92nd Regiment of Foot

Gordon Highlanders

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First Raised in Inverness-shire and Aberdeenshire by Alexander Gordon, the 4th Duke of Gordon, the regiment was originally known as the 100th (Gordon Highlanders) Regiment of foot and was raised for the purpose of fighting in the Napoleonic Wars after the outbreak of Revolution in France in 1792. Initial recruitment to the regiment, as regimental legend goes, was aided by the duke’s wife who is said to have offered a kiss to any man willing to join her husband’s regiment.

After its formation, the regiment would be posted to several British bases in the Mediterranean between 1794 and 1796 such as Gibraltar and Corsica. The regiment would not return to Great Britain until 1798 where it would be moved to help suppress the Irish Revolt of the same year. It would be in 1798 as well that the regiment would be renumbered as the 92nd and its members would henceforth informally be known as 'Gordons'. The following year the regiment was moved to the Netherlands to support the Anglo-Russian invasion of the Batavian Republic, allied to Napoleon. The regiment would here win its first battle honours at the Battle of Alkmaar in October before the invading forces were later withdrawn in mid-November.

The regiment would later be sent to Egypt via Minorca where they would fight the French expedition to that same country led by Napoleon. The 92nd would win a subsequent battle honour at the Battle of Mandora in March 1801 which was a smaller engagement prior to the larger Battle of Alexandria later that same month. The regiment was originally not supposed to have participated in this second, larger engagement as its numbers had dwindled due to combat and sickness. At the sound of fighting however, the men of the regiment persuaded the passing British General, Sir Ralph Abercromby, to return them to the line and this would be their last act of that campaign. This was also the period in which the regiment would take the sphinx as the symbol on its distinctive cap badge.

Returning to Britain, the regiment would spend the next few years performing ceremonial, parade and police duties at home before participating in the British expedition to Copenhagen in 1807 in a bid to secure the Danish fleet before Napoleon could after his navy’s decisive defeat at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
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The year 1807 would mark the outbreak of the Peninsular War in Iberia where the regiment would win the lion’s share of its battle honours, beginning with the British victory at the Battle of Corunna in January 1809. The next major contribution of the 92nd to the war in Spain and Portugal would be in 1811 at the Battle of Fuentes d’Onoro in May. After winning other honours at the Battle of Almaraz in May 1812 and Vitoria in June 1813, the regiment would fight its way into France alongside the other British forces over the summer of 1813. In the engagements collectively known as the Battles of the Pyrenees, the 92nd was instrumental in holding the Pass of Maya against a larger force of battle-hardened French infantry thus allowing the allied armies access into France on a second, southern front.

As Napoleon neared his first defeat in the latter months of 1813 and early 1814, the regiment would win two further honours: The first at the Battle of Nive in December 1813 before a second at the Battle of Orthes in February 1814. Hostilities with France would cease with the abdication of Napoleon with the Treaty of Fontainebleau on the 11th of April 1814 and the regiment would be sent to Ireland until the beginning of the Hundred Days Campaign the next year.

Having returned to France and seized power in March 1815, Napoleon launched a lightning strike invasion into Belgium to defeat the Allied forces there. The 92nd would see action in the Battle of Quatre Bras on the 16th of June where the forces commanded by the Duke of Wellington were able to prevent the French from gaining the important crossroads there. They would be forced to withdraw to the small village of Waterloo however as their Prussian allies were still in retreat. The 92nd would participate in the Battle of Waterloo on the 18th of June. During the battle, the regiment was ordered to face down an advancing French Column of as many as 3,000 men. The 92nd, numbering only about 300 men, would be supported by the cavalry of the Scots Greys and both regiments would charge the French column in front and the flank, destroying the larger French force and taking many prisoners. Purportedly, some of the Gordons would cling on to the stirrups of the Scots Greys as they charged, offering them encouragement. This was the final episode of fighting the regiment would see in the Napoleonic Wars, subsequently being returned to Britain after marching triumphantly into Paris alongside the other Allied forces.
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