Medals to The Gordon Highlanders and Associated Units from the Collection of A.J. Henderson

Date of Auction: 21st September 2007

Sold for £800

Estimate: £800 - £1,000

Indian Mutiny 1857-59, no clasp (Pipe Mr. Duncan McPhail, 92nd Highlanders) marks to Queen’s bust, otherwise about very fine and extremely rare £800-1000


Duncan McPhail was bom in Oban on 2 July 1826, the son of Neil M'Phale [sic] and his wife Ann M'Phale, nee M'Martin. He enlisted into the 92d Highlanders at Glasgow on the 20th January 1849, aged 23 years 6 months, his trade being given as Labourer. He served with the 92nd at Clonmel and Kilkenny in Ireland and then went with them to Corfu in the Ionian Islands, where he served for two years. On 1 January 1853 he was appointed Sergeant and Drum Major. It should be noted that at this time Pipers were not recognized by the Horse Guards, and in Scottish regiments they were often listed on the books as Drummers, to enable them to receive the additional pay annexed to that appointment - Pipers being considered as far superior to mere Drummers! Whether he was also trained as a Drummer, or merely held the appointment of Drum Major to enable him to receive the additional pay of 1/10d per diem, is not known. However, on the eventual recognition of Pipers by the Horse Guards, just over a year later, McPhail was appointed the 92nd's first official Pipe Major on 1 April 1854.

After Corfu, he served at Gibraltar from April 1853 until the Regiment's posting to the Crimea in 1855, where they arrived just too late to qualify for the Crimea medal. In June 1856 they returned to Gibraltar and remained there until they were sent to India, where they arrived in March 1858, to reinforce the troops there during the suppression of the Mutiny.

Whilst in India, the 92nd provided contingents to go out with the various Field Forces which were employed in mopping up operations against the rebels. McPhail accompanied the Mhow Field Force which, under the Command of Major General John Michel, went in pursuit of the rebel leader Tantia Topee, who McPhail described as ". . . a most ubiquitous character. . .". During these operations the Force was engaged in actions against the enemy at Rajghur, Mongrowlee, Sindwaho and Kurrai.

In May 1859 he was admitted to hospital and in April the following year he embarked for home. He appears to have been sent, on his return, to the 2nd Invalid Depot in September, where he is shown as a Sergeant, but his time there was very short as he was discharged, Time Expired on the 26 September 1860. Sold with full muster details.