Indian Mutiny Medals to Scottish Regiments

I recently asked a collector what his next acquisition was likely to be. He responded with ” I would like an interesting Indian Mutiny medal  preferably in a group or with a LSGC, what would you recommend?”  I knew he liked medals to Scottish Regiments and thought about it for a minute and suggested any of the following:

  • Medal to the 93rd, with a Crimea medal and possibly IGS medal with “Umbeyla” clasp
  • Medal to the 78th with an IGS medal with “Persia” clasp
  • Medal to the 75th
  • Medal to the 72nd with a Crimea medal

I explained my rationale and left him with a few thoughts on what each had to offer. Although unintentional, these 4 examples would provide a collector who had an interest in medals to Scottish Regiments, with an opportunity to collect an example of each clasp awarded. As I look back, each of these choices could be the topic of a separate blog but let me begin with an overview of the Scottish Regiments and the clasps awarded and then briefly share why I think they are special.

Clasps Regiments of Foot # of Clasps
Delhi 75th  801
Defence of Lucknow 78th, 90th  1,072
Relief of Lucknow 75th, 78th, 93rd  1,745
Lucknow 42nd, 75th, 78th, 79th, 93rd  4,179
Central India 71st, 72nd  1,373

In all 11 of the 16 Scottish Regiments of Foot at the time earned Indian Mutiny medals and in addition to the clasp distribution described above, the regiments listed above together with the 73rd, 74th and 92nd Foot, were awarded 2,423 medals  without a clasp and the remaining Scottish Regiments of Foot, the 1st, 21st, 25th, 26th, and 91st did not participate in the conflict.

The medals issued to the British Army were impressed in serif capitals. Private soldier’s medals did not include the rank and only late issues included a regimental number.

jpname
93rdname

 

The 93rd Highlanders

Shortly after distinguishing themselves in the Crimea and memorialized as the Thin Red Line at Balaclava, the regiment were in the thick of things in India. Six Victoria Crosses were awarded to the 93rd for the Relief Of Lucknow and virtually every well known illustration of the Relief of Lucknow and the epic challenges leading up to it at such as breaching the wall at Begum Kothi or the storming of the Secundra Bagh features these kilted warriers.

mutiny 93rd

image courtesy of DNW

 

The 78th Highlanders

The 78th was involved in the recapture of the town of Cawnpore 50 miles from Lucknow in July 1857 and formed part of the relief force under Havelock, to relieve Lucknow which was accomplished in September. Due to the number of sick and wounded, an evacuation did not take place and the defence of the city was expanded. The relievers themselves were besieged for 6 weeks before being themselves relieved in November 1857. For their defense of Lucknow and gallantry in the Indian Mutiny, eight men of the 78th Highland Regiment were awarded the VC.

mutiny 78

image courtesy of DNW

75th Regiment

The 75th Regiment, the only non Highland Regiment of this quartet had been in India since 1849 and only 6 days after news had broken out of the mutiny at Meerut, the Regiment was on the march and joined the field force assembled to advance towards Delhi and the garrison of more than 50,000 rebels. The 75th  had a hard fought campaign and suffered more than 270 casualties. Of those, more than 100 casualties were incurred during the Siege at Delhi. Three members of the regiment won the Victoria Cross, each awarded for actions leading up to the Siege at Delhi.

mutiny 75a

image courtesy of DNW

 

72nd Highlanders

This rounds out the selection by including a medal for the very hard fought campaign involving the pursuit of rebels over an extensive part of the country. A small detachment of the 72nd under Lt. Vesey were mounted on camels and covered 3,000 miles according to one report and although they didn’t stray too far from the column of light cavalry to which they were attached, the image of Highlanders on Camels adds an interesting and colorful dimension to the campaign.

mutiny 72

image courtesy of DNW

Many of the hard earned medals for this campaign have survived and the provenance of known Indian Mutiny medals can be checked at our online data bases here.

9 Comments
  1. Very nice and informative Jim. Regarding ‘Defence of Lucknow’ medals, one often hears the question, ‘Was he an original defender?’ – I assume this means he was present before the first relief force arrived? Were there any Highlanders among the originals?

    • Peter, thanks for your comments. The highlanders were all in the first relief and not original defenders I am afraid.

      Jim

  2. HI, AM LOOKING FOR INDIAN MUTINY MEDAL TO WILLIAM JAMESON, 78TH HIGHLANDERS/ARMOURY 1984 SUSPENSION REPAIRED.

  3. Hello All,
    I’ve been researching a new acquisition today (Indian Mutiny medal, w/ Def. of Lucknow clasp to “H. Gill, 32nd L.I.”) via online resources and find only one H. Gill in the 32nd at that time, i.e., Private Henry Gill. In an online Mutiny casualty roll, I found that he was killed at Chinut on 30 June 1857.
    Thus in a relatively short time, I had the important basics of this recipient and happily learned that this medal was quite a good one. Further checking online for more info yielded only repetitious results. Should I decide to hire a researcher to go to the NA, what more might I learn? I’d assume a basic bio, date and place of birth, perhaps previous occupation, etc., but could there be more exact details of his death? And are such additional details also available online, perhaps at paid for services such as Ancestry, etc. All comments appreciated.
    Thanks, Frank Draskovic

  4. A researcher may be able to track down diaries or other documents perhaps at the India office that mention him specifically but I think that this is a long shot. You may find some details of the battle in the regimental histories or perhaps in general reading related to the campaign. For example the FIBIS page suggests as further reading
    “Indian Mutiny” by Saul David 2002 ISBN 0141005548
    “My Indian Mutiny Diary” by WH Russell 1967 ISBN 0527781207
    “Our Bones are Scattered” by A Ward 1996 ISBN 0719564107

    Generally speaking there is a greater likelihood of details surrounding the death of an officer versus a private soldier. With a death, the pension records would have been destroyed but some limited biographical information might be obtained from musters and certainly a researcher might be of assistance in establishing some record of service through the muster rolls.

    Jim

  5. Frank: I am no expert at researching Army (only RN) but a brief search on ancestry.co.uk reveals that there was a Private Henry Gill in the 32nd for the Punjab campaigns – he was at Mooltan and Goojerat.

    The Indian mutiny roll shows a Henry Gill killed 20 June 1857. If you don’t have access to ancestry I can certainly email you copies of these entries, but encourage ANY British medal collector subscribing to Ancestry.co.uk, it’s not cheap, but I literally use it everyday, and with the costs of British medals can be priceless.

  6. Hi Jim & Pick, Just found your comments today (8-20), both much appreciated. Many thanks, Frank D.

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