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Posts Tagged ‘Sir Ralph Abercromby’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency (I include those who were born before 1811 and who died after 1795), today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Richard Fletcher
1768 – 31 August 1813

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Richard Fletcher

Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Richard Fletcher’s exact date of birth is obscure. It is known however that the year was 1768 and his father was a clergyman. On 27 November 1796, at Plymouth, he married Elizabeth Mudge the daughter of a doctor. Fletcher and his wife went on to have five children together; two sons and three daughters. Though Fletcher was buried near to where he was killed at San Sebastián, a monument to his memory, purchased by the Royal Engineers, stands at the western side of the north aisle in Westminster Abbey, London.

Richard Fletcher enrolled as a cadet in the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich on 7 October 1782. He began his career in the Royal Artillery where he became a second-lieutenant on 9 July 1788, before joining the Royal Engineers on 29 June 1790. Fletcher was promoted to lieutenant on 16 January 1793 and when France declared war on Britain, later that year, he was sent to serve in the West Indies.

While in the West Indies, Fletcher played an active role in the successful attacks on the French colonies of Martinique, Gaudeloupe and St Lucia, which occurred between February and April 1794. It was during the capture of St Lucia he received a gunshot wound. Fletcher was transferred to the British controlled island of Dominica where he was appointed chief engineer before being sent home at the end of 1796.

While in England, Fletcher served as adjutant to the Royal Military Artificers in Portsmouth until December 1798 when he was sent to Constantinople (now Istanbul) to act as an advisor to the Ottoman Government. Intending to travel through Hanover, Fletcher set sail from England but his ship was wrecked near the mouth of the river Elbe and Fletcher was forced to walk across two miles of ice before reaching land. After three months travelling through Austria and Ottoman territories in the Balkans, Fletcher finally arrived in Constantinople on 29 March 1799. In June 1799, Fletcher, alongside Ottoman troops, advanced into Syria, forcing Napoleon to forgo his siege of Acre and retreat to Egypt.

During 1799, after his return from Syria, Fletcher took part in the preparation of the defences for the Turks in the Dardanelles. After a spell with Ottoman forces in Cyprus, Fletcher returned to Syria in June 1800, to oversee the construction of fortifications at Jaffa and El Arish. Fletcher served under Sir Ralph Abercromby in December 1800 at Marmaris Bay, practising beach assaults for the expected invasion of Egypt the following year. An expedition to reconnoitre the Egyptian port of Alexandria, led to Fletcher’s capture when, while returning to his ship after a night reconnaissance mission ashore, Fletcher was intercepted by a French patrol vessel. He was held prisoner in Alexandria until its capture on 2 September 1801.

In October 1801, when the general armistice was signed, Fletcher returned to England, having been promoted to captain while he was imprisoned and later decorated by the Ottoman Empire for his services. The Treaty of Amiens was signed on 25 March 1802 but peace was shortlived and war broke out in May the following year. Fletcher was again sent to Portsmouth where he helped bolster the defences of Gosport. Promoted to major on 2 April 1807, Fletcher took part in the Battle of Copenhagen in August that year.

Soon after the start of the Peninsular War, Fletcher was sent to Portugal. He was part of the force that occupied Lisbon when the French withdrew following the Convention of Sintra, after which he accompanied Wellington as his chief engineer in the field. Promoted to lieutenant-colonel in the army, 2 March 1809, and then the Royal Engineers, 24 June 1809, he fought at the Battle of Talavera (27-28 July 1809) for which he received a mention in dispatches.

It was while Wellington was making preparations for a retreat to Portugal, that Fletcher became famous for one of the greatest military engineering feats in history. The celebrated Lines of Torres Vedras were constructed on the narrow peninsula between the Atlantic and the Tagus. These three lines of defence; the first 6 miles in front of the principal one and the last 20 miles behind, were intended to protect Lisbon and provide a line of retreat for the British to their ships should it be required. Fletcher began work on these defences on 20 October 1809, using Portuguese soldiers and civilians for the bulk of the labour. Rocky slopes were steepened and reinforced, and defiles were obstructed with forts and earthworks; trees and vegetation were removed to deprive the enemy of cover and sustenance, watercourses were dammed inorder to construct impassable lakes or swamps and any buildings were either fortified or destroyed. Fortifications guarded every approach and batteries commanded the highground, while a system of signal stations and roads ensured that troops could be sent quickly to where they were needed the most. And all was conducted with the utmost secrecy so that neither Napoleon nor even the British Government were aware of the lines’ existence until Wellington was obliged to retreat behind them later the following year.

In July 1810, shortly before completion of the lines, Fletcher left the fortifications to serve alongside Wellington once more in the field, and was thus at the Battle of Buçaco (27 September 1810) where he again distinguished himself and was mentioned in dispatches. Wellington fell back to the Lines of Torres Vedras in October 1810, pursued by Marshal Masséna, who was shocked to find such extensive defences, having been promised by Portuguese rebels that the road to Lisbon was an easy one. Wellington’s superiors were equally surprised to hear about the defences when they later received his report. After an unsuccessful attack on 18 October, Masséna initially retreated to Santarém but when his supplies ran out the following March, he abandoned any thoughts of another attempt and headed north.

Fletcher, as part of Wellington’s forces, chased Masséna to Sabugal where, after some skirmishing, on 2 April, Masséna was finally brought to action at the Battle of Sabugal; the first of a number of engagements as Wellington and Masséna competed for position along the Portuguese and Spanish border. After forcing Masséna to abandon Sabugal, Wellington turned his attention towards Almeida and Ciudad Rodrigo; two fortresses that guarded the northern approach to Portugal. Wellington had planned to capture both while Masséna’s army was still in disarray but the loss of Badajoz to Marshall Soult on 11 March, which protected the south, compelled him to divide his force. Wellington sent a quarter of his troops to reinforce General Beresford’s, with orders to re-take Badajoz, while his remaining force, which included Fletcher, would lay siege to Almeida. Masséna, now with a superior force, marched to relieve Almeida and Wellington, not wishing to fight under those conditions, withdrew to the town of Fuentes d’Onoro. The town changed hands a number of times during a battle that took place over 3 days (3 – 5 May), but ultimately remained under British control. Massénna’s troops were neither able to reach the fort nor stay in the open and were thus forced to leave on 8 May. Wellington continued his siege and took possession of Almeida two days later.

Fletcher was again mentioned in dispatches when serving as chief engineer at the second siege of Badajoz (19 May – 10 June 1811). The engineers suffered many casualties in their attempts to dig the thin rocky soils around a fort that had been repaired and reinforced since the last unsuccessful siege. Running short of ammunition and having sustained heavy losses; and with news that French reinforcements were on the way, Wellington withdrew his forces to Elvas on 10 June. Fletcher was also present when Ciudad Rodrigo (7 – 19 January 1812) and, on the third attempt, Badajoz (17 March – 16 April 1812) were captured. In the latter engagement it was Fletcher who identified the weak point in the defences and so ultimately decided where the main attack should be. On 19 March, Fletcher was shot in the groin when a French sortie in the fog reached the trenches where he and his engineers were working. His injury might have been much worse if it wasn’t for a Spanish Silver Dollar in his pocket which took the main force of the musket ball. Fletcher’s injury had him confined to his tent where Wellington, desperately short of good engineers, visited him daily for advice. Fletcher returned to England to recover, and was made a baronet on 14 December 1812, and awarded a pension of £1.00 per diem. He received the Portuguese award of the Order of the Tower and Sword; and the Army Gold Cross for Talavera, Bussaco, Ciudad Rodrigo, and Badajoz.

Fletcher returned to the Peninsular in 1813 and received a further mention in dispatches for his role in the Battle of Vitoria on 21 June. Fletcher directed the sieges of Pamplona and San Sebastián. He was killed in action during the final assault on San Sebastián on 31 August 1813.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Sir Alexander Bryce
died 4 October 1832

Sir Alexander Bryce was a major-general and colonel-commandant Royal Engineers.

Bryce entered the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, as a cadet on 7 Oct. 1782, and passed out as a second lieutenant, Royal Artillery, on 25 Aug. 1787. In the autumn of that year he was employed with Captain (afterwards Major-general) W. Mudge in carrying out General Roy’s system of triangulation for connecting the meridians of Greenwich and Paris, and in the measurement of a ‘base of verification’ in Romney Marsh, particulars of which will be found in ‘Phil. Trans.’ 1790.

Bryce was transferred from the royal artillery to the royal engineers in March 1789, and became a captain in the latter corps in 1794. After serving some years in North America and the Mediterranean, he found himself senior engineer officer with the army sent to Egypt under Sir Ralph Abercromby, in which position he was present at the landing, in the battles before Alexandria, and at the surrender of Cairo, and directed the siege operations at Aboukir, Fort Marabout, and Alexandria. For his services in Egypt he received the brevet rank of major and permission to wear the insignia of the Ottoman order of the Crescent.

Subsequently, as colonel, he served some years in Sicily. In the descent on Calabria he commanded a detachment of Sir John Stuart’s army that captured Diamante. Bryce was commanding engineer in the expedition to the bay of Naples in 1809 and in the defence of Sicily against Murat (Bunrury, Narrative).

In 1814 he received the rank of brigadier-general, and was appointed president of a commission to report on the restoration of the fortresses in the Netherlands.

He became a major-general in 1825, and in 1829 was appointed inspector-general of fortifications, a post he was holding at the time of his death. Bryce, who was much esteemed in private life as well as professionally, died, after a few hours’ illness, at his residence, Hanover Terrace, Regent’s Park, on 4 October 1832.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

General Henry Edward Fox
4 March 1755 – 18 July 1811

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Henry Edward Fox

General Henry Edward Fox a son of Henry Fox, first Baron Holland and his second wife, (Georgiana) Caroline Fox, née Lennox, he was a younger brother of the politician Charles James Fox.

He attended Westminster School before being commissioned as a cornet in the 1st dragoon guards in 1770. Soon after that he spent 1 year’s leave at the military academy at Strasbourg. After his return he rose to lieutenant (1773) then captain (1774).

In 1773 he moved to the 38th Regiment of Foot, stationed at Boston, and fought in the American War of Independence (spending 1778-79 on leave in England). By the end of the war he had risen to colonel and king’s aide-de-camp, and he then moved to command the forces in Nova Scotia (1783–89), where he was influential in the creation of the new colony of New Brunswick, and then the Chatham barracks (1789–93).

Next he was quartermaster-general on the Duke of York’s staff in Flanders to replace the recently killed James Moncrieff (1793–95) and fought in the Netherlands theatre of the French Revolutionary Wars. He then served as inspector-general of the recruiting service (1795–99), lieutenant-governor of Minorca (1799–1801) following its capture from the French, commander in chief of all British Mediterranean forces outside Gibraltar (1801–03, replacing General Sir Ralph Abercromby fatally wounded at the battle of Alexandria) and finally Commander-in-Chief, Ireland (1803). In Ireland he was caught off-guard by Robert Emmet’s Dublin uprising (23 July 1803) and was quickly replaced by Lieutenant-General Cathcart, whose appointment was gazetted on 20 October.

Fox moved to be commander of the London district (1803), Lieutenant-Governor of Gibraltar (1804–06), Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean (1806–07) and minister to Sicily. With his health weakening, Fox passed active command of the force to his deputy, Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore. The smallness of his force (made yet smaller when Major-General Mackenzie Fraser was sent to occupy Alexandria) meant he refused the repeated requests from the Sicilian court and William Drummond, British minister at the Sicilian court, for land operations on the Italian mainland. Fox and Moore also opposed the naval commander William Sidney Smith’s political machinations at the Sicilian court, contrary as they were to the army’s tactics for the Italian theatre, until Fox’s ill health finally led to his being recalled by the British government and replaced by Moore. Fox was promoted full general on 25 April 1808, appointed governor of Portsmouth in 1810 and died the following year.

On 14 November 1786 he married Marianne Clayton, daughter of William Clayton, 4th Baronet and sister of Catherine, Lady Howard de Walden, and they had 3 children

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Alexander Abercromby (British Army Officer)
4 March 1784 – 27 August 1853

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Alexander Abercromby

Alexander Abercromby (British Army Officer) was the youngest son of Sir Ralph Abercromby, a British lieutenant-general noted for his services during the Napoleonic Wars. He entered the army at an early age, and served as a volunteer with the 92nd Regiment in the expedition to the Helder in 1799. He soon obtained a commission, and saw service with his regiment in Egypt. He was appointed aide-de-camp to his father’s old lieutenant and friend, Sir John Moore, during his command in Sicily in 1806, but was not with him in Spain.

Like his brother, Sir John, he was rapidly promoted, and in 1808, when only twenty-four, became lieutenant-colonel of the 28th Regiment. He accompanied his regiment when it was sent to Portugal to reinforce Lord Wellesley after the battle of Talavera. He commanded it at the battle of Busaco, and in the lines of Torres Vedras, and as senior colonel had the good fortune to command his brigade at the battle of Albuera. His services there were very conspicuous, and his brigade has been immortalised by Napier. He was soon superseded, but commanded his regiment at the surprise of Arroyo de Molinos and the storming of the forts at Almaraz.

In 1812 he was removed to the staff of the army, and was present as assistant-quartermaster-general at the battles of Vittoria, the Pyrenees, and Orthes. He served in the same capacity in 1815, and was present at Quatre-Bras, Waterloo, and the storming of Péronne.

For his active services he was promoted to a colonelcy in the 2nd or Coldstream Guards, and made a companion of the Bath, a knight of the order of Maria Theresa of Austria, of the Tower and Sword of Portugal, and of St. George of Russia. He was returned to parliament in the Whig interest in 1817 for the county of Clackmannan in place of his brother Sir John, but retired next year. He was in command of the 2nd Guards, but retired on half-pay when there seemed to be no chance of another war, and died at his country seat in Scotland in 1853. He had no small share of the military ability of his family, and was an admirable regimental and staff officer; but the long peace which followed the battle of Waterloo gave him no opportunity to show whether he had his father’s ability to command an army.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

James Abercromby 1st Baron Dunfermline
7 November 1776 – 17 April 1858

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James Abercromby

James Abercromby 1st Baron Dunfermline was the third son of General Sir Ralph Abercromby, who fell at the Battle of Alexandria, and Mary, 1st Baroness Abercromby, daughter of John Menzies of Fernton, Perthshire. He was the younger brother of George Abercromby, 2nd Baron Abercromby and Sir John Abercromby and the elder brother of Alexander Abercromby. He attended the Royal High School, Edinburgh, and was called to the English Bar, Lincoln’s Inn, in 1801. He became a commissioner of bankruptcy and later appointed steward of the Duke of Devonshire’s estates.

Abercromby sat as Whig Member of Parliament for Midhurst between 1807 and 1812 and for Calne between 1812 and 1830. He brought forwards two motions for bills to change the representation for Edinburgh in parliament. He received great support but no change was made until the Reform Act 1832. In 1827 he sworn of the Privy Council and appointed Judge-Advocate-General by George Canning, a post he held until 1828, the last months under the premiership of Lord Goderich.

In 1830 Abercromby was made Lord Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer in Scotland, a position he retained until 1832, when the office was abolished. He received a pension of £2,000 a year. In 1832 returned to the House of Commons as one of two members for Edinburgh, whose representation had now been increased from one to two members. In July 1834 he entered Lord Melbourne’s cabinet as Master of the Mint, but only held the post until November of the same year, when the Whigs lost power.

Abercromby was considered for the speakership of the House of Commons by his party in 1833, but Edward Littleton was eventually chosen instead (he was defeated by Charles Manners-Sutton). However, in 1835 he was chosen as the Whig candidate. Due to an evenly balanced House of Commons the election rendered great interest and was fiercely contested. On 19 February 1835 Abercromby was elected, defeating Manners-Sutton by 316 votes to 306. The Dictionary of National Biography writes that “As speaker Abercromby acted with great impartiality while he possessed sufficient decision to quell any serious tendency to disorder.” During his tenure a number of reforms for the introduction of private bills were made. In spite of failing health Abercromby continued as speaker until 1839. On his retirement he was raised to the peerage as Baron Dunfermline, of Dunfermline in the County of Fife.

After his retirement Abercromby continued to take an interest in public affairs, specifically those involving the city of Edinburgh. He was one of the originators of the United Industrial School for the support and training of destitute children. In 1841 he was elected as Dean of Faculty at the University of Glasgow.He also wrote a biography of his father, published posthumously in 1861.

Lord Dunfermline married Mary Anne, daughter of Egerton Leigh, of West Hall, in High Legh, on 14 June 1802. He died at Collinton House, Midlothian, in April 1858, aged 81, and was buried at Grange cemetery, Edinburgh. He was succeeded in the barony by his son, Sir Ralph Abercromby, KCB, who was Secretary of Legation at Berlin and served as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Sardinia between 1840 and 1851 and to The Hague between 1851 and 1858. Lady Dunfermline died in August 1874.

He was the nephew of Robert Bruce, Lord Kennet.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Admiral Sir Francis William Austen
23 April 1774 – 10 August 1865

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Francis William Austen

Admiral Sir Francis William Austen was a Royal Navy officer. As commanding officer of the sloop HMS Peterel, he captured some 40 ships, was present at the capture of a French squadron and led an operation when the French brig Ligurienne was captured and two others were driven ashore off Marseille during the French Revolutionary Wars.

On the outbreak of Napoleonic Wars Austen was appointed to raise and organise a corps of Sea Fencibles at Ramsgate to defend a strip of the Kentish coast. He went on to be commanding officer of the third-rate HMS Canopus, in which he took part in the pursuit of the French Fleet to the West Indies and back and then fought at the Battle of San Domingo, leading the lee line of ships into the battle. He later commanded the third-rate HMS St Albans and observed the Battle of Vimeiro from the deck of his ship before embarking British troops retreating after the Battle of Corunna. He went on to be commanding officer of the third-rate HMS Elephant and captured the United States privateer Swordfish during the War of 1812.

As a senior officer Austen served as Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies

Born the son of the Reverend George Austen and Cassandra Austen (the daughter of the Reverend Thomas Leigh), Austen joined the Royal Navy in April 1786. After graduating at the Royal Naval Academy at Portsmouth, he was appointed to the fifth-rate HMS Perseverance on the East Indies Station. Promoted to midshipman in December 1789, he joined the third-rate HMS Crown and then transferred to the fifth-rate HMS Minerva in November 1791. In HMS Minerva he took part in a blockade of the coast of Mysore.

Promoted to lieutenant on 28 December 1792, Austen transferred to the sloop HMS Despatch and then returned to England at the end of 1793. In March 1794 he joined the sloop Lark, a brig that was part of a fleet that evacuated British troops from Ostend and Nieuwpoort after the French captured the Netherlands during the French Revolutionary Wars. In March 1795 HMS Lark was part of a squadron that escorted Princess Caroline of Brunswickto England. Austen transferred to the fifth-rate HMS Andromeda in May 1795 and to the second-rate HMS Glory in Autumn 1795. In HMS Glory he escorted the troops of General Ralph Abercromby destined for the West Indies in December 1795. He moved to the fifth-rate HMS Shannon in early 1796, to the fifth-rate HMS Triton in September 1796 and to the fifth-rate HMS Seahorse in March 1797. He then joined the second-rate HMS London in February 1798 and took part in the blockade of Cádiz. After securing the patronage of Admiral Lord Gambier, he was promoted to commander on 3 January 1799 and became commanding officer of the sloop HMS Peterel in February 1799. In HMS Peterel he captured some 40 ships, was present at the capture of a French squadron in June 1799 and led an operation when the French brig Ligurienne was captured and two others were driven ashore off Marseille in March 1800. He also took part in the blockade of Genoa in May 1800 and, having been promoted to captain on 13 May 1800, was present at the blockade of Abu Qir in August 1800.

Austen became Flag Captain to Lord Gambier, in the second-rate HMS Neptune in August 1801 and earned a reputation for seeing to the welfare and health of his men. On the outbreak of Napoleonic Wars he was appointed to raise and organise a corps of Sea Fencibles at Ramsgate to defend a strip of the Kentish coast. He went on to be commanding officer of the fourth-rate HMS Leopard, flagship of Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Louis, in May 1804 and then took part in the blockade of Boulogne. He next became commanding officer of the third-rate HMS Canopus, a French ship of the line captured in the Battle of the Nile (as the Franklin), early in 1805. In HMS Canopus he took part in the pursuit of the French Fleet, under the command of Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve, to the West Indies and back in Summer 1805.

Austen was temporarily detached from the fleet for convoy duty in the Mediterranean and missed the Battle of Trafalgar. However, he did command HMS Canopus at the Battle of San Domingo, leading the lee line of ships into the battle, in February 1806. He went on to be commanding officer of the third-rate HMS St Albans in March 1807. On 13 July 1808, the East India Company gave Austen £420 with which to buy a piece of plate: this was a substantial gift (perhaps the equivalent of a year’s salary) in thanks for his having safely convoyed to Britain from Saint Helena seven of their Indiamen, plus one extra (voyage chartered) ship. In HMS St Albans he observed the Battle of Vimeiro from the deck of his ship in August 1808 and then embarked British troops retreating after the Battle of Corunna in January 1809.

Austen became Flag Captain to Lord Gambier, Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Squadron, in the first-rate HMS Caledonia in September 1810. He went on to be commanding officer of the third-rate HMS Elephant in the North Sea in 1811 and took part in a blockade of the Scheldt. In HMS Elephant he captured the United States privateer Swordfish in December 1812 during the War of 1812. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath on 4 June 1815.

Promoted to rear admiral on 22 July 1830, Austen was advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on 28 February 1837 and promoted to vice admiral on 28 June 1838. He became Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station, with his flag in the third-rate HMS Vindictive, in December 1844. His main role was to protect British commercial interests during the Mexican–American War, which broke out in 1846, and to disrupt the activities of slave traders. Promoted to full admiral on 1 August 1848, he was advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 18 May 1860 before being appointed Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom on 5 June 1862 and then Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom on 11 December 1862. He was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on 27 April 1863.

Austen died at his home Portsdown Lodge at Widley in Hampshire on 10 August 1865 and was buried in the churchyard at St Peter and St Paul, Wymering, Portsmouth.

In July 1806 Austen married Mary Gibson (eldest daughter of John Gibson); they had eight children. Following the death of his first wife, he married Martha Lloyd (eldest daughter of the Reverend Noyes Lloyd) in July 1828; they had no children. Austen’s siblings included Jane Austen, the novelist, Cassandra Austen, the watercolor painter, and Charles Austen, a naval officer.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Field Marshall John Colborne 1st Baron Seaton
16 February 1778 – 17 April 1863

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John Colborne

Field Marshall John Colborne 1st Baron Seaton was a British Army officer and Colonial Governor. After taking part as a junior officer in the Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland, Sir Ralph Abercromby’s expedition to Egypt and then the War of the Third Coalition, he served as military secretary to Sir John Moore at the Battle of Corunna. He then commanded the 2nd Battalion of the 66th Regiment of Foot and, later, the 52nd Regiment of Foot at many of the battles of the Peninsular War. At the Battle of Waterloo, Colborne on his own initiative brought the 52nd Regiment of Foot forward, took up a flanking position in relation to the French Imperial Guard and then, after firing repeated volleys into their flank, charged at the Guard so driving them back in disorder. He went on to become commander-in-chief of all the armed forces in British North America, personally leading the offensive at the Battle of Saint-Eustache in Lower Canada and defeating the rebel force in December 1837. After that he was high commissioner of the Ionian Islands and then Commander-in-Chief, Ireland.

Born the only son of Samuel Colborne and Cordelia Anne Colborne (née Garstin), Colborne was educated at Christ’s Hospital in London and at Winchester College. He was commissioned as an ensign in the 20th Regiment of Foot on 10 July 1794 securing all subsequent steps in his regimental promotion without purchase. Promoted to lieutenant on 4 September 1795 and to captain lieutenant on 11 August 1799, he saw action at the Battle of Alkmaar in October 1799, where he was wounded, during the Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland. Promoted to brevet captain on 12 January 1800, he took part in Sir Ralph Abercromby’s expedition to Egypt in August 1801 and was wounded again.

Colborne was deployed with his regiment to Italy where he distinguished himself at the Battle of Maida in July 1806 during the War of the Third Coalition. He became military secretary to General Henry Fox in 1806 and then became military secretary to Sir John Moore with the rank of major on 21 January 1808. In this capacity he accompanied Moore to Sweden in May 1808 and to Portugal in 1808 and served with him at the Battle of Benavente in December 1808 and Battle of Corunna in January 1809. It was Moore’s dying request that Colborne should be given a lieutenant colonelcy and this was complied with on 2 February 1809. He transferred to the 66th Regiment of Foot on 2 November 1809, and after returning to Spain with Sir Arthur Wellesley’s Army, he witnessed the defeat of the Spaniards at the Battle of Ocaña later that month. He commanded a brigade at the Battle of Bussaco in September 1810 and then commanded the 2nd Battalion of the 66th Regiment of Foot at the Battle of Albuera in May 1811 where his brigade was virtually anihillated by Polish 1st Vistulan Lancers Regiment of French Army. After transferring to the command of the 52nd Regiment of Foot he took part in the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo in January 1812 where he was badly injured and had to be invalided back to England.

After recovering in England, Colborne returned to Spain and commanded the 52nd Regiment of Foot at the Siege of San Sebastián in August 1813 before taking temporary charge of the 2nd brigade of the Light Division in late 1813 and commanding it at the Battle of the Bidassoa in October 1813, at the Battle of Nivelle in November 1813 and at the Battle of the Nive in December 1813. He returned to the 52nd Regiment of Foot and commanded it at the Battle of Orthez in February 1814 and at the Battle of Toulouse in April 1814 and at the Battle of Bayonne also in April 1814. He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on 4 January 1815.

Colborne became aide-de-camp to the Prince Regent with the rank of colonel on 4 June 1814, and, following Napoleon’s escape from Elba, he managed to dissuade the Prince from attacking the French Army until the Duke of Wellington arrived. At the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815 during the Hundred Days, Colborne on his own initiative brought the 52nd Regiment of Foot forward, took up a flanking position in relation to the French Imperial Guard and then, after firing repeated volleys into their flank, charged at the Guard so driving them back in disorder. He was appointed a Knight of the Austrian Military Order of Maria Theresa on 2 August 1815. After the War he remained with his regiment as part of the Army of Occupation.

Colborne became Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey in July 1821 and, having been promoted to major-general on 27 May 1825, became Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada in August 1828. As Lieutenant Governor, Colborne increased the population of the province by 70% by initiating an organised system of immigration to bring in settlers from Britain. He also aided settlement by expanding the communication and transportation infrastructure through a campaign to build roads and bridges. He brought changes to the structure of the legislative council, increased fiscal autonomy and encouraged greater independence in the judiciary. In 1829 he founded Upper Canada College as a school based on the Elizabeth College, Guernsey model to educate boys in preparation for becoming leaders of the colonies.

In January 1836 Colborne became commander-in-chief of all the armed forces in British North America. He was promoted to the local rank of lieutenant general on 8 July 1836. During Colborne’s period of office as commander-in-chief, the Family Compact promoted resistance to the political principle of responsible government. At the end of its lifespan, the Compact would be condemned by Lord Durham as “a petty corrupt insolent Tory clique”. This resistance, together with conflicts between the assembly and the executive over fiscal matters as well as a difficult economic situation, led to the Rebellions of 1837. Colborne personally led the offensive at the Battle of Saint-Eustache in December 1837 defeating the rebel force which had become holed up in a church.

Colborne was advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 29 January 1838 and, following Lord Gosford’s resignation in February 1838, he received additional powers as acting Governor General of British North America. Promoted to the substantive rank of lieutenant-general on 28 June 1838, he put down a second revolt in October 1838 and was confirmed as Governor General of British North America on 14 December 1838. He left Canada in October 1839 and, after arriving back in England, was raised to the peerage as Baron Seaton of Seaton in Devonshire on 5 December 1839.

Colborne became high commissioner of the Ionian Islands in February 1843, and having been promoted to full general on 20 June 1854, he became Commander-in-Chief, Ireland in 1855. After standing down from active service in Spring 1860, he was promoted to field marshal on 1 April 1860 and retired to his home at Beechwood House in Sparkwell.

Colborne also served as honorary colonel of the 94th Regiment of Foot, as honorary colonel of the 26th (Cameronian) Regiment of Foot and then as honorary colonel of the 2nd Regiment of Life Guards. He was also colonel-in-chief of the Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own). He died at Valletta House in Torquay on 17 April 1863 and was buried in the churchyard of Holy Cross Church at Newton Ferrers.

In November 1866 a bronze statue of Colborne sculpted by George Adams and financed by public donations was erected at Mount Wise at Devonport: it was moved to Seaton Barracks in Crownhill in the early 1960s and then to Peninsula Barracks in Winchester in the 1990s. A second statue of Colborne also sculpted by George Adams was erected at Upper Canada College.

In 1813 Colborne married Elizabeth Yonge; they had three daughters and five sons.

 

And Coming on April 1st, 2015

Beaux Ballrooms and Battles anthology, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the victory at Waterloo in story.

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Looks good, huh? The talented writer and digital artist, Aileen Fish created this.

It will be available digitally for $.99 and then after a short period of time sell for the regular price of $4.99

The Trade Paperback version will sell for $12.99

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My story in the anthology is entitled: Not a Close Run Thing at All, which of course is a play on the famous misquote attributed to Arthur Wellesley, “a damn close-run thing” which really was “It has been a damned nice thing — the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life.”

Samantha, Lady Worcester had thought love was over for her, much like the war should have been. The Bastille had fallen shortly after she had been born. Her entire life the French and their Revolution had affected her and all whom she knew. Even to having determined who she married, though her husband now had been dead and buried these eight years.

Yet now Robert Barnes, a major-general in command of one of Wellington’s brigades, had appeared before her, years since he had been forgotten and dismissed. The man she had once loved, but because he had only been a captain with no fortune, her father had shown him the door.

With a battle at hand, she could not let down the defenses that surrounded her heart. Could she?

As her father’s hostess, she had travelled with him to Brussels where he served with the British delegation. Duty had taken her that night to the Duchess of Richmond’s ball. The last man she ever expected to see was Robert, who as a young captain of few prospects, had offered for her, only to be turned out by her father so that she could make an alliance with a much older, and better positioned (wealthy), aristocrat.Now, their forces were sure to engage Napoleon and the resurgent Grande Armée. Meeting Robert again just before he was to be pulled into such a horrific maelstrom surely was Fate’s cruelest trick ever. A fate her heart could not possibly withstand.

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