Officer Of The 75th Highlanders
The 75th (Highland) Regiment of Foot was raised in the county of Stirling in 1787, and embodied at Stirling in June 1788. Their Colonel was Robert Abercromby of Tullibody, hence the Regiment's familiar title of 'Abercrombie's Highlanders.' The Regiment was soon dispatched to India, where they fought in the Mysore campaign of 1799 and at Seringapatam, both in 1792 and 1799. The Regiment, much depleted, returned home in 1806, in 1809 their title was changed to the 75th Regiment of Foot, and again in 1862, to the 75th (Stirlingshire) Regiment. In 1881, they were linked with the 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) Regiment of Foot to form the 1st Battallion of The Gordon Highlanders.
The 75th were raised in 1787 by Robert Abecromby, their first colonel, and were known as Abercromby's Highlanders. They first saw action in India, fighting at Seringapatam and Mysore. During the Napoleonic Wars the 75th were stationed in the Mediterranean. Later, during the colonial period they served in South Africa during the Kaffir War of 1832, and in India during the Sepoy Rebellion. In 1862 they became the 75th (Stirlingshire) Regiment.
In 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms the 75th amalgamated with the 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) Regiment of Foot to become the 1st battalion, the Gordon Highlanders.
The Army List for 1799 shows Sir Robert Abercromby still Colonel of the Regiment, and Nicholas Brutton as one of the Lieutenants. In Ker Porter's great Panorama of the Storming of Seringapatam, 'Lieut Bruton 75th wounded' is shown lying beside the tiger cannon in the centre foreground. Other causualties in the 75th Regiment, for the period 4th April - 4th May 1799, are listed in the General Return, dated at Seringapatam, 5th May 1799. 16 men were killed, including Lieut Matber on 4th April; 64 were wounded, including Capt. John Gordon on 21st April and Lieuts. Turner, Broughton and Skelton, all on 4th April. In the final assault on Seringapatam, the 75th fought with the Bombay army in the Centre Brigade, under Colonel Dunlop, and their Regimental badge, a tiger within a wreath of thistles, is a lasting reminder of these Indian campaigns. It was also the inspiration for the title of the National Galleries of Scotland's bicentennial exhibition 'The Tiger and the Thistle : Tipu Sultan and the Scots in India,' in 1999.
75th Colonel(Major General)Abercromby: Commander-In-Chief Of The British-Indian Campaign
Turning to the 1st Battalion, it was raised for service in India in 1878, and was then commanded by Colonel Abercromby as a Highland Regiment; but this was abandoned in 1807-8, owing to the paucity of the Highlanders in the ranks, and the Line uniform was substituted for it until 1881, when the "territorialisation" of the regiment led to its union with the Gordon Highlanders and the assumption of the Highland costume. As this change was carried into effect at Malta, the regiment was at first laughingly called the "Strada Reale Highlanders", and this joke was further emphasised by the regimental conundrum, which went to state that the "difference between the 92nd and 75th" was that
"one are real Highlanders, the other Reale Highlanders".
Its history in all three phases of uniform, whether kilted, trewed, or kilted again, is sufficiently glorious, and for years it shared in that portion of the making of India which began with the operations against Tippoo and terminated with the assault on Bhurtpore. During this period, when often it was the only leaven of white troops the Sepoy army had, it shared in the severe skirmishes and storms of Chowghasset, Travangarry, amd the capture of Ferokabad; and in the operations which accompanied the attack on Bangalore it had to cover the retreat of Abercromby's column on Coorg as a rear-guard, which it did with distinguished success. It was also present in the battle outside Seringapatam in 1792, which was followed by a peace broken again the following year, because of the aggressive action of the French Republic in declaring war against England and Holland. Tippoo naturally sided with our ancient enemy, and in the operations which ensued Mahe was taken from the French and Seringapatam fell. The regiment lost heavily in the attack and in the storm, where the forlorn hope of its own column was led by Corporal Roderick Mackenzie and Sergeant Graham. Finally, after much continuous minor service against unruly chiefs and refractory natives, such as the capture of Fort Kerria and Baroda, it finished its active service for the time at Bhurtpore, where it lost heavily, among the killed being that same Sergeant Graham who had so distinguished himself at Seringapatam. For this gallant work it bears "Seringapatam" and "India" among its badges, with the Royal Tiger. Beyond the ordinary routine duty, it saw no further active service until the Kaffir rising of 1834, when it was employed continually under the severe and trying conditions of frontier warfare, rightly earning the title "South Africa 1835". It may be noted that this is one of the first, if not the first, recorded regiments that saw the value of mounted infantry, for a "troop" was formed and did good work for more than two years.
The outbreak of the Mutiny saw it again employed on the scene of its former glorious successes. It began well, by making a forced march of forty eight miles, and formed part of the column directed upon Delhi. It met the mutineers at Badli-ke-Serai, and in the hard-fought action that carried by assault the enemy's heaviest battery, occupying the key to the enemy's position, though with a loss of eleven officers and sixty six men.
It completed the work begun outside the walls by the storm of the city on October 13th 1857, and was then transferred to Sir Colin Campbell's command in his advance on Lucknow, where it shared inthe fighting from the Alam Bagh until the end of the year, and finally formed the funeral party when Havelock died.
After these events the old 75th was posted to Sir James Outram's command, and took part in the difficult Oude campaign, Major Gordon displaying both gallantry and tactical skill in the defence of the advanced post of Dungapur. It returned home to England in 1862 with its former Indian reputation enhanced, and with the authority to bear "Delhi", "Lucknow", and "Central India" among the regimental honours. Three Victoria Crosses were also won during this campain; Private Green, Sergeant (afterwards Lieutenant and Lieutenant Colonel) Wadeson, and Colour Sergeant Coghlan were all conspicuous for saving life under fire, and the latter for "cheering and encouraging a party which hesitated to charge down a lane in Subzee Mundee, Delhi, lined on each side with huts and raked by a cross fire, then entering with the said party into an enclosure filled with enemy and destroying every man." Though still clothed like an ordinary Line regiment, its national origin was recognised, in 1863, by the permission to wear a "diced border" to the Kilmarnock forge cap, and this was further altered to the Glengarry eleven years later.
The regiment had some trying frontier experience against the Kaffirs in 1872. Next, as the1st Battalion of the Gordons, and kilted, it sharedin the Egyptian campaign of 1882, in Sir Archibald Alison's Highland Brigade; and at the storming of the lines of Tel-el-Kebir lost two officers and thirty three men killed and wounded. For this "Tel-el-Kebir" and "Egypt 1882" (and later "1884") were permitted to be worn on the appointments.
Finally transferred to the Eastern Soudan, the battalion formed the front face of the square at the battle of El Teb against Osman Digna, taking part also in the affairs of Tamai and Tamanieh, and after a brief period in garrison at Cairo, formed part of the Nile expeditionary force for the relief of General Gordon, adding to the list in the campaign roll the name "Nile 1884-5". In this expedition the regiment ascended the great river 1,300 miles in sixty three days, doing the return journey in twenty eight days.
WHILE Major-General Sir Archibald Campbell was appointed Colonel of the 74th, the colonelcy of its coeval regiment, the 75th, was conferred on Colonel Robert Abercromby of Tullibody. He had commanded a light infantry brigade during six campaigns in the American war; and as several companies of this brigade had been composed of the light infantry of the Highland regiments then in America, the colonel was well known to the Highlanders, and had acquired an influence among them rarely enjoyed by officers born south of the Grampians. There are instances, no doubt, such as those of the Marquis of Montrose and Viscount Dundee, and others of modem date, "where Highland corps have formed attachments to officers not natives of their country, and not less ardent than to the chiefs of old;" and if the instances have been few, it must be attributed entirely to want of tact in officers themselves, who, from ignorance of the Highland character, or from some other cause, have failed to gain the attachment of the Highland soldiers.
From personal respect to Colonel Abercromby, many of the Highlanders who had served under him in America, and had been discharged at the peace of 1783, enlisted anew, and, with about 300 men who were recruited at Perth, and in the northern counties, constituted the Highland part of the regiment. According to a practice which then prevailed, of firing the headquarters of a regiment about to be raised in the neighbourhood of the colonel’s residence, if a man of family, the town of Stirling was appointed for the embodying of the 75th; and here, accordingly, it first assembled in June 1788, and immediately thereafter proceeded to England, and embarked for India, where it arrived about the end of that year.
For eighteen months after its arrival in India, the regiment was subjected to extreme severity of discipline by one of the captains, who appears to have adopted the old Prussian model for his rule. A more unfortunate plan for destroying the morale of a Highland regiment could not have been devised, and the result was, that, during the existence of this discipline, there were more punishments in the 75th than in any other corps of the same description. But as soon as the system was modified by the appointment of an officer who knew the dispositions and feelings of the Highlanders, the conduct of the men improved.
The regiment took the field in 1790, under the command of Colonel Hartley, and in the two subsequent years formed part of the force under Major-General Robert Abercromby, on his two marches to Seringapatam. The regiment was also employed in the assault on that capital in 1799, the flank companies having led the left columns. From that period down to 1804, the regiment was employed in the provinces of Malabar, Goa, Goojerat, and elsewhere, and in 1805 was with General Lake’s army in the disastrous attacks on Bhurtpoor.
Lieutenant Colonel Maitland Orders The 75th Highlanders Into An Attack On Bhurtpoor,1805
The regiment was ordered home in 1806; but such of the men as were desirous of remaining in India were left behind. In 1809 there were not one hundred men in the regiment who had been born north of the Tay; on which account, it is believed, the designation was at that time changed.
It still retained its old number, and, while known as the "Stirlingshire Regiment" from 1809 to 1881, had a distinguished career, having taken part in the Kaffir War of 1835, as well as in many of the engagements which have been noticed in connection with the other Highland Regiments. As will be seen in the account of the 78th Highlanders, the 75th formed part of the force with which Sir Colin Campbell marched to the relief of Lucknow in November 1857, and guarded the Alum Bagh, while Sir Colin, with the rest of the force, made his way to the besieged garrison on the 14th of that month.
Under the Territorial Scheme, however, introduced in 1881, the 75th was once more restored to its position among the Highland Regiments, and, resuming the kilt and Highland dress after a lapse of seventy-four years, became the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders, the 92nd Regiment forming the 2nd Battalion, and the Royal Aberdeenshire Militia the 3rd. The depot was fixed at Aberdeen. When this change was announced by a Special General Order, dated the 11th of April, as to come into force on the 1st of July, the 75th was stationed at Malta, where it had arrived from England on the 20th of March, and where, on the 18th of June 1882, it paraded, for the first time since 1808, in full Highland uniform.
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