of Britain's most brilliant commanders was the aristocratic Scot,
but with a volcanic temper that earnt him the nickname "Black
Bob", Craufurd was a harsh disciplinarian who did not tolerate
weakness in any of his men.
the infamous retreat towards Corunna,
Craufurd stopped his Light Division to administer floggings in a
successful bid to maintain discipline. He even ordered a soldier
to drop an officer he was carrying across a river.
Harris reports: "The sight of such a piece of effeminacy was
enough to raise the choler of the general and, in a very short time,
he was plunging and splashing through the water after them both.
him down sir! Put him down! I desire you to put that officer down
the drenched officer he then said: "Return back, sir, and go
through the water like the others. I will not allow my officers
to ride upon men's backs through the rivers - all must take their
share alike here."
joined the army in 1779 and rose to captain before being placed
on half-pay four years later. He used the time to further his military
studies and traveled through Europe seeing how other armies were
training their troops.
to Britain in 1787, he joined the 75th regiment and quickly found
himself training it to travel to India and fight against Tippoo
Sultan, a renegade Indian leader.
performance was well noted, but the fiery Scot resigned his commission
when passed over for promotion to major. He returned to Europe and
served as a liaison officer with the Austrians in Holland and Italy.
the 60th he was a staff officer in Ireland (1798) and Holland (1799)
and during the 1807 debacle in Buenos Aires, Craufurd was forced
to surrender his brigade of light troops.
year later he was with Sir John Moore in
Spain and on the dreadful retreat to Corunna he commanded the British
rearguard. He held his men together with an iron will that, backed
by brutal force, saved thousands of lives.
and his Light Brigade returned to the Peninsula in 1809 and, despite
a soul-breaking 42 mile march (75 kilometres) in just over a day,
missed the battle of Talavera.
1810, and with a now-reinforced division under his command, Craufurd
led a celebrated defence along the Agueda River against French forces
more than six-times his size. At the River Coa, however, his tactical
sense let him down when he positioned his men badly and was almost
cut off by Marshal Ney's troops.
fought admirably at Bussaco and
Fuentes de Onoro, where he helped
rescue an about-to-be trapped British division and then won undying
fame by pulling his men out under fierce assault from French cavalry.
The retreat across two miles of open ground cost him some 50 men.
was mortally wounded leading his men in the assault on Ciudad
the way to his funeral troops of his Light Brigade changed from
their route to deliberately walk through a river as a mark of respect
for their much feared, but loved, commander.
Harris, a respected chronicler of the wars, said of his general:
"I shall never forget Craufurd if I live to be 100 years, I
think. He was everything in a soldier."