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Lt James Scott-Douglas



James Henry Scott DouglasLieutenant James Henry Scott-Douglas, who was slain at KwaMagwasa, Zululand, on June 30th 1879, was the eldest son of Sir George Henry Scott-Douglas, of Springwood Park, Kelso, Baronet, M.P. for Roxburghshire, and Dona Mariquita Juana Petronila Sanchez De Pina, his wife. He was born at Edinburgh on May 27th 1853, and passed his early years at Springwood Park. He was known as Jaime.

In 1864 he went to school at Blackfriars, under Mr R C Powles, and thence proceeded to St Leonards, where he was prepared by the Rev. J Wright for Winchester. He entered Winchester early in 1869, and whilst there became a member of the school Corps of Rifle Volunteers; thence he proceeded to Llanwenorth, where he was prepared by Rev. G Faithfull for the University. On February 29th 1872, he received from the Duke of Buccleuch a commission as Lieutenant in the Queen's Regiment of Light Infantry Militia, which he joined at Dalkeith for training of that year. In October he began his studies at Trinity College Cambridge, and in the following spring passed his previous examination, thereby qualifying himself for a commission in the army as university candidate; having, however, commenced to read the historical Tripos, and being anxious to more effectually complete his education, he abstained from availing himself of the qualification. About this time he enrolled himself in the university volunteers, and shortly afterwards became a Sergeant of that Corps. At the close of the long vacation of 1875 he had the misfortune to meet with a severs fall from his horse, which brought a concussion of the brain; he was thereby prevented from taking part in the final examination for the Tripos, but the examiners were so convinced, by his previous work, of his attainments, that they conferred on him the B.A. degree with honours.

On April the 1st 1875, he was gazetted to the 19th Regiment, being anxious to serve with a Scotch Corps, he was transferred to the 21st Royal North British Fusiliers, joining that Regiment at Portsmouth in January 1876. Shortly afterwards he passed most creditably through a course of garrison instruction, his commanding officer testifying to the manner in which he excelled in tactics and military law. From the School of Musketry at Hythe he came out with an extra first-class certificate' he also obtained a first-class instructor's certificate at the school of army signalling at Aldershot; and on his return to his regiment, performed the duty of Officer-Instructor to it.

Lieutenant Scott-Douglas, accompanying his Regiment, left Queenstown for Zululand in February 1879, and arriving at Durban on March the 29th. Proceeding to the front, he was appointed chief of the signalling staff of the 2nd Division of the Field Force, and, applying himself ardently to his difficult and important duties, he succeeded in a short time in establishing a line of communication. By means of flags and the heliograph, from the most advanced post to the rearmost. On the morning of June 30th, he was employed with his signalling party at Entonganeni; before noon a mist came on which obscured the sun and prevented the working of the heliograph, and shortly afterwards an important message arrived which Lord Chelmsford was desirous to have forwarded to Sir Garnet Wolseley. Lieutenant Scott-Douglas, with his signalling party and an escort, immediately set out to carry it to Fort Evelyn, twenty Miles distant; but finding the condition of the horses to be so bad as to preclude the possibility of escape in the event of the enemy being met with in force. He decided not to risk the safety of so large a party, and rode on with only his orderly, Corporal Cotter of the 17th Lancers. Upon his arrival at the fort the officer who commanded it, observing the fatigued condition of the horses and the unsettled appearance of the weather, urged him to pass the night there; but knowing, by the nature of the messages he had forwarded, that the army was to march for Ulundi at daybreak on the following morning, he preferred to return. The start for Entonganeni was made at 3 p.m., and about an hour afterwards a dense fog came on and shrouded the surrounding country. The track, at all times difficult to follow, branches off towards the deserted mission-station of KwaMagwasa; in the obscurity the two horsemen accidentally took the wrong path, and it was not until after they arrived at the mission-station that they discovered their mistake. Hard by this spot, where they dismounted to refresh their horses, they were observed and surprised by a body of some five hundred Zulus, who were marching to join Cetshwayo at Ulundi. Lieutenant Scott-Douglas was able to discharge five chambers of his revolver, and then fell pierced to the heart by an assegai. His body was found some days afterwards by Brigadier-General Wood, lying near to that of Corporal Cotter, who had also stood his ground most gallantly: the two were buried, with military honours, side by side, in marked graves by crosses and sheltered by a luxuriant growth of the wild cactus.

'Of the soldierlike, manly bearing and social virtues of Lieutenant Scott-Douglas,' wrote Colonel Collingwood, 21st Royal Scots Fusiliers, 'I, his commanding officer, cannot speak too highly. He was the ideal type of an officer and a gentleman in the highest sense in which that term can be applied.'

Graves of Corporal Cotter & Lieutenant Scott-Douglas Graves, Kwamagwasa, Zululand

An extract from : Zululand and Cetewayo; containing an account of Zulu customs, manners, and habits, after a short residence in their kraals, with portrait of Cetewayo, and 28 illustrations from original drawings

"An Induna came in with Lieutenant Douglas's sword, saddle bags, and watch ; also the helmet of the trooper who was killed with him. It made one feel very melancholy to look at the half rusty sword, with the marks of blood on the blade, showing how gallantly its owner had defended himself. Lieutenant Douglas, was riding from Ulundi with despatches to the coast after the battle, when, losing his way in a fog, he was surrounded and killed. Archibald Forbes, who rode the same night to Rorke's Drift, luckily escaped."



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