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Bloody jacket to star in new museum show

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Bloody jacket to star in new museum show

A BLOOD stained military jacket belonging to a soldier with Annan links will be the star of a new exhibition at Dumfries Museum from next week.

The item was worn by Lieutenant-General Colin Mackenzie (1806–1881), the son in law of Admiral John Douglas of Kinmount.

And despite the slashes and blood stains, Mackenzie kept the scarlet jacket as a reminder of his lucky escape when he was attacked and nearly died in India in 1855.
It is on display for the first time since being conserved by student Hannah Vickers at the Centre for Textile Conservation at the University of Glasgow.
And it is set to be the centrepiece of the “Blood, Sweat and Tears” display, which opens on February 7.
The story of the soldier and the jacket will feature alongside: in 1850, Governor General of the East India Company, Lord Dalhousie, appointed Mackenzie as Brigadier-General in command of the Ellichpúr division of the Hyderabad contingent made up of infantry and cavalry. Generally the officers were British and the soldiers local men. Mackenzie was stationed at Bolarum, a suburb of Hyderabad in India.
In September 1855 cavalry soldiers defied orders and processed noisily past his house marking the Islamic religious month of Muhurram. This disregard of orders was one of many examples of responses to British expansion in India and suppression of historic traditions. A full scale rebellion (the first war of Indian Independence) took place in 1857 heralding the beginning of direct British rule in India (The Raj) which lasted until 1947.
According to accounts, Mackenzie confronted the soldiers passing his house. He was unarmed and was attacked. He suffered multiple sabre wounds to his arms, back and head and was extremely lucky to survive, although he never fully recovered from his wounds.
Although Mackenzie’s bravery was commended, the British Government reprimanded him for his rash and ill-judged behaviour in sparking the incident in which he was injured.
Mackenzie ended his military career as superintendent of army clothing in India. He returned to Britain in 1873 and died in Edinburgh in 1881.
Meanwhile, a talk on textile conservation will be given to launch the exhibition on Monday evening. The speaker will be Glasgow University teacher Karen Thompson along with Hannah Vickers.

Hannah at work on the jacket preservation
Hannah at work on the jacket preservation
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