Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/O'Callaghan, Robert William

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O'CALLAGHAN, Sir ROBERT WILLIAM (1777–1840), general, second son of Cornelius O'Callaghan, first baron Lismore, and Frances, second daughter of Mr. Speaker Ponsonby, was born in October 1777. He was descended ‘from one of the very few native families that have been dignified by the peerage of Ireland.’ He was appointed ensign in the 128th regiment of foot 29 Nov. 1794, and was transferred as lieutenant to the 30th light dragoons 6 Dec. 1794, in which regiment he became captain 31 Jan. 1795. He was transferred to the 22nd light dragoons 19 April 1796. These three corps were all subsequently disbanded. He was appointed major to the 40th regiment of foot 17 Feb. 1803, and became lieutenant-colonel in the 39th regiment of foot 16 July 1803. In March 1805 he embarked in command of the first battalion of the 39th regiment, which had been selected to form part of the expedition destined for the Mediterranean under Lieutenant-general Sir James Craig, and subsequently proceeded from Malta to Naples with the flank companies. When those companies returned to Malta in February 1806, he remained in Sicily, and at the battle of Maida (4 July 1806) he commanded a grenadier battalion, receiving after the victory a gold medal. At the end of August 1811 he went with the first battalion of the 39th regiment from Sicily to join the army in the Peninsula. He was advanced to the brevet rank of colonel. At the battle of Vittoria (21 June 1813) he was placed in temporary command of the brigade, and his conduct was specially noticed in Wellington's despatches (vi. 541). He also commanded the brigade during the actions in the Pyrenees in July 1813, and was present at the passage of the Nivelle and Nive. His conduct in command of the first battalion of the 39th regiment at Garris (15 Feb. 1814) was again mentioned in Wellington's despatches (vii. 324). He was present at the victory of Orthes (27 Feb. 1814), and received a cross with two clasps for Maida, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, and Orthes. He was promoted to the rank of major-general 4 June 1814, and was created a K.C.B. 2 Jan. 1815. He was appointed to the staff of the army in Flanders 25 June 1815, and to the staff of the army in France 22 April 1818. He commanded the troops in North Britain from 15 June 1825 to 22 July 1830. He was gazetted colonel of the 97th regiment 7 Sept. 1829, and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general 22 July 1830. He was appointed to command the army at Madras 4 Oct. 1830, and was made colonel of the 39th regiment 4 March 1833. In the spring of 1835, on the departure of Lord William Bentinck for England, he held for some months command of the troops in India, and was in command at Madras till October 1836. He was created G.C.B. 19 July 1838. He died unmarried in London on 9 June 1840.

[Napier's Peninsular War; Cannon's Historical Records of the 39th Regiment of Foot; Army Lists.]

B. H. S.