Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Gordon, John James Hood

GORDON, Sir JOHN JAMES HOOD (1832–1908), general, born on 12 Jan. 1832 at Aberdeen, was twin son of Captain William Gordon (1788–1834), 2nd Queen's royal regiment. The father served through the Peninsular war, and married at Santarem in 1818 Marianna Carlotta Loi, daughter of Luiz Conçalves de Mello, a government official in the province of Estremadura. His twin brother is General Sir Thomas Edward Gordon, K.C.B. The twins were the youngest children in a family of four sons and a daughter. John was educated at Dalmeny and at the Scottish Naval and Military Academy, Edinburgh, and with his twin brother entered the army, joining the 29th foot on 21 Aug. 1849, and becoming lieutenant on 9 Jan. 1864. He served in the Indian Mutiny campaign of 1857–8 with the Jaunpur field force, attached to 97th regiment. He was at the actions of Nasrutpur, Chanda (31 Oct.), Ameerpur, and Sultanpur, at the siege and capture of Lucknow, and storming of the Kaiser Bagh. The medal with clasp was awarded him. From September 1858 to April 1859 he acted as field-adjutant to Colonel (Sir) William Turner, commanding the troops on the Grand Trunk Road, near Benares, and the field force during operations in Shahabad. He was engaged in the final attack on Jugdespur, and in the action of Nowadi, and the subsequent pursuit. Mentioned in despatches, he was promoted captain on 2 Dec. 1859, and was made brevet-major on 30 Nov. 1860 (Land. Gaz. 22 Feb. 1859). Gordon performed regimental duty in India for the next eighteen years; he was promoted major in 1860 and exchanged into the 46th regiment. Subsequently he was given the command of the 29th Punjab infantry, becoming lieut.-colonel on 21 Aug. 1875, and brevet colonel on 23 Feb. 1877. He served with the Jowaki Afridi expedition in 1877-8, and was thrice mentioned in despatches, receiving the medal and clasp.

In the Afghan war of 1878-9 he played a prominent part, commanding the 29th Punjab infantry, which was attached to the Kurram Valley column. He led a reconnaissance in force at Habib Kila on 28 Nov. 1878, and discovered that the Afghans, so far from abandoning their guns as had been reported, had taken up a strong position on the top of the pass. Gordon's report made Sir Frederick (afterwards Lord) Roberts abandon all idea of a frontal attack on the Peiwar Kotal (Lord Roberts, Forty-one Years in India, 1898, p. 354). Gordon's regiment formed the advance guard in the turning movement on the Spingawi Kotal on 2 Dec. During the night march some Pathans of the 29th Punjab infantry fired signal shots to warn the enemy of the British advance. The regiment was immediately displaced from its leading position. An inquiry instituted by Gordon resulted in the discovery of some of the culprits. Subsequently he was engaged in the Zaimukht expedition, including the assault of Zava, where he commanded the right column of General Tytler's force. For his services in the Afghan war he received the medal with clasp and was made C.B. in 1879. In expeditions to Karmana and against the Malikshahi Waziris in 1880 he was brigadier-general in command of the troops (Lond. Gaz. 4 Feb. and 7 Nov. 1879). He also served in the Mahsud Waziria expedition in 1881, when he commanded the second column; he was mentioned in despatches and was thanked by the government of India. From 1882 to 1887 he commanded a brigade of the Bengal army, and was made major-general on 20 Dec. 1886. In the Burmese expedition he commanded his brigade (1886-7), and he conducted the operations which succeeded in opening up the country between Manipur and Kendat. Once more he received the thanks of the government of India (Lond. Gaz. 2 Sept. 1887). Returning to England, he was made assistant military secretary at headquarters in 1890, and retained the office till 1896. He was promoted lieut.-general in 1891 and general in 1894. On 1 Jan. 1897 he was nominated member of the council of India, and held the post for ten years. He was advanced to K.C.B. in 1898, and to G.C.B. in 1908, and became colonel of 29th Punjab infantry in 1904. He resided in his last years at 35 Onslow Square, London, S.W. He died at Edinburgh on 2 Nov. 1908, and was buried in the Dean cemetery there. He married in 1871 Ella (d. 1903), daughter of Edward Strathearn, Lord Gordon of Drumearn [q. v.], lord of appeal in ordinary, and had issue two surviving sons, both captains in the army.

In 1904 Gordon published a history of the Sikhs, illustrated by himself.

[The Times, 3 Nov. 1908; Lord Roberts, Forty-one Years in India, 30th edit. 1898; J. M. Bullock and C. O. Skelton, A Notable Military Family, The Gordons in Griamachary, 1907; Dod's Knightage; Official and Hart's Army Lists; Sir T. E. Gordon, A Varied Life: a record of military service in India, 1906, p. 236 seq.; H. B. Hanna, Second Afghan War, 1910, iii. 118; W. H. Paget, Records of Expeditions against the North-West Frontier Tribes, 1884; private information from Sir T. E. Gordon.]

H. M. V.