Frazer, Augustus Simon (DNB00)


FRAZER, Sir AUGUSTUS SIMON (1776–1835), colonel, the only son of Colonel Andrew Frazer [q. v.] of the royal engineers, by Charlotte, daughter of Stillingfleet Durnford, esq., of the ordnance office, was born at Dunkirk, where his father was then employed as a commissioner for superintending the destruction of the fortifications, on 5 Sept. 1776, and was sent for a short time to the Edinburgh High School. In August 1792 he joined the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich as a gentleman cadet, and on 18 Sept. 1793 he was gazetted a second lieutenant in the royal artillery. In December 1793, though only seventeen years old, he was ordered to join the army under the Duke of York in Flanders, and in January 1794, in which month he was promoted first-lieutenant, he was attached with two guns to the battalion of the 3rd guards, then in the field. With the guards he served throughout the retreat before Pichegru, and was present at the battles of Mouveaux, Cateau Cambrésis, Tournay, and Boxtel, and at all the other principal actions until the departure of the infantry from the continent. In May 1795 he was attached to the royal horse artillery, and in 1799, in which year he was promoted captain-lieutenant, he served in the expedition to the Helder and the battles of Bergen. On 12 Sept. 1803 he was promoted captain, and appointed to the command of a troop of royal horse artillery. In 1807 he commanded all the artillery employed in the expedition against Buenos Ayres, and was present in the disastrous assault on that city in July. Frazer next remained for some time on ordinary garrison duty in England, and he was promoted major by brevet on 4 June 1811. In November 1812 he exchanged troops of royal horse artillery with Major Bull, whose health had broken down in the Peninsula, and he joined the allied Anglo-Portuguese army in its winter quarters at Freneda. In April 1813, when he had been but a short time with the army, Lord Wellington determined to have an officer on his staff for the general command of all the horse artillery in the field, and offered the post to Frazer, as senior horse artillery officer with the army. In this capacity he served on the staff throughout the rest of the Peninsular campaigns, and was present at the affairs of Salamanca and Osma, the battle of Vittoria, the siege of San Sebastian, at which he commanded the right artillery attack, at the passage of the Bidassoa, the battles of the Nivelle and the Nive, the investment of Bayonne, and the battle of Toulouse. He soon became a great favourite with Wellington, and was largely rewarded for his services. He was promoted lieutenant-colonel by brevet on 21 June 1813, granted a gold cross and one clasp for the battles of Vittoria, San Sebastian, Nivelle, Nive, and Toulouse; made one of the first K.C.B.s on the extension of the order of the Bath: promoted lieutenant-colonel in the royal artillery on 20 Dec. 1814, and appointed to command the artillery in the eastern district. In 1815, when Napoleon escaped from Elba, Frazer at once took his old place as commanding the royal horse artillery upon the staff of the Duke of Wellington in Belgium. He was now allowed to bring nine-pounders into action instead of six-pounders, a change which certainly had a great deal to do with the effective fire of the English guns at Waterloo. When the war was over Frazer was appointed British artillery commissioner for taking over the French fortresses, and in the following year he was elected a F.R.S. For some time he commanded the royal horse artillery at Woolwich ; in October 1827 he was appointed inspector of the ordnance carriage department there, and in July 1828 director of the Royal Laboratory. He was promoted a colonel in the royal artillery in January 1825, and died at Woolwich on 4 June 1835.

[Letters of Colonel Sir Augustus S. Frazer, K.C.B., commanding the Royal Horse Artillery in the army under the Duke of Wellington, written during the Peninsula and Waterloo Campaigns, edited by General Sir Edward Sabine, R.A.; Duncan's History of the Royal Artillery.]

H. M. S.