John Morrison was born in Stirling in around 1839. On the 19th of October 1857 at the age of 18 he enlisted for a limited service with
the 92nd Regiment of Foot (Gordon Highlanders) in his home town. At the time of his enlistment he was 5 foot 4 and a half inches tall,
a labourer by trade and was paid a bounty of 2 pounds for ‘taking the Queens shilling’ with a further 16 shillings going to his recruiters.
John Morrison was allotted the regimental number of 32, the numbering systems having been restarted in late 1856 and the 92nd
having not been recruiting until late in 1857. It is strange to re-count that the next man listed was also called John Morrison, he was a
20 year old who was given the number 33 and eventually died on the 11th of April 1862 at Calcutta. Having arrived at the regimental
depot (also at Stirling), Private Morrison was not to have time to learn the basic skills required of a soldier as he is dispatched to the
Service Companies (then at Gibraltar after returning from the Crimea) on the 5th of November 1857. The draft of men under the
command of Lieutenant E.S. Tritton board ship on the 13th of November and arrive six days later at Gibraltar where they join the
service companies. Again, stability was not to be the keyword for Private Morrison as only a couple of months later as a totally green
soldier he is on route to India in the quelling of the Mutiny.
Here we turn to the regimental history (‘The Life of a Regiment – The Gordon Highlanders 1816 to 1898, Lt. Col. C. Greenhill Gardyne,
London, 1903) :-
The 92nd was one of a certain number of regiments which, during the Duke of Wellington's life, had always been kept within reach and
had never been sent to the more distant parts of the Empire ; but now a crisis arose which required the presence In India of every
British soldier that could be spared.
Early in May 1857, the world was startled by the mutiny of the native army of Bengal ; reinforced by contingents from the more warlike
populations, and led by discontented or ambitious native princes, they ruthlessly murdered numbers of Europeans without distinction
of age or sex, and it seemed for a moment as if the small British garrison must be overpowered. The gallantry both of the European
and loyal native troops saved India. Reinforcements were poured into the country, and for the first time the Gordons were ordered to
the East. They embarked, 20th January 1858, on H.M.S. Urgent under Lieut.-Colonel Archibald Inglis Lockhart.
Lieut.-General Sir James Ferguson, K.C.B., Governor of Gibraltar, in General Orders of January l4th, "desires to place on record the
good opinion he has formed of the regiment." Major-General Rumly, in Brigade Orders, “is confident, from personal observation of the
esprit de corps which animates all ranks of the Gordon Highlanders, that opportunity alone is needed to make them emulate their
The Urgent encountered a storm and put into Malta to repair damages, but arrived at Alexandria, January 30th. Here they remained on
board ship, where the officers gave a ball, till the 14th and 15th of February, when they went by train to Cairo in two divisions, arriving
at the terminus of the railway next morning, when they rested at a standing camp. Private Gladow in his journal expatiates on the
luxurious meals and the excellence of the coffee and grog supplied to them en route. After the heat of the day they were mounted, the
officers on horses, the men on donkeys : kilted and in feathered bonnets as they were, it was a comical show. They played at being
cavalry, giving the word “At a walk—march ! " resulting in ridiculous scenes and much laughter. Embarking on the P. & 0. steamship
Oriental at Suez. on February 17th, they landed at Bombay on March 6th.
The right wing, under Lieut.-Colonel Lockhart, proceeded to Colaba, and the left wing, under Major Robert McLeod Sutherland went on
field service to Surat (they rejoined headquarters the 8th June). Neither officers nor men had been in India and they were entirely
ignorant of the language and customs of the natives. Colonel Lockhart used to tell how, on first arrival, while smoking his post-prandial
cheroot on the verandah, he heard a soldier ask a turbaned Oriental where he could get water. The native did not understand, and
regarded him with a stony stare, when, by way of making his meaning quite clear, and speaking loudly, he said, “Od, man, can ye no'
gie 's a drap watter to tak' the glaur aff my spats ?" !
Surgeon-General Landale, then assistant surgeon, 92nd, mentions that on the way up country with a detachment, as the officers were
sitting outside the tent at nightfall, they noticed that a number of fires were lighted round the camp. On the sergeant coming to report
that all was well, a young officer asked what the fires were for. " To keep off lions," answered the sergeant. " Nonsense," said the
officer, “there are no lions in this country ; the noise you hear is made by Jackals." “ D' ye no' ken, sir, that the Jaickal is the lion's
provider, an' whar' the t'ane is, the t'ither will no' be far awa' ; it's aye as weel to mak’ sure."
On the 30th March, Lieut.-Colonel K. D. MacKenzie arrived, bringing a reinforcement of 178 of all ranks, a large proportion of whom
were English and Irish volunteers from various regiments. The misconduct of some of them on the way out had caused remarks in the
Press to the discredit of the 92nd, which prevented their being welcomed as cordially as would otherwise have been the case.
Two drafts from the depot also Joined early in May under Lieutenants Hunter and J. C. Hay.
June 8th.—Orders were received from headquarters to proceed on the 12th by bullock train to Mhow on field service, by divisions of
two officers and from forty to fifty men ; two men on each hackery. Though in white clothing, they suffered from the heat and dust.
The first party arrived at Mhow after various small adventures, very stiff and tired on the l9th, where Major-General Michel, C.B., was in
The back of the rebellion in the north had already been broken ; in Central India, Sir Hugh Rose had captured Jhansi and Banda in May,
and taken the fortress of Gwalior in June. Apparently the campaign was ended, and Sir Hugh proceeded to take up the office of
Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay Presidency, leaving the command to General Robert Napier, who soon found the security was but
temporary ; and for nine months that remarkable man Tantia Topee kept six columns of troops in constant movement.
The regiment remained at Mhow till the 22nd of August, when, having received sudden orders, four companies, forming part of a
column composed of Bengal Artillery, part of the 17th Lancers, with some Bombay cavalry and native infantry, all under Lieut.-Colonel
Lockhart, marched by Indore, and reached Oojein on the 25th. All being quiet there, the column proceeded to Mundesore to protect
that city against a rebel army under the Rao Sahib and Tantia Topee.
Rain had laid the dust ; the country was green, and marching agreeable. On reaching Kholsheira, intelligence was received that the
enemy had crossed to the right bank of the Chumbal River, and In consequence the column was directed upon Augur, which it reached
on the 28th, having accomplished a march of fifty miles through a most difficult country in thirty-eight hours. Here they halted ; the
men rested, bathed in the lake, and amused themselves, though a storm at night upset the tents, leaving the inmates to flounder out
of the wet canvas in the dark as best they might. On the 31st the column advanced, and encamped to the east of the walled town of
Soosnier. This move was made in consequence of the rebel army having taken the fortified town of Jhalra Patan and deposed the Raj
Rana, who escaped to the British camp. He represented the rebels to number 15,000 men, of whom from 7000 to 8000 were well
armed, and they had thirty-two guns. As there was no support within 100 miles, and as implicit reliance could not be placed on the
native portion of the force in an attack on such superior numbers, the column entrenched themselves, and waited at Soosnier for
another column of the same strength which had left Mhow under Lieut.-Colonel Hope of the 71st Highland Light Infantry, which was
also placed under Lieut.-Colonel Lockhart. On September 9th a squadron of 17th Lancers and two guns Royal Artillery from Hope's
column joined at Soosnier by forced marches, and Lockhart determined to attack the enemy the following day, where he was posted
on strong ground at Rampora, fourteen miles distant ; but the rebel leaders, hearing of the reinforcements abandoned their position
and retreated to Machilpore on the right bank of the Golconda. The column marched to Mulkera, ten miles south of Machilpore, and
also on the right bank of the Golconda, where it was reinforced by the infantry of Hope's column. The two columns thus united were in
a position either to attack the enemy, to guard the rich city of Malwa, or to pursue in any direction.
Major-General Michel, C.B., commanding the Malwa Division, joined the force that night and assumed the command, fully approving the
position taken up by Lieut.-Colonel Lockhart. The rebels having moved towards the south-east, the force left Mulkera on the 12th in
pursuit, and on the 14th reached Bailwarrah, where a reconnaissance ascertained that the enemy was encamped seven miles off , but
men and horses were so much exhausted by the long march and intense heat (many of the native troops having suffered from
sunstroke), added to the late hour, that the force encamped for the night. The 92nd suffered less than the other troops ; their cap
covers were thickly padded, and the screen was so made as to stand out from the head and come down nearly to the shoulders. In
the course of this march they forded a river about 300 vards broad , the water took tall men to the armpits and little men to the chin.
They crossed holding hands, while the other hand held the bundle of coat, kilt, rifle, and ammunition on the head ', a strange scene,
men tumbling about on the rough bottom, and only their heads above water ; but all got safely over and encamped in the jungle. A
spy dressed as a woman selling milk was caught here and afterwards shot. About midnight orders were given to get under arms
quickly without noise or lights, and at 2 a.m. on the l5th August the force marched upon Rajghar, a company of the 92nd forming the
advanced guard. On reaching the town, which was fortified in the native style, no one was on the walls, but the gate was found to be
closed. A gun was brought forward to blow it down, when it was at once opened, and a messenger from the Rajah informed the
General that the enemy in great strength was encamped on the opposite side of the river. The cavalry crossed immediately, followed by
the rest of the force ; but the camp was abandoned, fires still burning, tent-poles, etc., left on the ground, showing that the rebels'
flight had been precipitate.
The European infantry halted for breakfast and grog was served out, while the General followed the rebels with the cavalry, artillery,
and native infantry. Soon heavy firing was heard , the infantry at once pushed on, passing several guns taken by those in advance and
a few of the enemy's killed, and reached a height where the other troops were halted, by which time the heat was tremendous. The
enemy had made a stand in a difficult and jungly country, and kept up a well-sustained fire of round shot, which, however, generally
passed over our men.
The 92nd, under Captain R. Bethune, and the 4th Bombay Rifles, deployed into line and advanced, covered by their own skirmishers
(picked shots from each company), and supported by the 71st H.L.I, and 19th N.I. in quarter-distance column. The country being
covered with jungle, the skirmishers were ordered not to fire unless they could actually see their opponents. When the country became
more open, five of the enemy's guns in position were seen, but after a few rounds from our artillery they were abandoned, and the line
again advanced. The enemy were now in full retreat, and were pursued by our cavalry, many prisoners and guns being taken. The
infantry, after a short halt, proceeded to Beora, where they encamped, very tired, having marched twenty miles under a burning sun
by which many were struck down. The sick following in rear were suddenly attacked in the jungle by a party of the enemy, but the
invalids, being armed, drove them off with loss. Two men of the regiment, Privates Ferguson and McKenzie, had a marvellous escape
from death. Though knocked down by a round shot, one was but slightly wounded , the other had concussion of the brain, and was
But though the British had been so far victorious, they suffered an ignominious defeat on the march to Beora. A hornets' nest was
disturbed ; they attacked horse and foot, and, causing more fear than human foes could do, put them to flight, so that it was some
time before the ranks could be re-formed.
Major-General Michel congratulated the troops on the brilliant result of the day's operations on the plains of Rajghar, the result of the
steady gallantry and endurance by which they had captured thirty guns and dispersed the enemy with heavy loss. The action of
Rajghar was politically of great importance, for had Tantia Topee, Feroze Shah, and the Rao Sahib succeeded in crossing the Nerbudda
at the head of an unbroken army, Southern India would probably have risen against us.
The Bombay Rifles were sent to Mhow with the captured guns, the rest of the force being formed into one brigade under Lieut.-Colonel
September 18th.—The brigade marched from Beora by Denora and many other places, till on the 2nd October it reached Seronje,
where the enemy had again appeared in great strength under the same leaders. On this march the men suffered from want of shoes,
but they bought native ones, which they found were good for marching and did not blister the feet. One of the officers who had a
spare pair of shoes gave them to one of his men. The grateful soldier afterwards brought him a jewelled dagger, which he had picked
up in a camp from which they had driven the enemy. Halting at Seronje to obtain intelligence, the force marched again on the 6th. At
Bhadapore the camp was picturesquely pitched among shady trees on the banks of a clear river; here they bathed and baked scones,
and saw the comet of 1858.
On the morning of the 9th October they reached Mungrowlie, and were pitching tents, when the cavalry vedettes reported the enemy
advancing in force within half a mile of the camp, from which they could not be seen owing to the nature of the ground. The only
cavalry then present were the squadron of 17th Lancers, which was at once pushed forward, rapidly followed by the artillery and
infantry, the 92nd being commanded by Captain R. Bethune. The enemy retired to an eminence crowned by a ruined village, about
three miles from Mungrowlie, where they made a determined stand, covering their front with six guns placed in a strip of jungle which
was filled with cavalry and infantry for the most part dressed in British uniforms. Our infantry deployed, and, covered by skirmishers,
advanced through the jungle upon the enemy's position. Their guns opened and they kept up a well-sustained musketry fire, but the
shot crashed through the trees above the heads of the Highlanders, who, steadily advancing, directed their fire on the guns, whose
position they ascertained by their smoke. Meanwhile the enemy endeavoured to turn our left, and, favoured by the jungle, had actually
succeeded in getting in rear of it, when a troop of the 17th was ordered to charge along the rear of our line, and the opposing cavalry
gave way, leaving their infantry to be severely handled by the Lancers. The line continued to advance, the six guns were taken by a
rush of the skirmishers, many of the gunners being bayoneted, the enemy retired and the ground becoming more open, our guns
came into action with effect ; while the rifles at long range also did some execution on the main body of the rebels, who commenced a
rapid retreat. There being so small a number of cavalry with the brigade, and the enemy being strong in that arm, it was Impossible to
pursue to any distance, and the force returned to Mungrowlie, where the men had a refreshing bathe, and were glad of their dinner
and a dram.
One of the 92nd, walking unarmed at some distance from the camp, was attacked by several armed budmashes ; he rushed at one,
knocked him down, took his sword and marched the lot as prisoners to the camp.
Major-General Michel thanked Lieut.-Colonel Lockhart and the troops under his command for the great success “achieved, owing to
their steadiness, without any material loss " . . . " and should any extraordinary cases of special bravery have occurred, he requests
that the same may be brought to his notice by Lieut.-Colonel Lockhart." That most chivalrous officer is reported to have said that
where all had done their duty well, to single out any for distinction would be invidious.
It being ascertained that the enemy had crossed the Betwa and were on the right bank of that river, the Major-General arranged with
Brigadier-General Smith, commanding a field force in the Chandaree district, that a combined movement should take place, and that
their forces should he divided into three distinct columns, the right column, under Brigadier Smith, to move down the left bank of the
river, prepared to cross to the right if necessary. The cavalry and horse artillery of both brigades formed the centre, under the
immediate command of Major-General Michel, and were to cross the ford by which the enemy had retreated ; the right, composed of
the infantry and field artillery of I.ieut.-Colonel Lockhart's brigade, crossed at Khungia Ghaut : the river was broad, deep, and rapid,
but by using the same precautions as on the former occasion, nothing was lost but a sergeant's kilt ! They proceeded by Balabet,
where they encamped under fine trees in a pretty country, to Narkut, which they reached October 17th, and next day were joined by
the General with the cavalry and horse artillery. On the morning of the 19th they marched on the village of Sindwaho, twelve miles
distant, where the enemy was reported to be in strength. The infantry, which was in front, halted half a mile from the village ; orders
had been given that no bugle should sound, but this was misunderstood by the cavalry, who, on coming up, halted by bugle call. The
enemy, thus apprised of the approach of troops, were soon discovered drawn up in order of battle to the right of the village, and the
horse artillery and cavalry moved forward to the attack ; while the remainder, under Lockhart, advanced upon the village, which was
supposed to be still held. The infantry were in line, with skirmishers in front ; the 71st, covering Le Marchant's battery, passed to the
right, the 92nd through the village and the thick enclosures on its left ; the enemy abandoned the village, but many were shot by the
skirmishers. The nature of the ground now made it necessary to continue the advance in echelon ; the 71st moved to the right, and as
the troop of artillery was seriously pressed, the 19th N.I. was sent to their assistance. The enemy's guns did some damage to our
cavalry against which his fire was principally directed, and his numerous horsemen held their ground obstinately, and tried to turn the
right of our cavalry.
The 92nd, now commanded by Captain A. W. Cameron, advanced in the face of a large body of cavalry posted on a wooded rising
ground. They frequently threatened to charge, coming out into the open, but regained their shelter when our fire told on them. The
92nd was now quite separated from the rest of the force. Le Marchant’s battery was sent to join them, and as the enemy still
threatened to charge, the skirmishers were recalled,. and volleys were fired by companies, the artillery throwing shot and shell into the
tops of trees occupied by the enemy, thus causing them to retire. The artillery and 92nd then joined the rest of the force. The enemy
were in full retreat, pursued by our cavalry and infantry the latter firing as long as their light-footed foes were within range. The 92nd
had suffered much from the great heat, and were glad to quench their thirst under the shade of an enormous banyan tree. Afterwards
they encamped at Bahra, where, on the 20th, General Michel congratulated the troops on 'the signal success of yesterday near
Sindwaho, when an army of 10,000 men was defeated with the loss of all their guns.' Lieut.-Colonel Lockhart's ability in handling his
brigade elicits his warmest approbation, nor can he refrain from expressing his admiration of the infantry, whose zeal and gallantry
made them forget entirely distance, heat, and fatigue,. when an enemy was in front."
On October 21st and 22nd the pursuit was continued. At 1 a.m. on the 23rd the infantry left Lullutpore, followed an hour later by the
cavalry, and reached Maltawa, a distance of thirty miles,. in the afternoon ; on the 24th to Dugorial, whence the General wishing to
surprise the rebels, marched at 2 a.m. on the 25th, and at dawn discovered their army, unconscious of the British approach,. crossing
his front near Korale ; the cavalry, whose horses had suffered from fatigue more than the infantry, had been given an hour's extra
rest, and they had just come up when the infantry under Lockhart, having cut the enemy's line of march, had dispersed them. The
cavalry pursued, while the infantry followed, clearing the villages for five miles. About 300 rebels were killed,. and numbers threw down
their arms. The 92nd was commanded by Captain Cameron. In his dispatch to the Commander-in-Chief, Major-General Michel says :
“It, the infantry, by 1 o'clock p.m. on the 25th, had traversed sixty-two miles in sixty hours, the last twelve of which was over broken
ground, skirmishing with the-enemy. I solicit to bring this fact prominently to his lordship's notice, as a proof of the excellent spirit
and devotion of the troops." During these long marches they forded several rivers but moonlight and good roads made the men tramp
along cheerily to the sound of the pipes or marching songs, though when the sun was up they welcomed the mid-day half, dinner, and
grog. Latterly the road was rough and bad, and the soldiers stumbled along, stiff, thirsty, and tired.
The regiment arrived at Bhilsa on the 2nd November, where a much-needed supply of stockings and shoes was received. While here
one of the men was so affected by bad news in a letter from his family in Scotland that he shot himself, the sad event casting a gloom
over his comrades. From the 9th to the 15th they rested at Goolgong, in a shady camp by a lake where they could bathe at all hours ;
then to Bhopal, where the Ranee gave a grand entertainment to the officers, and sent sweetmeats to all the men. At the durbar held
by the Ranee was a guard of honour of the 92nd Grenadiers. She remarked to Colonel Lockhart that if she had such handsome men in
her country, they would not have been allowed to leave it. Here also, among other strange birds and beasts, they saw a white
elephant. This part of the country being quiet, they marched on the 23rd to Sehore, where in the woods were many apes and
peacocks, which latter made an agreeable addition to the soldiers' fare.
Tantia Topee had meanwhile crossed the Nerbudda, but had been repulsed at Candeish. Major Sutherland, with a small column,
including 100 of the 92nd, crossed the Nerbudda, and was joined at Jeelwana by 50 of the 92nd and 50 of the 71st, mounted on
camels. On the 24th, Major Sutherland, having ascertained that Tanria Topee was on the road to Rajpore, pushed forward the
Highlanders on camels, but so rapidly were they followed by those on foot (both Europeans and natives), that they overtook the riders
in time to advance with them direct on the strong position which the rebels had taken up. Two guns commanded the only approach,
but the Highlanders, supported by the native troops, at once rushed up the road under fire of grapeshot. The gunners stuck to their
guns till cut down, but the rest, abandoning the position and their artillery, fled across the Nerbudda, having wounded only a few of
their assailants, among them Lieutenant and Adjutant Humfrey who had ridden ahead of the regiment and attacked one of the
enemy's leaders ; missing him with his revolver, he threw it at him, then turned to draw his claymore, but it had been jerked out of the
scabbard—he was unarmed ! The man slashed him across the arms with his sword, when Humfrey jumped off his horse, ducked under
its belly, and catching hold of his adversary's leg, pulled him off his horse ; and when some men ran up to the adjutant's assistance,
they found him sitting on his prostrate foe and hammering his head on the ground, so that he was already dead. The pursuit was now
taken up by a column under Brigadier Parke, and Major Sutherland, after remaining at Cooksee till December 27th, was ordered to join
headquarters at Mhow.
Meanwhile Lockhart's Column had returned to Mhow, December 6th, having detached No. 10 and No. 3 Companies, under Captain
Bcthune, forming part of a column (17th Lancers and a troop R.H.A.) under Brigadier Somerset, to follow up Tantia Topee, who had
again got together a following, among them a regiment of cavalry of the Gwallor contingent.
The Highlanders were mounted on riding camels, two on each ; some of them were smooth-paced, and the men soon got used to their
action, but others were so rough that some men preferred jogging alongside, saying, " I didna 'list for a horse sodger," or " I wad
rather march five-and-twenty miles than ride that muckle brute ten minutes." They underwent great privations and fatigues in the
rapid pursuit. On the last night of 1858, they managed to get some arrack to drink a good New Year, and on New Year's Day, 1859,
they came up with the rebels at Burrode, but were scarcely dismounted to attack when the enemy beat a rapid retreat, being,
however, considerably cut up by the pursuers. These companies did not rejoin headquarters till May 24th.
On March 2nd, headquarters marched from Mhow for Jhansi, but at Bursud they were directed by Sir R. Napier to leave the heavy
baggage in charge of a company, and proceed in light order to assist in clearing out the rebels located in the jungles of that
neighbourhood ; when they had performed this duty they resumed their march, and arrived at Jhansi on 7th April, leaving two
companies at Lullutpore under Major Sutherland, where they were actively employed for some time.
On June l0th, No. 7 Company was detached to Seepree, and on the evening of the 30th, forty men under Ensign Emmet, mounted on
elephants, went with a mixed force under Major Meade, senior officer at the station, to surprise a numerous party of rebels in a village
twenty-eight miles distant, situated on a height and surrounded by jungle. They reached it at 5.30 the following morning, and at once
attacked the rebels, who kept up a fire of musketry from the loopholed walls of a large stone-built house, and were not finally subdued
till the house caught fire. In this affair four men of the 92nd were wounded. Major Meade, in reporting the circumstance to the officer
commanding the 92nd, says, “I cannot speak too highly of Ensign Emmet and your men. Their coolness and steadiness were most
October 14th—Two companies on camels, part of a small force under Lieut.-Colonel Lockhart, left Jhansi to clear the district of
Bundelkhand of rebels, acting in conjunction with six other columns. Some difficult and harassing marches were made, and the rebels
were scattered, but could not be brought to action.
In the course of these various expeditions in pursuit of a fugitive foe the regiment lost several men from sunstroke, but none by the
sword, though a few officers and men were wounded. Their life was one of constant change and adventure, visiting a vast number of
towns between the Nerbudda and Jeypore, generally well supplied with sheep, bread, and fruit, sometimes depending on the peafowl
they shot, and on flour porridge and buffalo milk. Once they were a long time without tobacco, till an officer earned the thanks of the
smokers by bringing a large supply from Nusserabad. Often tired and weary from hard marching they sometimes rested for days, on
which occasions pony races, shooting alligators, and bathing amused and refreshed officers and soldiers. Nor did they lack vocal and
instrumental music to cheer them in march, combat, or bivouac ; Surgeon-General Landale testifies to the inspiriting effect on the men,
and the warlike feeling engendered by the sound of the bagpipes.
Tantia Topee was at length betrayed by a friend while hiding in the jungles of Seronje, was tried for complicity in the Cawnpore
massacres and hanged, and the last embers of the fire of revolt were stamped out. Tantia Topee was undoubtedly a marvellous guerilla
leader, and as Pipe-major Duncan MacPhail aptly described him, " a maist ubeequitous character."
For their services in these operations Lieut.-Colonel Lockhart and Major Sutherland were made Companions of the Order of the Bath,
and Captains Bethune and St John (who had acted as brigade-major) were made brevet majors. All ranks received the medal, but the
regiment had not had the good fortune to be present at any engagement of sufficient importance to be emblazoned on its colours.
At Jhansi the regiment was inspected, and afterwards H.R.H. the Commander-in-Chief remarked on the " excellent and most
satisfactory report of Brigadier-General Sir R. Napier upon this distinguished corps, which deserves great praise."
Sir Robert afterwards endorsed his opinion of the regiment by placing his two sons (the late Lord Napier of Magdala and his brother),
when appointed to the Indian army, with the 92nd as a good school of duty.
Lord Clyde also reported, after inspecting the regiment in December 1859, that “their state of the highest order, after the recent
continuous and arduous duties, reflects great credit on every rank of the corps.”
Though while on the move the Gordons enjoyed perfect health, when the excitement was over a reaction set in ; they suffered from
climatic diseases, and the mournful notes of “ Cha till mi tuilleadh” (I will return no more) too often floated on the evening breeze, as
some good soldier was borne to his last resting-place at Jhansi or Lullutpore. However, New Year's Day, 1860, was kept with the usual
festivity ; a large hall was fitted up as a theatre ; some men were good scene-painters, and many were good actors, and they often
played to full houses. These distractions, together with the long walks which some took in the beautiful country, bathing by the way,
had the best effect on their health.
The Lullutpore detachment having rejoined under Captain McGrigor, the regiment, under Lieut.-Colonel Lockhart, left Jhansi, March
15th, 1860, and arrived at Dugshai, April 28th, after a forty days' march by easy stages, during which they waded the broad Scinde
River, and halted near many towns, among them the fortress of Gwalior. They admired the famous Taj Mahal at Agra, the beautiful city
of Delhi, and the magnificent mountain scenery above Kalka, arriving at their new quarters in the best of health and spirits. In this
salubrious climate they luxuriated in European fruits and vegetables, while neither drill nor education were neglected. Officers and men
made many excursions in these Highland hills, the former sometimes using a kilt of khaki-coloured cloth. In their walks the soldiers
made collections of butterflies, which, arranged in neat cases, they sold for a lot of money to visitors. The officers held pony races, the
men had ponies to ride, and kept poultry, pigeons, and pet dogs (the latter often taken by leopards). Cricket, which was beginning to
make its way in Scotland, as golf was becoming popular in England, was played by the officers, and they gave some bats, balls, and
stumps to the men, by whom, however, the game was at first rather imperfectly understood. Two soldiers were seen practising, and
the bowler managed to hit the wicket more than once. At last the batsman shook his fist at him, saying, " I ‘ll tell ye what it is, Sandy—
an ye ca' doou thae sticks again after me juist pittin’ them up, I 'II bash yer heid for ye." When the rains prevented outdoor exercise,
daily dancing classes were got up, and each company gave a ball in turn, from grenadiers to light company, vieing with each other in
the taste of their decorations, and in the quaintness of their fancy dresses, to the admiration of their guests from Subathu and
There is little to add to this regimental history, except to say that Morrison was in hospital during July and August 1859, duty in
October 1859 and then January and February 1860. The Highlanders arrived at Dagshai in April 1860, but on November the 28th 1860
the 92nd were ordered to Umballa. During this first period at Dagshai, John gained his first good conduct and long service badge with
a penny a day pay increase. It took four days to complete their march to Umballa, but they remained for only a short period, on April
the 2nd 1861 the Gordons marched back to Dagshai where they went into barracks. The peace at Dagshai (which became known as
‘their highland home in India’) was not to last as the Gordons (they had been officially named as such in September 1861) were
ordered to march to Calcutta, leaving on the 18th of November.
The 92nd bid farewell to Dagshai and passing Umballa and Delhi they met the 42nd Foot on route to Dagshai on the 13th of
December. The regiments met and halted for half an hour for the men to acquaint themselves until they again continued their
passages. The Gordons marched to Agra where they boarded the newly-made railway and arrived at Allahabad at midnight on New
Years Eve of 1861. After the usual New Years celebration the men again marched on the 3rd of January and arrived a week later at
Benares. From Benares the regiment boarded steamers with flats in tow and proceeded down the Ganges to Sahibgunge, from there,
by train, they proceeded to Calcutta, arriving on the 20th of March and going into barracks at Fort William.
The 92nd Regiment spent a quiet year at Fort William during which period Private Morrison was on duty at the musters of April and July
1862. At the end of 1862 the Gordons were warned of their forthcoming departure to Britain and the offer was made for volunteers to
remain in the sub-continent. John Morrison was among the 300 plus men who decided to volunteer, the men going to several units
including 50 men to the 79th Regiment at Peshawar and 40 men to the 1st Battalion of the 19th Regiment at Mean Meer.
Morrison is listed with the remainder of the volunteers as being at Chinsurah by the end of December and it would be at this place that
his future regiment was decided on, on New Years Day of 1863 number 32 of the 92nd Foot becomes number 1572 of the 1st
Battalion, 19th Regiment of Foot (North Riding – Princess of Wales’ Own). The musters of the 19th Regiment put the draft of 40
volunteers on route to join in March of 1863, by that time the majority of the battalion had left Mean Meer and were on route to
Kussowlie (the muster of 31st March 1863 was taken at Camp Thoohara, 10 miles east of Loodiana). The HQ of the 1st/19th arrived at
Kussowlie on the 9th of April but the draft of the 92nd were not to join them there as they were on detachment under Major E.
Chippendall at Umritsar, where they were to remain until October 1863. On the 4th of October 1863 the HQ of the 1st/19th left
Kussowlie to relieve the 7th Royal Fusiliers at Ferozepore, the detachment under Chippendall joining the HQ soon after it’s arrival at it’s
At Ferozepore the regiment kept Morrison busy with arsenal guard in November 1863 and guard duties at the musters in January and
February 1864. In March the battalion was again on the move to Jullunder where the battalion was in place by the 13th of the month,
Morrison being on rifle drill at the muster on the 31st. The 1/19th were to enjoy a period of stability at Jullunder which passed without
incident, the only occurrences being the stated reason’s for Private Morrison’s absence from monthly muster parades. These events
were as follows:-
28th February 1865: Rifle Drill
31st March 1865: Sweeper
31st July 1865: Assistant Cook
30th September 1865: Rifle Drill
31st October 1865: Sweeper
John Morrison gained his second penny of good conduct pay on the 20th of October 1865 and less than 2 weeks later on the 1st of
November 1865 the battalion was on the march to it’s new station at Peshawar, arriving there on the 8th of December. In February
1866, Morrison goes on detachment at Chum Kunnie under Ensign L.R.H.D. Campbell and returns less than a month later. The Green
Howards were to remain at Peshawar for only 14 months before it marched for Nowshera in February of 1867, fortunately for the men
it was only a journey of 26 miles. During his stay at Peshawar, Morrison is shown as being on ‘wash-house fatigues’ in June of 1866
and on rifle drill in January of 1867.
Nowshera was to be Private Morrison’s last station in his service in India. After a stay of 8 months (and a stated guard duty in June of ’
67), Morrison joins a party of men proceeding down country under Captain J. Knox. This journey was to be a prolonged affair, the
embarkation for England not taking place until the 10th of March 1868, the sea passage back to England taking only 37 days due to
the journey through the Suez Canal. On arrival in England the men are sent to the depot of the 1st/19th, then at Sheffield, where on
the 25th of April 1868 No. 1572 John Morrison is discharged having served his first period of service of 10 years. At his discharge he is
given 5 shillings expenses plus travel money of 14 shillings and 5 pence for his train fare from Sheffield to Liverpool, Liverpool to
Glasgow and Glasgow to Stirling.
John Morrison had served 10 years and 6 months in the army, all but a couple of months in India. Sadly, as he never served to 21
years he never became entitled to a pension and as such there are no surviving documents on this soldier. It is not known what
became of John Morrison once he returned to Stirling, but his Mutiny medal at least survives.. as does his story.
The Life of a Regiment – The Gordon Highlanders 1816 to 1898, Lt. Col. C. Greenhill Gardyne, London, 1903
History of the Services of the 19th Regiment, Major M.L. Ferrar, London
Musters: WO 12/ 9367-9372 (92nd Foot, 1857-1863)
WO 12/ 3639-3646 (1/19th Foot, 1863-69)
Casualty Index, 92nd Foot, WO 25/ 3259
|John Morrison – 92nd & 19th Foot - Served 1857- 1868