1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dickson, Sir Alexander

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DICKSON, SIR ALEXANDER (1777–1840), British artillerist, entered the Royal Military Academy in 1793, passing out as second lieutenant in the Royal Artillery in the following year. As a subaltern he saw service in Minorca in 1798 and at Malta in 1800. As a captain he took part in the unfortunate Montevideo Expedition of 1806–07, and in 1809 he accompanied Howorth to the Peninsular War as brigade-major of the artillery. He soon obtained a command in the Portuguese artillery, and as a lieutenant-colonel of the Portuguese service took part in the various battles of 1810–11. At the two sieges of Budazoz, Ciudad Rodrigo, the Salamanca forts and Burgos, he was entrusted by Wellington (who had the highest opinion of him) with most of the detailed artillery work, and at Salamanca battle he commanded the reserve artillery. In the end he became commander of the whole of the artillery of the allied army, and though still only a substantive captain in the British service he had under his orders some 8000 men. At Vitoria, the Pyrenees battles and Toulouse he directed the movements of the artillery engaged, and at the end of the war received handsome presents from the officers who had served under him, many of whom were his seniors in the army list. He was at the disastrous affair of New Orleans, but returned to Europe in time for the Waterloo campaign. He was present at Quatre Bras and Waterloo on the artillery staff of Wellington’s army, and subsequently commanded the British battering train at the sieges of the French fortresses left behind the advancing allies. For the rest of his life he was on home service, principally as a staff officer of artillery. He died, a major-general and G.C.B., in 1840. A memorial was erected at Woolwich in 1847. Dickson was one of the earliest fellows of the Royal Geographical Society.

His diaries kept in the Peninsula were the main source of information used in Duncan’s History of the Royal Artillery.