Thomas Sydney Beckwith

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Sir Thomas Beckwith
Birth nameThomas Sydney Beckwith
Born17 February 1770 [1]
Ford, Northumberland, England
Died15 January 1831 (aged 61)
Mahabaleshwar, Bombay, British India [2]
Allegiance Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Rank Lieutenant-General
Commands held Bombay Army
Battles/wars War of 1812
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Lady Mary Douglas(m. 1817)

Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Sydney Beckwith KCB (17 February 1770 15 January 1831) was an English officer of the British Army who served as quartermaster general of the British forces in Canada during the War of 1812, and a commander-in-chief of the Bombay Army during the British Raj. [3] He is most notable for his distinguished service during the Peninsular War and for his contributions to the development and command of the 95th Rifles. [4]

British Army land warfare branch of the British Armed Forces of the United Kingdom

The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of British Armed Forces. As of 2018, the British Army comprises just over 81,500 trained regular (full-time) personnel and just over 27,000 trained reserve (part-time) personnel.

A quartermaster general is the staff officer in charge of supplies for a whole army. He is in charge of quartermaster units and personnel, i.e. those tasked with providing supplies for military forces and units.

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.



His father was Major General John Beckwith, who commanded the 20th Regiment of Foot. His brothers were Captain John Beckwith, Sir George Beckwith and Brigadier General Ferdinand Beckwith. He was also the uncle of Major-General John Charles Beckwith. He entered the Army himself in 1791, joining the 71st (Highland) Regiment of Foot, and served with them in India. [3]

Lancashire Fusiliers line infantry regiment of the British Army

The Lancashire Fusiliers was a line infantry regiment of the British Army that saw distinguished service through many years and wars, including the Second Boer War, the First and Second World Wars, and had many different titles throughout its 280 years of existence. In 1968 the regiment was amalgamated with the other regiments of the Fusilier Brigade–the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers and the Royal Fusiliers –to form the current Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

71st (Highland) Regiment of Foot

The 71st Regiment of Foot was a Highland regiment in the British Army, raised in 1777. Under the Childers Reforms it amalgamated with the 74th (Highland) Regiment of Foot to become the 1st Battalion, Highland Light Infantry in 1881.

In 1817, he married Lady Mary Douglas, eldest daughter of Sir William Douglas, 4th Baronet of Kelhead. His wife, whose brothers Charles and John succeeded as Marquess of Queensberry, was elevated to the rank of a daughter of a marquess by royal warrant. [5] Their only son, Thomas Sydney Beckwith, was a Captain in the Rifle Brigade, and died in Gibraltar on 21 March 1828. [3]

Sir William Douglas, 4th Baronet Member of Parliament

Sir William Douglas, 4th Baronet of Kelhead was a British Member of Parliament.

Charles Douglas, 6th Marquess of Queensberry Scottish noble

Charles Douglas, 6th Marquess of Queensberry,, known as Sir Charles Douglas, 5th Baronet between 1783 and 1810, was a Scottish peer.

John Douglas, 7th Marquess of Queensberry Scottish noble

John Douglas, 7th Marquess of Queensberry, styled Lord John Douglas from May to December 1837, was a Scottish Whig politician.

Service with the 95th Rifles

In 1800, he was appointed to command a company in Colonel Coote Manningham's "Experimental Corps of Riflemen", which later was designated the 95th Regiment and subsequently the Rifle Brigade. He was promoted to Major within the Corps in 1802. The next year, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and took command of the 1st Battalion. Beckwith was one of the favourite officers of Sir John Moore in the famous camp of Shorncliffe, and aided that general in the training of the troops which afterwards became the Light Division. [3]

Colonel Coote Manningham was a British army officer who played a significant role in the creation and early development of the 95th Rifles.

John Moore (British Army officer) British soldier and general

Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, was a British Army general, also known as Moore of Corunna. He is best known for his military training reforms and for his death at the Battle of Corunna, in which he repulsed a French army under Marshal Soult during the Peninsular War. After the war General Sarrazin wrote a French history of the battle, which nonetheless may have been written in light of subsequent events, stating that "Whatever Buonaparte may assert, Soult was most certainly repulsed at Corunna; and the British gained a defensive victory, though dearly purchased with the loss of their brave general Moore, who was alike distinguished for his private virtues, and his military talents."

Shorncliffe Redoubt

Shorncliffe Redoubt is a British Napoleonic earthwork fort. The site is approximately 300 feet by 300 feet and is situated on the Kentish Coast in Sandgate, Kent.

He served on the expeditions to Hanover in 1806 and Copenhagen in 1807, before joining the expedition to the Peninsula under Major General Arthur Wellesley. He took part in the Battle of Vimeiro, and the expedition into Spain under Sir John Moore, in which the Rifles bore the brunt of the rearguard fighting. [3]

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington 18th and 19th-century British soldier and statesman

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, was an Anglo-Irish soldier and Tory statesman who was one of the leading military and political figures of 19th-century Britain, serving twice as Prime Minister. He won a notable victory against Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Battle of Vimeiro battle

In the Battle of Vimeiro on 21 August 1808, the British under General Arthur Wellesley defeated the French under Major-General Jean-Andoche Junot near the village of Vimeiro, near Lisbon, Portugal during the Peninsular War. This battle put an end to the first French invasion of Portugal.

The next year, he returned to Portugal and was appointed to command the 1st Brigade of the Light Division. Beckwith took part in Craufurd's great march to the field of Talavera. In 1810, during the French invasion of Portugal, he was present at the Battle of the Coa and the Battle of Busaco. During the subsequent operations to drive the French from Portugal, he fought at the Battle of Fuentes de Onoro, and distinguished himself at the Battle of Sabugal. [3]

Robert Craufurd Scottish soldier

Major-General Robert Craufurd was a British soldier. Craufurd was born at Newark, Ayrshire, the third son of Sir Alexander Craufurd, 1st Baronet, and the younger brother of Sir Charles Craufurd. After a military career which took him from India to the Netherlands, in 1810 in the Napoleonic Peninsular War he was given command of the Light Division, composed of the elite foot soldiers in the army at the time, under the Duke of Wellington. Craufurd was a strict disciplinarian and somewhat prone to violent mood swings which earned him the nickname "Black Bob". He was mortally wounded storming the lesser breach in the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo on 19 January 1812 and died four days later.

Talavera de la Reina Municipality in Castile-La Mancha, Spain

Talavera de la Reina is a city and municipality in the western part of the province of Toledo, which in turn is part of the autonomous community of Castile–La Mancha, Spain. It is the second-largest population center in Castile-La Mancha. Its population of 83,303 makes it the fourth largest town in the region of Castilla-La Mancha, after Albacete, Guadalajara and Toledo.

Battle of Sabugal An engagement of the Peninsular War

The Battle of Sabugal was an engagement of the Peninsular War which took place on 3 April 1811 between Anglo-Portuguese forces under Arthur Wellesley and French troops under the command of Marshal André Masséna. It was the last of many skirmishes between Masséna's retreating French forces and those of the Anglo-Portuguese under Wellington, who were pursuing him after the failed 1810 French invasion of Portugal.

Quartermaster General

In 1812, he was appointed Assistant Quartermaster General to the British forces in North America. As such, he commanded the troops which were sent to Chesapeake Bay in 1813. He had only one regiment of infantry and some undisciplined French former prisoners of war, the Independent Companies of Foreigners. [6] At the Battle of Craney Island, Beckwith's troops were repulsed by shore batteries while attempting to land. [7] He subsequently captured Hampton, Virginia but the men of the Independent Companies misbehaved, giving Beckwith's troops an evil reputation for atrocities. [6]

In 1814, he was promoted to Major General and appointed Quartermaster General to the troops in Canada under Sir George Prevost. Prevost's expedition into New York was defeated at the Battle of Plattsburgh. The Peninsular veterans in the force considered that Prevost and his staff (including Beckwith) were at least partly responsible for the defeat (in Beckwith's case, for failure to provide sufficient intelligence on the geography and enemy dispositions). [8]

Beckwith was made a Knight Bachelor in 1812 and a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1815. In 1827, he was made Colonel Commandant of his old corps, the Rifle Brigade. [3]

Later service in India

In 1829, he was appointed Commander in Chief of the Bombay Army. In 1830, he was promoted Lieutenant General, but died of fever the following year at Mahableshwar. [3]

See also

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  1. England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975
  2. India, Select Deaths and Burials, 1719-1948
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Stephens, H. M. (2004). Beckwith, Sir Thomas Sydney (1772–1831), rev. Roger T. Stearn, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press.
  4. Urban, M. (2003). Rifles: Six years with Wellington's legendary sharpshooters. Faber and Faber.
  5. Lodge, Edmund (1849). The Peerage of the British Empire as at present existing: To which is added the Baronetage. Saunders and Otley. p. 443. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  6. 1 2 Elting, John R. Amateurs to Arms: a Military History of the War of 1812 . Da Capo Press. p. 80. ISBN   0-306-80653-3.
  7. Forester, C. S. The Age of Fighting Sail, New English Library, ISBN   0-939218-06-2.
  8. Hitsman, J. Mackay. The Incredible War of 1812. Robin Brass Studio. p. 255. ISBN   1-896941-13-3.
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Andrew Barnard
Colonel-Commandant of the 2nd Battalion,
Rifle Brigade

Succeeded by
Sir George Ridout Bingham
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Bradford
C-in-C, Bombay Army
Succeeded by
Sir Colin Halkett
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir John Malcolm
Governor of Bombay
Succeeded by
John Romer