The Battle of Assaye

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A perhaps unique account of the Battle of Assaye written by a Drummer from the 78th Regiment Roderick Innes of Tain.

This unique account of the Battle of Assaye, which was fought on the 23rd September 1803 in India, was written by Drummer Roderick Innes of Tain. It is perhaps the only account written by an ordinary soldier of a battle which was described by its commander Lord Wellington as, 'the bloodiest for the numbers that I ever saw'.

“As there was no time to lose, we received orders to fire a volley and prepare for charging. A fierce and bloody battle ensued, for they stood to their guns, until they were shivered on the point of the bayonet. So desperate were they that no sooner had one company of men been cut off, than another took up their room, so that in course of action we fought six times our number of fresh men, until at last we fired a volley and charged. We all gave one cheer and on we rushed double quick, and drove them from their guns with great slaughter on both sides. They then began to give way, and we followed close up, until we made them retreat. We heard the cavalry sounding the advance, and we opened to let them pass. They galloped on and cut them down like grass. It was the most dreadful sight I ever beheld. The groans of the living, and the mangled bodies of the dead sufficed to fill the mind with terror. In fact, I am of opinion, that historians do not overdraw the harassing picture of a battle-field. Some men are so hardened from their being frequently in battle, that they never esteem it a cruelty; but did they for a moment look upon it as I do, their opinions would be changed.”

Roderick was just one of many soldiers from Easter-Ross that fought in the battle of Assaye here are a few other local men from the 78th & 74th Regiments who made it home to tell their tale;

78th Battalion

Private Thomas Mclea, Nigg; wounded Musket Ball left leg on 26th August, and 8 wounds, received in the Martha Country in 1803.

Corporal Donald Ross; Tain, wounded in the neck and right side in India discharged in 1805.

Private George Ross, Tain, ruptured in the right groin in India, discharged in 1808.

Sergeant George Polson, Nigg, a wound received in action on the 26th August 1811.

Sergeant John Ross, Tarbet, discharged in 1817, worn out in the service after 16 years in India.

74th Battalion

Private Simon Ross, Tain, Discharged in 1805 with Rheumatism and being worn out, after 26 years’ service.

Sergeant Alexander Sutherland, Dornoch, was wounded at the Battle of Assaye in the East Indies 1803, was in ten engagements with the regiment, in India and the Peninsula.

Private Alexander Fraser, Nigg, discharged in 1805, having a lame arm, swelling and stiff after 13 years’ service.

You can read Roderick's remarkable book online, it includes tales of his childhood in Tain, his years as a soldier in India and even a dramatic shipwreck as he finally made his way home;