A chance sighting in a Glasgow slum changed the life of young James Anderson. Anderson’s father William had been a private in the Royal Scots Fusiliers during the American War of Independence and the boy had been born in America. William had risen to the rank of Sergeant-Major and settled in Gallowgate after being wounded and discharged from the army. One day his old commanding officer, Major General Inglis Hamilton, was passing through the Gallowgate when he spotted William Anderson playing with his sons James and John. The retired general stopped his carriage and greeted Anderson. Young James seemed to remember him and Hamilton became devoted to the boy. He paid for him to go to school and university. He even paid for the boy to have riding lessons and his estate at Murdiestone near Glasgow became a second home for the youth. In 1793 Hamilton arranged for young Anderson to become an officer in the Royal Scots Greys – under the name James Hamilton. The prestigious regiment, which numbered the sons of many leading Scots among its officers, became James’s life and by the time of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, he was its commanding officer. He was last seen alive charging the French with both arms blown off and the reins of his horse between his teeth.

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