Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
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The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Scottish regiment shown in the Thin Red Line and other battlescene military prints, published by Cranston Fine Arts.
ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
The regiment was formed in 1794, as the 98th Argyllshire Highlanders, changing in 1809 to the 91st of foot, the 93rd Highlanders were formed in 1799, and in 1881 both of these Regiments became the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Princess Louise's Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
Victoria Cross Awards
16 Victoria Crosses were awarded to members of the regiment. 7 during the Indian Mutiny, 6 during World war One, 2 during World war two, and 1 during the Korean War.
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History of the Argyll and
Sutherland Highlanders, during the reign of Queen Victoria. The double name given to this regiment indicates
its origin. The 1st
battalion was the late 91st of the Line, or Argylshire, and
its 2nd the 93rd, or Sutherland Highlanders.
The former was raised in 1794 as a kilted regiment,
with the Campbell tartan; white epaulettes and yellow facings were worn;
and it was first numbered the 98th, but in 1798 this was
altered to its recent designation, the 91st.
Its first service was at the capture of Cape Town
by Sir Alured Clarke, in 1795, when it does not appear to have worn
either kilt or tartan, but the national costume was partly resumed on
its return to England in 1803.
It was during the voyage home that one of the
regimental heirlooms was acquired.
For a narwhal having charged the transport, and left its bony
snout in the ship’s side, this was eventually removed, and converted
into the sergeant-major’s official walking stick, decorated with a
series of gold plates, eight in number, bearing the names of the
principal Peninsular battles in which the regiment served.
A second battalion, formed in 1804, served at Bergen-op-Zoom in
1813, but was shortly afterwards disbanded.
The other battalion shared in the Peninsula
campaign from 1807 to 1809, being present at Obidos and Vimiera under
Wellesley, and at Corunna under Moore, while detachments served at
Oporto and Talavera. The
bulk of the regiment joined the Walcheren expedition, at which period
the standard for recruits was first fixed at 5 feet 4 inches; and after
losing many men by sickness it returned to England, to be transferred
again to the Peninsula, where it remained
till 1814, taking part in the battles of Vittoria, Saurauren,
Nivelles, Nive, Bayonne, Orthes, and Toulouse.
Though it landed in Belgium for the Waterloo campaign, it took no
part in the great fight, as it was detailed to guard the lines of
communication. In 1822 the
coatee took the place of the regimental jacket, and this lasted until
the introduction of the tunic; but in 1864 its original Highland title
was restored, and it became a trewed regiment, the costume being added
to a little later by the blue patrol jacket for the officers, and a red
serge frock of the Stewart pattern for the men.
Finally it was reconverted into a kilted regiment, and received
its present title.
Meanwhile it had seen its most prolonged and
arduous service at the Cape, where, with a “Reserve Battalion”,
raised in 1842 and incorporated with the first in 1857, the regiment
served for twenty years.
It was unfortunate in its sea voyages.
The “Reserve Battalion” went ashore in the Abercrombie
Robinson, and a detachment of the 91st was wrecked on
board the Birkenhead in 1852.
In both cases the superb discipline of the regiment was
evidenced; and, in the latter case, the noble bravery of the men in
preferring to go down with the ship rather than endanger the safety of
the boats, already over laden with women and children, sheds a lustre not
only the history of the regiment, but that of the whole army of the
State. Out of 631 souls
only 193 were saved.
Among the interesting if unwarlike duties it has
had to undertake during this time may be mentioned that some of its
companies were present at the exhumation of the remains of Napoleon I at
St Helena in 1840.
It was mixed up in the disturbances between Boers
and Griquas as far back as 1843, and then shared during the first Kaffir
War in the dangerous operation in the Amatolas and the Waterkloof.
In one of these small campaigns alone it marched 1,200 miles.
For these services it bears the names of “South Africa,
1846-47”, as well as of “South Africa, 1851-52-53”, on its colours, to which it added later “South Africa, 1879”, for its work
during the Zulu campaign, where it took part in the actions of
Ghinghilovo and Ekowe. Its
only other foreign service before this last was in the operations
against the Rohillas in 1859.
Before the 2nd battalion, formerly known
as the 93rd or Sutherland Highlanders, was called into being,
a regiment of “Sutherland Fencibles” had appeared, to be disbanded
in 1798. It was not until
1800 that “Major General Wemyss’ regiment of Infantry was formed”.
Neither battalion of the regiment seems to have
been much favoured by the sea, for in the first expedition of the 93rd
to the Cape, in 1805, it lost thirty five men by the upsetting of a boat
in Lospard bay. For the
battle of Blauwe Mountains and the surrender of the colony it earned the
first name for the regimental list of honours, viz., “Cape of Good
Hope, 1806”. Its career in South Africa was uneventful until 1814, when it
returned to England, to proceed at once with the expedition to New
Orleans, where, in the attempt to storm the works, it lost 584 men, and
the attack failed.
A second battalion was raised in the same year, but
disappeared after less than two years’ life.
This regiment’s last active service was in the Umbeyla campaign.
The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders is the only
infantry regiment of the Line that bears “Balaklava” on its colours.
Their gallantry in the battle when the “thin red line”
received the charge of the Russian cavalry – a formation to meet the
mounted arm unprecedented up to that time in the annals of war – has
been already referred to, and the name of “the thin red line” is the
only recorded nickname – save probably the “Rory’s” – the old
93rd have had. It
is also stated, that though the first “king’s colour” is retained,
framed and glazed, the regimental colour carried with it has
explains this by asserting that when Colonel Dale of the regiment was
mortally wounded before Orleans in 1814 he made the request that he
should be buried wrapped in one of the colours, and his wish was
Like other Scotch regiments, the scarlet uniform is
faced with yellow, and the kilt is of Sutherland tartan. The badges are quaint; a myrtle wreath interlaced with one of
butcher’s broom, the former surrounding a boar’s head with “Ne
Obliviscaris”, and within
the other a cat with the scroll “Sans peur”, the whole linked
together with a label of three points, and crowned by the coronet of H.
R. H. the Princess Louise, is worn on the button.
The tunic collar has the same without the crown.
The head dress plate bears a thistle wreath, within it is the
regimental title on a small scroll within the double cipher crown of the
Princess Louise; the boar’s head and cat are borne on either side.
The feather bonnet has a white feather and a scarlet and white
diced border. The 91st
regiment, or the Princess Louise’s Argyllshire Highlanders, were
shortly after the marriage of the Princess “commanded” by the Queen
to “always march past (in quick time) to their pipers”,
The 3rd and 4th Militia Battalions are the Highland Borderers Militia, formed in 1803, and the Royal Renfrew in 1798. The latter was embodied until 1816 and again in 1855, having “invariably been kept to its establishment, and given a great many officers and men to the regular army, notably during the Peninsular and Crimean Wars”. There are seven Volunteer Battalions attached : the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Renfrew, 1859-60; the 1st Stirling, the 1st Argyll, the 1st Dumbarton, and the 1st Clackmannan, 1859, and Kinross. All these wear a scarlet uniform with the national facings, except the second, which has blue facings. The regimental depot is at Stirling.
Extract from "The British Army and Auxiliary Forces" Colonel C. Cooper King, R.M.A. , 1894
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