With a mixture of esteem, grief and envy, I consider the great loss and immortal glory acquired by the Scots Highlanders in the late bloody affair. Impatient for orders, they rushed forward to the entrenchments, which many of them actually mounted. They appeared like lions, breaking from their chains. Their intrepidity was rather animated than damped by seeing their comrades fall on every side. I have only to say of them, that they seemed more anxious to revenge the cause of their deceased friends, than careful to avoid the same fate. By their assistance, we expect soon to give a good account of the enemy and of ourselves. There is much harmony and friendship between us.
Excerpt from a letter of an officer of the 55th, or Lord Howe’s regiment.
The attack began a little past one in the afternoon, and, about two, the fire became general on both sides, which was exceedingly heavy, and without any intermission, insomuch that the oldest soldier present never saw so furious and incessant a fire. The affair at Fontenoy was nothing to it. I saw both. We labored under insurmountable difficulties. The enemy’s breastwork was about nine or ten feet high, upon the top of which they had plenty of wall pieces fixed, and which was well lined in the inside with small arms. But the difficult access to their lines was what gave them the fatal advantage over us. They took care to cut down monstrous large oak trees, which covered all the ground from the foot of their breastwork about the distance of a cannon shot every way in their front. This not only broke our ranks, and made it impossible for us to keep our order, but put it entirely out of our power to advance till we cut our way through. I have seen men behave with courage and resolution before now, but so much determined bravery can hardly be equalled in any part of the history of ancient Rome. Even those that were mortally wounded cried aloud to their companions, not to mind or lose a thought upon them, but to follow their officers, and to mind the honor of their country. Nay, their ardor was such, that it was difficult to bring them off. They paid dearly for their intrepidity. The remains of the regiment had the honor to cover the retreat of the army, and brought off the wounded, as we did at Fontenoy. When shall we have so fine a regiment again? I hope we shall be allowed to recruit.
Excerpt from a letter of Lieutenant William Grant of the old Highland regiment (i.e. 42nd).