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Fitzroy Somerset, 1st Lord Raglan

Fitzroy James Henry Somerset, 1st Baron of Raglan (September 30, 1788 - June 28, 1855), British field marshal, was the eighth and youngest son of Henry, 5th duke of Beaufort, by Elizabeth, daughter of Admiral the Hon. Edward Boscawen.

His elder brother, General Lord (Robert) Edward (Henry) Somerset (1776-1842), distinguished himself as the leader of the Household Cavalry[?] brigade at Waterloo. Lord Fitzroy Somerset was educated at Westminster School, and entered the army in 1804. In 1807 he was attached to the Hon. Sir Arthur Paget's embassy to Turkey, and the same year he was selected to serve on the staff of Sir Arthur Wellesley in the expedition to Copenhagen. In the following year he accompanied the same general in a like capacity to Portugal, and during the whole of the Peninsular War was at his right hand, first as aide-de-camp and then as military secretary.

He was wounded at Busaco, became brevet-major after Fuentes de Onoro, accompanied the stormers of the 52nd light infantry as a volunteer at Ciudad Rodrigo and specially distinguished himself at the storming of Badajoz, being the first to mount the breach, and afterwards showing great resolution and promptitude in securing one of the gates before the French could organize a fresh defence. On August 6, 1814 he married Emily Harriet Wellesley-Pole, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Mornington, the Duke of Wellington's niece. During the short period of the Bourbon rule in 1814 and 1815 he was secretary to the English embassy at Paris. On the renewal of the war he again became aide-de-camp and military secretary to the Duke of Wellington.

At Waterloo he was wounded in the right arm and had to undergo amputation, but he quickly learned to write with his left hand, and on the conclusion of the war resumed his duties as secretary to the embassy at Paris. From 1818 to 1820, and again in 1826-29, he sat in the British House of Commons as member for Truro[?]. In 1819 he was appointed secretary to the duke of Wellington as master-general of the ordnance, and from 1827 till the death of the duke in 1852 was military secretary to him as commander-in-chief. He was then appointed master-general of the ordnance, and was created Baron Raglan.

In 1854 he was promoted general and appointed to the command of the English troops sent to the Crimea in co-operation with a strong French army under Marshal St Arnaud and afterwards, up to May 1855, under Marshal Canrobert. Here the advantage of his training under the duke of Wellington was seen in the soundness of his generalship, and his diplomatic experience stood him in good stead in dealing with the generals and admirals, British, French and Turkish, who were associated with him. But the trying winter campaign in the Crimea also brought into prominence defects perhaps traceable to his long connexion with the formalities and uniform regulations of military offices in peace time.

For the hardships and sufferings of the English soldiers in the terrible Crimean winter before Sevastopol[?], owing to failure in the commissariat, both as regards food and clothing, Lord Raglan and his staff were at the time severely censured by the press and the government; but, while Lord Raglan was possibly to blame in representing matters in a too sanguine light, it afterwards appeared that the chief neglect rested with the home authorities. But this hopefulness was a shining military quality in the midst of the despondency that settled upon the allied generals after their first failures, and at Balaklava[?] and Inkermann he displayed the promptness and resolution of his youth. He was made a field marshal after Inkerman.

During the trying winter of 1854-55, the suffering he was compelled to witness, the censures, in great part unjust, which he had to endure and all the manifold anxieties of the siege seriously undermined his health, and although he found a friend and ardent supporter in his new French colleague, General Pélissier, disappointment at the failure of the assault of June 18, 1855 finally broke his spirit, and very shortly afterwards, on the 28th of June 1855, he died of dysentery. His body was brought home and interred at Badminton.

His elder son having been killed at the battle of Ferozeshah[?] (1845), the title descended to his younger son Richard Henry Fitzroy Somerset, 2nd Baron Raglan (1817-1884); and subsequently to the latter's son, George Fitzroy Henry Somerset, 3rd baron (b. 1857), under-secretary for war 1900-2, lieutenant-governor of the Isle of Man (1902) and a prominent militia officer.

The seaside town of Raglan in New Zealand was named after the First Lord in 1855.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.



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