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Sham-fight at Cowglen

Glasgow School of Art Archives

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Sham-fight at Cowglen

An audience watching a sham fight photographed by Duncan Brown. A sham fight was a mock battle, staged as a training exercise for military units.

This is probably the sham fight of Saturday 28 September 1861 which was held on what is now Pollok Golf Course. The fight was organised by the Volunteers of Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire who wished to demonstrate the military competence of the newly-raised Volunteer forces.

The fight began after a 1 o'clock lunch. An audience of several thousand had gathered, with many workers given the day off to attend the spectacle. The Attack was made up of 4,379 men from the 3rd LVR, the Scots Greys, the Glasgow Yeomanry, 300 men from the 76th Foot and others who marched to the Pollok Estate via Crossmyloof. The Defence consisted of 2,700 men from the Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Artillery, several companies of Engineers, volunteer Grenadier Guards and a brigade of Infantry, who occupied an area stretching from the heights of Corker Hill down to the White Cart Water and then south to Barrhead Road.

The Volunteer troops performed magnificently and all went according to plan until "the culminating point of the sham-fight had arrived, and the field was more or less obscured in every part by dense masses of smoke, a portion of the spectators scampered beyond their bounds" and were then followed by the others. "Both the Attack and Defence being utterly smothered and lost amidst the vast human surge" the battle came to a halt.

Duncan Brown (1819-1897) was a talented amateur photographer whose work documents aspects of Glasgow life from the 1850s until the 1890s.

Reference: 14 (4)

Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow School of Art Archives

crowds, golf courses, military manouevres, Pollok Estate, Pollok Golf Course, sham-fights, soldiers, Volunteers, women

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