Monday, 8 November 2010
Who's Who in Scottish Military history #1- Admiral Sir Charles Napier KCB GOTE RN
I’ve decided to start a new series of posts entitled “Who's Who in Scottish Military History”. This will highlight some of our country’s greatest (and sometimes not so great) men and women who are little remembered now.
Around 150 years ago Scotland lost two well-known Admirals. This first was "The Sea Wolf", Thomas Cochrane, the 10th Earl of Dundonald who passed away on 31st October 1860. I hope to cover him fairly soon.
The other passed away on 6th November 1860, just a few days after Cochrane.
He’s not well known today but at his death Charles Napier was one of Scotland’s most famous sons. He was born in 1786 and joined the Royal Navy in 1799 during the wars with France. That was the start of a sixty year career in the Navy which included leading an army in Syria and taking a fleet to the Baltic during the Crimean War.
He also managed a spell at Edinburgh University and took a seat in Westminster as an MP. He even led the Portuguese Navy for a while during a civil war in the 1830s and when he died their navy went into eight days of mourning.
He was known as a fearless warrior but in Victorian times he was most remembered for his campaigning to improve the conditions for his sailors and to introduce more modern ships into the Royal Navy. The Admiralty usually ignored his ideas which were often years ahead of their time but that didn’t stop him bombarding them with letters.
Still adventurous to the last, only days before his death Napier had written to Garibaldi offering to command a fleet for him in the liberation of Italy.