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Macdonald, Sir Hector Archibald

MACDONALD, SIR HECTOR ARCHIBALD (1852-1903), British soldier, was born of humble parentage at Muir of AllanGrange, Ross-shire, Scotland, in 1852. As a boy he was employed in a draper's shop at Dingwall, but in 1870 he enlisted in the 92nd (Gordon) Highlanders. He rose rapidly through the noncommissioned ranks, and had already been a colour-sergeant for some years when, in the Afghan War of 1879, he distinguished himself in the presence of the enemy so much as to be promoted to commissioned rank, his advancement being equally acceptable to his brother officers and popular with the rank and file. As a subaltern he served in the first Boer War of 1880-81, and at Majuba, where he was made prisoner, his bravery was so conspicuous that General Joubert gave him back his sword. In 1885 he served under Sir Evelyn Wood in the reorganization of the Egyptian army, and he took part in the Nile Expedition of that year. In 1888 he became a regimental captain in the British service, but continued to serve in the Egyptian army, being particularly occupied with the training of the Sudanese battalions. In 1889 he received the D.S.O. for his conduct at Toski and in 1891, after the action at Tokar, he was promoted substantive major. In 1896 he commanded a brigade of the Egyptian army in the Dongola Expedition, and during the following campaigns he distinguished himself in every engagement, above all in the final battle of Omdurman (1898) at the crisis of which Macdonald's Sudanese brigade, manoeuvring as a unit with the coolness and precision of the parade ground, repulsed the most determined attack of the Mahdists. After this great service Macdonald's name became famous in England and Scotland, the popular sobriquet of " Fighting Mac " testifying the interest aroused in the public mind by his career and his soldierly personality. He was promoted colonel in the army and appointed an aide-de-camp to the queen, and in 1899 he was promoted major-general and appointed to a command in India. In December 1899 he was called to South Africa to command the Highland Brigade, which had just suffered very heavily and had lost its commander, Major-General A. G. Wauchope, in the battle of Magersfontein. He commanded the brigade throughout Lord Roberts's Paardeberg, Bloemfontein and Pretoria operations, and in 1901 he was made a K.C. B. In 1902 he was appointed to command the troops in Ceylon, but early in the following year (March 25, 1903) he committed suicide in Paris. A memorial to this brilliant soldier, in the form of a tower 100 ft.' high, was erected at Dingwall and completed in 1907.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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