Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Landmann, George Thomas

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LANDMANN, GEORGE THOMAS (1779–1854), lieutenant-colonel royal engineers, son of Isaac Landmann [q. v.], was born at Woolwich in 1779. He became a cadet at the Royal Military Academy 16 April 1798, and obtained at second lieutenant in the royal engineers 1 May 1795. Stationed at Plymouth and Falmouth, he was emploved in the fortification of St. Nicholas Island at the former, and Pendennis Castle and St. Mawes at the latter place. He was promoted first lieutenant on 3 June 1797, was sent to Canada at the end of that year, and was employed until the end of 1800 in the construction of fortifications at St. Joseph, Lake Huron, Upper Canada. In 1801 and 1802 he was employed in cutting a new canal at the Cascades on the river St. Lawrence. On 13 July 1802 he was promoted captain-lieutenant, and at the end of the year returned to England, when he was stationed at Portsmouth and Gosport, and employed in the fortifications.

On 10 July 1804 he was promoted second captain, and in December 1805 embarked at Portsmouth with troops for Gibraltar. On 1 July 1806 he was promoted captain. In the summer of 1808 he embarked as commanding royal engineer with General Spencer's corps of seven thousand men from Gibraltar, and landed in August at Mondego Bay to join Sir Arthur Wellesley. He was then attached to the light brigade under Brigadier-general Hon. H. Fane, was present at the battle of Roleia (17 Aug.), when he succeeded Captain Elphinstone, who was wounded, in the command of the royal engineers. He made a plan of the battle for Sir Arthur Wellesley, which was sent home with despatches. He reconnoitered the field of Vimeiro, and commanded his corps at the battle on 21 Aug. In September he was sent to Paniche to report on that fortress, and when Major Fletcher went to Spain with Sir John Moore, he assumed the command of his corps in Portugal. In December he was sent to construct a bridge of boats at Abrantes, on the Tagus, another at Punhete, on the Zezere, and a flying bridge at Villa Velha, and to reconnoitre the country about Idanha Nora, &c. The bridges were completed in five days.

On his return to Lisbon he was in February 1809, sent overland with despatches to Bartholomew Frere [q. v.], the British minister at Seville, and thence, as commanding engineer, to join the corps of General Mackenzie. Soon after Landmann's arrival at Cadiz an émeute occurred among the inhabitants, who, suspecting the fidelity of their governor, the Marquis ae Villel. desired to put him to death. General Mackenzie directed Landmann to endeavour to tranquillise the people, and as he spoke Spanish fluently he was eventually able to reconcile the contending parties. For his services on this occasion he received the thanks of the king of Spain through the secretary of state. On 22 Feb. 1809 Landmann was granted a commission as lieutenant-colonel in the Spanish engineers, and on General Mackenzie and his troops leaving Cadiz for Lisbon, Landmann was left at Cadiz by Frere's desire. He went to Gibraltar in July, and sent home plans of the fortifications of Cadiz, with a report which led to vigorous efforts being made to defend that place.

When, in January 1810, the French had entered Seville, and an attack on Gibraltar was expected from the land side, it was deemed expedient to demolish forts San Felipe and Santa Barbara in the Spanish lines. Landmann was deputed to negotiate with the Spanish governor for the needful permission, and he accomplished his delicate task successfully, though not without difficulty. When the French marched on Cadiz in February, Landmann volunteered to proceed thither with an auxiliary force embarked at Gibraltar, but being detained by a contrary wind, he hired a rowboat, reached Cadiz on the second day, and found himself for a time commanding engineer of the British forces.

On 25 March 1810 he was appointed colonel of infantry in the Spanish army, and in April served at the siege of Matagorda. In August he returned to England on account of ill-health. In December he was appointed one of the military agents in the Peninsula, and sailed for Lisbon. After delivering despatches to Wellington at Cartaxo he proceeded towards Cadiz, and on the way joined the Spanish corps of General Ballasteros, and was present at the action of Castilejos, near the Guadiana, on 7 Jan. 1811. His hourse fell under him, and he sustained an injury to his left eye. From Cadiz he returned in June to Ayamonte, and rode round the sea coast to Corunna, whence, after a short stay in Galicia, he want back to Cadiz by another route.

In March 1812 Landmann sailed for England in company with the Spanish ambassador. His health was now so impaired that he was unable to return to duty until July 1818. when he was sent to Ireland to command the engineers in the Lough Swilly district. He been promoted on 4 June 1813 brevet-major for his services, and became lieutenant-colonel on 16 May 1814. In March 1815 he was appointed commanding engineer of the same district, and in May 1817 was transferred to Hull as commanding royal engineer of the Yorkshire district. He was granted leave of absence in 1819, and appears to have continued on leave until he retired from the corps, by the sale of his commission, on 29 Dec. 1824. He was a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers until 1862. He died at Shacklewell near Hackney, London, on 27 Aug. 1854.

Landmann was author of:

  1. ‘Historical, Military, and Picturesque Observations in Portugal, illustrated numerous coloured Views and authentic Plans of all the Sieges and Battles fought in the Peninsula during the present War,’ 2 vols. 4to, London, 1818.
  2. Adventures end Recollections of Colonel Landmann,’ 2 vols, 8vo, London, 1852.
  3. ‘Recollections of my Military Life,’ 2 vols, 8vo, London, 1854 (cf. Athenæum, 1854. pp. 679-681).

He also revised his father's 'Principles of Fortifications,' 8vo, London, 1881.

[Corps Records; Landmann's Works; Gent. Mag. 1854, pt. i. p. 422; Royal Military Calendar, 1826, vol. v. 3rd ed. p. 26; Pantheon of the Age of Fortifications,' ii. 515.]

R. H. V.