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MACDONELL, Sir JAMES (d. 1857), general, third son of Duncan Macdonnell, chief of Glengarry, and his wife, Marjory Grant, and brother of Colonel Alexander Ranaldson Macdonell of Glengarry [q. v.], entered the army as ensign in an independent company in 1793. He became lieutenant in the 78th Ross-shire buffs on its formation in 1794, captain-lieutenant in the old 101st (Colonel Fullarton's) the same year, and captain in the 17th light dragoons (now lancers) on 1 Dec. 1795, in which regiment he commanded a troop for nine years. In 1804 a new second battalion was formed for the 78th Ross-shire buffs at Fort George, of which Macdonell was appointed one of the majors. He was with the battalion under Sir John Moore at Hythe, and served with it in Naples and Sicily, including the descent on Calabria in 1806 and the battle of Maida (gold medal), and in the disastrous expedition to Egypt in 1807, where he distinguished himself by surprising a Turkish battery near Alexandria (Stewart, ii. 292-822). He became lieutenant-colonel in the 78th on 7 Sept. 1809, and was appointed to the Portuguese staff, but was recalled (Gurwood, Wellington Desp. iii. 560). On 21 Feb. 1811 he was made lieutenant-colonel of 2nd garrison battalion, and on 8 Aug. of the same year he exchanged, as captain and lieutenant-colonel, into the Coldstream guards. He served with the 1st battalion Coldstream guards in the Peninsula from May 1812 to the end of January 1814, including the battles of Salamanca, Vittoria, Nivelle, and Nive (medal), and commanded the 2nd battalion of the regiment in North Holland from May to September 1814. He was made C.B. on 4 June 1815.

The night before the battle of Waterloo Macdonell was sent with some companies of his regiment and the 3rd (Scots) guards to occupy the chateau of Hougoumont, the garden and orchard of which were defended by other companies under Lord Saltoun [see Fraser, Alexander George, sixteenth Lord Saltoun]. Macdonell received the Duke of Wellington's warm approbation for the determination with which he held that post—the key of the duke's position—during the overwhelming attacks of the French in the early part of the battle. On one occasion, when the French were forcing their way into the courtyard, Macdonell, with the help of some soldiers, closed the gates on them by sneer physical strength [see under Graham, James]. For these services he was made K.C.B., and received the war medal.

Macdonell served in the Coldstream guards, of which he became regimental lieutenant-colonel and colonel in 1825, until he was promoted to major-general in 1830. He commanded the Armagh district from 1831 to 1838, and on leaving was presented by the inhabitants with a piece of plate. He commanded the brigade of guards sent out to Canada when Lord Durham [see Lambton, John George] was appointed governor-general there during the troubles of 1838. Macdonell succeeded to the command of the troops in Canada, which he held until promoted to lieutenant-general's rank in 1841. He became a full general in 1864, and was made G.C.B. in 1855. He was a K.C.H., had the decorations of Maria Theresa of Austria and St. Vladimir in Russia, and was colonel in succession of the 79th Cameron highlanders and 71st highland light infantry. Macdonell died in London on 16 May 1857.

[A. Mackenzie's Hist. of the Macdonalds, Inverness, 1881; Army Lists; Stewart's Scottish Highlanders, Edinburgh, 1822, vol. ii.; Mackinnon's Coldstream Guards, vol. ii.; Siborne's Waterloo Campaign, London, 1844, and Letters from Waterloo, London, 1891; Nav. and Mil. Gaz. 31 March 1838; Gent. Mag. 1857, ii. 733.]

H. M. C.