1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sackville, George, 1st Viscount

SACKVILLE, GEORGE, 1st Viscount (1716–1785), generally remembered as Lord George Sackville or Lord George Germain, third son of Lionel Cranfield Sackville, 1st duke of Dorset, was born on the 26th of January 1716. Educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Dublin, he was gazetted captain in the 7th Cathcart’s Horse (now 6th Dragoon Guards) in 1737, and three years later was transferred to Bragg’s regiment of foot (Gloucestershire Regiment) as lieutenant-colonel; immediately afterwards the regiment sailed for active service on the Rhine, and although it was not present at the battle of Dettingen, its lieutenant-colonel was made brevet colonel and aide-de-camp to the king. It was not until two years later that Sackville took part in his first battle, Fontenoy. Wounded in the charge of Cumberland’s infantry column, he was taken to the tent of King Louis XV. to have his wound dressed. Released, by what means does not appear, he was sent home to serve against the Pretender in Scotland. He was given the colonelcy of the 20th (Lancashire Fusiliers), but was too late to take part in the battle of Culloden. In 1747–1748 he was again with the duke of Cumberland in the Low Countries, and in 1749 was transferred to the cavalry, receiving the colonelcy of the 7th (3rd) Irish Horse (Carabineers). With this office he combined those of first secretary to his father, the lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and Irish secretary of war, and a seat in each of the two Houses of Commons at Westminster and Dublin, winning at the same time the repute of being “the gayest man in Ireland except his father.” In 1755 he was promoted major-general, took an English command, and vacated his Irish offices. In 1757 he was made lieutenant-general of the ordnance, and transferred to a fourth colonelcy. In 1758, under the duke of Marlborough, he shared in the ineffective raid on Cancale Bay, and the troops, after a short sojourn in the Isle of Wight, were sent to join the allied army of Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick in Germany. Marlborough died shortly after they landed, and Sackville succeeded him as commander-in-chief of the British contingent. But no sooner had he taken over the command than his haughty and domineering temper estranged him both from his second-in-command, Lord Granby, and the commander-in-chief, Prince Ferdinand. This culminated on the day of Minden (August 1, 1758). The British infantry, aided by some of the Hanoverians, had won a brilliant success, and every man in the army looked to the British cavalry to charge and to make it a decisive victory. But Sackville, in spite of repeated orders from Prince Ferdinand, sullenly refused to allow Granby’s squadrons to advance. The crisis passed, and the victory remained an indecisive success. Popular indignation was unbounded, and Sackville was dismissed from his offices. But his courage, though impugned, was sufficient to make him press for a court-martial, and a court at last assembled in 1760. This pronounced him guilty of disobedience, and adjudged him “unfit to serve his Majesty in any military capacity whatsoever.” The sentence was executed with gratuitous harshness. It was read out on parade to every regiment in the service, with a homily attached, and placed on record in every regimental order book. Further, it was announced in the Gazette that his Majesty had expunged Sackville’s name from the roll of the Privy Council. This, and Sackville’s own dogged perseverance, turned the scale in his favour. No reverses to the British arms occurred to keep alive the memory of his lost opportunity, and in 1763 his name was restored to the list of the Privy Council. Hitherto without party ties in parliament, in 1769 he allied himself with Lord North. To this period belong the famous Junius Letters, with the authorship of which Sackville was erroneously credited. In 1770, under the terms of a will, he assumed the name of Germain. In the same year his coolness and courage in a duel with Captain George Johnstone, M.P., assisted to rehabilitate him, and in 1775, having meantime taken an active part in politics, he became secretary of state for the colonies in the North cabinet. Thus, though still standing condemned as unfit for any military employment, he exercised a powerful and unfortunate influence on the military affairs of the nation. Some of the business of the war department in those days fell to the colonial office, and Germain was practically the director of the war for the suppression of the revolt in the American colonies. What hopes of success there were in such a struggle Germain and the North cabinet dissipated by their misunderstanding of the situation and their friction with the generals and the army in the theatre of war. But this failure was not on the same footing as that of Minden, and in spite of virulent party attacks, King George III., on the resignation of the North ministry, offered him a peerage. Sackville, in characteristic fashion, stipulated for a viscount, as otherwise he would be junior to his secretary, his lawyer and to Amherst, who had been page to his father. There was some opposition to his taking his seat in the House of Lords. But his health was failing and he withdrew from politics, spending his last years as a benevolent and autocratic country magnate. He died at Stoneland Lodge (Buckhurst Park), Sussex, on the 26th of August 1785.