GENERALS WE HAVE SERVED UNDER
The Regimental Annual of The Sherwood Foresters
Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment
Edited by Colonel H. C. Wylly, C.B.
NB: Two individuals feature in this article, beginning with Lord Strathnairn.
To jump straight to the second, relating to Major-General Robert Craufurd, use this link.
Hugh Henry Rose, the third son of Sir George Henry Rose, was born at Berlin, where his father was at the time Minister Plenipotentiary, on April 6th, 1801. He was educated in Berlin, and gazetted Ensign in the 93rd Highlanders in June, 1820. In the following month he was transferred to the 19th Foot, which regiment he joined in Ireland; and he was promoted Lieutenant in October of the following year.
During the years 1824 and 1825 young Rose was employed in "still-hunting" and in other duties in aid of the Civil Power in Ireland, and as a reward for his services he was promoted Major, unattached, in December, 1826, and brought into the 92nd Highlanders in February, 1829.
In 1832 he was specially selected to put down disaffected meetings in Ireland, and he successfully dispersed a large meeting in Tipperary. He accompanied the 92nd to Gibraltar in 1832 and to Malta in 1836, and distinguished himself by the manner in which he dealt with an outbreak of cholera in the regiment in the latter island.
In September, 1839, Major Rose was promoted a Lieut.-Colonel, unattached.
In 1840 he was selected for special service under the Foreign Office to assist the Turks in expelling Mehemet Ali's Egyptian army from Syria.
In January, 1841, he distinguished himself in a skirmish near Ascalon, and the Sultan presented him with a sword of honour and the Order of Nishan Iftihar set in diamonds.
On August 20th, 1841, Lieut.-Colonel Rose was appointed British Consul-General in Syria, and he remained in the country till November, 1848, busily engaged in trying to keep the peace between the Druses and the Maronites and to maintain order generally.
He had been made a C.B. in 1842, and his diplomatic services were recognized by his appointment as Secretary of the Embassy at Constantinople in January, 1851. Two years later the Ambassador was away on leave, and Colonel Rose was Chargé d'Affaires when the war broke out between Russia and Turkey. In 1854 England and France declared war against Russia and Colonel Rose was appointed English Commissioner with the French headquarters in the field with the local rank of Brigadier-General. At the battle of the Alma, Brigadier-General Rose accompanied the 1st Zouaves in their attack on the Telegraph station. He was wounded on the following morning by a splinter of a shell when visiting La Maison Brulée with Canrobert. At Inkerman, Rose reconnoitred the ground between the left of Canrobert's position and the right of Pennefather's under a very heavy fire, and he was recommended by Marshal Canrobert for the Victoria Cross for conspicuous gallantry on three occasions before Sebastopol.
For his services in the Crimea he was promoted Major-General on December 12th, 1854, and he was made a K.C.B. and a Commander of the Legion of Honour.
In 1857 Sir Hugh Rose was very anxious to serve in India, and he was given command of the Poona Division. He had never even commanded a battalion.* He had served for eighteen years as a regimental officer, and during the next fifteen years he had rendered conspicuous services as a diplomatist. In the Crimea he had displayed great gallantry, but, of course, he had never held any command. To select an untried General for an important command in India at such a critical moment seems a very rash thing to do, but Sir Hugh Rose amply justified his selection, and the experience which he had gained in dealing with Orientals proved invaluable.
* Footnote Surely this is not suggested as a disqualification! Ed.
Major-General Rose reached Bombay on September 19th, 1857, and soon afterwards he was placed in command of a Field Force with orders to march through Central India to Kalpi.
He first restored order in the State of Indore, and then early in January, 1858, he set out to the relief of Saugor.
The achievements of the Central India Field Force during the ensuing five months were briefly summarised in the House of Lords by the Earl of Derby in the following words:-
"In five months the Central India Field Force traversed 1085 miles, crossed numerous rivers, took upwards of 150 pieces of artillery, one entrenched camp, two fortified cities and two fortresses all strongly defended, fought sixteen actions, captured twenty forts, and never sustained a check against the most warlike and determined enemy, led by the most capable commanders then to be found in any part of India."
Saugor was relieved on February 3rd; but Sir Hugh Rose was now delayed for a time, and on February 27th he wrote from Saugor to the Governor of Bombay:-
"I am unfortunately detained here by want of supplies and carriage, to the great disadvantage of the public service. I have lost nine precious days, doubly precious not only on account of lost time, at a season when every hot day endangers the health and lives of the European soldiers, but because every day has allowed the rebels to recover the morale they had lost by my operations, which I had made as rapidly and efficiently as possible, knowing that any success with Orientals produces twice as good a result if one acts promptly and follows up one success with another."
After forcing the pass of Mundinpur, he wrote on March 9th in great spirits to Sir Colin Campbell, the Commander-in-Chief: "The great thing with these Indians is not to stay at long distances firing, but after they have been cannonaded, to close with them. They cannot stand."
Sir Hugh Rose arrive before Jhansi on the morning of March 30th, and he intended to storm the place on the 31st, but Tantia Topi advanced with 20,000 men to relieve it.
Sir Hugh determined not to raise the siege, but to fight Tantia Topi and prosecute the siege at the same time. He was obliged to detach a portion of his little army to oppose a hostile force which was threatening his left flank, and there only remained at his disposal a force of 900 men of all arms with which to meet Tantia Topi. The enemy advanced to the attack on the morning of April 1st. With incredible boldness Rose hurled his small force straight at the enemy's centre, drove them in confusion from the field, and pursued them for sixteen miles. Tantia Topi fled to Kalpi, having lost 1500 men besides guns and equipment.
The town of Jhansi was captured on April 3rd and 4th, and the fort fell on the 5th. During the operations the besiegers had lost 36 officers and 307 men killed and wounded.
Sir Hugh left a portion of his 2nd Brigade to hold Jhansi, and set out on April 25th for Kalpi with his 1st Brigade.
The heat had now become very trying. He fought a severe action at a place called Kunch in a temperature of 110° in the shade. The General himself was knocked over by the sun three times that day, and eleven men were killed outright by sunstroke. Sir Hugh wrote as follows:-
"I took Kunch from the rebels in a heat which cannot be told 110° in the shade. Afterwards, near Kalpi, it was 119° in the shade, and 200 men out of less than 400 of the 25th Native Infantry" (now 125th Napier's Rifles) "fell out of the ranks, stricken by the sun."
The Central India Field Force got into touch with Sir Colin Campbell's army on May 15th, and Kalpi was occupied successfully on May 24th. By this time the heat had very seriously affected the health of the troops. The General himself had had five attacks of the sun, and on the advice of the medical officers it was arranged that he should return forthwith to Bombay. The Central India Field Force was to be broken up.
Just at this juncture news arrived that Sindhia's troops had risen in revolt and joined Tantia Topi.
Sir Hugh Rose at once resumed his command which he had handed over, and marched on Gwalior. He left Kalpi on June 5th, and sent orders for an advance on Gwalior not only to his troops at Jhansi, but also to Brigadier-General Smith, who was then at Sipri. Thus it came about that the 95th took part in the crowning victory of Rose's Campaign in Central India.
Rose arrived at the Morar Cantonments, four miles east of Gwalior, on June 16th, and Smith reached Kotah-ki-Serai on the 17th and had a smart engagement with the enemy. On the 18th the junction of the two forces was effected, and that same afternoon the city of Gwalior was captured.
Major-General Crealock (then a subaltern of No. 1 Company in the 95th) describes the entry into the town in the following words:-
"As soon as we had pulled ourselves together, the cavalry were taken off to the right, while the infantry battalions poured down the hills on to the city. Sir Hugh Rose came up, and, preceded by a section of No. 1 Company, entered the streets of the city at the head of the force; he rode along quite calmly as if it were down Piccadilly on a summer afternoon, instead of a captured city with gentlefolks firing out of the upper stories."
The fortress of Gwalior was captured next day.
On June 24th a big review was held at the Morar Cantonments, and Sindhia expressed his wish to present a medal and six months' batta to the Central India Field Force. This, however, was not allowed by the Government.
Sir Hugh Rose now handed over the command to Sir Robert Napier, and left Gwalior for Poona on June 29th.
He took no further share in the suppression of the Mutiny, and was not destined ever again to serve his country in the field. In this Central India Campaign he had shown himself possessed of great audacity and driving power. He had fully understood the importance of keeping the enemy on the run and allowing them no breathing time.
He now met with his reward. In July, 1858, he was appointed Colonel of the 45th Regiment. In February, 1860, he was promoted Lieut.-General. In March he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay Army, and when Lord Clyde (Sir Colin Campbell) went home in June, 1860, Sir Hugh Rose succeeded him as Commander-in-Chief in India. He held the command for five years, and it fell to his lot to deal with the transference to the Crown of the European Regiments in the E. I. Company's Army, and the re-organisation of the Native Army. He did much for the British soldier in India, and it was during his command that workshops, regimental institutes, and gardens were first founded in the Cantonments.
He would not tolerate neglect of duty for a moment, and he had two brigadiers deprived of their commands for failing to visit their hospitals during an outbreak of cholera.
On his return home he was at once appointed to the command in Ireland. In 1866 he was transferred to the colonelcy of his old regiment, the 92nd Highlanders, and in March, 1869, to the Royal Horse Guards. He was created Baron Strathnairn of Strathnairn and Jhansi. He was promoted General in February, 1867, and Field-Marshal in June, 1877.
He died in Paris on October 16th, 1885, and was buried at Christchurch, in Hampshire.
An equestrian statue of Lord Strathnairn stands in the Brompton Road in London.
[ The illustration of Lord Strathnairn is from the bust by Onslow Ford
in the National Portrait Gallery, and the photo of it by Emery Walker. ]
Major-General Robert Craufurd
Major-General Robert Craufurd won undying fame as the Commander of the Light Division in the Peninsula, but the Light Division was not formed until February 22nd, 1810, and before this the 45th Regiment had served under him both in South America and in Spain.
Robert Craufurd, the third son of Sir Alexander Craufurd, of Newark, in Ayrshire, was born on May 5th, 1764. He was gazetted Ensign in the 25th Foot at the age of fifteen, and was promoted Lieutenant two years later. He purchased his company in the 75th Foot in 1783 (the same year in which Picton, then a Captain, went on half-pay from that regiment), and served with it under Cornwallis in the Mysore War of 1790-92.
Before he went to India Robert Craufurd had spent some time in Germany, and had received permission to be present at the manoeuvres held by Frederick the Great. He had also acquired a thorough knowledge of the language, and he helped his elder brother Charles to translate into English Tielke's work on the Art of War.
At the end of the eighteenth century there were very few British officers who could speak German, so on his return from India in 1794 young Craufurd was at once sent to assist his elder brother, who was British attaché with the Austrian headquarters in the Netherlands and afterwards on the Rhine. Charles Craufurd was severely wounded in August, 1796, and had to return home; but Robert remained as the British attaché until he returned to England in December, 1797, when he was promoted Lieut.-Colonel as a reward for his services.
In 1798 he was appointed D.Q.M.G. in Ireland, and was thanked for his services in the suppression of the Irish Rebellion and in the operations against Humbert's raiding force.
In 1799 he was again employed with the Austrian Army as the British attaché at General Hotze's headquarters during Suwarrow's famous campaign in Switzerland. Later in the year he was employed on the staff of the Duke of York's expedition to the Helder.
In 1801 he was still only a Lieut.-Colonel, though for many years he had occupied positions of great responsibility. It had been his misfortune to have to witness and report a long series of disasters, and his violent temper and sarcastic tongue probably accounted to a considerable extent for the scanty recognition his services met with.
In disgust, he went on half-pay and entered the House of Commons as Member for East Retford. He devoted himself for the next five years to bitter attacks on the Government, and he was able to give full play to his talent for sarcasm and invective.
In February, 1800, he married Mary, the daughter of Henry Holland.
On October 30th, 1805, he was promoted Colonel. In 1806 Pitt died, and the Whig Ministry of "All the Talents" came into power. Craufurd's chance had come at last, and Windham, the War Minister, lost no time in helping the man who was not only his friend, but also a useful political ally.
Robert Craufurd, though one of the most junior Colonels in the Army, was placed in command of an expeditionary force of 4800 men, consisting of two squadrons of 6th Dragoon Guards, the 5th, 36th, 45th, and 88th Regiments of Foot, and five companies of the 95th Rifles (the Rifle Brigade). The expedition left Falmouth on November 12th, 1806, and was intended to effect the conquest of Chile. As if this were not absurd enough, Craufurd, who was given the temporary rank of Brigadier-General, was further enjoined to arrange a chain of posts to connect Valparaiso with Buenos Ayres.
The force reached the Cape of Good Hope, and while there Craufurd was informed of the disaster to Beresford's Force at Buenos Ayres, and he was ordered to proceed forthwith to Montevideo.
The whole of Craufurd's force did not reach Montevideo till June 14th, by which time many of his troops had been on board ship for nine months. There a junction was effected with the troops commanded by Sir Samuel Auchmuty (an old 45th officer), and the whole force was commanded by Lieut.-General Whitelocke. The army was reorganized, and Craufurd was given command of the Light Brigade, which consisted of the 95th Rifles and nine Light companies (including that of the 45th).
This is not the place in which to describe in detail the disastrous attack on Buenos Ayres which took place on July 5th. Suffice it to say that Whitelocke ordered the troops to advance in thirteen separate columns. The two wings of the 45th advanced by parallel roads on the extreme right and seized the Residencia.
Craufurd advanced with four companies of the 95th Rifles, and four Light companies, forming the column next to the left wing of the 45th. The other half of his brigade got into serious difficulties, and Craufurd decided to wheel to his left and attack the fort. He ordered Colonel Guard to support him, being unaware that the 45th were ordered to seize and hold the Residencia. Colonel Guard took the Grenadier Company of the 45th to get into touch with Craufurd, and thus the Grenadier and the Light companies of the Regiment became involved in Craufurd's surrender at three o'clock that afternoon.
General Whitelocke had entirely lost touch with all his forces, and did nothing to support the troops which were fighting in the city.
On the 7th Whitelocke came to terms with the Spaniards, and agreed to withdraw all British troops from South America. On his return to England he was tried by court-martial and cashiered. In his defence he tried to throw the blame on Craufurd, but the latter was entirely exonerated and was selected to command a brigade in the force which sailed from Falmouth in October, 1808, under Sir David Baird, to assist Sir John Moore.
Baird landed his troops at Corunna on October 24th, and four days later he sent Craufurd off to Lugo with his brigade.
The junction between Baird and Moore was effected at Mayorga on December 20th, the army was reorganized, and Brigadier-General Robert Craufurd was given command of the 1st Flank Brigade, which was formed of the 1/43rd, 2/52nd, and 2/95th.
The retreat to Corunna began on December 24th, and from that date till the 30th, Craufurd's Brigade, which was on rear-guard, was continually engaged with the enemy. On December 31st the 1st Flank Brigade and the German Light Brigade were detached from the main body and ordered to retire on Vigo, which place was reached on January 12th, 1809, after a march of incredible hardships among the mountains.
The discipline of the army had broken down utterly during the retreat, but Craufurd, by means of relentless severity, kept his men in hand and saved their lives at the expense of their backs. On one occasion early in the retreat he saw two men straying from the main body. He at once halted the brigade and ordered a drum-head court-martial to assemble. The men were sentenced to 100 lashes apiece. While the trial was going on, the General happened to hear a man grumbling. In a fit of ungovernable fury, he seized a musket and felled the soldier to the ground with the butt-end. It was the wrong man. A man standing next to him said, "I am the man who spoke." The General at once had him tried by the court, and he was awarded 300 lashes. It was now dark, and the march was resumed. At dawn the Brigade was halted, and formed into square, and the General addressed them as follows:
"Although I should obtain the goodwill neither of the officers nor of the men of the Brigade here by so doing, I am resolved to punish these three men according to the sentence awarded, even though the French are at our heels. Begin with Daniel Howans."
This all seems very brutal to us nowadays, but there can be no doubt that Craufurd by his timely severity saved not only the efficiency of his regiments, but the lives of many of his soldiers.
As a contrast it is well to note that a distinguished regiment in another brigade during the same retreat at the end of one day's march had only nine officers, three sergeants, and three men present with the Colours out of the strength of over 500!
Two or three days after this incident Craufurd saw an officer being carried across the stream on the back of a soldier. He at once ordered the soldier to drop the officer in the river, and then called out:
"Return back, sir, and go through the water like the others; I will not allow my officers to ride upon the men's backs through the rivers; all must take their share alike here."
Craufurd insisted on strict march discipline. He would never allow men to break the ranks or pick their way when crossing streams, and he would flog a man who stopped to take a drink.
So far ill luck had followed Craufurd everywhere. He had had to wait long before he got his chance, and then when he did get command of a brigade he was obliged to surrender in his first campaign, and the missed the battle of Corunna in the next. However, better times were to come. Craufurd was not destined to remain long in England.
He embarked at Dover on May 25th, 1809, with the 1/43rd, 1/52nd, and 1/95th, and landed at Lisbon on January 28th. Craufurd was a somewhat disappointed and embittered man, for in spite of his extensive war service he now found that many men who were considerably younger than himself, such as Hill and Sir Arthur Wellesley, were senior to him. Even now his ill luck seemed to pursue him, for in spite of a wonderful march of 43 miles in 26 hours (which Napier exaggerated to 62 miles in 26 hours) Craufurd reached the field of Talavera just too late to take part in the victory. Mackenzie, who commanded the 3rd Division, was killed in the battle, so Craufurd's Light Brigade was attached to the 3rd Division, and Craufurd, though only a Brigadier-General, commanded the Division until February, 1810. Thus the 45th Regiment once more found itself under his command, but no general action took place during these six months.
On February 22nd, 1810, the Light Division was formed by adding two battalions of Portuguese Cacadores to the Light Brigade. The whole was placed under the command of Craufurd, and in November the Brunswick Oels were added to the Division.
On April 9th Wellington wrote to Craufurd as follows:
"Since you have joined the army, I have always wished that you should command our outposts, for many reasons into which it is unnecessary to enter."
From now on until July, Craufurd covered the front of the army, in the face of greatly superior numbers of the French, with the most conspicuous success.
In spite of his severity he was always most careful of the comfort of his men, and spared no exertions in seeing that they were well fed. At this time he is even said on one occasion to have seized some Church plate, and not restored it until the priests procured food for his soldiers. On another occasion he threatened to hang a Commissary unless the rations for his Division were ready at the appointed hour next day. The Commissary went to Lord Wellington and made a complaint. Wellington replied: "Did General Craufurd really go so far as to say he would hang you?" "He did, sir." "Then I should advise you to have the rations ready in time, for General Craufurd is a man of his word." It is only right to add that the story is also told of Picton.
Unfortunately Craufurd delayed his retirement too long, and fought the combat on the Coa on July 24th. This might have ended in disaster, had it not been for the splendid steadiness of the troops.
The interview between Picton and Craufurd on this morning, when Picton refused to move his Division to support Craufurd, must have been rather interesting. Both were men of very violent temper, who cordially disliked one another.
Wellington was naturally very angry at Craufurd's conduct on this occasion; but the leader of the Light Division covered himself with glory by the manner in which he repulsed Ney's Corps at the battle of Busaco on September 27th. The incident is thus described by Major George Napier of the 52nd (who afterwards became General Sir George Napier):
"General Craufurd himself stood on the brow of the hill watching every movement of the attacking column, and when all our skirmishers had passed by and joined their respective corps, and the head of the enemy's column was within a few yards of him, he turned round, came up to the 52nd, and called out, 'Now, 52nd, revenge the death of Sir John Moore. Charge! charge! huzza!' "
Wellington now fell back inside the lines of Torres Vedras, and in February, 1811, Craufurd returned to England on leave against the will of Wellington, who wrote on January 28th that he assented to Craufurd going home, but could not approve.
Craufurd did not remain long at home, but he took the opportunity to write a long letter to The Times defending his conduct in fighting the action of July 24th on the Coa. His conduct in this matter does not appear to have met with disapproval.
Craufurd returned to the Peninsula in April, and rejoined his Division on May 5th, the morning of the battle of Fuentes de Onoro. He was received with ringing cheers by his men, and the Portuguese Cacadores cried out, "Long live General Craufurd, who takes care of our bellies."
At Fuentes de Onoro the Light Division distinguished itself by retiring in squares across two miles of open plain in the face of five brigades of French Cavalry.
On June 4th, 1811, Craufurd was promoted Major-General. During the next six months he did not have much opportunity of distinguishing himself.
In January, 1812, Wellington laid siege to Ciudad Rodrigo, and the place was stormed on the night of the 19th. The Light Division stormed the lesser breach, and Craufurd was struck down while standing on the glacis encouraging and directing the storming party. He lingered in great pain for four days, and died at dawn on the 24th. He was buried the same day in the breach which his Division had stormed, the whole Division being present at his funeral. On the way back to their camp the head of the Division came upon an excavation filled with mud and water. Without a pause the leading company marched straight on through the mud, followed by the whole Division, as a mark of respect to their dead leader's principles.
In comparing Picton with Craufurd, Oman, the historian of the Peninsular War, writes: "They were both effective weapons in the hands of Wellington, but Picton's efficiency was rather that of the battering ram, while Craufurd's was rather that of the rapier." In appearance, as in temperament, the two men were very unlike, and Napier speaks of Crauford's "short, thick figure, dark, flashing eyes, quick movements, and fiery temper."
Craufurd was very unpopular with his officers. It would be an understatement of the truth to say that he was lacking in tact. He was never able to "suffer fools gladly," and his polished sarcasm often rankled deeply. There seems to be no doubt, however, that he inspired the men with enthusiasm, and was by no means unpopular with them in spite of his severity.
He was inclined to be insubordinate, and on several occasions he made mistakes. for he had the defects of his qualities; but at the same time he rendered most brilliant service during the two years he spent in the Peninsula.
Sir George Napier said of him: "As a General commanding a Division of light troops of all arms, Craufurd certainly excelled. His knowledge of outpost duty was never exceeded by any British General, and I much doubt if there are many in any other service who know more of that particular branch of the service than he did."
When considering the character of a man like Craufurd it is well to bear in mind the saying of Abraham Lincoln. On hearing someone remark that a certain person "had no vices," the President replied: "When I hear that a man has no vices, I generally find that he has plaguy few virtues."
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