The Generals William Erskine (The Father And The Son)

In reading about the 1811 Napoleonic battle of Casal Novo in Portugal I came across a semi-familiar name, General William Erskine.

My first encounter with the Erskines was reading last year about the 1776 New York campaign conducted by General Howe against George Washington.  William Erskine, a general under Howe and later Cornwallis and Clinton fought at Long Island, Monmouth and Five Mile Run.

Erskine served almost primarily in the New York but also fought alongside the Royal Governor William Tryon and participated in the raid against the Continental depot at Danbury, Connecticut.

Later in the war he governed the eastern end of Long Island and would have had to deal with privateers mostly before participating in the Yorktown campaign.

It's his son however that commands at Casal Novo (a battle I am re-fighting using the JTS title "Bonaparte's Peninsular War)."

Born in 1770 the 2nd Baronet is commissioned into the 23rd foot at the age of 15 and then joins the Dragoons.  He would go on to become a member of Parliament in 1795 upon the death of his father and then receives a commission as a General and is sent to fight in Portugal in 1811.

In Portugal, the 2nd Baronet takes command of the Light division after Robert Craufurd's departure. Wellington wrote this about him: "It is impossible to trust to his judgment in any critical case." He was known for rashness and a little madness.  At Casal Novo his rashness carried the day and he cost the Light division 155 dead when he read headfirst into the retreating French army under Massena.

Erskine would later commit suicide in Lisbon by jumping out of a window after being cashiered out of the service.  You can read about his military career in Portugal here and his father's military career in America here.


Doug Miller said…
Erskine the Younger has the cavalry at Sabugal, too. I remember him from when we played that one!
Chris said…
Hey Doug. Yup! I realized writing this post that I never blogged about that. Wellington forded the river under fire like a champ and Erskine well he frustrated the hell out of me! Well done at Sabugal!