There were three contingents of Seaforth Highlanders raised in Uig to serve in the Napoleonic wars, and those that returned to Uig were known as the Old Soldiers. Their exploits sustained many a ceilidh for years afterwards. Research by the late Rev Col AJ Mackenzie (son of the gamekeeper Roderick Mackenzie, of Kinresort and later Uig Lodge) has provided the core of our research.
The Old Soldiers all belonged, it seems, to one of these three contingents:
- Saighdearan Choinnich Oig (1778).
- Saighdearan Mhic Coinnich Bodhair (1793-4) with whom the incident of Cnoc a’ Champ is associated.
- Saighdearan Mac a’ Mhinisteir (1804) who went with John Munro, son of Rev Hugh Munro, to the battalion raised by Col Alex Mackenzie Fraser.
The campaigns in which they served included the battles at Capetown, Pune, Assaye, Maida, Cogadh na Tuirc (El Hamed) and Java.
Rev Col Mackenzie places the following amongst those who took part in the Cnoc a’ Champ incident in 1793 – the Saighdearan Mhic Coinnich Bodhar:
- Donald Macritchie (Domhnall Mac Mhurachaidh Dhomnaill), Carnish
- Donald Mackenzie (Domhnall Mac Alain Ruaidh), Pabbay. He was killed in battle, at Maida.
- Malcolm Morrison (Calum Ruadh Saighdear), Ardroil. A pensioner, with descendents in Valtos.
- Donald (?) Mackay (An Saighdear Ban), Reef. A pensioner.
He notes that there were undoubtedly many more, but they passed out of living memory before records were kept. Of the second contingent, Saighdearan Mac a’ Ministeir (1804) he knew of the following. The few in italics at the end of the list were apparently not known to him.
- Lieutenant John Munro (Mac a’ Mhinisteir), son of Rev Hugh Munro of Baile na Cille. He was present at Maida in 1806, Rosetta and Alexandria in 1807 and India in 1810 and was killed at the capture of Batavia (Java) in 1811.
- Murdo Macleod (Murchadh Mac Leoid), Crowlista. He was blinded in Egypt in 1807. A pensioner, very pious and a talented bard.
- John Maclean (Iain Ruadh Mac Mhurachaidh Shaor), Mangersta. Blinded at Rosetta and “an extremely fine-looking man.”
- Angus Maciver (Aonghas MacMhurachaidh Bhain), Carnish. A pensioner.
- Malcolm Macleod (Calum Saighdear), Brenish. Possibly also blinded at Rosetta.
- John Mackay (MacAoidh), Valtos. Also blind.
- Norman Morrison (Tarmod Ruadh), Kneep. Was in Egypt in 1807, and also at Java in 1811, so although he was blind, it was not as a result of the ophthalmia that afflicted so many at Rosetta. Tenant in 1867.
- John Smith (Seoc Beag), Pabbay. A pensioner.
- Murdo Matheson, Crowlista. Received the general service medal in 1847 with a single clasp for Maida, suggesting he wasn’t at Java. Descendants include Ian Hislop; and others in Stornoway.
- Evander Maciver, Pabbay (c1787-c1861). He rose to the rank of Sergeant and was subsequently receiver of wrecks in Uig. He also had a single clasp for Maida. The Sergeant Mòr emigrated to Melbourne, Richmond Co, Quebec circa 1841 with his Irish wife, Margaret Boyd.
- Donald Buchanan (Dohmnall Mac Dhonnachaidh), Brenish.
- Donald Maclean (Domhnall Mac Choinnich), Kneep.
- John Macleod (Iain Slaodach), Crowlista. He was said to have been wounded at Pune (India), which puts him with the Saighdearan Mhic Coinnich Bodhar, but another story associates him with the 2nd Battalion (1804).
- — Macleod (An Saighdear Ban), Timsgarry. Mac Aonghas Saighdear, brother of Uisdean Iarsiader.
- — Macleod (Mac Choinnich Aonghais), Crowlista. Died in Crowlista and descendants moved to Ness.
- Norman Macleod (Tarmod Buidhe, or perhaps Ban), Mangersta. Blinded at Rosetta and very pious in later life, having, like Murdo Macleod, come under the influence of Rev Alexander Macleod of Baile na Cille.
- Malcolm Smith (Calum Gobha), Enaclete. A bold character, not at all pious!
- John — (Iain Mac Chaluim), Carnish. He had a little hand, whether by nature or injury, and was known as An Ord. See #29.
- Donald — (Domhnall Mac Chaluim), Carnish. A brother of John above.
- Malcolm Macarthur, Bernera. Appears in the list for the General Service Medal in 1847, with a clasp for Maida.
- Murdo Smith (Mac Mhurchadh Godha), Ungeshader. A pensioner.
- Donald Maciver (Domhnall Taillear), Baile Nicol (now part of Ardroil). Moved to Ness in the 1830s.
- John Macaulay (Iain Mac Tharmoid), Crowlista. Captured by the Turks at El Hamed in 1807 and served as a prisoner and slave for seven years, according to his version, though it must not have been that long. He (or another John Macaulay) had a medal with clasps for Maida and Java, so he could not still have been in Egypt in 1811. He was wounded in the cheek. On tenants list in 1867.
- Malcolm Smith (Calum Olach, Calum Mac Chaluim Ban), Valtos. He features in many tales and was at Maida and Java. Descendants in Valtos.
- — Macleod, Erista. Little information but his daughter or granddaughter, Nic Aonghais, was the last inhabitant of Erista.
- Donald Smith (an Fidhleir), Kneep. Donald does not figure in Rev Mackenzie’s list (unless he is #12, above) and is not part of the main contingents, having apparently served in Canada.
- Malcolm Maclean, Pabbay. Also not known to Rev Mackenzie.
- Norman Maciver, Pabbay and Kneep. Ditto.
- John Morrison, Carnish in 1850. Appears on tenants list. Perhaps #18 above.
Research is ongoing. Meanwhile our Old Soldier stories are here.