1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Outram, Sir James
|←Outrage||1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 20
Outram, Sir James
|See also Sir James Outram, 1st Baronet on Wikipedia, and our 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica disclaimer.|
OUTRAM, SIR JAMES (1803-1863), English general, and one of the heroes of the Indian Mutiny, was the son of Benjamin Outram of Butterley Hall, Derbyshire, civil engineer, and was born on the 29th of January 1803. His father died in 1805, and his mother, a daughter of Dr James Anderson, the Scottish writer on agriculture, removed in 1810 to Aberdeenshire. From Udny school the boy went in 1818 to the Marischal College, Aberdeen; and in 1819 an Indian cadet ship was given him. Soon after his arrival at Bombay his remarkable energy attracted notice, and in July 1820 he became acting adjutant to the first battalion of the 12th regiment on its embodiment at Poona, an experience which he found to be of immense advantage to him in his after career. In 1825 he was sent to Khandesh, where he trained a light infantry corps, formed of the wild robber Bhils, gaining over them a marveUous personal influence, and employing them with great success in checking outrages and plunder. Their loyalty to him had its principal source in their boundless admiration of his hunting achievements, which in cool daring and hairbreadth escapes have perhaps never been equalled. Originally a "puny lad," and for many years after his arrival in India subject to constant attacks of sickness, Outram seemed to win strength by every new illness, acquiring a constitution of iron, "nerves of steel, shoulders and muscles worthy of a six-foot Highlander." In 1835 he was sent to Gujarat to make a report on the Mahi Kantha district, and for some time he remained there as political agent. On the outbreak of the first Afghan War in 1838 he was appointed extra aide-decamp on the staff of Sir John Keane, and besides many other brilliant deeds performed an extraordinary exploit in capturing a banner of the enemy before Ghazni. After conducting various raids against Afghan tribes, he was in 1839 promoted major, and appointed political agent in Lower Sind, and later in Upper Sind. Here he strongly opposed the policy of his superior. Sir Charles Napier, which led to the annexation of Sind. But when war broke out he heroically defended the residency at Hyderabad against 8000 Baluchis; and it was Sir C. Napier who then described him as "the Bayard of India." On his return from a short visit to England in 1843, he was, with the rank of brevet lieutenant-colonel, appointed to a command in the Mahratta country, and in 1847 he was transferred from Satara to Baroda, where he incurred the resentment of the Bombay government by his fearless exposure of corruption. In 1854 he was appointed resident at Lucknow, in which capacity two years hater he carried out the annexation of Oudh and became the first chief commissioner of that province. Appointed in 1857, with the rank of lieutenant-general, to command an expedition against Persia, he defeated the enemy with great slaughter at Khushab, and conducted the campaign with such rapid decision that peace was shortly afterwards concluded, his services being rewarded by the grand cross of the Bath.
From Persia he was summoned in June to India, with the brief explanation — "We want all our best men here." It was said of him at this time that "a fox is a fool and a lion a coward by the side of Sir J. Outram." Immediately on his arrival in Calcutta he was appointed to command the two divisions of the Bengal army occupying the country from Calcutta to Cawnpore; and to the military control was also joined the commissioner ship of Oudh. Already the mutiny had assumed such proportions as to compel Havelock to fall back on Cawnpore, which he only held with difficulty, although a speedy advance was necessary to save the garrison at Lucknow. On arriving at Cawnpore with reinforcements, Outram, "in admiration of the brilliant deeds of General Havelock," conceded to him the glory of reheving Lucknow, and, waiving his rank, tendered his services to him as a volunteer. During the advance he commanded a troop of volunteer cavalry, and performed exploits of great brilhancy at Mangalwar, and in the attack at the Alambagh; and in the final conflict he led the way, charging through a very tempest of fire. The volunteer cavalry unanimously voted him the Victoria Cross, but he refused the choice on the ground that he was inehgible as the general under whom they served. Resuming supreme command, he then held the town till the arrival of Sir Colin Campbell, after which he conducted the evacuation of the residency so as completely to deceive the enemy. In the second capture of Lucknow, on the commander-in-chief's return, Outram was entrusted with the attack on the side of the Gumti.and afterwards, having recrossed the river, he advanced "through the Chattar Manzil to take the residency," thus, in the words of Sir Colin Campbell, "putting the finishing stroke on the enemy." After the capture of Lucknow he was gazetted lieutenant-general. In February 1858 he received the special thanks of both houses of parliament, and in the same year the dignity of baronet with an annuity of £1000. When, on account of shattered health, he returned finally to England in 1860, a movement was set on foot to mark the sense entertained, not only of his military achievements, but of his constant exertions on behalf of the natives of India, whose "weal," in his own words, "he made his first object." The movement resulted in the presentation of a public testimonial and the erection of statues in London and Calcutta. He died on the nth of March 1863, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, where the marble slab on his grave bears the pregnant epitaph "The Bayard of India."
See Sir F. J. Goldsmid, James Outram, a Biography (2 vols., 1880), and L. J. Trotter, The Bayard of India (1903).