Military Wiki
93rd Regiment of Foot
Active 1799–1881
Country Great Britain
Branch British Army
Type Infantry
March The Thin Red Line
Highland Laddie
The Campbell March

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 93rd Regiment

The 93rd Regiment was raised three times before it became the Sutherland Highlanders.

Sutherland Fencibles

The 1st Sutherland Fencibles were raised in Scotland from the area of Sutherland and Caithness in 1759 and disbanded in 1763 by Lord Reay.

1779: 2nd Sutherland Fencibles raised by Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland (done in practice by Lieutenant-Colonel William Wemyss of Wemyss).

1793: 3rd Sutherland Fencibles raised by Wemyss. The 93rd participated in a task force under Major-General John Whyte to capture the Dutch settlements of Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice in April and May 1796. Served in 1798 Irish Rebellion. Disbanded April 1799 at Fort George.

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."[1]

Early years

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.

Battle of New Orleans

On the 28 December 1814, the British advanced up the left bank of the Mississippi River towards New Orleans. The 93rd Highlanders come under fire 750 yards from Andrew Jackson's parapet, by the parapet and a schooner on the river. They laid for 5 hours in the rain, sleet & bombardment the British then pulled back. 1 January 1815: British attempt a reconnaissance in force. Torrential rain bogs down artillery & troops. US left flank actually routed and in flight but unperceived by British until too late to take advantage. 8 January: Final British assault. Mistakes and bad luck add up. American position on right bank of river actually overrun & captured. Left bank; American advance redoubt taken by detachment of light infantry companies including that of the 93rd. British right flank falters. 93rd aborts support to captured redoubt and crosses field to help faltering right flank assault. Halts 100 yards from parapet. Lt. Col. Dale killed. No orders to advance or withdraw. 93rd stands fast & is mown down. General Edward Pakenham killed. Orders finally received & after futile attempt to advance, 93rd marches off field. The immense bravery shown by the 93rd in this advance is 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: 2,000. 93rd contributes 300 to 550 killed, wounded & prisoner. 18–30 January: British withdraw downriver to ships, embark. 11 February: British capture Ft. Bowyer outside Mobile, Alabama. 93rd & others landed on Dauphin Island outside Mobile Bay. 13 February: Sloop-of-War brings news of preliminaries of peace at Ghent. Women & children of 93rd allowed ashore.

Subsequent years

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 was 25,000 strong; 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]

It was in this action that the regiment earned its nickname of The Thin Red Line, coined by The Times journalist W.H.Russell.

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."[2] Col. William Bernard Ainslie was made a Companion of Bath (C.B.) for his leadership during the campaign.



93rd Regiment leaving Dover Castle for India in 1857

Interior of the Sikandar Bagh after the slaughter of 2,000 rebels by the 93rd Highlanders and 4th Punjab Regt.

Regimental memorial for the Indian Mutiny in St. Giles High Kirk, Edinburgh

  • Indian Rebellion of 1857 / Indian Mutiny
  • 16 June 1856: Leave the Crimea.
  • 15 July: Arrive Portsmouth, proceed to Aldershot. Various British garrisons.
  • 6 March 1857: Orders for China.
  • 1 June 1857: Nos. 3, 7 & 8 companies embark at Plymouth for China.
  • 16 June 1857: Rest of Regiment under Lt. Col. Leith Hay embark at Clarence Dockyard at Gosport.
  • At Cape of Good Hope receive the news of mutiny of Bengal native army in India.
  • 20 September 1857: Arrive at Calcutta. Welcomed by Sir Colin Campbell.
  • 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.[3] 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.
  • Through 1877 various British garrisons.
  • 1877: Curragh camp near Dublin, Ireland.
  • 1879: Part of garrison at Gibraltor.


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.

Regimental Traditions

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.[4]

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.[5]

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.[1]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 William McElwee, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, (New York: Osprey Publishing, Ltd., 2002)p. 6.
  2. Thomas Carter, Medals of the British Army and How They were Won: The Crimean Campaign, Groombridge & Sons, London (1861).
  3. Regimental History of the 4th Battalion 13th Frontier Force Rifles (Wilde's), anonymous author, Central Library of RMA Sandhurst, pp.20–23
  4. Byron Farwell, Mr. Kipling's Army: All The Queen's Men (New York: W.W. Norton, 1981) p. 33.
  5. Farwell, p. 26.
  • "Historical Records of the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders", compiled and edited by Roderick Hamilton Burgoyne, late 93rd Highlanders. London, 1883.
  • "An Reisimeid Chataich, The 93rd Sutherland Highlanders", by Brig. Gen. A.E.J. Cavendish, CMG. 1928. Published Privately.
  • "History of the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders...1800–1895", by Lt. Col. Percy Groves, R.G.A. W & AK Johnston, Edinburgh & London, 1895.
  • "Records of Service and Campaigning In Many Lands", by Surgeon-General Munro, MD, CB., late of 93rd Highlanders. London. 1887.
  • "Reminiscences of Military Service with the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders", by Surgeon-General Munro, MD, CB., formerly surgeon of the regiment. London. 1883.
  • "Reminiscences of the Great Mutiny 1857–59", by Wm. Forbes-Mitchell, late sergeant 93rd Highlanders. London. 1895.
  • "Recollections of A Highland Subaltern", by Lt. Col. W. Gordon-Alexander, late 93rd Highlanders. London. 1898.
  • "Fighting Highlanders! The History of The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders", by Major P.J.R. Mileham. London. 1993.
  • "Famous Regiments, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders", by Douglas Sutherland, M.C. London. 1969.
  • "The Scottish Regiments 1633–1987", by Maj. P.J.R. Mileham. 1988.
  • "The Scottish Soldier", by Stephen Wood. Manchester. 1987.
  • "Soldiers of Scotland", by Lt. Col. John Baynes Bt, M.Sc. 1988.
  • "The Highland Brigade in the Crimea", founded on letters written during the years 1854, 1855 & 1856, by Lt. Col. Anthony Sterling, "a staff officer who was there". "A History of the Regiments & Uniforms of the British Army", by Major R.M. Barnes. London. 1950.
  • "Scottish Military Uniforms", by Robert Wilkinson-Latham. Hippocrene Books, 1975.
  • "Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders", by Wm. McElwee and Michael Roffe. Osprey. 1972.
  • "The Naval War of 1812" by Theodore Roosevelt. NY, 1889.
  • "Blaze of Glory – the Fight for New Orleans 1814–1815" by Samuel Carter III, St. Martin's Press, NY.
  • "The Pictorial Field Book of the War of 1812", by Benson Lossing, NY 1869, reprint 1976.
  • "The British at the Gates-The New Orleans Campaign in The War of 1812" by Robin Reilly. Putnam, NY 1974.
  • "Amateurs to Arms", by Col. JR Elting.1991.
  • "With Musket, Cannon and Sword – Battle Tactics of Napoleon and His Enemies" by Brent Nosworthy.
  • "The Armies of Wellington" by Philip J. Haythornthwaite. 1994.
  • "Weapons and Equipments of the Napoleonic Wars", by Philip J. Haythornthwaite. London, 1996.
  • "British Infantry Of The Napoleonic Wars", by Philip J. Haythornthwaite. London, 1987.
  • "Life In Wellington's Army", by Antony Brett-James. London, 1994 edition.
  • "The Campaigns of the British Army at Washington and New Orleans, 1814–1815" by Rev. G. R. Gleig. London 1827.
  • "A Subaltern in America, Comprising His Narrative of the British Army at Baltimore, Washington, etc..", by Rev. G. R. Gleig. Philadelphia, 1833.
  • "British Sieges Of The Peninsular War", by Frederick Myatt. Spellmount, UK, 1987.
  • "The Dawn of Modern Warfare – History of the Art of War, Vol. IV", by Hans Delbruck (1848–1929). Translated by Walter J. Renfroe, Jr. Univ. of Nebraska, 1990.
  • "Biographical Sketches of the Veterans of the Battle of New Orleans 1814–1815" by Ronald R. Morazan. Legacy Publishing, 1979.
  • "Frederick The Great on the Art of War", edited & translated by Jay Luvaas. NY, 1966.
  • "Military Marching – A Pictorial History", by James Cramer. Forward by Lt. Gen. Sir Napier Crookenden, KCB, DSO, OBE, DL. Spellmount, 1992.
  • "The Face of Battle", by John Keegan. NY, 1976.
  • "The Mask of Command", by John Keegan. 1987.
  • "Firepower – Weapons Effectiveness On The Battlefield, 1630–1850", by Maj. Gen. B.P. Hughes, CB, CBE. NY, 1997.
  • "The FootSoldier", by Martin Windrow & Richard Hook. Oxford Univ. Press, 1982.
  • "Forward into Battle-Fighting Tactics from Waterloo to the Near Future" by Paddy Griffith (16 years senior lecturer in War Studies at Sandhurst). Presidio Press, Novato, CA. 1990.
  • "The Elements of the Science of War; Theory and Practice" by William Muller KGL 1811. (classic example of Pakenham's tactics being "by the book".)
  • "The War of 1812 – A Forgotten Conflict" by Donald R. Hickey. Univ. of Illinois Press. 1989.
  • "New Orleans 1815 – Andrew Jackson Crushes the British" by Timothy Pickles. Osprey, 1993.
  • "The American War 1812–1814", by Philip Katcher, Osprey, 1990.
  • "Twenty-Five Years in the Rifle Brigade" by W. Surtees, 1833. Reprint by Greenhill Books.
  • "A Full and Correct Account of The Military Occurrences of the Late War Between Great Britain and the United States of America", by Wm. James, 1818.
  • "The Battle of New Orleans – A British View", the Journal of Major C.R. Forrest, Asst. Quarter Master General, New Orleans Campaign. Intro and annotations by Hugh F. Rankin. The Hauser Press, New Orleans, 1961.
  • "Rough Notes of Seven Campaigns in Portugal, Spain, France and America, 1809–1815", by John Spencer Cooper, late Sergeant, 7th Royal Fusiliers. Reprint of 1869 publication by Spellmount, 1996.
  • "The Siege of New Orleans", by Charles B. Brooks, Univ. of Washington Press, 1961.
  • "Various Anecdotes and Events of my Life --The Autobiography of Lt. Gen. Sir Harry Smith, covering the period 1787 to 1860", by Sir Harry Smith. First published in 2 volumes, edited by G.C. Moore, London, 1901.
  • "The Historical Memoir of The War in West Florida and Louisiana in 1814–15, with an Atlas", by Arsene LaCarriere Latour, Major, principal engineer 7th Military District US Army, originally published 1816. The Historic New Orleans Collection and University of Florida Press. reprint 1999 – expanded edition edited by Gene A. Smith.
  • "The Amphibious Campaign for West Florida and Louisiana, 1814–1815", by Wilburt S. Brown (Maj. Gen. USMC, retired), University of Alabama, 1969.
  • "The Dawn's Early Light", by Walter Lord, NY 1972.
  • "The War of 1812 – Land Operations", by George F.G. Stanley. MacMillan & national Museum of Canada, 1983.
  • "When They Burned The White House", by Andrew Tully. NY, 1961.
  • "The Baratarians and the Battle of New Orleans", by Jane Lucas de Grummond. Baton Rouge, 1961.

External links

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