Date added: 16 Feb 2015
13 letters from soldier killed at Quatre-Bas the night before the Battle of Waterloo
My Great great grand-uncle Private Matthew Orr, 92nd regiment Gordon Highlanders was killed in action on the eve of Waterloo. During his time with the Gordon Highlanders (1813-1815) he wrote 13 letters home which may well be of interest to you. My late father John Lamont was unsure what to do with these letters which had been placed in his safe keeping, but a few years ago we visited the Gordon Highlanders museum in Aberdeen and he donated all the letters and papers to the museum archives. The letters make interesting reading describing not only his experiences as a serving soldier but also quite detailed notes on his first impressions of army life, his superiors, English and Irish customs, even the cost of basic food at the time. He also details his kit, and journey preparations from Portsmouth.
Matthew was the son(eldest I think) of a weaver from Dalry Ayrshire, his father ensured his sons had a comprehensive education...there are references to Shakespeare and Robert Burns poetry, also French and Latin, in the letters home. (his brother David became a headmaster).
We think Matthew took the King's shilling at a Fair, much to his father's disgust,and his letters home sometimes reveal an apologetic tone to his parent. There is a letter is to his brother, David, beseeching him to be a good and conscientious son to his parents. In France he was quartered in Ghent with Monsieur Jacobus de Dack , a shoemaker, who he says “ takes great pleasure in conversing with me.”
Unfortunately he was killed on the eve of battle. The Commanding Officer obviously thought highly of Matthew and included in the letters is one from the Colonel to his parents in Dalry Ayrshire.On the advice of Colonel Bryce Knox , a friend of my father, a publication “Thirteen Letters from a Scottish Soldier “ was compiled and published in 1988 byHalf -Century Press. ISBN 1 871222 00 1. The booklet was compiled by W.S. Brownlie.
I have one copy of this booklet.
Submitted by Janet Hodge.