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Lt. George R. Gleig
Lt. George R. Gleig
 Lt. George R. Gleig 
Gleig, Lt. George R.
b. April 20th, 1796 - d. July 9th, 1888

Nationality: British

Allegiance: British

Category: Soldier

Summary:

   George Robert Gleig served with the British Army during the 1814 Chesapeake and New Orleans campaigns and has left invaluable accounts of those campaigns. Due to the extent and depth of his writing, though not without faults, he is possibly the pre-eminent contemporary author on either side, and most certainly the British side, during these events. Although referred to in some modern books as "Chaplain Gleig," he only took holy orders after the war was over, in 1820, and was not a chaplain while he served against the United States. He was the son of the Bishop of Brechin in Scotland, and was born at Stirling on April 20, 1796. Thus, he was aged 18 when he came to the United States with Ross's army in August 1814.

Gleig served as a subaltern or Second Lieutenant in the 85th (Bucks) Light Infantry Regiment in the Peninsular campaigns of 1813 and 1814. He embarked for North America at Bourdeaux on May 31, 1814.

It was while serving of curate of Westwell in Kent, beginning in 1820, at an annual living of £70, that Gleig wrote his Narrative of the Campaigns of the British Army at Washington and New Orleans, at first published anonymously but in later editions under his own name. He had kept a detailed diary and also had written extensive family letters on the events he had experienced with the army. An associated work, A Subaltern in America, also published anonymously, has been a source of dispute about whether Gleig was the author. The work originally appeared in serialized form in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine and only in book form in the United States in 1833. However, information in the Blackwood's archives at the National Library of Scotland indicates that Gleig is also the author of Subaltern in America and that he asked Blackwood's never to reveal the identity of the author. This book gives a more colorized account than Narrative of the Campaigns of the British Army at Washington and New Orleans and includes events that Gleig could not have witnessed. It should therefore probably be used with caution. Gleig's most accurate and authentic writing, indeed, is probably in his letters and diary and not in his books where he endeavors to sound like a military strategist.

Gleig was named chaplain-general of the British Army in 1844, an appointment he held until 1875. During his long life, Gleig would write dozens of books that he would write, mostly on military topics, including biographies of Wellington and Clive and a narrative of the Battle of Waterloo, but also novels and theological works.

Early in 1888, Gleig's health began to fail. He died on July 9, 1888 at Stratfield Turgis, near Winchfield, having retained his faculties almost to the last.

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Related pages:
  Baltimore, Battle of
       Dissertations: 'The Hour of Peril ... is not yet past': Fall 1814 Baltimore Defense Plans 
       People: Brig. Gen. William H. Winder 
       People: Francis Scott Key 
       People: Mary Young Pickersgill 
  New Orleans, Battle of
       Documents: A Veteran of the War of 1812 Talks to Nathaniel Hawthorne 
       Documents: Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson Writes to Maj. Gen. John Lambert in the Aftermath of the Ameri 
       People: Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson 
       People: Maj. Gen. William Carroll 
       Press: New York Evening Post - January 15, 1815 
  Ross, Robert
       Battles: Battle of Baltimore 
       Battles: Battle of Bladensburg 
       Dissertations: 'Chastising Jonathan': British Views of the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake 
       Documents: Brig. Gen. John Stricker to Maj. Gen. Samuel Smith: Report on the Battle of North Point 
       People: Maj. Gen. Robert Ross 
       People: Rear Adm. George Cockburn 

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