Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pack, Denis

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PACK, Sir DENIS (1772?–1823), major-general, is described as a descendant of Sir Christopher Packe [q. v.], lord mayor of London, whose youngest son, Simon, settled in Westmeath, Ireland. Denis, born about 1772, was son of Thomas Pack, D.D., dean of Kilkenny, and grandson of Thomas Pack of Ballinakill, Queen's County (Notes and Queries, 1st ser. v. 118). On 30 Nov. 1791 he was gazetted cornet in the 14th light dragoons (now hussars), and served with a squadron of that regiment which formed the advance guard of Lord Moira's force in Flanders in 1794. Pack volunteered to carry an important despatch into Nieuwpoort, and had much difficulty in escaping from the place when the French invested it. He was subsequently engaged at Boxtel and in the winter retreat to Bremen. After that retreat the 14th squadron was transferred to the 8th light dragoons, to which it had been attached. Pack came home, obtained his lieutenancy in the 14th on 12 March 1795, and commanded a small party of dragoons in the Quiberon expedition, during which he did duty for some months as a field-officer on Isle Dieu. He received his troop in the 5th dragoon guards on 27 Feb. 1796, and served with that regiment in Ireland in 1798. He had a smart affair on patrol near Prosperous with a party of rebels, who lost twenty men and eight horses (Cannon, Hist. Rec. of Brit. Army, 5th P. C. N. Dragoon Guards, p. 47), and commanded the escort which conducted General Humbert and other French officers to Dublin after their surrender at Ballinamuck. He was promoted to major 4th royal Irish dragoon guards from 25 Aug. 1798, and on 6 Dec. 1800 was appointed lieutenant-colonel 71st highlanders. He commanded the 71st at the recapture of the Cape of Good Hope in 1806, where he was wounded at the landing in Lospard's Bay, and in South America in 1806–7, where he was taken prisoner, but effected his escape. Subsequently he commanded the light troops of the army in two successful actions with the enemy, and in Whitelocke's disastrous attack on Buenos Ayres, in which he received three wounds.

In 1808 he took the regiment to Portugal, commanded it at the battles of Roleia (Roliea) and Vimeiro (Gurwood, Wellington Desp. iii. 92); in the retreat to and battle of Coruña; and in the Walcheren expedition in 1809, in which he signalised himself by storming one of the enemy's batteries, during the siege of Flushing, with his regiment. He became aide-de-camp to the king with the rank of colonel on 25 July 1810, was appointed with local rank to a Portuguese brigade under Marshal Beresford, and commanded it at Busaco in 1810, and in front of Almeida in May 1811. When the French garrison escaped, Pack pursued them to Barba del Puerco, and afterwards, by Sir Brent Spencer's orders, blew up the defences of Almeida (cf. Gurwood, v. 202– 204). At the capture of Ciudad Rodrigo, Pack, who had been named a British brigadier-general (ib. v. 487), was sent with his Portuguese brigade to make a false attack on the outwork of the Santiago gate, which was converted into a real attack (ib. v. 473). He distinguished himself at the battle of Salamanca, and was honourably mentioned for his services in the operations against Burgos. He became a major-general on 4 June 1813; was present with his brigade at Vittoria, and, when in temporary command of the 6th division in the Pyrenées, was wounded at Sauroren. He commanded a division at the battles of Nivelle, the Nive, Orthez, and Toulouse, where he was wounded and honourably mentioned. For his Peninsular services, in which he was eight times wounded, he received the Peninsular gold cross and seven clasps. He was offered a brigade in the expedition to America (ib. vii. 427–8), but was appointed to command at Ramsgate instead. He was made K.C.B. 2 Jan. 1815.

Pack commanded a brigade of Picton's division at Quatre Bras and Waterloo, where he was again wounded (medal) (ib. viii. 147, 150). This was his last foreign service. He held the foreign orders of the Tower and Sword in Portugal, Maria Theresa in Austria, and St. Vladimir in Russia. He was appointed colonel of the York chasseurs in 1816, lieutenant-governor of Plymouth 12 Aug. 1819, and colonel 84th foot 9 Sept. 1822. He died at Lord Beresford's house in Upper Wimpole Street, London, 24 July 1823. In 1828 his widow erected a monument to him, surmounted by a marble bust by Chantrey, in the cathedral church of St. Canice, Kilkenny, of which his father had been dean.

Pack married, 10 July 1816, Lady Elizabeth Louisa Beresford, fourth daughter of the second Earl of Waterford, and sister of the first marquis. After his death Lady Pack married, in 1831, Lieutenant-general Sir Thomas Reynell, K.C.B., who had been one of Pack's majors in the 71st, and who died in 1848. She died 6 Jan. 1856.

[Army Lists; London Gazettes; Hildyard's Hist. Rec. of Brit. Army, 71st Highland Light Infantry; Gurwood's Wellington Desp. vols. iii.–viii.; Napier's Hist. Peninsular War (rev. ed.) passim; Gent. Mag. 1823 pt. ii. pp. 372–3, 1828 pt. ii. p. 478. Philippart's Royal Military Calendar, 1820, vol. iv., contains a lengthy biography of Pack, with a particular account of his services in South America in 1806–7.]

H. M. C.