Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 46.djvu/86

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Readings, consisting of eight Short Sermons, addressed to the Young,’ 1857. 8. ‘The two Brothers,’ 3 vols., 1858. 9. ‘A Mother's Trial,’ 1859. 10. ‘Kathlenne and her Sisters,’ 1861; 2nd edit., 1863. 11. ‘Mary Lyndsay,’ 3 vols., 1863; published in New York, 1863. 12. ‘Violet Osborne,’ 3 vols., 1865. 13. ‘Sir Owen Fairfax,’ 3 vols., 1866. 14. ‘A Story of Two Cousins,’ 1868. 15. ‘Nora,’ 3 vols., 1870. 16. ‘Oliver Beaumont and Lord Latimer,’ 3 vols., 1873.

[Allibone's Dict. English Lit. ii. 1620, Supplement, ii. 1243; O'Donoghue's Poets of Ireland, pt. iii. p. 206.]

E. L.

PONSONBY, Sir FREDERIC CAVENDISH (1783–1837), major-general, born on 6 July 1783, was the second son of Frederic Ponsonby, third earl of Bessborough, by Lady Henrietta Frances Spencer, second daughter of the first Earl Spencer. He entered the army in January 1800 as a cornet in the 10th dragoons, and became lieutenant on 20 June of that year, and captain on 20 Aug. 1803. In April 1806 he exchanged to the 60th foot, and served on the staff of the lord lieutenant in Ireland. He became major in the army on 25 June 1807, and on 6 Aug. he obtained a majority in the 23rd light dragoons. He went with his regiment to Spain in 1809, and distinguished himself at Talavera. The 23rd were ordered, together with a regiment of German hussars, to charge a column of infantry advancing on the French right as they were in the act of deploying. They came in mid career on a ravine, which stopped the Germans and threw the 23rd into confusion. The colonel was wounded, but Ponsonby led the men on against the infantry, which had by this time formed squares. Repulsed by the infantry, the 23rd were charged by two regiments of French cavalry, and were driven back with a loss of more than two hundred officers and men; but the delay and disorder prevented the French column from taking part in the general attack on the British position (see Napier, iii. 559, 2nd edition, for Ponsonby's own account of this affair).

Ponsonby served on the staff as assistant adjutant-general at Busaco and Barosa. Graham, in his report of the latter action, said that a squadron of the 2nd hussars, King's German legion, under Ponsonby's direction, made ‘a brilliant and most successful charge against a squadron of French dragoons, which were entirely routed’ (Wellington Despatches, iv. 697). He had become lieutenant-colonel on 15 March 1810, and on 11 June 1811 he obtained the command of the 12th light dragoons, and led that regiment for the rest of the war. He played a principal part in the cavalry action near Llerena on 11 April 1812, being at the time in temporary command of Anson's brigade, to which his regiment belonged. The French cavalry under Pierre Soult was about two thousand strong. Ponsonby had about six hundred, as one regiment of the brigade was still in rear, and he was told by Sir Stapleton Cotton to detain and amuse the French while Le Marchant's brigade moved round upon their flank. The French, seeing his inferiority, advanced, and he retired slowly before them into a narrow defile between some stone walls. They were on the point of charging when his missing regiment came up, and at the same time the head of Le Marchant's brigade appeared on the right. The French turned, and were pursued by the two brigades to Llerena, where they found protection from their infantry, having lost more than 150 men. Ponsonby was praised by Cotton for his gallantry and judgment.

Ponsonby was actively engaged with his regiment in covering the movements of the army immediately before Salamanca, and in the battle itself, 22 July 1812, towards the evening, he made some charges and dispersed some of the already beaten French infantry, his horse receiving several bayonet wounds. After the failure of the siege of Burgos he helped to cover the retreat of the army, and was wounded. At Vittoria his regiment formed part of the force under Graham which turned the French right, and barred their retreat by the Bayonne road. It was engaged in the action at Tolosa, when Graham overtook Foy, and covered the communications of Graham's corps during the siege of San Sebastian. It took part in the subsequent operations in the Pyrenees and in the south of France, and returned to England in July 1814. On 4 June of that year Ponsonby was made a brevet colonel and A.D.C. to the king in recognition of his services.

In the following year the 12th, with Ponsonby still in command of it, formed part of Vandeleur's light cavalry brigade. At Waterloo this brigade was at first posted on the extreme left; but about half-past one, when the two heavy brigades charged, it was moved towards the centre, and two regiments, the 12th and 16th, were ordered to charge, to cover the retirement of the men of the Union brigade. They were told to descend the slope, but not to pass the hollow ground in front; once launched, however, they were not easily stopped. Ponsonby himself, after receiving several wounds, fell from his horse on the crest of the ridge which was occupied by the French guns. ‘I know,’ he says, ‘we