Dickson, Collingwood (DNB12)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

DICKSON, Sir COLLINGWOOD (1817–1904), general, born at Valenciennes on 20 Nov. 1817, was third son of Major-general Sir Alexander Dickson [q. v.] and Eulalia, daughter of Don Stefano Briones of Minorca. Educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, he was commissioned as second-lieutenant in the royal artillery on 18 Dec. 1835, and was promoted first-lieutenant on 29 Nov. 1837. In February of that year he had gone to Spain with the artillery detachment, which formed part of the British legion under Sir George De Lacy Evans [q. v.], co-operating with the Christinist army against the Carlists. He served with this force on the north coast, distinguishing himself in the operations in front of San Sebastian, and being present at the capture of Hernani. In August 1839 he went to Catalonia as assistant to Colonel Edward Thomas Michell [q. v.], British commissioner with the Spanish army there. He was present at the actions of Andoain and Solsona. In the spring of 1840 he accompanied Michell to the headquarters of Espartero, and was present at the capture of Morella and the defeat of the Carlists near Berga. He was made a knight of Charles III, of San Fernando (1st class), and of Isabella the Catholic.

In March 1841 ho went to Constantinople to instruct the Turkish artillery, and remained there till June 1845, being employed under the British foreign office. In the spring of 1846 he attended Ibrahim Pasha during his visit to England. He was promoted second-captain on 1 April 1846, and was given a brevet majority on 22 May. He became first-captain on 2 Sept. 1851, and was inspector of gunpowder at Waltham Abbey from 1 July 1852 to 14 Feb. 1854.

He served in the Crimea from June 1854 to July 1855. At the battle of the Alma he was on Lord Raglan's staff; and when Raglan rode forward to a knoll on the Russian flank, and asked for guns there, Dickson brought up two 9-pounders, and helped to serve them. Their fire was so effective that the Russian batteries guarding the post-road retired. He was made brevet lieut.-colonel from that date, 20 June 1854. He commanded the siege train of the right attack during the siege of Sevastopol up to 21 July 1855. In the first bombardment on 17 Oct. 1854 the siege batteries ran short of powder, and under Dickson's direction several field-battery wagons were brought up under a heavy fire to supply the want, and he took a personal part in unloading them. For this he afterwards received the Victoria Cross, on 23 June 1855.

At the battle of Inkerman Dickson, after Colonel Gambier was wounded, brought up the two 18-pounders which dominated the Russian guns. He chose the site for them, and maintained them there, though he was urged by French officers to withdraw them. When the Russians retreated, Lord Raglan said to him 'You have covered yourself with glory' (Kinglake, v. 372, 439). He was wounded on 4 Feb., but took part in the bombardments of 9 April and 17 June and in the expedition to Kertch. He was mentioned in despatches (Lond. Gaz. 2 Dec. 1854, 20 Feb. 1855, and 15 Feb. 1856), was made aide-de-camp to the Queen on 29 June 1855, and received the Crimean medal with four clasps, the Legion of Honour (officer), the Medjidie (2nd class), and the Turkish medal.

From September 1855 till the end of the war he was employed with the Turkish contingent, first as brigadier-general, and latterly with the temporary rank of major-general (15 Feb. 1856). After the war he was assistant adjutant-general for artillery in Ireland for six years from 4 Nov. 1856, and was then at Leith Fort for five years in command of the royal artillery. He was promoted regimental lieut.-colonel on 23 February 1856, and regimental colonel on 5 April 1866. Four months later he became major-general. He had been made C.B. on 5 July 1865. In 1868-9 he served on the fortifications committee, which examined into the work done under the Palmerston loan for defences, and enlivened its proceedings by his boundless store of anecdote and humour.

From April 1870 till 1875 Dickson was inspector-general of artillery. The adoption of rifled guns had caused great changes in artillery material, and to qualify himself for his new duties he went through courses at Woolwich Arsenal and at Shoeburyness. His inspections were thorough, and he was punctilious on points of duty, but everyone felt the charm of his personality. He was made K.C.B. on 20 May 1871, and he became colonel commandant on 17 Nov 1875, lieut.-general on 8 June 1876, and general on 1 Oct. 1877. In May of that year he went to Constantinople as military attache, his old friend Sir Austen Henry Layard [q. v.] being at that time British ambassador there. He remained in Turkey till 9 Sept. 1879, thus covering the whole period of the Russo-Turkish war. He was president of the ordnance committee (1881-5), though he was placed on the retired list under the age rules on 20 Nov. 1884. On 24 May in that year he received the G.C.B.

He married on 14 Jan. 1847 Harriet (d. February 1894), daughter of Thomas Burnaby, vicar of Blakesley, Northamptonshire. After her death he lived a retired life at 79 Claverton Street till his death on 28 Nov. 1904. He was buried at Kensal Green. He had three sons who predeceased him. He was a good linguist, speaking French, Spanish, and Turkish fluently, a ready writer, and a man of 'downright commonsense.' Dickson had an intimate knowledge of the traditions of his regiment, and an ardent affection for it. He left a portrait of himself to it, and presented to the Royal Artillery Institution the Dickson MSS. written or collected by his father. These are now in course of publication under the editorship of Major J. H. Leslie, R.A., and supply valuable material for the history of the Peninsular war.

[The Times, 30 Nov. 1904; Duncan, The English in Spain, 1877; Kinglake, Invasion of the Crimea, 1863-87; materials furnished by Major J. H. Leslie, R.A.]

E. M. L.