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Field Marshal The Right Honourable
The Lord Strathnairn
Lord Strathnairn by Carlo Pellegrini, 1870
Born (1801-04-06)April 6, 1801
Died October 16, 1885(1885-10-16) (aged 84)
Place of birth Berlin, Germany
Place of death Paris, France
Buried at Christchurch, Hampshire
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1820-1885
Rank Field Marshal
Commands held Royal Horse Guards
Bombay Army
Battles/wars Syrian War
Crimean War
Indian Mutiny
Awards GCB, GCIS, Bt

Field Marshal Hugh Henry Rose, 1st Baron Strathnairn GCB, GCSI, PC (6 April 1801 – 16 October 1885) was a British Army field-marshal and politician.

Early life

Rose was the third son of Sir George Henry Rose of Sandhills, Christchurch, Hampshire (minister plenipotentiary at the Prussian court) and was born at Berlin. He was educated in Berlin, and received military instruction at the cadet school. In 1819 he went up to St John's College, Cambridge.[1] He entered the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders as an ensign on 8 June 1820, but was transferred to the 19th Foot and quartered in Ireland where he took part in preserving order during the "Ribbon" outrages. He was promoted rapidly - to a lieutenancy in 1821, a captaincy in 1824, and an unattached majority at the end of 1826. He was brought into the 92nd Highlanders as a regimental major in 1829, and the following year was appointed equerry to HRH the Duke of Cambridge.[2]

While in Ireland with the 92nd Highlanders, Rose again found himself employed in maintaining law and order. He rendered important services in suppressing disaffected meetings, but his conduct was so courteous to the ringleaders that he incurred no personal hostility. In 1833 he accompanied his regiment to Gibraltar, and three years later to Malta,[2] where he exerted himself with so much zeal during a serious outbreak of cholera in attending to the sick soldiers that his conduct elicited an official approval from the governor and commander-in-chief.


In 1839 Rose was promoted, by purchase, to an unattached lieutenant-colonelcy. In the following year Rose was selected, with other officers and detachments of Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers, for special service in Syria under the orders of the foreign office. Under Brigadier-General Michell, RA and in conjunction with the Turkish troops and the British fleet on the coast they fought for the expulsion of Mehemet Ali's Egyptian army from Syria.[2] Sir Stratford Canning sent Rose from Constantinople on a diplomatic mission to Ibrahim Pasha, commanding the Egyptian army in Syria, and after its execution he was attached, as deputy adjutant-general, to the staff of Omar Pasha, who landed at Jaffa with a large Turkish force from the British fleet.

Rose distinguished himself in several engagements, and was twice wounded at El Mesden in January 1841. He was mentioned in despatches, and received from the sultan the order of Nishan Iftihar in diamonds, the war medal and a sabre of honour. The king of Prussia sent him the order of St John, and expressed his pleasure that "an early acquaintance" had so gallantly distinguished himself. Shortly after he succeeded to the command of the British detachment in Syria with the local rank of colonel and in April 1841 he was appointed British consul-general for Syria.[2]

For seven years, amidst political complications and intrigues, Rose did much to arrest the horrors of civil war, prevent the feuds between the Maronites and Druzes coming to a head, and administer justice impartially. On one occasion in 1841, when he found the Maronites and Druzes drawn up in two lines and firing at each other, he rode between them at imminent risk to his life and by the sheer force of a stronger will stopped the conflict. In the first year of his appointment his actions saved the lives of several hundred Christians at Deir el Kbama in the Lebanon. His services were warmly recognized by Lord Aberdeen in the House of Lords and he was made Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB).[2]

In 1845 he rescued 600 Christians belonging to the American mission at Abaye, in the Lebanon, from the hands of the Druzes, and brought them to Beirut. In 1848, during the outbreak of cholera at Beirut, he was most devoted in his attention to the sick and dying. At the end of this year he left Syria on leave of absence and did not return as Lord Palmerston appointed him secretary of embassy at Constantinople in January 1851. In the following year he was chargé d'affaires[2] in the absence of Sir Stratford Canning during the crisis of the question of the "holy places" and he so strengthened the hands of the Porte that the Russian attempt to force a secret treaty upon Turkey was foiled.

Crimean War

During the war with Russia in 1854–56 Rose was the British commissioner at the headquarters of the French army, with the local rank of brigadier-general. At Varna he succeeded in quenching a fire which threatened the French small-arm ammunition stores, and received the thanks of Marshal St Arnaud, who recommended him for the Legion of Honour. He was present at the battle of the Alma, and was wounded on the following day. At Inkerman[2] he reconnoitred the ground between the British and French armies under withering fire from the Russian pickets and his horse was shot under him.

He distinguished himself on several other occasions in maintaining verbal communication between the allied forces and by his tact and judgment contributed to the good feeling that existed between the two armies. His services were acknowledged by the commanders-in-chief of both armies and he received the medal with three clasps and the thanks of Parliament, was promoted to major-general, and was made KCB[2] and commander of the Legion of Honour.


On the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny in 1857 Rose was given command of the Poona division.[2] He arrived in September, and shortly after took command of the newly created Central Indian Field Force made up mostly of loyal sepoys and elements of the army maintained by the Nizam of Hyderabad.[3]

In January 1858 he marched from Mhow, captured Rathgarh after a short siege and defeated the raja of Banpur near Barodia in the same month. He then relieved Saugor, captured Garhakota and the fort of Baroda, and early in March his army defeated the rebels in the Madanpur Pass and captured Madanpur[2] and Chanderi.

He arrived at Jhansi on 10 March and during the siege defeated a relieving force under Tatya Tope at the Betwa on 1 April. Most of Rose's force was locked up in the siege and so he could only field 1,540 men against Tatya Tope's army of 20,000 troops and 28 guns.[4] With the advantage of Punjabi-Afghan sepoys he was able to rout the enemy, inflicting a total loss of 1500 men and all of their stores. Jhansi was stormed and the greater part of the city taken on the 3rd with the rest on the following day and the fort on the 5th. However the Queen, Rani Lakshmibai, known as the "Rani of Jhansi", defended the fort bravely with her troops for 11 days. Hugh Rose's forces could not catch her as she made an unprecedented escape to Kalpi. Kunch was captured after severe fighting in a temperature of 110 °F in the shade on 7 May. Rose himself was only able to hold out by medical treatment and there were many casualties due to the heat.

Under the same conditions Rose's force marched on Kalpi. The rebels came out in number on 22 May to attack his small force, exhausted by hard marching and weakened by sickness, but after a severe fight under a burning sun, and in a suffocating hot wind, were routed and Kalpi occupied the following day. Having completed his programme, Rose obtained sick leave, and Sir Robert Napier was appointed to succeed him, when news came of the defection of Sindhia's troops and the occupation of Gwalior by Tantia Tope. Rose at once resumed command and moved on Gwalior by forced marches, winning the battle of Morar on 16 June. Leaving Napier there he attacked and captured the city of Gwalior on the 19th. The fortress was stormed and won the following day and Napier gained a signal victory over the retreating enemy at Jaora-Alipur on the 24th.[2]

Hugh Rose, sitting third from left, with John Lawrence, Viceroy of India and other council members. c. 1864

Rose then handed over command of the Punjabi-Afghan sepoys to Napier and returned to Poona. Despite his considerable contribution to the suppression of the Indian Mutiny his merit was not fully recognized at the time owing to official jealousy that he had superior Punjabi-Afghan sepoys. For his services he received the medal with clasp, the thanks of both Houses of Parliament, the regimental colonelcy of the 45th Foot, and was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB). A legal quibble meant that after protracted litigation the Central India force was not allowed its share of prize-money, a personal loss to Rose of £30,000. Rose was promoted lieutenant-general for his "eminent services" in February 1860, and the next month was appointed commander-in-chief of the Bombay Army, and on the departure of Lord Clyde from India in the following June he succeeded him as Commander-in-Chief, India.[2]

During his tenure as commander-in-chief Rose improved the discipline of the army and enabled the amalgamation of the East India Company's army into the Queen's army to be carried out without friction. He was created KSI in 1861 and GCSI in 1866.[2]

Later life and legacy

Sandhills, Christchurch, Dorset, one of Hugh Rose's residences

On his return home he was made an honorary DCL of Oxford University. Rose was Commander-in-Chief of British forces in Ireland from 1865 until 1870,[2] was raised to the peerage in 1866 as Baron Strathnairn, of Strathnairn in the County of Nairn and of Jhansi in the East Indies,[2][5] transferred to the colonelcy of the 92nd Foot, and appointed president of the army transport committee. In 1866 and 1867 his leadership enabled the Irish government to deal successfully with the Fenian conspiracy.[2] He was promoted to general in 1867.

On relinquishing the Irish command he was made an honorary LL.D. of Trinity College, Dublin. For the rest of his life he mainly lived in London. He was gazetted to the colonelcy of the Royal Horse Guards in 1869, and promoted to Field Marshal in June 1877. He died in Paris on 16 October 1885, aged 84, when the barony became extinct. He was buried with military honours in the graveyard of the Priory Church, Christchurch, Hampshire.[2] An equestrian bronze statue, by E. Onslow Ford, RA, was erected to his memory at Knightsbridge, London. (This statue was removed in 1931.) He was never married. See: Sir Owen Tudor Burne, Clyde and Strathnairn, "Rulers of India Series" (1891).


  1. "Rose, Hugh Henry (RS819HH)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 Hugh Rose at Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  3. Rainer Jerosch Rani of Jhansi, Rebel against will. Aakar Books 2007, chapter 10
  4. Saul David The Indian Mutiny 1857. Penguin 2002, p. 357
  5. "No. 23146". 31 July 1866. 

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911) Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.) Cambridge University Press 

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Henry Somerset
C-in-C, Bombay Army
Succeeded by
Sir William Mansfield
Preceded by
The Lord Clyde
Commander-in-Chief, India
Succeeded by
The Lord Sandhurst
Preceded by
Sir George Brown
Commander-in-Chief, Ireland
Succeeded by
The Lord Sandhurst
Preceded by
The Viscount Gough
Colonel of the Royal Horse Guards
Succeeded by
Sir Patrick Grant
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Strathnairn

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