“Sir David Baird will gain the day. Huzza boys Huzza.”
Among the many interesting objects depicting the long periods of service of our antecedent regiments in India is a small, beautiful little jug adorned by these somewhat enigmatic words.
Less puzzling when one realises that the words refer to General Sir David Baird (1757-1829), legendary hero of the Anglo-Mysore wars and the Napoleonic campaigns.
An officer of The 71st Highlanders, Baird proved to be an excellent soldier and strategist; gaining impressive victories in India and the Cape of Good Hope. During the last war against the Tipu Sultan in 1799, Baird was appointed to command the senior brigade and led the storming party at the successful assault of Seringapatam. Interestingly, Baird had previously been held prisoner for four years in the citadel – on hearing that her son and other prisoners were in fetters, his mother is said to have remarked: “God help the chiel chained to our Davie!”
Sadly, General Baird’s fame and exploits were slightly overshadowed by the other hero of that period: Sir Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington! Although, Baird was to lead successful campaigns, including: the expulsion of the French from Egypt; capturing Cape town; battle of Copenhagen and during the Napoleonic Wars; he felt that he had never achieved the recognition that he deserved.
Baird died in 1828 at the grand old age of 72. His widow also felt that her husband had never been appropriately rewarded for his exemplary service to his country and commissioned a painting to celebrate his greatest victory over Tipu Sahib, the ruler of Mysore. The painting, by Sir David Wilkie, is titled “General Sir David Baird Discovering the Body of Sultan Tipoo Sahib after having Captured Seringapatam, on the 4th May 1799.”
The painting took four years to complete and is exhibited in the National Galleries of Scotland; however, our little jug presumably portraying the sentiments of his soldiers might be seen a more fitting memorial to this talented soldier.