Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Radcliffe, Charles Edward

RADCLIFFE or RADCLYFFE, CHARLES EDWARD (1774–1827), lieutenant-colonel, born in 1774, received his first commission as adjutant of the first dragoons (royals) on 11 Oct. 1797, but he had previously served under the Duke of York in the campaign of 1794. He was made cornet on 12 April 1799, lieutenant on 4 May 1800, and captain on 1 Dec. 1804. He embarked for the Peninsula with the royals in September 1809, and in the following June he was appointed brigade-major to General Slade's brigade, which consisted at that time of the royals and the 14th dragoons. He continued in this position throughout the war, up to the battle of Toulouse in 1814, being present at Busaco, Fuentes d'Onoro, Vittoria, and various minor actions. In the action at Maquilla on 11 June 1812, in which Slade's brigade (royals and 3rd dragoon guards) was worsted by Lallemand, and driven in confusion for six miles with a loss of 150 men, Slade reported that he was particularly indebted to Radcliffe for his assistance in rallying the men. As a result of his experience in the war, Radcliffe submitted a strong recommendation that British troopers should be taught to use the point instead of the edge of their sabres, and published a small work on the subject; it is not in the British Museum.

Radcliffe was employed as assistant adjutant-general of cavalry during the march of the cavalry across France after the war. He received a brevet majority on 4 June 1814, and on 25 Sept. was made brigade-major to the inspector general of cavalry. In the following year he went to Belgium with his regiment, which formed part of the famous Union brigade. His squadron constituted the rearguard of the brigade in the retreat from Quatre Bras on 17 June, and he was thanked for his conduct by Sir William Ponsonby. He was specially praised also by Ponsonby's successor, Colonel Clifton, for his part in the great cavalry charge at Waterloo on the following day. He was severely wounded by a bullet in the knee, which could not be extracted, and caused him much pain for the rest of his life. He was given a brevet lieutenant-colonelcy, dating from the day of the battle. He was placed on half-pay on 20 April 1820, and was appointed brigade-major to the inspector-general of cavalry. He died in London on 24 Feb. 1827. ‘He was a dexterous swordsman, an accomplished officer, and an able tactician … a warm and sincere friend, a conscientious Christian, and a brave man,’ writes General de Ainslie, the historian of the royals. He married Mary, eldest daughter of H. Crockett, esq., who died a week before him. His only son, the Rev. Charles Radclyffe, died in 1862, leaving a son, Charles Edward Radclyffe, of Little Park, Hampshire.

[Gent. Mag. 1815 ii. 81, 1827 i. 365; Historical Records of the First or Royal Dragoons; Wellington Despatches, Selections, p. 601, and Supplementary Series, x. 569; Burke's Landed Gentry, 1894, ii. 1676.]

E. M. L.