Corporal William Caldwell – Marksman & Bowler Extraordinaire – 1838-1907.

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Photo of William Caldwell courtesy of Tom Caldwell.

ORIGINAL ODDS AND ENDS. 

BY A LOCAL RUSTIC. 

I have had an interesting chat with the champion shot of Britain and America, W. Caldwell, of the 1st R.R.V. [Renfrewshire Rifle Volunteers]. He holds the most honourable position that has yet been attained by any rifleman. The team that went over to Creedmoor to contest with the Americans on their own ground in shooting were the crack shots of Britain. All the crack shots in the country tried for a place in the team of twelve. The selection was gone about in the most methodical manner. Those who scored best in the Wimbledon shootings were selected in the first instance, and after a series of trials, the twelve best shots were selected, along with other four that were on the reserve in case of unforeseen circumstances. Three Scotsmen won places among the twelve – Dodds, of Duns; McVittie, of Dumfries; and Wm. Caldwell, of Greenock. 

They went over to America, and in a strange country, new atmosphere, and in new circumstances, scored a splendid victory for Britain. The shooting of the American men was greatly inferior to the British. Then came the highest test of all, the gold medal for the best shot of the victorious British team. “This prize must come to Scotland,” said Caldwell to McVittie, “I intend to go for it, and so must you.” “I go for it too,” answered McVittie. The two went for it with a will, and Caldwell secured it with the extraordinary score of 172 out of a possible 200, and so the prize medal for the best shot in the world fell to Greenock. The medal is valued at 150 dollars, and is of most beautiful design in many-coloured gold work. The central emblem is most appropriate. It is the flags of Britain and America draped together in loving and friendly folds. The edge of the medal, which is oblong in form, is encircled with a wreath of laurel leaves, while the inscription, in solid raised gold letters, circles round the united flags. It is to the following effect:- “International Military Match – Creedmoor, 1882. – For the Best Shot of the British Team.” Not for the best English team, please mark. The Americans are not so prone to sink Scotland as the English generally are, and so, to embrace the two nations more correctly, use the term British, and we feel grateful for their discrimination. 

On the broad, plain shield the inscription runs – “Presented by A. Vogler & Company, Baltimore, Maryland, for the best individual score of the British Team during the International Military Match. Creadmoor, 1882. Score 172. Won by Corporal Caldwell.” Our townsman may well be proud of winning so magnificent a prize. Each of the winning team was presented with small gold medals, having the royal standard of Britain and the American standard blended together, with the following inscription:- “Presented by the National Rifle Association of America to Corporal William Caldwell, member of winning team. Individual score, 166; team score, 1975.” Each of the team having his name, individual and team scores, engraven on the respective medals, thus forming a souvenir and a reliable authority of their shooting ever ready to refer to. 

Having examined these memorials of a noble victory, I looked round the room and saw trophies innumerable that had been won by Corporal Caldwell in many a contest. The Wimbledon gold medal for the grand aggregate, 1881, was there. The design is very suggestive. Two soldiers in the centre, the first representing the dress and arms worn from 1300 to 1500, and the other the soldier of 1880, while below, St George was as usual killing his dragon. There was also a neat medal of the celebrated Elcho Shield. The original is in bronze, about 7 feet in diameter, and the Scottish team who won it in 1879 were each presented with silver medals similar to the one now lying before me. The Elcho Shield has now been competed for 20 times, 5 times it has come to Scotland, as many times to Ireland, and 10 times to England. 

A very handsome silver goblet was next pointed out as won by Corporal Caldwell in the international match of 1871. In 1874, ‘75, and ‘76 Scotland again won, and is here represented by a number of prizes. In 1877, ‘78 and ‘79 Scotland did not compete, but entering again in 1881 and ‘82, the Scottish rifle was again victorious, and is represented in this unique collection by two bars with the Scottish lion rampant, marked respectively 1881 and 1882. 

Then came the badge for the championship of the first stage in the West of Scotland competition for 1879 – a high and honourable position to attain among so many crack shots. 

There were other prizes gained in the West, North, and South of Scotland competitions at Edinburgh in 1877. The West won in that year, and again in the following year, and also in 1879 when the West competed and again won against all Scotland, and is here represented by three magnificent silver cups. 

There was a special silver cup open to all comers shot for at the Edinburgh meeting of 1879, which was won by Corporal Caldwell, and standing beside it was the elegant silver goblet presented by Capt. MacEachran for competition among the Greenock Rifles in 1878. Bronze medals, charms, earrings, silver forks and spoons, a superb case containing one and a half dozen highly-finished silver knives and forks, six exquisite photographs of the Caledonian Shield, records of as many victories, butter knives, a wonderfully carved meerschaum pipe, two silver salvers (won at the West of Scotland Gathering of 1870 and ‘80), a sewing machine, Martini-Henry rifles and fowling pieces, oil paintings, engravings and photographs, all bear testimony to the wonderful shooting powers of Corporal Caldwell. 

Two beautiful and valuable mantelpiece clocks, one of them with a pair of companion ornaments, arrested my attention. They are 16-day clocks, valued at fifteen guineas each, and were competed for in Edinburgh in 1878 and ‘79, and on both occasions Corporal Caldwell was the fortunate winner. Rather singular that he should go to Edinburgh two years in succession, and bring off these two most handsome clocks. Among the many trophies, I pick up the prize medal presented by the town of Inverness for shooting there at the Highland Rifle Association in 1879. 

It is probable the Queen’s Prize will yet come to Greenock, for in 1881 Corporal Caldwell was second in that competition, with a score equal to any of those who won it in previous years. In point of fact, the Queen’s Prize has been won with 18 points less than his score in 1881, so I have strong faith that it will come to Greenock some of these years. 

But it is not alone prizes for shooting that I see lying about me in this museum of curiosities. There is a richly-ornamented and massive silver challenge medal, presented by the managers of the Greenock Mechanics’ Institution in 1880 to the nest player at chess, and is held by this most industrious of prize-takers; and here is a handsome gold one, presented to the Greenock Curling Club by William Allison, Esq., to be the property of the best curler, and there it now lies in quiet company of the silver medal. The first prize in a draught competition – a very handsome draught board – has found its way here also among other numerous curiosities. 

Corporal Caldwell could set up a small exhibition on the shortest notice. He is one of those canny Scots who annually travel south to the great Wimbledon and other meetings, who secure something more than their own share of the good things going, and then as cannily travel north again. In this way he “Revenges Flodden.” Englishmen travel north to their shootings, and pay dearly for them, while Scotsmen of the cool-going Caldwell stamp travel south to their shootings, and they make them pay. Englishmen grumble at the number and value of the prizes that are annually “lifted” and carried north, but they cannot stop it. The cool brains and steady nerves of our countrymen are more than a match for their English competitors, but they should look over that, when they think of the good work done by the Scottish contingent at Creedmoor. 

– Helensburgh News, Thursday 19th October, 1882, p.3. 

‘The Graphic,’ 23rd September, 1882.

CORPORAL W. CALDWELL AT GREENOCK.

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   On Friday, October 20, the non-commissioned officers of the 1st Renfrew entertained their comrade, Corporal Wm. Caldwell, to supper, in the Tontine Hotel, to mark their sense of the high and honourable position he has attained as a marksman, and the credit reflected by him on the corps, more especially by his success in the late International Match at Creedmoor. About eighty sat down, and among the company were – major Ross, who occupied the chair, Captains MacEachran, Walker, Stewart, Scobie, and Tannahill; Lieutenants Macdougal, Stewart, McIsaac, Park, Blackwood, and R. and A. Lyle; Quartermaster-Sergeant Crighton (Provost of Port Glasgow); and Sergeant-Major Walker. After the usual loyal and patriotic toasts had been given and most cordially responded to, 

   The CHAIRMAN, in proposing the health of Corporal Caldwell, said: The special occasion of our present gathering is of an exceedingly pleasant character. We have come to do honour to a comrade who has distinguished himself by a very creditable career, not merely as a frequenter of our targets, but as a representative of this battalion at many great rifle matches. Though the best chance of the British soldier’s success on the battle field is perhaps in the bayonet charge, as witness Tel-el-Kebir, yet, as shooting must often of necessity be the readiest method of assault and defence, the intelligent use of the rifle must always, I think, be a sine qua non with the man who would be a soldier. I don’t suppose any of us would venture to say that the British Army is the best shooting army in the world, for I think our achievements in the late was at the Cape opened our eyes to a few defects in shooting ability; but I dare say that, if we be allowed to reckon the Volunteers with the Army of the Empire, our qualification in the use of the rifle will compare very favourably with the armies of other States. But whether it be so or not with the British forces as a whole, I think it will be admitted that the rifle practising by the British Volunteer has brought to the front at least a few marksmen who can hold their own against any equal number of any other nationality. It is our happiness, gentlemen, to have one of these marksmen here with us to-night, not merely as a guest but as one of ourselves, whose wonted place at drill is our own parade ground, and who has long stood in our ranks. the name of Caldwell is one of the best known in Volunteer shooting circles. As you all well know, there are two of the name brothers, and both have reflected upon the 1st R.R.V. the highest credit – indeed, perhaps the highest honour they could as marksmen. Indeed, it is a nice question whether, keeping the money value of the prize out of view, it be not more honourable to be twice second for the great prize of Wimbledon than once first. Corporal Caldwell, our present guest, who has just returned from the United States laden with honour, was not only one of a team selected from the best shots in this country, but he was also one of the victorious team; and in a subsequent match he proved himself the best shot on the field, and therefore I consider he may rightly be reckoned the best shot in both the new and the old world. We all know that Corporal Caldwell could always be depended on for making a good appearance at any of our important matches; but I think we must all allow that the specially exciting incidents associated with the arrangements and progress of the recent great match at Creedmoor were such as to tax to the utmost the highest powers of the most experienced marksmen. Corporal Caldwell has come through it all, not only with his former honours untarnished, but with additional laurels on his brow. It must certainly be very gratifying for him to possess the handsome medals he has brought home from America; but there must also, I think, be in his mind a very pleasant feeling on contemplating the position he won as a member of the team that shot at Creedmoor. Besides all this, however, I have the special pleasure of mentioning that on the return of the Team to this country, Col. Sir H. St. John Halford paid a special compliment to Corporal Caldwell by writing a letter to Sir Michael expressing his satisfaction with Mr. Caldwell’s shooting and general demeanour in America. This letter was sent by Sir Michael to Colonel Latham, who handed it to me, and I think I cannot do better than read both letters to you: 

Ardgowan, Greenock,       

13th October, 1882.    

   My dear Colonel Latham, – I enclose a letter received to-day from Colonel St. John Halford. I have acknowledged it telling him that I forward it to you, and that I feel sure you will be very glad to read the good report of Corporal Caldwell, and feel obliged to the Colonel for sending it. – Yours faithfully, 

(Signed)     M.R. SHAW STEWART.

   Colonel Halford’s letter is as follows:-

Wirton, Leicester,       

12th October, 1882.    

   Sir, – I feel sure that it will be a source of satisfaction to you, and the Volunteers under your command, to know that Corporal Caldwell, of the 1st R.R.V., who formed one of the British Team of Volunteers placed under my command for America, conducted himself entirely to my satisfaction throughout, and that he did all in his power not only to win the match by shooting, but to promote good feeling, and to lighten my labours and those of the Committee of the National Rifle Association. – I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant, 

(Signed)     H. ST. JOHN HALFORD, Lt.-Col.

Captain of British Team.    

Lieut.-Col. Sir Michael R. Shaw Stewart, Bart.,

Commanding 1st Renfrewshire R.V.

These letters, gentlemen, speak for themselves without any comment from me. The career of Corporal Caldwell as a frequenter of the targets seems to have been all through a very remarkable one. From the first, among ourselves, he was found to be a good steady shot. As season after season passed on, we found him steadily advancing towards the prominent position which he holds to-day in the shooting circles of the country. In 1881 we find him obtaining the grand Aggregate at Wimbledon, which carried with it the Canadian Shield, which is considered to be, if not equal, at least not much below, the taking of the Queen’s Prize. Again, at the same Wimbledon Meeting, we find him occupying the rare position of being second for the Queen’s Prize, and now we have him with us to-night wearing the honours of a cosmopolitan championship. This was won immediately after the great match at Creedmoor in an additional competition amongst the members of the British Team by themselves. Corporal Caldwell won it with a score of 172 points out of a possible 200 points. The ranges and scores were as follows:- 

At 200 yards,  

standing,

44

out of a possible 50 
At 600 yards, 

prone,

47

out of a possible 50 
At 900 yards, 

any position,

43

out of a possible 50 
At 1,000 yards, 

any position,

 38.

out of a possible 50 
 

Total

172

 

   So good was his position, that even although if he had missed his last shot – which he didn’t – he still would have been the highest scorer. I have no doubt Corporal Caldwell’s recollections of his excursion to America, and of his experiences, there are those of a very pleasant epoch in his career as a Volunteer. I daresay Corporal Caldwell could tell us a good deal about the courtesy shown to the British team by the American citizens, and also about the fine spirit of fair play that, according to the public Press, seems to have marked the proceedings of the match. Amid the exciting circumstances which took place at the close of the match, the Americans seem to have expressed their determination to win next time. I am sure we should all be glad if on the next occasion the Corporal should be again one of the team, and be equally successful. And now, gentlemen, in your name, I beg to welcome back Corporal Caldwell to our midst with the laurels he had so lately won in the performance of his duty in America as a representative Volunteer. (Loud applause.) 

   The gallant Corporal’s health was then drunk by the company, with an enthusiasm most flattering to the honoured guest. In reply, 

   Corporal CALDWELL, who was received with the utmost enthusiasm, said: Major Ross, officers, and members of the 1st Renfrewshire Rifle Volunteers, I cannot express the feelings I have at the kind and hearty welcome you have given me, now and since my return from America, as one of the British Team which was successful in winning the friendly rifle match at Creedmoor against our cousins, the Americans; and I hope you will believe me when I say that I appreciate very much the great honour you have done me to-night. (Applause.) When, in the beginning of the present year, it was made known to the Volunteers of Great Britain by the N.R.A. about the intended match with the American State Guards, and that names of intending competitors were wanted for places on that team, I thought it was my duty, as a Volunteer, to place myself at the disposal of my country – (applause) – and so I subscribed my name to the rules and regulations for the preliminary trials, and to obey all orders from the Committee of Management, who were appointed by the National Rifle Association to see that the match was conducted to a successful termination. That committee was composed of Lieut.-Colonel Sir Henry Halford, Lieut.-Colonel Walrond, Major Waller, and Major Humphry, and I can assure you it was a real pleasure to serve under these officers. the shooting for places on the team was of a very exhaustive nature, and I think the team ultimately selected along with the Committee was one of the best who ever left these shores or that the country could procure to uphold the name of the British Isles in a trial of skill with the rifle. (Applause.) The majority of the members of the team were pretty well acquainted with each other, especially at the rifle butts, and on comparing notes we came to the conclusion that, if we were to be beaten by the Americans in the match, no other team need try until the shooting in this country was better than at present, and we thought that would take some considerable time. (Applause.) Then we knew we had the best wishes for success of the officers belonging to our different regiments (and who kindly granted us the necessary leave), of our brother riflemen, and of the public generally. All these things tended to encourage and inspire confidence in our ability to win the match. But I have no doubt every member of the Team was troubled with a certain amount of anxiety up to and until the conclusion of the match. I know for myself, since arriving home the remark has been often made to me that I must have enjoyed the fine trip; but I can say that the enjoyment was very little until the object was accomplished which we had on hand. The hospitality we received from the American National Guard, and all classes of the community, was kind in the extreme, and was an agreeable surprise to those Volunteers whose first experience it was to meet the Americans at home; and I think if these friendly matches between the United States of America and the British Isles are continued, they will go a a great way towards increasing the harmony and respect between the two greatest nations who speak the English language. (Applause.) The rank and file of the 1st Renfrewshire Volunteers owe their best thanks to the officers for the kindness and anxiety shown for their success with the rifle, either as individuals or in teams, whether at home or abroad; and I am sure they feel repaid for all their trouble whenever any trophy or other distinction is gained by any of the members. there is one proud position in the shooting world that I wish to see occupied by one of members of this corps, and have great hope that the day will come when pluck, patience, and perseverance will have their reward, and the wish be realized. no doubt many of us have been long striving after it with varying success, sometimes near, at other times afar off; and some of us will soon have to give place to younger competitors to carry on the work; but let it be soon or late, officers and men, old and young members, will join in giving a hearty welcome to the winner of the Blue Ribbon – the Queen’s Prizeman. (Loud and continued applause.) 

   The remainder of the evening was most enjoyably spent. – Greenock Telegraph

– Volunteer Service Gazette and Military Dispatch, Saturday 28th October, 1882, p.14.

‘Harper’s Weekly,’ 16th September, 1882.
Courtesy of an enthusiastic RSH Patron.

2band1853Enfield rifle-musket 58calibre copy

1853 Enfield Musket .58 Caliber.

NOTES BY DEMOCRITUS. 

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The Caledonian Shield: Where is it? – American Record of the Winner – The Civil War – His Career as a Soldier – From Sergeant to Captain… 

ON January 19th, 1884, our gallant Volunteers mustered in the Town Hall to assist in the interesting ceremony of handing over to the care of our worthy Provost the Caledonian Shield, so creditably won by our townsman, Corporal William Caldwell. The Provost promised to take good care of it, and so he has, for it has been invisible ever since. It was to have been placed in the Watt Museum for public view. Can anyone inform me if it has reached its destination? and if it has, why are the public not made aware of it? Not only the Shield should be exhibited, but the innumerable trophies that the Corporal has won both in this country and America should also be exhibited. They would make an interesting show in themselves, and I think the winner, if he was requested to lend them for the occasion, would accede to such a request. 

We all know something of what the doughty Corporal has done in the shooting line in this country, but we know little of his American experiences in the great civil war that threatened to rend the Republic. I happened to come upon a copy of the New York Herald of September 4th, 1882, which gives short notes of the lives and doings of the British team of riflemen who crossed the Atlantic to compete with their American friends at Creedmoor. Each of the British team had a short paragraph devoted to him, but Corporal Caldwell had a paragraph devoted to his career about eight times in length of that of any of the others. The reason was because he had served so long and so well in the Union army. It is interesting reading, and never having been reproduced in the British press, so far as I am aware of, I now present it to my readers as an episode in the life of an esteemed townsman. The article in question is headed – 

“A VETERAN OF THE WAR. 

“It will be recalled that one member of the American team, Mr Smith, was formerly an English volunteer and a crack Wimbledon shot. Some fears were entertained as to the way the English riflemen might feel about his participancy. The matter proved to be only the basis of some good-humoured banter. Sir Henry Halford disposed of the matter in a breath when he said, ‘If he is a naturalised American and a bona fide member of the National Guard, we have no objection to raise.’ But, in fact, there is a strange counterpoise to Smith’s case in that of Caldwell in the British team. This gentleman is not only an ex-National Guardsman, with brown hair and light beard, both beginning to be grizzled. The soldier asserts itself in his upright carriage, the frank and genial man in his kindly grey eye. He told the story of his campaigning with evident zest. He was born in Ayrshire, Scotland, in 1839, and just twenty years later, he took an abrupt leave of home to try his fortunes in New York, where he was living when the war broke out. The son of his employer, Hugh Watts by name, was then a member of Company F, twelfth regiment of this city, and he, taking a sudden fancy for soldiering joined that company too, and performed the regular three months’ service in the field. ‘But I thought I’d like to see some more campaigning,’ said he, ‘and so when a friend of mine, Captain Crombie, offered me a sergeantcy in a company he was raising for the Fifty-first New York Volunteers, I accepted the offer at once.’ 

“The regiment was sent to Annapolis first, and then participated in the capture of Roanoke Island under Burnside, and, going thence to Fredricksburg, fell under General Pope’s command, and was present at the second battle of Mannases, and in numerous fights along the Rappahannock. At Antietam the regiment won much glory along with the Twenty-first Massachusetts and Fifty-first Pennsylvania, and there were so many non-commissioned officers fell that Caldwell found himself first sergeant. He went through the terrific slaughter of Burnside’s attack at Fredericksburg, and then went on a ten days’ furlough, at the end of which he found himself second lieutenant. In trying to board a moving train at this time, in his anxiety to join his regiment, he slipped and a portion of his toes was cut off by the wheels. He only remained in hospital for one day, and went on duty at once as commissary to General Wilcox. He returned to the Fifty-first as first lieutenant, March 14, 1864, and with it took part in grant’s operations against Vicksburg. He was next in the battle of the Wilderness, and aided in the construction of the disastrous Petersburg mine. He was wounded slightly at this place, and August 11, 1864, was gazetted as Captain, and made prisoner, with a large part of his command, on the same day. He tells with great enjoyment how he saved his money (two hundred dollars) at Libby, by hiding it in the lining of his cap, when he was searched. 

“He was removed to Salisbury, and there engaged in a plot to overcome the guards, which, however, was discovered, and he and other officers were sent to Danville, Va. He was soon exchanged, and was present at the surrender of Lee. When he got his discharge he went home on a visit, but was induced to settle in Greenock, where he now lives. He joined the first Renfrew Volunteers soon after, and has shot in the Scotch Twenty every year from 1870 to the present. He was in the eight for the Elcho Shield in 1879, won the Alexandria Prize in 1871, and in the Grand Aggregate in 1876. 

“He was champion of West of Scotland in 1879, and won the Grand Aggregate and Canada Badge in 1881. He has also shot in the United Service teams, and in Mother Country teams for the Kalapore Cup.” 

That is a record from a foreign source of a life of active, stirring work and peril – a life in which the Scotch element of pluck and endurance carries the man through several military gradations from the plain sergeant upwards to that of captain of his regiment. 

Since then Corporal Caldwell has added the Caledonian Shield to his numerous laurels – if the whereabouts of that Shield could only be discovered. these frequent runnings up to London of our worthy Provost no doubt has knocked the Shield out of his head, which must be almost tunnelled by these conflicting railway schemes to Gourock. But Bailie Leitch – himself a rifleman of notable repute – should look after that Shield, get it placed in an honourable position, so that the inhabitants may have the pleasure of seeing it. No one who was in the Town Hall on the 19th of last month, and looked at the calm, immovable form of the redoubtable winner of the Shield, could have imagined that he had come through such stirring scenes in the great Civil War of the United States. 

– Greenock Herald, Saturday 1st March, 1884, p.2. 

THE VOLUNTEERS.

—————

CALEDONIAN CHALLENGE SHIELD WON BY CORPL. W. CALDWELL.

   Another brilliant victory was scored by our local marksman, Corporal William Caldwell, on Saturday, when he won the Caledonian Challenge Shield with a score of 65, out of a possible of 75. He has thus earned, in a double sense, the proud title of the champion shot of Scotland, having carried off the highest honours at the recent meeting of the Scottish Rifle Association at Darnley. 

   The Edinburgh Rifle Meeting was brought to a close on Saturday, and of course the shooting in the final stage of the contest for the Caledonian Shield was the great attraction of the day’s programme. About a quarter from three o’clock the Thirty were paraded in rear of the 600 yards firing points, and, having answered to their names, were supplied with the ammunition necessary to 

WIN OR LOSE THE SHIELD.

   They were then told off in groups of five, and were detailed to six targets, at which they fired a single round in turn. In this way the men were placed as nearly as possible on a footing of equality so far as weather was concerned; but, as it happened, the conditions were fairly equable. The light was bright but steady, and the wind, though inclined to be gusty, was on the whole tolerably amenable to calculation at the hands of experienced marksmen. The contest had not proceeded very far when all eyes were directed to the shooting of J. B. Adamson, 1st Mid-Lothian, one of the men who had just obtained his place in the Thirty. 

CORPORAL W. CALDWELL

had, it is true, dropped only one point upon his first three shots, but Adamson was the only member of the Thirty who had opened with the bull’s-eye and had stuck to it. Then he had a fourth and a fifth bull’s-eye, and many, of the bystanders must have thought he was bidding fair to equal Caldwell’s marvellous performance to fourteen consecutive bull’s-eyes at Darnley lately. At the fifth round all over Caldwell was still no more than a point in arrear, and there was another member of the Thirty – Corporal Pearson, 2nd Mid-Lothian – who was just a  

POINT BEHIND THE FAMOUS GREENOCK SHOT.

But the shooting was proceeding rather more rapidly at Caldwell’s target than it was with the quintette of whom Adamson formed one; and so the 1st Renfrew man was taking aim for his seventh round before Adamson had fired his sixth. When Caldwell here dropped away to the outer, a 

MURMUR OF EXCITEMENT

went up, as it were, involuntarily from the crowd of spectators behind the ropes; and when Adamson put on a sixth bull’s-eye and also a seventh in succession, some of his friends declared that he would walk away with the championship. 

THE GREENOCK VETERAN

was now among inners, and this of itself assisted to focus the interest upon Adamson. There was a loud exclamation of “Oh!” when Adamson went away to the inner with his eight round. His ninth shot was eagerly watched, and when he obtained no better than an outer, and turned the scale of success against him, the excitement among the spectators became keen indeed. Caldwell had meantime fired his tenth round, and had 43 points to his credit; while Pearson, whom very few people evidently thought of in the excitement of the Caldwell-Adamson duel, was actually a point in advance of this year’s winner of the championship at Darnley. When Adamson had fired his tenth round, he was still, despite his outer, the relatively 

LEADING MAN IN THE CONTEST,

with 45 points on, against Pearson’s 44 and Caldwell’s 43. Rodger, who had an hour before won the silver medal, was 40; whilst Ingram, his rival in the tie, was but 34, and quartermaster-Sergeant Grier, 3rd Renfrew, 

LAST YEAR’S CHAMPION,

had been all over the target, so to speak, for 32. Another round per man left Adamson still leading with 49; whereas an outer for Pearson had placed him a point below Caldwell, and had made him equal with Sergeant Jollie, 2nd Mid-Lothian, who had been pegging away steadily and unobserved. Two more rounds per man, however, wrought a rather remarkable change upon the running of the leading men mentioned – Caldwell, Pearson, Adamson, and Jollie – inasmuch as they left all four upon an absolute equality at 55. Yet, from the fact that shooting was not proceeding at the same pace all along the line of targets, this 

CURIOUS STAGE IN THE CONTEST

escaped general observation. Jollie was the first man to get through his shooting and finished 62, and J. Rodger and Colour-Sergeant Hall, of the Border Rifles, concluded immediately afterwards with 58 and 57 respectively. Caldwell had by this time got on 

TWO MORE BULL’S-EYES,

and had finished with 65; and as Pearson had lost a point on his fourteenth shot, and had closed with 64, attention was again riveted on Adamson, who, of course, required two bull’s-eyes to tie with Caldwell. Adamson did not take a long time to get away his fourteenth shot, and when the magpie disc was disclosed, 

THE FRIENDS OF CALDWELL SET UP A CHEER.

The competition was brought to a close within a very few minutes afterwards, and then Major Gow, secretary of the Association, formally announced that 

CALDWELL WAS THE WINNER OF THE SHIELD.

The champion was immediately shouldered, and was carried round the ground to the accompaniment of repeated bursts of cheering. 

PRESENTING THE PRIZE TO CORPORAL CALDWELL.

   The ceremony of presenting the more important prizes took place in an enclosed piece of ground. 

   Major Gow then announced that Corporal Caldwell – (cheers) – of the 1st Renfrew, had won the Caledonian Shield and the Championship of Scottish Volunteers, with £50 in money, and the gold medal of the association. Corporal Caldwell, he said, was one of their oldest and best-known shots, and it was a great pleasure to see him champion for the second time. (Cheers.) 

   Corporal Caldwell having advanced to the front, 

   Colonel Boughey proceeded to congratulate the winner on his prowess, and explained that he had also won the championship at Glasgow. Colonel Boughey concluded by handing Caldwell a cheque for £50 and the gold cross. 

   Corporal Caldwell said a few words in acknowledgment. he said he was very proud to have won the Shield that day, and he considered it a great honour. When he won the championship at Darnley last week he was twitted by some people that he was not the champion of Scotland, and he said he would do his utmost to win the Shield, and so place the matter beyond dispute. (Cheers.) He was accordingly very glad to have won the Shield that day. A great many Volunteers had sympathised with him, and did not at all grudge the honour he had got. He hoped that some other man might be fortunate in his place another year. (Cheers.) 

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   The following is a list of those who have won the Shield since the institution of the contest: 

  

Score.

1863.

Robert Bruce, Edinburgh 

45

1864.

C. Davidson, Lauder 

43

1865.

J. McLeod, Edinburgh 

46

1866.

Arch. Plenderleith, Peebles 

47

1867.

R. A. Smith, Edinburgh 

47

1868.

E. Menzies, Edinburgh 

48

1869.

Angus Cameron, Kingussie 

50

1870.

James Ranken, Edinburgh 

46

1871.

John Clews, Barrhead 

50

1872.

William Bain, Melrose 

54

1873.

Lieutenant-Colonel Wilson, Bannockburn 

57

1874.

J. Todd, 1st Lanark 

67

1875.

A. Cameron, Kingussie 

69

1876.

Corporal Charles, Fyvie 

70

1877.

Corporal M. Sutherland, 8th Lanark 

88

1878.

Lieutenant McIsaac, 1st Bute 

91

1879.

George Sutherland, 1st Midlothian 

90

1880.

Sergeant E. Paton, 3rd Lanark 

91

1881.

J. Webster, Bervie Artillery 

89

1882.

Quartermaster-Sergeant Grier, 3rd Renfrew 

91

1883.

Corporal Caldwell, 1st Renfrew 

91

1884.

Quartermaster-Sergeant Grier, 3rd Renfrew 

94

1885.

Corporal Duncan, 2nd Midlothian 

66

1886.

Sergeant Vickery, 1st Berwick 

42

1887.

Sergeant Reid, 3rd Aberdeen 

69

1883.

Quartermaster-Sergeant Grier, 3rd Renfrew 

68

1884.

Corporal W. Caldwell, 1st Renfrew 

65

CORPORAL CALDWELL’S CAREER.

   We have on previous occasions given an outline of the Corporal’s career. As our readers are aware he served with credit in the Federal Army during the American war, rising to the position of captain. On his return to this country he joined the Volunteer force, and at once took a well-deserved place in the rank of renowned shots. So long ago as 1871 he was chosen as a member of the Scottish Twenty, and this honour was conferred upon him for six consecutive years up till 1876. For three years Scotland did not take part in the match, and when resumed in 1880 the Corporal was a member of the Scottish team, this honour being continued in 1881-’82-’84-’85-’86 – in all, twelve times. In 1870 he stood second in the Windmill Prize. He gained the Alexandra at 200 yards in succeeding year. In 1876 he secured the grand aggregate. Again, in 1881, he won the same honour, carrying with it the Dominion of Canada Trophy, which was added in 1871. At Edinburgh in 1876 he carried off the City prizes; in 1877 and 1878 he gained the Aitchison clocks; while in the following year he won the City Medal at Inverness. In the first stage for the Championship at the West of Scotland meeting in 1879, shot with the Snider, he made the then remarkable score of 95, and took first place, his score at the long distance consisting of seven bull’s-eyes. In 1879 he was a member of the Scottish Eight for the Elcho Shield match. It was in 1881 that Corporal Caldwell nearly achieved the greatest distinction of all, the winning of the blue riband of Wimbledon, but he lost it through a bad cartridge at the close of his shooting, when even an outer would have placed him in the coveted place. In 1882 he was one of the team chosen to proceed to America to shoot in the International Military Rifle Match at Creedmoor, when the British won by a large majority. On that occasion a gold medal was presented by the Americans for competition amongst their opponents, and it was won by Mr Caldwell. In 1883 the Corporal won the Caledonian Shield, which he gained for the second time on Saturday last; and in the same year he was first in the Faculty of Procurators’ Prizes at the West of Scotland Meeting. In 1885 Mr Caldwell was champion at the West of Scotland, after shooting off a tie with Sergeant Comery. At the first Scottish Rifle Association meeting, in 1886, he was first in the Auld Reekie Prizes, winning in the shoot-off against several of the best English shots. At Edinburgh, in the same year, he won the Henry Vase and the Aggregate, while at Wimbledon he gained a beautiful diamond brooch. This year he is really the champion of Scotland, having won not only the Caledonian Shield but the £100 and champion badge of the Scottish Rifle Association. Corporal Caldwell has been four times in the final stage of the Queen’s – in 1881, 1883, 1886, and 1888. In the Brigade, Battalion, and Company competitions he had taken numerous prizes. He is a great favourite in the battalion to which he belongs, and not a few well-known shots in the 1st Renfrew owe much of their success to the advice and counsel given in their experiences on the shooting range at Greenock. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Monday 24th June, 1889, p.3.

TRAGIC DEATH OF A WELL-KNOWN SCOTTISH BOWLER AND VOLUNTEER.

—————

   Yesterday morning Mr William Caldwell, of Greenock, one of the players who during the past few days has been participating in the open bowling tournament held on the Summerhill Grove green, Newcastle, dropped down dead. Yesterday was the fourth day of the tournament, and play had been in progress only a very short time when the tragic event took place. Mr Caldwell was drawn to play against Mr John Pillans, the well-known champion, and only a few ends had been played, the score standing at five to three in favour of Caldwell. the end having been finished, he had just commenced to walk leisurely down to the opposite end of the green, when he was observed to stagger and fall. Mr Telford, who was engaged scoring in the adjoining rink, quickly stepped to his assistance, but was too late to prevent Mr Caldwell falling. It was readily perceived that the illness was as serious as it was sudden, and with all speed Dr Charlton, who resides within the immediate vicinity of the ground, was summoned. He arrived within a few minutes, but his services were of no avail, for death had taken place. The body was taken to the house of Mr James Telford, 124 Rye Hill, from whence it will be conveyed to Greenock by the 10.25 train this morning. Needless to say the tragic occurrence caused quite a painful sensation amongst the assembled players, and as a mark of respect for the deceased gentleman, play was at once abandoned for the day. Mr Caldwell was a native of Beith, Ayrshire, and was in his 70th year. 

– Shields Daily News, Saturday 29th June, 1907, p.3.

FAMOUS BOWLER DROPS DEAD.

—————

PAINFUL INCIDENT AT AN INTERNATIONAL.

—————

   While engaged in an International bowls tourney in Newcastle yesterday, Mr. William Caldwell, of Greenock, fell to the ground, and expired instantly. 

   The deceased, who was in his seventieth year, was one of the crack bowlers of Great Britain, having won many of the chief prizes in England and Scotland. 

   In 1859 deceased emigrated to America, and fought in the Civil War on behalf of the Northern States. 

   Returning to his native country he joined the Renfrew Volunteers, becoming one of the crack shots of the country, securing second place for the Queen’s Prize at Wimbledon. 

   In bowling he had won championship prizes at Leith, Lockerbie, Moffat, and other places. 

   This is the first time Caldwell has played in Newcastle. 

   Mrs. Caldwell was on the green at the time of her husband’s tragically sudden death. A painful sensation was caused, and the tournament was abandoned for the day. 

– Bradford Daily Telegraph, Saturday 29th June, 1907, p.3.

THE LATE MR WILLIAM CALDWELL.

   The funeral of Mr William Caldwell, the well-known Volunteer shot and bowler, who died suddenly at Newcastle-on-Tyne on Friday, is to be of a private nature. The body arrived at the Central Station on Saturday afternoon, and was removed to deceased’s residence at 4 Prospecthill Street. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Monday 1st July, 1907, p.2.

William Caldwell grave

I received an email with further census screenshots and information, as well as the above gun & grave photo, from my uncle, Tom Caldwell, in Australia, who’s taken a good deal of interest and made great headway in finding out more of his, and by extension my, family tree and ancestry. He writes;

“There’s a book in the McLean Library, Volunteer Memories – 1911, By Colonel William Lamont, Late Commanding 1st (Renfrewshire) Volunteer Battalion, Princess Louise’s Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Page 55, Page 186, Page 187
  There is a list of dates and medals won and then it goes on

     ‘The Scottish National trophy ( the Caledonian Shield) was on several occasions won by members of the Battalion.  In 1878 the winner was Lieut. John McIsaac, and in 1883, 1889 and 1892 by that redoubtable shot and keen Volunteer, Corpl. William Caldwell.

His brother Matthew on one occasion tied for the Queen’s Prize, but lost the honour of shooting off, although the money was divided.

The retiral and subsequent death of these two brothers was a great loss to the Battalion’s shooting strength.

They were always reliable, and a tower of strength in the Battalion team, where, in addition to their own personal prowess, their advice was of great value to the Captain.

Men such as these, although their success was occasionally grudged by those less fortunate, were an object-lesson to their comrades, and raised the standard of rifle shooting to a very high level.’ ”

William Caldwell

Image of the Portrait at the McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock – cleaned & touched up by Alex.

2 thoughts on “Corporal William Caldwell – Marksman & Bowler Extraordinaire – 1838-1907.

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