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Colin Campbell, Lord Clyde
Chapter II Colonial and Home Service


With the wound which struck him down on the Croix des Bouquets on the 7th of October 1813 Colin Campbell’s active service in his original regiment ended, and on the 9th of November in the same year he was promoted to a captaincy without purchase in the Sixtieth Rifles. Still enfeebled by his wounds, he came home before the end of the year with the strongest recommendations to the Horse Guards from the commanders under whom he had served in the field,—recommendations which do not appear to have availed him materially. He made good his claim to a temporary wound-pension of £100 a year, but the application made on his behalf for staff-employment with Sir Thomas Graham in Holland was not successful.

One would fain gain some introspection into the nature, character, and tendencies of this young soldier, who in his twenty-first year was already a veteran of war after more than five years of pretty constant active service. It would he pleasant to have opportunities for regarding him as something other than a mere military lay-figure,—to attain to some conversance with his habits, his tastes, his attitude towards his comrades, his

relations with his family, the character of such study and reading as he could find time for, and so forth. But the means for doing this are altogether lacking. Lord Clyde was a very modest man, and it was with reluctance that he allowed his papers to he used for the purposes of a memoir. He, however, left it hy his will to the discretion of his trustees to dispose of his papers, with the characteristic injunction: “If a short memoir should appear to them to be absolutely necessary and indispensable (which I should regret and hope may be avoided), then it should be limited as much as possible to the modest recital of the services of an old soldier.” The trustees, seventeen years after Lord Clyde’s death, judged wisely in sanctioning the compilation of a memoir, the material available for which was confided to the late General Shadwell who had been long and intimately associated with Lord Clyde both at home and on campaign. General Shadwell’s biography of his chief is a most careful and accurate work; but probably because of a lack of such material as, for instance, familiar correspondence affords, it somewhat fails to furnish an adequate presentment of Colin Campbell as he was during the long years before he emerged from comparative obscurity, and became gradually a marked and characteristic figure familiar to and cherished by his fellow-countrymen.

Campbell served with a battalion of the Sixtieth in Nova Scotia from October, 1814, to July, 1815, when ill-health caused by his wounds compelled him to return to Europe. After a course of thermal treatment in southern France he served for two years at Gibraltar, and early in 1819 followed to Barbadoes the Twenty-First

Fusiliers to which regiment he had been transferred. The next seven years of his life be passed in the West Indies,—the first two years of the seven in Barbadoes, the latter five in Demerara, where he served as aide-de-camp and brigade-major to the Governor, General Murray. The tropical climate of the West Indies agreed with him, and notwithstanding recrudescences of Walcheren feyer and frequent annoyances from his wounds he was able to enjoy life and relish the society of the colony. During his soldiering in Spain he and his friend and comrade Seward had perforce lived on their pay, and had firmly avoided incurring debt With his captain’s pay and his wound-pension Campbell found himself no longer obliged to live penuriously, and indeed was able to assist his father by a considerable annual payment. And now in Demerara with his staff-appoint-ment he was so well off that, in his disregard for money, he carelessly allowed his pension to lapse, a neglect which he had bitter reason to regret later. His friend General Murray was succeeded in the Demerara command by General Sir Benjamin D’Urban, a distinguished Peninsular officer, between whom and his brigade-major there was speedily engendered a mutual esteem and affection. Probably, indeed, those years in Demerara were the pleasantest of Colin Campbell’s life. Comfortable (and we may be sure efficient) in his staff-position, and the right hand man of a chief who loved him, he was happy in his regiment and welcome everywhere in society. When in November, 1825, the opportunity presented itself for his promotion by purchase to a majority in his regiment, it was the spontaneous generosity of a colonial friend which mainly

enabled him to buy the step. The promotion was of the greatest professional importance to him, and indeed may be considered the turning-point of his career; but it required him to vacate his pleasant appointment and to take leave of the chief whose friendship he so warmly cherished. Returning to England in 1826 to join the depot of his regiment, he took home with him the strongest recommendations from Sir Benjamin D’Urban to the authorities at the Horse Guards; but he continued to serve with his regiment at home until the autumn of 1832 in the rank of major, although through the kindness of a relative the money was ready for the purchase of his promotion to the rank of lieu-tenant-colonel.

General Shadwell furnishes us with an interesting sketch of Colin Campbell’s personal aspect from a portrait taken of him in his uniform at this period of his career. “ A profusion of curly brown hair, a well-shaped mouth and a wide brow, already foreshadowing the deep lines which became so marked a feature of his countenance in later years, convey the idea of manliness and vigour. His height was about five feet nine, his frame well knit and powerful; and but that his shoulders were too broad for his height, his figure was that of a symmetrically-made man. To an agreeable presence he added the charm of engaging manners, which, according to the testimony of those who were familiar with him at this period, rendered him popular both at the dinner-table and in the drawing-room.”

After several disappointments, in October, 1832, through the good offices of Lord Fitzroy Somerset he was gazetted to an unattached lieutenant-colonelcy by purchase. The promotion cost him £1300 and relegated him for a time to half-pay, “after,” to use his own words, “a period of nearly twenty-five years on full pay- —viz. upwards of five years as a subaltern, nearly thirteen as captain, and seven as major.” His time being now at his own disposal, his active and energetic temperament would not allow him to vegetate in idleness. He determined to watch the operations of the siege of Antwerp conducted by a French force under Marshal Gerard against the resolute hut scanty Dutch garrison, which under the energetic command of General Chasse was holding tho citadel and outworks of the historic Flemish city. He kept a detailed and technical journal of the siege operations and of Chassis obstinate defence, from which he compiled reports for the Horse Guards; and for these he was afterwards thanked by Lord Hill and Lord Fitzroy Somerset. It was an experience which must have been of service to him when he came to hold high command; as he wrote at the time, “ To have been present at and to have witnessed the operations of a siege commenced and carried on to the crowning of the crest of the glacis, and the establishment of the breaching and counter batteries thereon and the descent of the ditch completed, has given me great satisfaction.” After the capitulation of Antwerp Campbell wintered in tho quaint old city of Marburg in Hesse-Cassel, with the twofold purpose of acquiring the German language and of living economically. The summer and autumn of 1833 he spent in Germany, but was in England during most of 1834 undergoing disappointment after disappointment. His means he found wholly inadequate for a London life, yet it was clear that it would he unwise to absent himself from proximity to the authorities. “Doing nothing and expecting nothing” is one dreary note of this period. Indeed inaction, which he detested, and the dregs in his constitution of the old pestilential Walcheren mischief, were combining to make Colin Campbell morbid and desponding. Yet, considering all things, he had attained better advancement than many of his old Peninsular comrades. Take, for example, George Bell of the Royals, a fellow subaltern with Campbell in Hay’s brigade of Graham’s corps in the Vittoria campaign. Bell was a younger soldier than Campbell by three years, but he had seen infinitely more service than his senior. Bell “was engaged in the action of Arroyo de Molino, the final siege of Badajos, capture of Fort Napoleon and bridge at Almaraz, in the retreat from Burgos and Madrid, the battles of Vittoria, the Pyrenees, Pass of Maya and Roneevalles, the Nive, Bayonne, St. Pierre, Orthes, Tarbes, and Toulouse, with many other affairs and skirmishes; and he possessed the Peninsular War medal with seven clasps for as many pitched battles.” Since the Peninsular War he had fought in India and the Burmese War and had served in the West Indies. And whereas Colin Campbell was a lieutenant-colonel in 1832 George Bell was still a captain in 1839. To complete the contrast, while Campbell was a peer and a full general in the middle of 1858 Bell was still a colonel, after having fought throughout the Crimean War in the command of a battalion. If the former despaired of fortune when a lieutenant-colonel after twenty-seven years of service, how bitterly must the latter have known the hope deferred that maketh the heart sick when still a colonel after forty-eight years of continuous service!

In the early part of 1835 Colin Campbell, still despondent, was in London “living in very scanty hopes of employment.” But in May of that year be was offered and accepted the command of the Ninety-Eighth regiment. Its service companies were at the Cape, but as the regiment had nearly completed its period of foreign service it was finally determined that it was not necessary that he should join it there. How poor he was when he had the good fortune to revert to full-pay, may be gathered from his hesitation to become a member of the United Service Club. “My debts and embarrassments” he records “indisposed me to entering it;” but a wise friend insisted upon his taking up his election and hacked his insistence by advancing the entrance fees. The dep6t of the Ninety-Eighth was at Devonport, commanded by Captain Henry Eyre, afterwards General, and Colonel of the Fifty-Ninth regiment; an officer between whom and Colin Campbell there soon began a friendship which ripened into a most affectionate and enduring intimacy. By dint of questioning this officer regarding the minutest details of the regiment, its new chief was already familiar with its interior economy before its arrival at Portsmouth in the summer of 1837. He then assumed command, and at once set about putting in practice the sound principles on which he himself had been trained in the Ninth regiment,—principles which were the legacy of Sir John Moore to the British army. In the camp at Shorncliffe that great soldier had introduced a system of instruction and interior economy which, in the words of General Shadwell, had produced in the regiments serving under his command an excellence that had borne the test of trial in the varied phases of the great Peninsular struggle, and had left a permanent mark on the service at large. Campbell’s anxious and successful endeavour was to make the Ninety-Eighth a well disciplined, thoroughly instructed and trustworthy regiment. The material to his hand was good. He found the depot in fine order; the service companies brought home by Major Gregory required merely the weeding out of some hard drinkers whose example was prejudicial to the younger soldiers and whom the colonel was able to obtain permission to discharge.

Colin Campbell had a genuine liking for and a thorough knowledge of the private soldier. Throughout life he was by no means slow to wrath when occasion stirred it, and sometimes, indeed, when the incentive was inadequate, for hob Highland blood ran in his veins; and when his face flushed and his gray eyes scintillated with passion, he was not a man with whom it were wise to argue. The slack officer and the bad soldier found no sympathy from a chief whose rebukes were strong and whose punishments were stem; but he had a true comradeship with those in whom he recognised some of that zeal of which he himself had perhaps an excess. Himself ever sedulous in the fulfilment of duty and sparing himself in nothing, he required of his officers a scrupulous attention to their duties in everything regarding the instruction, well-being, and conduct of their men. General Shadwell writes: “Frugal in his habits by nature and force of circumstances, Colonel Campbell laid stress on the observance of economy in the officers’ mess, believing a well-ordered establishment of this kind to be the best index of a good regiment. Regarding the mess as one of the principal levers of discipline, he made a rule of attending it even when the frequent return of his fever and ague rendered late dinners a physical discomfort. Cramped in his means, he denied himself many little comforts in order that he might have the wherewithal to return hospitality and be able to set an example to his brother officers in the punctual discharge of his mess liabilities. His intercourse with his officers off duty was unrestrained and of the most friendly character. He sympathised with them in their occupations and sports, and though the instruction and discipline of the regiment was carried on with great, strictness, the best feeling pervaded all ranks.”

In the ordinary tour of duty the Ninety-Eighth removed from Portsmouth to Weedon, and thence it proceeded to Manchester which was in what was then known as the Northern District command, now subdivided into the North-Eastern and North-Western Districts. In those days there were no railways, and the long marches by road, in many respects advantageous though they were, and worthy as they are, at least to some extent, of being reverted to at present, certainly tested severely the discipline of regiments. An officer who took part in the marches of the Ninety-Eighth thus records his recollections:—“The regiment was in such a high state of discipline in these marches through the length and breadth of the land, that none of those occurrences which have since been the subject of complaint took place. Day after day I had seen the regiment turn out without a man missing; and drunkenness was very trifling considering how popular the army then was, and how liberally the men were treated. The fact was that Colin Campbell appealed to the reason and feelings of his men, and made it a point of honour with them to be present and sober in their billets at tattoo and at morning parade for the march. He could invite, as well as compel obedience.”

In April, 1839, the command of the troops in the Northern District, which then comprised eleven counties, was entrusted to Sir Charles Napier. For some time previous the disquiet among the manufacturing population in this wide region had occasioned great anxiety to the Government; and it seemed that the Chartist movement might culminate in actual insurrection. An outbreak was apprehended almost momentarily, and might occur at any point; so that all over the north magistrates were nervously calling for military protection. Napier had at his disposition a force of barely four thousand men; and those were so dispersed that on assuming command he found them broken up into no fewer than twenty-six detachments, spread over half England. Those scattered handfuls of soldiers were worse than useless; their weakness was dangerous and actually invited to mischief. Fortified by the cordial support of the Home Secretary Napier insisted on three points: the concentration of his troops, and, where detachments had to he granted, proper quarters for them so as to keep the soldiers together; that magistrates instead of clamouring for troops should rally loyal citizens around them for self-defence; that the army was to be regarded as a force of ultimate reserve, and that therefore it was the duty of Government to establish throughout the country a strong police force,—a measure which was soon to he dealt with by Sir Robert Peel.

Napier had been in command of the district for some three months before he and Colin Campbell met, although in the interval they had corresponded officially and thus may have come to know something of each other. Napier, at least, had gauged the character of his subordinate officer. In July he had ordered the Ninety-Eighth from Hull to Newcastle-on-Tyne. Things were then at about their worst, and Napier wrote: “Great anxiety about the colliers in the north. I have sent Campbell, Ninety-Eighth, there from Hull. The colliers had better be quiet; they will have a hardy soldier to deal with; yet he will be gentle and just, or he should not be there.” During its march the Ninety-Eighth was halted in billets over Sunday in York. It chanced that Napier during a tour of inspection arrived there by coach about noon, and alighted at the inn where the hurried coach-dinner was served. Ascertaining that Colonel Campbell was quartered in the house, the General promptly introduced himself. Mentioning the number of minutes allotted for the meal, he asked if it would be possible to collect the men under arms before the coach went on. With perfect confidence Colin Campbell replied in the affirmative. The “assembly” was sounded; and as the men were gathering from their billets Napier, as he ate, cross-examined the colonel of the Ninety-Eighth regarding the internal economy of the regiment. He then inspected the troops, and on finishing the last company as the horses were being put to, he mounted the box with the remark, “That’s what I call inspecting a regiment.” “It was,” comments General Shadwell, “what some commanding officers might term sharp practice; but it was a satisfactory test of the discipline and order which Colin Campbell had perfected in the Ninety-Eighth.” And he adds that this hurried meeting “formed an important epoch in Campbell’s career. From that moment he conceived an esteem and respect for the noble soldier under whose command he had been so fortunate as to find himself placed, sentiments which speedily developed into a feeling of affectionate regard well-nigh amounting to veneration.”

The arrival of the regiment at Newcastle was welcomed by the magistrates, colliery owners, and county gentlemen of Northumberland, who in their apprehension of a Chartist rising leaned upon its commanding officer for the maintenance of order. At no period of his career did Colin Campbell evince greater wisdom and shrewdness than during this critical and sensitive time. Neither rash nor weak, he reassured the apprehensive and awed the disaffected. He visited in person many of. the Chartist meetings, and was not slow to discern that the movement included a large proportion of supporters who advocated moral in preference to physical methods for the accomplishment of their objects. He became convinced that no serious rising would take place, yet he took every precaution to meet such a contingency. The regiment was carefully trained in street firing, and such dispositions as would be requisite in the event of the troops being called upon to act were sedulously practised. The Ninety-Eighth were loyal to a man, and their discipline was faultless. Once the Chartists seized a D

drummer-boy of the regiment and forced him to beat his drum at the head of a procession. The cry rose that the soldiers were fraternising with the mob and a magistrate hurried to the barracks with the ominous tidings. Campbell immediately answered—“Come, and I will show how the soldiers feel in the matter, midnight though it is!” Ordering the bugler to sound the “assembly” he took the magistrate into the barrack-yard. From the barrack-rooms came rushing out the soldiers armed and accoutred, venting vehement imprecations on the malcontents; and Campbell grimly called the magistrate’s attention to the wholesome views expressed by a local “Geordie” of the regiment, who frankly signified his readiness to “stick his own grandmother if she were out.” But midnight alertes on scant provocation Campbell steadfastly discountenanced. His most sedulous care was for the health of his men. He habitually dispensed with all superfluous and needless guards, and he resolutely cut down sentry - duty which he did not consider absolutely necessary for the protection of public property or the requirements of the service. In this solicitude for the well-being of the soldier Campbell was stoutly upheld by Sir Charles Napier. Holding though he did to his conviction that no rising would occur, he nevertheless could not resist an urgent application from the magistracy of Durham for military assistance, and he took upon himself to despatch a detachment to that town, reporting his having done so to the general commanding the district. Napier approved of his conduct, but enjoined on him the exaction from the Durham authorities of the stipulation specified in the following terms:—“If the detachment is to remain at Durham, the magistrates must furnish a barrack with everything requisite for the men, and this barrack must be so situated that the communication with the open country can be maintained— that is to say, on the outskirt of the town. It must also be perfectly comfortable for the soldiers, and the officers’ quarters attached to it. Unless these conditions be complied with, you must inform the magistrates that I must positively order the detachment back to Newcastle. I will not have troops in billets.”

The disaffection in the north gradually died down as Colin Campbell had prognosticated; and his wise and judicious conduct during the troublous time was fully acknowledged by the authorities. From the Home Office came the following approval of his behaviour. “Lord John Russell desires to express to you the satisfaction he has received from the report of the Newcastle on-Tyne magistrates of the prompt and valuable services which you have constantly rendered them since the commencement of their intercourse with you. Lord John Russell has not failed to make known to Lord Hill” (the Commander-in-Chief) “the testimony borne by the magistrates to your valuable services, and Lord John requests that you will accept his best thanks for your exertions, and for the zeal manifested by you in supporting the Civil authorities, and in the preservation of the public peace.” Lord Fitzroy Somerset conveyed to Campbell Lord Hill’s satisfaction in learning that “ his conduct had met with the unqualified approbation of Her Majesty’s Government;” and the magistrates of the county tendered him their acknowledgment of the cordial and efficient manner in which he and the troops under his command had co-operated with the civil power in the preservation of the public peace.

It is the experience of all soldiers that a regiment broken up in detachments tends to fall into slackness as well in discipline as in drill. But throughout his command of the Ninety-Eighth Colin Campbell had the invaluable advantage of having exceptionally good and zealous officers serving under him. Alike at headquarters and on detachment discipline was rigid without being unduly severe; and when the regiment was together at Newcastle its drill was admirable,—“so steady, so perfect in battalion movements, so rapid and intelligent in light infantry exercise.” It was when the regiment was stationed at Newcastle that Campbell taught it to advance firing in line, which was a specially difficult movement with the old muzzle-loader of the period, but which on two subsequent occasions he brought into practice against the enemy with particularly advantageous results.

The Ninety-Eighth had been serving for more than two years in the Northern District, and a move was imminent in the summer of 1841. But it would seem to have been considered that the regiment before leaving the north should receive new colours, and those were presented to it by Sir Charles Napier on the 12th of May on the Newcastle racecourse in presence of a great assemblage gathered to witness the ceremony. Sir Charles addressed the regiment in a long oration in the true Napier vein, in the course of which he paid an almost ruthless compliment to Colin Campbell. The episode, if somewhat theatrical, must have had a stirring effect. In the course of his address the General said:

“Of the abilities for command which your chief possesses, your own magnificent regiment is a proof. Of his gallantry in action hear what history says, for I like to read to you of such deeds and of such men; it stimulates young soldiers to deeds of similar daring.” Then he read from his brother’s History of the Peninsular War the account of Lieutenant Campbell’s conduct in the breach of San Sebastian: "Major Fraser," he read in his sonorous tones, “was killed in the flaming ruins; the intrepid Jones stood there a while longer amidst a few heroic soldiers hoping for aid: but none came, and he and those with him were struck down. The engineer Machel had been killed early, and the men bearing the ladders fell or were dispersed. Thus the rear of the column was in absolute confusion before the head was beatea It was in vain that Colonel Greville of the Thirty-Eighth, Colonel Cameron of the Ninth, Captain Archimbeau of the Royals, and many other regimental officers, exerted themselves to rally their disciplined troops and refill tho breach; it was in vain 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 around him died, "There,” continued Sir Charles—"there stands the Lieutenant Campbell of whom I have been reading; and well I know that, if need be, the soldiers of the Ninety Eighth will follow him as boldly as did those gallant men of the glorious Ninth who fell fighting around him in the breaches of San Sebastian!”

In July the Ninety-Eighth left Newcastle for Ireland, where, however, it remained only a few months, its term of home service being nearly completed. The original intention was that it should be sent to the Mauritius. Colin Campbell worked hard to have its destination altered to Bermuda, in the belief that the strained relations then existing between Great Britain and the United States would result in war, in which event the regiment at Bermuda would be advantageously situated. But the roster of service, he found, could not be dislocated to meet his desire; and all that he could accomplish was the permission on arrival at Mauritius to effect an exchange with the officer commanding the Eighty-Seventh, then garrisoning the island, should that officer desire to remain there, and to return to Great Britain in command of that regiment. Later he had reason to believe that the Ninety-Eighth was intended for service in China; but that this was so he did not ascertain for certain until the middle of October, when he was informed that the service companies were destined to take part in the hostilities against China which had been in progress with more or less vigour for the last two years, and which were intended to be prosecuted to a final issue when Lord Ellenborough, in the beginning of 1842, should succeed Lord Auckland as Governor-General of India.


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