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Family letters from Australia by John Mcintyre

[page from the diary of my great great grandfather]
page from the diary of my great great grandfather
[Chief, daughter, and son]
, daughter, and son

Date: Mon, 29 Nov 1999 20:50:21 +1100

I have typed the entire diary out as the pages were not good scanning material.


Archibald Sinclair, born in Oban, Argyllshire, Scotland, Jan. 5th, 1775.
Enlisted as a Soldier in the 79th Regiment or Cameron Highlanders, 27th Aug. 1793. Served in the campaigns in Holland in 1794-1795.Served in the West Indies from the 14th Aug. 1795 to 30th July 1797.

Served in the campaign in Holland under General Abercrombie in 1799.

Served in Fenole and Cadiz in 1800.

Served in Egypt under Sir N. Abercrombie, and wounded in 1801.

Served at Copenhagen in 1807 under Lord Cathcart.

Served with General Moores expedition in Sweden in 1808. In Portugal and Spain 1808 and 1809.

Served in Walcharin in 1809 under Lord Chatham. Landed at Cadiz Feb. 15th 1810. Embarked for Portugal 16th Aug. 1810. Joined Lord Wellington at Basaco in Portugal 26th Sept. 1810 and was in the 27th when the Basaco battle was fought; was wounded on 5th May 1811.

Served till March 18th 1812. Served as Sergeant the above time, 9 years of which as Quartermaster Sergeant. Made Quartermaster in the 2nd Battalion 79th Regiment 25th Feb. 1813.

Promoted to a Lieutenancy in the 3rd Royal Veteran Battalion 31st August 1815. The 3rd R. V. B. disbanded at Edinburgh Castle 3rd June 1816. Arrived in Oban June 27th 1816.

Remarks on the above different periods of service.

In January 1795, halted between Arnheim and Nimiguen in Holland, the intense frost was so severe that a piece of meat cut from the carcase six hours after slaughtering, put into the kettle to boil for the space of two hours, when the mess pared the outside a lump the size of a man's fist was entirely frozen in the middle of the piece of 8 lbs weight.

The latter end of January29th, our brigade crossed the Rhine 2nd and 3rd Febuary marched from Arnheim to Waganham at night (the retreat was always at night), the severeness of the weather was such that if a soldier put his tongue on the barrel of his Firlock, the skin stuck to the barrel the same as the skin of a fish taken from a hot brander.

I equipt myself with all my kit, 3 shirts, pair hose and stockings, 2 waistcoats, my kilt and trousers, a Dutchman's side coat etc. My only comfort overall the blanket covering my head, with the firlock slung upon my back, still Mr Frost was superior.

If a man felt sleepy and sat down to rest, he momently fell asleep never to waken,

The Commr. In Chief, Genl. Harcourt, traced the route of the Army by the sick, men women and children dead on the road, and wagons with sick and wounded soldiers, women and children frozen to death.

A soldier's hire at this time was this per day- Seven pence, deduct for your billet in Cantonments three pence.

Holland. Year 1799.

2nd October, the Regiment 79th or Cameron Highlanders to whichI belong,was engaged with the enemy (French) under the gallant Col. Alan Cameron of Eeiaih Lachaber, entered the field upon the head of the regiment, at the first charge of the bayonet wounded in the right arm, calls out "my boys never mind follow me", in a short time receiving the 2nd wound, severe, in the right arm-observing "for the third I'll remain here". By being advised the rest of the officers prevailed upon him to quit the field, a braver officer to dare danger I have never seen his equal. Alan Cameron Eeiaih.

In Egypt the 13th March 1812, our regiment was drawn up on the plain facing the city of Alexandria, the enemy played their long shot from their batteries upon us, one shot took the right file of the Grenadiers from the right, the front rank man was wounded in the shoulder, the rear man received the 12lb shot in the face carried the head clean off, the contents of the head brains and all I received on my breast and face which besmeared me all over my front, stunned me for a little.

Col. McLean standing to my left observed "Sinclair, you are a fortunate man to escape"."Very", says I. "I have more to go through yet".

The expedition to Holland the latter end of the year 1794.

The whole of the Light Compy. to which I belonged was 5 days without any rations, only a small parcel or remnant of horse, beans and water was all they had the above number of days. I have seen the men delerious with hunger, making factions, the lowland Scotch and Highlanders opposing each other in fist and wrestling combats, the few Irish taking part with the Highlanders in all scuffles and disputes.

From this scene of misery, bad clothing and hunger and cold, sent off to the West Indies, where they all perished with the disease of the country in a little more than two years.

Remaining Officers, Sergeants and Lieutenants sent home with the exception of a few men drafted to the 42nd Regiment. I was happy in being a Sergeant and got home at the time.

On the 2nd1799.In Holland I had 5 balls through different parts of my clothing, and my pack marked with musket shot and no part of my skin touched.

My brave Captain Campbell Duntrune was killed by a rifle ball before my face, and two thirds of the Grenadier company killed or wounded.

In Spain, General Moore's retreat, the night we left Lugo, I rode upon afine mule, was so fatigued in coming to a bridge waiting till the army passed, I went into a house with the mule in my hand and sat down and momently fell asleep.

The first awakened me was the canon shotwith a charge of British Cavalry driving the enemy back from the bridge. I got up and instantly got over the bridge in rear of the Cavalry with my eyes half open. I had a narrow escape being taken, but fortune still favoured me. I rode my poor mule 17 days without taking the saddle off, when I came to Corunna I made my man take off the saddle, when all the skin and flesh came from the backbone with the saddle, the animal threw itself down but could not get up. I called upon a musket and made my servant shoot it on the spot to put it out of pain.


The day of the battle I was getting arms and provisions out of the stores at Corunna for the Regiment about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, when Genl. Moore met me with the provisions at the outer gate, calls out to me, "Sinclair, you must immediately clear the road and not be in the way, my good fellow". I obeyed the order with precision, served every man with a good firlock for a bad one and what rations they wanted to complete them for two days.

Before we were hardly done, the regiment fell in and marched off to the Alarm Ground as fast as they could run, the Brigade was off in a moment to cover the right flank.

Genl. Fraser commanded. I thought he was asleep all the time, not a word he spoke, in the course of a hour we were called back to the left, by the time we got upon the main road we met a wagon going very slow. I made aside and asked the dragoon what was there, stooping his head to me said "Genl. Moore mortally wounded."

I whispered the same to the officers as they passed along you would observe a fire of revenge and grief in the countenance of all that knew the fatal event. Night coming on, the troops next the shore were all ordered to embark. I saw every person providing for himself and thought I might do the same. The boats were promiscuously taking the men on board, no order with Brigade or Regiment.Every man for himself. I saw the Adjutant with the Sergt. Major and our stand of colours up to the oxters in the water getting into a boat.I made after them, and betwixt swimming and wading, gained the boat, got on board a transport full of German soldiers. I had no place to lie down but in the coil of the ship's cable, where I remained until we arrived at Plymouth Harbour, where I dismissed all my clothes, a second hand suit, clean I put on, after being well scrubbed and washed I found myself a new soldier, got clear of all encumbrances, such as rags, filth, vermin, long hair, and nails and I was quite comfortable and in a few months fit for another campaign.

I have seen the Officers in the retreat without boots, their bare soles being upon the ground, with a blanket covering their body, worth two or three hundred a year in their own country.

Ordered to form the veteran Battalion8th Nov. 1819. Left Oban 23rd Nov. 1819 and reported myself at Inverary to Inverness with a party of men 28th Nov.

Arrived at Inverness 5th Dec. and at St. George the 8th do.

Embarked on board the crowntransport 12th July 1820. Arrived at Chatham the 19th Feby., embarked on board the crown transport 1st March. Put on board the Scarborough 74 gun ship, through stress of weather, and from hence to the Camilla Frigate 5th March 1820.

Paid up by paymaster, Howe 7th R. V. B. till the 24th March when H. R. H. the Duke of York was pleased to order me to return to my former situation upon the retired list of the 3rd R. V. B.


One day walking across the plains of Alexandria in Egypt through the field of battle, unawares came on one of the pits where the slain men were interred. She fell in and could not extricate herself out of the pit, till by her cries a sergeant passing by came to her assistance, and pulled her out, without which she must certainly have been buried alive with the dead, owing to the depth of the pit where four or five hundred people were shortly before buried, she took a great fright at the time.

Farnach Melfort. Died Jean Sinclair Mother of my family half past 6 o'clock on Saturday 27th May 1837.Much lamented by her family.


Phillip Sinclair, Born 16th Nov. 1798 in Guernsey.Deceased at Inverness.

Archibald Sinclair, Born on board the Alligator transport 11th day Feby. 1801.

Margaret Sinclair, Born at Inverness 28th August 1803. Deceased 19th Dec. 1805.

Margaret Sinclair, Born at Ellensburgh 12th Feby. 1806.

John William Sinclair, Born at Colechester the 11th day of April 1808.

Donald Sinclair, Born at Amcely Barracks the 6th June 1810.

William Sinclair, Born in Glasgow 26th Jany. 1813.

Euphemia Sinclair, Born at Dundee 13th August 1815.

Jean Sinclair, Born at Oban 15th Feby. 1821. Baptised in April.

Memorandum of Battles, Sieges and Skirmishes.

I, Archibald Sinclair, was in the following battles, sieges and skirmishes.


No. 1.Igmont, Holland, 2nd Oct. 1799.
2. Egypt, 13th Mar. 1800.
3. Egypt, 21st Mar. 1800.
4. Rahmanea 8th May, 1809.
5. Corunna, 16th Jan. 1809.
6. Bassaco, 7 th8th Sept. 1810.
7. Fuentos de Honores, 5th May, 1811.


1. Alexandria, Egypt,1811.(date ?)
2. Cadiz, Isladeleon, Spain 1800.
3. Attack on Fenole1800.
4. Copenhagen & Shepping,1807.
5. Flushing1812.
6. Bassacco1812.


1.Pele, Holland1794.
2. Crossing the Rhine1793.
3. Heights of Mazzarian1795.
4. Martinics, West Indies,Patriots landed1798.
5. Landing in Holland 27th Aug. 1799.
6. Marching overnight to Voorn,
7. Taking town before daylight.1795.
8. Taking Fort St. Andrew, Holland. 1795.
9. Egypt12th March 1800.
10. Lugo in Spain,1809.
11. Sartaren in Spain, 1810.

Eighteen times in a fix with the enemy in battles, sieges and skirmishes.Was wounded in 1801, and again, severely, in 1811.

Died 8th August 1837. Buried at Kilmelfort near Oban.

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