Campbell, Colin (d.1782) (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 08
Campbell, Colin (d.1782)

by George Fisher Russell Barker
Date of death 1798 in the ODNB.

CAMPBELL, COLIN (d. 1782), of Kilberry, major of 100th foot, obtained an unenviable notoriety in consequence of a fatal assault committed by him on Captain John McKaarg, a brother officer, while stationed at the island of Martinico in 1762. The cause of difference is said to have originated at Jersey, where Campbell, at that time major-commandant of the 100th foot, was obliged to take the payment of McKaarg's company out of his hands, owing to the latter's pecuniary difficulties. On the arrival of the regiment at Martinico, McKaarg took every opportunity of vilifying Campbell, who demanded in writing an explanation. McKaarg replied in a curt letter. Campbell immediately proceeded to McKaarg's tent armed with a bayonet and a small-sword, and demanded satisfaction. McKaarg, having a broad sword only, endeavoured to evade a meeting. Thereupon Campbell struck him several times with his sword. McKaarg was compelled by his antagonist to beg for his life, and immediately expired. He had received eleven wounds, two of which were mortal. Campbell was arrested, and on 6 April 1762 was tried for murder by a general court-martial held at Fort Royal. He endeavoured to prove that McKaarg had fallen in a fair duel. On 14 April the court adjudged Campbell to be cashiered, and declared him incapable of serving his majesty in any military employment whatsoever.

Pending the king's consideration of the sentence, Campbell escaped from the island. Owing to some informalities the proceedings were not confirmed, but he was immediately dismissed from the army. On his return to England Campbell presented a memorial to the secretary-at-war, charging Major-general the Hon. Robert Monckton, who commanded in the island of Martinico, ‘with many wrongs and deliberate acts of oppression.’ A general court-martial was, in consequence, held at the judge advocate-general's office, at the Horse Guards, in April 1764, and Monckton was honourably acquitted. The relatives of Captain McKaarg subsequently brought an action of assythment against Campbell, and ultimately damages to the extent of 200l. were awarded to them. Campbell chiefly resided in Edinburgh, where he attracted notice by his foppery, and was well known as an antiquated old beau. In the summer he visited Buxton and the other fashionable watering-places of the day. He died unmarried at Edinburgh in 1782, and his estate at Kilberry in Argyllshire descended to his nephew. An excellent portrait of Campbell will be found in Kay, ii. No. 172.

[Kay's Original Portrait and Caricature Etchings (1877), ii. 5–7; Proceedings of a General Court-martial held at Fort Royal, in the Island of Martinico, upon the Tryal of Major-commandant Colin Campbell (1763); The Case of Colin Campbell, Esq., late Major-commandant of His Majesty's 100th Regiment (1763); Proceedings of a General Court-martial held at the Judge-advocate's Office for a Trial of a Charge preferred by Colin Campbell, Esq., against the Hon. Major-general Monckton, 1764.]

G. F. R. B.