Indian Mutiny 1857-58, one clasp, Central India
(Hugh Laird, 72nd. Highlanders),
Private Hugh Laird, was born in Beith, Ayrshire, on the 14th of March 1839;
He was the oldest child of Robert, a journeyman, and Margaret Johnston.
He enlisted in the 72nd Highlanders on the 21st of March 1856 and was
assigned regimental number 3847. His enlistment papers show his
occupation as a being a painter. Laird was discharged in April 1866, after
10 years and 13 days with the Colours, of which more than 8 years were
spent in India and was in the possession of one GCB. After being
discharged, he spent an additional 21 years in the army reserve.

While serving in India, he was part of the detachment under Lieutenant
Vesey, consisting of 100 men of the light and No.4 Companies, who had been
mounted on camels, and attached to a column of Light and Irregular cavalry
returned to quarters (at Mhow), having been under canvas in the Field for
almost 17 months, and marched over 3000 miles. A more extensive
description of their  exploits is
here.


In John Henry Steel's book "A Manual of the Diseases of the Camel and
of His Management and Uses" published in 1890, he notes "
Vesey's corps
consisted of 100 camels, each carrying a native and a Highlander; its
baggage was carried on seven elephants; there were also camels for
spare ammunition and officer's baggage; it only marched with other
troops, so that its special value as a camel corps was never shown; we
may, therefore, dismiss it with the record that it was on the move for
17 weeks, passed all over Central India at a walk of 3 to 3 1/2 miles per
hour, averaging 20 miles per diem.

On one occassion it did 36 miles in 13 hours; in all it covered 1,496 miles,
and always had 95 percent of its camels serviceable, the animals as being
well taken care of, for it is noted that the men were always dismounted
at wet slippery nullahs."

667 men of the 72nd Highlanders earned the Indian Mutiny medal, All but
10 of them received the medal with the clasp for "Central India" Approx.
7,300 medals with the "Central India" clasp were issued to British troops.

After his discharge, Hugh returned to his earlier profession as a house
painter and married Elizabeth Hillhouse on Nov 12, 1867 in Greenock.
Elizabeth was born in Riccarton, Ayrshire was a domestic servant at the
time of their marriage and they had five sons and two daughters. Their
first son was named Hugh, was born in 1868 and died as an infant. In
1871 a third son  was born, was also named Hugh and died the following
year. The fourth son was born in 1880, was also called Hugh and he
outlived his father.


He died in Houston (Bridge of Weir),Renfrew of a Cerebral
Haemorrhage (like his father)  on July 19, 1899, less than 10 miles from
his birthplace and many miles from Central India.

Provenance:
Spink July, 2013
William Noble, Alexander Dawson and John
Harper in a picture taken in 1856 by Joseph
Cundell, as part of a series entitled
"Crimean Heroes" .

All three earned Mutiny medals and both
Dawson and Harper were part of the Camel
Corp in Central India with Laird.

Although Pte. Hugh Laird did not serve in the
Crimea, this picture is a good reminder of the
contemporary "look"
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