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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


Volume 8 Page 159
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 109 but they were received with steady coolness by the British troops. The field was contested with various success, until General Menou, finding that all his endeavours proved fruitless, ordered a retreat, which, from the want of cavalry on the part of the Eritish, he was enabled to accomplish in good order. This battle, which proved decisive of the fate of Egypt, and left an impression not easily to be effaced of British courage and prowess, was dearly gained by the death of Sir Ralph himself. Early in the morning he had taken his station in the front line, from the exposed nature of which, and at a moment when he had dispersed all his staff on various duties, the enemy attempted to take him prisoner.’ From this perilous situation the General was relieved by the valour of his troops, when it was discovered that he had been wounded in the thigh. He was repeatedly pressed by the soldiers to have the wound attended to ; but he treated it as a matter of no moment, and continued to give directions on the field until victory became certain by the retreat of the enemy. The intense excitement of action being thus over, Sir Ralph at last fainted from loss of blood; and although the wound was immediately examined, every attempt to extract the ball proved unsuccessful. He was carried on a litter aboard the Foudroyant where he died on the 28th of March. The death of General Abercromby was looked upon as a national calamity. A ‘monument was ordered to be erected to his memory by the House of Commons ; and his Majesty, as a mark of further respect, conferred the title of Baroness on his lady, and the dignity of Baron to the heirs-male of his body. On the recommendation of his Majesty, a pension of two thousand pounds per annum was voted to the Baroness, and to the two next succeeding heirs. The capital of his native country was not backward in acknowledging the honour reflected by so worthy a son. At a meeting of the Magistrates and Town Council of Edinburgh, it was resolved that a monument to the memory of Sir Ralph Abercromby should be erected on the wall of the High Church; and a very liberal collection was made in all the churches and chapels for the relief of the families of “ the brave men who had fallen in Egypt.” In honour of his memory, also, the Edinburgh Volunteer Brigade, on the 2d of June, performed a grand military spectacle at the Meadows. They were dressed in “ deep funeral uniform,” while the bands performed (‘ plaintive pieces of music, some of which were composed for the occasion.”, The crowd of spectators, as may be supposed, was immense, and the scene is said to have been “ solemn and impressive.” Sir Ralph married Anne, daughter of John Menzies of Fernton (Ferntower), in the county of Perth, by whom he had four sons and two daughters. His eldest son, George, on the death of his mother, 17th February 1821, became 1 Two of the enemy’s cavalry dashing forward, and “ drawing up on each side, attempted to lead him away prisoner. In this unequal contest he received a blow on the breast ; but with the vigour and strength of arm for which he was distinguished, he seized on the sabre of one of those who struggled with him, and forced it out of his hand. At this moment a corporal of the 42d Highlanders, seeing his situation, ran up to his assistance, and shot one of the assailants, on which the other retired.”
Volume 8 Page 160
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