Harry Smith (army)
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

 Sir Henry George Wakelyn Smith, 1st Baronet of Aliwal GCB
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

 (28 June 1787-12 October 1860), known as Sir Harry Smith, was a notable English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 soldier and military commander in the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 of the early 19th century. A veteran of the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

, he is also particularly remembered for his role in the Battle of Aliwal
Battle of Aliwal
The Battle of Aliwal was fought on 28 January 1846 between the British and the Sikhs. The British were led by Sir Harry Smith, while the Sikhs were led by Ranjodh Singh Majithia...

India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

) in 1846, and as the husband of Lady Smith.


He was born in Whittlesey
Whittlesey, historically known as Whittlesea as the name of the railway station is still spelt, or Witesie, is an ancient Fenland market town around six miles east of Peterborough in the county of Cambridgeshire in England...

, Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire is a county in England, bordering Lincolnshire to the north, Norfolk to the northeast, Suffolk to the east, Essex and Hertfordshire to the south, and Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire to the west...

, the son of a surgeon. A chapel in the town's St Mary's church was restored in his memory in 1862, and a local community college also bears his name: Sir Harry Smith Community College
Sir Harry Smith Community College
Sir Harry Smith Community College is a secondary school in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire. Opened in 1954 on the former site of the Whittlesea Workhouse, which was demolished in the 1930s, the College is named after 19th Century English Army General Sir Harry Smith who was born in Whittlesey, and whose...


Napoleonic Wars

Harry Smith—for throughout life he adopted the more familiar form of his Christian name—was educated privately and entered the army in 1805. His first active service was in South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 in 1806 during the British invasions of the Río de la Plata
British invasions of the Río de la Plata
The British invasions of the Río de la Plata were a series of unsuccessful British attempts to seize control of the Spanish colonies located around the La Plata Basin in South America . The invasions took place between 1806 and 1807, as part of the Napoleonic Wars, when Spain was an ally of...

. He distinguished himself at the Battle of Montevideo
Battle of Montevideo (1807)
The Battle of Montevideo was a battle between the British and Spanish Empires during the Napoleonic Wars, in which British forces captured the city of Montevideo. It formed part of the British invasions of the River Plate.-The Prelude:...

 in 1807, but first came to real prominence during the Peninsular War
Peninsular War
The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its...

. Smith served throughout these campaigns with the 95th Rifles in which he served from 1808 through to the end of the war at the Battle of Toulouse
Battle of Toulouse (1814)
The Battle of Toulouse was one of the final battles of the Napoleonic Wars, four days after Napoleon's surrender of the French Empire to the nations of the Sixth Coalition...

 in 1814. On 7 April 1812 (the day following the storming of Badajoz
Battle of Badajoz (1812)
In the Battle of Badajoz , the Anglo-Portuguese Army, under the Earl of Wellington, besieged Badajoz, Spain and forced the surrender of the French garrison....

) a well-born Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 lady, whose entire property in the city had been destroyed, presented herself at the British lines seeking protection from the licence of the soldiery for herself and her sister, a child of fourteen. The latter, Juana Maria de Los Dolores de León, had but recently emerged from a convent; but notwithstanding her years she was married to Harry Smith a few days later. She accompanied him throughout the rest of the war.

At the close of the war Harry Smith volunteered for service in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, where he was present at the Battle of Bladensburg
Battle of Bladensburg
The Battle of Bladensburg took place during the War of 1812. The defeat of the American forces there allowed the British to capture and burn the public buildings of Washington, D.C...

 on 24 August 1814, and witnessed the burning of the capitol at Washington
Burning of Washington
The Burning of Washington was an armed conflict during the War of 1812 between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the United States of America. On August 24, 1814, led by General Robert Ross, a British force occupied Washington, D.C. and set fire to many public buildings following...

; which, as he said, "horrified us coming fresh from the Duke's humane warfare in the south of France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...


Returning to Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 he was a brigade major
Brigade Major
In the British Army, a Brigade Major was the Chief of Staff of a brigade. He held the rank of Major and was head of the brigade's "G - Operations and Intelligence" section directly and oversaw the two other branches, "A - Administration" and "Q - Quartermaster"...

 at the Battle of Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

 in 1815.

South Africa

In 1828 was ordered to the Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good Hope
The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa.There is a misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa, because it was once believed to be the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. In fact, the...

, where he commanded a division in the Xhosa Wars
Xhosa wars
The Xhosa Wars, also known as the Cape Frontier Wars, were a series of nine wars between the Xhosa people and European settlers, from 1779 to 1879 in what is now the Eastern Cape in South Africa....

 of 1834-36. In 1835 he accomplished the feat of riding from Cape Town
Cape Town
Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality...

 to Grahamstown
Grahamstown is a city in the Eastern Cape Province of the Republic of South Africa and is the seat of the Makana municipality. The population of greater Grahamstown, as of 2003, was 124,758. The population of the surrounding areas, including the actual city was 41,799 of which 77.4% were black,...

, in less than six days; and having restored confidence among the whites by his energetic measures, he was appointed governor of the Province of Queen Adelaide
British Kaffraria
British Kaffraria was a British colony/subordinate administrative entity in present-day South Africa, consisting of the districts now known as King Williams Town and East London.The term Kaffraria stems from the word "Kaffir"...

, where he gained unbounded influence over the native tribes, whom he vigorously set himself to civilize and benefit.

But though supported by Sir Benjamin D'Urban
Benjamin d'Urban
Lieutenant-General Sir Benjamin d'Urban, GCB, KCH, KCTS was a British general and colonial administrator, who is best known for his frontier policy when he was the Governor in the Cape Colony .-Early career:...

, the high commissioner, the ministry in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 reversed his policy and, to quote Smith's own words, directed the Province of Queen Adelaide to be restored to barbarism. Smith himself was removed from his command, his departure being deplored alike by the Bantu and the Dutch
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

; and numbers of the latter, largely in consequence of this policy of Lord Glenelg began the migration to the interior known as the Great Trek
Great Trek
The Great Trek was an eastward and north-eastward migration away from British control in the Cape Colony during the 1830s and 1840s by Boers . The migrants were descended from settlers from western mainland Europe, most notably from the Netherlands, northwest Germany and French Huguenots...



Harry Smith was now appointed deputy-adjutant-general of the forces in India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, where he took part in the Gwalior campaign of 1843, for which he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) and the First Anglo-Sikh War
First Anglo-Sikh War
The First Anglo-Sikh War was fought between the Sikh Empire and the British East India Company between 1845 and 1846. It resulted in partial subjugation of the Sikh kingdom.-Background and causes of the war:...

 of 1845-46. He was in command of a division under Sir Hugh Gough at the battles of Mudki
Battle of Mudki
The Battle of Mudki was fought on 18 December 1845, between the forces of the British East India Company and part of the Khalsa, the army of the Sikh Empire of the Punjab. The British army won an untidy encounter battle, suffering heavy casualties....

 and Ferozeshah
Battle of Ferozeshah
The Battle of Ferozeshah was fought on 21 December and 22 December 1845 between the British and the Sikhs, at the village of Ferozeshah in Punjab. The British were led by Sir Hugh Gough and Governor-General Sir Henry Hardinge, while the Sikhs were led by Lal Singh.The British emerged victorious,...

, where he conspicuously distinguished himself, but was insufficiently supported by the commander-in-chief. After the second of these actions Sir Harry Smith was appointed to an independent command, and on 28 January 1846 he inflicted a crushing defeat on the Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

s at Aliwal
Battle of Aliwal
The Battle of Aliwal was fought on 28 January 1846 between the British and the Sikhs. The British were led by Sir Harry Smith, while the Sikhs were led by Ranjodh Singh Majithia...

 on the Sutlej
The Sutlej River is the longest of the five rivers that flow through the historic crossroad region of Punjab in northern India and Pakistan. It is located north of the Vindhya Range, south of the Hindu Kush segment of the Himalayas, and east of the Central Sulaiman Range in Pakistan.The Sutlej...


At the battle of Sobraon
Battle of Sobraon
The Battle of Sobraon was fought on 10 February 1846, between the forces of the British East India Company and the Sikh Khalsa Army, the army of the Sikh Empire of the Punjab...

 on 10 February he again commanded a division under Gough. For the great victory of Aliwal he was awarded the thanks of Parliament
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

; and the speech of the Duke of Wellington was perhaps the warmest encomium ever bestowed by that great commander on a meritorious officer. Sir Harry was at the same time created a baronet
A baronet or the rare female equivalent, a baronetess , is the holder of a hereditary baronetcy awarded by the British Crown...

; and as a special distinction the words of Aliwal were by the patent appended to the title. He was promoted to major-general
Major-General (United Kingdom)
Major general is a senior rank in the British Army. Since 1996 the highest position within the Royal Marines is the Commandant General Royal Marines who holds the rank of major general...

 on 9 November 1846.

Return to South Africa

In 1847 he returned to South Africa as governor of Cape Colony
Cape Colony
The Cape Colony, part of modern South Africa, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, with the founding of Cape Town. It was subsequently occupied by the British in 1795 when the Netherlands were occupied by revolutionary France, so that the French revolutionaries could not take...

 and high commissioner, with the local rank of lieutenant-general, to grapple with the difficulties he had foreseen eleven years before. He took command of an expedition to deal with the disaffected Boer
Boer is the Dutch and Afrikaans word for farmer, which came to denote the descendants of the Dutch-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th century, as well as those who left the Cape Colony during the 19th century to settle in the Orange Free State,...

s in the Orange River Sovereignty
Orange River Sovereignty
The Orange River Sovereignty was a short-lived political entity between the Orange and Vaal rivers in southern Africa. In 1854, it became the Orange Free State, and is now the Free State province of South Africa.-History:...

, and fought the Battle of Boomplaats
Battle of Boomplaats
The Battle of Boomplaas was fought near Jagersfontein at on August 29, 1848, between the British and the Boers. The British were led by Sir Harry Smith, while the Boers were led by Andries Pretorius. The British were victorious.-External links:*...

 on the 29 August 1848.
It has been asserted that "the half-mad Smith's" seizure of the entire region of "British Kaffraria" in 1848 was launched and carried out "entirely on his own initiative." Piers Brendon described "Smith, placing his foot on the neck of the Xhosan ruler and proclaiming, 'I am your Paramount Chief, and the Kaffirs are my dogs!'"

In December 1850 war broke out with the Xhosa and some of the Khoikhoi
The Khoikhoi or Khoi, in standardised Khoekhoe/Nama orthography spelled Khoekhoe, are a historical division of the Khoisan ethnic group, the native people of southwestern Africa, closely related to the Bushmen . They had lived in southern Africa since the 5th century AD...

; Sir Harry Smith was insufficiently supplied with troops from England; and though his conduct of the operations was warmly approved by the Duke of Wellington and other military authorities, Lord Grey, in a dispatch never submitted to the queen, recalled him in 1852 before the Xhosa and Khoikhoi had been completely subdued. He protested strongly against the abandonment of the Orange River Sovereignty to the Boers, which was carried out two years after his departure, and he actively furthered the granting of responsible government to Cape Colony.

His wife Juana gave her name to Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal. Harrismith
Harrismith, named after Sir Harry Smith, is a large town in the Free State province of South Africa, situated on the N3 highway approximately midway between Johannesburg, about 300 km north-east, and Durban. The town is at the junction with the N5 highway, which continues west towards the...

 in the Free State was named after Smith himself (two other towns, Aliwal North
Aliwal North
Aliwal North is a town in central South Africa on the Orange River, Eastern Cape Province. Aliwal North is the seat of the Maletswai Local Municipality which falls within the Ukhahlamba District Municipality....

 in the Eastern Cape and Smithfield
Smithfield, Free State
Smithfield is a small town in the Free State province of South Africa. It was founded in 1848 when the then Cape Colony governor, Sir Harry Smith , required a settlement north of the Orange River. Smithfield is the third oldest village in the Free State.-History:Waterval farm was the original site...

 in the Free State
Free State
The Free State is a province of South Africa. Its capital is Bloemfontein, which is also South Africa's judicial capital. Its historical origins lie in the Orange Free State Boer republic and later Orange Free State Province. The current borders of the province date from 1994 when the Bantustans...

, also mark Smith's connection with South Africa).

Back in England

In 1853 he was made General Officer Commanding
General Officer Commanding
General Officer Commanding is the usual title given in the armies of Commonwealth nations to a general officer who holds a command appointment. Thus, a general might be the GOC II Corps or GOC 7th Armoured Division...

 Western District
Western Command (United Kingdom)
-History:The Command was established in 1905 and was originally called the Welsh & Midland Command before changing its name in 1906. In 1907 Western Command relocated to Watergate House in Chester...

 back in England. He was given brevet promotion to lieutenant-general on 20 June 1854 and appointed GOC Northern District
Northern Command (United Kingdom)
-Nineteenth century:The District Commands of the British Army in Great Britain and Ireland first appear in print in 1840, at which time Northern Command was held by Maj-Gen Charles James Napier, appointed in 1838. During his time the troops stationed within Northern Command were frequently deployed...

 in 1856.

His autobiography
An autobiography is a book about the life of a person, written by that person.-Origin of the term:...

, first published posthumously in 1901, is regarded as a classic of love and war.

The story of Harry Smith and his wife in the Peninsular Campaign and the Battle of Waterloo is affectionately and with much attention to historical detail narrated in Georgette Heyer
Georgette Heyer
Georgette Heyer was a British historical romance and detective fiction novelist. Her writing career began in 1921, when she turned a story for her younger brother into the novel The Black Moth. In 1925 Heyer married George Ronald Rougier, a mining engineer...

's meticulously researched historical novel The Spanish Bride
The Spanish Bride
The Spanish Bride is a novel by Georgette Heyer. This story is based on the true story of Harry Smith and his wife Juana María de los Dolores de León Smith. He had a fairly illustrious military career and was made a baronet...


Further reading

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.