Walker, Charles Pyndar Beauchamp (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 59
Walker, Charles Pyndar Beauchamp

by Ernest Marsh Lloyd

WALKER, Sir CHARLES PYNDAR BEAUCHAMP (1817–1894), general, born on 7 Oct. 1817, was eldest son of Charles Ludlow Walker, J.P. and D.L. of Gloucestershire, of Redland, near Bristol, by Mary Anne, daughter of Rev. Reginald Pyndar of Hadsor, Worcestershire, and Kempley, Gloucestershire, cousin of the first Earl Beauchamp. He was a commoner at Winchester College from 1831 to 1833 (Holgate, Winchester Commoners, p. 32). He was commissioned as ensign in the 33rd foot on 27 Feb. 1836, became lieutenant on 21 June 1839, and captain on 22 Dec. 1846. He served with that regiment at Gibraltar, in the West Indies, and in North America. On 16 Nov. 1849 he exchanged into the 7th dragoon guards.

On 25 March 1854 he was appointed aide-de-camp to Lord Lucan, who commanded the cavalry division in the army sent to the East. He was present at Alma, Balaclava, and Inkerman, and was mentioned in despatches (London Gazette, 17 Nov. 1854). In the middle of October he was ordered on board ship for a change, and this enabled him to be present at the naval attack on Sebastopol on 17 Oct., where he acted as aide-de-camp to Lord George Paulet on board the Bellerophon. He was given the medal for naval service, as well as the Crimean medal with four clasps, the Turkish medal, and the Medjidie (fifth class).

On 8 Dec. 1854 he was promoted major in his regiment, and in anticipation of this he left the Crimea at the beginning of that month. He was appointed assistant quartermaster-general in Ireland on 9 July 1855, and on 9 Nov. he was given an unattached lieutenant-colonelcy. On 7 Dec. 1858 he became lieutenant-colonel of the 2nd dragoon guards. He joined that regiment in India, and took part in the later operations for the suppression of the mutiny. He commanded a field force in Oudh, with which he defeated the rebels at Bangaon on 27 April 1859, and a month afterwards shared in the action of the Jirwah Pass under Sir Hope Grant. He was mentioned in despatches (Lond. Gaz. 22 July and 2 Sept. 1859), and received the medal.

From India he went on to China, being appointed on 14 May 1860 assistant quartermaster-general of cavalry in Sir Hope Grant's expedition. He was present at the actions of Sinho, Chankiawan, and Palikao. In the advance on Pekin it fell to him to go on ahead to select the camping-grounds, and on 16 Sept., when Sir Harry Smith Parkes [q. v.], and others were treacherously seized during the truce, he narrowly escaped. While waiting for Parkes outside Tungchow he saw a French officer attacked by the Chinese and went to his assistance. His sword was snatched from him, and several men tried to pull him off his horse, but he shook them off, and galloped back to the British camp with his party of five men under a fire of small arms and artillery. He was mentioned in despatches, received the medal with two clasps, and was made C.B. on 28 Feb. 1861. He had become colonel in the army on 14 Dec. 1860.

Having returned to England, he went on half-pay on 11 June 1861, and on 1 July was appointed assistant quartermaster-general at Shorncliffe. He remained there till 31 March 1865. On 26 April he was made military attaché to the embassy at Berlin, and he held that post for nearly twelve years. In the Austro-Prussian war of 1866 he was attached to the headquarters of the crown prince's army as British military commissioner; he witnessed the battles of Nachod and Königgratz, and received the medal. The order of the red eagle (second class) was offered him, but he was not able to accept it. He was again attached to the crown prince's army in the Franco-German war of 1870–1, and was present at Weissenburg, Wörth, Sedan, and throughout the siege of Paris. He was given the medal and the iron cross. The irritation of the Germans against England and the number of roving Englishmen made his duty not an easy one; but he was well qualified for it by his tact and geniality, and his action met with the full approval of the government.

He was promoted major-general on 29 Dec. 1873, his rank being afterwards antedated to 6 March 1868. He resigned his post at Berlin on 31 March 1877, and became lieutenant-general on 1 Oct. On 19 Jan. 1878 he was made inspector-general of military education, and he held that appointment till 7 Oct. 1884, when he was placed on the retired list with the honorary rank of general. He had been made K.C.B. on 24 May 1881, and colonel of the 2nd dragoon guards on 22 Dec. in that year. He died in London on 19 Jan. 1894, and was buried in Brompton cemetery.

He had married in 1845 Georgiana, daughter of Captain Richard Armstrong of the 100th foot. She survived him.

He published: 1. ‘The Organisation and Tactics of the Cavalry Division’ (52 pp.). 2. A translation of Major-general von Schmidt's ‘Instructions for Regiments taking part in the Manœuvres of a Cavalry Division;’ both of them in 1876, London, 8vo. Extracts from his letters and journals during active service were published after his death under the title ‘Days of a Soldier's Life’ (London, 1894), and contain much that is of general as well as of personal interest, especially in regard to the German wars.

[Days of a Soldier's Life; Standard, 22 Jan. 1894; Official Army List, January 1884; private information.]

E. M. L.