Lennox, Wilbraham Oates (DNB01)

LENNOX, Sir WILBRAHAM OATES (1830–1897), general royal engineers, fourth son of Lord John George Lennox (1793–1873), second son of the fourth Duke of Richmond, was born on 4 May 1830 at Molecomb House, Goodwood, Sussex. His mother was Louisa Frederica (d. 12 Jan. 1863), daughter of Captain the Hon. John Rodney, M.P., third son of Admiral Lord Rodney. He was privately educated and, after passing through the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, received a commission as second lieutenant in the royal engineers on 27 June 1848 His further commissions were dated: lieutenant 7 Feb. 1854, second captain 25 Nov. 1857, brevet major 24 March 1858, brevet lieutenant-colonel 26 April 1859, first captain 1 April 1863, brevet colonel 26 April 1867, regimental major 5 July 1872, lieutenant-colonel 10 Dec. 1873, major-general 13 Aug. 1881, lieutenant-general 12 Feb. 1888, general 28 June 1893.

Lennox went through the usual course of professional instruction at Chatham, served for a few months at Portsmouth, and embarked for Ceylon on 20 Nov. 1850. In August 1854 he went direct from Ceylon to the Crimea, where he arrived on 30 Sept., and was employed under Major (afterwards General Sir) Frederick Chapman [q. v. Suppl.] in the trenches of the left attack on Sevastopol, and had also charge of the engineer park of the left attack. He was present at the battle of Inkerman on 5 Nov., having come off the sick list for the purpose. On 20 Nov. he won the Victoria Cross 'for cool and gallant conduct in establishing a lodgment in Tryon's rifle pits, and assisting to repel the assaults of the enemy. This brilliant operation drew forth a special order from General Canrobert.' On 9 Dec. he was appointed adjutant to the royal engineers of the left attack. He acted as aide-de-camp to Chapman with Eyre's brigade at the attack of the Redan on 18 June, and was present in September at the fall of Sebastopol, after which he was adjutant of all the royal engineer force in the Crimea until the army was broken up. He arrived home on 5 Aug. 1856. For his services he was mentioned in despatches (London Gazette, 21 Dec. 1855), received the war medal with two clasps, the Sardinian and Turkish medals, the 5th class of the Turkish order of the Medjidie, and on 24 Feb. 1857 the Victoria Cross.

Lennox was adjutant of the royal engineers at Aldershot until he again left England on 25 April 1857 as senior subaltern of the 23rd company of royal engineers to take part in the China war. On arrival at Singapore the force for China was diverted to India for the suppression of the mutiny, and Lennox reached Calcutta on 10 Aug. On the march to Cawnpore he took part on 2 Nov. in the action at Khajwa under Colonel Powell. The captain of his company was severely wounded on this occasion, and, Colonel Goodwyn of the Bengal engineers having fallen sick on 14 Nov., Lennox became temporarily chief engineer on the staff of Sir Colin Campbell. In this position he served at the second relief of Lucknow. He submitted a plan of attack which was adopted by Sir Colin. He took a conspicuous part in the operations, and the relief was accomplished on 17 Nov. He continued to act as chief engineer in the operations against the Gwalior contingent, and in the battle of Cawnpore on 6 Dec. He commanded a detachment of engineers at the action of Kali Naddi under Sir Colin Campbell on 2 Jan. 1858, and at the occupation of Fathghar. He was assistant to the commanding royal engineer, Colonel (afterwards Sir) Henry Drury Harness [q. v.], in the final siege of Luckuow from 2 to 21 March.

After the fall of Lucknow Lennox commanded the engineers of the column under Brigadier-general (afterwards Sir) Robert Walpole [q. v.] for the subjugation of Rohilkhand, was present at the unsuccessful attack on Fort Ruiya on 15 April, its occupation on the following day, and the action of Alaganj on 22 April. Having rejoined Lord Clyde he commanded the engineers at the battle of Bareli on 5 May and the occupation of the town. In June Lennox took his company to Rurki, and in September to Allahabad, where he was appointed commanding engineer to the column under Lord Clyde for the subjugation of Oude. He was present at the capture of Amethi on 10 Nov., and of Shankarpur on the 16th, and at the action of Dundia Khera or Buxar on 24 Nov. On 30 Nov. he left Lucknow as commanding royal engineer of the column under Brigadier-general Eveleigh to settle the country to the north-east, and was present at the capture of Umria on 2, Dec. He commanded the 23rd company royal engineers at the action on 26 Dec. under Lord Clyde at Barjadua or Chandu in the Trans-Gogra campaign, at the capture of Fort Majadua on the 27th, and at the action at Banki on the Rapti on 31 Dec. Lennox was included in the list of officers honourably mentioned for the siege of Lucknow by the commander-in-chief in general orders of 16 April 1858, and was repeatedly mentioned in despatches during the several campaigns (London Gazette, 5, 16, and 29 Jan., 25 May, and 17 and 28 July 1858). He was rewarded with a brevet majority and a brevet lieutenant-colonelcy, and received the Indian mutiny medal with two clasps.

Lennox left India in March 1859, and on his arrival home was appointed to the Brighton subdivision of the south-eastern military district. From 14 June 1862 until 31 Oct. 1865 he was deputy-assistant quartermaster-general at Aldershot. On 30 March 1867 he was made a companion of the Bath, military division, for his war services. From November 1866 he held for five years the post of instructor in field fortification at the school of military engineering at Chatham, where his energy and experience were of great value. He originated a series of confidential professional papers to keep his brother officers au courant with matters which could not be published, and also a series of translations of important foreign works on military engineering subjects. He also started the Royal Engineers' Charitable Fund, which has been of much benefit to the widows and children of soldiers of his corps. In 1868 he visited Coblenz and reported on the experimental siege operations carried on there. In the following year he was on a committee on spade-drill for infantry, and accompanied Lieutenant-general Sir William Coddrington to the Prussian army manoeuvres. In the summer of 1870 he visited Belgium to study the fortifications of Antwerp.

From November 1870 to March 1871 he was attached officially to the German armies in France during the Franco-German war ; was present at the siege of Paris under the crown prince of Prussia from 11 to 15 Dec. 1870 ; at the siege of Mézières from 24 Dec. 1870 to its surrender on 2 Jan. 1871 ; at the siege of Paris under the German emperor from 10 Jan. to 4 Feb. ; and at the siege of Belfort from 7 Feb. to the entry of the German troops under von Treskow on 18 Feb.

On 13 Nov. 1871 Lennox was appointed assistant superintendent of military discipline at Chatham, and was on a committee on pontoon drill in December. In 1872 he again attended the military manoeuvres in Prussia. In December 1873 he went to Portsmouth as second in command of the royal engineers, and remained there until his appointment on 24 Oct. 1876 as military attache at Constantinople. He visited Montenegro in connection with the armistice on the frontier, and arrived in Constantinople in December.

In April 1877 he joined the Turkish armies in Bulgaria during the Russo-Turkish war, and was present during the bombardment of Nikopolis in June, at Sistova when the Russians crossed the Danube on 27 June, at the bombardment of Ruschuk, at the battles of Karahassankeui on 30 Aug., Katzelevo on 5 Sept., Bejin Verboka on 21 Sept., and Pyrgos Metha on 12 Dec. 1877. On 18 Dec. he accompanied Suleiman Pasha's force from Varna to Constantinople. He received the Turkish war medal.

On his return home in March 1878 he went to the Curragh in Ireland as commanding royal engineer until his promotion to major-general in August 1881. From 2 Aug. 1884 he commanded the garrison of Alexandria, and during the Nile campaign of 1884-5 organised the landing and despatch to the front of the troops, the Nile boats, and all the military and other stores of the expedition. From Egypt he was transferred on 1 April 1887 to the command of the troops in Ceylon, but his promotion to lieutenant-general vacated the appointment in the following year, and he returned home via Australia and America. He was promoted to be K.C.B. on 30 May 1891. He was director-general of military education at the war office from 22 Jan. 1893 until his retirement from the active list on 8 May 1895. Great energy, unbending resolution, and masterful decision fitted him for high command, while his kindness of heart and Christian character endeared him to many. He was engaged in writing a memoir of Sir Henry Harness's Indian career when he died in London on 7 Feb. 1897, and was buried in the family vault at Brighton cemetery on 15 Feb.

Lennox married, first, at Denbigh, on 16 July 1861, Mary Harriett (d. 22 July 1863), daughter of Robert Harrison of Plas Clough, Denbighshire, by whom he left a son, Gerald Wilbraham Stuart, formerly a lieutenant in the Black Watch. He married secondly, in London, on 12 June 1867, Susan Hay, who survived him, youngest daughter of Admiral Sir John Gordon Sinclair, eighth baronet of Stevenson, by whom he had three sons.

He contributed to the 'Professional Papers of the Royal Engineers' papers on the 'Demolition of the Fort of Tutteah,' 'The Engineering Operations at the Siege of Lucknow, 1858,' 'Description of the Passage of the Wet Ditch at the Siege of Strasburg, 1870,' and others. He compiled 'The Engineers' Organisation in the Prussian Army for Operations in the Field, 1870-1,' published in London, 1878, 8vo.

[War Office Records; Royal Engineers' Records; Despatches; private sources; Times, 8 Feb. 1897; Royal Engineers Journal, April and May 1898; Kinglake's Crimean War; Official Journal of the Engineers' Operations at the Siege of Sebastopol, 1859, 4to, vols. i. and ii.; Kaye's Hist. of the Sepoy War; Malleson's Hist. of the Indian Mutiny; Holmes's Hist. of the Indian Mutiny; Medley's A Year's Campaigning in India, 1857-8; Thackeray's Two Indian Campaigns; Shadwell's Life of Lord Clyde; Historical Narrative of the Turco-Russian War, 1878, 4to; Official Hist. of the Soudan Campaign of 1884-5; Army Lists; Burke's Peerage.]

R. H. V.