Death of a Waterloo Man

Taken from the Inverness Courier of 19th February 1863.


Alexander Macdonell, late of the 92nd Highlanders, who has resided at Leek of Glengarry since his discharge in 1823, was cut off very suddenly on Wednesday, the 11th instant, in his seventy third year. He was in his usual health that day till between two or three o'clock, when he brought in a quantity of fuel, and having shortly afterwards complained of a pain in the chest, this gallant soldier, who had escaped so many dangers, died without a struggle whilst in the act of going to bed.

Macdonell, according to the recollection of the writer, to whom he had related many an adventure, joined his regiment in 1805, and, after the Walcheren expedition, proceeded to Portugal and Spain, where he fought at Pombale, Tomarre, Fuentes d'Onor, Arreya d'Molino, the taking of Fort Napoleon and Fort Ragusa, the defence of Alba de Formes, the battles of Vittoria, Toulouse, and the ever memorable and conclusive Waterloo, in all which he never received a wound, except, as he graphically described it, "a scratch in the hock at Vittoria from a ball, something like the bite of a pin, which did him no harm". It was here, too, when Lord Hill led his division to the top of the adjoining heights before the action commenced, that Macdonell said that they had some pretty skirmishing. "My comrade, somehow, lost heart, and I just told him to lie back a bit and load both muskets, and I would fire them, and as I had a fine lean over the top of the hillock, I can assure you I made Monsieur jump".

Having caught ague in Holland, with which he was ever after periodically afflicted, and served for four years in the trying climate of Jamaica, the poor warrior's constitution was irreparably injured, and this may account in some measure for his instantaneous dissolution. He never got above the rank of a private, but was a brave, hardy, and active soldier; earned a Waterloo and Peninsular medal, the latter with four clasps bearing the names of Nive, Pyrenees, Vittoria, Feuntes d'Onor, and enjoyed a pension of a shilling per day. He was a kind, warm hearted, unobtrusive man, gifted with a wonderful memory and facility for describing with unvarying accuracy and clearness the stirring scenes of his early and exciting life, and will be long missed and regretted in his native district. His remains were accompanied to their last resting place, the burying-ground of Kilfinnan, by one of the officers of his company, Captain Ewen Ross of Fort Augustus, who deeply lamented the departure of his companion-in-arms. After addressing the procession with a few touching and appropriate words at the grave, the Captain pinned the two well earned medals on the breasts of the hero's nephews, remarking as he did so, they were an honour to them, which, like their uncle's memory, they should keep and cherish as long as they lived.

Charles MacDonell.

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