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James Inglis Hamilton

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James Inglis Hamilton
File:James Inglis Hamilton.Jpeg
James Inglis Hamilton c. 1756–60
Portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds
Born before 1742
Died 27 July 1803
Murdostoun, Lanarkshire, Scotland
Buried at Murdostoun plot in Kirk O’ Shotts graveyard (Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.)
Allegiance  Great Britain
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1755–1803
Rank General
Battles/wars Seven Years' War

American War of Independence

French Revolutionary Wars


General James Inglis Hamilton,[1] (before 1742 – 27 July 1803) was a Scottish soldier. He enlisted in the British Army in 1755 and commanded several regiments. He was the only colonel of the 113th Regiment of Foot. During the Seven Years' War (1756–1763), Hamilton fought in the Siege of Fort St Philip, the Raid on St Malo, and the Capture of Belle Île.

In the American War of Independence (1775–1783), Hamilton fought in the Invasion of Canada and the Battle of Freeman's Farm, commanding the middle column during the latter. He was in the Convention Army, imprisoned in Cambridge, Massachusetts after its surrender following the Battles of Saratoga. While a prisoner of war, he adopted James Hamilton, the son of a non-commissioned officer in the British Army.

After his brother's death, Hamilton took over Murdostoun, where he renovated the castle extensively. Under the 15th Regiment of Foot, Hamilton participated in Battle of Martinique as well as the Invasion of Guadeloupe in the French Revolutionary Wars. He died on 27 July 1803 at Murdostoun and is buried at Kirk O’ Shotts graveyard. His adopted son took over Murdostoun before dying at the Battle of Waterloo.

Early life

Very little is known of Hamilton's early life. He was the third son of Alexander (died 1768)[2] and Margaret Hamilton (died 1742).[2] His two older brothers were Alexander (died 1783)[3] and Gavin Hamilton (1723–1798),[2] the latter a painter and archeologist in Rome.[4] Inglis was added to the family name in 1719 as a condition of the will by which Alexander Inglis bequeathed Murdostoun to his nephew Alexander Hamilton, James's father.[2]

Seven Years' War

Hamilton enlisted in the British Army on 28 February 1755 and was stationed at Portsmouth.[5] He first saw action in June 1756 at the Siege of Fort St Philip, part of the Seven Years' War.[6] Assigned to the 34th Regiment of Foot,[7] he was one of the 2,800 British soldiers fighting under the command of William Blakeney against 15,000 Frenchmen under the Duke de Richelieu and Roland-Michel Barrin de La Galissonière.[8] The French sailed to Fort St. Philip and forced the British to surrender. During the siege, Admiral John Byng sailed there with a relief group, hoping to save the island for the British, but was unsuccessful.[8] The French killed or wounded 400 British in the French victory.[8]

The British fleet attacks and captures Belle Île in 1761.

Hamilton fought in the Raid on St Malo in June 1758.[9][10] The British landed near St Malo, at first planning to attack the town. However, they decided to destroy shipping first and attack the town later.[11] Finding that to occupy the town would require a full siege, for which they had insufficient troops, they occupied St Servan, where they burned over one hundred vessels including thirty privateers.[12] British ships retreated after seeing a large French force, but sailed around the coast for a few weeks seeking another place to attack. Even though the Raid on St Malo was small and little damage was done, it is considered a British victory.[13]

In 1761, Hamilton took part in the Capture of Belle Île[6] as one of the 5,000 British troops led by Studholme Hodgson.[14] The first attempt by the British was unsuccessful and lost approximately 500 troops.[14] With reinforcements, a second attempt succeeded on 7 June 1761.[14]

On 17 October 1761,[15] while holding the rank of major,[16] Hamilton became major commandant (colonel) of the 113th Regiment of Foot.[17][18] It was formed from independent companies and served as a depot for sending drafts to Highland regiments serving overseas. The regiment disbanded in 1763, and Hamilton retired on half pay.[15] He became a lieutenant-colonel on 25 May 1772.[19]

American War of Independence

In 1774, Hamilton commanded the 21st Regiment of Foot in the American War of Independence;[20] General John Burgoyne said that he "was the whole time engaged and acquitted himself with great honor, activity, and good conduct."[21] Early in 1776, while in the 21st Regiment, Hamilton accompanied General Guy Carleton in the British response to the Continental Army's 1775 invasion of Quebec.[19] On 15 September 1776 he was appointed temporary commander of the 1st Brigade when Brigadier General Nesbit fell ill.[19] Upon Nesbit's death, Hamilton was promoted to brigadier.[19] He was assigned to the 2nd Brigade, which consisted of the 34th, 53rd, 62nd, and 20th Regiments of Foot.[22] It was originally intended to include Hamilton's 21st Regiment of Foot in the brigade, but it was replaced by the 53rd.[19]

Saratoga campaign

Hamilton helped General Burgoyne organize troops for his campaign to divide the rebellious provinces.[19] He was assigned to the 1st Brigade, comprising the 9th, 47th, and 53rd Regiments of Foot.[19] Later, when Henry Watson Powell transported the 62nd Regiment to Fort Ticonderoga, the 1st and 2nd Brigades were amalgamated.[19]

On 19 September 1777, in Stillwater, New York, Hamilton commanded 1,100 men of the centre column, consisting of the 9th, 20th, 21st, and 62nd Regiments of Foot, which attacked the heights at the Battle of Freeman's Farm.[23] His column was arrayed with the 21st on the right, the 20th on the left, the 62nd in the middle, and the 9th in reserve.[24] To his left, Friedrich Adolf Riedesel commanded the 47th Regiment of Foot and some German troops.[25] To Hamilton's right, Simon Fraser commanded the 24th Regiment of Foot along with light infantry and grenadiers.[25] Even though Hamilton was considered the commander, Burgoyne led the attack.[26]

File:Encampment of the convention army at Charlotte Ville in Virginia.jpg
Encampment of the convention army at Charlotteville in Virginia after they had surrendered to the Americans.

The centre column migrated toward the southwest to meet up with the right column.[27] During the battle, Colonel Daniel Morgan of the United States led a charge, but Hamilton's men turned it back and the British won the battle.[27] Burgoyne had gained the field of battle, but suffered nearly 600 casualties,[27] mostly in Hamilton's centre column, where the 62nd was reduced to the size of a single company and three quarters of the artillery men were killed or wounded.[28] American losses were nearly 300 killed and seriously wounded.[29]

In the next battle, the Battle of Bemis Heights, Hamilton was not as engaged as he was at Freeman's Farm: he was the guard of the camp near the heights.[30] He was in the Convention Army that surrendered after the battle,[6] among about 5,900 troops that surrendered at Saratoga.[31] The prisoners arrived at Cambridge, Massachusetts on 8 November 1777.[7] William Phillips commanded the Convention Army until he was exchanged for American General Benjamin Lincoln in 1780; then Hamilton became the commander.[32] While a prisoner of war, Hamilton adopted a boy named Jamie Anderson (1777–1815), the son of Sergeant Major William Anderson of the 21st Foot.[33] Hamilton name was "signed to the parole given by the officers ... in December".[7] The Convention Army had to move to Charlottesville, Virginia and arrived around January 1779.[34] Hamilton was released on 3 September 1781,[35] subject to the condition that he could not travel to America until the war was over.[36]

Later life

File:Murdostoun Castle - - 150219.jpg
Murdostoun Castle (2006). Hamilton made modifications to it, and it is where he died.

After his exchange, Hamilton returned to Britain,[32] where he funded his adopted son's education at Glasgow University.[33] Because of his high rank, Hamilton was able to obtain a commission for his son, who became a cornet in 1792.[33] The boy changed his name to James Hamilton when he enlisted in the British Army.[37]

Around 1790, Hamilton made various renovations to Murdostoun: filling the turret staircase and the old dungeons, adding a parapet running round the roof-line, and changing the original courtyard.[38] On his brother Galvin's death in 1798, Hamilton took over Murdostoun. He came to be considered as one of the most influential freeholders in Lanarkshire.[20]

Hamilton was the colonel of the 15th Regiment of Foot from 22 August 1792 to 1794, during which he took part in the 1790s West Indies Campaign. The 15th Foot was awarded the battle honour Martinique 1794 (5 February – 25 March).[39] During the battle, the 15th Foot was a part of the First Brigade, which consisted of the 39th and 43rd Regiment of Foot and was led by Sir C. Gordon.[40]

The regiment also saw service at Guadeloupe (12 April) the same year.[39] He was colonel of his old regiment, the 21st Foot, from 1794 to 1803.[41] While with them he was promoted to lieutenant-general on 26 January 1797 and to full general on 29 April 1802.[32] Hamilton died on his estate in Scotland on 27 July 1803.[42] On 18 August 1803, his son, who was his only heir, took over Murdostoun.[43] James was killed while commanding the Royal Scots Greys at the Battle of Waterloo.[43]

See also

Military offices
New regiment Colonel of the 113th Regiment of Foot
17 October 1761[15] – 1763[16]
Preceded by
Sir William Fawcett[44]
Colonel of the 15th Regiment of Foot
22 August 1792[32] – 20 June 1794[44]
Succeeded by
Henry Watson Powell[44]
Preceded by
Hon. James Murray[41]
Colonel of the 21st Regiment of Foot
20 June 1794[41] – 27 July 1803
Succeeded by
Hon. William Gordon[41]


  1. In his obituary, he is called "James Inglis Hamilton"; however, on the British Army Lists and the Cambridge parole he is listed as just "James Hamilton".
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Blake, et. al., p. 1039
  3. Ross, p. 362
  4. Myrone, p. 52
  5. Army list, p. 96
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Drake, p.402
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Burgoyne (1860), p. 23
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Borneman, p. 63
  9. Burgoyne (1860), p. 22
  10. Hadden, et al., p. 468
  11. Anderson, p. 299
  12. Steele & Rhoden, p. 210
  13. Anderson, p. 300
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Hunt & Poole, p. 15
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Hadden, et al., pp. 468–469
  16. 16.0 16.1 "113th Regiment of Foot (Royal Highlanders)". The National Archives. Retrieved 2 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Adam & Innes, p. 452
  18. "113th Regiment of Foot (Royal Highlanders)". Archived from the original on 16 October 2007. Retrieved 30 October 2011. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 19.7 Hadden, et al., p. 469
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Murdostoun Estate: History of the Lands of Murdostoun". Archived from the original on 16 September 2011. Retrieved 24 July 2011. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Burgoyne (1780), p.49
  22. Ketchum, p. 136
  23. Stephenson, pp. 303–304
  24. Nickerson, p. 310
  25. 25.0 25.1 Ketchum, p. 357
  26. Cummings, Scott. "Battle of Saratoga". The Patriot Resource. Archived from the original on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 2 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 "The Battle of Saratoga (First)/ Freeman's Farm". American Wars 101. 24 July 2011. Retrieved 24 July 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Ketchum, pp. 368–369
  29. Nickerson, p. 319
  30. Anburey, p. 436
  31. Morrissey, p. 86
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 Hadden, et al., p. 470
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 Summerville, pp. 189–193
  34. "Convention Army – The Barracks". Marker History. Retrieved 4 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. Almon & Pownall, p. 64
  36. Rickard, John (4 September 2003). "Convention Army". History of War. Retrieved 3 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. Dalton, p. 59
  38. "Murdostoun". Salsburgh Heritage Group. Retrieved 23 July 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  39. 39.0 39.1 Baker, p. 256
  40. Fortescue, p. 345
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 41.3 Great Britain War Office, p. 776
  42. Urban, p. 791
  43. 43.0 43.1 Dunbar, p. 3
  44. 44.0 44.1 44.2 Great Britain War Office, p. 775


External links