Calcraft, Granby Thomas (DNB00)

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CALCRAFT, Sir GRANBY THOMAS (1770–1820), colonel, was the younger son of John Calcraft [q. v.] of Rempston Hall in the isle of Purbeck, politician, and younger brother of John Calcraft (1765–1831) [q. v.], and was born in 1770. He entered the army as a cornet in the 15th light dragoons in March 1788, and was promoted lieutenant in 1793, in which year his regiment was ordered to join the force under the Duke of York in Flanders. With it he served at the battle of Famars, the siege of Valenciennes, and the affair of Villiers-en-Couche, where 160 troopers of the 15th light dragoons with 112 Austrian hussars defeated a corps of 10,000 Frenchmen and saved the life of the emperor. For this exploit all the eight officers of the 15th present were knighted, and received the order of Maria Theresa from the Emperor Leopold. In the same month, April 1794, Calcraft was promoted captain, and his regiment was frequently engaged throughout the disastrous retreat of the following winter. In 1799 he accompanied Major-general Lord Paget, who commanded the cavalry brigade in the expedition to the Helder, as aide-de-camp; he was wounded at the second battle of Alkmaer on 1 Oct., and was for his services promoted major into the 25th light dragoons in December 1799. In the following year he exchanged into the 3rd dragoon guards, of which he became lieutenant-colonel on 25 Dec. 1800, and he commanded that regiment continuously with great reputation until his promotion to the rank of major-general in 1813. In 1807 he was elected M.P. for Wareham, but resigned his seat at the close of 1808 on his regiment being ordered for service in the Peninsula. The 3rd dragoon guards were at once brigaded with the 4th dragoons under the command of Henry Fane, as the heavy brigade, which was engaged in the battle of Talavera. General Fane fell ill, and Calcraft assumed the command of the brigade, which he held until the arrival of George de Grey in May 1810. The brigade was frequently engaged during the retreat on Torres Vedras, and again in the pursuit of Masséna in March 1811. After the combat of Foz d'Aronce, the heavy brigade served on the left bank of the Tagus under Marshal Beresford, and Calcraft, who had been promoted colonel for his services on 25 July 1810, was engaged at the head of his regiment at Campo Mayor, where he earnestly begged to be allowed to succour the 13th light dragoons, at the battle of Albuera, and in Lumley's charge at Los Santos on 16 April 1811. In January 1812 the heavy brigade, which was again temporarily under the command of Calcraft, assisted in covering the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, and when Wellington formed the siege of Badajoz, it was left with General Graham's division to watch Marmont. After Salamanca the cavalry division distinguished itself in the affair of Llera on 11 June 1812, when General Lallemand's cavalry was cut to pieces, and in General Slade's report the 'conspicuous gallantry' of Calcraft is specially mentioned (Wellington Supplementary Despatches, vii. 348). The brigade was then engaged in covering Hill's retreat from Madrid, and in December 1812 Calcraft was made a knight of the Portuguese order of the Tower and Sword for his services. On 4 June 1813 he was promoted major-general, and left the Peninsula after four years' continuous and distinguished service. He was comparatively neglected in later years. His political opinions were peculiarly obnoxious to the ministry, whose jobbery was repeatedly attacked by his brother, at the instigation (it was believed) of Sir Granby. In 1813 he was appointed to the command of a brigade in England, and in 1814 received only a gold medal for the battle of Talavera. In 1814 he threw up his staff appointment, and lived in retirement, a somewhat disappointed and certainly an ill-used man, until his death on 20 Aug. 1820.

[Royal Military Calendar; Record of the 3rd Dragoon Guards; Wellington Despatches and Supplementary Despatches.]

H. M. S.