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The Laird's Luck and other Fireside Tales

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(1901)

Introduction.

In a General Order issued from the Horse-Guards on New Year's Day,
1836, His Majesty, King William IV., was pleased to direct, through
the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Hill, that "with the view of doing the
fullest justice to Regiments, as well as to Individuals who had
distinguished themselves in action against the enemy,"
an account
of the services of every Regiment in the British Army should be
published, under the supervision of the Adjutant General.

With fair promptitude this scheme was put in hand, under the
editorship of Mr. Richard Cannon, Principal Clerk of the Adjutant
General's Office. The duty of examining, sifting, and preparing the
records of that distinguished Regiment which I shall here call the
Moray Highlanders (concealing its real name for reasons which the
narrative will make apparent) fell to a certain Major Reginald
Sparkes; who in the course of his researches came upon a number of
pages in manuscript sealed under one cover and docketed "Memoranda
concerning Ensign D.M.J. Mackenzie. J.R., Jan. 3rd, 1816"--the
initials being those of Lieut.-Colonel Sir James Ross, who had
commanded the 2nd Battalion of the Morays through the campaign of
Waterloo. The cover also bore, in the same handwriting, the word
"Private," twice underlined.

Of the occurrences related in the enclosed papers--of the private
ones, that is--it so happened that of the four eye-witnesses none
survived at the date of Major Sparkes' discovery. They had, moreover,
so carefully taken their secret with them that the Regiment preserved
not a rumour of it. Major Sparkes' own commission was considerably
more recent than the Waterloo year, and he at least had heard no
whisper of the story. It lay outside the purpose of his inquiry, and
he judiciously omitted it from his report. But the time is past when
its publication might conceivably have been injurious; and with
some alterations in the names--to carry out the disguise of the
Regiment--it is here given. The reader will understand that I use the
ipsissima verba of Colonel Ross.

~Q.

~

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