Abercromby, Sir Robert

views updated

Abercromby, Sir Robert

ABERCROMBY, SIR ROBERT. (c. 1740–1827). British army officer. Robert Abercromby was baptized at his family's Clackmannanshire estate in Scotland on 13 October 1740. He won a commission by his gallantry at Ticonderoga on 8 July 1758 and rose to captain in 1761. Promoted to major in 1772, he became lieutenant colonel of the Thirty-seventh Foot in 1773. Not sharing his brother Ralph's doubts about the American war, he served with distinction at Long Island in August 1776 and at Brandywine and Germantown in September and October 1777, respectively. In 1778 he made an expedition to destroy shipping in the Delaware, took part in the action at Crooked Billet in May, andwas wounded at Monmouth on 28 June. He sailed south with the Charleston expedition of 1780 and stayed to serve under Cornwallis, whom he impressed. In the early hours of 16 October 1781, he led a sortie from Yorktown that temporarily silenced six enemy guns.

After the war he followed his new patron, Cornwallis, to India, where he rose to major general in 1790 and was knighted in 1792. Despite Cornwallis's warning that the post was beyond Abercromby's competence, the latter was appointed commander in chief in 1793. Four years later, plagued by failing eyesight and his authority compromised by an officers' conspiracy, he was forced to return home. Promoted to lieutenant general later in the year and to full general in 1802, he died in Scotland in November 1827.

SEE ALSO Long Island, New York, Battle of; Yorktown Campaign.

                          revised by John Oliphant