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The Thin Red Line

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.

The Crimean War

The 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot arrived at Stirling Castle in October 1848, and provided a Guard of Honor for Queen Victoria on her visit to Glasgow in August 1849. The 93rd embarked for the Crimea for service in the Crimean War in February 1854. The regiment took part in the Battle of Alma in September 1854 as part of Brigadier-General Colin Campbell’s Highland Brigade.

Robert Gibb - The Thin Red Line - 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot - Battle of Balaklava - Crimean War - October, 1854 - Great Britain - Chansons de soldats - Soldiers songs and military marches
‘The Thin Red Line’ by Robert Gibb
1881 painting depicting the 93rd Highlanders defending the port of Balaklava from Russian cavalry during the Battle of Balaklava on October 25, 1854

On October 25, 1854, the 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot was stationed outside the British-controlled port of Balaklava as part of the port’s very thin defenses. The Russian Army sent a large force to attack Balaklava, precipitating the Battle of Balaklava. 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.

As he rode down the line, Campbell told the men of the 93rd Regiment of Foot :

“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!”

The London 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 (bayonets).”

This led to the regiment’s nickname : “The Thin Red Line”. 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.”

The regiment also took part in the Siege of Sevastopol in June 1855, before embarking for home in June 1856.

The 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot amalgamated with the 91st (Argyllshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot to form the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

The Indian Mutiny

Battle Honors

Cape of Good Hope 1806
Crimean War : Alma, Balaklava, Sevastopol
Indian Mutiny : Lucknow

Victoria Crosses

Lance Corporal John Dunlay, Indian Mutiny (November 16, 1857)
Private Peter Grant, Indian Mutiny (November 16, 1857)
Private David MacKay, Indian Mutiny (November 16, 1857)
Lieutenant William McBean, Indian Mutiny (March 11, 1858)
Colour Sergeant James Munro, Indian Mutiny (November 16, 1857)
Sergeant John Paton, Indian Mutiny (November 16, 1857)
Captain William George Drummond Stewart, Indian Mutiny (November 16, 1857)