1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ross, Robert

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ROSS, ROBERT (1766–1814), British major-general, entered the 25th Foot at the age of nineteen, and in 1795 became captain in the 7th Regiment, obtaining a half-pay majority a few months later. As a major of the 20th he served in Holland under the duke of York in 1799. At the action of Krabbendam the regiment greatly distinguished itself, though largely composed of raw militia recruits. Ross was here severely wounded. In 1801 the 20th went to Egypt and took part in the final operations which led to Menou’s surrender. In 1803, though lieutenant-colonel only by brevet, Ross succeeded to the command, and at once initiated a severe system of training, in barracks and in the field, in his regiment. The result of this was apparent when under Sir John Stuart’s command the regiment proceeded to Naples. The 20th played a decisive part in the brilliant action of Maida, and distinguished itself not less in the subsequent storm of the castle of Scylla. In 1808–9 Ross and the 20th formed part of Anstruther’s brigade of Sir John Moore’s army in Spain, and though the statement that the 20th, owing to its good discipline, suffered less loss than any other regiment in the retreat on Corunna is incorrect, the regiment was among the best disciplined in the army. Later in 1809 it was sent to Walcheren, where fever soon laid low two-thirds of the men. Ross and his regiment were then sent to Ireland to recover, and here the colonel repeated the course of drill and manoeuvre which had so markedly improved the 20th in Malta. He received a gold medal for Corunna and a sword of honour for Maida (which action had already won him a gold medal). At the end of 1812 the 20th was again engaged in the Peninsula, and Major-General Ross early in the following year received a brigade command in Cole's division. Scarcely engaged at Vittoria, Ross's brigade played a distinguished part in the operations around Pamplona, and the 20th covered itself with glory at Roncesvalles and Sorauren. At Orthez Ross was severely wounded at the head of the brigade, which was assaulting the village of St Boës. He was among those who received the thanks of parliament for this battle, and he received the gold medal for Vittoria and the Peninsula gold medal. At the end of the war Ross was sent in command of a brigade to harry the coast of North America, and with 4500 men and three light guns landed in Maryland. At Bladensburg the Americans stood to fight in a strong position, but Ross's men routed them (Aug. 24, 1814). The same evening Washington was entered, and, the public buildings having been destroyed, the expedition re-embarked. This short and brilliant campaign excited the admiration of soldiers, critics and public alike, but the commander did not live to receive his reward. A few days later an expedition against Baltimore was undertaken; skirmishing soon began, and one of the first to fall was Ross. A public monument was erected to his memory in St Paul's Cathedral, and others at his residence at Rosstrevor and at Halifax, N.S. His family was granted the name Ross of Bladensburg by royal letters-patent.

See Gentleman's Magazine, 1814, ii. 483; Cole, Peninsular Generals; Smythe, History of the 20th Regiment.