William Augustus (DNB00)
WILLIAM AUGUSTUS, Duke of Cumberland (1721–1765), military commander, born on 15 April 1721 (O.S.) at Leicester House in London, was the third son—the second son had died in infancy—of George II, then prince of Wales, by Caroline, daughter of John Frederic, margrave of Brandenburg-Anspach. On 27 May 1725, when the order of the Bath was revived, he was nominated first knight, and on 15 July 1726 he was created Baron of Alderney, Viscount Trematon, Earl of Kennington, Marquis of Berkhampstead, and Duke of Cumberland. He was made knight of the Garter on 18 May 1730, and installed on 18 June.
Gay's fables were ‘invented to amuse’ the young duke in 1725–6. Jenkin Thomas Philipps [q. v.] was his tutor, and seems to have found him an apt pupil (see No. 8 of his Easy and Elegant Latin Letters); Stephen Poyntz [q. v.] was governor and steward of his household, and he often stayed at Poyntz's house at Midgham. William was the favourite of his parents, and they wished him to be lord high admiral. He was therefore educated for the navy, but his own tastes were military. In 1740, when Sir John Norris (1660?–1749) [q. v.] was ordered to intercept the French and Spanish fleets, ‘The Duke,’ as he was habitually called, even in the ‘Army List,’ joined the flagship as a volunteer, and served on board for some months. But the fleet was windbound in the Channel, and he made no further trial of a naval career.
An act of parliament had been passed on 14 June 1739 empowering the king to settle on him an income of 15,000l. a year from the civil list. On 23 April 1740 he had been made colonel of the Coldstream guards, and on 18 Feb. 1741–2 he was transferred to the 1st guards. When he came of age, on 15 April 1742, he took his seat in the House of Lords, and on 17 May he was sworn of the privy council. On 31 Dec. he was promoted major-general.
In April 1743 he accompanied the king to Hanover, and in June they joined the allied army on the Main. At the battle of Dettingen he was on the left of the first line of infantry, and, as Wolfe wrote, he ‘behaved as bravely as a man could do. He had a musket-ball through the calf of his leg. … He gave his orders with a great deal of calmness, and seemed quite unconcerned’ (Wright, p. 46). When the surgeon was about to dress his wound, the duke told him to attend first to a French officer near him whose wound was more serious, and who was more likely to be neglected. He was promoted lieutenant-general on 28 June.
Early in 1745 it was proposed that he should marry a deformed Danish princess. He was very unwilling, and consulted Lord Orford (Sir Robert Walpole), by whose advice he gave his consent on condition of receiving an ample and immediate establishment. As Walpole foresaw, the project was dropped (Reminiscences of Horace Walpole, Letters, vol. i. p. cxxxvii).
He had asked leave to serve in the campaign of 1744 in any capacity, but his request was rather sharply refused. When General George Wade [q. v.] resigned the command of the British troops at the end of that year, the king wished to appoint John Dalrymple, second earl of Stair [q. v.]; but Stair refused to serve under Marshal Königsegg, who was to represent Austria. The inconvenience of co-ordinate commands had been abundantly shown; and by Chesterfield's dexterity at the Hague it was eventually arranged that the duke should have the honorary command of all the allied forces in the Netherlands, with Königsegg adlatus (Trevor Papers, pp. 109 &c.) On 7 March 1744–5 he was made captain-general of the British land forces at home and in the field, an office dormant since Marlborough's time. He left England on 5 April, and, after visiting the Hague, arrived at Brussels and assumed command on the 10th (21st N.S.)
A week later news came that the French army under Marshal Saxe had invested Tournay, and on the 30th the allied army advanced to raise the siege. Its nominal strength was over fifty thousand men, its effective strength about forty-three thousand. On 9 May, having taken ten days to march less than fifty miles, it found the French army drawn up in its front at Fontenoy, four miles east of Tournay. On the day before the duke had written: ‘I cannot bring myself to believe the enemy will wait for us. … I cannot come at any certain knowledge of the enemy's number; but I have concurring information that the body on this side the Schelde does not exceed thirty-one battalions or thirty-two squadrons’ (Foreign Office Papers). His information was bad. The whole French army consisted of 106 battalions and 162 squadrons, and of these 60 battalions and 110 squadrons, or about forty-seven thousand men, took part in the battle of Fontenoy, fought on 11 May.
It has been commonly said that Königsegg was against attacking the French in their prepared position; ‘but the ardent courage of the Duke of Cumberland and the confidence of the English would take no advice’ (Espagnac, i. 59). The despatches show that this was not the case; the allied generals were unanimous for attack (English Historical Review, xii. 528). In the battle the duke was far from being a mere titular chief. On the contrary, he tried to do too much. ‘He saw and examined, and gave his orders with the utmost calmness and precision; but his ardour for the great end he was pursuing carried him to all places where there was anything to be done, that he might push the execution of it, and by his example support his orders.’ So wrote his secretary, Sir Everard Fawkener (Foreign Office Papers). He was on the field before 6 A.M., inquiring of Brigadier Ingoldsby why his orders for the capture of a redoubt had not been executed, and giving fresh verbal orders, as to the tenor of which he and Ingoldsby afterwards differed. He insisted on accompanying the British and Hanoverian infantry in their attack upon the French centre between this redoubt and Fontenoy, and remained with them throughout. Philip Yorke, whose brother was his aide-de-camp, wrote: ‘He was the whole day in the thickest of the fire. When he saw the ranks breaking, he rode up and encouraged the soldiers in the most moving and expressive terms; called them countrymen; that it was his highest glory to be at their head; that he scorned to expose them to more danger than he would be in himself; put them in mind of Blenheim and Ramillies: in short, I am convinced his presence and intrepidity greatly contributed to our coming off so well’ (Coxe, i. 236). John (afterwards Earl) Ligonier [q. v.], in a letter to the British minister at the Hague, said: ‘Ou je suis fort trompé ou il se forme là un grand capitaine’ (Trevor Papers, p. 113).
The allied army fell back on Ath, and made no further attempt to relieve Tournay. The British blamed the Dutch for their defeat, and their respective commanders were at variance, Cumberland being most concerned about the protection of Flanders, and Waldeck about the places of Hainault. Saxe, as soon as he was master of Tournay, took advantage of this divergence. He threatened Mons, and at the same time sent Löwendahl to surprise Ghent. It was taken on 10 July, and the allied army, now only half the strength of the French, retreated behind Brussels. Saxe was left to complete the conquest of Flanders without interruption, and by the middle of October he had done this, had taken Ath, and had placed his troops in winter quarters.
By that time the British troops were needed elsewhere. The defeat of Fontenoy and the call for reinforcements from England had helped to decide Charles Edward to make his venture in the highlands. He had landed on 25 July (O.S.), and on 21 Sept. he had routed Sir John Cope [q. v.] at Prestonpans. Three days afterwards ten battalions of British infantry, recalled from the Netherlands, arrived in the Thames. The rest of the infantry and most of the cavalry followed later, and the duke himself reached London on 18 Oct.
At the end of October an army of fourteen thousand men was formed at Newcastle under Wade; but this included six thousand Dutch troops, which had capitulated at Tournay and elsewhere, and which, on account of French remonstrances, were not allowed to serve in the field. In the middle of November, when the rebel army had entered England by the west coast, a second army was formed in Staffordshire under Ligonier. He fell ill; the duke was allowed to take his place, and arrived at Lichfield on 28 Nov. He had nominally 10,500 foot and 2,200 horse, really about two-thirds of those numbers (Blaikie, p. 94). They were distributed between Tamworth and Stafford, with a vanguard at Newcastle-under-Lyne. It was uncertain whether the rebels, who were then close to Manchester, would make for Wales or for London, and, though their number was barely five thousand, their movements were quicker than those of the English.
On 3 Dec. the duke advanced to Stone, hoping to fall in with them; but there he learnt that they had given him the slip, and were marching on Derby, which they reached next day. He hurried back to Stafford, and thence to Coventry, to intercept them; but on the 7th news reached him that they had begun their retreat. He mounted a thousand foot soldiers on horses of the country, and set out in pursuit with them and with his cavalry. On the 13th he was joined at Preston by Oglethorpe, who had been detached by Wade with three regiments of horse. It was not till the 18th that he succeeded in overtaking the rebel army near Penrith. There was a sharp action with its rearguard at Clifton, but the attempt to cut it off failed. As a contemporary ballad put it:
Then the foot got on horseback, the news give account,
But that would not do, so the horsemen dismount.
A fierce fight then ensu'd by a sort of owl-light,
Where none got the day, because it was night.
(Arms and the Man, 1746. The different accounts of the action at Clifton have been carefully collected and compared by Chancellor Ferguson in the Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmoreland Antiquarian and Archæological Society, 1889, pp. 186–228).
On the 20th the rebels re-entered Scotland, the garrison they had left in Carlisle surrendered on the 30th, and on 2 Jan. the duke set out for London, where it was at that time believed that a French invasion from Dunkirk was imminent. It was left to Wade's army, or rather to the English part of it, now under Hawley's command, to follow up the rebels, whose numbers had been raised by reinforcements to nine thousand. They had undertaken the siege of Stirling Castle. Hawley marched from Edinburgh to raise the siege, and on 17 Jan. was beaten at Falkirk [see Hawley, Henry].
The duke was at once sent north to replace him. On the 28th Horace Walpole wrote: ‘The great dependence is upon the duke; the soldiers adore him, and with reason; he has a lion's courage, vast vigilance and activity, and, I am told, great military genius’ (Letters, ii. 4). He reached Edinburgh on the 30th, and next day the army, somewhat reinforced, was again on the march for Stirling. The rebels did not wait for him. Charles Edward was forced, much against his will, to raise the siege and retire to the highlands. The duke entered Stirling on 2 Feb. and Perth on the 6th. On the 8th a corps of five thousand Hessians, sent to replace the Dutch troops, arrived at Leith. They were placed at Perth and Stirling to guard the southern issues from the highlands; and on the 20th the duke set out with his army for Aberdeen, which he reached on the 28th. On his way he issued a proclamation at Montrose on the 24th, summoning all concerned in the rebellion to submit and deliver up their arms.
The army remained nearly six weeks at Aberdeen, inactive except for outpost affairs, but collecting supplies. At length the weather allowed it, on 8 April, to move on Inverness. The Spey was passed on the 12th, and on the 15th, the duke's birthday, there was a day's halt at Nairn. The rebel army was assembled on Drumossie Moor, near Culloden House, five miles east of Inverness; and its leaders seized the opportunity for a night surprise. But the march took longer than they expected, the attempt was abandoned, and the rebels returned to their position on the moor, weary and disheartened. The English soon followed them, and about 1 P.M. on 16 April the battle of Culloden began.
The duke's army consisted of three regiments of horse, fifteen battalions of foot (eight of which had fought at Fontenoy) and about fifteen hundred highlanders, in all about 8,800 men with eighteen guns (Scots Magazine, 1746, p. 216). The force was little larger than at Falkirk, but it was much better handled. Hawley had attacked with his cavalry, which was driven back upon his foot; the duke used his cavalry to cover his own flanks and threaten those of the enemy. Hawley had left his guns behind; the duke's guns were distributed by pairs between the infantry battalions, and their fire so galled the highlanders as to provoke them to charge piecemeal without waiting for orders. Battalions opportunely brought up from the second line and reserve prolonged the first line, and took the highlanders in flank as they charged. This time the English infantry had the wind at their backs, and the men had been told each to use his bayonet, in hand-to-hand fighting, not against his own assailant, who could parry it with his target, but against the assailant of his right-hand man.
According to Patullo, the muster-master of the rebel army, it numbered above eight thousand on the rolls, but there were so many absentees that it was not possible to bring five thousand to the field (Home, p. 333). Lord George Murray (1700–1760) [q. v.] reckoned it as not above seven thousand fighting men, of whom only 150 were horse. The right wing and centre of the highlanders charged first, and had some success. They broke through the interval between the two regiments on the left of the first line, capturing the two guns there for a time, and killing or wounding 207 men in those two regiments. But they were repulsed by the second line, and scattered by the dragoons. ‘The left wing did not attack the enemy, at least did not go in sword in hand, imagining they would be flanked by a regiment of foot and some horse which the enemy brought up at that time’ (Lockhart Papers, p. 531. The letter is unsigned, but was written by Lord George Murray, see Athole MSS. Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. App. viii. 74, and Home, p. 359). The discontent of the Macdonalds at being placed on the left may have cooled their ardour, but that they ‘stood moody, motionless, and irresolute to fight’ (Stanhope, iii. 306) is contradicted by several witnesses. The duke himself wrote: ‘Upon the right, where I had placed myself, imagining the greatest push would be there, they came down three several times within a hundred yards of our men, firing their pistols and brandishing their swords, but the Royals and Pulteney's hardly took their firelocks from their shoulders, so that after those faint attempts they made off’ (Weston Papers, p. 443; cf. Johnstone, pp. 144, 159, and Maxwell's narrative).
The battle was decided in less than half an hour. One part of the beaten army fled west to Inverness, pursued and mercilessly sabred by the English horse; the other part fled south to Ruthven in Badenoch. The duke wrote: ‘I think we may reckon the rebels lost two thousand men upon the field of battle and in the pursuit, as few of their wounded got off, and we have 222 French, and 326 rebel, prisoners’ (Weston Papers, p. 444). The loss of the English troops was 340.
The soldiers, elated at their victory, greeted the duke with cries of ‘Now, Billy, for Flanders!’ How warmly they felt towards their ‘young hero’ may be seen in a letter written shortly afterwards by one of Cobham's dragoons, praising his fairness and his care of them, and adding, ‘Had he been at Falkirk, those brave Englishmen that are now in their graves had not been lost, his presence doing more than five thousand men’ (Lyon in Mourning, i. 380). He for his part was equally pleased with them. Replying to Ligonier's congratulations, he said: ‘Sure never were soldiers in such a temper. Silence and obedience the whole time, and all our manœuvres were performed without the least confusion. I must own that [you] have hit my weak side when you say that the honour of our troops is restored. That pleases beyond all the honours done me. You know the readiness I always found in the troops to do all that I ordered, and in return the love I have for them, and that I make my honour and reputation depend on them’ (Stowe MS. 142, f. 113).
The army advanced to Inverness and halted there. On the 17th an order was issued: ‘a captain and fifty men to march immediately to the field of battle, and search all cottages in the neighbourhood for rebels. The officer and men will take notice that the publick orders of the rebels yesterday were to give us no quarter’ (Campbell-Maclauchlan, p. 293). A copy of these orders, signed by Lord George Murray, was said to have been found in the pocket of a prisoner (they are given in full in the Scots Magazine, 1746, p. 192, and are referred to by Wolfe in a letter written on the day after the battle; but cf. Athenæum, 11 March 1899). Lord Kilmarnock and others afterwards declared that they had never heard of any such orders, but they were not primâfacie incredible. It is stated that Murray had warned the Hessians when they arrived that, unless there was a cartel for exchange of prisoners, they would be put to the sword, and the duke refused a cartel (Johnstone, p. 119; and cf. Walpole, Letters, ii. 4). But even assuming that the orders were genuine, they referred to the heat of action. To use them next day as a means of rousing the vindictiveness of the men sent to search for wounded rebels was inexcusable, and renders the duke responsible for the atrocities which took place (Lyon in Mourning, iii. 68, &c.).
At Inverness the duke was joined by the lord president, Duncan Forbes (1685–1747) [q. v.], with whose assistance a proclamation was drawn up calling upon all magistrates to search out and seize all rebels who had not submitted, and any persons harbouring them; ‘but as one half of the magistracys have been either aiders or abettors to this rebellion, and the others dare not act through fear of offending their chiefs or of hanging their own cousins, I hope for little from them’ (Cumberland to Newcastle, 30 April, Addit. MS. 32707, f. 128). Of the lord president he wrote: ‘As yet we are vastly fond of one another, but I fear it wont last, as he is as arrant Highland mad as Ld Stair or Crawford. He wishes for lenity if it can be with safety, which he thinks, but I don't’ (ib.) He is said to have replied to Forbes's expostulations, ‘The laws of the country, my Lord! I'll make a brigade give laws, by God!’ (Lyon in Mourning, iii. 68).
He was firmly convinced, like Cromwell in Ireland, that ‘mild measures won't do.’ They had been tried and had failed. He told Newcastle, on 4 April, ‘You will find that the whole of the laws of this ancient kingdom must be new modelled.’ He made some suggestions himself, and sent Lord Findlater to London to advise on the legislation needed to break down the clan system. To support or supplement the magistrates, parties of troops were sent throughout the highlands to hunt for rebels, plunder and burn their houses, and drive off their cattle. He shifted his headquarters and the bulk of his troops on 23 May to Fort Augustus, as that was a more central point. On 23 June Lord Granby wrote from there: ‘The duke sent a detachment of a hundred of Kingston's horse, fifty on horseback and fifty on foot, into Glenmorrison's country to burn and drive in cattle, which they executed with great expedition, returning in a couple of days with a thousand head of cattle, after having burnt every house they could find. The duke has now shown the gentlemen of Scotland who gave out that the highlands were inaccessible to any but their own people, that not only the infantry can follow rebel highlanders into their mountains, but that horse upon an occasion commanded by him find nothing impracticable’ (Rutland MSS. ii. 196, Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. App. v.)
His general orders show that he tried to maintain strict discipline, but troops employed in this way were sure to misbehave in some cases. The driving in of cattle caused widespread suffering; but, as Lord George Murray had declared, resistance might be kept up ‘as long as there were cattle in the highlands or meal in the lowlands.’ Nor was all risk of such resistance past. In the middle of August Lochgarry was assuring Charles Edward that he could ‘very soon make a flying army of about two thousand men,’ and was offering to surprise Fort Augustus (Blaikie, p. 125; cf. Murray of Broughton, p. 435). The stories of the duke's personal brutality collected by Bishop Forbes (Lyon in Mourning) are mere hearsay, and only prove the hatred he had inspired [see Wolfe, James]. The cases of Stewart of Invernahyle and Macdonald of Kingsburgh show that, hard as he was, he was not always deaf to appeals. Duncan Forbes wrote of him to Sir John Cope on 21 June: ‘His patience, which surprises in such years, is equal to his fire, and in all probability will do very great service to the public’ (Culloden Papers, p. 280).
His tone became harsher as time went on. On 29 June he wrote: ‘I find them a more stubborn and villainous set of wretches than I imagined could exist;’ and on 17 July: ‘I am sorry to leave this country in the condition it is in; for all the good that we have done has been a little blood-letting, which has only weakened the madness, but not at all cured; and I tremble for fear that this vile spot may still be the ruin of this island and of our family’ (Addit. MS. 32707, f. 380; Coxe, i. 303). He underrated his success; the clan system, crushed under his heavy heel, never raised its head again.
He left Fort Augustus on 18 July, and reached London on the 25th, when he was received with general rejoicing (Doran, London in the Jacobite Times, ii. 148–65). The thanks of parliament had been voted for Culloden on 29 April, and on 4 June an act had been passed settling 25,000l. a year on him and his heirs, in addition to his income from the civil list. The freedom of the city of York was presented to him on 23 July, and that of London on 6 Aug. He was made ranger of the great park at Windsor on 12 July, and colonel of the 15th dragoons (a regiment newly formed out of Kingston's horse, and disbanded in 1749) on 6 Sept. He had been elected chancellor of the university of St. Andrews in March. Handel's oratorio, ‘Judas Maccabæus,’ was written in his honour. A gold medal was struck to commemorate the victory of Culloden, and issued to the principal officers engaged, but whether this was done by the government is doubtful. On the obverse was a bust of the duke, on the reverse a figure of Apollo pointing to a dragon pierced with an arrow, with the legend, ‘Actum est, ilicet, periit.’ Among the many verses written, only those of Collins need be named, ‘How sleep the brave,’ and the ode on the popular superstitions of the highlands. Tyburn Gate of Hyde Park was renamed Cumberland Gate, and the duke's head became a tavern sign in every country town (Wright, England under the House of Hanover, p. 227).
But the stream of satire and invective, of which there are many specimens in the ‘Lyon in Mourning,’ soon spread from Scotland to London. It was encouraged by the Prince of Wales, who was very jealous of the duke. It did its work most effectively by fastening on him the nickname of ‘the butcher.’ According to Horace Walpole, when the proposal was made to elect him a freeman of some city company, an alderman said, ‘Then let it be of the Butchers’ (1 Aug. 1746, Letters, ii. 43). In a caricature which bears the date 19 Dec. 1746 he is represented as a calf in the gear of a butcher (Brit. Mus. No. 2843), and others, perhaps earlier, picture him as a butcher. When he lost his sword in a disturbance at the Haymarket Theatre in 1749, some one cried out: ‘Billy the butcher has lost his knife’ (Lyon in Mourning, ii. 226).
He had hoped to resume his command in Flanders, but Prince Charles of Lorraine was sent unexpectedly from Vienna to take his place. The campaign of 1746, like the previous one, went ill for the allies, and they were pushed back to the Dutch frontier. In December the duke went to the Hague to concert operations, as he was to command in 1747. He again embarked for Holland on 1 Feb., and towards the end of March the allied army was assembled east of Breda. It was to have numbered 140,000 men, but was in fact under a hundred thousand. A French army of about the same strength, under Saxe, lay facing it, between Malines and Louvain; while there was a detached corps of fifteen thousand men at Namur under Clermont, and another of twenty thousand at Ghent under Löwendahl. By the middle of May the latter corps had taken possession of all Dutch Flanders, and prepared the way for the invasion of Zeeland.
The alarm which this caused among the Dutch led to the revival of the stadholderate, which was made hereditary in the house of Orange. This internal revolution and the want of supplies crippled Cumberland's movements. He had hoped to recover Antwerp, but the French precautions and the Dutch dilatoriness made him renounce that design. He then wished to attack the French in their position behind the Dyle, but his generals thought the risk too great. His troops suffered much from sickness, and Saxe, whose army was much better supplied, wished to prolong the situation; but in the beginning of June Louis XV joined the army, and the siege of Maestricht was decided on. Saxe was unwilling to commit himself to this siege while the allies remained free either to interrupt him or to march on Brussels. He skilfully drew them towards Maestricht, forestalled them in the strong position which they hoped to occupy between that place and Tongres, and defeated them in the battle of Laeffelt—or Val, as the English called it—on 2 July (N.S.)
Saxe had about 125,000 men, the allies ninety thousand, of which about ten thousand were British and twenty thousand Hanoverians and Hessians in British pay. While holding in check the Austrians, who were on the right, and the Dutch, who were in the centre, Saxe dealt his blow against the left. The hamlet of Laeffelt was taken and retaken four times. After three hours' obstinate fighting a fifth assault was made upon it by nearly twenty-five thousand men. At the same time the French cavalry charged and routed some Dutch squadrons drawn up on the right of it. These in their flight swept away some reinforcements that were coming from the reserve, and the duke himself was nearly made prisoner while trying to rally them. Laeffelt was lost, and the left wing retreated on Maestricht. The right and centre retired northward, but the French pursuit was slack, and the allied army reunited next day on the right bank of the Meuse.
The whole brunt of the battle and nine-tenths of the loss had fallen upon the Anglo-Hanoverians; and the duke was asked to explain how it was that here, as at Rocour the year before, the Austrians had found themselves unable to take any share in it. He had no fault to find with them, but he owned it could be wished ‘that so great a proportion of the whole force had not been employed to strengthen what was itself so very strong, but that part of it had been made use of on the left, or at least been kept as a reserve to follow occasions’ (Coxe, i. 493). For this he was himself responsible. As Horace Walpole wrote: ‘He behaved as bravely as usual, but his prowess is so well established that it grows time for him to exert other qualities of a general’ (Letters, ii. 92).
The French lost more men than the allies, and the victory was not decisive enough for Saxe to attempt the siege of Maestricht. He fell back on an alternative which he personally favoured, the siege of Berg-op-Zoom. This was begun by Löwendahl on 14 July, and lasted two months. The duke was pressed by the Prince of Orange to march to its relief, but he thought Maestricht of more importance. There was friction between the two brothers-in-law. In August Pelham wrote: ‘Our two young heroes agree but little. Our own is open, frank, resolute, perhaps hasty; the other assuming, pedantic, ratiocinating, and tenacious’ (Stanhope, iii. 332). However, the Dutch troops and others to the extent of nearly half his army were gradually sent off by Cumberland for the defence of the Dutch frontier, while Saxe made corresponding detachments to reinforce Löwendahl. Berg-op-Zoom was taken on 16 Sept., and the campaign ended soon afterwards.
The French wished for peace; and Saxe suggested through Ligonier, who had been made prisoner at Laeffelt, that ‘it would be very glorious for his most Christian majesty, as well as for his royal highness, that peace should be made at the head of the two armies.’ The duke liked the idea; but the British government preferred to leave the business to diplomatists, and sent out Lord Sandwich. A new campaign opened before terms were settled. Early in April 1748 Saxe invested Maestricht with more than a hundred thousand men. The allied army assembled at Roermond under Cumberland amounted at that time only to thirty-five thousand men, and could do nothing to save the place, which was still holding out, however, when preliminaries of peace were signed at Aix-la-Chapelle at the end of the month. The duke went to Hanover in August, and to England in September, to arrange about the reductions in the British forces; otherwise he remained with the army in Holland until it was broken up, after the final signature of peace on 18 Oct.
On his return to England he lived chiefly at Windsor, sometimes at the Ranger's (now Cumberland) Lodge, which he enlarged, and sometimes at Cranbourne Lodge, being appointed warden of Cranbourne Chase on 29 Oct. 1751. With the assistance of Thomas Sandby [q. v.], whom he made deputy ranger, he greatly improved the park, especially by plantations of Scotch firs and cedars (Menzies, History of Windsor Great Park), and he began the formation of Virginia Water. He was an ardent supporter of horse racing, and ultimately he had the largest and best stud in the kingdom. Eclipse and Herod were bred in his stables. He made the course and founded the meeting at Ascot (Quarterly Review, xlix. 409). At the same time he was zealous in the discharge of his duties as captain-general. He founded a hospital for invalid soldiers near Buckingham House, and he procured the passing of a bill to protect pensioners from usurers. He ‘plucked a very useful feather out of the cap of the ministry by forbidding any application for posts in the army to be made to anybody but himself’ (Walpole, Letters, ii. 55); and he did his best to root out abuses and to secure discipline and efficiency.
But his efforts in this direction added to his unpopularity. He was said to be treating the soldiers ‘rather like Germans than Englishmen.’ The changes made at his instance in the Mutiny Act were strongly opposed in parliament. The ‘Remembrancer,’ edited by James Ralph [q. v.], and inspired by the Prince of Wales's coterie at Leicester House, attacked his military reforms and himself, and pointed to precedents of ambitious younger sons. The writer of ‘Constitutional Queries,’ which appeared at the beginning of 1751, and was burnt by the hangman, definitely asked ‘whether it might not be prudent to reflect on the fatal instances of John of Lancaster and Crook-backed Richard’ (Walpole, George II, i. 495).
On 20 March 1751 the Prince of Wales died, and the question of regency, in case the king should die before his grandson came of age, was raised. The king wished the duke to be regent, but the ministers demurred on account of his unpopularity. An act was passed providing that the Princess-dowager of Wales should be regent, but should be advised by a council on which the duke was to have a seat. He was deeply mortified. There was already a coolness between him and Newcastle, which had originated in differences between the latter and Sandwich during the Aix-la-Chapelle negotiations (Coxe, ii. 110), and from this time forward he was hostile to the Pelhams. His political friends were the Duke of Bedford, Sandwich, and especially Henry Fox. The king thanked the latter for taking the duke's part in the debate on the regency bill, and said, ‘The English are so changeable; I do not know why they dislike him. It is brought about by the Scotch, the Jacobites, and the English that do not love discipline.’ In November, when the duke had a fall in hunting and his life was for some days in danger, the king was in great distress, and told Fox ‘he has a head to guide, to rule, and to direct’ (Walpole, George II, i. 137, 184). He was elected chancellor of the university of Dublin, in succession to his brother, on 18 May.
When the king went to Hanover in the spring of 1755, the duke was appointed one of the lords justices (28 April) on account of the critical state of affairs and the possibility of a French invasion. He was for declaring war at once and striking the first blow; but, though hostilities were carried on, the declaration was deferred till news came of the French descent on Minorca in May 1756.
Since the death of the Prince of Wales the jealousy of the duke had become more intense on the part of his widow and her circle. Pitt acted with them, and in the debate on the regency bill he had gone so far as to suggest that, if the duke were to become sole regent, his ambition ‘might excite him to think less of protecting than of wearing the crown’ (Stanhope, iv. 13). But the duke took Pitt's measure sufficiently to advise Fox, at the end of 1754, not to place himself in opposition to him by accepting a seat in the cabinet. ‘I don't know him, but by what you tell me Pitt is, what is scarce, he is a man’ (Walpole, George II, i. 363).
In November 1756 Pitt became secretary of state. He was bent on pushing the war in America, and in January 1757 two highland regiments were raised for service there, one of them by Simon Fraser, master of Lovat, who had fought in the rebel ranks at Culloden. Pitt has been highly praised for having ‘devised that lofty and generous scheme for removing the disaffection of the highlanders’ (Stanhope, iii. 18, iv. 89). But the duke had some share in it, for the proposal was contained, with others, in ‘a plan for carrying on the war’ which was submitted to him in May 1756, and which he sent by Lord Albemarle to Pitt in December. The fact is, troops were badly needed in America, and could be ill spared from home, and, as the author of this plan remarked, ‘No men in this island are better qualified for the American war than the Scots highlanders’ (Almon, Anecdotes of the Earl of Chatham, i. 261). In the ‘Cumberland Papers’ there is a list of officers for Fraser's regiment endorsed by the duke: ‘These papers delivered to me by the Duke of Argyle on the 2nd January 1757, and approved next day by the king’ (see also Walpole, George II, ii. 131, and Addit. MS. 32870, ff. 21, 61, 72). Eight years before, when the Duke of Bedford thought of sending out highlanders as colonists to Nova Scotia, Cumberland had promised his support to the scheme, ‘as it is much to be wished that these people may be disposed of in such a manner as to be of service to the government instead of a detriment to it’ (Bedford Correspondence, i. 564).
On other points the duke and Pitt were opposed. Hanover was threatened with invasion owing to its connection with England, and the king wished the duke to command the army of observation formed to cover it. Pitt was anti-Hanoverian, and from his connection with Leicester House he was indisposed to swell the duke's army. No British troops and not much money could be obtained for the defence of Hanover. The king disliked Pitt and Temple, and was determined to get rid of them, and the duke unwisely persuaded his father to take this step before he himself left England. He is even said to have made it a condition of his acceptance of a command to which he was personally disinclined (Walpole, George II, ii. 195).
On 9 April 1757 the duke set out for Germany, and joined his army at Bielefeld. It numbered about forty thousand men—mainly Hanoverians, Hessians, and Brunswickers—and held the line of the Lippe hills, west of the Weser. Frederick the Great, now England's ally, had strongly urged that the army should advance towards the Rhine to support his fortress of Wesel; but the Hanoverian ministers, by whose advice the duke was to be guided, insisted that it should confine itself to the defence of the electorate. The Prussian garrison of Wesel, therefore, evacuated that place, and joined the Hanoverian army for a time; but in the middle of July it was called away to Magdeburg.
In the beginning of June the French army under Marshal d'Estrées, having crossed the Rhine into Westphalia, advanced from Münster upon Bielefeld. It was double the strength of the duke's army, and the latter retired across the Weser. The French occupied Hesse, passed the Weser higher up, and moved northward upon Hanover. There was an action between the outposts of the two armies at Ladferde on 24 July, after which the duke drew back to a position behind the village of Hastenbeck. His right was covered by the guns of Hameln, his left rested upon some wooded heights, and he had a swamp in his front. Here he was attacked and defeated on the 26th. Advancing through the woods the French turned his left, captured his principal battery, and forced him to retreat. But meanwhile three Hanoverian battalions, which had been sent round the woods to guard the left, struck unexpectedly upon the right flank of the French columns, and caused so much confusion that at one time Estrées also gave orders for retreat. Hence there was no pursuit, and the duke's army retired in good order. He had lost only twelve hundred men, but he made no further attempt to check the French progress. He was himself in favour of joining the Prussians, but in obedience to the king's instructions he retreated slowly northward upon Stade, where the Hanoverian archives and treasury had been placed (Addit. MS. 32874, fol. 381, and Cumberland Papers). It was hoped that the French would not follow him, but would pass on into Brandenburg.
When the news of the battle reached England, the king, who had spent all his own savings upon this army, told Newcastle that ‘he had stood it as long as he could, and he must get out of it as well as he could;’ he could do nothing more for the king of Prussia, but would let him know that he was obliged to make his own peace separately, as elector. He wrote to the duke to the same effect on 11 Aug., and sent him full powers to treat with the French commander, binding himself, as elector, to ratify and observe any convention the duke should sign. On the 16th he added that the duke should not agree to the surrender of the troops without letting him know, and that he wished the negotiations to be prolonged till it was ascertained how the idea of a separate peace was regarded at Vienna.
The British ministers at first agreed that they ‘could give no advice about the intended neutrality,’ since they were not prepared to offer effectual aid to Hanover. Pitt, who had returned to office with Newcastle at the end of June, would not hear of sending British troops thither (Grenville Papers, ii. 206). Such British troops as were available were to be sent, at his instance, on the fruitless expedition to Rochefort. Frederick had been beaten at Kollin on 18 June, and there were rumours that he was treating secretly with France. But he denounced these rumours as calumnies, protested against the intended desertion of him, and marched westward against the French. The British ministers changed their tone, and began to urge upon the king that his separate treaty was both impracticable and dishonourable. Up to 10 Sept. the king maintained that he knew what he was about, and often repeated ‘it was over with the king of Prussia.’ But by the 16th he had learnt that his scheme found no favour at Vienna, and had been brought to send Frederick the strongest assurances of support, and to suggest to Cumberland that he should march up the Elbe to Magdeburg, to co-operate with the Prussians, or in some other way give occupation to part of the French army (Addit. MSS. 32872 fol. 426, 516, 32873 fols. 1, 111, 299, 539, 541, 32874 fols. 76, 81).
It was too late. On 8 Sept. the convention of Kloster-Zeven had been signed. The duke had hoped to be able to maintain himself at Stade with the support of British ships in the Elbe. But his communication with these was cut off; the French army, now under Richelieu, had been raised to more than three times his own numbers, and he might soon be forced to surrender. The king of Denmark, at the request of George II, had sent Count Lynar to negotiate between the two commanders, and the count had brought about an arrangement, of which he was so proud that he could ascribe it to nothing short of divine inspiration. Hostilities were to cease, and the army of observation was to be broken up. The Hanoverian troops, excepting the garrison of Stade, were to cross the Elbe; and the other troops were to be sent home to their own states, but not to lay down their arms.
Napoleon has blamed this convention as far too favourable to the duke's army (Commentaires, vi. 356). The French government declined to ratify it as it stood, and Richelieu overstepped its terms by trying to disarm the Hessian troops. But it was a great blow to Frederick, who relieved himself characteristically by mocking verses (Œuvres, xiv. 165). In England it met with the strongest condemnation, and from no one more loudly than from the king, who threw the whole blame of it upon his son. He assured his English ministers that it was directly contrary to his orders, that his honour and his interest were sacrificed by it, and that if any other man in the world had done it, he should conclude that he had been bought by France. He let them notify his disapprobation to the duke, and his surprise that it should have been carried into execution without waiting for his ratification. Its execution had in fact been suspended by the duke owing to Richelieu's action. Pitt, while he freely allowed that the duke had full powers to do what he had done, was for setting the convention aside, and falling upon the French at once; and on 5 Oct. the king sent orders to his Hanoverian ministers to take that course on some pretext or other, unless the risk of reprisals was too great (Addit. MS. 32874, fols. 148, 165, 413, 448).
By this time the duke had left the army for England. He had not shown much talent or vigour in the campaign. Though a good soldier, he had never had the intuition of a general, nor perhaps the calmness. George II was told that ‘his head turned’ both at Hastenbeck and at Laeffelt. Always stout, he had now become corpulent and had lost his activity. He was in bad health, and the old wound in his leg gave him trouble. But it must also be remembered that he was overmatched in numbers, his troops had no cohesion, and his hands were tied by his instructions. As regards the convention, he justly maintained: ‘I have acted, as it appeared to me, most agreeable to his majesty's orders, and for the good of that army and country that his majesty had entrusted to my care’ (ib. 32874, fol. 385).
He reached London on 11 Oct. The king, in an interview of only four minutes, told him ‘that he had ruined his country and his army, and had spoiled everything, and had hurt, or lost, his own reputation.’ The duke gave the king a written ‘justification’ (of which there is a copy in the Cumberland Papers), but the king handed it over to his Hanoverian minister, Münchhausen. At cards that evening he said openly, when the duke came into the room: ‘Here is my son who has ruined me and disgraced himself’ (Walpole, George II, ii. 249). That night the duke asked permission, through Lady Yarmouth, to resign his military appointments. The king sent word by the Duke of Devonshire that he wished him not to give up his regiment, but the duke replied ‘that his honour would not permit him to stay in service at present.’ His resignation took effect from 15 Oct. In order that it might be final, Pitt pressed the appointment of a successor. The king at first demurred, saying that ‘if he had a mind to be reconciled to his son, nobody had anything to do with it;’ but he soon consented, and Ligonier was made commander-in-chief and colonel of the 1st guards before the end of the month (Addit. MS. 32875, fols. 56, 120, 198; Bedford Corresp. ii. 275).
Wolfe's comment at the time was: ‘The duke's resignation may be reckoned an addition to our misfortunes; he acted a right part, but the country will suffer by it.’ Wolfe had sometimes complained that the duke's notions were narrow, not going beyond perfection of battalion drill; but he thought well of his abilities, and spoke of him in 1755 as ‘for ever doing noble and generous actions’ (Wright, pp. 398, 152, 160, 179, 331).
The duke retired to Windsor. He made no attempt to vindicate himself to the world, and said no word against the king. In August 1760 he had a stroke of paralysis, and Walpole draws a touching picture of him at his father's funeral in November (Letters, iii. 361). He handed over to his two sisters the share that fell to him under the will of George II. Giving up his rooms at St. James's Palace, he took Schomberg House in Pall Mall, and in January 1761 he bought the Duke of Beaufort's house in Upper Grosvenor Street. His nephew, George III, treated him with much consideration. At the king's marriage on 8 Sept. 1761 the duke gave away the bride, and a year afterwards he stood sponsor to the infant Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV.
He was a warm friend, and when Lord Albemarle took Havana in 1762, he wrote to him: ‘No joy can equal mine, and I strut and plume myself as if it was I that had taken the Havannah’ (Albemarle, i. 125). He shared Pitt's disapproval of the peace of Paris and his hostility to the Bute ministry, and he broke with Fox. He was credited with having brought about the fall of Bute in April 1763, and his own popularity revived with the growing antipathy to Scotsmen. He was equally hostile to Bute's successor, Grenville, and was disappointed that Pitt did not replace him in August (Chatham Correspondence, ii. 244, 312).
His ailments increased. ‘He had grown enormously fat, had completely lost the use of one eye, and saw but imperfectly with the other. He was asthmatic.’ In October he had two fits at Newmarket, having gone thither against advice to see the match between Herod and Antinous. Abscesses formed in his wounded leg, and incisions had to be made which he bore with extraordinary fortitude, insisting on holding the candle himself for the surgeon (Albemarle, i. 186, 244). On 26 March 1765 Walpole wrote that he had fallen into a lethargy, and there were no hopes of him; but he revived, and in April the king turned to him for help in getting rid of his ministers. In spite of his state of health he undertook the task, as soon as the regency bill had been satisfactorily settled. On 12 May he went to see Pitt, who was laid up with the gout at Hayes. An intricate negotiation followed, which, though it failed as regards Pitt, resulted in the Rockingham administration in July (Albemarle, i. 185–203, giving the duke's own account of the earlier steps; Grenville Papers, iii. 172, &c.; Grafton, Autobiography, pp. 40, &c.; Newcastle Letters in 1765–6, ed. Bateson). On 20 May, in consequence of the riots in London, the king named him captain-general, though the ministers wished to appoint Granby.
He died suddenly on 31 Oct. 1765, after dinner, at his house in Upper Grosvenor Street, having come up from Windsor and gone to court in the morning. The immediate cause of death was a clot of blood in the brain, apparently owing to ‘two very extraordinary preternatural bones which were situated at the upper part of the dura mater’ (Addit. MS. 33954, f. 226; Grenville Papers, iii. 105). He was buried with military honours on 9 Nov. in Westminster Abbey, at the west end of Henry VII's chapel. His death caused general regret, and mourning was worn for him in London beyond the time prescribed. He was unmarried, and left no will. Lord Albemarle was appointed administrator to his estate, and retained a few of his letters. The rest are said to have been burnt by his sister, Princess Amelia (Albemarle, i. 244); but there is still a great mass (120 bundles) of ‘Cumberland Papers’ at Windsor Castle, consisting mainly of letters and statements sent to the duke, but containing also drafts of his own letters.
His character has been carefully drawn by two men who knew him well. Horace Walpole says: ‘His understanding was strong, judicious, and penetrating, though incapable of resisting partialities and piques.’ He was proud and unforgiving, and fond of war for its own sake. ‘He despised money, fame, and politics; loved gaming, women, and his own favourites, and yet had not one sociable virtue.’ The shades in this picture are softened in a supplementary sketch (Walpole, George II, i. 89, and George III, ii. 224). Lord Waldegrave wrote in 1758 that he had ‘strong parts, great military abilities, undoubted courage,’ but that his judgment was ‘too much guided by his passions, which are often violent and ungovernable. … His notions of honour and generosity are worthy of a prince’ (Waldegrave, p. 23). Of recent estimates the fairest is that of Macaulay in his second essay on Chatham.
A half-length portrait of Cumberland, painted by Reynolds in 1758, is at Windsor with a replica in the National Portrait Gallery, and has been engraved several times. There are many others, among which may be mentioned John Wootton's picture (on horseback at Culloden), engraved by Baror in 1747; another of Cumberland at Culloden by C. Philips (Cat. Second Loan Exhib. No. 281); a third by Wootton and Thomas Hudson, engraved by John Faber, and a half-length by David Morier engraved by Faber in 1753. Morier had a pension of 200l. a year from the duke (Bromley, Catalogue; Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits).
A proposal for an equestrian statue, to be put up by public subscription, fell through; but in 1770 one was erected in Cavendish Square by Lieutenant-general William Strode. It was taken down in 1868.[There are two biographies of Cumberland, neither good: a Life by Andrew Henderson, published in 1766, and Historical Memoirs, published in 1767. The latter bears no author's name, but references in the footnotes (pp. 168, 206, 397) identify the writer as Richard Rolt [q. v.] Though ill-written, it contains good materials. Campbell-Maclachlan's William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (1876), consists of extracts from his general orders in 1745–7, supplemented by many useful notes. The Newcastle Correspondence, in the Additional MSS., British Museum, contains many of his letters; those written from Flanders are among the Foreign Office papers at the Public Record Office (Military Auxiliary Expeditions). For his life generally, see Walpole's Memoirs of George II and George III, and his Letters (Cunningham's edition); Lord Waldegrave's Memoirs; Coxe's Pelham Administration; Lord Albemarle's Memoirs of Rockingham; Grenville Papers; Chatham Correspondence; Bedford Correspondence; Harris's Life of Hardwicke; Wright's Life of Wolfe; Weston Papers (1st Appendix to 10th Rep.), and Trevor Papers (9th Appendix to 14th Rep. of Hist. MSS. Comm.); Stanhope's Hist. of England; Doyle's Official Baronage; Gent. Mag 1765, p. 543. For the rebellion: Scots Mag.; Culloden Papers; Home's Hist. of the Rebellion; the Lyon in Mourning (1895–7); Blaikie's Itinerary of Prince Charles Edward; Johnstone's Memoirs; Maxwell of Kirkconnell's Narrative; Memorials of John Murray of Broughton. For his campaigns abroad: Gent. Mag. 1745, 1747, 1757; A Brief Narrative of the late Campaigns in Germany and Flanders, 1751 (a severe criticism, written by George Townshend, who was one of his aides-de-camp); Espagnac's Histoire de Maurice, Comte de Saxe; Voltaire's Siècle de Louis XV; Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, xxxviii. 1247; Carlyle's Frederick the Great; Renouard's Geschichte des Krieges in Hannover, &c; Kausler's Atlas der merkwürdigsten Schlachten; Rousset's Comte de Gisors; and Richard Waddington's Guerre de Sept Ans, 1899, vol. i.]