Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 53.djvu/52

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


and their invasion of the colony justifiable, and ordered the territory which had been annexed to be restored to them.

On 10 Jan. 1837 Smith was promoted to be brevet-colonel. On 6 March 1840 he was appointed adjutant-general of the queen's army in India. On 13 May 1842 he was brought into the 3rd foot, but was again unattached on 20 Aug. 1843. In December of this year he took part as adjutant-general in the Gwalior campaign under the commander-in-chief in India, Sir Hugh (afterwards Lord) Gough [q. v.], and for his distinguished services at the battle of Maharajpur on 29 Dec. was thanked in despatches and made a knight commander of the Bath.

Early in December 1845, on the Sikh invasion, Smith was with Gough at Ambala. He was given the command of a division with the honorary rank of major-general. He took a prominent part in the battle of Mudki on 18 Dec., and again distinguished himself at the battle of Firozshah on 21 and 22 Dec. He was mentioned in despatches for his ‘unceasing exertions’ on both occasions. On 18 Jan. 1846 Smith, with a brigade, reduced the fort of Dharmkote and captured the town, containing a large supply of grain. He then marched towards Ludiana, and, by means of some very delicate combinations, executed with great skill but severe loss, he effected communication with that place. On 28 Jan. he encountered the Sikhs in open battle at Aliwal, and, leading the final charge in person, he drove the enemy headlong over the difficult ford of a broad river (the Satlaj), taking over sixty pieces of ordnance (all that the enemy had in the field), and wresting from him his camp, baggage, and stores of ammunition and of grain. The Duke of Wellington, in the House of Lords (3 April 1846), said of Smith's conduct at Aliwal: ‘I never read an account of any affair in which an officer has shown himself more capable than this officer did of commanding troops in the field.’ Of Smith's despatch announcing his victory Thackeray wrote in his essay ‘On Military Snobs:’ ‘A noble deed was never told in nobler language.’

Smith rejoined headquarters on 8 Feb., and on the 10th commanded the first division of infantry at the crowning victory of the campaign—the battle of Sobraon. Smith was commended in despatches, both by the commander-in-chief and by the governor-general, Sir Henry (afterwards Viscount) Hardinge, who took part in the campaign. A treaty was reluctantly concluded by the Sikhs, by which the country between the Beas and the Satlaj rivers was annexed by the British, and on 20 Feb. Smith arrived with the army at Lahore, the Sikh capital.

Smith was promoted to be major-general in the East Indies on 1 April 1846. For his services in the Sikh war, and especially for his victory at Aliwal, he was created a baronet and given the grand cross of the Bath. He received the thanks of both houses of parliament, of the East India Company, and of the Duke of Wellington, commander-in-chief; the freedom of the cities of London and Glasgow was conferred on him, and on 9 Nov. of the same year he was promoted to be major-general. In 1847 he was granted the honorary degree of LL.D. at Cambridge, at the installation of the prince consort as chancellor (cf. Clark and Hughes, Life of Sedgwick).

On 18 Jan. 1847 Smith was gazetted colonel of the 47th foot, and on 16 April of the same year he was transferred to the rifle brigade as colonel-commandant of the 2nd battalion. He returned to England, and on 3 Sept. 1847 was appointed governor of the Cape of Good Hope and its dependencies, and promoted to be local lieutenant-general to command the troops there. On his arrival at the Cape on 1 Dec. 1847 Smith was most enthusiastically received. War with the Kaffirs, which had been going on for some time, had just ended in the capture of Sandili and other chiefs. Smith hastened to King William's Town, where he arrived on 23 Dec. He inspected the 1st battalion of his own regiment quartered there, and held a meeting of all the Kaffir chiefs, releasing Sandili and the others. He issued a proclamation extending the Cape Colony to the Orange river on the north, and, on the East, to the Keiskamma, from the sea to the junction of the Chumie river, and then along the Chumie to its source. He announced himself, as representative of the queen, the head chief of the Kaffirs. The chiefs made their submission, and Smith ordered the annexed territory to be called British Kaffraria. Smith then visited Natal, and succeeded in stopping an exodus of the Dutch, or Boers, due to the support of the natives by the British government.

Pretorius, the Boer leader, objected to a proclamation issued by Smith when in camp on the Tugela, which extended British sovereignty over the country between the Vaal and Orange rivers. Early in July 1848 Pretorius raised a commando and, establishing himself at Bloemfontein, expelled the British resident. Smith, who was at Capetown when the news arrived, acted with vigour, directed a column composed of two companies of the rifle brigade, two of the