Sunday, 15 April 2012
General Sir Henry Havelock
Through his brother William, who had distinguished himself in the Peninsular War and at Waterloo, Henry obtained a post as second lieutenant in the 95th Rifles and was posted to the company of Captain Harry Smith, who encouraged him to study military history and the art of war. Despite a promotion to lieutenant he did not see much active service and so, in 1822, he decided to transfer to a regiment destined for India.
Havelock served with distinction in the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–1826) and the First Afghan War in 1839, these and the Sikh Wars saw him rewarded for his service and his distinguished conduct with promotion to full Colonel and an appointment as Adjutant-General to the British Army in India in 1857.
In the same year, he was selected to command a division in the Anglo-Persian War, during which he was present at the action of Muhamra against the forces of Nasser al-Din Shah under command of Khanlar Mirza. Peace with Persia released his troops just as the Mutiny broke out. He was chosen to command a column to deal with the rebels in in Allahabad, to support Sir Henry Lawrence at Lucknow and Wheeler at Cawnpore. Throughout August Havelock led his soldiers northwards across Oudh, defeating all rebel forces in his path, despite being greatly outnumbered. Three times he advanced for the relief of the Lucknow, but concerned by the condition of his troops he held back until finally, reinforcements arrived at last under Sir James Outram. With these forces Havelock was able to capture Lucknow on 25 September 1857. However, a second rebel force arrived and besieged the town again catching Havelock and his troops inside the blockade. Unfortunately only a few days after this siege was lifted he died on 24 November 1857 of dysentery.
The picture at the start of the entry is of the statue in Trafalgar Square in London, inscription of the plinth of which reads:
To Major General Sir Henry Havelock KCB and his brave companions in arms during the campaign in India 1857. "Soldiers! Your labours, your privations, your sufferings and your valour, will not be forgotten by a grateful country".