James Abercrombie (British Army general)

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James Abercrombie
James-abercrombie-by-ramsay-ca-1759-60.jpg
General James Abercrombie, by Allan Ramsay
Born 1706[1]
Glassaugh, Banffshire, Scotland
Died 23 April 1781 (aged 74 or 75)[1][2]
Stirling, Stirlingshire
Allegiance  Kingdom of Great Britain
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1711 - 1759
Rank General
Commands held North America
Battles/wars Battle of Fort Ticonderoga

General James Abercrombie or Abercromby (1706 – April 23, 1781)[1][2] was a British Army general and commander-in-chief of forces in North America during the French and Indian War, best known for the disastrous British losses in the 1758 Battle of Carillon.

Early life[edit]

Abercrombie was born in Glassaugh, Banffshire, Scotland [3] to a wealthy family, and was appointed an ensign in the 25th Regiment of Foot at age 11. He was promoted to captain in 1736, and purchased a major's commission in 1742. He was promoted to colonel in 1746, and served in the Flemish Campaign of the War of Austrian Succession.[1] After gaining this experience he was promoted to major-general in 1756.[1]

Seven Years War[edit]

After his promotion, he was ordered to America as second in command to Lord Loudoun.[1] Abercrombie commanded a brigade at Louisbourg in 1757 and became commander-in-chief of the British forces in North America after the departure of John Campbell in December 1757 (see Commander-in-Chief, North America).[1] Regardless of his title, the majority of his decision were predetermined by the ministry in London.

That summer, he was ordered to lead an expedition against Fort Carillon (later known as Fort Ticonderoga), to prepare to take Montreal.[1] Abercrombie was a genius at organization, but vacillated in his leadership to the point where his troops called him Mrs. Nanny Cromby.[citation needed] He managed the remarkable feat of assembling 15,000 troops and moving them and their supplies through the wilderness. Then, on July 8, he directed his troops into a frontal assault on a fortified French position, without the benefit of artillery support. More than 2,000 men were killed or wounded. Eventually his force panicked and fled, and he retreated to his fortified camp south of Lake George. This disaster caused his replacement by General Jeffrey Amherst and his recall to Great Britain in 1759. Despite his failure, he was promoted to lieutenant general in 1759, and general in 1772.[1] On his return to Britain, he sat as a member of parliament, and supported the coercive policy toward the American colonies.

He is virtually unknown in Britain today. A reference to "General Abercrombie" is almost certainly to be taken as a reference to the Scots soldier Sir Ralph Abercrombie.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hoiberg, Dale H., ed. (2010). "Abercrombie, James". Encyclopedia Britannica. I: A-ak Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8. 
  2. ^ a b There is discrepancy on his exact date of death with sources vacillating between the 23rd and the 28th of April
  3. ^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
William Duff
Member of Parliament for Banffshire
1734–1754
Succeeded by
James Duff
Military offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Loudoun
Commander-in-Chief, North America
1757–1758
Succeeded by
The Lord Amherst