92nd (Gordon Highlanders) Regiment of Foot

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92nd Regiment of Foot
92nd Gordon Highlanders at Edinburgh Castle.jpg
92nd Gordon Highlanders at Edinburgh Castle, 1846.
Active 1794–1881
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Branch British Army
Type Highland Infantry Regiment
Engagements Peninsular War
Crimean War
Sepoy Rebellion
Battle honours Waterloo

The 92nd Regiment of Foot was a British Army infantry regiment. It was granted Royal Warrant on 10 February 1794, and first paraded on 24 June 1794, originally being numbered the 100th Regiment of Foot. It was amalgamated with the 75th Regiment of Foot to form the Gordon Highlanders during the Childers Reforms in 1881.

History[edit]

1794–1801[edit]

The first five years of the regiment's service were spent on garrison duties at Gibraltar, Corsica and Elba, and they fought in the Irish Rebellion of 1798. In the summer of 1799, the regiment returned from Ireland to prepare for the Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland, which aimed to overthrow the Batavian Republic, a client republic of the French Directory in the War of the Second Coalition. At around that time, the regiment was renumbered from the 100th to the 92nd Regiment of Foot. Landing on the Dutch coast on 27 August, and on the same day were present at, but did not participate in the Battle of Callantsoog. However, they distinguished themselves on 2 October at the Battle of Alkmaar, known to the British as "Egmont op Zee". In May 1800, they sailed to Minorca, and then on to Egypt where they landed at Abukir. Here they again fought with distinction at the Battle of Mandora on 13 March 1801. It was a preliminary action before the Battle of Alexandria eight days later on 21 March. That morning, the 92nd had been ordered to return to Abukir, having now only 150 effective men, because of illness and casualties sustained on the 13th. However, on hearing the sound of firing, the Highlanders saw the commander-in-chief, Sir Ralph Abercrombie, passing on his horse and called out to be allowed to return to the line of battle, to which he gave his assent.[1]

1801–1819[edit]

After returning home, a second battalion was raised, which served as a reinforcement pool for the first. The regiment took part in the Battle of Køge at Copenhagen in 1807, went to Portugal and fought at the Battle of Corunna and then joined the disastrous Walcheren Campaign, after which only 300 of 1,000 men were fit for service. In September 1810, the regiment returned to Portugal where they joined the Duke of Wellington's army for the remainder of the Peninsular War. The 92nd had reached Toulon when peace was declared in 1814 and they sailed for Ireland.

Gordons and Greys to the Front, an 1898 painting by Stanley Berkeley, showing the disputed incident at Waterloo, when the 92nd may have joined the charge of the Scots Greys by hanging on to their stirrups.

On 1 May 1815, the regiment again embarked for the continent, to take part in the Hundred Days campaign. The 92nd had a leading role in the Battle of Quatre Bras on 16 June, where it was one of the regiments defending the disputed crossroads and later halted a French attack with a bayonet charge. Two days later. the regiment were in action again at the Battle of Waterloo, although by now reduced to only about 250 men. At an early stage, Napoleon's troops attacked the left of the Allied line, and the 92nd were ordered to charge the leading French column. Upon the approach of the Highlanders, the head of the French column broke in disorder and could only be caught by the horses of the Scots Greys, who passed through the 92nd to get at them.[2] According to some accounts, some of the Highlanders clung to the stirrups of the passing Greys so that they could reach the French,[3] although this is often dismissed as mere legend. However, the testimony of Corporal Dickson of "F" Troop of the Scots Greys, says; "They were all Gordons, and as we passed through them they shouted 'Go at them the Greys! Scotland for ever!' My blood thrilled at this and I clutched my sabre tighter. Many of them grasped our stirrups and in the fiercest excitement, dashed with us into the fight."[4] The 92nd's casualties at Waterloo were 20 killed and 99 wounded of all ranks. After the battle, the regiment marched to Paris, finally arriving in Edinburgh on 7 September 1816, where they were cheered by a large crowd.[5]

1816–1868[edit]

In 1819, the regiment was posted to Jamaica, where 348 officers and men died during two outbreaks of yellow fever, before returning in 1827. There followed postings to Scotland, Ireland, Barbados, the Ionian Islands and Gibraltar, where the regiment remained during most of the Crimean War. The 92nd eventually landed in the Crimea shortly before the end of the Siege of Sevastopol and saw no serious action.

In January 1858, the 92nd embarked for India, because of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 or "Indian Mutiny", where they engaged in several skirmishes with remaining rebel forces. In September 1861, the regiment learned that it was allowed to include the name "Gordon Highlanders" in its official title, although it had unofficially been known by this name since its inception. In January 1863, the Gordons embarked for Britain, and after a spell in Gosport, finally returned to Edinburgh in July for the first time in 17 years. After a spell in Ireland, they returned to India in 1868.[6]

92nd Highlanders at Kandahar by Richard Caton Woodville.

1868–1881[edit]

In December 1878, the Gordons were ordered to Afghanistan where they were engaged in various security operations following the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Afghan War. In October 1879, they took part in the Battle of Charasiab, where the Gordons captured three hills, thereby turning the enemy's flank. Major White received the Victoria Cross for his part in the action. A further VC was won by Lieutenant Dick-Cunyngham in the Siege of the Sherpur Cantonment on 13 December. At the end of August 1880, the regiment formed part of the force which marched under General Roberts from Kabul to Kandahar, and in the Battle of Kandahar on 1 September, formed part of the 1st Brigade, which led the advance in sweeping the enemy out of the closely wooded enclosures along the western slopes of the hill on which the village of Gundi Mullah Sahibdad stood, and finally in attacking and carrying the village itself.

1881–1883[edit]

An artist's impression of the last stand at Majuba Hill.

Instead of returning to the United Kingdom in 1881, the Gordons were diverted to Natal because the First Boer War had broken out. The regiment participated in the disastrous Battle of Majuba Hill on 27 February 1881; after capturing the hilltop in order to dominate the Boer line, the force of 350 British soldiers of the 58th and 92nd Regiments including a number of Royal Navy gunners, found themselves exposed to heavy and accurate fire early on the following day. This was followed by an assault by 2,000 Boers; despite a desperate last stand, the survivors were swept from the summit. The regiment's losses were 85 killed, 131 wounded, 57 captured and 22 missing. While in camp at Bennet's Drift near Newcastle, Natal, the 92nd were informed that as part of the General Order of 1 May, they would be joined with the 75th (Stirlingshire) Regiment of Foot and become the 2nd Battalion, The Gordon Highlanders. The Regimental Colours of the 92nd were finally laid-up in St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh, on 14 November 1883 by the Duke of Cambridge, where they remain to the present day.[7]

Battle honours[edit]

  • Egmont-Op-Zee, Mandora, Egypt, Corunna, Fuentes D'Onor, Almaraz, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nive, Orthes, Peninsula, Waterloo, Charasiah, Kabul 1879, Kandahar 1880, Afghanistan 1878–80

Victoria Cross awards[edit]

Major George Stewart White VC

References[edit]

  1. ^ Charles Greenhill Gardyne (Lieutenant-Colonel), The Life of a Regiment: the History of the Gordon Highlanders, D Douglas, Edinburgh 1901 (p.108)
  2. ^ Electric Scotland – William Melven M A, The 92nd Gordon Highlanders: 1794 – 1816
  3. ^ Albert A. Nofi, The Waterloo Campaign: June 1815, Da Capo Press 1993 (p.209)
  4. ^ Christopher J. Summerville, Who Was Who at Waterloo: A Biography of the Battle, Pearson Education Ltd 2007, ISBN 978-0-582-78405-5 (p.191)
  5. ^ Melven, 1794 – 1816
  6. ^ Electric Scotland – William Melven M A, The 92nd Gordon Highlanders: 1816 – 1874
  7. ^ Electric Scotland – William Melven M A, The 92nd Gordon Highlanders: 1874 – 1886

External links[edit]