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the terrible conflict in which the light brigade of cavalry made that immortal charge at which
“All the world wondered,”
he directed the famous repulse of the Russian cavalry by his brave 93rd Highlanders — that “thin red streak, tipped with a line of steel.” These two actions, the charge by the light brigade and the repulse by the Highlanders, have never been equalled for bravery in the annals of war. Onlookers never saw coolness equal to that of the kilted lads, their chief at their head, whilst they awaited the onset of the proud Muscovite cavaliers. The only breach of discipline that occurred was that some of the brave fellows actually rushed forward to meet the horsemen, and Sir Colin had to restrain them, shouting out: “Confound your enthusiasm; Ninety-third, come back to your line!” The splendid bearing of that thin line of Highlanders — only two deep — receiving with such audacious coolness a body of cavalry six times their number, showed to the world for all time, not only matchless heroism, but the unbounded confidence which existed between Sir Colin and his men; and one year after this immortal day, when he was presented in our own City Hall with a sword of honour from his fellow-citizens, nothing could equal the touching allusion in his reply, spoken under the deepest emotion, when he said that all the honours which he had the pride of wearing, were largely due to his dear Highlanders.
As time wore on Sir Colin’s position in the Crimea ceased to be a pleasant one. Lord Panmure threatened to supersede him by General Codrington, who was his junior, and who had never seen a shot fired till the battle of Alma. This was too much for the old soldier’s sense of justice, and on these grounds alone he threw up his position and left the Crimea on leave. Personal interviews with the Queen, however, softened his resentment, and in June he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general and returned to the Crimea to take command of a corps d’armée under Godrington. The latter, however, failed to organise the corps, and Sir Colin again assumed the command of the Highland Brigade. This he retained till the close of hostilities, when he at once returned home, leaving the army in the Crimea. On the day of his departure he addressed his beloved men in words which shall be for ever memorable:—
“Soldiers of the 42nd, 79th, and 93rd! Old Highland Brigade, with whom I passed the early and perilous part of this war, I have now to take leave of you. In a few hours I shall be aboard ship, never to see you again as a body. A long farewell! I am now old, and shall not be called to serve any more, and nothing will remain to me but the memory of my campaigns, and of the enduring, hardy, generous soldiers with whom I have been associated, and whose name and glory will long be kept alive in the hearts of our countrymen. When you go home, as you gradually fulfil your term of service, each to his family and his cottage, you will tell the story of your immortal advance in that victorious echelon up the heights of Alma, and of the old brigadier who led you and who loved you so well. Your children and your children’s children will repeat the tale to other generations, when only a few lines of history will remain to record all the enthusiasm and discipline which have borne you so stoutly to the end of this war. Our native land will never forget the name of the Highland Brigade, and in some future war the nation will call for another one equal to this, which it can never surpass. Though I shall be gone, the thought of you shall go with me wherever I may be, and cheer my old age with a glorious