Brackenbury, Charles Booth (DNB01)

BRACKENBURY, CHARLES BOOTH (1831–1890), major-general, born in London on 7 Nov. 1831, was third son of William Brackenbury of Aswardby, Lincolnshire, by Maria, daughter of James Atkinson of Newry, co. Down, and widow of James Wallace. He belonged to an old Lincolnshire family, which has been well represented in nearly all the British wars of the nineteenth century. William Brackenbury served in the 61st foot, like his elder brother, Sir Edward Brackenbury [q. v.], and was severely wounded at Talavera and Salamanca.

Charles Brackenbury obtained a cadetship at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, on 8 July 1847, was commissioned as second lieutenant in the royal artillery on 19 Dec. 1850, and promoted lieutenant on 27 Sept. 1852. He served in the Crimea in 1855–6 with the chestnut troop of the horse artillery. He received the medal with clasp for the siege and fall of Sebastopol, and the Turkish medal. He was promoted second captain on 17 Nov. 1857, and was sent to Malta. In March 1860 he was appointed assistant-instructor in artillery at the Royal Military Academy, and in February 1864 assistant-director of artillery studies at Woolwich. He became first captain on 9 Feb. 1865, and was one of the boundary commissioners under the Reform Act of 1867.

During the war of 1866 in Germany he was military correspondent of the ‘Times’ with the Austrian army, and was present at the battle of Königgratz. He was again ‘Times’ correspondent in the war of 1870–1, when he accompanied Prince Frederick Charles in the campaign of Le Mans; and in the Russo-Turkish war of 1877, when he crossed the Balkans with Gourko.

He became regimental major on 5 July 1872, and lieutenant-colonel on 15 Jan. 1876. He joined the intelligence branch of the war office on 1 April 1874, and translated the second part of ‘Reforms in the French Army,’ officially published in that year. On 1 April 1876 he was appointed superintending officer of garrison instruction at Aldershot, and on 1 July 1880 superintendent of the gunpowder factory at Waltham Abbey. He was promoted colonel in the army on 15 Jan. 1881, and in the regiment on 1 Oct. 1882. He commanded the artillery in the south-eastern district, as colonel on the staff, from 8 May 1886 till 2 June 1887, when he was appointed director of artillery studies at Woolwich. His title was changed on 1 Oct. 1889 to ‘director of the artillery college,’ and he was given the temporary rank of major-general.

He died suddenly on 20 June 1890 from failure of the heart, when travelling by rail, and was buried with military honours at Plumstead cemetery. On 6 April 1854 he married Hilda Eliza, daughter of Archibald Campbell of Quebec, her majesty's notary, and he had six sons and three daughters. Two of his sons joined the Indian staff corps, and died in India—one, Charles Herbert, of typhoid fever contracted in the Bolan Pass in 1885; the other, Lionel Wilhelm, killed at Manipur in 1891.

Few men had seen so much of modern warfare on a large scale as Charles Brackenbury, and no one did more to spread sound ideas in England about the tactical changes demanded by the changes in weapons. He was a frequent contributor to the ‘Times,’ and often lectured at the United Service Institution.

His chief works and papers were: 1. ‘European Armaments in 1867’ (based on letters to the ‘Times’), 1867, 8vo. 2. ‘The Constitutional Forces of Great Britain,’ 1869, 8vo. 3. ‘Foreign Armies and Home Reserves’ (from the ‘Times’), 1871, 8vo. 4. ‘Frederick the Great,’ 1884, 8vo (Military Biographies). 5. ‘Field-Works: their Technical Construction and Tactical Application’ (one of a series of military handbooks edited by him), 1888, 8vo. His contributions to the ‘United Service Institution Journal’ (vols. xv–xxviii.) include papers on ‘The Military Systems of France and Prussia in 1870’ (xv.), ‘The Winter Campaign of Prince Frederick Charles, 1870–71’ (ib.), ‘The Intelligence Duties of the Staff’ (xix.), and ‘The Latest Development of the Tactics of the Three Arms’ (xxvii. 439); this supplemented a lecture on the same subject given ten years before by his younger brother, now General Sir Henry Brackenbury.

[Blackwood's Magazine, clxv. 376; Foster's Royal Lineage of our Noble and Gentle Families, p. 117; Times, 21 June 1890; private information.]

E. M. L.