Bengal Staff Corps and Commandant 2nd Bengal Cavalry
Henry George Jackson was born at
Doncaster, Yorkshire on the 1st of
July, 1812, and baptized on the 28th
He was the seventh son of James
Jackson, a banker, alderman and
twice mayor of the borough of
Doncaster, and Henrietta Priscilla,
the daughter of Freeman Bower of
Maltby Hall, Yorkshire.
George was educated at Durham
School and was nominated a cadet for
the Bengal Cavalry by Sir George
Robinson on the 16th of July, 1828.
Having passed the examination, he was
commissioned a Cornet on the 19th of
July, 1828, leaving for India the same
Arriving at Fort George, Calcutta, on the 10th of January, 1829, Ensign Jackson was ordered on the 11th of February to do
duty with the 3rd Light Cavalry. On the 26th of June, 1830He received his first actual posting to a regiment, the 4th Light
Cavalry,. Promoted to Lieutenant on the 26th of March, 1838, in September of 1839 Jackson was appointed Acting Adjutant
of the 4th L.C.
Cornet Jackson married Phillis Sophia Strode, daughter of the late Captain Nathaniel Nugent Strode, H.M. 16th Regiment, on
the 9th of February, 1839, at Karnal, India. As her father had died in 1831and she appeared to have no connection to India,
one wonders if Phillis had gone out to India as part of the “Fishing Fleet”, the groups of young woman who traveled from
England to India in the hopes of finding a husband among the numerous eligible Englishman living in India.
In August of 1840, Lieutenant Jackson was ordered to do duty with the 2nd Local Horse and appointed Acting Second in
Command. He served in that position until April of 1842, when he was ordered to do duty as Adjutant of the 2nd Bengal
Irregular Horse. On the 11th of July, 1842, Jackson was appointed Second in Command of that regiment.
Lieutenant Jackson commanded a detachment of the 2nd Irregular Horse with the force under Brigadier Young during the
outbreak in Bundelkund in 1842-43 and received the thanks of the Brigadier for their attack on the rebels at Bugora. For
their services, the force received the thanks of the Governor General, Lord Ellenbourgh.
In February of 1848, Jackson was appointed to command the 2nd Irregular Horse (which was soon renamed the 2nd Irregular
Cavalry). On the 30th of July, 1849, he was promoted Captain.
The 2nd Irregular Cavalry served in the Punjab campaign in the force under Brigadier-General Wheeler, C.B., and was present
at the attack and destruction of the fort of Rungul Nungul on the 14th of October, 1848, the attack and destruction of the
fort at Karrarwalla and the pursuit of the Sikh Horse on the 22nd of November, 1848. The 2nd Irregular Cavalry
volunteered to act as dismounted troops in the attack against the Sikh forces on the Dullah Heights on the 16th of January,
1849, for which the troops received the thanks of Lord Dalhousie. Jackson received the Punjab Medal named to him as Captain
G. Jackson, Commanding 2nd Irregular Cavalry.
In 1852, Jackson commanded the 2nd Bengal Irregular Cavalry in the force under Brigadier General Sir Colin Campbell, K.C.
B., against the Momunds and hill tribes in the Peshawar Frontier. The 2nd Irregular Cavalry saw service at Othman-Khel,
Naodund, Pranghur, the Ramezai Valley, and Jokakot. Jackson, with a detachment of the 2nd Bengal Irregular Cavalry, was
ordered to hold the post of Mutta and with the assistance of a detachment of the Corps of Guides there repulsed an attack by
Hill Tribes on the 8th of December, 1851. Captain Jackson was received a Mention in Despatches for his handling of this
affair. For his services, Captain Jackson received the thanks of the Commander-in-Chief and the India General Service
Medal with the clasp for the North West Frontier named to him as a Captain, 2nd Irregular Cavalry
Promoted to Brevet Major on the 20th of June, 1854, Major Jackson commanded the 2nd Bengal Irregular Cavalry in late
1856 in the campaign against the Sonthal (or Santhal) tribe. The Sonthals were an aboriginal tribe living in the Bhagulpore
Hills. The East India Company decided to put down the violent rebellion of this normally docile tribe by the use of military
force. As the Sonthals were unsophisticated and poorly armed the rebellion was short-lived. No medals or clasps were
authorized for this campaign.
On the 10th of May, 1857, the Indian Mutiny erupted at Meerut in the Bengal Presidency and soon spread to the most of the
Bengal native regiments. The 2nd Bengal Irregular Cavalry then stationed at Gardaspur, remained loyal and was to do good
service during the Mutiny.
As was done with many of the Bengal native regiments, the 26th Bengal Native Infantry, stationed at Meean Meer, was
disarmed as a precaution on the 13th of May, but on the 30th of July the sepoys of the regiment rose in violent mutiny. After
brutally murdering several of their officers, the mutineers managed to slip away during a dust storm but were pursued by a
force lead by the Deputy Commissioner of the District, Frederick Cooper, which captured and executed most of the fleeing
members of the regiment.
A number of the mutineers escaped however. Cooper in Crisis in the Punjab writes:
Further on, the same rapid fate pursued the miserable residue. The gallant Major Jackson, of the 2nd Irregulars (still
performing active service), went out, and pushed on so fast that he outrode his party, and encountered forty of them. He
attacked, killed and wounded several, and, being in a swamp, got surrounded and wounded himself… The few remnants have
since been brought in and executed. There is a well at Cawnpore, but there is also one at Ajnala!
Jackson actually received two severe head wounds (one from a sword and another from a lathee) and one of his men was
killed. Dafadar Mansabdar Khan and three sowars of the regiment received the Order of Merit for their gallantry during
Major Jackson recovered from his injuries and a Memorandum of Intelligence of the Chief Commissioner of Lahore dated
October 4th, 1857, states:
“The plunders who have lately infested the Mooltan Road have disappeared, and are reported to have betaken themselves
to the high grass jungles on the right of the Ravee, where, notwithstanding the very difficult nature of the country, they
will speedily be coerced. Four Detachments are now employed in hunting them down, under the command of Lieut.-Col.
Patton, Majors Jackson and (Crawford Trotter) Chamberlain, and Captain Cureton.”
Major Jackson commanded the Lahore column against the rebels in the Googra and Mooltan Districts for the remainder of the
Mutiny. The 2nd Irregular Cavalry remained in the District until the end of hostilities. For his services in the Mutiny,
Jackson received the Indian Mutiny medal without clasp, named to him as a Captain and Brevet Major in the 4th Bengal
With the majority of the Bengal native cavalry regiments having mutinied, in 1858 five European cavalry regiments were
raised for service in India. Captain and Brevet Major George Jackson transferred from the 4th Bengal Cavalry to the Right
Wing of the 3rd European Light Cavalry, but continued to do duty as the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Irregular Light
Cavalry. Upon the reorganization of the Bengal regiments in 1861, the 2nd Irregular Cavalry became the 2nd Bengal Cavalry.
Jackson was promoted to Major on the 18th of February, 1861, and having been admitted to the Bengal Staff Corps, received
a brevet promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel on the 21st of November, 1862.
In October of 1863, Lieutenant-Colonel Jackson commanded the 2nd Bengal Cavalry as part of the force under Colonel A. F.
MacDonnell, C.B., in an expedition against the Mohmands on the Northwest Frontier. The regiment moved by forced marches to
the Peshawar Valley and was divided between the posts of Shabkadr, Abazai and Michni. An attack on Michni was driven off
without loss. A large force of between 5,000 to 6,000 Mohmands attacked Shabkadr , but was defeated and driven off with
eight men of the regiment wounded in the attack. There were several other engagements with the Mohmands during the
campaign, particularly by the cavalry, but the campaign was over by the 2nd of January, 1864. The North West Frontier
clasp to the India General Service Medal was issued for this campaign.
George Jackson continued to command the 2nd Bengal Cavalry for a total of twenty-four years. He was promoted to
Lieutenant-Colonel on the 18th of February, 1863 and Colonel on the 18th of February, 1866. While on leave in England in
1870, Colonel Jackson retired from active service. He was promoted to Major General on the 1st of October, 1877,
Lieutenant-General on the 17th of November, 1879, and General in 1889.
General George Jackson died at St Helen’s, Preston on the 26th of April, 1889. He was 77 years old. His obituary appeared
in The Times on the 30th of April, 1889.
General Jackson’s oldest son, George Charles Jackson, became a Colonel in the Indian Army. He commanded the 5th Bengal
Cavalry and was Commandant of the Governor General’s Bodyguard, receiving the India General Service medal, with clasp for
Umbeyla, and the Abyssinia medal. General Jackson’s grandson, Lieutenant-Colonel Arnold Nugent Strode Strode-Jackson,
CBE, DSO, was the famous Olympic track gold medalist, a veteran of the Great War, and one of only seven officers ever to
have been awarded the Distinguished Service Order with three bars.