General Thomas Lord Lynedoch

General Thomas Lord Lynedoch, Governor of Dumbarton

Colonel of the Fourteenth Foot, Governor of Dumbarton Castle


(19th October, 1748 – 18th December, 1843)

THE gallant subject of the present sketch, born in 1750, is the third son of Thomas Graham, of Balgowan. in Perthshire, the representative of a family of high lineage and antiquity, and Lady Christian Hope, fourth daughter of Charles, first Earl of Hopetoun. The classical mind of his father, and the elegant attainments of his mother, directed to the education of their son, who by the death of both his elder brothers, had also become their heir, produced in him an aptitude for study, and qualities always estimable, which were early matured by a tour through Europe.

In 1774, at which time he had succeeded his father, he married the Hon. Mary Cathcart, one of the three accomplished daughters of the ninth Lord Cathcart, (whose other two daughters were married on the same day to the Duke of Atholl, and Lord Stormont,) in whose society he for a time experienced the utmost of human felicity.

In 1792, however, this happy union was terminated by the death of his wife, within a year of that of her sister, the Duchess of Atholl, and Mr. Graham was left to mourn a loss which to him nothing in this world ever could repair. His grief was so deep and lasting as greatly to injure his health, and he was directed to travel, with the view of alleviating the distress of his mind, and restoring the tone of his constitution, by change of scene, and witnessing variety of objects. But his course was sad and solitary, and his heart refused to be comforted. He passed like an unpurposed wanderer through France, then engaged in all the turmoil and excitement of revolution. Thence he proceeded to the Mediterranean ; and in military society, at Gibraltar, first found the means of partially disengaging himself from the melancholy spell under which he laboured ; or rather, perhaps, we might more truly say, he rushed into the dangers of war, to seek that death in the field, to which alone his broken spirit could look for relief.

Lord Hood, about to sail for the south of France, was collecting all the intelligence he could command for the critical period, and could not but be proud and happy to receive Mr. Graham as a volunteer. He accordingly, at the commencement of the revolutionary war, 1793, landed with the British troops at Toulon, and served as extra Aid-de-Camp to the commanding General, Lord Mulgrave, whose particular thanks he obtained for his gallant and able services : he was foremost in attack, and on one occasion, at the head of a column, when a private fell, he supplied his place in the front rank.

On returning to this country, he raised the 1st Battalion of of the 90th Regiment, of which his commission as LieutenantColonel-Commandant was dated the 10th of February, 1794. This corps formed a part of General the Earl of Moira's army, which was encamped at Netley Common ; it passed the summer of 1795, at Isle Dien, and soon afterwards was ordered to Gibraltar.

The 22d of July, 1795, the subject of our memoir obtained the rank of Colonel in the army.

The duties of Gibraltar being only such as a strong garrison demanded, Colonel Graham obtained permission to join 'the Austrian army, and he continued on that service during the memorable summer of 1796. He transmitted to this country the intelligence of the military operations and diplomatic measures adopted by the Continental Generals and Princes ; and his despatches (as appears from the Annual Register, and the State Papers of the period) were of the highest consequence to Government, and evinced the great talents and characteristic energy of the writer.

Colonel Graham was afterwards attached to the Austrian army of Italy, and was shut up in Mantua with General Wurmser during the investment of that city. But as Mantua continued long in a state of siege, and a mere defensive warfare was not consonant with Colonel Graham's views, he resolved to depart from the garrison.

On the night of the 24th of December, 1796, he accordingly quitted the place, although opposed by almost insurmountable obstacles, in a deluge of rain, and with only one attendant. Mantua being situated on a lake formed by the Mincio, and the regular channels of communication with the main land being in the possession of the besiegers, it was only by embarking in a boat that Colonel Graham could effect his escape ; and such was the impenetrable darkness of the night, that the vessel put on shore several times on the islands of the lake or river. before the point he wished to reach could be discerned. Having, after much difficulty, obtained a Landing on a desirable spot. he travelled during the night on foot. wading through mire and swamps, and in momentary danger of losing his way, with the additional apprehension of falling ingloriously by a shot from some of the numerous pickets posted in every part ; or of being stopped and detained as a British officer, in the uniform of his regiment. At day-break he sought security in concealment, and at night again resumed his journey. Having reached a river, he hired a boat; and here his life would in all probability have been sacrificed, had not Providence driven the sentinels from their posts by a heavy fall of rain, and thus opened a passage for him in comparative safety. At length he joined the army of the Archduke Charles.

Continental affairs having assumed a pacific aspect, Colonel Graham returned to his native country early in the year 1797, and in the autumn of the same year went out to his regiment at Gibraltar ; whence he proceeded to the attack of Minorca with Sir Charles Stuart, who, on the reduction of that island, bestowed much commendation on the spirit and exertions of his brave and enterprising associate..
After the debarkation of the troops, innumerable difficulties opposed themselves to their operations. There is not in any part of Europe to be found a greater variety of natural obstacles to an invading army than in this island. Reports from deserters and others, contradictory in their purport, rendered General Stuart for a short time irresolute what course to pursue. He, however, resolved to proceed by a forced march to Mercadel, and, by possessing that essential post, to separate the enemy's force. To effect this object, Colonel Graham was sent with six hundred men ; and by dint of the utmost effort arrived at Mercadel a very few hours after the main body of the enemy had marched towards Candarello. Here he made a considerable number of prisoners, seized several small depots of ammunition, &c., and established his corps in front of the village.

The reduction of Minorca being completed, Colonel Graham repaired to Sicily, where he employed himself in the service, and for the assistance, of its legitimate monarch ; and such were his exertions, that he received repeated acknowledgments, and tributes of gratitude and esteem, from the King and Queen of Naples.

Not long after, the Colonel, with the local rank of Brigadier, besieged the island of Malta, having under his command the 30th and 89th regiments, and some corps embodied under his immediate direction. This island, the key of Egypt and the Levant, having been basely surrendered to the French in 1793, the British government resolved to wrest it from the hands of the enemy, to whom it was a maritime station of great importance, more particularly since Buonaparte's views upon India, through Egypt, had become manifest. Aware of the prodigious strength of its works, the General resorted to a blockade, as the most effectual as well as the most humane method, to reduce the place. The British force acco- rdingly appeared before Malta in the month of September, 1798 ; the French garrison held out, and maintained possession till September, 1800, when, after a resistance of two years' duration, it surrendered.

Major-General Pigot having arrived with a reinforcement a short time previous to its capitulation, the honour of transmitting to the British government an account of the success of our arms devolved upon him ; but in his despatch he bore ample testimony to the high merit and efficient operations of Brigadier-General Graham.

On the completion of this service, Brigadier-General Graham returned to England, and arrived just in time to learn the gratifying intelligence of his own regiment, the 90th, having covered itself with glory on the plains of Egypt. This fine corps formed the advanced guard of the first line on the 21st of March, 1801.

Desirous of rejoining his comrades, he again left England, and landed in Egypt ; but that country being completely conquered, he soon quitted it, and travelled to Europe with Mr. Hutchinson, brother of the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Hutch-inson, through Turkey. He made some stay at Constantinople ; and, peace having in the mean time been concluded, a short residence at Paris.

From the years 1803 to 1805, he served with his regiment in Ireland ; when it was ordered out to the West Indies, and he remained without active employment or promotion till the spring of 1808.

Sir John Moore being appointed to lead an armament to the shores of Sweden, and also entrusted with an important diplomatic mission to the ex-king of that country, Colonel Graham solicited and obtained permission to accompany him as Aid-de Camp. The expedition proceeded to Gottenburg, where the troops continued on board the transports, while Sir John Moore was endeavouring to make arrangements with the Court of Sweden ; Colonel Graham took this opportunity of traversing the country in all directions.

The misunderstanding between the King of Sweden and Sir John Moore having put an end to his mission, that officer was immediately ordered to Spain, whither he was accompanied by Colonel Graham, who served during the whole of the campaign of 1808.

On his return to England, he was promoted to the rank of Major-General, and was shortly after appointed to command a division in the expedition to Walcheren. He was actively employed at the siege of Flushing, but, being attacked by the fever, he was obliged to come home.

The possession of Cadiz being about this time disputed by the Spanish Patriots and the French, this officer, with the brevet rank of Lieutenant-General, was sent to take the command of the British troops in that fortress. In February, 1811, he embarked in an expedition for the purpose of making a combined attack on the rear of the French army which was blockading Cadiz, and which led, in the March following, to the memorable battle of Barrosa, a brief account of which naturally belongs to the memoir of this distinguished officer.
The troops ordered on this service marched from Isla on the night of the 17th of February, and embarked the next morning at day-break in Cadiz Bay. In the evening of the 21st, the expedition sailed, and arrived off Tarifa on the following day ; but as the weather proved unfavourable for a landing at that place, it proceeded to Algesiras, where the force disembarked on the morning of the 23d. On the following day they marched to Tarifa, through a beautiful and romantic tract of country, without any other road than merely a mule path, which was found scarcely practicable for-the advance of the cavalry ; all the artillery, therefore, was sent onwards by water.

On the 27th, the Spanish troops under General Lapena arrived, from Cadiz, at Tarifa ; they had been embarked in open vessels, even before the British, and were consequently much exposed to the inclemency of the weather during the whole period, and in very confined and crowded situations. However, they were in readiness to march on the next morning, thereby exemplifying that patience and submission, under great hardships and privations, which constitute the known military feature of the Spanish character.

The allied army marched on the 28th to Facinas, always en bivouac, and, on the night between the first and second of March, to the neighbourhood of Casa Vieja, by a long, fatiguing, and dark march across a country much intersected with watercourses. On the morning of the 3d, a battalion of Walloon guards, and the regiment of Ciudad-Real, joined the reserve, (as the corps under Lieutenant-General Graham's command was styled ;) the former was incorporated with the brigade of guards, the latter with Colonel Wheatley's brigade ; they marched during the whole day, and halted in the vicinity of Vajar at night. In the evening of the 4th, the troops were again in motion, and continued to march till the morning of the 5th, when the van-guard proceeded to attack the enemy's position opposite the point of Santa Petri, and the reserve halted on the east side of the heights of Barrosa, (by some called Cerra del Puerca.) The attack of the van-guard on the enemy's lines succeeded in this operation ; it was supported by half the Prince of Augloua's division, the other half remaining on the heights already mentioned ; and, it should seem, that previous to the movement of the British to that point, which the Spanish commander thought it necessary to strengthen, General Lapena offered Lietenant-General Graham his option, whether the latter should move for that purpose with his corps, or continue posted on the heights : but the Lieutenant-General declining to make an election, the former decided that the reserve should march, leaving two battalions to join the remainder of the Spanish forces, to preserve the position on the heights. In addition, however, to two battalions of Walloon and Ciudad-Real guards, Lieutenant-General Graham left Colonel Brown's battalion, composed of flank companies, which was posted at the Torre Barrosa. The Lieutenant-General, therefore, had every reason to suppose the General-in-Chief would remain on that position during the day.*

* This will be seen by the following extract of a letter from Lieutenant-General Graham to the Right Honourable Henry Wellesley, dated Isla de Leon, March 24. 1811.
"When the British division began its march from the position of Barrosa to that of Bermeja, I left the General on the Barrosa height, nor did I know of his intention of quitting it ; and when I ordered the division to countermarch in the wood, I did so to support troops left for its defence, and believing the General to be there in person. In this belief, I sent no report of the attack, which was made so near to the spot where the General was supposed to be : and, confident in the bravery of the British troops, I was not less so in the support I should receive from the Spanish army. The distance, however, to Bermeja is trifling; and no orders were given from head-quarters for the movement of any corps of the Spanish army to support the British division, to prevent its defeat in this unequal contest, or to profit by the success earned at so heavy an expense. The voluntary zeal of the two small battalions. 'Walloon guards, and Ciudad Real,) which bad been detached from my division. brought them alone back from the wood ; bat, Notwithstanding their utmost efforts. they could only come up at the close of the action. Had the whale body of the Spanish cavalry. with the horse artillery, been rnpidly sent by the sea-beach, to form in the plain. and to envelop the enemy's left ; had the greatest part of the infantry been marched through the pine
wood, in our rear, to bear on his rizht—what might not have been expected from
such decisive movements The enemy must either have retired instantly, and without occasioning any serious loss to the British, or he would have exposed himself to absolute destruction : his cavalry greatly outnumbered, his artillery lost, his columns mixed and in confusion, a general dispersion would have been the inevitable consequence of a close pursuit. Our wearied men would have found spirits to go on, and would have trusted to finding refreshment at Chiclana.—This movement was lost. Within a quarter of an hour's ride of the scene of action, the General remained ignorant of what was passing, and nothing was done."

Lieutenant-General Graham's division having halted on the eastern slope of the Barrow height for about two hours, was marched about twelve o'clock through a wood towards the Torre Bermeja, (cavalry patroles having previously been sent towards Chiclana without meeting with the French.) On the march, the Lieutenant-General received certain intelligence, that the enemy had appeared in force on the plain, and was advancing towards the height of Barrosa. Considering this position as the key to that of Sand Petri, he immediately countermarched, in order to support the troops left for its defence ; and the alacrity with which this manuoevre was executed, served as a favourable omen. Before the British troops could get entirely disentangled from the wood, the Spanish troops on the Barrosa hill were seen retiring from, while the enemy's left wing was rapidly ascending it ; at the same time his right wing stood on the plain, on the edge of the wood, within cannon-shot.

A retreat in the face of such an enemy, already within reach of the easy communication by the sea-bank, must have involved the whole of the allied army in all the danger of being attacked during the unavoidable confusion of the different corps arriving on the narrow edge of Bermeja, nearly at the same time. Lieutenant-General Graham, therefore, determined on an immediate attack. Major Duncan opened a powerful battery of ten guns on the centre. Brigadier-General Dilkes, with his brigade ; Lieutenant-Colonel Benin's (of the 28th) flank battalion ; Lieutenant-Colonel Norcotts two companies of the rifle corps ; and Major Acheson, with a part of the 67th foot, (separated from the regiment in the wood,)—formed on the right. Colonel Wheatley's brigade, with three companies of Coldstream guards, under Lieutenant -Colonel Jackson, and Lieutenant-Colonel Bernard's flank battalion, formed on the left. The right wing proceeded to the attack of General Rufin's division on the hill, while Lieutenant-Colonel Bernard and Lieutenant-Colonel Bassche's detachment of the 20th Portuguese, were warmly engaged on the left with the enemy's tirailleurs. General Laval's division, notwithstanding the havoc made by Major Duncan's battery, continued to advance in very imposing masses, opening his fire of musketry, and was only checked by that of the left wing; the latter now advanced, firing, and a spirited charge made by the three companies of the guards, and the 87th regiment, supported by the remainder of the wing, decided the defeat of General Laval's division.

We shall now sketch the immediate operations relating to the right wing, consisting of the brigade under Brigadier-General Dilkes. At the time the troops were halted on the east side of the heights of Barrosa, Lieutenant-General Graham's orders were conveyed for Brigadier-General Dilkes' brigade, as well as for that of Colonel Wheatley, to proceed to Santa Petri. The column accordingly began its march (left, in front, Colonel Wheatley's brigade leading) on the hill, and, descending the other side, entered a fir-wood, so thick as to be almost impervious to the guns and mounted officers. The enemy was now reported to have made his appearance in the plain the brigade had just quitted, and the Lieutenant-General's orders were shortly after received, for the column to retrace its steps. Before getting quite clear of the wood, Brigadier-General Dilkes formed his brigade. countermarched his divisions, and a deployment was shortly afterwards completed ; the battalion, styled a detachment, composed of companies belonging to the Coldstream and 3d foot-guards, forming in second line to the 1st regiment.

During this movement, on application being made for a party to cover the guns, Brigadier-General Dilkes sent three companies of the first-mentioned battalion for that service, which were afterwards employed on the left during the action. The line now advanced obliquely to the right, towards a corps of the enemy which ocoupied the heights the British had so lately passed, and a heavy fire of artillery and musketry was kept up on both sides : but the line continuing their advance with distinguished gallantry, that part of the enemy's force immediately opposed to them was obliged to withdraw towards another corps upon its right.
The British still dashed on, bringing forward the right shoulder, and thereby threatening the enemy's left, who at length formed the flank en masse, continuing his retreat down the hill, and ascending another rising ground, halting occasionally, and keeping up a severe and destructive fire.

At one time he was observed to push forward two or three divisions from the masse, as was conceived. to charge the British line, but the well-directed fire of our troops, still advancing, obliged him to desist, and the British were too exhausted with their difficult march, &c. to return the compliment. Soon after our troops had begun to descend the hill, the enemy's cavalry were seen posted on the left, and it was expected that he would charge a weak part of the line ; he having made a movement seemingly for that purpose. Major-General Dilkes and his aid-de-camp were at this period dismounted, both their horses having been shot under them. The British cavalry now arrived on the field of action, and immediately charged the enemy, who, after a slight hesitation, advanced to the encounter, both parties meeting at a hand-gallop : thus mixed, dispersed, and re-formed, the enemy retired, and our hussars pursued the stragglers.
After the defeat of the enemy's cavalry, he continued to retreat obliquely to his right wing, until, some artillery being brought up, his complete defeat was decided, and the line received Lieutenant-General Graham's orders to halt.

In his despatch, Lieutenant-General Graham bore ample testimony to the gallantry and the distinguished conduct of the officers and corps engaged : the British guards* had then full share of commendation ; they were under an officer who had served with him in former campaigns ; who had been their companion at Lincelles, and other scenes of their glory.

* Cabal had, at this period, removed the Duke of York from the office of Commander-in-chief : but as a guardsman, he felt himself at liberty to address a letter of congratulation to the officers who had commanded the brigade of guards, in the welfare of which corps he ever took pride ; and his letter is as honorable to himself, as to the brave and distinguished men, whose services on this occasion merited his eulogium.—In his letter, the Duke observed, " While I congratulate you and them on the successful result of an action in which their efforts were so conspicuous, and so deserving of the admiration with which all have viewed them, I cannot conceal my deep feelings of regret that it has been attended with so severe and painful a loss of officers and men, which upon this occasion, perhaps, makes a deeper impression upon me, as many of the latter were old soldiers, and faithful companions, whose meritorious exertions I have myself witnessed, and had cause to approve on former occasions. I have read with great satisfaction, in Lieutenant-General Graham's despatch, the high and well-earned encomium bestowed upon your conduct, and that of the officers and men engaged under your command ; and, as a brother guardsman, (a title of which I shall ever be most proud,) and colonel of the corps, I trust I shall not be considered as exceeding the limits of my station, in requesting that you will yourself receive, and convey to the brigade under your orders, my sincere and cordial thanks for having so gloriously maintained, and indeed, if possible, raised, the high character of a corps, in whose success, collectively and individually, I shall never cease to take the warmest interest."

The thanks of Parliament were voted to Lieutenant-General Graham and his brave force, on this victory; and in his answer, after stating that it would ill become him to disguise his feelings on the occasion, for he well knew the inestimable value of such thanks to a soldier, he adds the following elegant remarkt " I have formerly often heard you, sir, eloquently and impressively deliver the thanks of the House to officers present, and never without an anxious wish that I might one day receive this most enviable mark of my country's regard : this honest ambition is now fully gratified, and I am more than ever bound to try to merit the good opinion of the House."

In the summer of 1811, Lieutenant-General Graham was relieved from his duty at Cadiz, and joined the army under Lord Wellington, of which he was appointed second in command. He was present at the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo; having a complaint in his eyes, occasioned by the use of a spying-glass under a sun almost vertical, together with much writing. by candlelight, he was obliged to revisit England. Early in 1813, however, he again repaired to the Peninsula ; but was not engaged in any action of magnitude, till that of Vittoria, when he commanded the left wing of the British army. The eloquent speaker of the House of Commons, Mr. Abbott, in an address to another gallant officer, (Major-General Anson,) alluded to Lieutenant-General Graham's distinguished career at this period, by stating that his was " a name never to be mentioned in our military annals without the 'strongest expression'of respect and admiration."

Lieutenant-General Graham was present in the different affairs that ensued, and commanded the army employed in the siege of the town and citadel of St. Sebastian ; the former surrendered to him on the 9th of September, by capitulation, and the citadel was taken by storm on the 31st of the same month.

The left of the British army being directed to pass the Bidassoa river, the natural boundary of France and Spain, Lieutenant-General Graham was entrusted with that service ; and, on the 7th of October, after an obstinate resistance from the enemy, he succeeded in establishing the British army on French ground.
In consequence of ill health, he now resigned his command to Lieutenant-General Sir John Hope, and once more returned to England.

In 1814 he was appointed commander of the forces in Holland, with the temporary rank of General ; and the third of May, in the same year, after again receiving the thanks of Parliament, for his conduct in the Peninsula, he was raised to the Peerage, by the title of Baron Lynedoch, of Balgowan, in the county of Perth, having previously received the first class of the distinguished military Order of the Bath.
Having thus gone over the early life, and the brilliant military career, of this great soldier, whose example (entering the service, as he did, at so late a period of life, and, it is probable, with no other wish but to find, through it, the way to a speedy and honorable grave) is unparalleled in the annals of England, glorious as they are,—we shall only touch very briefly on other points.

General Graham represented his native county for a considerable time in Parliament ; and it was in his place in the House of Commons, that he received the most gratifying tribute which it is in the power of the representatives of the people to bestow. The romantic character of his first affection throws a peculiar interest upon the events of his later life, spent in the face of a thousand dangers, and the performance of those arduous duties which devolve on the warrior, in the toilsome march and sanguinary battle. In 1821 he was raised to the rank of General, and, in addition to other marks of royal consideration, the Governorship of Dumbarton Castle was conferred upon him. Among other plans connected with the welfare of the service, of which he is so proud an ornament, the United Service Club was formed and organized by this gallant nobleman, whose view of the excellence and utility of a military association, on an elegant and, at the same time, economical scale, was fully evinced in a correspondence that took place at the period, between his Lordship and Earl St. Vincent. His full-length Portrait, painted for his attached and grateful brethren in arms, is displayed over the mantel in one of the principal rooms.

Of late years, Lord Lynedoch has passed much of his time on the Continent, chiefly in Italy, where the climate is more congenial to his health, at the advanced period of life he has attained. Of his distinguished talent, every step recorded in this sketch affords ample proof; and we have only to add, that there never was an officer in the British service more universally respected and beloved.