Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/James Thomas Brudenell, Seventh Earl of Cardigan

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, Volume V
James Thomas Brudenell, Seventh Earl of Cardigan
CARDIGAN, James Thomas Brudenell, Seventh Earl of (1797-1868), and Baron Brudenell in the peerage

of England, lieutenant-general, was the eldest surviving son of the sixth earl, and was born at Hambledon in Hamp shire, October 16, 1797. He studied for several terms at Christ Church, Oxford; and in 1818 entered Parliament as member fcr the borough of Marlborough under the patronage of Lord Ailesbury. He entered the army in 1824 as cornet in the 8th Hussars, and was promoted in 1832 to be lieutenant-colonel in the 15th Hussars. With this regiment he made himself one of the most unpopular of commanding officers. He gave the reins to bis natural overbearing and quarrelsome temper, treating his men with excessive rigour and indulging in unscrupulous licenti ousness. W r ithin two years he held 105 courts-martial, and made more than 700 arrests, although the actual strength of his regiment was only 350 men. In consequence of one of his numerous personal quarrels, he left the regiment in 1834; but two years later, at the urgent entreaty of his father, he was reinstated in the army, and appointed to the command of the llth Hussars. He played the same part as before, and was censured for it ; but he was allowed to retain his post, and the discipline and equipment of his regiment, in which he took great pride, received high commendation from the duke of Wellington. He suc ceeded to the peerage on the death of his father in August 1837. In September 1840 Lord Cardigan fought a duel, on Wimbledon Common, with Captain Tuckett, an officer of his regiment. The latter was wounded, and Lord Cardigan was tried before the House of Lords on a charge of feloniously shooting his adversary. But the trial was a mere sham, and on a trivial technical ground he was acquitted. In 1854, at the outbreak of the Crimean War, the earl of Cardigan was appointed to the command of the light cavalry brigade, with the rank of major-general, and he spent a very large sum in the purchase of horses and on the equipment of his regiment. He took a prominent part in the early actions of the campaign, and displayed throughout the greatest personal courage and the greatest recklessness in exposing his men. The feat which made his name famous was the charge of his brigade, numbering 600 men, on a body of Russian heavy cavalry 3600 in number at the battle of Balaclava (October 25, 1854). He forced his way through the enemy, but half his men and horses were left dead on the field. The charge, celebrated by Tennyson in his well-known lyric, has been the subject of much controversy, some critics having an eye only to the splendid daring and unquestioning obedience to orders, and others seeing only a foolhardy and unjustifi able throwing away of valuable lives. At the close of the war the earl was created K.C.B., and was appointed inspector- general of cavalry, and this post he held till 1860. In 1859 he was promoted colonel of the 5th Dragoon Guards, but was transferred in the following year to the command of his former regiment, the llth Hussars. He attained the rank of lieutenant-general in 1861. He was twice married, in 1826 and in 1858, but had no children. On his death, which took place at Deene Park, Northamptonshire, on the 28th of March 1868, the titles passed to his relative, the marquis of Ailes-