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OSWALD, Sir JOHN (1771–1840), general, son of James Townsend Oswald, and grandson of James Oswald [q. v.], was born at Dunnikier, co. Fife, 2 Oct. 1771. For some years he was at the military school at Brienne, France, just after Napoleon Buonaparte had quitted it. With Napoleon's school companion and future secretary, Bourrienne, Oswald contracted a lifelong friendship. Some of his holidays were spent in Paris. His education thus gave Oswald a command of French, which proved of great service to him in his profession, and a sympathy with Frenchmen, which was then rare ; while detestation of revolutionary principles, intensified by the loss of personal friends whom he had known in Paris in his youth, gave bias to his political views. He was appointed a second lieutenant 23rd royal Welsh fusiliers on 23 Feb. 1788, and first lieutenant 7th royal fusiliers on 29 Jan. 1789. In June 1790 he embarked to join the royal fusiliers at Gibraltar. His name is not in the 'Army List' on 1 Jan. 1791, but on 24 Jan. he was appointed captain of an independent company, and on 23 March the same year he became a captain in the 35th foot. He was brigade-major to General Leland, but resigned when the grenadier company of the 35th, which he commanded, was ordered to the West Indies. He served with the 2nd provisional battalion of grenadiers at the reductions of Martinique, St. Lucia, and Guadeloupe in 1794; and was afterwards in garrison at Porto Prince, San Domingo, until his company was drafted and the officers and sergeants sent home to recruit. He became major in the 35th on 1 Sept. 1795, and lieutenant-colonel of the regiment on 30 March 1797 ; and commanded the regiment in North Holland in 1799, until severely wounded in the action at Crabbenham on 19 Sept. In 1800 he embarked with the two battalions of his regiment among the troops despatched under Major-general Richard Pigot, landed with them at Minorca, and took part in the blockade of Valetta and reduction of Malta, remaining there in command of the regiment until the peace of Amiens, when he went home on leave. On the renewal of the war he rejoined the regiment at Malta, and became brevet colonel October 1805. With his regiment he joined the troops under Sir James Craig [q. v.], after their withdrawal from Naples to Sicily ; was appointed commander at Melazzo ; and commanded the advance of Sir John Stuart's force at the landing in Calabria in June the same year. He commanded the third brigade of the army at the battle of Maida 4 July 1806, and three days later marched with it into Lower Calabria, where he captured Scylla Castle after a twenty days' siege (see Bunbury; Jones, Journals of Sieges, vol. i.) On his return to Sicily he received the local rank of brigadier-general there. In February 1807 he went with Major-general Alexander Mackenzie Fraser [q. v.] to Egypt, where the two battalions of the 35th were the first troops to land. He commanded the troops sent against Alexandria, and attacked and captured the western lines, taking many guns, and driving the Turks within the walls. It was not thought wise to attempt the interior line ; but two days afterwards the place capitulated. Oswald was then sent against Rosetta, and for fifteen days withstood the repeated Turkish sorties ; but the Turks having collected a very superior force, the British troops were drawn off. Oswald commanded in Alexandria until the expedition returned to Sicily, when Sir John Moore appointed him commandant of Augusta. In June 1808 his brigade rank was extended to the Mediterranean generally ; and in October following he was appointed to command a large body of troops collected at Melazzo. In 1809 he commanded the reserve in the expedition to the coast of Italy (see Bunbury ; also Alison, Hist. of Europe) , which ended in the capture of the islands of Ischia and Procida ; of the latter he was made commandant. He returned to Sicily in July 1809, and in September was sent to the Ionian Islands with an expeditionary force, which seized Zante, Cephalonia, Ithaca, and Cerigo. In March 1810, recognising the danger to which the captured islands were exposed from the neighbouring French garrison in Santa Maura, Oswald collected two thousand troops, with which he landed there on 23 March, driving the enemy behind their lines, personally leading the troop that stormed the strongest of the entrenchments, and established a lodgment at two hundred yards from the place, which capitulated after eight days of open trenches. Oswald administered the civil and military government of the captured islands ; and by his tact and judgment confirmed the prepossessions of the Greeks in favour of British rule, and established advantageous relations with the neighbouring Turkish pashas. On 11 Feb. 1811 he was appointed: colonel of the 1st Greek light infantry, consisting mostly of Greek brigands, who made very good soldiers. Oswald left the work of organisation to Richard Church [q. v.], to whom he gave all the credit {English Hist Review, v. 28). Oswald returned home to lay before the government the importance of the Ionian Islands. He was made a major-general 4 June 1811; was appointed to the western district, and commanded the troops in Bristol during the subsequent riots there.

In August 1812 Oswald was appointed to the staff of the Peninsular army, which he joined on 22 Oct. 1812, during the retreat from Burgos. He was present with Lord Wellington in the cavalry affair of 23-4 Oct., and on 25 Oct. succeeded to the command of the fifth division during the absence of Sir John Leith [q. v.] At the head of the division he had some sharp fightingat Villa Muriel and the passage of the Carrion, and remained in charge of it until it went into winter quarters on the banks of the Douro (Gurwood, Wellington Desp. vi. 88, 133, 136). When the army took the field in May 1813, Oswald was again at the head of the 5th division until relieved by Leith. He commanded it in its difficult march through the north of Portugal and the Spanish provinces of Zamora, Leon,, and Palencia, drove the enemy back atOsmaon 17 June, and, passing through a mountainous country previously Considered impassable for troops with guns, joined Wellington at Vittoria on 20 June 1813. He was in command of the 5th division at the battle of Vittoria and the siege of St. Sebastian. Leith resumed command of the division two days previous to the assault on St. Sebastian on 31 Aug., Oswald reverting to the command of a brigade. Generals Leith, Oswald, and Robinson were all wounded on 31 Aug., and the command of the division devolved on Major-general Andrew Hay [q. v.]

The death of an elder brother, and the failing health of his father, to whose estates he had become heir, now recalled Oswald to England. He received the thanks of parliament for his services at Vittoria and St. Sebastian, and gold medals for Maida, Vittoria, and St. Sebastian. On the disbanding of the Greek light infantry Oswald was made colonel-commandant of one of the batteries of the rifle brigade, and on 9 Oct. 1819 was appointed colonel of the 35th on the death of Charles Lennox, fourth duke of Richmond, K.G. [q. v.], who, as Colonel Lennox, had been colonel of the regiment when Oswald first joined the old 'Orange Lilies,' Oswald became a lieutenant-general 4 June 1814, and general 10 Jan. 1837.

Oswald was made K.C.B. 4 June 1815, G.C.B. 1824, G.C.M.G. 1838. In politics he was a very staunch conservative, and once, in the days before the first reform bill, unsuccessfully contested the county of Fife. Oswald died at his seat, Dunnikier, Kirkcaldy, co. Fife, 8 June 1840.

Oswald married, first, 28 Jan. 1812, Charlotte, eldest daughter of the Rev. Lord Charles Murray-Aynsley, son of John Murrav, third duke of Atholl. She died 22 Feb. 1827, leaving issue. He married, secondly, in October 1829, her cousin, Emily Jane, daughter of Lord Henry Murray, who survives.

In person Oswald was a tall, handsome, powerful man, over six feet in height, who used his weapons well in hand-to-hand fight, notably in the attack on Scylla Castle. A miniature, painted when he first joined the army, and a full-length as a young general officer, by Smellie Watson, now at Dunnikier, show the fine presence which, with his military bearing and youthful figure, he retained to the last year of his life. He had strong literary tastes, was a good and ready public speaker, and popular in society.

[Particulars from family sources; Army Lists and London Gazettes; Philippart's Royal Military Calendar, 1820, iii. 46–56 (in this, however, Oswald's Peninsular services are not always correctly recorded). For an account of the reduction of Malta, see Æneas Anderson's Narrative of an Expedition, London, 1802; for accounts of the campaigns in North Holland and the Mediterranean, see Sir H. E. Bunbury's Narrative of Passages in the late War with France, London, 1854; for account of Oswald's services in the Peninsula, see Napier's Hist. of the Peninsular War, rev. ed. 1812–3; Hamilton's Annals of the Peninsular Campaigns, 1829; Gurwood's Wellington Despatches, vol. vi.]

H. M. C.