Scots’ bravery at Waterloo battle

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IN SUPPORT of the oft-repeated mantra that we would somehow be “better ­together” in the Union, Delia Hyder seeks to invoke a highly romanticised vision of the ­Battle of Waterloo (Letters, 6 July).

As a young Officer Cadet in the British Army, I recall attending a briefing on Waterloo on the occasion of the 149th anniversary of the battle.

I was somewhat taken aback, therefore, by the inaccuracies in Ms Hyder’s letter.

She invites us to “imagine the scene” as thousands of French soldiers march across the fields to be confronted by “a thin red line” of Highland infantry. In fact, the Thin Red Line of 
Highland Infantry is generally taken to refer to the stand of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders at the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimea, 39 years after Waterloo.

Secondly, the heroism of the British Army at Waterloo was marked by the formation of 20 infantry squares to successfully withstand cavalry charges, which posed the greatest threat to the cohesion of the line, as well as by the heroism of the Scots Guards and the Coldstream Guards at the Chateau de Hougoumont.

Ms Hyder also refers to the capture by Ensign Charles Ewart of the Scots Greys of a French Regimental Eagle. At the time of Waterloo, although this famous British cavalry regiment was known colloquially as the Scots Greys, its official title was the Royal North British Dragoons. Its very name was redolent of the attempt by Unionists to crush the ancient identity of Scotland.

Hardly the best choice for someone opposed to Scotland regaining its independence.

Keith Halley, Dalkeith

MAY I point out that the English Royals were not involved in the incident to which Delia Hyder refers. The fact that a 3,000-strong square of Napoleon’s elite guards was put to flight was down entirely to the 200 men of the Gordon Highlanders and the not much larger squadron of Scots Greys, both of whom were praised for their valour by Napoleon.

The Gordons all came from Lochaber, then forming the Highland estates of the Duke of Gordon, and were the grandsons of the men of the Keppoch regiment who turned out at the Battle of Culloden on the Jacobite side.

George F Campbell, Glasgow