Military history pages..

Lord Macleod's Highlanders

Formerly Seventy-Third Regiment,

Now Seventy-First Or Glasgow

Highland Light Infantry.


Home - Cape of Good-Hope - Buenos Ayres - Home - Peninsula - Roleia - Vimeiro - Corunna - Flushing.

The regiment remained in Scotland till June, 1800, when it was removed to Ireland, having previously received an accession of 600 volunteers from the Scottish fencible regiments. This augmented the corps to 800 men, of whom 600 were Highlanders. On the 24th of April, 1801, Lieutenant-Colonel Pack joined and assumed command of the regiment. In August 1803, Major-General Sir John Francis Cradock was appointed Colonel of the 71st, in succession to General the Honourable William Gordon. A second battalion was ordered to be embodied at Dumbarton, in the year 1804. From the success with which the recruiting for this battalion was carried on in Glasgow, and the favour shown to the men by the inhabitants, the corps acquired the name of the "Glasgow Highland Light Infantry."

The first battalion sailed from Cork on the 5th of August, 1805, on the expedition against the Cape of Good Hope, (of which an account will be found under the head of the Sutherland Regiment,) and reached its destination on the 4th of January 1806. On this service the regiment had 6 rank and file killed and Brevet-Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Campbell 5 sergeants, and 67 rank and file Wounded.

This enterprise, was followed by that against Buenos Ayres, of which the 71st formed the chief force. The expedition reached the Rio de la Plata on the 8th of June, and passing Monte Video, anchored opposite to the city of Buenos Ayres, on the 24th. The troops and the marines of the fleet amounting together to about 1400 men, landed the following evening without opposition. Next forenoon the troops moved forward to the village of Reduction in full view of the enemy, who were posted on the brow of an adjoining eminence. The enemy, after firing a few shots retired into the city. On the 27th the passage of the Rio Chuelo was forced, and the result was that the city surrendered. The Spaniards, however, soon attempted to regain what they had lost, and in the beginning of August collected a force of 1500 men in the neighbourhood; but these were attacked and dispersed by General Beresford, with a detachment of the 71st, and the corps of St Helena. Notwithstanding their dispersion, however, these troops collected again and on the 10th of August, surprised and cut off a sergeant's guard. Next day the town was abandoned by the British, who retired to the fort, and seeing no prospect of relief, capitulated the same evening. The 71st lost in this expedition Lieutenant Mitchell and Ensign Lucas, and 91 non-commissioned officers and privates were killed and wounded.

After the capitulation of General Whitelock's army, the regiment was restored to liberty, and embarked with the troops for England. The regiment landed in Ireland and marched to Middleton and afterwards to Cork, where it received a reinforcement of 200 men from the second battalion, by which the effective force was increased to 920 men. On the 21st of April, 1808, the regiment received new colours instead of those they had surrendered at Buenos Ayres. The colours were presented by General Floyd, a veteran officer, who had frequently witnessed the gallantry of the 71st in India. He made an eloquent speech on the occasion the conclusion of which was as follows:-


"I am directed to perform the honourable duty of presenting your colours.

"Brave SEVENTY-FIRST! The world is well acquainted with your gallant conduct at the capture of Buenos Ayres, in South America, under one of His Majesty's bravest generals.

"It is well known that you defended your conquest with the utmost courage, good conduct, and discipline to the last extremity. When diminished to a handful, hopeless of succour, and destitute of provisions, you were overwhelmed by multitudes, and reduced by the fortune of war to lose your liberty, and your well-defended colours, but not your honour. Your honour, SEVENTY-FIRST regiment, remains unsullied. Your last act in the field covered with glory. Your generous despair, call you with upon your general to suffer you to die with arms in your hands proceeded from the genuine spirit of British soldiers. Your behaviour in prosperity,-your sufferings in captivity-, and your faithful discharge of your duty to your King and country, are appreciated by all.

"You who now stand on this parade, in defiance of the allurements held out to base desertion, are endeared to the army and to the country, and your conduct will ensure you the esteem of all true soldiers,-of all worthy men, - and fill every one of you with honest martial pride.

"It has been my good fortune to have witnessed, in a remote part of the world, the early glories and gallant conduct of the SEVENTY-FIRST regiment in the field; and it is with great satisfaction I meet you again, with replenished ranks, and with good arms in your hands and with stout hearts in your bosoms.

"Look forward, officers and soldiers, to the achievement of new honours and the acquirement of fresh fame.

"Officers, be the friends and guardians of these brave follows committed to your charge.

'Soldiers, give your confidence to your officers. They have shared with you the chances of war; they have bravely bled along with you; they will always do honour to themselves and you. Preserve your regiment's reputations for valour in the field and regularity in quarters.

"I have now the honour to present the


This is the KING'S COLOUR,

"I have now the honour to present your REGIMENTAL COLOUR.

"This is the colour of the SEVENTY-FIRST regiment.

"May victory for ever crown these colours!"

The expectations which General Floyd had formed of the regiment were soon to be realised. In the month of June the first battalion of the regiment embarked at Cork for Portugal, in the expedition under Sir Arthur Wellesley, which sailed on the 13th of July. The fleet arrived in Mondego Bay on the 29th, and the forces, amounting to 10,000 men, landed early in August. In a few days a body of 5000 troops from Gibraltar joined the army. General Wellesley made a forward movement towards Lisbon on the 9th of August, and was joined on the 11th by 6000 Portuguese, but being destitute of provisions and military stores he could not proceed. The British army reached Caldas on the 14th-four companies of the 60th and Rifle corps pushing forward to the village of Brilos, then in possession of the enemy. An affair of advanced posts now took place, which ended in the occupation of the village by the British. This was the commencement of a series of battles and operations which raised the military fame of Great Britain to the highest pitch, overtopping all the glories of Marlborough's campaigns. Lieutenant Bunbury and a few privates of the Rifle corps were killed on this occasion.

The French under General Laborde, amounting to upwards of 5000 men, took up a position on the heights of Roleia, whither they were followed by the British on, the 17th. These heights were steep and very difficult of access, with only a narrow path leading to the summit; but notwithstanding the almost insuperable obstacles which presented themselves, the position was carried by the British, after a gallant resistance by the French, who were forced to retreat at all points. The light company of the 71st was the only part of the regiment engaged, the remainder being employed in manoeuvring on the right flank of the French. The company had only one man killed and one wounded.

The regiment acted a conspicuous part in the battle of Vimeiro, which took place on the 21st of August 1808.

It was Sunday morning, and the men were engaged in washing their clothes, cleaning their fire-locks, and in other employments, when the French columns made their appearance on the opposite hills about half-past eight. "To arms" was sounded, and everything being packed up as soon as possible, the 71st, along with the other brigaded regiments, left the camp ground, and moved across a valley to the heights on the east of Vimeiro.

The grenadier company of the 71st greatly distinguished itself, in conjunction with a subdivision of the light company of the 36th regiment. Captain Alexander Forbes, who commanded the grenadier company, was ordered to the support of some British artillery, and, seizing a favourable opportunity, made a dash at a battery of the enemy's artillery immediately in his front. He succeeded in capturing five guns and a howitzer, with horses, caissons, and equipment complete. In this affair alone the Grenadier Company had Lieutenants John Pratt and Ralph Dudgeon and 13 rank and file wounded, together with 2 men killed. 1

The French made a daring effort to retake their artillery, both with cavalry and infantry but the gallant conduct of the grenadier company, and the advance of Major-General Ferguson's brigade, finally left the guns in the possession of those who had so gallantly captured them.

George Clark, one of the pipers of the regiment, and afterwards piper to the Highland Society of London, was wounded in this action, and being unable to accompany his corps in the advance against the enemy, put his pipes in order and struck up a favourite regimental air, to the great delight of his comrades. This is the second instance in which the pipers of the 71st have behaved with particular gallantry, and evinced high feeling for the credit and honour of the corps.

During the advance of the battalion, several prisoners were taken among whom was the French general, Brennier. Corporal John McKay, of the 71st, who took him, was afterwards promoted to an ensigncy in the Fourth West India Regiment.

The result of this battle was the total defeat of the enemy, who subsequently retreated on Lisbon, with the loss of twenty-one pieces of cannon, twenty-three ammunition wagons, with powder, shells, stores of all descriptions, and 20,000 rounds of musket ammunition, together with a great many officers and soldiers killed, wounded, and taken prisoners.

The conduct of the battalion, and of its commanding officer, Lieut.-Colonel Pack, was noticed in the public despatches, and the thanks of both Houses of Parliament were conferred on the troops.

The following officers of the 71st were wounded in the battle of Vimeiro:- Captains Arthur Jones and Maxwell. Mackenzie; Lieutenants John Pratt, William Hartley, Augustus McIntyre, and Ralph Dudgeon; Ensign James Campbell, and Acting Adjutant Lt. McAlpin. The 71st subsequently received the royal authority to bear the word "Vimeiro" on the regimental colour and appointments, in commemoration of this battle.

The "Convention of Cintra," signed on the 30th of August, was the result of this victory. By its provisions the French army evacuated Portugal, which thus became freed from its oppressors.

In September, Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore assumed the command and made dispositions for entering Spain. The 71st was brigaded with the 36th and 92d regiments under Brigadier-General Catlin Crawfurd, and placed in the division under the command of Lieutenant-General the Honourable John Hope, afterwards the Earl of Hopetoun. On the 27th October the division left Lisbon, and joined the forces under Moore at Salamanca. The regiment took part in the disastrous retreat under Sir John Moore to Corunna, and along with the rest of the army suffered dreadfully from the severity of the weather, want of food and clothing, and disease.

"At this period the situation of the British army was dispiriting in the extreme. In the midst of winter, in a dreary and desolate country, the soldiers, chilled and drenched with the heavy rains, and wearied by long and rapid marches were, almost destitute of fuel to cook their victuals, and it was with extreme difficulty that they could procure shelter. Provisions were scarce, irregularly issued, and difficult of attainment. The wagons, in which were their magazines, baggage, and stores, were often deserted in the night by the Spanish drivers, who were terrified by the, approach of the French. Thus baggage, ammunition, stores, and even money were destroyed to prevent them falling into the hands of the enemy; and the weak, the sick, and the wounded were necessarily left behind. The 71st suffered in proportion with the rest, and by weakness, sickness, and fatigue, lost about 93 men." 2

In January 1809, Lieutenant-General Francis Dundas was appointed from the 94th regiment to be Colonel of the 71st, in succession to Sir John Francis Cradock, removed to the 43d.

On the 11th of January the army under Moore arrived at Corunna, where the furious battle was fought in which this famous leader got his death wound. We have already, in our account of the 42d, given sufficient details of this engagement. While waiting for the transports some skirmishing took place with the French, in which four companies of the 71st were warmly engaged, and lost several men in killed and wounded. In the general battle on the 16th, the 71st, being placed on the extreme left of the British line, had little to do therein. In commemoration of this battle, and of the conduct of the regiment during the expedition, the 71st was authorised to bear the word Corunna on the regimental colours and appointments.

On the 17th of January the army embarked for England, and reached Plymouth about the end of the month, where the men were received by the people with the utmost enthusiasm, and were welcomed into every house as if they had been relations. The battalion in which was the 71st was marched to Ashford barracks where it remained for some time. In June the first battalion was increased by the addition of several officers and 311 non-commissioned officers and men from the second battalion which continued to be stationed in Scotland, and by a number of volunteers from the militia.

In March 1809, the royal authority was granted for the 71st to be formed into a light infantry regiment, when it was directed that the clothing, arming and discipline should be the same as those of other regiments of a similar kind. However, it cannot be said to have ceased to be a Highland regiment, for the men were permitted to retain such parts of the national dress as might not be inconsistent with their duties as a light corps. Lieutenant Colonel Pack wrote to the Adjutant-General, in April 1810, on the subject, and received the following reply from headquarters :-

"HORSE GUARDS, 12th April 1810.

"SIR,- Having submitted to the Commander-in-Chief your letter of the 4th instant, I am directed to state, that there is no objection to the 71st being denominated Highland Light Infantry Regiment, or to the retaining of their pipes, and the Highland garb for the pipers; and that they will, of course, be permitted to wear caps according to the pattern which was lately approved and sealed by authority.3

"I have, &C.



"Lieut.-Colonel Pack,

"71st Regiment."

The 71st was next employed on the disastrous expedition to Walcheren, for which the most gigantic preparations had been made. The troops amounted to 40,000 men, commanded by Lieutenant-General the Earl of Chatham, while the naval portion consisted of 39 ships of the line, 36 frigates, and numerous gunboats and bomb-vessels, and other small craft, under Admiral Sir James Strachan.

On the 16th of July, the first battalion of the 71st, consisting of 3 field-officers, 6 captains, 27 subalterns, 48 sergeants and 974 drummers and rank and file, embarked at Portsmouth on board the Belleisle and Impérieuse. The expedition sailed from the Downs on the 28th of July, and in about thirty hours reached Roompet Channel, when the 71st was the first to disembark. It was brigaded with the 68th and 85th regiments, under the command of Brigadier-General the Baron de Rottenburg, in the division commanded by Lieutenant-General Alexander Mackenzie Fraser, and the, corps of Lieutenant-General Sir Eyre Coote. The light brigade, consisting of the 71st, 68th, and 85th light infantry, were landed under cover of the fire of some small craft, and immediately on landing came in contact with the enemy's sharpshooters, who fell back skirmishing. Two of the companies of the 71st captured four guns and several prisoners. A battery and flagstaff on the coast were taken possession of by the 10th company of the 71st, and in place of a flag, a soldier's red jacket was hoisted on it. Further details of this expedition we take the liberty of copying from Cannon's history of this regiment.

"This advance having succeeded at all points, and the enemy having fallen back on Flushing and Middelburg, the army was disembarked. The advance then dividing, proceeded by different routes. The 71st moved by the sea dyke on a fort called Ter Veer, the situation and strength of which was not sufficiently known, an enemy's deserter having given but imperfect intelligence respecting it.

After nightfall the column continued to advance in perfect silence, with orders to attack with the bayonet, when, on a sudden, the advance-guard fell in with an enemy's party, who came out for the purpose of firing some houses which overlooked the works. The column following the advance-guard had entered an avenue or road leading to the fort, when the advance commenced the action with the enemy, who, retiring within the place, opened a tremendous fire from his works with artillery and musketry. Some guns pointing down the road by which the battalion advanced did great execution, and the 71st had Surgeon Charles Henry Quin killed, and about 18 men killed and wounded. The column, after some firing, retired, and the place was the next day regularly invested by sea and land. It took three days to reduce it, when it capitulated, with its stores, and a garrison of 800 men.

Flushing having been invested on the 1st of August, the 71st, after the surrender of Ter Veer, were ordered into the line of circumvallation, and placed on the extreme left, resting on the Scheldt. The preparations for the attack on the town having been completed, on the 13th a dreadful fire was opened from the batteries and bomb-vessels, and congreve rockets having been thrown into the town, it was on fire in many places. The ships having joined in the attack, the enemy's fire gradually slackened, and at length ceased. A summons being sent in, a delay was demanded, but being rejected, the firing recommenced.

On the 14th of August one of the outworks was carried at the point of the bayonet by a party of detachments and two companies of the, 71st under Lieutenant-Colonel Pack.

In this affair Ensign Donald Sinclair, of the 71st, was killed; Captain George Spottiswoode and a few men were wounded.

Flushing, with its garrison of 6000 men, capitulated on the 15th of August, and the right gate was occupied by a detachment of 300 men of the first or Royal Scots, and the left gate by a detachment of similar strength of the 71st under Major Arthur Jones. The naval arsenal, and some vessels of war which were on the stocks, fell into the hands of the British.

The 71st shortly after proceeded to Middelburg, where the battalion remained for a few days, when it was ordered to occupy Ter Veer, of which place Lieutenant-Colonel Pack was appointed commandant, and Lieutenant Henry Clements, of the 71st, town major. The battalion remained doing duty in the garrison until this island, after the works, &c., were destroyed, was finally evacuated on the 22d of December.

On the 23d of December the battalion embarked in transports, and sailed for England, after a service of five months in a very unhealthy climate, which cost the battalion the loss of the following officers and men:-



Sergeants, Drummers

and Rank and File

Died on service






Died after return home






In passing Cadsand, that fort opened a fire on the transports, one of which, having part of the 71st on board, was struck by a round shot, which carried off Sergeant Steele's logs above the knees.

On the 25th of December, the first battalion of the 71st disembarked at Deal, and marched to Brabourne-Lees Barracks, in Kent, where it was again brigaded with the 68th and 85th light infantry, and was occupied in putting itself in an efficient state for active service.


1. Lieut.-General Sir Harry Burrard landed during the action, but did not assume the command. Lieut.-General Ser Hew Dalrymple landed on the following day, and took command of the army. The force under Lieut.-General Sir John Moore was also disembarked during the negotiation, which subsequently took place, making the British army amount to 32,000 men. <return>

2. Cannon's History of the 71st Regiment, p. 73<return>

3. The bonnet cocked is the pattern to which allusion is made in the above letter. This was in accordance with Lieutenant-Colonel Pack's application; and with respect to retaining the pipes, and dressing the pipers in the Highland garb, he added, "It cannot be forgotten how these pipes were obtained, and how constantly the regiment has upheld its title to them. These are the honourable characteristics which must preserve to future times the precious remains of the old corps, and of which I feel confident His Majesty will never have reason to deprive the 71st regiment."<return>