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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


E10 G RAP H I C AL S K E T C HE S. 225 Eo. CCXLVI. MAJOR CHARLES JOHNSTONE, WHEX AN ENSIGN IN THE HOPETOUN FENCIBLES. THEl ate MAJORJ OHNSTwaOs dNesEce nded from the Johnstones of Poldean, in the parish of Wamphray, an old family in that district. His great-grandfather was 'CVilliam Johnstone of Granton, a property situated at the head of the vale of Annandale, but which is no longer in possession of the family. His grandfather was an officer in the Scots Greys, and at one period aide-de-camp to John Duke of Argyle. His father had also been in the army-had held the commission of lieutenant in the third Buffs-and was an officer in the Hopetoun Fencibles at the same time with his son. When the Print was executed by Kay, in 1795, the Hopetoun Fencibles were quartered in the Castle of Edinburgh. Johnstone was then only in his fifteenth year, but had much of the soldier in his manner and appearance. Fired with the ambition of militaryglory, the young Ensign did not long remain in the Fencibles. In 1796 he obtained an ensigncy in the second battalion of the Royals, and with that regiment served with much ardour and gallantry in the expedition to Holland in 1799. During one of the actions in which he was engaged, having incautiously advanced too far in front of his men, he was separated from them among the sand hills, and taken prisoner by the enemy, who proceeded to plunder him. On his sword being demanded, he presented it with the scabbard ; but at the moment the Frenchman took hold of it, the painful thought shot across his mind, of the grief his revered father would feel on hearing that he had delivered up his sword, and actuated by a sudden impulse, he quickly drew it out of the scabbard, disengaged himself with it from his enemies, and safely rejoined his companions, who were advancing at no great distance, with no other injury than a musket-ball, fired at him in his retreat, having struck the heel of his boot. In the course of the campaign, howeven he received a severe contusion on the breast, from a spent ball, the effects of which, it is believed, he never entirely recovered In the beginning of the year 1800 he was promoted to a lieutenancy in the fourth Regiment of Foot; and, at his own request, was again removed to the second battalion of the Royals. With this corps he served in Egypt during the campaigns of 1801. At the landing, on the 8th of March, a grapeshot passed through the crown of his hat, without injuring him; but, at the battle of Alexandria, fought on the 21st, he was severely wounded by a musket-ball, which lodged among the small bones of his foot, and was not extracted for six VOL 11. 2 6
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326 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. months afterwards. From the effects of this wound he suffered occasionally as long as he lived. He afterwards served at Gibraltar, under his Royal Highness the Duke of Kent; and, in the West Indies, was present at the capture of St. Lucie and Tobago in 1803. The following year he was promoted to a company. In 1807 Captain Johnstone was married, at Springkell, to Miss Isabella Maxwell, a young lady then residing at Dumfries, daughter of the late William Maxwell, Esq., of the East India Company’s Civil Service ; and from 1808 until 1814, when he was promoted to the rank of Major in the army, he acted as Major of Brigade to the Staff in Scotland. In consequence of very severe suffering, occasioned by the wound in his foot, in 1814 he was induced to apply to Lord Palmerston (then Secretary at wa;) to be placed on the pension list. His claims, though he was unsuccessful in his application, were strongly recommended by his Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, whose letter to the Secretary not only speaks highly of the character of Major Johnstone as an officer and a soldier, but displays the kindness of heart and the warmth of feeling with which his Royal Highness invariably advocated the claims of every deserving officer who served under his command. ,The following is a copy of the letter :- December 21, 1814. “My Dear Lord,-Having been applied to by Major Johnstone, of the 71st Regiment, who was formerly of the Royal Scots, for a letter to your lordship, to strengthen his claims to an allowance for a wound received in Egypt, I beg to state to your lordship that I was informed by the late Lieut. -Colonel Duncan Campbell, who commanded the battalion at the time, that such was Major Johnstone’s gallantry, that, although pressed by his medical attendants to lay himself up till the ball could be extracted, he returned to his duty. At the time he was unable to walk, and served the remainder of the campaign with the ball in his foot, on horseback. I am also enabled to declare, that at various times, while under my command, the recurrence of severe pains and cramps, from the effects of that wound, incapacitated him from doing his duty, and I understand that the sanie is frequently the case at this time. It may also be right to observe, at the storming of Morne Fortune, in St. Lucie, in 1803, where Captain Johnstone headed the light infantry of the second battalion of the Royal Scots, he was particularly mentioned to me by Lieut.-Colonel M‘Donald, wha commanded the battalion, as having been the second man in the Fort, notwithstanding his lameness, into which he was literally lifted by the men, from his inability on that account to scramble in himself; and I well remember at the time it being considered by all who heard of it as a very distinguished act of gallantry, which in my humble opinion, and I will venture to say will, in your lordship’s, greatly enhance his claims to the allowance he iow solicits. “ To Lord Palmerston, Secretary at War, etc. etc. (Signed) EDWARD.” Having in 1812 exchanged into the 71st Light Infantry, Major Johnstone was with that regiment at Waterloo, where, on the 18th of June 1815, he was again severely wounded, but did not leave the field. In 1830 he retired on half-pay, in consequence of the broken state of his health, occasioned in a great measure by the different wounds he had received. From this period he resided chiefly in Edinburgh, where, in the quiet of domestic life, his latter years were devoted to religion ; and, though somewhat unexpectedly summoned, he met the U last enemy of man ” in the strong confidence of faith and hope. He died on the 21st of May 1832, on which day he completed his fifty-second year.
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