plate.
Meanwhile, the Regiment started meetings for studying the Scriptures and for prayers, to enjoy the advantages of spiritual instruction agreeably to the tenets of their national Church. At this time, the Regiment only had useof the services of a member of the Church of England, therefore the Regiment decided to engage a clergyman of the Church of Scotland to officiate as chaplain. In 1813, the men of the “93rd”, saw fit to purchase their own communion silver, and to hire their own Chaplain, the Rev. G. Thom, a Scottish missionary working in South Africa---the English speakers among them, and appointed as Elders 2 Sergeants, 2 Corporals and 2 Privates; also came together to assist their civilian brethren in establishing an English speaking church in Cape Town.. They also edited two large Regimental Bibles---one in English and the other in Gaelic. Comparing with the Regimental poor salary’s payment, it costed considerable sums of money—as much as five hundred pounds at one time- these were sacrificial acts of love for Christ, In a soldier’s diary, it shows a touched religious impression as below:“They were standing on the stairs leading to the gallery, sitting on the window sills, standing in the aisles, sitting on the pulpit stairs, and, indeed, listening outside the windows, and even then there was not room enough, as the front door was literally besieged by people anxious to obtain an entrance. But they had to be turned away. And that crowd for at least an hour and a half silently sat and stood entranced while the eminent Bishop declaimed on the eternal punishment of the impenitent soul; and no one could handle that subject better than him. The silence had been so intense on the part of listeners that at the end of the discourse there was a great sigh of relief；and the subject formed food for discussion for some days. Of course, the critics took it up, and the newspapers challenged the Bishop on certain points, but he would not be drawn into their net. He knew their purpose was only to increase the circulation of their papers by sensational discussion. On account of the numbers who could not obtain admission, and also for the benefit of the Mission, he had the sermon published in pamphlet form and sold for one anna each （equal to a penny）. Naturally this experience made a great impression on my mind, and was the means of creating solemn thoughts on religious questions, which ultimately led to a decide stand for the better.”
It was the 93rd regiment's men themselves who took its church life as seriously as they did when stationed at some place of foreign service. The men of Regiment were so much under the influence of moral and religious feeling that crime was almost unknown amongst them, and, as a compliment to their good behavior, the presence of the Regiment at parade for the infliction of corporal punishment upon any soldier of the garrison was always dispensed with, while all other corps were obliged to attend. From the Sutherland’s creation in 1799 to 1839, they had not seen any corporal punishment for thirty-two of those years, and in most of them, “not a single man was punished for anything”. In an era when flogging was common, if not routine, in most other regiments, this fact stood out. The authorities were well aware of the Sutherland men’s morality; at one point high-ranking officers considered splitting up the 93rd so that their influence could be distributed to more unruly regiments. Thankfully for the men, they were allowed to stay together, regiment and kirk in one.
However, there were some challenges on the Regimental religious life. In 1843, the 93rd was in Canada. During its time there, the commanding officer Lt. Colonel Spark “actively threatened” soldiers, and refused to promote a soldier, William McBean, who had earned the honour. Spark was not picking up a rebellious spirit from the rebels he had come to quell, nor was he power-hungry. 1843 was a year of “major upset in Highland battalion religious life…the formation of the Free Church of Scotland”. This may seem like a minor issue. It was not for the 93rd. Lt. Colonel Spark was refusing to promote McBean on the grounds that he was a “Free Kirker”; the other men he threatened were attending Free Church services, and Spark was trying to put a stop to it. This religious split made a lasting division in the brigade, half going to the old denomination’s services, half to the new. Strangely, the authorities allowed this religious split, McBean was promoted, and both Old Kirkers and Free Kirkers were able to tolerate each other’s convictions, at least outwardly. In addition, the 93rd’s Brigadier Sir Colin Campbell, knowing their religious fervour, love for each other, and desire to be blameless before God and men, threatened them before a critical battle with these words: “Now men, you are going into action…No soldier must go carrying off wounded men. If any soldier does such a thing, his name shall be stuck up in his parish church.” With this unusual disgrace looming in front of them, all men obeyed. 
Fortunately, the negative religious pressure did not go on a long time, with the tradition of the Kirk of the 93rd continuing, the Battalion took over the Garrison Church here in Edinburgh, which is situated just at the rear of Redford Barracks, as its Regimental Kirk. The life of Kirk has proved as lively as ever with the founding of a Sunday school which has grown in strength under the leadership of Lady Fiona Campbell, the wife of Major Campbell, B Coy. A Children’s Choir was formed to lead the praise at the Sunday Service and was thought by all to be a great success. Some regimental families had children baptized on Sunday Service. The kirk also welcomed local Scouts and Bownies’ and the “Argyll” children from Royal Caledonian Schools, to a family service. The offerings from the Sunday Service was donated to a number of worthy charities including Erskme Hospital and Quarriers Homes.
The men of Regiment were so much under the influence of moral and religious feeling, they encouraged fellow soldiers to respect authority, to live uprightly, and to fight knowing that God would direct the battle. Men of the 93rd fought for God, their families and the Empire. In a phrase, they displayed a Protestant war ethic. They remain a pattern for men today – men serving not only as soldiers, but for any man eager to utilize his time, money, and actions to speak for Christ in an embattled world.
Battle hours won by the regiment were:
Colonels of the Regiment were: