Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Colville, Charles

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COLVILLE, Sir CHARLES (1770–1843), general, second son of John, ninth lord Colville of Culross in the peerage of Scotland, was born on 7 Aug. 1770. He entered the army as an ensign in the 28th regiment on 26 Dec. 1781, but did not join until 1787, in which year he was promoted lieutenant. In May 1791 he was promoted captain into the 13th Somersetshire light infantry, with which regiment he remained for nineteen years, until he became a major-general. He joined it in December 1791 in the West Indies, and remained with it until its return to England in 1797, seeing much service in the interval, especially in San Domingo, and being promoted major 1 Sept. 1795 and lieutenant-colonel 26 Aug. 1796. He then commanded the 13th in the suppression of the Irish insurrection of 1798, and in the expedition to Ferrol and to Egypt in 1800 and 1801. In Egypt his regiment formed part of Major-general Cradock's brigade, and distinguished itself in the battles of 8, 13, and 21 March, and in the investment of Alexandria. On leaving Egypt, Colville, who had there established his reputation as a good regimental officer, took his regiment to Gibraltar, where he remained until 1805, in which year he was promoted colonel. After a short period in England he went with his regiment to Bermuda in 1808, and in 1809 he was made a brigadier-general and commanded the 2nd brigade of Prevost's division in the capture of Martinique in that year. On 25 July 1810 he was promoted major-general and at once applied for a command in the Peninsula. In October 1810 he took over the command of the 1st brigade of the 3rd division, which was under the command of Picton. It was now that he had his great opportunity, and he soon became not only Picton's trusted lieutenant, but one of Wellington's favourite brigadiers. He commanded his brigade in the pursuit after Massena, and in the battle of Fuentes de Onoro, shared the superintendence of the trenches with Major-general Hamilton at the second siege of Badajoz, commanded the infantry in the affair at El Bodon on 25 Sept. 1811, and the 4th division in the place of Major-general Cole in the successful siege of Ciudad Rodrigo. He shared the superintendence of the trenches in the third and last siege of Badajoz with Generals Bowes and Kempt, and commanded the 4th division in the storming of the Trinidad bastion, where he was shot through the left thigh and lost a finger of his right hand. He had to go to England for his cure, and thus missed the battle of Salamanca, but returned to the Peninsula in October 1812 and commanded the 3rd division in winter quarters until superseded by the arrival of General Picton. He commanded his brigade only at the battle of Vittoria, where he was slightly wounded, but was specially appointed by Lord Wellington to the temporary command of the 6th division from August to November 1813, when he reverted to the 3rd division, which he commanded at the battles of the Nivelle and the Nive. He was again superseded by the arrival of Sir Thomas Picton, but in February 1814 Lord Wellington appointed him permanently to the 5th division in the place, of Sir James Leith. With it he served under Sir John Hope in the siege of Bayonne, and Colville it was who superintended the final embarkation at Passages of the last English troops left in France. His services were well rewarded; he received a cross with one clasp; he was made a K.C.B. in January and a G.C.B. in March 1815; he was appointed colonel of the 94th regiment in April 1815; and when the return of Napoleon from Elba made it necessary for an English army to be sent to the continent, he was made a local lieutenant-general in the Netherlands at Wellington's special request, and took command of the 4th division there. Colville's division was posted on the extreme right of the English divison at Hal during the battle of Waterloo. To compensate him for not being more actively engaged there, Wellington gave him the duty of storming Cambray, the only French fortress which did not immediately surrender. He succeeded with the loss of only thirty men killed and wounded. Colville did not again see active service. He was promoted lieutenant-general in 1819, and was commander-in-chief at Bombay from 1819 to 1825, and governor of the Mauritius from 1828 to 1834. He was promoted general on 10 Jan. 1837, and died on 27 March 1843 at Rosslyn House, Hampstead. He married in 1818 Jane, eldest daughter of William Mure of Caldwell, and his eldest son succeeded as eleventh and (1887) present Lord Colville of Culross.

[Royal Military Calendar; Napier's Peninsular War.]

H. M. S.