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General Sir Duncan Cameron

CAMERON, Sir DUNCAN ALEXANDER (1808–1888), general, born on 19 Dec. 1808, was the only son of Sir John Cameron. He joined the 42nd royal highlanders (Black Watch) as ensign on 8 April 1825. He became lieutenant on 15 Aug. 1826, captain on 21 June 1833, major on 23 Aug. 1839, and lieutenant-colonel on 5 Sept. 1843. On the outbreak of the Crimean war he obtained the local rank in Turkey of brigadier. He commanded the 42nd at Alma, 20 Sept. 1854, and the highland brigade at Balaklava, 26 Sept. and took part in the siege of Sebastopol, and in the assault on the Redan on 18 June 1865. For his services he was mentioned in the despatches, received the medal with three clasps, was made an officer of the legion of honour, and obtained the Sardinian and Turkish medals, and the third class of the Medjidie. At the conclusion of the war he was nominated C.B. On 5 Oct. 1855 he received the local rank of major-general in Turkey, and on 24 July 1856 the same local rank in England. On 25 March 1859 he was nominated major-general. In 1860 he was appointed commander-in-chief in Scotland, and in the following year commander of the forces in New Zealand in succession to (Sir) Thomas Simson Pratt, with the local rank of lieutenant-general.

New Zealand was in a state of intermittent warfare, and hostilities between the English and Maoris were of frequent occurrence. In November 1862 Cameron represented to the governor, Sir George Grey, the smallness of his force, which numbered under four thousand men. On 4 June 1863 he defeated the natives on the Katikara river; on 12 July he crossed the Maungatawhira with 380 men; on 29 Oct. he occupied Meri-Meri, though without preventing the retreat of the Maori force; and on 29 Nov. he again defeated the Maoris at Rangarira. On 20 Feb. 1864 he was nominated K.C.B. On 29 April he was repulsed with considerable loss in an assault on the Gate Pah. He carried on his operations with zeal, but he failed to adapt his tactics to bush warfare, and suffered severely on several occasions from attacking strong defensive positions without adequate dispositions. He also entirely disapproved of the war, which he considered to have been occasioned by the desire of the colonists to acquire the native lands. He expressed his disapprobation with considerable freedom, and in his letters to Grey made serious charges against the colonial ministers. Grey communicated these charges to the accused, and was blamed by Cameron for publishing a private communication. In January 1865 Cameron refused to undertake the destruction of a pah at Te Wereroa, alleging that his force was insufficient. Grey took the command himself, and partly by his judicious conduct of the operation, partly by his great influence with the Maoris, reduced the position in three days. Cameron tendered his resignation in February, and received permission to return to England in June. His conduct was approved by the war office. He also received the thanks of the New Zealand legislative council.

On 9 Sept. 1863 he was nominated colonel of the 42nd; on 1 Jan. 1868 he became lieutenant-general, and on 5 Dec. 1874 he attained the rank of general. He was governor of Sandhurst from 1868 to 1875. On 24 May 1873 he was nominated G.C.B. He died without issue at Blackheath on 7 June 1888. On 10 Sept. 1873 he married Louisa Flora (d. 5 May 1875), fourth daughter of Andrew Maclean, deputy inspector-general of the Military College, Sandhurst.

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