Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Spottiswoode, Arthur Cole

SPOTTISWOODE, ARTHUR COLE (1808–1874), major-general, born on 9 Jan. 1808, was the son of Hugh Spottiswoode of the Madras civil service, who died on his passage to the Cape, 4 April 1820 (Prinsep, Records of Madras Civilians, p. 133); he entered the East India Company's service as ensign on 25 Feb. 1824, became lieutenant in the 37th native infantry (Bengal) on 13 May 1825, captain on 14 Nov. 1833, and major on 17 March 1851. He served with distinction at the siege and capture of Bhartpur in 1826, heading the forlorn hope which led the assault, and receiving the personal thanks of Lord Combermere (medal and clasp). He was employed for many years in the stud department at Haupur, but left this staff appointment for a time to rejoin his regiment during the Afghan campaign of 1838–9. He was made brevet major on 6 Nov. 1846, and brevet lieutenant-colonel on 20 June 1854.

He succeeded to the command of the 37th as lieutenant-colonel on 22 May 1856. His regiment was at Benares, and on 4 June 1857, as it was believed to be on the point of mutiny, orders were given to disarm it. It was a case for skilful handling, for there were other native troops there, and the British force consisted of only 250 men and three guns. Spottiswoode still had faith in his men, to whom, as the native officers said, he had always been a father; but he had to parade them and tell them to lodge their arms. While they were doing so the British troops were seen to be approaching, and a cry rose that they were going to be shot down. The regiment broke, and some of the men opened fire, but they were soon dispersed by the guns, as were also the Sikh cavalry who sided with them. For a time there was great risk that the city would join them, and much fault was afterwards found with the arrangements made by the general in command, Brigadier George Ponsonby. Spottiswoode carried out the burning of the Sepoy lines during the night, and helped to provide for the security of the European women and the treasure. He became colonel in the army on 23 July 1858, and retired with the rank of major-general on 31 Dec. 1861. He died at Hastings on 23 March 1874.

[Annual Register, 1874; East India Registers; Kaye's Sepoy War, ii. 221 sq.]

E. M. L.