“The Gallant Ninety-Twa”


"Brave Ninety-Twa, I've read your story, A valour tale of fadeless glory." "Reared 'mong these glens 'mid which I stand, The brave, heroic Gordons grand." The singer lists places visited by the Ninety-Second, and hopes it will retain its fame


Raised in 1794 as the 100th Foot, this regiment (the Gordon Highlanders) was renumbered the 92nd in 1798; under that number, it served in and was granted battle honours for the Peninsular War, the Hundred Days, and the Second Afghan War; it managed to miss the Crimea.

In 1881, the 92nd was consolidated with the 75th Highland Regiment as the Gordon Highlanders. The consolidated unit fought in the Sudan, in the Boer War, and on into the World Wars.

The 92nd does deserve a good deal of credit for Waterloo, incidentally. The first phase of the main battle consisted of the attack by d'Erlon's French corps on Wellington's center. This broke the British line, but Picton's division and others counterattacked and restored the situation. The 92nd was in the forefront of this fight, which was arguably the key to the battle -- had d'Erlon broken through, Napoleon would have won Waterloo; once the assault failed, Napoleon had almost no chance of beating Wellington completely before Blucher arrived with reinforcements.

The dating of the song is a bit of a conundrum. The last event mentioned seems to be Majuba Hill, part of the first (1880-1881) Boer war, in which a scratch force led by Major General Pomeroy-Colley attacked a larger and entrenched Boer force, with predictable results: The British lost about 20% of their force, including Pomeroy-Colley, killed in the field without achieving anything.

The 92nd was not engaged as a whole in this battle (and was given no battle honours), but portions were engaged, so it is fair to mention it. And yet, later that year, the 92nd lost its independent identity. Could the song, perhaps, have been written in response to the consolidation, or the threat of the same? - RBW

Historical references

  • June 18, 1815 - Battle of Waterloo
  • Feb 26, 1881 - Battle of Majuba Hill


  1. Ord, p. 289-291, "The Gallant Ninety-Twa" (1 text)
  2. Roud #3776
  3. BI, Ord289


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1930 (Ord)
Keywords: soldier war
Found in: Britain(Scotland)