The 93th (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot was a Line Infantry Regiment of the British Army, raised in 1799. Under the Childers Reforms, it amalgamated with the 91st (Argyllshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot to form the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
The regiment arrived at Stirling Castle in October 1848 and provided a Guard of Honour for Queen Victoria on her visit to Glasgow in August 1849. It embarked for the Crimea for service in the Crimean War in February 1854. As part of Brigadier-General Colin Campbell’s Highland Brigade, it took part in the Battle of Alma in September 1854. On 25 October 1854, it was stationed outside the British-controlled port of Balaklava as part of its very thin defences. The Russian Army sent a large force to attack Balaklava, precipitating the Battle of Balaclava.
The Russian threat was countered in part by the charge of General James Scarlett’s Heavy Cavalry Brigade but the rest of the Russian force headed straight for the 93th Regiment of Foot.
Campbell told the men of the 93th Regiment of Foot as he rode down the line: “There is no retreat from here, men…you must die where you stand.” One of the troops, John Scott, responded: “Aye, Sir Colin. An needs be, we’ll do that.” As the younger soldiers moved forward for a bayonet charge, Campbell called out: “93rd, 93rd, damn all that eagerness!” The Times journalist W.H.Russell commenting on the action reported:
The Russians dash at the Highlanders. The ground flies beneath their horses’ feet; gathering speed at every stride, they dash on towards that thin red streak topped with a line of steel.
This led to the regiment’s nickname: “The Thin Red Line”. The historical author, Thomas Carter, wrote:
Advancing in great strength, supported by artillery, the Russian cavalry appeared on the scene. One portion of them assailed the front and right flank of the 93th., but were instantly driven back by the vigorous and steady fire of that distinguished regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel [William Bernard] Ainslie.
The regiment also took part in the Siege of Sevastopol in June 1855 before embarking for home in June 1856