Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Nuttall, Thomas (1828-1890)

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NUTTALL, THOMAS (1828–1890), lieutenant-general, Indian army, born in London on 7 Oct. 1828, was son of George R. Nuttall, M.D., some years one of the physicians of the Westminster dispensary. His mother was daughter of Mr. Mansfield of Midmar Castle, Aberdeenshire. He was sent to a private school at Aberdeen, but his character is said to have been formed chiefly by his mother, a good and clever woman. Sailing for India as an infantry cadet on 12 Aug. 1845, he was posted as ensign in the 29th Bombay native infantry from that date; became lieutenant in the regiment on 26 June 1847, and captain on 23 Nov. 1856. As a subaltern he held for a short time the post of quartermaster, also of commandant and staff officer of a detached wing, and was for nearly five years, from December 1851 to November 1856, adjutant of his regiment. As captain of the regimental light company, he was detached with the light battalion of the army in the Persian expedition of 1857 (medal and clasp). He returned to Bombay in May that year, and in August rejoined his regiment at Belgaum. During the mutiny and after, from 9 Nov. 1857 to 25 March 1861, he was detached on special police duty against disaffected Bheels and Coolies in the Nassick districts. He organised and disciplined a corps of one of the wildest and hitherto most neglected tribes of the Deccan, the coolies of the Western Ghâts, which did excellent service, and was engaged in many skirmishes. The assistant collector at Nassick reported that the dispersion of the Bheel rebels and the prompt suppression of the Peint rebellion were due to Nuttall's exertions. The commissioner of police similarly reported, on 21 Nov. 1859, that ‘Captain Nuttall and his men have marched incredible distances, borne hardships, privations, and exposure to an extent that has seldom been paralleled, one continuous exertion for more than two years without ceasing, most of the time in bivouac.’ On five occasions during this service Nuttall received the commendation of government. From June 1860 to August 1865 he held the position of superintendent of police successively at Kaira, Sholapur, and Kulladgi, having in the meantime been transferred to the Bombay staff corps (June 1865). He was promoted major in the same year. In September 1865 he proceeded on sick furlough to England, and returned to India in April 1867, when he resumed his police duties at Kulladgi, and in October was appointed second in command of the land transport of the Abyssinian expedition, with which he did good service at Koumeylee (mentioned in despatches; brevet of lieutenant-colonel and medal and clasp). From August 1868 to February 1871 he did duty with the 25th Bombay native infantry, and from April 1871 to April 1876 with the 22nd native infantry in the grades of second in command and commandant, during a portion of which time (from 8 May to 30 Oct. 1871) he was in temporary command of the Neemuch brigade. He became lieutenant-colonel on 2 Aug. 1871, and brevet-colonel on 3 Dec. 1873. On 5 April 1876 he became acting commandant, and on 25 Jan. 1877 commandant of the Sind frontier force, with headquarters at Jacobabad. On 20 Nov. 1878 he was appointed brigadier-general in the Affghan expeditionary force, and commanded his brigade in the Pisheen Valley and at the occupation of Kandahar. After the departure of Sir Michael Biddulph and Lieutenant-general Sir D. Stewart he commanded the brigade of all arms left for the occupation of Kandahar. After the second division of the army was broken up he commanded a brigade left at Vitaki till 17 May, when it also was broken up, and he returned to his post on the Upper Sind frontier. When the Affghan war entered its second phase, Nuttall was appointed brigadier-general of the cavalry brigade formed at Kandahar in May 1880, and commanded it in the action at Girishk, on the Helmund, on 14 July 1880, in the cavalry affair of 23rd, and in the disastrous battle of Maiwand on 27 July, where he led the cavalry charge, which attempted to retrieve the fortunes of the day at the end of the battle, and covered the retreat to Kandahar, which was reached about 4.30 P.M. next day. He was in the sortie of 16 Aug. from Kandahar (mentioned in despatches), commanded the east face of the city during the defence (mentioned in despatches), and took part in the battle of Kandahar and pursuit of the Affghan army on 1 Sept. 1880 (medal and clasps). He became a major-general in 1885, and lieutenant-general in 1887. He died at Insch, Aberdeenshire, on 30 Aug. 1890.

Nuttall was a very active and energetic officer, popular alike with officers and men, Europeans and natives. He was one of the best riders and swordsmen in the Indian army, a frequent competitor at, as well as patron of, contests in skill at arms, and a renowned shikarry with hogspear and rifle.

He married, at Camberwell, London, on 7 Feb. 1867, Caroline Latimer Elliot, daughter of Dr. Elliot, of Denmark Hill, by whom he left a son.

[Indian Official Records and Despatches, including Affghan Blue Book; Indian Army Lists, &c.; Archibald Forbes's Affghan Wars, London, 1892, chap. viii.; information supplied by Nuttall's brother, Major-general J. M. Nuttall, C.B., Indian Army, retired list.]

H. M. C.