The Calgary Highlanders playing Haughs of Cromdell, the tune Pipe Major John MacLeod played at Secunderbagh.
The Unearthly Visitant
Not everyone in action is considered for an award of valour or bravery. At times soldiers who we might think of as deserving are overlooked, although no end of writings, reading and re-reading of their actions offer us any explanations. Still these accounts of soldiers in action provide us with context for those who were recognized. In one such account of the Indian Mutiny, Pipe Major John MacLeod’s actions with the 93rd Regiment during the Relief of Lucknow, India were recorded. Although MacLeod received no award for valour, six Victoria Crosses were awarded to the 93rd Regiment of Foot (Sutherland Highlanders) of whom five were Scottish born. The sixth, Lance Corporal John Dunlay was born in Douglas County Cork, Ireland.
There was no pause, no halting hesitation of a moment. The men saw their enemy in front, and, obeying the sharp and ready words of command, dashed forward. They neither thought of the enemy’s greater numbers nor of their advantages of position. Instantly rifle and bayonet were at work, and the battle raged hand to hand. This was no conflict of a few minutes. For two whole hours it continued — the Highlanders, courageously supported by the Punjaubees [sic], performing prodigies of valour. Above the roar of battle was sounding the wild war notes of the bagpipes — sweetest music in a highland soldier’s ear — for John MacLeod, the Pipe Major of the 93rd, remembered well his duty in the turmoil. He has been among the first to force his way though the breach, and no sooner was he within the building then he began to encourage the men by vigorously playing his pipes. The more hot and deadly the battle became the more high strung became the piper’s feelings, and the more loudly did the bagpipes peal and scream — John standing the while in positions perfectly exposed to the fire of the enemy, to whom doubtless he appeared as some unearthly visitant.
Cromb, James. The Highland Brigade: Its Battles and Its Heroes, published 1886. pgs. 202-2