Gough, Sir Hugh, first Viscount Gough 1779-1869, field-marshal, born on 3 Nov. 1779, a descendant of Francis Gough, Doctor of Divinity, bishop of Limerick temp. Charles I, was fourth son of George Gough of Woodstone, co. Limerick, by his wife Letitia, daughter of Thomas Bunbury of Lisnavagh and Moyle, co. Carlow. In 1793 he received a commission in the newly formed Limerick city militia (now artillery), of which his father was lieutenant-colonel, and on 7 Aug. 1794 was gazetted ensign in Hon. Robert Ward's corps of foot, whence in October following he was transferred to the 119th, or Colonel Rochford's foot, of which short-lived corps he was adjutant at the age of fifteen. On 6 June 1795 he was promoted lieutenant in the 78th highlanders, on the formation of a second battalion of that regiment, and was present with it at the capture of the Cape of Good Hope in the same year, and at the surrender of the Dutch fleet in Saldanha Bay in 1796. His friends had meanwhile procured his transfer to the 87th Prince of Wales's Irish (since the Royal Irish Fusiliers), with which corps he served against the brigands in St. Lucia, at the capture of Trinidad, the attack on Porto Rico, and the capture of Surinam, continuing with it in the West Indies and at Curaçoa until 1803. In 1803 he got his company in a second battalion of the regiment ordered to be formed at Frome, Somersetshire, by Sir Charles William Doyle [qv.], from men enrolled in the army of reserve in the counties of Tipperary, Galway, and Clonmel. Gough became major in the battalion in 1805, and (Doyle having been sent on special service to Spain) commanded it when it embarked for Portugal on 28 Dec. 1808, and at the battle of Talavera on 28 July 1809, where the Faugh a Ballaghs (Clear the Ways), as this regiment (not the Connaught Rangers, as it is generally stated) was called from its Erse battle-cry, lost very heavily. Gough was severely wounded, and had his horse shot under him. At Lord Wellington's request Gough's commission as lieutenant-colonel was antedated to the battle, he being the first British officer that ever received brevet promotion for service in action at the head of a regiment (Hart, Army List). The battalion was soon after sent to Lisbon (Wellington Suppl. Desp. vi. 376). In 1810 it was with Graham at Cadiz, and formed part of the force that debarked at Algesiraz, and fought the battle of Barossa on 5 March 1811, when Gough, with the 87th and three companies 1st guards, made a famous charge on the French 8th light infantry. An eagle—the first taken in the Peninsular war—was captured by Sergeant Patrick Masterson of the 87th, and an eagle with collar of gold and the figure 8 has ever since been worn as a badge of honour by the royal Irish fusiliers. Graham wrote to General Doyle, the colonel: Your regiment has covered itself with glory. Recommend it and its commander Gough to their illustrious patron, the prince regent. Too much cannot be done for it (Hist. Rec. 87th, p. 52). The battalion afterwards went to Cadiz and Gibraltar, and in October 1811 to Tarifa, and, when Laval attacked the place with ten thousand men, defended the breach in the south-east front, where, as Napier relates (Hist. Peninsular War, bk. xx. chap. v.), a stream of French grenadiers came down the bed of an adjacent torrent, and made a desperate assault upon it on 31 Oct. 1811. The heroic leader of the French fell, dying against the portcullis which closed the breach, yielding up his sword to Gough through the bars. An open breach between two turrets, with the British colours flying, and the word Tarifa, are among the honourable augmentations to the Gough family arms. The battalion with Gough in command was ordered to join Lord Wellington's army in October 1812, and was present at the battle of Vittoria, where Marshal Jourdan's baton was captured by it, and in the subsequent campaigns. Gough was disabled by a very severe wound received at the battle of Nivelle on 10 Nov. 1813. His application for a company in the guards appears to have been unsuccessful (Gurwood, Wellington Despatches, vii. 534). He was knighted at Carlton House on 4 June 1815, and received the freedom of the city of Dublin and a sword of value. He was in command of the 2nd 87th when the battalion was disbanded at Colchester on 1 Feb. 1817. His farewell order and an account of the services of the battalion are given in Cannon's Historical Records, 87th Fusiliers, pp. 41-74. He remained on half-pay until 1819, when he was appointed to the 22nd foot, on its return home, and commanded it most of the time in the south of Ireland during a period of great excitement, until 1826. He then again retired on half-pay. While in command he revived the regimental order of merit established by George III in 1785. It was afterwards discontinued on the introduction in the army of good conduct medals (Fleming, Cat. of Medals). When not in regimental employment Gough's time was chiefly passed on his estate in Tipperary. He was a magistrate for the counties of Cork, Limerick, and Tipperary, and his genial and courteous manners made him a favourite with the gentry with whom he had to act, and to a great extent won the confidence and respect of the peasantry (Webb, Compendium of Irish Biog.).
Gough became a major-general in 1830, was made K.C.B. in 1831, and in 1837 appointed to command the Mysore division of the Madras army. At the conclusion of the first period of the first China war, when the faithlessness of the Chinese commissioners became manifest, Gough was sent from Madras to assume command of the troops at Canton. He arrived on 2 March 1841 (Phillimore, ii. 438). The forts defending Canton were carried and occupied on 26-7 May 1841. For these services Gough was made G.C.B. After the arrival of Admiral Sir William Parker in the following July, Gough commanded the troops in the combined operations which ended with the capture of the great fortified city of Ching-keang-foo and the signing of the treaty of peace at Nanking in 1842. For his share in the work Gough was created a baronet, and received the thanks of parliament and of the East India Company. He returned to Madras, having been made presidency commander-in-chief 16 June 1841, and on 11 Aug. 1843 was appointed commander-in-chief in India.
Soon after his arrival in Bengal Gough assumed command of the so-called army of exercise assembled at Agra in view of difficulties respecting the Gwalior succession. The army entered that state, and a firm government was established in the fortress-city, but the measure was unpalatable to the Mahratta army. A collision with the latter appearing inevitable, it was attacked and routed by Gough with a wing of the army at Maharajpore on 29 Dec. 1843, suffering heavy loss. On the same day the rest of the Mahratta forces were defeated by Major-general John Grey's division at Punniar. Gough again received the thanks of parliament. Lord Ellenborough, then governor-general, appears to have doubted Gough's fitness for the command. In a letter to the Duke of Wellington on 20 April 1844, just before his own removal, he alleges that Gough, despite his many excellent qualities, had not the grasp of mind and the prudence essential to conduct great military operations (Hist. Indian Administration, p. 435). The public has never possessed the materials for an impartial judgment of the difficulties—administrative and other—of Gough's Indian command. On 11 Dec. 1845 occurred the irruption of the Sikh hosts into India in time of peace, which resulted in the first Sikh war. Moving forward a distance of 150 miles with an unprepared force, Gough, loyally supported by Hardinge, the new governor-general, who placed himself under Gough's orders as second in command, defeated the invaders, by dint of sheer hard fighting, at Mudki, Ferozshah, and Sobraon, and was able to dictate terms to the Sikh durbar in Lahore within three months after the first alarm. He was then raised to the peerage as Baron Gough of Ching-keang-foo, China, Maharajpore, and the Sutlej in the East Indies. Three years later the newly annexed Punjaub was in revolt, and the second Sikh war began. Moving forward with all the energy of a younger man to prevent the junction of the Sikh leaders, Gough defeated the enemy at Ramnuggar, and again on 13 Jan. 1849 at Chillianwallah. This was not, as has sometimes been asserted, a drawn battle, but a victory. The losses were very severe, but the effect of the blow to the enemy was visible at Goojerat, and contributed materially to the rapid destruction of the Sikh power. The severe loss was due to failure on the part of a subordinate officer, but Gough's generous nature made him bear the newspaper attacks without a word of self-justification. When the news reached home, an unreasoning clamour arose against the commander-in-chief and his Tipperary tactics. Sir Charles Napier was sent out to supersede him; but before the change could take place Gough had re-established his reputation by his crushing defeat of the Sikh armies at Goojerat on 21 Feb. 1849, followed by their unconditional surrender to the pursuing force under General Gilbert. He vacated the command on 7 May 1849. On his return to England, Gough was raised to the dignity of a viscount, and awarded a pension of 2,000l. a year to himself and the next two heirs to the title. The East India Company voted him thanks and a pension, and the city of London conferred its freedom on him. He saw no more active service. He became a full general in 1854, and was appointed colonel-in-chief of the 60th royal rifles. He was made colonel of the royal horse guards or blues in 1855, on the death of Lord Raglan. The year after he was sent on a special mission to Sebastopol, to invest Marshal Pélissier and other officers of rank with the insignia of the Bath. An account of the ceremony is given in the Times, 25 June 1856. In 1857 he was made K.P., being the first knight of the order not holding an Irish peerage. In 1859 he was made a privy councillor; in 1861 G.C.S.I.; the same year he was made honorary colonel London Irish rifle volunteers. On 9 Nov. 1862 he became field-marshal. Gough, a man of singularly noble presence, is said to have commanded in more general actions than any British officer of the century, the Duke of Wellington excepted. His courage, his innate chivalry, his racy brogue, were all elements of popularity with his soldiers, and their opinion of their chief was endorsed by Sir Charles Napier, who when he took over his command wrote of him: Every one who knows Lord Gough must love the brave old warrior, who is all honour and nobleness of heart — Were his military genius as great as his heart, the duke would be nowhere by comparison (Life and Opinions, iii. 185).
Gough married in 1807 Frances Maria, daughter of General E. Stevens, royal artillery, and by her, who died in 1863, had a son, the second viscount, and four daughters. Gough died at his seat, St. Helens, near Booterstown, co. Dublin, on 2 March 1869, in the ninetieth year of his age.
Foster's Peerage, under Gough
Webb's Compendium of Irish Biog.
Philippart's Royal Mil. Cal. 1820
Hart's Army Lists
Cannon's Hist. Rec. 87th Fusiliers
Napier's Hist. Peninsular War
Phillimore's Life of Admiral Sir William Parker
The War in India, Desp. &c., London, 1846
W. Broadfoot's Career of Major Geo. Broadfoot, C.B., London, 1888, chaps. x.-xvi., and latter portion of annotated list of authorities prefixed to that work
P. R. Innes's Hist. Bengal European Regiment, now Roy. Munster Fusiliers, London, 1885, under dates 1845-9
E. J. Thackwell's Narrative of the Second Sikh War, London, 1851
Lawr. Shadwell's Life of Lord Clyde, London, 1881, vol. i. chaps. iv-vi.
Macpherson's Rambling Reminiscences of the Punjab Campaign, 1848-9, London, 1889
Parl. Debates, 1842-9
Hist. Indian Administration of Lord Ellenborough, London, 1854
Life and Opinions of General Sir Charles Napier, London, 1856
Ann. Regs. 1841-69
Times, 3 March and (will) 8 May 1869
Contributor: H. M. C. [Henry Manners Chichester]