Upon the disbandment of the two regiments in 1799, the new 93rd Regiment was recruited 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 and 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."
September 1800: Dispatched from Ft. George, via Aberdeen, to Guernsey. October 1800: Formally gazetted into the Army. February 1803: Dublin. Assist in quelling insurrection. Become very popular with the Irish people. "Kind & steady, yet decided conduct." July 1805: After fortnight aboard ship, orders to Jamaica canceled. August 1805: Sail for Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. 4 January 1806: Arrive at Table Bay. Form Highland Brigade with 71st & 72nd regiments. Other Brigade consists of 24th, 38th & 83rd. Objective: Recapture Cape Colony from the Dutch. 6 January 1806: Highland Brigade lands in Lospard Bay. 7 January 1806: Battle of Blauwberg Hills. Highlanders advance, fire one volley & charge. 3000 Dutch withdraw leaving 400 killed & wounded. 18 January 1806: Cape Colony surrenders. 93rd moves into garrison at Cape Castle. 1806–1814: At Cape. (1813): 2nd Battalion raised. Exists for 16 months. Garrisoned in Newfoundland. April 1814: Embark for Britain. 15 August 1814: Arrive at Plymouth, England. 17 September 1814: Embark for the American campaign. General Officer Commanding, Plymouth, orders 93rd to wear trews and hummel bonnets for the campaign. 8 December 1814: Anchor off Ship Island in the Gulf of Mexico. 23 December 1814: 93rd lands near New Orleans. Arrive in time to help turn flank of American surprise night attack.
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. They laid for 5 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 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 field to support the faltering right flank but is halted 100 yards from 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>
British losses were 2,000 and the 93rd contributed 300 to 550 to the number of killed, wounded and captured. On the 18–30 January the British withdraw downriver to their ships and embark. The British capture 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 brung news of preliminaries of peace at Ghent. Women & children of the 93rd were allowed ashore.
28 May 1815: Disembark at Cork, Ireland. Helped back to strength with men from disbanded 2nd Battalion. Various garrisons in Ireland. 3–8 November 1823: Embark at Cove of Cork for the West Indies. (In 8 years in Ireland, not one desertion.) December 1823 – 1834: Land at Barbados and over next years garrison various islands. 3 April 1834: Embark for England. Deaths in West Indies considerably below other regiments. 8 May 1834: Sent to Canterbury. 7 October 1834: New Colours presented to 93rd by the Duke of Wellington. Through 1835 various garrisons in Britain. 27–29 October 1835: Embark at Liverpool for Dublin, various Garrisons in Ireland. 6 & 23 January 1838: Sail in 2 divisions from Cork. 29 January & 5 March 1838: Arrive Halifax, Nova Scotia. Various garrisons in Canada. No.4 company through entire rebellion attached to 71st H.L.I. 16 November 1838: 93rd present at capture of The Windmill, held by brigands & rebels. 1 August 1848: Embark for Britain. 30 August 1848: Arrive Leith, Scotland. Disembark, proceed to Stirling Castle. Summer 1849: Guard of Honour for Queen Victoria. 5 April 1850: To Edinburgh. Subsequently various garrisons in Scotland and England. 27 February: Embark at Plymouth for Crimean Campaign.
1881 painting of the Thin Red Line by Robert Gibb depicting the 93rd Highlanders during the Battle of Balaclava in 1855.
The 93rd Sutherland Highlanders became famous for their 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. They took part in the storming of the height above the Alma River followed by a move to Sevastopol. On 25 October they were 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 a 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!"From the Argylls History[dead link]
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."From the Argylls History[dead link]
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.
31 October 1857: Reach Cawnpore. They see remains of slaughter done by mutineers on women & children. Cross the Ganges River. Arrive Oude, join column assembling for Lucknow.
1 November 1857: One company engaged in battle at Futtehpoor with large force of rebels.
2 November 1857: Grenadier and nos. 1, 3 & 4 companies engaged in attack on fortified village in Oude, Buntara. Drive enemy out.
11 November 1857: Brigaded with HQ of the 53rd, & the 84th, 90th, 1st Madras Fusiliers & 4th Punjab Rifles, brigade commanded by Lt. Col. Adrian hope of the 93rd.
14 November 1857: 2nd relief of Lucknow begins.
16 November 1857: Storming and taking of Secunder Bagh (a walled garden fortification). By heavy cannonade a breach is made and the 93rd rushes in under heavy fire, at the same time storming the main gate, with the 4th Punjab Infantry Regiment. Fierce hand to hand fighting for hours within the enclosure. By 3 pm, 2,000 Sepoy mutineers lie dead inside. Among first to enter is Lt. Col. Ewart. Six Victoria Crosses awarded to the 93rd for their actions on this day. Sir Colin then calls upon the 93rd to take the Shah Nujeef fortification.
17 November 1857: At daybreak the Regimental colour is uncased atop a tower as a signal to the beleaguered garrison in the Residency.
18–22 November 1857: Evacuation of Residency garrison, women, children, 1000 wounded, the King of Oude, and 250,000 pounds of government money. 93rd covers the retreat.
29 November – 6 December 1857: Battle for Cawnpore. Rebels routed. Next days spent clearing district around Lucknow.
1 February 1858: Advance again on Lucknow.
1 March 1858: Battle for Lucknow begins.
9 March 1858: 93rd and brigade storm the Martiniere. Bivouac in Secunder Baugh.
11 March 1858: Storm Kaiser Baugh. 5,000 Sepoy rebels vs. 800 of the 93rd. Fierce hand to hand combat for 4 hours. 93rd: 15 killed, 47 wounded. Mutineers: over 860 dead. Victoria Cross awarded to Lt. Wm McBean for killing 11 enemy in succession with his sword at the gate.
21 March 1858: After severe skirmishing and street fighting, Lucknow cleared & in possession of the British. 93rd proceeds to camp at Dilkoosha.
7 April 1858: Join 42nd, 79th, artillery, 9th Lancers, & some native units all under Brig-Gen. Walpole. "Old Highland Brigade" under command of Brig. the Hon. Adrian Hope, of the 93rd. Proceed toward Rohilcund.
16 April 1858: Encounter rebel mud fort, which opens fire. Highlanders & Punjab Rifles push forward, return fire. Adrian Hope killed. Force withdraws at sunset. Enemy escapes during night. Col. Hay, CB of the 93rd, takes command of Highland Brigade.
20 April 1858: Battle at village of Allahgunge. Enemy dispersed. Bt. Lt. Col. Ross takes command of 93rd.
30 April 1858: Arrive Bareilly. Army reinforced.
5 May 1858: Battle on plains east of Bareilly. Enemy retires.
7 May 1858: City of Bareilly taken.
17 October 1858: To Shajehanpore. Form brigade with 60th Royal Rifles & 66th Gurkhas.
19 October 1858: Army encounters rebels entrenched at village of Poosgawah & expel them. The column breaks up to pursue. Rebel cavalry appears in the rear, attacking baggage column & cutting up campfollowers. 12 sick of the 93rd turn out of their dhoolies & open fire, holding the rebels in check until arrival of Mooltanee cavalry which disperses enemy.
26 October 1858: Battle at Russellpore. Enemy driven from position & put to flight.
8 November 1858: Royal proclamation read, transferring the government of India from the East India Company to the Queen.
Through February 1859: Constantly employed under Gen. Troup hunting out rebels.
Through 1870, various garrisons and postings in India.
14 February 1870: To Bombay. Leave India after 12½ years.
28 March 1870: Disembark at Leith, Scotland. Welcomed home with unbounded enthusiasm after 19 years away.
15 June 1871: To Edinburgh. One company left at Ballater as Guard of Honour to the Queen. Another at Aberdeen, at Ft. George, and at Greenlaw.
4 August 1871: Presented new colours by the Duchess of Sutherland.
April 1872: At direction of the Queen, NCO'S & men issued "soft" tartan kilts & plaids, as the old "hard" tartan cut their knees.
11 May 1873: City of Edinburgh gives public farewell festivities for the 93rd.
12 May 1873: March through crowds of admirers & pass 91st Argyllshire Highlanders on their way to replace the 93rd.
July 1881, the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders were 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.
There was also a long tradition of familial service within the regiment. The regiment recruited heavily from Sutherland and Caithness. Prior to amalgamation, there were no more than a dozen family names in the ranks as opposed to the 91st Highlanders who had 323 Irishmen and 501 Englishmen in its ranks.
Early in the regiment's history, it was common to see the regiment parade with a pet deer. The first deer was the pet for Sergeant Samuel Macdonald.
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