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Obituary 1876

From the Hamilton Advertiser November 4, 1876


We have to record the demise of a veteran who fought and bled at Waterloo. Dixon Vallance died in his own house at Carluke, on Sunday last, in the 85 year of his age. The deceased was born at Greenshields, in the parish of Liberton, Lanarkshire, on the 25 day of September 1792. He learned the trade of Cartwright, but soon abandoned this peaceful occupation for the exercise of the gun and bayonet. He enlisted in the 79th Regiment of Foot in the summer of 1813, and was with his gallant regiment in France and in the battle of Waterloo in 1815.

The 79th belonged to General Picton's division, and was among the first of the British Regiments that engaged the French at Quatre-Bras. Soon after he entered the field, his canteen that hung by his side was struck and smashed to pieces by a cannon ball, which killed a man behind him. The commanding officer then gave the command "Load, fire, and charge!". No sooner said than done. Many were killed or wounded, while those who were able fled from the point of the 79 's bayonets. As the regiment charged, they gave three Highland hurrahs, and put the enemy to flight, yelling the most opprobrious epithets against the men without breeches. One returning from the charge at the station of the regiment in a field of rye, two men that stood next to him in the ranks fell, one on his right hand and the other on his left, and at the same time a musket ball struck the camp kettle which he carried on top of his knapsack. While lying according to orders in the field of rye, the man who was next to him was killed by a musket ball, which struck him in the crown of his head. Another musket ball went through his camp kettle and lodged in his knapsack. His face, hands, clothes and belts were be splattered with the blood of his killed and wounded companions. Several bullets went through his clothes and cut his belts. Vallance was one of the men who were on guard on the field of Quatre- Bras on the night of the 16th June. The guns and cannons were silent but the cries and groans of the wounded and dying were heard all over the bloody field. On the morning of the 17th, the regiment got a good allowance of rum. Vallance was one of the party that went for the allowance of beef. On the returning they saw among the slain great members of the French Cuirassiers who had been shot down by the 42nd Regiment. A number of them were stripped to examine with what force British bullets had pierced their iron jackets. It was found the bullets were lodged deep in their bodies. A few of  best cuirasses were selected and used as pans for frying their messes of beef for breakfast. 

Some of the Belgian soldiers that were passing while the meal was being prepared, were invited "to partake of the French fried in their iron jackets!". At ten o'clock on the morning of the 17th the 79th left the field of Quatre-Bras for Waterloo. While on the march, the wind and rain and loud thunder continued to rage. The regiment was stationed in a field of rye, and exposed all night to the fury of the storm without any shelter. Though dark and cloudy, the rain had ceased on the morning of the 18th and the men lost no time in getting everything prepared for their Sunday's work - for the battle of Waterloo was fought on a Sunday. Vallance was again in the conflict. Several balls went through his clothes and also through the feather bonnet on his head. The balls of the French cannon falling thick amongst the regiment, it was ordered to lie down. While prostrate, a cannon ball heaved up the earth under his head, and a little after another struck the ground a few inches from his feet. Very soon after he had shifted his position from the line of the cannon, another ball sunk deep in the spot where he lay only a few moments before. He was engaged in the charge, which Sir Thomas Picton led, and in which he fell. Once and again was his division formed into square to receive the enemy's cavalry, many touching incidents connected with which he told with thrilling interest. Soon after the Prussians came on to the field, Vallance received a wound which tore out his right eye and fractured his cheek bone, which prevented him from pursuing the retreating foe. His wound was so severe as to compel him to lie on the field all night among his wounded companions.

He lay long in the hospital before his wound was healed. He was then discharged, and for his services he got a pension of 9d per day. In 1844 his pension was increased to Is per day, and in 1874 it was raised to Is 6d. per day. In the same year a donation of £50 from an available fund in London was procured for him by James Gilchrist Esq. of Gilfoot and Falla, and Sir Windham C. Anstruther, Bart., M.P.Dixon Valance was not only a mechanic but he had also a mechanical turn of mind. The Highland and Agricultural Society gave him a prize of £8 for a cross-cutting saw, a drawing of which can be seen in Vol. 2 Mechanics Magazine. He also got a prize of £2 for a "coup" cart; one of £2 for a pair of harrows; £ 1 for a turnip cutter; and £ 1 for a milk churn. 

The deceased was intelligent and had a taste for poetry. He was the author of a book in which he gave an account of what he saw at Waterloo. Vallance had resided at Carluke for the past twenty years, and during that time was a quiet citizen, of blameless life. Though an invalid of late years, he had every comfort at his command. The remains of the deceased were interred in Carluke Churchyard on Wednesday 1st.


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Last Updated on Feb-10-2016