Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sturgeon, Henry

STURGEON, HENRY (1781?–1814), lieutenant-colonel, born about 1781, was admitted to the Royal Military Academy as a cadet in May 1795, and commissioned as second lieutenant in the royal artillery on 1 Jan. 1796. He became lieutenant on 21 Aug. 1797. He served in Pulteney's expedition to Ferrol in 1800, and in the expedition to Egypt, and was wounded in the battle of Alexandria on 13 March 1801. On 25 June 1803 he was transferred to the royal staff corps with the rank of captain, and became major in it on 1 June 1809. He served throughout the war in the Peninsula, always showing himself ‘a clever fellow,’ as Wellington described him (to Lord Liverpool, 19 Dec. 1809). At Ciudad Rodrigo his exertions and ability from the commencement of the siege were very conspicuous. He reconnoitred the breaches before the assault, and guided a column which was told off, at his suggestion, to make a demonstration on the right of the main breach. The column afterwards joined the stormers at that breach. Sturgeon was specially mentioned in Wellington's despatch, both for his services during the siege and for his construction of a bridge over the Agueda, which was an indispensable preliminary to it. He was made brevet lieutenant-colonel on 6 Feb. 1812. He was again specially mentioned in the Salamanca despatch, and was sent three months afterwards to make a bridge at Almaraz. In April 1813 he was placed in charge of the corps of guides, and the post-office and communications of the army. In February 1814 he took a prominent part in the bridging of the Adour, and was one of the officers praised by Hope in his report for the zeal they showed in the execution of that bold project. Napier, who speaks of it as a ‘stupendous undertaking, which must always rank among the prodigies of war,’ attributes its conception to Sturgeon.

A few weeks afterwards, on 19 March, Sturgeon was killed by a bullet as he was riding through a vineyard during the action near Vic Bigorre. ‘Skilled to excellence in almost every branch of war, and possessing a variety of accomplishments, he used his gifts so gently for himself and so usefully for the service that envy offered no bar to admiration, and the whole army felt painfully mortified that his merits were passed unnoticed in the public despatches’ (Napier).

[Duncan's Hist. of the Royal Artillery; Wellington Despatches; Napier's War in the Peninsula; Londonderry's Narrative, ii. 259; Porter's History of the Royal Engineers, i. 352.]

E. M. L.