Sir Thomas Graham

British General
Viceroy of Italy
1748 -1843

Sir Thomas GrahamSir Thomas Graham certainly had one of the more unusual British army careers - as he took up arms at the age of 50.

Graham joined the army to fight the French after an incident in 1792 saw Revolutionary officials open his wife's coffin as he was returning her body to England for burial.

Furious with the treatment of his beloved he volunteered to help the British efforts at Toulon and then raised his own regiment - the 90th.

Despite his obvious passion and talent, Graham was not initially given a permanent commission, but still served with the regiment as its colonel at Quiberon and in 1796 became a liaison officer with the Austrians in Italy.

Trapped by the French inside Mantua with General Wurmser, the middle-aged Graham staged a daring escape during a severe snowstorm.

His next campaigns came with Sir John Moore, firstly to Sweden in 1808 and then into Spain.

After Corunna his temporary status was made permanent and, before setting out on the Walcheren Expedition, he was promoted to general. Sickness saw him sent back to Britain, but a year later he took command of the British troops at Cadiz.

Under siege in 1811, Graham went on to the offensive and caught the enemy unawares. He later defeated them at the battle of Barrossa.

Illness struck again just prior to the battle of Salamanca and he did not return to the Peninsula until 1813 when he arrived just in time to play a major part at Vitoria.

At the head of 20,000 men, Graham was sent on a wide hooking operation to threaten the French flank and rear. Its success cut the French supply lines and line of retreat.

His follow-up capture of San Sebastian was his last major success as sickness again forced his return to Britain.

His last military assignment came in 1814 when he unsuccessfully tried to take Antwerp.

For the last 30 years of his life, Graham spent his time pursuing his great interests of farming and politics.


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