James Abercrombie (British Army officer, born 1706)

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James Abercrombie
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 1717 - 1772
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.


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 eleven. 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] With the outbreak of the Seven Years' War in 1756, he was promoted major general and ordered to America as second in command to Lord Loudoun for the upcoming campaigns against the French.[1] Abercrombie commanded a brigade at Louisbourg in 1757 and became Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in North America after Loudoun's departure in December.[1]

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, after his defeat, he was called Mrs. Nanny Cromby. He managed the remarkable feat of assembling fifteen thousand troops and moving them and their supplies through the wilderness. Then, after losing George Howe, 3rd Viscount Howe, his second-in-command, in a skirmish had 7 July while reconnoitring, on 8 July he directed his troops into a frontal assault on a fortified French position, without the benefit of artillery support. More than two thousand men were killed or wounded. Eventually his force panicked and fled, and he retreated to his fortified camp south of Lake George.[4]

This disaster caused in September 1758 his recall to Great Britain and his replacement by General Jeffery Amherst.[5] 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]


Abercrombie was the son of Alexander, also MP for Banffshire, and Helen Meldrum. He married Mary Duff (sister of William Duff, 1st Earl Fife) and they had one daughter.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Parkman, Francis: "Montcalm and Wolfe"
  5. DCB: "Abercrombie, James"

External links

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