1902 Encyclopedia > Lord Clyde

Lord Clyde
(better known as: Sir Colin Campbell)
Scottish soldier
(1792-1863)




LORD CLYDE, (1792-1863), better known as SIR COLIN CAMPBELL, was born at Glasgow on the 16th of October 1792. He received his education at the high school of that city, and when only sixteen years of age obtained an ensigncy in the 9th foot, through the influence of Colonel Campbell, his maternal uncle. The youthful officer had an early opportunity of engaging in active service. He fought under Sir Arthur Wellesley at Vimiera, took part in the retreat of Sir John Moore, and was present at the battle of Coruna. He shared in all the fighting of the next Peninsular campaign, and was severely wounded while leading a storming-party at the attack on San Sebastian. He was again wounded at the passage of the Bidassoa, and compelled to return to England, when his conspicuous gallantry was rewarded with the rank of captain and lieutenant, without purchase. Campbell held a command in the American expedition of 1814 ; and after the peace of the following year he devoted himself to studying the theoretical branches of his profession. In 1823 he quelled the negro insurrection in Demerara, and two years later obtained his majority by purchase. In 1832 he became lieutenant-colonel of the 98th foot, and with that regiment rendered distinguished service in the Chinese war of 1842. Colonel Campbell was next employed in the Sikh war of 1848-49, under Lord Gough. At Chillianwalla, where he was wounded, and at the decisive victory of Goojerat, his skill and valour largely contributed to the success of the British arms ; and his " steady coolness and military precision" were highly praised in official despatches. He was created a K.C.B. in 1849, and specially named in the thanks of Parliament.

After rendering important services in India, Sir Colin Campbell returned home in 1853. Next year the Crimean war broke out, and he accepted the command of the Highland brigade, which formed the left wing of the duke of Cambridge's division. The success of the British at the Alma was mainly due to his intrepidity ; and with his " thin red line" of Highlanders he repulsed the Russian attack on Balaklava. At the close of the war Sir Colin was promoted to be Knight Grand Cross of the Bath, and elected honorary D.C.L. of Oxford. His military services, however, had as yet met with tardy recognition ; but, when the crisis came, his true worth was appreciated. The outbreak of the Indian Mutiny called for a general of tried experience; and on July 11, 1857, the command was offered to him by Lord Palmerston. On being asked when he would be ready to set out, the veteran replied, " Within twenty-four hours." He was as good as his word; he left England the next evening, and reached Calcutta on August 13. The position was one of unusual difficulty, but his energy and resource did not fail for a moment. Having formed an army as hastily as possible, he marched with 6000 men and 36 guns to the relief of Lucknow. The odds against him were great, and nothing save con-summate dexterity of manoeuvring could have achieved success. When the British guns were silenced by the fire of the rebels, Sir Colin himself headed the final assault, carried the fort, and saved the besieged. He afterwards, by his skilful tactics, thoroughly defeated the enemy, and captured their strongholds,—thus crushing the mutiny and preserving the British rule in India. For these services he was raised to the peerage in 1858, by the title of Lord Clyde; and returning to England in the next year he re-ceived the thanks of both Houses of Parliament. He enjoyed a pension of £2000 a year until his death, which occurred on the 14th of August 1863.





Lord Clyde possessed in abundant measure all the qualities which go to make a successful general. He com-bined the daring of the subaltern with the calm prudence of the veteran commander. The soldiers whom he led were devotedly attached to him ; and his courteous demeanour and manly independence of character won him unvarying respect. Though adequate recognition of his merits came slowly, he never allowed any feeling of pique to interfere with duty; and he deserves to be regarded as one of the most distinguished generals that Britain has produced.







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