The 74th Foot, so called because they first distinguished themselves in the battle of Assaye, where 2,000 British and 2,500 Sepoy troops under Wellington defeated 50,000 Mahrattas, commanded by French officers, in 1803. This regiment is now called “the 2nd Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry.” The first battalion was the old No. 71.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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