93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot

The 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot was a Line Infantry Regiment of the British Army, raised in 1799. Under the Childers Reforms, it amalgamated with the 91st (Argyllshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot to form the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

93rd Regiment of Foot
Country Kingdom of Great Britain (1799–1800)
 United Kingdom (1801–1881)
Branch British Army
SizeOne battalion (two battalions 1813–1816)
Garrison/HQCastlehill Barracks, Aberdeen
MarchThe Thin Red Line
Highland Laddie
The Campbell March
EngagementsNapoleonic Wars
War of 1812
Crimean War
Indian Rebellion


General William Wemyss
General William Wemyss, founder of the regiment, circle of Sir Henry Raeburn


The regiment was raised from the Sutherland Fencibles by Major-General William Wemyss on behalf of the Countess of Sutherland as the 93rd (Highland) Regiment of Foot on 16 April 1799.[1] The first muster of the regiment took place at Skail in Strathnaver in August 1800.[2] One of the soldiers who attended the muster was Sergeant Samuel Macdonald, a soldier who stood six feet ten inches tall and had a chest measuring 48 inches. The Countess of Sutherland, on seeing Sergeant Macdonald, donated a special allowance of 2 shillings 6 pence a day, and stated that anyone as large as Macdonald "must require more sustenance than his military pay can afford."[3] According to historian James Hunter, at a time when the Duke of Wellington who was the British military's most eminent commander could describe his soldiers as "the very scum of the earth" who were eked out of precarious livelihoods on the outermost margins of urban society, the Highlanders of the 93rd Regiment of Foot, were, by contrast, described as "the children of respectable farmers"; "connected by strong ties of neighborhood and even of relationship"; "a sort of family corps".[4] Hunter also noted that in an era when military order was customarily maintained by regular floggings, one Sutherland Highlander company went nineteen years without having a single man punished.[4] Thus it transpired that the 93rd were a "highly valued, picture of military discipline and moral rectitude".[4]

Napoleonic Wars

Battle of New Orleans, Jean Hyacinthe de Laclotte
The Battle of New Orleans, January 1815, by Jean Hyacinthe de Laclotte of the Louisiana Militia

The regiment was dispatched from Fort George to Guernsey in September 1800.[5] It returned to Scotland in September 1802[6] from where it was deployed to Dublin in February 1803 to assist in quelling an insurrection.[6] It was ordered to embark for Jamaica in July 1805 but, after fortnight aboard ship, the orders were canceled and the regiment sailed for the Cape of Good Hope.[6] It arrived at Table Bay in January 1806 and joined the Highland Brigade which landed at Lospard Bay with orders to capture Cape Colony from the Dutch forces there.[7] The regiment took part in the Battle of Blaauwberg which led to the surrender of the Dutch forces a few days later.[8] It remained in the colony until April 1814 when it embarked for home.[9]

A second battalion was raised in Inverness in May 1813.[1] The 2nd Battalion was deployed to Newfoundland in April 1814[9] but embarked for home in October 1815[10] and was disbanded the following year.[1]

Meanwhile, the 1st battalion embarked for North America in September 1814 for service in the War of 1812.[11] It anchored at the entrance of Lake Borgne off the Gulf of Mexico in December 1814[12] and then advanced up the left bank of the Mississippi River towards New Orleans. It came under fire from an American armed schooner on the river and destroyed it.[13] The regiment next saw action at the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815.[14] British troops overran and captured the American position on the right bank of river while, on the left bank where the main assault occurred, a detachment of light infantry companies including that of the 93rd Regiment of Foot, captured the advance redoubt on the American right beside the river. However, the British assault on the left bank faltered and General John Keane led the main body of the 93rd Regiment of Foot diagonally across the field to support the faltering British right flank attack near the swamp. Following the death of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Dale, the regiment's commanding officer, no orders were issued either to advance or to withdraw so the regiment stood fast and was mown down.[15] General John Lambert having taken command upon the death of General Edward Pakenham finally sent orders to withdraw and after a futile attempt to advance the regiment withdrew from the field. The "immense bravery" shown by the 93rd in this advance was noted by the American Paul Wellman, General Andrew 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.[16]

The 1st Battalion embarked for home and disembarked at Cork in Ireland in May 1815.[10]

The Canadian rebellion

The regiment embarked for the West Indies in November 1823.[17] It was based in Barbados until February 1826 when it moved to Antigua and Saint Kitts.[17] It embarked for home again in April 1834.[18] New colours were presented to the regiment by the Duke of Wellington in October 1834.[19] The regiment then moved to Dublin in October 1835.[20] It embarked to Canada in January 1838 to service in the Patriot War:[21] it landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in March 1838[22] and saw action at the Battle of the Windmill in November 1838.[23] It remained in Canada until embarking for home in August 1848.[24]

The Crimean War

93rd officers in the Crimea - photo
An early photo, taken at Scutari, of officers and men of the 93rd Highland Regiment, shortly before their engagement in the Crimean War, 1854.
Robert Gibb - The Thin Red Line
1881 painting The Thin Red Line by Robert Gibb, depicting the 93rd Highlanders during the Battle of Balaclava in October 1854.

The regiment arrived at Stirling Castle in October 1848 and provided a Guard of Honour for Queen Victoria on her visit to Glasgow in August 1849.[25] It embarked for the Crimea for service in the Crimean War in February 1854.[26] As part of Brigadier-General Colin Campbell's Highland Brigade, it took part in the Battle of Alma in September 1854.[27] On 25 October 1854, it was stationed outside the British-controlled port of Balaklava as part of its very thin defences. The Russian Army sent a large force to attack Balaklava, precipitating the Battle of Balaclava.[28] The Russian threat was countered in part by the charge of General James Scarlett's Heavy Cavalry Brigade but the rest of the Russian force headed straight for the 93rd Regiment of Foot.[29]

Campbell told the men of the 93rd Regiment of Foot as he rode down the line: "There is no retreat from here, men...you must die where you stand." One of the troops, John Scott, responded: "Aye, Sir Colin. An needs be, we'll do that." As the younger soldiers moved forward for a bayonet charge, Campbell called out: "93rd, 93rd, damn all that eagerness!"[30] The Times journalist W.H.Russell commenting on the action reported:

The Russians dash at the Highlanders. The ground flies beneath their horses' feet; gathering speed at every stride, they dash on towards that thin red streak topped with a line of steel.[31]

This led to the regiment's nickname: "The Thin Red Line".[30] The historical author, Thomas Carter, 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 [William Bernard] Ainslie.[32]

The regiment also took part in the Siege of Sevastopol in June 1855[33] before embarking for home in June 1856.[34]

The Indian rebellion

Image-Secundra Bagh after Indian Mutiny higher res
Interior of the Sikandar Bagh after the slaughter of 2,000 rebels by the 93rd Highlanders and 4th Punjab Regiment in November 1857
93rd Sutherland Highlanders Memorial
Regimental memorial for the Indian Mutiny in St. Giles High Kirk, Edinburgh
William McBean VC
William McBean, V.C

The regiment sailed for India in June 1857 to help suppress the Indian Rebellion.[35] It arrived at Calcutta in September 1857 and was welcomed by General Sir Colin Campbell.[36] Under heavy enemy fire, the regiment, together with the 4th Punjab Infantry Regiment took part in the storming and capture of Sikandar Bagh, a walled garden fortification, on 16 November 1857.[37] Six Victoria Crosses were awarded to members of the regiment for their service in this action.[38][39][40] At daybreak on 17 November 1857 the Regimental colour was hoisted on top of a tower as a signal to the beleaguered garrison of the Residency at Lucknow.[41] On the night of 19 November 1857 the regiment provided covering fire as the evacuation of the Residency took place.[42] The regiment then saw action again at the Second Battle of Cawnpore in December 1857.[43]

The regiment also took part in the storming and capture of Kaiser Bagh in March 1858:[44] a Victoria Cross was awarded to Lieutenant William McBean for his role in killing eleven rebels with his sword during the engagement.[45] It went on to take part in the capture of the city of Bareilly in May 1858[46] and a skirmish at Russulpore in October 1858.[47] It was renamed the 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot in 1861[1] before embarking for home in February 1870.[48] The regiment disembarked at Burntisland in March 1870[49] and received new colours from the Duchess of Sutherland in August 1871.[50] It moved to Curragh Camp in Ireland in May 1877[51] and to Gibraltar in January 1879.[52]


As part of the Cardwell Reforms of the 1870s, where single-battalion regiments were linked together to share a single depot and recruiting district in the United Kingdom, the 93rd was linked with the 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) Regiment of Foot, and assigned to district no. 56 at Castlehill Barracks in Aberdeen.[53] On 1 July 1881 the Childers Reforms came into effect and the regiment amalgamated with the 91st (Argyllshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot to form the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.[1]

Regimental Religious Traditions

The 93rd Regiment of Foot was regarded as the most religious regiment in the British Army. It formed its own parish, with ministers and elders chosen from the ranks by the ranks. Two sergeants, two corporals, and two privates were elected to serve as elders. The regiment was also said to be the only regiment with its own regular communion plate.[54]

Stone Cross From The Church At Kadikoi: The church was situated above the harbour at Balaklava and was the location chosen by Surgeon William Munro of the 93rd to establish a hospital. As a medical facility, it was admired for the general state of its cleanliness and efficiency, a testament to Munro’s knowledge of medicine and medical practises. This photograph from the 1850’s which shows the church, tents and wooden huts nearby.

Stone Cross From The Church At Kadikoi
Photograph of church

Silver Communion Plate and Chalce, inscibed “Church 93rd Regt Sutherland Highlanders, Cape1813.” Both pieces were purchased in South Africa by the ordinary soldiers of the 93rd. They were used during the Communion service to distribute bread and wine. Originally the chalice had a lid but this was lost during the Second World War. Both the plate and chalice were continued to be used by the Regiment up until the late 20th century when copies were made and the original communion set given over to The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Museum. The copies were then used during Regimental Kirk service.

Silver Communion Plate
Silver Communion Chalce

Battle honours

Battle hours won by the regiment were:[1]

Victoria Crosses

Colonels of the Regiment

Colonels of the Regiment were:[1]

93rd (Highland) Regiment of Foot
93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot - (1861)

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot". regiments.org. Archived from the original on 24 May 2006. Retrieved 12 August 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  2. ^ "Monument: 93rd Sutherland Highlanders Memorial, Skail". Highland Council. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  3. ^ McElwee, p. 6.
  4. ^ a b c Hunter, p. 146
  5. ^ Burgoyne, p. 4
  6. ^ a b c Burgoyne, p. 6
  7. ^ Burgoyne, p. 8
  8. ^ Burgoyne, p. 9
  9. ^ a b Burgoyne, p. 21
  10. ^ a b Burgoyne, p. 52
  11. ^ Burgoyne, p. 24
  12. ^ Burgoyne, p. 26
  13. ^ Burgoyne, p. 27
  14. ^ Burgoyne, p. 29
  15. ^ Burgoyne, p. 30
  16. ^ The Thin Red Line, Regimental Journal, January 1968
  17. ^ a b Burgoyne, p. 54
  18. ^ Burgoyne, p. 56
  19. ^ Burgoyne, p. 58
  20. ^ Burgoyne, p. 69
  21. ^ Burgoyne, p. 72
  22. ^ Burgoyne, p. 73
  23. ^ Burgoyne, p. 78
  24. ^ Burgoyne, p. 83
  25. ^ Burgoyne, p. 88
  26. ^ Burgoyne, p. 94
  27. ^ Burgoyne, p. 102
  28. ^ Burgoyne, p. 111
  29. ^ Greenwood, ch. 8
  30. ^ a b "Overview, "The Thin Red Line" Balaklava, 1854". The Argylls. Archived from the original on 4 September 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  31. ^ Royle, p. 268
  32. ^ Carter, p. 31
  33. ^ Burgoyne, p. 131
  34. ^ Burgoyne, p. 150
  35. ^ Burgoyne, p. 162
  36. ^ Burgoyne, p. 163
  37. ^ Regimental History of the 4th Battalion 13th Frontier Force Rifles (Wilde's), anonymous author, Central Library of RMA Sandhurst, pp.20–23
  38. ^ "No. 22212". The London Gazette. 24 December 1858. p. 5514.
  39. ^ "No. 22212". The London Gazette. 24 December 1858. p. 5515.
  40. ^ "No. 22445". The London Gazette. 8 November 1860. p. 4126.
  41. ^ Burgoyne, p. 192
  42. ^ Burgoyne, p. 194
  43. ^ Burgoyne, p. 230
  44. ^ Burgoyne, p. 256
  45. ^ "No. 22212". The London Gazette. 24 December 1858. p. 5515.
  46. ^ Burgoyne, p. 269
  47. ^ Burgoyne, p. 273
  48. ^ Burgoyne, p. 318
  49. ^ Burgoyne, p. 326
  50. ^ Burgoyne, p. 329
  51. ^ Burgoyne, p. 349
  52. ^ Burgoyne, p. 352
  53. ^ "Training Depots". Regiments.org. Archived from the original on 10 February 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  54. ^ Farwell, p. 33


Further reading

  • Cavendish, Brigadier General A.E.J. (1828). An Reisimeid Chataich, The 93rd Sutherland Highlanders. Published Privately.
  • Groves, Lieutenant-Colonel Percy (1895). History of the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders: Now the 2nd Battalion Princess Louise's Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders: Cape of Good Hope, Alma, Balaclava, Sevastopol, Lucknow, 1800-1895. W. & A.K. Johnston, Edinburgh & London.
  • Monroe, Surgeon-General (1883). Reminiscences of Military Service with the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders. London.

External links

1800 in Scotland

Events from the year 1800 in Scotland.

1857 in Scotland

Events from the year 1857 in Scotland.

91st (Argyllshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot

The 91st (Argyllshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot was a Line Regiment of the British Army, raised in 1794. Under the Childers Reforms it amalgamated with the 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot to form the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in 1881.

92nd (Gordon Highlanders) Regiment of Foot

The 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) Regiment of Foot was a British Army infantry regiment, raised in 1794. Under the Childers Reforms it amalgamated with the 75th (Stirlingshire) Regiment of Foot to form the Gordon Highlanders in 1881.

93rd Regiment of Foot (disambiguation)

Four regiments of the British Army have been numbered the 93rd Regiment of Foot:

93rd Regiment of Foot (1760), raised in 1760

93rd Regiment of Foot (1780), raised in 1780

93rd Regiment of Foot (1793), raised in 1793

93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot, raised in 1799

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's) was a line infantry regiment of the British Army that existed from 1881 until amalgamation into the Royal Regiment of Scotland on 28 March 2006.

The regiment was created under the Childers Reforms in 1881, as the Princess Louise's (Sutherland and Argyll Highlanders), by the amalgamation of the 91st (Argyllshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot and 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot, amended the following year to reverse the order of the "Argyll" and "Sutherland" sub-titles. The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders was expanded to fifteen battalions during the First World War (1914–1918) and nine during the Second World War (1939–1945). The 1st Battalion served in the 1st Commonwealth Division in the Korean War and gained a high public profile for its role in Aden during 1967.

As part of the restructuring of the British Army's infantry in 2006, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were amalgamated with the Royal Scots, the King's Own Scottish Borderers, the Royal Highland Fusiliers (Princess Margaret's Own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment), the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) and the Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons) into the seven battalion strong Royal Regiment of Scotland. Following a further round of defence cuts announced in July 2012 the 5th Battalion was reduced to a single public duties company called Balaklava Company, 5th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders).

Bill Speakman

William Speakman-Pitt, VC (21 September 1927 – 20 June 2018), known as Bill Speakman, was a British Army soldier and a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He was the first person to receive an honour from Queen Elizabeth II.

Castlehill Barracks

Castlehill Barracks was a military installation in Aberdeen in Scotland.

Charles Craufurd Hay

Lieutenant-General Charles Craufurd Hay (1809–1873) was a British Army officer who became General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Cape of Good Hope.

Frederick Traill-Burroughs

Lt-General Sir Frederick William Traill-Burroughs (1831 – 9 April 1905) was a British army officer.

He was born in India, fought in Crimea at the Battle of Alma, at the siege town of Lucknow in India and in the North West Frontier. After a spell in command at Edinburgh Castle he retired from the army.

On his return from India, he visited Rousay, Orkney, where he built a large house at Trumland; he had inherited much of the island and gradually bought more of it, carrying out many improvements.

He died in London and is buried there in Brompton Cemetery.

Freeman Murray

General Freeman Murray CB (1803-1885) was a British Army officer who became General Officer Commanding Eastern District.

Harry MacDonald (cricketer)

Harry Lindsay Somerled MacDonald (2 August 1861 – 15 August 1936) played first-class cricket for Somerset in 1896. He was born in Westminster, London and died at Bathford, Somerset.

Highland Brigade (United Kingdom)

The Highland Brigade is a historical unit of the British Army, which has been formed and reformed a number of times. It recruited men from the Highlands of Scotland.

Jasper Nicolls

Lieutenant General Sir Jasper Nicolls KCB (15 July 1778 – 4 May 1849) was Commander-in-Chief, India.

John Anderson (VC)

Major John Thompson McKellar "Jock" Anderson, (12 January 1918 – 5 October 1943) was a British Army officer and a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

List of British Army regiments (1881)

This is a list of British Army cavalry and infantry regiments that were created by Childers reforms in 1881, a continuation of the Cardwell reforms. It also indicates the cavalry amalgamations that would take place forty years later as part of the Government cuts of the early 1920s.

Royal Regiment of Scotland

The Royal Regiment of Scotland is the senior and only Scottish line infantry regiment of the British Army Infantry. It consists of four regular and two reserve battalions, plus an incremental company, each formerly an individual regiment (with the exception of the first battalion, which is an amalgamation of two regiments). However, each battalion maintains its former regimental pipes and drums to carry on the traditions of their antecedent regiments.

The Thin Red Line (painting)

The Thin Red Line is an 1881 oil-on-canvas painting by Robert Gibb depicting the 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot at the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854, during the Crimean War. In an incident which became known as "The Thin Red Line", a two-deep line of around 500 red-coated Scottish infantry from the Highland Brigade – with support from around 1,000 Royal Marines and Turkish infantry along with six guns of field artillery – stood firm against a force of around 2,500 Russian cavalrymen. The incident was a small one, in the context of the battle and the war as a whole, but became the focus for celebrating the stoicism and steadfastness of the British Army after Gibb's painting was exhibited.

William Munro

General William Munro (1818–1880) was a senior English Army officer and plant collector, botanist and agrostologist.

Victoria Cross
See also
Regiments of Foot 1740–1881

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