It was dark on the afternoon of October 13, 1899, when the news of Major-General Andrew Wauchope’s death reached Edinburgh. It flashed through the town and suburbs like wildfire – Red Mick as he was known to family and friends – had been killed at the head of the Scottish Brigade at Magersfontein, south of Kimberley. Slowly the news permeated into the country side and out to the border areas. The initial shock was followed by disbelief, then horror, as the full impact struck. Then a terrible gloom followed as individual families gathered around members of the Wauchope clan to grieve. Scotland as a whole mourned the loss of Wauchope. “There is no other soldier whose death would have produced a like impression,” wrote his biographer. One Edinburgh woman is reputed to have said: “Even the man who brings our milk in the morning is grieving for him.” Wauchope’s father was injured in a hunting accident and died at the age of 56, his brother William inherited the estate, but also died, leaving Andrew to become Laird of Niddrie, their country home, which was often referred to as “an oasis of the Black Country.” Andrew was at times shy, highly strung and nervous, but he had a fiery temper which would flare if disparaging remarks were made about his red hair and freckles. He was casual, even careless in dress. He often went out in an old coat, straw hat, and unpolished shoes. In fact some said he did not care whether the clothes he wore were his own or not, so his elegant and painfully precise brother, William, kept his wardrobe under lock and key at all times. Despite all this, Andrew was totally impeccable when it came to his uniform. He loved cricket, boating, riding and hunting, but said his friends, was never more than a fair shot. He was a man of deeds and few words. He was sadly missed. In addition to the memorials to him at Matjiesfontein, in the Karoo, where he is buried, memorials were erected by public subscription in Niddrie Village, in the Presbyterian church where he worshipped at York, at Perth, and on the village green at Yetholm.
© Rose’s Roundup, September 2011 (No 211)
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