Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Rose, Hugh Henry
ROSE, HUGH HENRY, Baron Strathnairn of Strathnairn and Jánsi (1801–1885), field-marshal, third son of Sir George Henry Rose [q. v.] and of his wife Frances, daughter of Thomas Duncombe of Duncombe Park, Yorkshire, was born at Berlin on 6 April 1801. He was educated at Berlin, and received military instruction from the commandant of the cadet school in that city, and from Prussian officers and non-commissioned officers of the Berlin garrison. He obtained a commission as ensign in the 93rd foot (Sutherland highlanders) on 8 June 1820, but he never joined the regiment, and on 6 July of the same year was transferred to the 19th foot, which he joined in Ireland. He was promoted lieutenant on 24 Oct. 1821.
In the spring of 1824 Rose was detached with a small party of his regiment to Carrick-on-Shannon, on ‘still-hunting’ duties, i.e. he had to escort and protect the excise officer in the seizure of illicit spirits—‘potheen.’ he thus came into frequent collision with the people. His activity led to his promotion to the command of a company in his regiment. He was frequently employed in giving aid to the civil power in Tipperary, which was at that time the scene of organised Ribbon outrages, and gave so much satisfaction to his superior officers that he was gazetted major unattached on 30 Dec. 1826. He was brought into the 92nd highlanders as a regimental major on 19 Feb. 1829. On 26 June 1830 he was appointed equerry to H.R.H. the late Duke of Cambridge.
The 92nd highlanders were stationed in the disturbed districts in Ireland where political agitation abounded, and in July 1832 Rose was selected to put down disaffected meetings. Owing to his prompt and judicious action in dispersing a large meeting at Cullen in Tipperary, that county and the adjoining districts were soon freed from seditious gatherings. The lord-lieutenant of Ireland made him a justice of the peace.
Rose accompanied his regiment to Gibraltar in 1833, and to Malta in 1836. During a serious outbreak of cholera at the latter place he zealously exerted himself in attending to his men, in conjunction with Dr. Paterson, the surgeon of the regiment. On 17 Sept. 1839 he was promoted, by purchase, to an unattached lieutenant-colonelcy.
In 1840 Rose was selected, with other staff officers and detachments of royal artillery and royal engineers, for special service in Syria, under the orders of the foreign office. They were to co-operate on shore, under Brigadier-general Edward Thomas Michell [q. v.] of the royal artillery, with the Turkish troops and with the British fleet, in effecting the expulsion of Mehemet Ali's Egyptian army from Syria, and the restoration of the sultan's rule over that country and Egypt. One of the earliest duties which Rose had to perform was to deliver a letter sent by Sir Stratford Canning from Constantinople, signed by all the powers except France, to Ibrahim Pasha, ordering him to retire at once from Syria. Rose came upon the rear of Ibrahim Pasha's army near Rachel's Well. He delivered his letter, and Ibrahim Pasha directed him to inform the British ambassador that he was then actually retiring on Egypt. Rose was next attached, as deputy adjutant-general, to the staff of Omar Pasha, who landed at Jaffa with a large division of Turkish troops from the British fleet. Rose distinguished himself in a skirmish with the Egyptian cavalry at El-Mesden or El-Medjdel on 15 Jan. 1841, when he was twice wounded. He was mentioned in despatches, and received from the sultan the order of Nishan Iftihar in diamonds and a sabre of honour. Shortly afterwards Rose succeeded, on the deaths of Brigadier-general Michell and Colonel Bridgeman, to the command of the British detachments in Syria, with the local rank of colonel. On 20 Aug. 1841 he was gazetted consul-general for Syria, with full diplomatic powers.
Rose's duties were mainly to smooth animosities, to arrest the horrors of civil war, to prevent the feuds between the Maronites and Druses from coming to a head, to induce the Turkish authorities to respect the oaths of Christians in Turkish courts of law, and to administer justice honestly and impartially. In September 1841 he prevented an outbreak between the Maronites and the Druses near Deir-el-Khama, the capital of the Lebanon. In the following month another outbreak occurred at Deir-el-Khama, where a large number of Druses attacked the town. After obstinate fighting, much bloodshed, and the destruction of property valued at 70,000l., Rose's personal influence on the spot was again successful in terminating the conflict.
On 23 Feb. 1842 Rose was made a C.B., and Lord Aberdeen, the minister for foreign affairs, stated in the House of Lords that the British agent in Syria, although England claimed no official protection of any sect in Syria, had certainly afforded, under the influence of the rights of humanity and of the promises made by England, a protection which had effectually saved from destruction several hundred Christians. On 13 July 1842 Rose received permission to accept and wear the gold war medal conferred upon him by the sultan for his services in the Syrian campaign. He also received a letter from Major-general von Neumann, adjutant-general to the king of Prussia, conferring upon him the order of St. John, and conveying his majesty's pleasure on hearing that ‘an early acquaintance’ had so gallantly distinguished himself.
On 12 May 1845, on an urgent appeal from the American missionaries at Abaye in Mount Lebanon, Rose hastened thither, accompanied only by two kavasses. He found the castle in flames and the Druses with drawn swords waiting outside to despatch the Christians as they were driven out by the fire. Rose made such forcible appeals to the Druses that he succeeded in inducing them to allow the Christians to go to Beyrout under his escort. As the Druses were up all along the route, the march was one of difficulty. On the road many burning villages were passed, at one of which there was a church of great sanctity. The roof of the church was on fire, and the people were anxious to save the picture of the patron saint. Rose caused himself to be let down from a window, secured the picture, and had just time to get back when the roof fell in. He and his two kavasses gave up their horses to the women to ride. In spite of the heat in the narrow defiles in the month of June, and of the threatening attitude of the Druses, Rose brought the Christians, with the exception of two of the Christian emir's servants, who died on the way, in safety to Beyrout.
Rose left Syria on leave in November 1848, on which occasion he received tributes to his services from Captain Wallis, from Consul Moore, and from British subjects at Beyrout. In recognition of his conduct Lord Palmerston brought him into the regular diplomatic service by appointing him on 2 Jan. 1851 secretary of embassy at Constantinople. He was promoted brevet-colonel on 11 Nov. the same year. On 23 June 1852 Sir Stratford Canning went on leave of absence, and Rose became chargé d'affaires. In this capacity he had to deal with a crisis of the ‘holy places’ question. Russia was seeking to obtain from the sultan a secret treaty vesting in her the actual protectorate of all the subjects of the Porte of the Greek Antiochian persuasion; and Prince Menchikoff, the Russian ambassador, on 19 April 1853 demanded that this secret treaty should be signed by sunset or he would demand his passports. Rose was immediately summoned by the Turkish minister and informed that the Porte desired to see the British fleet in Turkish waters. He pointed out that as chargé d'affaires he had no power to order the British fleet to Constantinople, but proposed to inform the admiral as quickly as possible of the gravity of the situation at Constantinople, and the serious responsibility that would devolve upon him were he to decline to bring the fleet. The sultan's ministers were satisfied with Rose's suggestion, and, on the strength of it, declined that same night to sign the treaty. Menchikoff left Constantinople in May, and on 2 July Russia invaded Turkey.
On 5 Oct. England and France declared war with Russia, and on 8 March 1854 Rose was appointed queen's commissioner at the headquarters of the commander-in-chief of the French army, with the local rank of brigadier-general. Rose's duty was to act as organ of communication between the French and English commanders-in-chief in all matters relating to the two armies, but especially in carrying communications in actions and battles. He was instructed to send in reports on the operations and on all circumstances connected with the campaign to the Earl of Clarendon, British foreign minister, through the British commander-in-chief, for the information of the government. Rose drew up a plan of operations for the invasion of the Crimea which was submitted to Lord Raglan and the government, and later to the emperor of the French, who expressed entire approval of it when Rose had an interview with him in passing through Paris.
Rose joined the French headquarters at Kadi-Koi on the Bosphorus. He became very intimate with Colonel (afterwards General) Trochu, first aide-de-camp to Marshal St. Arnaud. For his conduct in extinguishing a fire at Varna in some buildings in the vicinity of an old tower in which the French small-arm ammunition was stored, Rose was recommended for the legion of honour. At the battle of the Alma he took part with Colonel Cler and the 1st Zouaves in the attack on the telegraph position, which was carried by the French with great gallantry. The following morning, on visiting La Maison Brûlée with General Canrobert, upon which a violent cannonade had been made by the Russians, Rose was wounded by the splinter of a shell (London Gazette, 6 Feb. 1855). At Inkerman he reconnoitred the ground between the left of Canrobert and the right of General Pennefather, riding with the greatest sangfroid under a withering fire from the whole line of Russian pickets down the Tchernaya road. The Russians were so struck with his courage that an order was sent along the line to cease firing at him. Rose had accomplished his task. Canrobert was desirous to obtain for Rose the Victoria Cross, but, as Rose had the local rank of brigadier-general and was a C.B., he was not considered eligible. He was, however, promoted for his services to be major-general on 12 Dec. 1854, and on 16 Oct. 1855 he was made a K.C.B.
Lord Panmure, in moving the vote of thanks to the army in the House of Lords on 8 May 1856, spoke with high approbation of Rose's service, of which Lord Clarendon had already written to him in terms of high praise (5 June 1855) and Marshal Pélissier had expressed warm admiration. Rose was given the local rank of lieutenant-general in Turkey on 30 July 1856, and on 2 Aug. was granted the royal license to wear the insignia of a commander of the legion of honour conferred upon him by the emperor of the French.
The following year, on the outbreak of the Indian mutiny, Rose volunteered for service in India, and was given the command of the Puná division in the Bombay presidency. He arrived at Bombay on 19 Sept. 1857, and was brought on the general staff of the army from that date. He was shortly after appointed to command the Máu column of the force acting in Málwa, called the Central India field force, and proceeded with Sir Robert North Collie Hamilton [q. v.], the agent to the governor-general, to Indúr. The force consisted of two brigades mainly formed of native troops; the first at Máu, under the command of Brigadier-general C. S. Stuart of the Bombay army; the second, at Sihor, commanded by Brigadier-general C. Stewart, 14th light dragoons.
Rose's orders were to march from Máu through Central India to Kálpi, about one thousand miles, subduing the revolted districts and reducing the forts on the way until he joined hands with the commander-in-chief. He was not, however, to start until another column under Brigadier-general Whitlock of the Madras army, whose base was at Jabalpúr and whose duty it was to clear the line of communication with Allahábád and Mirzápúr and cross Bandalkhand to Bandá, was ready to move. The time of waiting was not thrown away; the two brigades were organised, and the men, who had already had hard work and beaten every enemy, were given time to recruit their energies. On 6 Jan. Rose, accompanied by Sir Robert Hamilton, started from Máu to join the second brigade at Sihor. On 16 Jan., reinforced by about eight hundred Bhopál levies, he set out for Ráthgarh, a strong fort held by the rebels. He arrived before the place on the 24th, and, driving the rebels from the outside positions which they had occupied in the town and on the banks of the river, he invested the fort, and the following day constructed his breaching batteries and opened fire. By the night of the 28th a breach had been made, when the rájá of Bánpúr advanced to the relief of the place. Rose did not slacken his fire on the fort, but despatched his cavalry to attack the rájá's force, which was speedily put to flight, and in the night the disheartened garrison evacuated the fort. The rájá of Bánpúr, reinforced by the garrison, took up a position near Barodia, about fifteen miles off, and Rose attacked him on the 30th on the banks of the Bina, where he had made preparations to dispute the British passage of the river. The rájá was completely defeated, and Rose returned to Ráthgarh.
The fall of Ráthgarh had cleared the country south of Ságar of rebels, reopened the road to Indúr, and made it possible for Rose to march to the relief of Ságar, now beleaguered for nearly eight months. This he did, and entered the place on 3 Feb., escorted by the Europeans, officers, and others who had gone out to welcome their deliverers. The strong fort of Garhákóta lay twenty-five miles to the east of Ságar. In 1818 it took Brigadier-general Watson, with eleven thousand men, three weeks to take the place. Rose sent a small force on 8 Feb. to destroy the fort of Sanoda, and on the 9th marched towards Garhákóta, arriving on the afternoon of the 11th. He at once drove in the outposts, and next day opened fire with such effect that on the night of the 12th the rebels evacuated the fort. They were pursued, on the morning of the 13th, by the cavalry, and some of them cut to pieces. Garhákóta was found to be full of supplies, and, after destroying its western face, Rose returned to Ságar on 17 Feb. For these operations Rose received the thanks of the commander-in-chief and of the governor-general in council.
Having thus opened the roads to and from the west and north, Rose set himself to clear the way towards the east. Eager as he was to press on to Jánsi, he was forced to remain at Ságar until he should hear of Whitlock's advance, and until he should obtain supplies and transport; for the hot season was setting in, and he could expect to get nothing on the way. He set forth on the evening of 26 Feb. He took the fort of Barodia on the 27th, after some shelling. On 3 March he found himself in front of the pass of Máltún. It was of great natural strength, had been fortified, and was held in force. Rose determined to feign an attack in front, while with the bulk of his column he made a flank movement, and attempted the pass of Madanpúr. This also was strongly occupied, and a most determined defence was made. The guns of the Haidarábád contingent coming up at the critical moment, and opening fire, the 3rd European and the Haidarábád infantry advanced under its support, and, charging the position, swept all before them. The enemy fled to the town of Madanpúr for refuge; but Rose brought up his howitzers and opened fire upon it. The enemy did not long reply, but fled to the jungle. They were pursued to the walls of the fort of Sorai.
The effect of this victory was great; the enemy evacuated the formidable pass of Máltún and the fort of Nárút in rear of it. The discomfiture of the rebels was soon complete, and Sir Robert Hamilton, the agent to the governor-general, annexed the whole district, the British flag being hoisted at Sorai for the first time. Chandairi was assaulted and captured by Rose's first brigade, under Brigadier-general C. S. Stuart, on 17 March.
Rose now continued his march on Jánsi. So impressed were the governor-general and the commander-in-chief with the strength of Jánsi, and with the inadequacy of Rose's force for its attack, that, notwithstanding the importance of the capture of this stronghold of the mutineers in Central India, Rose had been authorised in February to pass it by and march in two divisions, one on Kálpi through Charkári, and the other on Bandá. Rose, however, declined to leave in his rear so strong a place, with a garrison of eleven thousand men, under one of the most capable leaders of the mutiny. In March the Indian government became alarmed at the perilous position of the faithful rájá of Charkári, who was besieged in his fort by Tántia Topi with the Gwáliár contingent, and the viceroy and the commander-in-chief sent orders that the relief of Charkári was to be considered paramount to the operations before Jánsi. Both Rose and Sir R. Hamilton replied that the order for the relief of Charkári would be complied with, but after, not before, the siege of Jánsi. It is necessary to be thus explicit, as it has been stated that Rose considered himself bound to execute the order of the government, and against his own judgment to attempt the relief of Charkári before the attack on Jánsi, and that Hamilton took the responsibility of directing him to proceed to Jánsi.
The fort of Jánsi stands on a high rock overlooking a wide plain, with numerous outworks of massive masonry, and commands the city, by which it is surrounded on all sides but the west and part of the south side. Rose arrived before this place on 20 March, and at once invested it and commenced siege operations. By the 30th the enemy's guns were disabled. Rose had made arrangements to storm the city the next day, when Tántia Topi, with twenty thousand men, guns, and war material, crossed the Betwá to relieve Jánsi from the north. Rose determined to fight an action, and at the same time continue the siege and investment of Jánsi. He had only fifteen hundred men not required for the siege available to fight Tántia Topi, and of these only five hundred were Europeans. Nevertheless, he won a great victory on 1 April, capturing eighteen guns and two standards, killing upwards of fifteen hundred of the rebels, and pursuing the flying enemy for sixteen miles from camp. Anxious to profit by the discouragement which the defeat of Tántia Topi had caused the besieged, Rose stormed Jánsi on the 3rd, capturing the greater part of the city, and on the following day the remainder. The fort was abandoned the same evening, and on the 5th was occupied by Rose without further resistance. For seventeen days and nights Rose's force had known no repose. To this constant strain was added exposure to great heat. But the discipline and spirit of the troops enabled them to defeat a large army and take the strongest fortress of Central India with a loss to the rebels of five thousand killed alone, and to the British force of under four hundred killed and wounded.
Leaving a small portion of his second brigade to garrison Jánsi, Rose marched on 25 April for Kálpi, 102 miles to the north-east. Tidings soon reached him that the rebels under Tántia Topi had occupied in force Kúnch, a town rather more than half way to Kálpi. Rose at once marched on Kúnch, detailing a small force under Major Gall to attack the strong fort of Lohári, six miles on his left flank, which was captured on 5 May after a desperate struggle. Kúnch was a difficult place to attack, on account of the enclosures around it, and owing to the western quarter and the Jánsi gate being strongly fortified. On the night of 6 May Rose made a flank march of fourteen miles to gain the less protected side of the place on the east, whence also he threatened the enemy's line of retreat to Kálpi. His left, consisting of the first brigade, rested on the village of Nágupúra; the centre, formed of the second brigade, occupied the village of Chomair, while Major Orr's Haidarábád force on the right occupied the village of Umri. The attack took place on 7 May, and the fight lasted till late in the evening, in a temperature of 110° Fahr. in the shade. Rose's force suffered as much from sunstroke as from the fire of the enemy. Rose himself had to dismount four times from excessive debility, and it was only by medical treatment that he was enabled to hold out until the day was won, while many officers and men were either killed or prostrated by the intense heat. When the place was captured, pursuit was thus rendered impossible.
Intelligence reaching Rose of a combination of Tántia Topi and the rání at Kálpi with the nawáb of Bandá at Nowgong, twenty miles to the south-west of Kálpi, to cut him off, he made forced marches towards Kálpi. The troops had now to contend not only with an enemy superior in numbers and in knowledge of the country, but with an Indian sun at its maximum of summer heat. The number of sick increased daily, and added to the difficulties of transport. There was, moreover, scarcity of water and forage. On 15 May Rose established himself at Goláoli on the Jamná, out of the direct line between Kúnch and Kálpi, in order that he might turn the fortifications thrown up by the rebels to impede his advance, and that he might also join hands with Brigadier (afterwards Sir) George Maxwell's small force, which had reached the left bank of the Jamná opposite Goláoli.
Kálpi was occupied by the nawáb of Bandá with a large force. Its position was strong, being protected on all sides by ravines, on its front by five lines of defence, and on its rear by the river Jamná, from which rises the precipitous rock on which the fort is built. From 16 to 20 May constant skirmishes took place. On the 19th a mortar battery opened fire from the right front of the British position. On the 20th part of Maxwell's force crossed the river and joined Rose. On the 21st Maxwell's artillery opened on the place. On the 22nd, at ten o'clock, the rebels marched out in masses along the Bandá road to attack the British left. This was a feint, as their main body was stealing up the ravines to attack what they hoped would be the weakened right of Rose's force. The British left became seriously engaged, but Rose did not move a man from his right to assist his left. Suddenly the enemy debouched from the ravines, and ascended the spurs, pouring a heavy fire into the British right, and, advancing with repeated volleys, pressed it back on the British mortar battery and field guns. Here a stand was made, and Rose brought up the camel corps, and, leading them himself, charged the advancing rebels. They stood for a time, when a shout and forward movement of the whole British line caused them to waver and run. The victory was won. Rose followed them up so closely that a number were cut off from Kálpi. The fire from Maxwell's batteries rendered the place so insecure to the beaten rebels who gained it that they evacuated it during the night. The rest of the rebel force, pursued by the horse artillery and cavalry, lost their formation and dispersed. This fight was won under very trying circumstances, by a force exhausted by hard marching, weakened by sickness, in a burning sun, with a suffocating hot wind, over an enemy not only ten times as numerous, but who attacked with a resolution and knowledge of tactics not hitherto displayed. Kálpi was occupied the following day. The Duke of Cambridge, in an autograph letter, congratulated Rose, and announced the intention of the queen to confer upon him the honour of G.C.B.
The capture of Kálpi completed the programme agreed upon, and Rose obtained leave of absence, on a medical certificate, for a much-needed rest, when the attack upon Sindia on 1 June, the defection of his troops, and the consequent occupation of Gwáliár by Tántia Topi and the rání of Jánsi altered the position of affairs. The news reached Rose on 4 June, after he had resigned his command. Brigadier-general Robert Cornelis (afterwards Lord) Napier [q. v.] had been appointed to succeed him. Napier was not on the spot, and immediate action was necessary. Rose thereupon at once resumed the command which he had resigned, a breach of rules for which he was reprimanded by Sir Colin Campbell. Leaving a garrison at Kálpi, Rose started on 6 June with a small force to overtake Stuart's column, which he had sent in the direction of Gwálíar in pursuit of the rebels from Kálpi. He overtook Stuart at Indúrki on 12 June. Pushing on, he reached Bahádurpúr, five miles to the east of the Morár cantonments, at six A.M. on 16 June. Here he was joined by Napier, who took command of the second brigade, the larger part of which had been left at Kálpi. In the meantime Rose had sent Major Orr to Paniar to cut off the retreat of the rebels to the south, Brigadier-general Smith, with his brigade from Chandairi to Kotah-ki-Serai, about five miles to the south-east of Gwáliár, and Colonel Riddell and his column to escort a large supply of siege guns by the Ágra and Gwáliár road.
On his arrival at Morár, Rose lost no time in reconnoitring the position of the enemy, and determined to attack without delay. Placing his cavalry and guns on the flanks and the infantry in the centre, Rose himself led the first line, while the second line, under Napier, formed in échelon on his left; the left ‘refused,’ as the ravines were full of ambuscaded rebels. But the latter were skilfully dislodged by Napier after a sharp action. Rose turned the enemy's left, and the victory was completed by a successful pursuit of the rebels by a wing of the 14th light dragoons under Captain Thompson.
Rose had now gained an important strategical position, where he could establish his hospital and park in the cantonments, with a small force to protect them, while he himself joined in the investment of Gwáliár. He was also able to open communication with Brigadier-general Smith at Kotah-ki-Serai. On 18 June Rose was reinforced by the arrival of his Kálpi garrison, and, leaving Napier at Morár with such troops as he could spare, he joined Smith in the afternoon with the rest of his force. The distance was long, the heat terrible, and the march most harassing. Rose bivouacked for the night between the river Morár and Smith's position.
On the morning of the 19th, finding his position too cramped, and observing that the enemy were making preparations to attack him, Rose resolved to become the assailant. He sent Brigadier-general Stuart with the 86th regiment, and the 10th Bombay native infantry in support, to crown the heights beyond the canal, to the left of the Gwáliár Rock, and to attack the left flank of the rebels. This was gallantly done. The rebels were driven back, a battery of three nine-pounders on the ridge captured, and the rebels pursued. The 95th regiment, advancing, turned the captured guns on the enemy in the plains below. The 10th Bombay native infantry cleared the neighbouring height, and captured two brass field-pieces and three mortars. Rose ordered a general advance, and the capture of the Lashkar, or new city, followed. Brigadier-general Smith meanwhile had taken the garden palace of Phúl Bágh, and followed up the retreating enemy. Rose slept in Sindia's palace on the night of 19 June, having lost only eighty-seven men killed and wounded in retaking Gwáliár, the formidable fortress excepted.
Directions were sent to Napier to pursue the rebels as far and as closely as possible. On the morning of 20 June Rose moved, with Brigadier-general Stuart's brigade, to the left of the Gwáliár Rock, to turn it where it was not precipitous, and commenced to ascend, when Lieutenant Rose, of the 25th Bombay native infantry, discovered a gateway, and stormed it. He was killed, but Gwáliár was won. Sindia returned to his capital in triumph the following day. Napier gained a signal victory at Gáora-Álipúr over four thousand of the fugitive rebels on the 22nd. A royal salute was ordered to be fired at every principal station in India in celebration of the victory.
After the recapture of Gwáliár Rose made over the command of the Central India field force to Napier, and on 29 June 1858 proceeded to Bombay, and assumed command of the Puná division. For his eminent services he was gazetted a G.C.B. on 3 July, and regimental colonel of the 45th foot on the 20th of the same month. He was entertained at a banquet at the Byculla Club on 3 Aug. The thanks of both houses of parliament were voted on 14 April 1859 to Rose and the Central India field force, when highly eulogistic speeches were made in reference to Rose by Lord Derby and the Duke of Cambridge in the House of Lords, and by Lords Stanley and Palmerston in the House of Commons. It cannot, however, be said that the Central India field force was particularly well treated. They were not allowed to receive a silver medal with six months' batta, which Sindia was desirous to give them; they were only allowed the one clasp to the war medal given to all troops employed in Central India, and they were prevented from sharing the Central Indian prize-money by a legal quibble, after protracted litigation—a loss to Rose of about 30,000l.
On 28 Feb. 1860 Rose was promoted lieutenant-general, and on 29 March 1860 he was appointed commander-in-chief of the Bombay army, in succession to Sir Henry Somerset. On 4 June following, on Lord Clyde's departure from India, he was appointed to succeed him as commander-in-chief in India, with the local rank of general. During the five years of his administration he improved the discipline of the army, and on the occasion of a mutinous spirit showing itself in the 5th European regiment, when a court-martial convicted a private of insubordination and sentenced him to death, Rose approved the sentence, which was carried out, and disbanded the regiment. He introduced a system of regimental workshops and soldiers' gardens in cantonments, which proved very beneficial. One of the most trying and difficult duties which fell to him as commander-in-chief in India was the amalgamation of the queen's and company's forces. He was on terms of intimate friendship with the viceroy, Lord Canning, who shared his views [see Canning, Charles John], so that notwithstanding differences of opinion with the home government, the changes were ultimately carried out without friction. On 26 July 1860 Rose issued a general order, informing the army that, with a view to promoting its efficiency and rewarding meritorious officers, he intended to confer the appointments in his gift solely on officers of tried merit or of good promise, and he laid down that all applications for appointments must come through the applicant's commanding officer, who would report fully on the merits and antecedents of the applicant. At his inspections he personally examined officers of all ranks practically in tactical, and if possible, strategical movements; the results were noted by his staff, and these notes were consulted on all occasions when rewards or promotion were proposed. He was very severe on neglect of duty, and recommended the removal of two brigadier-generals from their commands for having omitted to visit the hospitals during an outbreak of cholera, a recommendation which was at once given effect to by the government of India, and approved by the home government. Rose was made a K.C.S.I. in 1861, and G.C.S.I. on the enlargement of the order in 1866.
Rose's tenure of the command in India terminated on 31 March 1865, when he returned to England. He was made a D.C.L. of Oxford on 21 June, and appointed one of her Majesty's commissioners for the lieutenancy of the city of London. On 1 July 1865 he was given the command of the forces in Ireland. On 25 June 1866 he was transferred to the colonelcy of the 92nd foot, and on 28 July he was raised to the peerage as Baron Strathnairn of Strathnairn and Jánsi. In November he was appointed president of the army transport committee. On 4 Feb. 1867 he was promoted general. During 1866 and 1867 he was confronted with the fenian conspiracy. By a good organisation and disposition of the troops under his command, and acting in complete accord with the Irish government, he succeeded in keeping the country under control, and preventing the conspiracy from growing into a rebellion. On 3 March 1869 Rose was gazetted regimental colonel of the royal horse-guards, which carries with it the office of gold stick. On completing five years in the Irish command, he relinquished the appointment on 30 June 1870. He was made an honorary LL.D. of Dublin on 6 July. He had some large estates in Hertfordshire, but he lived generally at 52 Berkeley Square, London, during the remainder of his life, and was prominent in London society. He was promoted field marshal on 2 June 1877. In his later years he spent much time in examining the religious questions of the day and in denouncing atheism. He died at Paris on 16 Oct. 1885. The remains were buried with military honours on 23 Oct. 1885 in the family burial-place in the graveyard of the priory church of Christchurch, Hampshire. He was unmarried. His brother Sir William Rose, K.C.B., clerk of the parliament, survived him only a few weeks.
Rose was one of the bravest of men. He literally knew no fear. He was a fine soldier, and among the many commanders brought to light by the Indian mutiny he was certainly one of the best.
There is in the United Service Club, London, a painting of Lord Strathnairn, taken from a photograph by Bassano. There is also an engraving by Walton. The print of him which serves as a frontispiece to Sir Owen Burne's ‘Clyde and Strathnairn’ is considered a fair likeness. An equestrian bronze statue, by Mr. E. Onslow Ford, R.A., was erected at the junction of Knightsbridge and the Brompton Road, London, by his friends and comrades, and unveiled in June 1895. Strathnairn is represented in the uniform of a field marshal, Indian staff order, but at a period of life when he was full of vigour. The statue is cast from guns taken by the Central India field force, and presented for the purpose by the government of India. On the side panels are the principal battles, &c., in which he was engaged: ‘Syria 1842, Ascalon, El-Mesden, Der-El-Kammar, Abaye; Crimea 1854, Alma, Inkerman, Mamelon, Sebastopol; India, 1858, Rathgur, Saugor, Gurrakota, Mudenpore, Chandari, Betwas, Jansi, Koonch, Calpee, Morar, and Gwalior.’
[War Office Records; India Office Records; Foreign Office Papers; Despatches; Malleson's Hist. of the Indian Mutiny; Burne's Clyde and Strathnairn; Memoir by Burne in Asiatic Quarterly Mag. 1886; Times, 17 Oct. 1855.]