Travers, James (DNB00)

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TRAVERS, JAMES (1820–1884), general, son of Major-general Sir Robert Travers, K.C.M.G., C.B., of the 10th foot, was born on 6 Oct. 1820. After passing through the military college of the East India Company at Addiscombe he received a commission as second lieutenant in the Bengal infantry on 11 June 1838. He arrived at Fort William, Calcutta, on 12 Jan. 1839, and did duty with the 57th native infantry at Barrackpore until he was posted to the 2nd native infantry at Firozpur on 12 April 1839.

He served with his regiment in the Afghan war, and took part on 3 Jan. 1841 in the successful action of Lundi, Nowah, near Shahrak, when Captain H. W. Farrington dispersed the forces of Aktar Khan in the Zamin-Dawar. He was promoted to be first lieutenant on 7 June 1841. He was particularly mentioned in despatches (Calcutta Gazette, 22 Sept. 1841) for his services with the force in the Zamin-Dawar under Captain John Griffin on 17 Aug., when five thousand horse and foot under Akram Khan and Aktar Khan were totally defeated at Sikandarabad on the right bank of the Halmand. He took part in the action of 12 Jan. 1842, when Major-general (afterwards Sir) William Nott [q. v.] defeated a force of fifteen thousand men under Atta Muhammad and Suftar Jang at Killa Shuk, near Kandahar. On 23 Feb. Travers was directed to do duty with the 1st irregular cavalry (Skinner's horse) under Captain Haldane. He was engaged in the operations under Nott on the rivers Tarnak and Argand-ab from 7 to 12 March, and was slightly wounded on 25 March at the action of Babawalli, when Lieutenant-colonel Wymer, afterwards supported by Nott himself, defeated the enemy. Travers was mentioned in despatches (Lond. Gazette, 6 Sept. 1842). On the march to Ghazni with Nott, Travers was engaged in the cavalry fight under Captain Christie at Mukur on 28 Aug., and in the action under Nott at Ghoain on 30 Aug. He was at the capture of Ghazni on 6 Sept., and in the actions fought by Nott at Beni-badain and Maidan on 14 and 15 Sept., and on the 17th arrived with the army at Kabul, where Nott's camp was established some five miles west of the city.

Travers left Kabul on 12 Oct. with the united armies of Nott and Pollock, was engaged in the fight at the Haft Kotal on 14 Oct., and arrived at Firozpur on 23 Dec. For his services in the war Travers received three medals, and was recommended for a brevet majority on attaining the rank of captain.

Travers returned to regimental duty in March 1843, and was appointed adjutant of the Bhopal contingent on the 15th of that month. He was promoted to be captain on 7 Jan. 1846, and to be brevet major the following day. In the same month he joined the army of the Satlaj. He commanded a Masiri battalion of Gurkhas in Sir Harry Smith's division at the battle of Sobraon on 10 Feb. 1846, and was mentioned in Sir Hugh Gough's despatch of 13 Feb. (Lond. Gazette, 27 March and 1 April 1846). He received a medal for his services in this campaign. On 24 March 1846 he was appointed second in command of the Bhopal contingent, on 13 Feb. 1850 postmaster at Sihor, on 20 June 1854 he was promoted to be lieutenant-colonel, on 22 Aug. 1855 was appointed officiating commandant, and on 15 Feb. 1856 commandant, of the Bhopal contingent. In this year he commanded a force in the field against Sankar Sing, and received the thanks of government for his services. On 6 Dec. 1856 he was promoted to be colonel.

After the outbreak of the mutiny in 1857 Travers moved in the middle of June from Bhopal to Indur, where Colonel (afterwards Sir) Henry Marion Durand [q. v.] was the resident, and assumed command of the forces there. On 1 July some of Holkar's troops mutinied, and thirty-nine persons were massacred. Travers, uncertain of his own men, nevertheless no sooner heard the guns than he formed up the picket where they could most advantageously charge the guns of the mutineers, and at once ordered them to advance. Gallantly leading them, he drove away the gunners, wounded Saadat Khan, the inciter of the mutiny, and for a few moments had the guns in his possession. But he found only five men had followed him, and, as they were completely exposed to a galling infantry fire, he was obliged to retire. The charge, however, by creating a favourable diversion, not only enabled Durand to place the residency guns in position and to make some hurried arrangements for defence, but allowed many persons to escape to the residency. Travers opened fire from the residency guns, but his cavalry were leaving him, and his efforts to induce his infantry to charge were unavailing. The ladies and children were therefore placed on gun-carriages, and, covered by the cavalry, which, though willing to follow Travers, would not fight for him, the little band moved out of the residency, and arrived at Sihor on 4 July. For his services he received the war medal, and for his special gallantry in charging the guns on 1 July, which Durand brought to notice in his despatches, Travers was awarded the Victoria Cross on 1 March 1861.

Travers returned to duty with his old regiment, the 2nd native infantry, in 1858. On 8 Sept. 1860 he was appointed commandant of the Central India horse, on 25 Oct. 1861 brigadier-general commanding Saugor district, on 23 July 1865 he was promoted to be major-general, and the same year received a good-service pension. He was given the command of the Mirat division on 5 Aug. 1869, was promoted to be lieutenant-general on 5 Feb. 1873, and was made a companion of the Bath, military division, on 24 May 1873. Travers was permitted on 3 July 1874 to reside out of India. He was promoted to be general on 1 Oct. 1877, and was placed on the unemployed supernumerary list on 1 July 1881. He died at Pallanza, Italy, on 1 April 1884. Travers published in 1876 ‘The Evacuation of Indore,’ to refute statements in Kaye's ‘History of the Sepoy War.’

[India Office Records; Despatches; Gent. Mag. 1884; Vibart's Addiscombe, its Heroes and Men of Note; Kaye's History of the War in Afghanistan, 1838–42; Kaye's History of the Sepoy War; Malleson's History of the Indian Mutiny; Stocqueler's Memorials of Afghanistan; Professional Papers of the Corps of Royal Engineers, Occasional Papers Series. vol. iii. 1879, Paper vii.; Durand's First Afghan War; Last Counsels of an Unknown Counsellor, by Major Evans Bell.]

R. H. V.