Honours for Drum Major of 89th Regiment

Mon, 03/18/1799
A thoroughly modern Drum Major holding his Mace and wearing a Baldric (sash) emblazoned with embroidered Regimental Battle Honours.

By 1799, the French Revolutionary Wars, following a period of relative peace in 1798, had resumed. The 89th Regiment of Foot, commanded by Lord Blayney, marched to Cork and, after embarkation on 3 January 1799, sailed via Gibraltar and Minorca to Messina. The Regiment arrived on 18 March and remained there for the rest of the year; one event during that time was described by Lieutenant Colonel Wilkie in 'Recollections of the Early Life of a Sailor' published in the United Service Magazine dated 1847.

'Amongst the passengers for Messina was the Drum Major's wife of the 89th Regt commanded by Lord Blaney. [sic*] Her husband came on board to fetch her. He had on such a magnificent dress with black velvet facings and a profusion of gold lace over his coat that we took him for the Governor of Messina. The side was manned, an officer's guard of Marines on deck with drums beating, and all military honours, the Captain on deck with all the other officers making profound bows &c. To see the surprise and astonishment of the man at his reception and our sheepish looks when the mistake was discovered was very ludicrous. I dined frequently with Lord Blaney afterwards and have met him since at parties in England and we always had a hearty laugh about his Drum Major.'

Drum Major staffTo read an account of daily life at sea in the 1860s click on Sailing from India to Hong Kong. (Left, a Drum Major's mace from the 1960/70s)

Correct spelling is Blayney.