Jacob, John (DNB00)
JACOB, JOHN (1812–1858), brigadier-general, fifth son of Stephen Long Jacob, vicar of Woolavington-cum-Puriton, Somerset, by his wife Eliza Susanna, eldest daughter of James Bond, vicar of Ashford, Kent, was born at Woolavington on 11 Jan. 1812. William Stephen Jacob [q. v.] was his brother, and Sir George le Grand Jacob [q. v.] his cousin. He was educated at home by his father until 1826, when he was sent to Addiscombe College. Having obtained a commission as second lieutenant in the Bombay artillery of the East India Company's service on 11 Jan. 1828, he went to India, and passed the first seven years of his service with his regiment. He was then entrusted with a small detached command, and later was employed for a short time in the provincial administration of Guzerat. He was promoted lieutenant on 14 May 1836.
On the outbreak of the Afghan war in 1838, Jacob went to Sind with the Bombay column of the army of the Indus under the command of Sir John Keane, and in 1839 commanded the artillery in the expedition under Major Billamore into the hill country north of Cutchee. This was the first expedition ever undertaken against the hill tribes of that deadly climate, and the interesting details were only made known by Jacob in 1845, when the publication of Sir William Napier's ‘History of the Conquest of Sind’ provoked the ‘surviving subaltern of Billamore's’ to correct the inaccuracies of the historian. Soon after the close of the expedition Jacob made a reconnaissance of the route from Hyderabad to Nuggar Parkur in a very hot season and at considerable risk. For this service he received the official commendation of the Bombay government.
In 1839, when all North-west India was in a ferment, it was determined to raise some squadrons of irregular horse for service on the frontier, and in 1841 some six hundred men stood enrolled as the Sind irregular horse. At the end of 1841 it was decided to augment the regiment. Outram, the political agent in Sind and Baluchistan, selected Jacob for the command, and also for the political charge of Eastern Cutchee, and in an official letter to Jacob of 9 Nov. 1842 was able to record that for the first time within the memory of man Cutch and Upper Sind had been for a whole year entirely free from the devastating irruption of the hill tribes. This result he ascribed entirely to the extraordinary vigilance of Jacob and the strict discipline enforced by him.
At the end of 1842 Sir Charles Napier arrived in Sind. On the fields of Meanee, Dubba or Hyderabad, and Shah-dad-poor, Jacob's irregular horse won great fame. Napier called him ‘one of the best officers he had ever met in his life,’ and in his despatch after the battle of Meanee (fought 17 Feb. 1843) said that the crisis of the action was decided by the charge of Jacob's horse and the 9th Bengal cavalry. Jacob, he said, had rendered ‘the most active services long previous to and during the combat. He won the enemy's camp, from which he drove a body of 3,000 or 4,000 cavalry.’ To Sir William Napier he called Jacob ‘the Seidlitz of the Sind army.’ At Shah-dad-poor Jacob, with a force of eight hundred men of all arms, attacked the army of Shere Mahomed, eight thousand strong, and utterly defeated and dispersed it. Jacob also served at the capture of Oomercote. Although Jacob was recommended for promotion and honours, neither came, and he wrote to his father that he wished he had died at Meanee, but that he had the consolation of knowing that in the eyes of his superiors and comrades he had merited the distinction which had fallen to others, and he found distraction in incessant work.
The publication of Sir William Napier's ‘History of the Conquest of Sind,’ with its studied depreciation of Outram, roused Jacob to enter the lists for his friend and to publish a rejoinder, which led to a complete estrangement from Sir Charles Napier. When Napier left Sind in 1847 Jacob, who had been made a brevet captain on 11 Jan. 1843 and honorary aide-de-camp to the governor-general on 8 March the same year, was appointed political superintendent and commandant of the frontier of Upper Sind. On 10 Sept. 1850 he was made a C.B. for his services in 1843; he had already received medals for Meanee and Hyderabad. In 1847 Jacob achieved a success against the Boogtees at Shahpore, and in 1852 was given the command of the troops at Koree for service in Upper Sind. From a few troops the Sind horse had expanded until it included a second regiment, the Silidar, raised by Jacob, and the whole force mustered 1,600 of the best horsemen in India. Jacob trained his men to act always on the offensive. His detachments were posted in the open plain without any defensive works. Patrols scoured the country in every direction on the look-out for the enemy, which was no sooner discovered than it was attacked by the nearest detachment. He thus struck terror into the marauding tribes, and prevented their incursion into British territory. He next disarmed every man in the country who was not a government servant, and he succeeded in getting some of them to work at roads and canals. Good roads were made all over the country, means of irrigation multiplied fourfold, and security generally established on the border. The village that ten years before did not contain fifty souls became a flourishing town of twelve thousand inhabitants, and in 1851, by order of Lord Dalhousie, its name was changed from Kanghur to Jacobabad in honour of the man who had made it.
Jacob, who from subaltern to colonel remained the commandant of the corps which usually went by his name, was assisted by only four European officers, two to each regiment of eight hundred men, and yet the discipline was so firm and the devotion so unquestioned that it was said not a trooper in the corps knew any will but that of his colonel. Jacob's theory was that Europeans were naturally superior to Asiatics, and that the natives, so far from resenting such ascendency, desired nothing better than to profit by it. All they wanted was to obey, provided only that their obedience was claimed by one clearly competent to demand it.
In 1854 Jacob was entrusted with the task of negotiating a treaty with the khan of Kelát, which he did to the entire satisfaction of the government of India. On 13 April 1855 he was promoted lieutenant-colonel, and on the departure of Bartle Frere on furlough to Europe in 1856 was appointed acting commissioner in Sind. On 20 March 1857 Jacob was appointed aide-de-camp to the queen, with the rank of colonel in the army, in recognition of his services in Sind.
When war was declared with Persia, Outram was named commander-in-chief, and Jacob received from his old friend the command of the cavalry division. He arrived in Bushire in March 1857, and was appointed to the command at that place. When peace followed the fall of Mohumrah, Jacob, with the rank of brigadier-general, was left in command of the entire force in Persia until Bushire was entirely evacuated, when he returned to India. His services in Persia were favourably mentioned in despatches, and in the ‘Indian Government Gazette’ of 7 Nov. 1857. He landed at Bombay on 15 Oct., and proceeded at once to the north-west frontier.
Shortly after his return to Sind he published his scheme for the reorganisation of the Indian army and a collected edition of his various tracts on the same subject. Captain (now Sir) Lewis Pelly, a member of Jacob's staff, had collected and edited the ‘Views and Opinions of General Jacob,’ and in 1858 a second edition, 1 vol. 8vo, was published in London. In the same year Jacob was authorised to raise two regiments of infantry, to be called ‘Jacob's Rifles,’ and to be armed with the pattern of rifle which he had invented, and, in face of great opposition, successfully developed, after spending much of his private resources on experiments with it and with its explosive bullet. Towards the end of 1858 he was surveying in the districts when, on 24 Nov., he was taken ill, and at once rode into Jacobabad, a distance of fifty miles. He arrived on 28 Nov., and died of brain fever on 5 Dec. 1858, surrounded by all the officers of his staff and of the Sind irregular horse, and by his oldest native officers. He was buried next day, mourned by the entire population, of whom it is estimated that ten thousand, out of the thirty thousand inhabitants to which Jacobabad had grown, were present at the ceremony.
Jacob was unmarried, and did not visit England in the thirty years after he first set foot in India. He published many pamphlets on military organisation, and was unceasing in his denunciations of the lax state of discipline of the Bengal army. His warnings were received with indignation and resentment at the time, but were too fully verified in the Indian mutiny before he died. He was a soldier of a rare type. A brilliant cavalry leader and swordsman, the inventor of a greatly improved rifle, the originator of a military system, his achievements in the field were not his greatest titles to public gratitude. He valued the military art only as the instrument and guarantee of civilisation and peace; he sketched road and irrigation systems, and established schemes of revenue collection and magistracy, while he matured his military plans, and studied with care the internal politics of the ill-known, but important, countries beyond the north-western frontier, throughout which his name was held in respect. Jacob was a man of indefatigable energy, possessed of an even temper, and showing such an entire forgetfulness, amounting even to disdain, of self, that he acquired great influence over all with whom he came in contact.
A bust of Jacob was placed in the Shire Hall of his native county at Taunton.
The following is a list of Jacob's works: 1. Large map of Cutchee and the north-west frontier of Scinde, London, 1848. 2. Papers on ‘Sillidar Cavalry, as it is and as it might be,’ printed for private circulation only, Bombay, 8vo. 3. ‘A few Remarks on the Bengal Army and Furlough Regulations with a view to their improvement, by a Bombay Officer,’ 1851; reprinted with corrections, 8vo, Bombay, 1857. 4. ‘Memoir of the First Campaign in the hills north of Cutchee, under Major Billamore, in 1839–40, by one of his surviving Subalterns,’ with appendix, post 8vo, London, 1852. 5. ‘Record Book of the Scinde Irregular Horse,’ printed for private use, 1st vol. fol., London, 1853; 2nd vol., London, 1856. 6. ‘Papers regarding the First Campaign against the Predatory Tribes of Cutchee in 1839–40, and affairs on the Scinde Frontier. Major Billamore's surviving subaltern versus Sir William Napier and the “Naval and Military Gazette,”’ 8vo, London, 1854. 7. ‘Remarks by a Bombay Officer on a pamphlet published in 1849 on “The Deficiency of European Officers in the Army of India, by one of themselves.”’ 8. ‘Remarks on the Native Troops of the Indian Army,’ London, 1854. 9. ‘Notes on Sir Charles Napier's posthumous work “On the Defects of the Government of India,”’ 8vo, London, 1854. 10. ‘On the Causes of the Defects existing in our Army and in our Military Arrangement,’ London, 1855. 11. ‘Rifle Practice with Plates,’ 1st edit. 1855, 2nd edit. 1856, 3rd edit., 8vo, London and Bombay, 1857. 12. ‘Letters to a Lady on the progress of Being in the Universe,’ for private circulation, 1855; reprinted, with prefatory apology and addenda, and published 8vo, London, 1858. 13. ‘Tracts on the Native Army of India, its Organisation and Discipline, with Notes by the Author,’ 8vo, London, 1857. 14. ‘Notes on Sir William Napier's Administration of Scinde,’ 8vo, no date.
[Despatches; India Office Records; official and private correspondence and papers.]