Anson, George (1797-1857) (DNB00)

From Wikisource
 
Jump to: navigation, search

ANSON, GEORGE (1797–1857), general, was the second son of the first Viscount Anson, and brother of the first Earl of Lichfield. He entered the army at an early age, in the 3rd (or Scots Fusilier) Guards, with which regiment he served at Waterloo. In 1818, while still an officer in the guards, he was elected a member of parliament, and sat in the House of Commons for many years, holding in succession the political offices of principal storekeeper of the ordnance and clerk of the ordnance. In 1853, having meanwhile attained the rank of major-general in the army, he was appointed to command a division in Bengal, and in the following year succeeded to the command of the Madras army, from which post he was advanced to that of commander-in-chief in India early in 1856. General Anson was holding this important command when the mutiny of the Bengal army took place. Hastening down from Simla, whither he had gone only a few weeks previously to recriiit his health, he collected a force at Amballa, and marched with it against Delhi, but being attacked by cholera at Karnal died at that place on 27 May 1857. General Anson was a man of unquestionable talent, and although he had never seen war except at Waterloo, where he served as a mere youth, those who knew him best had very high expectations that he would distinguish himself in his profession if an opportunity offered. It has been alleged that he showed vacillation and want of promptitude when preparing for the march upon Delhi; but the allegation has been amply refuted by a distinguished officer (Sir Henry Norman) who held an important position on the staff of the army at the time, and had the best means of forming a judgment. Sir Henry says that, 'suddenly placed in a more difficult position than has probably ever fallen to the lot of a British commander,' General Anson 'met the crisis with fortitude and with a calm endeavour to restore our rule where it had disappeared, and to maintain it where it still existed.' General Anson married in 1830 Isabella, daughter of the first Lord Forester, who survived him less than two years.

[Hart's Army List; Burke's Peerage; Annual Register for 1857; J. W. Kaye's History of the Sepoy War; Fortnightly Review, April 1883.]

A. J. A.