93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot - Crimea


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

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

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

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