Best viewed in
Internet Explorer

Music (PDF)

Music (BMW)

Back to

Updated 04/13/2015


Ensign Keogh
Pipe Major N. McCutcheon   

The tune, Ensign Keogh, was written by Pipe Major N. McCutcheon of the Royal Irish Fusiliers to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Barrosa.  The Battle of Barrosa (Chiclana, 5 March 1811) was part of an unsuccessful maneuver to break the siege of Cádiz in Spain during the Peninsular War. During the battle, a single British division defeated two French divisions and captured a regimental eagle.

Cádiz had been invested by the French in early 1810, leaving it accessible from the sea, but in March of the following year a reduction in the besieging army gave its garrison of Anglo-Spanish troops an opportunity to lift the siege. A large Allied strike force was shipped south from Cádiz to Tarifa, and moved to engage the siege lines from the rear. The French, under the command of Marshal Victor, were aware of the Allied movement and redeployed to prepare a trap. Victor placed one division on the road to Cádiz, blocking the Allied line of march, while his two remaining divisions fell on the single Anglo-Portuguese rearguard division under the command of Sir Thomas Graham.

Following a fierce battle on two fronts, the British succeeded in routing the attacking French forces. A lack of support from the larger Spanish contingent prevented an absolute victory, and the French were able to regroup and reoccupy their siege lines. Graham's tactical victory proved to have little strategic effect on the continuing war, to the extent that Victor was able to claim the battle as a French victory since the siege remained in force until finally being lifted on 24 August 1812.

At the battle, Ensign Edward Keogh and Sergeant Patrick Masterson captured the Eagle of the 8th Ligne. Keogh only managed to get a hand on the shaft when he was shot and bayoneted, he was killed instantly. Masterson had followed his officer and after killing several men he wrenched the Eagle from the dying hands of its bearer, Lieutenant Gazan.    He is supposed to have shouted out "Bejabbers, boys, I've got the cuckoo!" The French reacted ferociously attempting to seize it back but the 87th pushed inexorably onwards. Slowly, in patches, the battle was won and the battered French withdrew from the area leaving Graham's exhausted force in possession of the field.


The Eagle was sent back to London where it was initially laid up with much ceremony at Whitehall. General Graham wrote to the Colonel of the 87th, 'Your Regiment has covered itself with glory; too much cannot be done for it' and the Prince Regent ordered that the Regiment be known as the Prince of Wales's Own Irish Regiment and that it should bear an eagle with laurel wreath on its Colors.


Sgt. Masterson was rewarded with an ensigncy in the Royal Yorkshire Light Infantry Volunteers. Later the eagle was stolen and never recovered but the original staff is on display in the Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum in Armagh.