Dalbiac, James Charles (DNB00)

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DALBIAC, Sir JAMES CHARLES (1776–1847), lieutenant-general, eldest son of Charles Dalbiac of Hungerford Park, Berkshire, was born in 1776. He entered the army as a cornet in the 4th light dragoons on 4 July 1793, and passed the whole of his military life in that regiment. He was promoted lieutenant on 24 Feb. 1794, captain on 11 Oct. 1798, major on 15 Oct. 1801, and lieutenant-colonel on 25 April 1808, but saw no service until his regiment was ordered to Portugal in April 1809. He landed as second lieutenant-colonel to Lord Edward Somerset, and in July 1809 led the left wing of his regiment in the famous charge at Talavera. He served throughout the Peninsular campaigns of 1810, 1811, and 1812, and commanded the 4th light dragoons, in the absence of Lord Edward Somerset, in the cavalry affairs of Campo Mayor on 25 March, and of Los Santos on 16 April 1811, and also in Cotton's spirited attack on Soult's rearguard at Llerena on 11 April 1812. At the battle of Salamanca on 22 July 1812 the 4th light dragoons was brigaded with the 5th dragoon guards and 3rd light dragoons under the command of Major-general Le Marchant, and took its part in the famous charge in which the general was killed. Napier has commemorated not only this charge, but the conduct of Mrs. Dalbiac at the same battle: ‘The wife of Colonel Dalbiac,’ he writes, ‘an English lady of a gentle disposition, and possessing a very delicate frame, had braved the dangers and endured the privations of two campaigns with the patient fortitude which belongs only to her sex. In this battle, forgetful of everything but the strong affection which had so long supported her, she rode deep amidst the enemy's fire, trembling, yet irresistibly impelled forwards by feelings more imperious than terror, more piercing than the fear of death’ (Peninsular War, book xviii. chap. iii.) After the battle of Salamanca Dalbiac returned to England, and never again went on active service. He was promoted colonel on 4 June 1814, was brigadier-general commanding the Goojerat district of the Bombay army from 1822 to 1824, and was promoted major-general on 27 May 1825. He was prosecutor of the court-martial on the military officers Col. Brereton and Capt. Warrington, who were at Bristol during the riots of 1831, and for his services was made a K.C.H. by William IV. He was M.P. for Ripon from 1835 to 1837, and showed his tory opinions in a pamphlet published in 1841, entitled ‘A Few Words on the Corn Laws.’ He was promoted lieutenant-general on 28 Jan. 1838, and made colonel of the 3rd dragoon guards in January 1839, from which he was transferred to the colonelcy of his old regiment, the 4th light dragoons, on 24 Sept. 1842. He died at his chambers in the Albany on 8 Dec. 1847. In 1805 Dalbiac married Susanna Isabella, eldest daughter of Lieutenant-colonel John Dalton, of Sleningford Hall, Ripon, Yorkshire, the lady whose courage is so highly praised by Napier, and had an only daughter, Susanna Stephania, who married in 1836 James Henry Robert, sixth duke of Roxburghe, K.T.

[Royal Military Calendar; Gent. Mag. for March 1848.]

H. M. S.