Edward Pakenham

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The Honourable
Sir Edward Pakenham
GCB
Ned Pakenham1.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Longford Borough
In office
1799–1800
Preceded by Hon. Thomas Pakenham
Succeeded by Hon. Thomas Pakenham
Personal details
Born (1778-03-19)19 March 1778
County Westmeath, Ireland
Died 8 January 1815(1815-01-08) (aged 36)
New Orleans, United States of America
Military service
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1794–1815
Rank Major-general
Battles/wars Irish Rebellion of 1798
Battle of Copenhagen
Peninsular War
War of 1812 
Awards Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath
Army Gold Cross

The Honourable Sir Edward Pakenham GCB (pro. pake-en-ham) (19 March 1778 – 8 January 1815), was an Anglo-Irish Army Officer and Politician. He was the brother-in law of the Duke of Wellington, with whom he served in the Peninsular War. Appointed as commander of British forces in North America in 1814, he was killed in action at the Battle of New Orleans.

Early life[edit]

Pakenham was born at Pakenham Hall (now known as Tullynally Castle), County Westmeath, Ireland to Edward Pakenham, 2nd Baron Longford and the former Catherine Rowley. He was educated at The Royal School, Armagh. His family purchased his commission as a lieutenant in the 92nd Regiment of Foot when he was only sixteen. Between 1799 and 1800, Pakenham also represented Longford Borough in the Irish House of Commons.

Early service[edit]

Known as 'Ned' to his friends, he served with the 23rd Light Dragoons against the French in Ireland during the 1798 Rebellion and later served in Nova Scotia, Barbados, and Saint Croix. He led his men in an attack on Saint Lucia in 1803, where he was wounded. He also fought in the Danish campaign at the Battle of Copenhagen (1807) and in Martinique against the French Empire, where he received another wounding. In 1806, his sister Catherine married Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington.

Peninsular War[edit]

Pakenham, as adjutant-general, joined his famous in-law, Wellesley, in the Peninsular War. He commanded a regiment in the Battle of Bussaco in 1810 and in 1811 fought in the Battle of Fuentes de Onoro to defend the besieged fortress of Almeida, helping to secure a British victory. In 1812 he was praised for his performance at Salamanca in which he commanded the Third Division and hammered onto the flank of the extended French line. In the following years he was appointed a Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1813, fought at the Battle of Toulouse in 1814 and received the Grand Cross to the Order of the Bath in 1815. He also received the Army Gold Cross and clasps for the battles of Martinique, Busaco, Fuentes d'Oñoro, Salamanca, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthez, and Toulouse.

War of 1812[edit]

Death of Pakenham at the Battle of New Orleans

In September 1814, Pakenham, having been promoted to the rank of major-general, accepted an offer to replace General Robert Ross as commander of the British North American army, after Ross was killed during the skirmishing prior to the Battle of North Point near Baltimore.

The next year during the Battle of New Orleans while rallying his troops near the enemy line, grapeshot from US artillery shattered his left knee and killed his horse. As he was helped to his feet by his senior ADC (aide-de-camp), Major Duncan MacDougall, Pakenham was wounded a second time in his right arm. After he mounted MacDougall's horse, more grapeshot ripped through his spine, fatally wounding him, and he died as he was being carried off the battlefield on a stretcher at the age of 36. His last words were reputed to be telling MacDougall to find General Lambert to tell him to assume command as well as "Tell him... tell Lambert to send forward the reserves."[1] The battle ended in defeat for the British. The American commander was Major General Andrew Jackson, who would go onto become the President of the United States. A general ceasefire had already been declared by the Treaty of Ghent, signed on 24 December 1814, but as peace was not yet ratified in Washington as required by the treaty, the nations were still formally at war. The news of the treaty did not reach the combatants until February, several weeks after the battle.[2]

Legacy[edit]

Wellington had held Pakenham in high regard and was deeply saddened by news of his death, commenting:

We have but one consolation, that he fell as he lived, in the honourable discharge of his duty and distinguished as a soldier and a man. I cannot but regret that he was ever employed on such a service or with such a colleague. The expedition to New Orleans originated with that colleague... The Americans were prepared with an army in a fortified position which still would have been carried, if the duties of others, that is of the Admiral (Sir Alexander Cochrane), had been as well performed as that of he whom we now lament.[3]

There is a statue in his memory at the South Transept of St Paul's Cathedral in London. His body was returned in a cask of rum and buried in the Pakenham family vault in Killucan in Westmeath, Ireland.

There is a small village in Ontario, Canada named in honour of the general's short visit there and his role in the War of 1812. The village is located on the Mississippi River which originates from Mississippi Lake and empties into the Ottawa River.

There is also a suburb of Melbourne, Australia named after him.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Robin Reilly, "The British At The Gates", GP Putnam's Sons pub., 1974, page 291.
  2. ^ Remini, Robert V. (1999). The battle of New Orleans. New York: Penguin Books. p. 193-194: "Then in mid-February dispatches arrived from Europe announcing that the commissioners in Ghent had signed a treaty of peace with their British counterparts and that the War of 1812 had ended." "the Senate of the United States unanimously (35-0) ratified the Treaty of Ghent on 16 February 1815. Now the war was officially over."
  3. ^ Holmes, Richard (2003). Wellington: The Iron Duke Page 206, Harper and Collins

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by
Hon. Thomas Pakenham
Henry Stewart
Member of Parliament for Longford Borough
with Hon. Thomas Pakenham

1799–1800
Succeeded by
Hon. Thomas Pakenham
Thomas Borrowes