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A Private Of The King’s Own Scottish Borderers
by [?]

As the evening closed in, the heavy south-westerly gale that had raged throughout the long-drawn summer’s day gradually dropped, and blew now only in fitful gusts. Instead of the sullen, unending roar of artillery, which till past mid-day had stunned the ear, there was now to be heard only the muttering of distant thunder; the flash of guns was replaced by the glare of lightning flickering against the dark background of heavy cloud that hung low on the horizon; and, except for an irregular splutter of musketry, or an occasional dropping shot from direction of the town, the ominous, sustained rattle of small-arms had now entirely ceased.

The night of the 31st July 1759 had seen the French army march out beyond the ramparts of Minden, to take up position against the Allied Forces under Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick. So fiercely blew the gale then that it drowned the sound of the town clocks striking midnight; so furiously raged the storm with the coming of day that, to windward, even the roar of cannon could not be heard, and it was only the dense clouds of smoke that told they were engaged.

As day broke on the 1st of August the French, under a heavy artillery fire, had attacked with fury, but now, repulsed and broken at every point, they were driven back to their old position behind the town ramparts, where for a few hours longer they staved off surrender.

On the Allied right, where fighting had been hottest and most stubborn, the chief brunt of the action fell on six regiments of British infantry, supported by three battalions of Hanoverians. Never have troops of any nation reaped greater glory, nor earned more lasting fame, than that day fell to the lot of those battalions.

In the first line were the 12th, 37th, and 23rd Regiments; in the second line, the 20th, 51st, and 25th, the latter that famous regiment raised in Scotland in the year 1688 by the Earl of Leven, and then called “Leven’s” or the Edinburgh Regiment. At Minden it fought as Sempil’s Regiment, later it was known as the King’s Own Borderers, and now it is familiar to all as the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. Entirely unsupported, these two lines of scarlet-clad men marched steadily against a mass of cavalry, the flower of the French army. Without haste, without even a sign of hesitation or of wavering, over ground swept by the fire of more than sixty cannon, they moved–a fire that ploughed through their ranks and mowed down men as the hurricane blast smites to the earth trees in a forest of pines. Not till the threatening squadrons of horse began to get into motion did these British regiments halt, and then, pausing coolly till the galloping ranks were all but within striking distance, they fired a volley so withering that men and horses fell in swathes, while the survivors reeled in confusion back on their supports. Never before had volley so crushing been fired by British troops. Up to that day, musketry had seldom been blasting in effect; firelocks then in use were singularly clumsy weapons, noted for anything but accuracy, and, to add to their inefficiency, it was not the practice to bring the cumbersome piece to the shoulder, and thus to take aim, but rather, the method was to raise the firelock breast high and trust to chance that an enemy might be in the line of fire. Now all was changed. During the Peace troops had been taught to aim from the shoulder, and Minden showed the effect.

In spite of their losses, however, the French horse rallied and came again to the attack, this time supported by four brigades of infantry and thirty-two guns. “For a moment the lines of scarlet seemed to waver under the triple attack; but, recovering themselves, they closed up their ranks and met the charging squadrons with a storm of musketry which blasted them off the field, then turning with equal fierceness upon the French infantry, they beat them back with terrible loss.”[2]