Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Godwin, Henry Thomas

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GODWIN, Sir HENRY THOMAS (1784–1853), major-general, commanding the troops in the second Burmese war, entered the army in December 1799 as ensign 9th foot, in which he became lieutenant in 1803, and captain in 1808. He served with the regiment at Ferrol in 1800, in the expedition to Hanover in 1805, when he was adjutant of his battalion, and in Portugal in 1808. In 1809 he was present in the operations on the Douro and the advance to Oporto, and afterwards accompanied his battalion to Gibraltar. He marched with the light company, as part of a provisional light battalion, from Gibraltar to Tarifa, and took part in the first defence. He was a volunteer under Lord Blayney in the attempt on Fuengarola, near Malaga. He commanded a detachment of two flank companies of his battalion at Cadiz, at the second defence of Tarifa, and at the battle of Barossa, where he was severely wounded. For his Peninsular services he was made brevet-major and C.B. In May 1814 he was appointed major in the old 5th West India regiment, and in November 1815 lieutenant-colonel of the 41st foot. Godwin took that regiment out to India in 1822, accompanied it to Burmah in 1824, and was present in every action in the first Burmese war, from the capture of Rangoon until peace was signed in sight of Ummeerapoora in February 1826, except during the latter part of 1824, when he was employed with a detached force in reducing the Burmese province of Martaban. Godwin twice received the thanks of the governor-general in council for his services. He exchanged to half-pay in 1827, became colonel in 1837, and major-general in 1846. In 1850 he was appointed to a divisional command in Bengal, and in 1852 was selected for the command of the Bengal division of the Burmese expeditionary force, of which he took the command in chief. The second Burmese war began with the bombardment of Martaban on 5 April 1852. In November Godwin recaptured Pegu, and in December the annexation of the province of Pegu to India was proclaimed by Lord Dalhousie. Further operations followed at Prome and in the Rangoon river, and on 1 July 1853 the expeditionary force, known officially as the ‘army of Ava,’ was broken up, and Godwin returned to India. His personal activity, in spite of his years, had been remarked throughout, and he was a great favourite with the troops; but the protracted character of the later operations had drawn upon him much undeserved abuse from certain portions of the English and Indian press. He appears to have acted throughout in accordance with the instructions of Lord Dalhousie, by whom his conduct was fully approved. On Godwin's return to India, he was appointed to command the Sirhind division of the Bengal army. He died at Simla, at the residence of the commander-in-chief, Sir William Gomm, who had been his brother subaltern in the 9th foot, on 26 Oct. 1853, at the age of sixty-nine, from the results of exposure and over-exertion in Burmah. Notification of his appointments as K.C.B. and colonel 20th foot was received in India after his death. His only daughter married Robert A. C. Godwin-Austen [q. v.]

[Hart's Army Lists; London Gazettes; Gent. Mag. new ser. xli. 529. A useful epitome of the history of the first and second Burmese wars will be found in Low's Hist. Indian Navy.]

H. M. C.