Hugh Gough, 1st Viscount Gough PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 26 February 2009 10:35

Field Marshal Hugh Gough, 1st Viscount Gough, KP, GCSI, KCB, PC

Born: 3 November 1779, Woodstown, Limerick

Died: 2 March 1869

Age: 90

Cause of death: Old age

Notable because: Commanded the British troops in the Opium wars of China. (1839 - 1842) Where China attempted to stop the East India Company (A British trading Company) from selling Opium into China as it was causing considerable social and human problems with its addictive nature. (By 1820, the city of Soochow had 100,000 addicts). The British enjoyed the profits of the Opium sales and were not willing to give up this lucrative market. Instead they sent in Hugh Gough at the head of their Army, the most powerful in the World, to vanquish the Chinese authorities efforts to outlaw Opium and enforce their ongoing ability to sell Opium into China. He was rewarded with the highest accolades by British authority for his efforts.

Hugh Gough was a British Field Marshal, a descendant of Francis Gough who was made bishop of Limerick in 1626.

Having obtained a commission in the army in August 1794, he served with the 78th Highlanders at the Cape of Good Hope, taking part in the capture of Cape Town and of the Dutch fleet in Saldanha Bay in 1796. His next service was in the West Indies, where, with the 87th (Royal Irish Fusiliers), he shared in the attack on Puerto Rico, the capture of Surinam, and the brigand war in St Lucia.

In 1809 he was called to take part in the Peninsular War, and, joining the army under Wellington, commanded his regiment as major in the operations before Oporto, by which the town was taken from the French.

At the Battle of Talavera he was severely wounded, and had his horse shot under him. For his conduct on this occasion he was afterwards promoted lieutenant-colonel, his commission, on the recommendation of Wellington, being antedated from the day of the duke's despatch. He was thus the first officer who ever received brevet rank for services performed in the field at the head of a regiment. He was next engaged at the battle of Barrosa, at which his regiment captured a French eagle. At the defence of Tarifa the post of danger was assigned to him, and he compelled the enemy to raise the siege. At Vitoria, where Gough again distinguished himself, his regiment captured the baton of Marshal Jourdan. He was again severely wounded at Nivelle, and was soon after created a knight of Charles III by the king of Spain.

At the close of the war he returned home and enjoyed a respite of some years from active service. He next took command of a regiment stationed in the south of Ireland, discharging at the same time the duties of a magistrate during a period of agitation. Gough was promoted to major-general in 1830.

Gough Monument, now located at Chillingham Castle

Seven years later he was sent to India to take command of the Mysore division of the army. But not long after his arrival, the difficulties which led to the first Opium War made the presence of an energetic general on the scene indispensable, and Gough was appointed commander-in-chief of the British forces in China. This post he held during all the operations of the war; and by his great achievements and numerous victories in the face of immense difficulties, he at length enabled the British plenipotentiary, Sir Henry Pottinger, to dictate peace on his own terms.

After the conclusion of the treaty of Nanking in August 1842 the British forces were withdrawn; and before the close of the year Gough, who had been made a GCB in the previous year for his services in the capture of the Canton forts, was created a baronet on 23 December 1842. In August 1843 he was appointed commander-in-chief of the British forces in India, and in December he took the command in person against the Mahrattas, and defeated them at Maharajpur, capturing more than fifty guns. In 1845 occurred the rupture with the Sikhs, who crossed the Sutlej in large numbers, and Sir Hugh Gough conducted the operations against them, being well supported by Lord Hardinge, the governor-general, who volunteered to serve under him. Successes in the hard-fought battles of Mudki and Ferozeshah were succeeded by the victory of Sobraon, and shortly afterwards the Sikhs sued for peace at Lahore.

Hugh Gough was well known for his singular habit of wearing a white coat into battle. The coat was a rallying point for his troops and its appearance on the field promoted both fear and respect in opposition forces.

The services of Sir Hugh Gough were rewarded by his elevation to the peerage of the United Kingdom as Baron Gough of ChingKangFoo in China and of Maharajpore and the Sutlej in the East Indies in April 1846. War in India broke out again in 1848, and again Lord Gough took the field; but the result of the battle of Chillianwalla being equivocal, he was superseded by the home authorities in favor of Sir Charles Napier. Before the news of the supersession arrived Lord Gough had finally defeated the Sikhs in the battle of Gujarat (February 1849). His tactics during the Sikh wars were the subject of an embittered controversy. Lord Gough now returned to England, was raised to the viscountcy of Viscount Gough, of Goojerat in the Punjab and of the City of Limerick, and for the third time received the thanks of both Houses of Parliament. A pension of £2000 per annum was granted to him by parliament, and an equal pension by the East India Company. He did not again see active service. In 1854 he was appointed colonel of the Royal Horse Guards, and two years later he was sent to the Crimea to invest Marshal Aimable Pélissier and other officers with the insignia of the Bath.

Honours were multiplied upon him during his latter years. He was made a knight of St Patrick, being the first knight of the order who did not hold an Irish peerage, was sworn a privy councillor, was named a G.C.S.I., and in November 1862 was made field-marshal.

He was twice married, and left children by both his wives. In 1844, his daughter, Frances Maria, married Field Marshal Sir Patrick Grant.


Our parliamentary columns contain this day full particulars of one of the most gratifying scenes which a legislative assembly can display — the representatives of a great country offering the thanks of the nation to the leaders of her victorious forces upon the conclusion of a war. Had this compliment been omitted, the gallant services in China would fully entitle those in command to niches in Our Gallery; but the Parliament having delighted to honour them, a second reason is afforded for adding to the portrait illustrations of our paper a sketch which we feel certain must be welcome to our readers. The British regiments in China, according to the last statement published in the United Service Journal, are the 18th., the 26th., the 49th., the 57th., and the 98th. Our engraving of their gallant commander Sir Hugh Gough, for which alone we can find space at present, we may speak of with confidence as regards the likeness; the original being carved in ivory, and remarkable for its fidelity. The events of the Chinese campaign are too recent to require recapitulation beyond that which the Secretary for the Colonies, Lord Stanley, thought fit to introduce in the House of Commons on Tuesday last. . . .

Sir Hugh Gough, commanding a force of 4,500 men, 73 ships (including a line-of-battle vessel and ten war steamers), penetrated the Yang-tse-Keang River from the coast 170 miles inland, along the route conquering towns and fortresses (armed with a total of 2,000 guns, all of which Gough's force captured or destroyed) with populations varying from 1,000,000 to 60,000 or 70,000. Sir H. Gough and his second-in-command, Sir W. Parker, at the head of so considerable and highly disciplined an army supported her Majesty's plenipotentiary, Sir Henry Pottinger, 'to dictate peace on the terms prescribed by his sovereign, and they had obtained this peace on terms of entire equality, at the hands of the Emperor of China. (Cheers.)' (117) The Secretary of the Colonies also singled out for praise the officers and men of the East India Company's private army and those of the 'Infant navy of the East India Company' (117), presumably an allusion to the armed steamer Nemesis and the role she played at Nankin. Both Lord Palmerston and the Duke of Wellington added to Lord Stanley's speech of gratitude to the armed forces.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 February 2009 10:54

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