Wallace, John Alexander Dunlop Agnew (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 59
Wallace, John Alexander Dunlop Agnew

by Ernest Marsh Lloyd

WALLACE, Sir JOHN ALEXANDER DUNLOP AGNEW (1775?–1857), general, born about 1775, was the only son of Sir Thomas Dunlop Wallace, bart., of Craigie, Ayrshire, by his first wife, Eglantine, lady Wallace [q. v.]

He was given a commission as ensign in the 75th (highland) regiment on 28 Dec. 1787, his family having helped to raise it. He joined it in India in 1789, became lieutenant on 6 April 1790, and served in Cornwallis's operations against Tippoo in 1791–2, including the siege of Seringapatam. He acted as aide-de-camp to Colonel Maxwell, who commanded the left wing of the army. He obtained a company in the 58th regiment on 8 June 1796, and returned to England to join it. He went with it to the Mediterranean in 1798, was present at the capture of Minorca, and in the campaign of 1801 in Egypt. It formed part of the reserve under Moore, and was very hotly engaged in the battle of Alexandria. It came home in 1802. He was promoted major on 9 July 1803, and obtained a lieutenant-colonelcy in the 11th foot on 28 Aug. 1804. At the end of 1805 he was transferred to the 88th (Connaught rangers) to command a newly raised second battalion.

He went to the Peninsula with this battalion in 1809. With three hundred men of it he joined the first battalion at Campo Mayor, while the rest went on to Cadiz. The first battalion had suffered in the Talavera campaign; he set himself vigorously to restore it, and made it one of the finest corps in the army. It greatly distinguished itself at Busaco. It was on the left of the third division, and when the French had gained the ridge, and seemed to have cut the army in two, a charge made by the 88th, with one wing of the 45th, drove them down headlong. Wellington, riding up, said, ‘Wallace, I never saw a more gallant charge than that just made by your regiment,’ and made special reference to it in his despatch. Picton, who was with another part of his division at the time, gave Wallace the credit of ‘that brilliant exploit.’

He commanded the 88th at Fuentes de Onoro, and was again particularly mentioned in Wellington's despatch. He was also mentioned in the despatch after Salamanca, where he was in command of the right brigade of the third division (Pakenham's). During the retreat of the army from Burgos, he had a very severe attack of fever at Madrid. Conveyance in a cart to Santarem in very bad weather aggravated its effects, and he was dangerously ill for nearly eight months. He saw no further service in the Peninsula; but he commanded a brigade in the army of occupation in France in the latter part of 1815. He received the gold medal with two clasps, and was made C.B. in 1815.

He had become colonel in the army on 4 June 1813, and on 12 Aug. 1819 he was promoted major-general. He was given the colonelcy of the 88th on 20 Oct. 1831, and was made K.C.B. on 16 Sept. 1833. He became lieutenant-general on 10 Aug. 1837, and general on 11 Nov. 1851. He died at Lochryan House, Stranraer, Wigtownshire, on 10 Feb. 1857, aged 82. On 23 June 1829 he married Janette, daughter of William Rodger, by whom he had five sons and one daughter.

[Gent. Mag. 1857, i. 497; Historical Records of the 88th Regiment; Wellington Despatches; Robinson's Life of Picton, i. 327, &c.; Napier's Remarks on Robinson's ‘Life of Picton’ in Peninsular War, 1851, vi. 419 sq.]

E. M. L.