CHARLES WILLIAM CAMPBELL
71st Bengal Native Infantry
|From A Military History of Perthshire, 1660-1902, by Katharine Marjory Stewart-Murray,
The Marchioness of Tullibardine (a.k.a. Duchess Kitty)
MAJOR-GENERAL CHARLES WILLIAM CAMPBELL
By the Editor
Major-General Charles William Campbell was the senior of three officers to be mentioned here, whose earliest experience
of war was gained amidst the terrible scenes of the Indian Mutiny. The eldest son of Lieutenant Charles William Campbell
of Boreland, an old Peninsular soldier, by his marriage with Charlotte, fourth daughter of John Campbell of Kinloch-Charles
Campbell the younger was born on the 4th of April 1836, and in December 1854 became an ensign in the service of the East
India Company, being appointed to the 71st Bengal Native Infantry in March 1855.
On the outbreak of the Mutiny on the 10th of May 1857, Campbell was stationed with his regiment in the Mariaon
cantonments near Lucknow, where the coming storm had been for some weeks foreseen by Sir Henry Lawrence. A mutiny of
the 7th Oudh Irregular Infantry on the 3rd of May had been quelled by his prompt measures, and a few weeks of respite
followed, during which no opportunity was lost of laying in stores and preparing for a possible siege.
Finally, however, on the evening of the 30th of May, the storm burst; the native regiments at Mariaon mutinied; and though,
owing to Lawrence's promptitude, they were unable to reach the city, and comparatively few Europeans in the cantonments
actually lost their lives, almost every house there was plundered or burnt, and by the morning the greater part of the native
troops had made off to stir up the flames of rebellion throughout Oudh. The 71st Native Infantry had headed the revolt, and
Campbell, deserted by his men, joined the small troop of Volunteer Cavalry which was shortly afterwards raised by Sir
Henry Lawrence from among the unattached officers and civilians resident in Lucknow.
During the first fortnight of June all the country stations in Oudh were successively lost, but the rebels were engaged in
besieging Cawnpore, and Lucknow was therefore left alone. It was, however, a time of strenuous work and anxiety for all, and
Campbell was engaged in many reconnaissances in the surrounding district. On the 28th came the news of the massacre at
Cawnpore, and on the 29th the Volunteer Cavalry was sent out to reconnoitre a force of Sepoys which was advancing towards
the village of Chinhut, some ten miles north-east of Lucknow.
On this reconnaissance Campbell and four others distinguished themselves by charging and routing some eighteen rebel
troopers, but they were obliged to return to Lucknow without exact information as to the strength of the enemy's force. On
the following day, therefore, Sir Henry Lawrence, believing that only the advanced-guard had reached Chinhut, sallied out
with some 700 men of all arms, among whom was the troop of Volunteer Cavalry, in the hope that he might be able to strike a
blow before the arrival of the main body. The Sepoys, however, were found in great numbers drawn up in a strong position in
front of Chinhut; the British artillery failed to check a simultaneous attack which was made by the enemy on both flanks; and
Lawrence, deserted at the critical moment by his native cavalry and many of the native gunners, saw himself in danger of being
surrounded, and was obliged to give the order to retreat. Closely pursued as his men were by the enemy's horse artillery,
which, galloping on either flank, poured in a continuous fire of grape, the retreat soon degenerated into a rout, and on
approaching the Kokrail, a stream across which ran the road to Lucknow, some 400 of the rebel cavalry were seen preparing
to dispute the passage of the one bridge on which depended the safety of the fugitives.
The situation was critical, but it was saved by the Volunteer Cavalry by that time the only mounted troops left to Lawrence's
force. 'Without an instant's hesitation some thirty horsemen, with their commander, Captain Radcliffe, at their head, "hurled
themselves at the dense masses in their front," and such was the terror which they inspired, that, "before they could strike
a blow, the enemy broke and fled, leaving the bridge free." The pursuit was followed up for nearly a mile, and many of the
enemy's infantry were sabred, though not without loss-three of the troop being killed and some five being wounded, of whom
Campbell was one. To this splendid charge alone was due the fact that the remnant of the British force finally reached
Lucknow in safety.
The reverse at Chinhut was the opening scene in the siege of Lucknow. By the evening of the 30th of June the Residency was
surrounded, and Campbell from that day forward took his share in the privations, the toils, and the dangers, which make the
defence of the Residency stand out as the most wonderful of the many heroic achievements of the Mutiny. Day after day,
under the burning sun of an Indian summer; with numbers steadily decreasing from wounds and sickness; with bodies worn out
by anxiety, over-work, and bad food; in an atmosphere poisoned with the stench of dead animals which no one had time to
bury-the garrison endured a storm of shot and shell from behind defences which" would have moved the laughter of the
youngest cadet who was then studying fortifications at Woolwich."
The defenders were so few that no reliefs were possible, and every man remained continuously at his post. Sir Henry
Lawrence had believed it possible that by dint of great efforts the Residency might be held for a fortnight, and little did
he think when he breathed his last on the 4th of July, that the men he had inspired by his leadership would hold out without
relief for nearly three months, and that, reinforced by Outram and Havelock, they would keep the flag flying over the
Residency until finally relieved by Sir Colin Campbell in November.
The wound Campbell had received on the 30th of June did not prevent
him from playing his part in the defence of the Residency. He was a
first-rate marksman, and as such his services were peculiarly valuable.
He was again wounded prior to the arrival of the first relieving force,
and severe fever ensued; but by the time the garrison had been
withdrawn by Sir Colin Campbell he had recovered sufficiently to
take part in the victory gained at Cawnpore on the 6th of December.
His health, however, had suffered severely from his wounds and the
privations of the siege; he was sent home on sick leave in January
1858; and he thus took no further part in the suppression of the
Mutiny. During his absence in England he was transferred to the 10th
Bengal Native Infantry.
By the beginning of 1860 Campbell had returned to India, where he
soon found that the experience he had gained with the Lucknow
Volunteer Cavalry was to stand him in good stead. An expedition under
Sir Hope Grant was being fitted out for a joint Anglo-French campaign
in China, and in February Campbell was attached for duty to Fane's
Horse, a picked Sikh regiment which was being raised by Lieutenant
Fane, an officer who had distinguished himself during the Mutiny as a
commander of Irregular Cavalry. The expedition left India in the
spring of 1860, and after more than a month's stay at Hong-Kong
reached Talien- wan Bay in June, but mainly owing to delays caused
by the defective state of the French transport, a landing was not
effected at Pehtang before the beginning of August.
On the 12th of that month the Allied forces advanced from Pehtang to Sinho, some two miles north of the Pei-ho river, and on
this, their first encounter with the enemy, Fane's Horse distinguished themselves by repelling an attack of some 4000 Tartar
cavalry upon the division commanded by Sir Robert Napier. The capture of the Taku Forts followed on the 21st, and a few
days later Tientsin was occupied without resistance. Campbell commanded a troop of Fane's Horse during the opening stage of
the campaign, but served in the subsequent advance to Pekin as orderly officer to Brigadier Pattle, the General commanding
the Cavalry Brigade. On the 13th of October Pekin opened its gates to the Allied forces, and on the 24th the campaign ended
with the signature of the treaty of peace. Early in November Sir Hope Grant began his march from Pekin to the coast, but
Campbell remained with Fane's Horse in garrison at Tientsin, and his regiment did not return to India until the following year.
With the close of the China campaign of 1860 Campbell entered upon a long era of peace, varied only by the ordinary routine
of military duty, and by an unsuccessful attempt, made in 1867, to contest the Breadalbane title and estates. He served with
Fane's Horse until August 1864, when he was transferred to the 2nd Bengal Cavalry; in December 1866 he was promoted
captain in the Bengal Staff Corps; and in December 1874, major. Six years later he became a lieutenant-colonel and
commandant of his regiment. In the summer of 1882, while at home on sick leave, owing to a strain he had received in his back,
Colonel Campbell learnt that the 2nd Bengal Cavalry were to form part of the contingent to be sent from India to join Sir
Garnet Wolseley's campaign in Egypt. Though advised that he was quite unfit for active service, he insisted on joining his
regiment at Suez, and commanded it during the earlier part of the advance from Ismailia, but on account of the injury to
his spine he was obliged to go to hospital prior to the battle of Tel-el-Kebir. In 1884 he was given a brevet of colonel, and in
1886 he retired with the rank of major-general after thirty-two years service.
Two years later General Campbell married Gwynnedd, only daughter of the late W. E. Brinckman, R.N., and in the course of
the next few years there were born to him a son and three daughters.
India, however, and the brief campaign in Egypt had set their mark upon him, and he was not destined to long enjoy his years
of retirement. After much suffering caused by the injury he had received in his spine, he died on the 30th of August 1894, at
the comparatively early age of fifty-eight.
(Citations and footnotes omitted.)