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OFFICERS COMPANION FOR AUGUST 1813.
Maj.-Gen. RONALD CRAWFURD FERGUSON, Colonel of the
Sicilian Regiment of Foot, and M.P. for Kirkaldy. THIS gallant officer is descended from a very ancient family in
1 Scotland.—His father, the late William Ferguson, of Raith, in Fifeshire, married Jane Crawfurd, second daughter of Ronald Crawfurd, of Restalrig, and sister to the late Countess of Dumfries. Major-General Ferguson was the second son of this marriage; he was born at Edinburgh, the 8th of February 1773.
At the early age of seventeen he entered the army, as an Ensign, in the 53d regiment of Foot, and the following year, 1791, visited the Court of Berlin for the purpose of acquiring a perfect know, ledge of the profession in which he has since become a distinguished member.
In 1793 he had attained the rank of Captain in the 53d Foot, and accompanied bis regiment to Flanders. Early in that year the troops were landed at Antwerp, and with the 14th and 37th regiInents formed into a brigade, commanded by the late Sir Ralph Abercrombie. This brigade served at Valenciennes, Dunkirk, &c. and after the retreat from the latter place, the 53d regiment was thrown into Nieuport.
The very critical state of affairs throughout Flanders towards the close of the year 1793, determined the British government to dispatch General Sir Charles Grey to that country, with the armament which had been prepared to act under his orders in the WestIndies. Sir Charles Grey arrived in Nieuport Roads on the 28th of October, and he immediately directed Major-General Dundas to Vol. II.
proceed to Ostend, with orders to take under his command the 42d regiment, and four companies of light infantry, and to march with all possible expedition to the support of that garrison.—MajorGeneral Dundas, on reaching Ostend, employed himself in strengthening the defences, and the precautions and maneuvres which he exercised, were attended with such complete success, that the enemy, who had advanced on that place in great force, were now obliged to retreat. The arrival of Sir Charles Grey's expedition may therefore be most justly considered as the cause which prolonged the liberties and independence of the people in the Low Countries. Had not that event occurred, the surrender of Ostend would have taken place, which added to the previous successes of the enemy, and the impetuosity with which they followed up their good fortune, must in a few months have totally subjugated the Netherlands to the despotism of the French Convention.
The 53d regiment was repeatedly distinguished, and both officers and men received the highest marks of approbation from their General: they suffered, in point of killed and wounded, more than any other regiment employed under Generals Grey and Dundas.The former, in his dispatch of the 30th of October, observes, that “ the artillery under Captain Bothwick, with the 534 regiment, whose loss has been the greatest, have been very much distinguished.”—In this dispatch is also noticed a severe wound which Captain Ferguson received in the knee.
In 1794 this officer was promoted to a Majority in the 84th Foot; and upon a second battalion being raised, he was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of the same. The next service in which we find him employed is the expedition under Lieutenant-General Sir Alured Clarke, Major-General Craig, and Admiral Elphinstone, destined for the reduction of the Cape of Good Hope, at that time in the possession of the Dutch.---Lieutenant-Colonel Ferguson's regiment was with the division under the former, and in this place it will be proper to give a correct narrative of the whole operations of the expedition.
On the 14th of July 1795, the Dutch Governor having not only rejected, in the most peremptory terms, the proposals which had been made to him, that the settlement should place itself under the protection of Great-Britain, but having also acted in a manner demonstrative of such hostile dispositions towards the British, as to justify a suspicion, which was conveyed to Major-General Craig, of it being his intention to set fire to Simon's Tower, from which all
the inhabitants had been obliged to retire by his order, the MajorGen. in concurrence with the Admiral, deemed it expedient to prevent the execution of his purpose, by landing and taking possession of the place, which he accordingly did, with a part of the 78th regiment and some marines, amounting together to about 800 men.-The Burgher militia, and Hottentots, ho occupied the surroundiug hills, continually fired upon the British patroles, while the latter were restrained by the directions which they had received not to commit any act of hostility towards the Dutch troops.-Hostilities being, however, thus commenced, and the period approaching when they might reasonably expect the arrival of some troops and stores, which had been requested of the Governor at St. Helena, it was an object of consequence to dispossess the Dutch forces of the post which they occupied at the important pass of Muizenberg, as by it a more ready communication would have been opened with the country.- Accordingly a detachment of seamen was landed, which was formed into two battalions, and on the morning of the 7th of August the whole moved forward to the point of attack.
The post of Muizenberg being extremely strong to the front, and covered by a numerous field of artillery, against which the British General had not one gun to oppose, his principal reliance was upon the fire from the ships, which being properly disposed of, produced every effect which could be expected. The enemy were driven from two twenty-four pounders, which were directed towards the sea, and abandoned the post before General Craig could arrive near enough to profit completely from the success, as they carried off all their artillery, except the two heavy guns above mentioned, and one brass six-pounder, with two eight-inch howitzers.
The enemy having, however, taken post on an advantageous ridge of rocky heights, very strong, and difficult of access, a little beyond the camp, the advanced-guard, under the command of Major Moneypenny, of the 78th, supported by a battalion of that regiment, attacked and drove them from thence with the greatest spirit, although, in addition to the strength of the ground, the enemy were further protected by cannon from the opposite side of the Lagoon, which covers the post of Muizenberg towards the Cape Town.-In this affair, which terminated only with the day, the activity and spirit of the light company of the 78th were conspicuously displayed. On the following morning, the enemy having drawn out their whole foree from the Cape Town, they advanced with eight field-pieces to attack the British, but finding them strongly posted,