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The Campbells of Argyll
A Grand Old Soldier—Sir Colin Campbell, Lord Clyde


Colin Campbell, one of the bravest soldiers and most distinguished generals of modern times, was born in Glasgow, and was the son of a carpenter named John Macliver and Agnes, his wife, who was a Campbell of Islay. Colin was educated by his mother’s brother, Colonel John Campbell, who sent him to a good school, and when the boy was old enough, took him to the Duke of York to apply for a commission in the army.

“What, another of the clan!” cried the duke; and a note was made of the lad’s name as Colin Campbell.

“No; Macliver,” the boy was about to say, when his uncle checked him.

“Leave it as it is, my lad,” he said; “Campbell is a good name to fight under;” and Colin Campbell he accordingly became. At the age of fifteen and a half he entered the army as an ensign, and sailed at once to join Sir Arthur Wellesley’s force in Portugal, coming under fire for the first time at the battle of Vimiera.

At the beginning of the fight the captain of the boy’s company showed him a kindness which he never forgot, and about which he used to tell his friends when he had become one of the most famous soldiers living.

The youngest officer in the field, Colin was called forward by his captain, who took him by the hand and led him to the front, walking up and down with him in view of the enemy’s artillery, which had opened fire. This was done to give the boy confidence, and when he thought he had succeeded he let go Colin’s hand and told him to join his company.

“It was the greatest kindness that could have been shown me at the time,” the brave general wrote to a friend long afterwards; “and through life I have felt grateful for it.”

Afterwards the lad was sent with Sir John Moore’s troops to Spain, and took part in the terrible retreat on Corunna. In those days of danger and hardship Colin bore himself with great courage. Boy though he was, he helped with the sick and weary, and never uttered a complaint even when reduced to marching barefoot over the frozen ground, the soles of his boots having been completely worn away.

His next experience of service was in the expedition to Walcheren, where he caught a fever which troubled him for thirty years. “Walcheren was with me every season,” he said, when speaking of

the attacks of illness which often made it very hard for him to perform his duties.

Returning to Spain in 1809, the young officer, who had been promoted lieutenant, was in command of two companies at the battle of Barossa. Still a mere boy, his gallant conduct attracted the notice of General Sir Thomas Graham, afterwards Lord Lynedoch, who became his lifelong friend.

For two years he served with the Spanish army, and returned to his regiment in time to join in the defence of Tarifa under his namesake, General Sir Colin Campbell. The battle of Vittoria followed, when Colin won further distinction ; and in July 1813 he was serving at the siege of San Sebastian. On the 17th he led the right wing of his regiment in an attack upon the fortified convent of San Bartoleme, his gallant conduct being reported in dispatches.

On the night of the 24th he headed a forlorn hope in the endeavour to storm the fortress. The night was dark, and the rocks the attacking party had to cross were slippery with seaweed. A high wind drove the smoke and flames from some burning houses full in their faces, and harassed them as much as the shot and shell poured down upon them by the defenders. Two officers were killed in the attack, and the storming party fell into confusion. Then Colin Campbell made a desperate effort, but it was too late.

“It was in vain,” writes Napier, “that Lieutenant Campbell, breaking through the tumultuous crowd with the survivors of his chosen detachment, mounted the ruins; twice he ascended, twice he was wounded, and all round him died.” The endeavour failed, and at daylight a truce was made for both sides to carry off their wounded.

All that the hero wrote in his journal about the action was the single word “Storm!” but Sir Thomas Graham recommended him for promotion as a reward for his gallant conduct, and he was gazetted to a company in the 60th Rifles.

Before leaving his old regiment Campbell found an opportunity for an adventure which showed his high spirit but brought him into trouble. While still in hospital with his wounds he left his quarters without the doctor’s permission, found his way to Bidassoa, and headed the night attack of his regiment on the French batteries on the other side of the river. Once more he was severely wounded, and on the following day was sent for by his colonel and sternly reprimanded for leaving hospital without the doctor’s orders. But for his gallant behaviour, Colonel Cameron said, his disobedience would have been reported at headquarters, and he might consider himself fortunate to have got off so lightly.

The injuries received by the young officer rendered it necessary for him to return to England, and on his recovery he joined his new regiment in Nova Scotia. At the age of twenty-one he was a captain, having fought his way to that rank in five years.

Varied experience was gained in America, Gibraltar, the West Indies, and other parts of the world. Colin Campbell took part in the battles of Bladenburg and New Orleans, and was active in quelling the insurrection of slaves in Demarara.

A friend in Barbadoes lent him the money to purchase his majority, and in the following year he returned to England, where his early exploits were not forgotten. Major Campbell was promoted to an unattached lieutenant-colonelcy; but he was still a poor man, and made himself still poorer by his generosity towards his family. For three years he begged in vain for the command of a regiment, and was appointed at last to the 98 th. His splendid management of the men won the admiration of General Sir Charles Napier, who became his friend for life.

Active service was what Colonel Campbell longed for, and he gained his desire when the 98th was sent to reinforce Sir Hugh Gough’s forces in the Chinese War. He took a distinguished part in the attack upon Chin-Kang-Foo and other actions, and his services in the campaign were mentioned in dispatches. For four years after the peace he remained in command of the troops at Chusan, and before leaving received a letter of thanks from the Chinese inhabitants. “You, the Honourable Brigadier,” they wrote, “took up your residence at Chusan in the twenty-third year of Taon Kwang, and whilst observing and maintaining the treaty, you behaved with the utmost kindness and the greatest liberality towards our own people, and restrained by laws and regulations the military of your honourable country.” On his return he was promoted to the rank of colonel, and made a C.B. and aide-de-camp to the queen, being shortly afterwards raised to the rank of brigadier-general.

Colin Campbell’s next opportunity for distinguishing himself arose when he was sent to India in command of the brigade at Lahore. In the second Sikh war he rendered splendid services. At Ramnuggur he saved the British cavalry from destruction. At the battle of Chillianwalla he marched his men up a hill and fell upon the enemy by a flanking movement, throwing them into confusion, and turning a threatened defeat into a victory. Wellington declared that the troops under Campbell had performed one of the most brilliant exploits that had ever been achieved by a British regiment.

At the victory of the British troops at Goojerat he commanded the right wing and headed the pursuit, a hundred and fifty-eight guns falling into his hands. “Brigadier Campbell,” Lord Gough reported, “with the steady coolness and military precision for which he is so conspicuous, carried everything before him.” For this service he was created a K.C.B., and received the thanks of Parliament and of the East/ India Company. During Major-General Sir Walter Gilbert’s chase of the Afghans, Colonel Campbell accompanied the expedition in charge of a brigade. In the following year he was serving under Napier as brigadier-general in charge of a frontier division at Peshawur. He could now support his family in comfort, and his great wish was to return to his own country. “I am growing old, and only fit for retirement,” he wrote in his journal ; but many years of hard service still lay before the distinguished soldier.

Yielding to the urgent entreaties of Lord Dal-housie and Sir Charles Napier he remained at his post. In 1850 he forced the Kohat Pass, and dispersed the wild tribes which had held the country in terror. Two years later he was brilliantly successful in a campaign against the Mohmunds, inflicting a crushing defeat upon their leader and compelling their submission. Afterwards he set out against the Swats, and after several engagements his little force of two thousand five hundred men defeated an army of six thousand at Iskakote ; but the government refused to allow him the necessary reinforcements to follow up his victory. Bitterly disappointed, Sir Colin Campbell returned to Peshawur and resigned his command, returning to England in March 1853.

Although already sixty-six years of age, Sir Colin Campbell was only at the beginning of his distinguished career. In 1854 war broke out in the Crimea, and the commander-in-chief appointed General Campbell commander of the Highland Brigade, consisting of the 42nd or Black Watch, the 79th, and the 93rd Highlanders. The Scotsmen arrived in time to take part in the battle of Alma. Before the action began Sir Colin Campbell rode up to their ranks and gave his troops a few instructions. “Now, men,” he said in conclusion, “the army will watch us; make me proud of the Highland Brigade.”

Leading his men steadily he advanced against the redoubt which had been retaken by the enemy. There was a stubborn fight, and at the critical moment, when his troops appeared to falter, Sir Colin reanimated his men by the words “Highlanders never retire!” His horse was shot under him, but the Highlanders fought like demons. Before the fury of the kilted men the Russians gave way, and the battle was won by the Highland Brigade.

Lord Raglan came up afterwards and shook Colin Campbell’s hand without being able to speak. The men cheered loudly, and in presence of them all the general asked a great favour of the commander-in-chief—leave to wear the Highland bonnet during the rest of the campaign.

At Balaclava the Highland troops were deserted by a supporting body of Turks at the moment of the advance of the main body of Russian cavalry. Riding along the ranks Sir Colin said, “Remember, there is no retreat from here, men! You must die 'where you stand.” And the men responded by saying cheerily, “Ay, ay, Sir Colin, we’ll do that!”

The four squadrons of Russian cavalry were advancing when the Highlanders suddenly appeared on the top of a hillock, two deep—“a thin red line topped with a line of steel.”

“Prepare to receive cavalry,” was all that Sir Colin said; and a volley of musketry checked the enemy, although without doing much damage. The Russians imagined that they must be falling into an ambush; and a second volley from the Highlanders broke their ranks and put them to flight. This action was one of the most gallant deeds in modern warfare.

Being appointed to the command of the 3rd Division, Sir Colin did his utmost for the comfort of the army during the long and trying winter that followed. He was frequently thanked by Lord Raglan, and received the distinction of G.C.B. in 1855. At the storming of the Redan he commanded a reserve, but on its being proposed that he should serve under Codrington, his junior, who had never seen a shot fired until the battle of Alma, the veteran resigned.

He returned to England; but the queen pleaded with him in person, and the old soldier’s anger disappeared.

“Your Majesty,” he said, “I will serve under a corporal rather than make a difficulty,” and he went back to the Crimea until peace was made.

On his return home he was received with much enthusiasm, being made a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. Lazarus, and a Knight of the First Class of the Order of the Medijie. From his native city he received a sword of honour, and in accepting it he expressed a hope that the Highland Brigade would not be forgotten, as he owed his honours to having been its commander.

On the 1 ith of July 1857 came the news of the outbreak of the Sepoy Mutiny and the death of General Anson, the commander-in-chief in India. Lord Palmerston immediately sent for Sir Colin and offered him the post, which he accepted.

“How soon can you set out?” asked Lord Palmerston.

“In twenty-four hours,” was the reply; and Sir Colin sailed the next day. In August he reached Calcutta, and found things at their worst. Nearly the whole of India was in a state of rebellion, either open or ready to burst forth upon the smallest provocation. Delhi was in the hands of the mutineers ; the British garrison in Agra was cut off, and their countrymen did not know how the brave defenders fared. Terrible anxiety was felt about Lucknow, where a tiny force was having hard work to keep the rebels at bay, and protect a number of women and children and sick people in the Residency. The enemy were making mines under the city, and many lives were lost in trying to prevent them from making use of the underground passages.

Everything depended upon prompt action, but neither troops nor stores were ready for the new commander-in-chief. Two months were spent by Sir Colin in “organizing victory." Lord Elgin having sent to Calcutta some troops intended for the China expedition, Sir Colin dispatched them to Cawnpore, then just relieved by General Havelock, who had pushed on to Lucknow. On the 22nd of September news came of the fall of Delhi; and on the 7th of October Sir Colin started for Cawnpore, which was reached on the 3rd of November. Six days were spent in strengthening the defences ; then leaving General Windham in charge of Cawnpore, Sir Colin started, with four thousand seven hundred men and thirty-two guns, for Lucknow. By this time General Havelock had reached the city, and was helping Sir James Outram to defend the Residency against an overwhelming .number of rebels.

Beyond Cawnpore Campbell was joined by General Hope Grant’s force, and some picked men from the Delhi garrison.

On the following morning he was surprised by receiving a visit, in his tent, from a tall man in native dress, who proved to be an Englishman from the besieged garrison. In this disguise Thomas

Kavanagh had made his way from the Residency through the enemy’s lines to convey to Sir Colin important information from General Outram. After receiving this brave man’s messages the general determined to advance on the following day, and ordered an inspection of all the troops under his command. On the parade ground his heart leaped with joy at seeing his favourite 93rd Highlanders, who greeted their old chief with a perfect roar of cheering, showing that under him they would go anywhere and dare anything.

At sunrise the next day the march began, and in the evening the small garrison holding out in the Alumbagh was relieved. A sharp attack made by the rebels on the British vanguard was repulsed, with loss of all the enemy’s guns, and the fortress was made the centre of operations.

The British army had now to make its way to the Residency and rescue the women and children who were in danger. The city was of great extent, held by a numerous army of rebels, who occupied every part; every street was defended, and nearly every house loopholed and converted into a fortress. To march through the city would have been to expose the troops to a fire which would have destroyed half the army.

Colin Campbell laid his plans carefully and determined to make a circuit. The 75th, exhausted by marching, was left at the Alumbagh, and fresh troops taken from the garrison. Sir Colin ordered / the men to march without baggage, and to carry supplies for three days. The Dilkusha Park was carried after a fight lasting for two hours; then the Martiniere was taken. On the following morning the Secunder Bagh was attacked. This was a plantation with a square enclosure of strong masonry loop-holed all round, and a village about a hundred yards distant, strongly fortified, and occupied by a numerous body of mutineers. For two and a half hours the firing continued, and the Secunder Bagh was carried at last by a magnificent rush of the 93rd Highlanders, who entered through a breach in the wall. Every inch of the building was contested; the enemy fought with the courage of despair; and when at last our men sheathed their swords more than two thousand rebel corpses lay heaped upon the ground.

On the same afternoon Sir Colin discovered that it was necessary to carry the fortified mosque of the Shah Najif. This was the most critical action of the whole campaign, success being uncertain and failure meaning ruin. For three hours the battle raged, the fate of the Indian Empire depending on the taking of the mosque. About four in the afternoon the enemy brought a heavy gun to bear upon Peel’s batteries on the opposite side of the river, silencing one of his pieces.

“The men were falling fast,” says one who took part in the action; "even Peel’s usually bright face became grave and anxious. Sir Colin sat on his white horse, exposed to the whole storm of shot, looking intently on the Shah Najif, which was wreathed in volumes of smoke from the burning buildings in its front, but sparkled all over with the bright flash of small arms. It was now apparent that the crisis of the battle had come. Our heavy artillery could not subdue the fire of the Shah Najif; we could not even hold permanently our present advanced position under it. But retreat to us there was none . . . Outram and Havelock and Inglis with our women and children were in front, and England’s honour was pledged to bring them scatheless out of the fiery furnace.”

Collecting the 93rd about him Sir Colin spoke to them. Without concealing the danger he told them that the Shah Najif must be taken; the artillery could not bring its fire under, so they must win it by the bayonet, and he himself would go with them.

The 93rd “rolled on in one vast wave,” their general with his sword drawn riding at their head. Supported by the Royal Artillery and Peel’s guns, they fought like demons; but the steep walls of the mosque towered above them, fire flashing from the loopholes, and without a breach through which to get at the enemy. The Highlanders went down fast, and even Sir Colin’s face was becoming anxious, when a deed of desperate bravery was done. A body of men under Adrian Hope forced their way through a narrow opening in the walls ; they threw open the gates, the garrison fled, and an action almost ' unexampled in war closed in a triumph for the British.

There only now remained some small buildings which had to be carried. Early in the morning Sir Colin ordered an attack upon the mess-house, a large building occupied by the enemy, and defended by a ditch and a loopholed mud wall. After four hours of desperate fighting the fortification was carried ; but before the action was over Outram and Havelock came over from the beleaguered garrison to meet and thank Sir Colin.

Almost more difficult than the relief of the gallant little force in Lucknow was the work of removing four hundred women and children, and more than a thousand sick and wounded, from the Residency in face of the enemy’s fire. Miles of the route had to be held by armed men, and the enemy’s forts had to be silenced.

Another daring plan was made by Sir Colin Campbell. He caused a vigorous cannonade to be opened upon the Kaisar Bagh or King’s Palace, which was still occupied by the enemy in great force. The rebels resolved to defend the palace, and their attention being withdrawn the British established a line of posts strong enough to resist attack. During the night the women, children, and invalids left the Residency, followed by the garrison, with Sir Colin and a body of soldiers bringing up the rear. In the morning the Dilkusha Palace was reached in safety, the rebels having been so completely deceived by Sir Colin’s ruse that the fire which they opened upon the Residency was continued for several hours after the place had been evacuated.

After one or two days’ journey on the route towards Cawnpore a heavy cannonade was heard in the direction of that city. Mile after mile was passed, and the sound of firing became more distinct, but no news could be obtained. At noonday a native brought a letter to the effect that Cawnpore was besieged by an overwhelming force; that unless affairs took a more favourable turn General Windham and his troops would have to take refuge in the entrenchments ; and the defenders hoped that the commander-in-chief would press forward to their assistance with the utmost speed.

Galloping forward Sir Colin reached the river by nightfall, only to see in the distance a blaze which showed that the enemy were in possession and had fired the city, and that the stores and transports, intended for the use of the women and children and invalids, were destroyed.

To this emergency the brave general proved himself equal. The women, children, and noncombatants were safely embarked in steamers for Calcutta; and this difficult and dangerous operation having been performed, Sir Colin took the field with his men. A crushing defeat was inflicted upon the rebels, who were pursued for nearly fourteen' miles from the city, leaving their guns and ammunition in the hands of the British.

The winter was spent in minor operations, and in March 1858 Sir Colin set out with an army of twenty-five thousand men against the rebels in Lucknow. The siege began on the 2nd of March; the Sepoys fought with the courage of despair, but all the fortified places were attacked and carried one after another. On the 19th a combined attack was made on the city itself, which was stormed and given up to plunder, the rebels fleeing in every direction.

Operations in Oudh and Rohilkund were successful, and in a few weeks General Campbell had re-established British supremacy in the north of India.

Broken in health he could fight no longer, but his services had prepared the way for the final reconquest of India. Before the year was out he was able to write home that “the resistance of a hundred and fifty thousand armed men has been subdued with very moderate loss to Her Majesty’s troops, and the most marvellous forbearance towards the misguided enemy . . . the last remnant of the mutineers and insurgents has been hopelessly driven across the mountains which form the barrier between the Kingdom of Nepal and Her Majesty’s Empire of Hindustan.”

Among the rewards which were showered upon him he valued none more highly than his appointment to the colonelcy of the 93rd Highlanders. He was raised to the peerage, but not possessing a foot of land of his own from which to take his title, he became Baron Clyde of Clydesdale, from the river on whose banks he had been born. Failing health made it impossible for him to remain in India, and his departure was followed by the regret of many of its inhabitants.    *

Fresh honours were heaped upon him in England, but he found his greatest happiness in the esteem of the people and the love of his own family, for whom he had done so much. On the 14th of August 1863 the great soldier died, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, amid the mourning of the entire nation.

THE END


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