Duncan MacDonald

A distinguished soldier whose suicide brought the tragic events of the Napoleonic Wars right into the Edinburgh New Town.

- 27 November 1814
Dalness, Argyllshire
James MacDonald, a younger son of Alexander, 2nd of Dalness.
Having returned from service he was staying with his brother at 42 Castle Street
Colonel in the 57th Regiment from August 1811. Caledonian March, still the official march of the regiment, is said to have been a great favourite of his. (3)
Duncan was wounded severely at Nivelle in November 1813, after which he appears to have continued to follow the regiment, unfit for command but reluctant to miss the battles. It seems that he was popular in his regiment and not a harsh disciplinarian. When another officer lost control of his company who plundered the deserted chateau at Aire in March 1814, the day after a successful battle, the officer was able to escape punishment by blaming the event on loss of discipline caused by MacDonald's continued presence. MacDonald was persuaded to go home and recover his health, and he went to stay with his brother Coll MacDonald, unaware of the charge against him. But while there, he unexpectedly read his name in the London Gazette as one of two officers 'dismissed from service', the other being Colonel Peacocke of the 71st, a notorious coward. In shame at finding his name linked with him, Duncan shot himself at his brother's house.
Chapel connection
funeral (1814)
Related to
Coll MacDonald, brother


  1. Registers of Charlotte Chapel (NAS CH12/3)
  2. C.M.H. Millar, 'The dismissal of Colonel Duncan MacDonald of the 57th Regiment' in The Clan Donald Magazine no.10 (1981) p.65-71
  3. 'Caledonian March' in Traditional Tune Archive (Online accessed 7 April 2012

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