Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Drummond, Gordon

DRUMMOND, Sir GORDON (1772–1854), general, fourth son of Colin Drummond, by the daughter of Robert Oliphant of Rossie, N.B., entered the army as an ensign in the 1st regiment, or Royal Scots, in 1789, which he joined in Jamaica. He was rapidly promoted, and became lieutenant in the 41st regiment in March 1791, captain in January 1792, major of the 23rd regiment in January 1794, and lieutenant-colonel of the 8th, or king's Liverpool regiment, on 1 March 1794. This regiment, with which he was more or less connected for the rest of his life, he joined in the Netherlands, and served at its head during the campaign of 1794 and the winter retreat of 1794–5, and especially distinguished himself at Nimeguen. From September 1795 to January 1796 he served in Sir Ralph Abercromby's campaign in the West Indies, and in 1799, after having been promoted colonel on 1 Jan. 1798, he accompanied the same general to the Mediterranean with his regiment, first to Minorca and then to Egypt where his regiment formed part of Cradock's brigade. Drummond distinguished himself throughout the campaign in Egypt, and commanded his regiment in the battles of 8, 13, and 21 March, and at the capture of Cairo, and then of Alexandria. When the campaign was over he took his regiment first to Malta and then to Gibraltar, and left it in 1804 to take command of a brigade on the home staff in England. On 1 Jan. 1805 he was promoted major-general, and in May of that year he took command of a division in Jamaica, which he held while his old comrade, Sir Eyre Coote (1762–1824) [q. v.], was governor and commander-in-chief of that colony until August 1807. In December 1808 Drummond was transferred to the staff in Canada, and was retained there after his promotion to the rank of lieutenant-general on 4 June 1811 as second in command to Sir George Prevost. He played a most important part throughout the American war of 1812–14 upon the Canadian frontier, but his most important feat of arms was winning the battle of Niagara on 25 July 1814. The year 1813 had been marked by many disasters to the inadequate English fleet on the great lakes, and it was not until 1814 that Drummond, after receiving reinforcements from the Peninsular regiments, was able to make a real impression on the American troops. He had his forces, amounting in all to not more than 2,800 men, conveyed across Lake Erie to Chippewa, and they had hardly established themselves near the Niagara Falls before they were fiercely attacked by the American troops under General Brown. The attacks lasted until midnight, when the Americans were at last totally repulsed with heavy loss; but the fierceness of the battle may be judged by the fact that the English casualties amounted to no less than 878 men killed, wounded, and missing, including Major-general Phineas Riall, Drummond's second in command, who was wounded and taken prisoner. Drummond immediately followed up his success by attacking the enemy's headquarters at Fort Erie, which had been actually carried on 25 Aug., when a terrible explosion caused a panic, and the fort which had been so hardly gained was evacuated by his troops. He remained in front of Fort Erie, repulsed a violent assault made upon his position on 18 Sept., and on 6 Nov. successfully occupied that post, which was abandoned by the American troops. Peace was concluded with the United States in the following year, but the services of the army which had wiped out the disgrace of the defeats of 1813 were not forgotten, and Drummond was gazetted a K.C.B. Drummond returned to England in 1815, and after being made colonel of the 97th regiment in 1814, of the 88th in 1819, of the 71st in 1824, of the 49th in 1829, and promoted general in 1825, he was transferred in 1846 to the colonelcy of his old regiment, the 8th, which had distinguished itself at the battle of Niagara in 1814. He was made a G.C.B. in 1827, and died in Norfolk Street, Park Lane, London, on 10 Oct. 1854, at the age of eighty-two.

[Royal Milit. Cal.; Gent. Mag. December 1854; Belsham's American War of 1814; Despatches in Lond. Gazette.]

H. M. S.