Ellicombe, Charles Grene (DNB00)

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ELLICOMBE, Sir CHARLES GRENE (1783–1871), general, royal engineers, son of the Rev. William Ellicombe, rector of Alphington, Devonshire, was born in his father's rectory on 3 Aug. 1783, and after receiving his early education at the grammar school at Chudleigh, and at the Roval Military Academy, Woolwich, obtained a commission as first lieutenant in the royal engineers on 1 July 1801. After a year and a half, during which he was employed on the military works and fortifications of Portsmouth, under Major-general Evelegh, he was sent to Ceylon, and was one of the first batch of British engineers stationed there. At that time the colony was in a very disturbed state, which necessitated active military operations, in which Ellicombe had his full share. He was promoted second captain on 1 July 1806. and returned to England at the end of 1807, where he was employed for a time as second engineer at Chatham, and afterwards as commanding engineer of the northern district of England. On 1 May 1811 he was promoted to the rank of first captain, and in the October following joined the army under Wellington in the Peninsula. In January 1812 he was at the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, where he was one of the directors of the attack, and accompanied the column of Vandeleur's brigade to the storming of the breach, left of the main breach. In March and April of the same year he was at the last siege of Badajoz. For his services at this siege he received the brevet rank of major on 27 April, having been recommended by Wellington in his despatch of the 10th of that month. Subsequently he was present in the retreat from Burgos and the crossing of the Ebro. The following year he took part in the battle of Vittoria, serving on the staff as major of brigade, and shortly after was detailed for the siege of San Sebastian, through the whole of which (11 July to 8 Sept. 1813) he acted as brigade-major to the corps of royal engineers. For his exertions in the effectual discharge of this onerous duty and his distinguished conduct he was made a brevet lieutenant-colonel 21 Sept. 1813, and under the order of 1 June 1814 was decorated with the gold medal.

He subsequently fought at the passage of the Bidasson, and also at the battles of the Nivelle and Nive on 10, 11, and 12 Dec. 1813, concluding his war service by sharing in the campaign of 1814, particularly at the passage of the Adour, blockade of Bayonne, and repulse of the sortie from that fortress. At the cessation of hostilities he joined the headquarters of the army at Toulouse, and in July he returned to England. Some thirty-three years afterwards he was awarded for these distinguished services the war medal and five clasps for Ciudad Kodrigo, Badajoz, Vittoria, Nivelle, and Nive.

On 4 June 1815 he was created one of the first companions of the Bath, and for the next six years held an appointment as commanding engineer in the south of England. In 1821 he was made brigade major of the corps, and as such was on the staff of the inspector-general of fortifications at the ordnance office in London, an appointment corresponding to that of the present deputy adjutant-general, and held by an officer of rank. He was selected for the duty on account of his well-known administrative ability and intimate acquaintance with the large range of complicated details connected with the military and scientific business of the corps of royal engineers, and so well did he fulfil the duties for which his energy, clear mind, and untiring activity singularly fitted him, that he retained the appointment until December 1842, or a period of twenty-two years.

He had been promoted major-general in 1841, and rose to the rank of full general and colonel commandant of royal engineers,and on lO Nov. 1862 was advanced to the honour of a knight commander of the Bath. He married in 1822 a daughter of the Rev. E. Peach, rector of Cheam, Surrey. She died in 1860 without issue. On withdrawing from the active duties of his profession Ellicombe settled at Worthing, where he died on 7 June 1871.

[Official Records; Colburn's United Service Magazine, July 1871.]

R. H. V.