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Hector "Fighting Mac" MacDonald was one of the few British soldiers during the Victorian era to rise from enlisted rank of private to that of Major-General.

A native Gealic speaker, Hector MacDonald was born in Ross-Shire, Scotland in 1853, the son of William MacDonald, a local crofter.


Commissioned from the ranks of the Gordon Highlanders for gallantry during the 2nd Anglo-Afghan War. He fought in the Transvaal War of 1881 where he earned the grudging respect of
his Boer enemies for his stubborn refusal to give up during the British defeat at Majuba Hill.


He began his service in Egypt in 1887 where his steady command of Sudanese battalions during a critical moment at the Battle of Omdurman helped to ensure Kitchener's Victory.


He served in theAnglo-Boer War and in 1903 went on to command in Ceylon. It was here that he became unpopular with Ceylon's Governor Ridgeway due to his perceived low breeding.
Rumors began to be printed in the local papers implying homosexual indiscretions on MacDonald's part while ignoring the fact that MacDonald was married and had a son.


MacDonald left Ceylon to take his case to the King who in turn refused to hear MacDonald's case and sent him back to Ceylon. While in Paris on his return journey MacDonald picked up a newspaper and realized that Gov. Ridgeway had leaked all of the rumors and anonymous
letters to the world press. MacDonald, greatly depressed, sick with dysentery, in general, poor health, and seemingly friendless returned to his hotel room and shot himself. It was a sad end to the life of a great soldier.

"Let people be honest, and while I live they shall never have a speck to put on my life, morally or otherwise."
                                                                                                                              Hector Macdonald

Cabinet Photograph
Elliott & Fry - Photographer
55 Baker Street, London W.,  England
c. 1899

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