Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Caldwell, James Lillyman
CALDWELL, Sir JAMES LILLYMAN (1770–1863), general, colonel commandant royal (late Madras) engineers, son of Major Arthur Caldwell (d. 1780) of the Bengal engineers and of his wife Elizabeth Weed of Greenwich, Kent, and nephew of General Sir Alexander Caldwell, G.C.B., of the Bengal artillery, was born on 22 Nov. 1770. He entered the service of the East India Company as a cadet in 1788 and received a commission as ensign in the Madras engineers on 27 July 1789. His further commissions were dated: lieutenant, 2 Dec. 1792; captain lieutenant, 8 Jan. 1796; captain, 12 Aug. 1802; major, 1 Jan. 1806; lieutenant-colonel, 26 Sept. 1811; lieutenant-colonel commandant, 1 May 1824; colonel, 20 May 1825; major-general, 10 Jan. 1837; lieutenant-general, 9 Nov. 1846; general, 20 June 1854.
Early in 1791 Caldwell joined the force under Lord Cornwallis for the campaign against Tippu in Maisur. He was present at the attack by Colonel Floyd on Tippu's camp in front of Bengalur on 6 March, and took part in the successful assault of the pettah of Bengalur on the following day, when the British loss was heavy. He served throughout the siege of Bengalur from 8 to 20 March, and, although wounded in the trenches, entered the breach with the storming party on the 21st. He was present at the battle of Arakere, when Tippu was defeated by Cornwallis on 14 May, and was with the advanced brigade on 15 July at the capture of Usur. He served as an engineer at the siege of Ryakota and of five other strong forts during the same month. On 17 Sept. he assisted in the reduction of Ramanghar, took part in the surprise and capture of the pettah of Nundidrug on the 22nd, and in the siege of Nundidrug from 27 Sept. to 18 Oct., when he mounted the breach with the storming party at its capture. On 29 Nov. he accompanied the chief engineer. Lieutenant-colonel Patrick Ross [q. v.], to the siege of the strong hill fort of Savandrug, and climbed to the breach and entered with the storming party on 21 Dec.
On 6 Feb. 1792 Caldwell was engaged in the night attack under Cornwallis on Tippu's entrenched camp in front of Seringapatam, and served through the siege of that place, which immediately followed, until 22 Feb., when he was wounded in the trenches. After the capitulation and treaty of peace with Tippu on 19 March he returned to Madras.
In 1794 Caldwell went to the Northern Circars with Michael Topping, who came to India as an astronomer and was employed on the public works, to investigate and report upon proposals for the improvement of that part of the country. He constructed various public works until 1799, when he took part under General Harris in the final campaign against Tippu. He was present at the action of Malavali on 27 March and at the second siege of Seringapatam in April, when he commanded the third brigade of engineers. He led the ladder party in the successful assault on 4 May. He was twice wounded, once in the trenches, and again with the forlorn hope at the top of the breach, when he was shot and rolled down into the ditch. For his services he was most favourably mentioned in despatches, received the medal for Seringapatam, and a pension for his wounds.
On his recovery he resumed his civil duties, and was engaged for the next ten years on public works of importance. At the end of August 1810 he sailed with Sir John Abercromby [q. v.] in the frigate Ceylon as chief engineer in the expedition against Mauritius. On 18 Sept. they fell in with the French man-of-war Venus, off St. Denis, Bourbon, and after a smart action, in which both vessels were dismasted, the Ceylon was compelled to strike to the French sloop Victor which came to the assistance of the Venus. The following morning, however, Commodore Rowley, arriving in the Boadicea, retook the Ceylon and also picked up the Venus. The expedition assembled at Rodriguez in November, and on the 29th landed at Mauritius. Next day the French were defeated, and on 2 Dec. the island surrendered. Caldwell was thanked in general orders and favourably mentioned in despatches for his 'most able and assiduous exertions.'
He returned to Madras in January 1811, and in March was appointed to the engineer charge of the centre division of the Madras army. In 1812 he repaired and reconstructed the fortress of Seringapatam. In 1813 he was appointed special surveyor of fortresses. In 1815 his services were acknowledged by a companionship of the order of the Bath, military division. In 1816 he was appointed acting chief engineer of Madras and a commissioner for the restoration of the French settlements on the Malabar and Coromandel coasts. Eight years later he became lieutenant-colonel-commandant of his corps. After fifty years of distinguished war and peace service, he retired from the active list in 1837 and was made a K.C.B. on 10 March. On his return home the same year he lived chiefly at his house, 19 Place Vendome, Paris, until his wife's death, when he bought Beechlands, Ryde, Isle of Wight, and passed his time partly there and at his London house in Portland Place.
Caldwell was made a G.C.B. in 1848. He died at Beechlands, Isle of Wight, on 28 June 1863. In the earlier part of his life he was a very clever artist in water-colour, and left many Indian landscapes of merit. A brief memoir of his services is given in Vibart's 'Military History of the Madras Engineers' (vol. ii.), and the frontispiece of the volume is a reproduction of a crayon likeness of Caldwell in the possession of Miss Pears of Richmond Green, Surrey, daughter of Sir Thomas Pears [q. v.] Caldwell married, in India in 1796, Jeanne Baptiste, widow of Captain Charles Johnston of the Madras army, and daughter of Jean Maillard of Dole, Franche-Comt6. By her he had a son, Arthur James (1799-1843), major in the 2nd queen's dragoon guards, who left no issue, and a daughter, Elizabeth Maria (1797-1870), who married, in 1815, Edward Richard (1791-1823), Madras civil service, third son of Sir Richard Sullivan of Thames Ditton (first baronet), and had issue.
[India Office Records; Despatches; Gent. Mag. 1863; Vibart's Military History of the Madras Engineers; Welsh's Military Reminiscences; Indian Histories; Annual Register, 1811; private sources.]