Kilties in the Crimea, The
DESCRIPTION: "The Kilties are the lads for me, They're aye the foremost on a spree." The singer praises the Highland soldiers, and recounts their exploits in the Crimea, mentioning Alma, Sir Colin Campbell, and several Highland regiments
AUTHOR: John Lorimer
EARLIEST DATE: 1856 (date of composition)
KEYWORDS: soldier Scotland battle
1853-1856 - Crimean War (Britain and France actively at war with Russia 1854-1855)
Sept 20, 1854 - Battle of Alma
Oct 25, 1854 - Battle of Balaclava
Nov 5, 1854 - Battle of Inkerman clears the way for the siege of Sevastopol (the city fell in the fall of 1855)
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Ford-Vagabond, pp. 223-227, "The Kilties in the Crimea" (1 text, 1 tune)
cf. "The Heights of Alma (I)" [Laws J10] (subject)
cf. "Grand Conversation on Sebastopol Arose (II)" (subject)
NOTES: Among the various references in this song:
* The Royal Forty-Twa: The famous "Black Watch," which earned battle honours for Alma and Sevastopol. For more of its history, see the notes to "Wha Saw the Forty-Second." I can't help but add that this famous regiment, which held together despite service in the Crimea and the Sudan and so many other failures, has in the early twenty-first century been amalgamated into a "Super Scottish Regiment." The reason? People won't join because they refuse to go to Iraq.
* Alma: Battle of Alma. For history of this particular campaign, see "The Heights of Alma (I)"
* Sir Colin: Colin Campbell (1792-1863), commander of the Highland Brigade. He may have been the best soldier -- certainly the best brigade commander! -- in the British army at this time, but he was not a nobleman (he wasn't knighted until 1849) and wasn't rich, and so did not receive and could not buy the promotions he deserved.
According to Farwell, p. 110, Campbell was "born Colin Macliver in 1792, the son of a carpenter. He was educated by his uncle, a soldier named John Campbell." His uncle (his mother's brother) also managed to secure him a commission, though it was under the name Campbell. And so the young man became Colin Campbell. His early service was in the Peninsular Campaign, where he earned promotion to captain by merit -- and stalled. According to Thomson, p. 128, he was "invalided home in 1813. He recovered but by 1837 -- a bachelor in his late forties -- he was still only a colonel on garrison duty. Though recognized... 'as the best administrator and soldier since Wellington' he could not buy promotion and had to earn it." He gained much useful experience in Asia, but was still only a colonel when he resigned his command and went on half pay in 1853.
He was called back to duty for the Crimean War, and promoted Major General (the equivalent of a modern brigadier). His Highlanders made the key push at the Battle of Alma, and they blunted the initial charge at Balaclava. It will tell you something about the officers in the Crimea that, according to Palmer, p. 250, he was ony of only two senior officers in the Crimea to do anything to improve their reputations afterward.
Having done much to win the Crimean War, he was appointed to command the Indian Army at the time of the 1857 rebellion. It was he who finally relieved Lucknow (Farwell, p. 112), the key event in the supression of the rebellion. He was rewarded with a peerage; according Oxford Companion, p. 157, becoming Lord Clyde in 1858. That's not really much of a compliment, considering how many awful soldiers were ennobled by the British over the years, but in his case, it was richly deserved.
This is not the only song about Campbell; he is mentioned in several Crimean War songs, and Firth, p. 330, prints a song called "General Campbell" about his work in India.
* Ninety-Third: Another Highland regiment (93rd Highlanders, now the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders), with battle honours for Alma, Balaclava, and Sebastopol. It was the Ninety-third, more than any other regiment, which halted the Russian charge on Balaclava.
* Balaclava: For the history of this incredible botch, see "The Famous Light Brigade." - RBW
Last updated in version 3.5
- Farwell: Byron Farwell, Queen Victoria's Little Wars (1972; I used the 1985 Norton edition)
- Firth: C. H. Firth, Publications of the Navy Records Society, 1907 (available on Google Books)
- OxfordCompanion: John Cannon, editor, The Oxford Companion to British History, Oxford, 1997
- Palmer: Alan Palmer, The Crimean War (originally published as The Banner of Battle), Dorset, 1987
- Thomson: Oliver Thomson, The Great Feud: The Campbells & The Macdonalds, Sutton Publishing, 2000
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