Lord John Keane

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Keane, John, Lord, a distinguished military officer, was born at Belmount, County of Waterford, 1781. He entered the army when but twelve, obtained a company in the 44th Foot in 1799, and served in Egypt and at Martinique. In 1812 he was appointed to the command of a brigade in the Peninsular army, and signalized himself by his prudence and bravery at Vittoria, the Pyrenees, Nivelle, Orthez, and Toulouse. At the peace of 1814 he was made a major-general; was afterwards sent out to a command in the war with America, and was severely wounded at the battle of New Orleans. From 1823 to 1830 he was Commander-in-chief in Jamaica; three years afterwards he was sent to Bombay, and appointed to lead the forces intended for Scinde. The army entered Cabul in May 1839, and on 21st July invested the fortress of Ghuznee, garrisoned by 500 Afghans, and deemed impregnable. After two days' desperate struggle, however, the gates were blown in and the place captured.

The fall of Ghuznee terminated the war for a time. Marshman, in his History of India, writes: "There can, of course, be no wish in any quarter to deny that he commanded the forces of the Queen and the Company on more than one occasion when brilliant victories were achieved; but it cannot be concealed that no commander of modern times has been more severely criticized, and that the memorable victory of Ghuznee did not obtain for Lord Keane that unqualified approbation which conquests of equal magnitude usually procure for the General Commander-in-chief. We find him much censured for the hauteur with which he treated the Ameers of Scinde, and there are not wanting many persons who attribute the fatal difficulties into which those unfortunate princes plunged themselves to the open suspicion and irritating manner with which they were treated about this period."[169] He was rewarded with a peerage and a pension of £2,000 a year. Baron Keane died 26th August 1844, aged about 63.

Sources

7. Annual Register. London, 1756-1877.

39. Biographical Dictionary, Imperial: Edited by John F. Waller. 3 vols. London, N.D.

169. India, History of: John C. Marshman. 3 vols. London, 1867.

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