Major General John Gregory Baumgardt CB

Born 3rd June 1784, John Gregory Baumgardt, joined the 56th Foot (later 2nd Essex Regiment) in 1798 at the age of 14. In 1801 he became Lieutenant by purchase, in 91st Foot (later 1st Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) exchanging the same year into the 8th Light Dragoons. He became Captain in 1810, and purchased his Majority in the same Regiment in 1824. He became Lieutenant-Colonel by purchase in June 1825, and joined The 31st Foot (later The East Surrey Regiment) in January 1826.

He joined The Queens 24th December 1829 and was in command from 10th January 1831 to 20th December 1833. Brevet Colonel 28th June 1838 and promoted Major General 11th November 1851. He served at the Cape of Good Hope 1798-1802 .

While Commandant of the Garrison of Bombay he suppressed a very serious insurrection in 1833. He commanded the brigade, in which were The Queen's, at the storming of Ghuznee and Khelat in 1839, and received the Ghuznee Medal, and the Order of the Dooranee Empire 2nd Class.

But good tactical soldier though he may have been, Baumgardt suffered from one fault. He was tactless, and it was a failing that was to bring him into disfavour with his senior officers and land him in trouble on more than one occasion . A particular instance even reverberated from India to the office of the Commander-in-Chief in England.

From the 12th May - 12th December 1831, Lieutenant-Colonel Willshire, commanding the garrison at Bombay, was absent on special duties ordered by the Government of the Northern Division of Bombay. During his absence Lieutenant-Colonel Baumgardt of The Queen's took over command of the garrison while Major Hunt took temporary command of the Regiment. On the return of Willshire to the garrison in December, Baumgardt reverted to Regimental command. In May and November 1832, the Regiment was inspected by senior officers and generally found satisfactory except that on the latter occasion attention was drawn to the unusually high number of courts-martial, 55 since the last inspection in May. On both of these inspections the Regiment had been under the command of Major Hunt.

At an inspection in May 1833, there were signs of trouble within the Regiment as Lieutenant-Colonel Baumgardt reported to the Inspecting Officer, Colonel Henry Sullivan, that he had not met with the support he was entitled to receive from Major Hunt and some other officers named in the report. He further complained of interference in disciplinary matters by Lieutenant-Colonel Willshire.

In December Baumgardt went home on leave and on arrival in England was sent for by the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Hill, in order that the matter could be investigated. Lord Hill's findings were against Baumgardt whose complaints were considered trifling and whose course in reporting them was "highly reprehensible". It was deemed that "Colonel Baumgardt did not, although a capable Officer, show the tact always necessary for the successful command of a Regiment".

In succeeding years Colonel Baumgardt seems to have had varying relationships with other officers, sometimes improving and sometimes deteriorating. Sir John Keane particularly appears to have disliked him and by 1837 Baumgardt's conduct and style of command were such that he was court-martialled, though on what grounds and with what result the Regimental History fails to record. Whatever the outcome, Baumgardt does not seem to have suffered too much from it for he remained in the service and earned Brevet rank as a Colonel in the Afghanistan campaign in the following year where he did gallant service.

He died on 7th May 1855 - a man who had served his country well but who, with thought, could possibly have served himself better.

Patrick Ferguson

Orders and medals of Major General J G Baumgardt CB

Indian General Service Medal

On the 14th April 1851, the Governor General of India announced that the Queen had been graciously pleased to assent to the proposition of the Court of Directors of the East India Company that a medal be struck, and issued at the Company's expense to the troops who took part in the Campaigns, Battles and Sieges in India, between 1799 and 1826. Like the Peninsular War Medal it was only issued to those officers and men who were alive at the date of issue. Twenty-eight clasps were issued for various actions but the greatest number known to have been awarded to one recipient is seven, and he was a drummer in a Native Regiment.

The combination 'Laswarree' 'Capture of Deig' is very rare, only four British and four Native Regiments took part in the former battle, while four British and three Native Regiments were in the latter. At the time of these Battles in 1803 and 1804, General Baumgardt was a Lieutenant in the 8th Light Dragoons. The Medal is of silver, and has on the obverse the diademed head of HM Queen Victoria, with Victoria Regina above. The reverse has a figure of Victory seated holding in her right hand an olive branch, and in her left a laurel wreath; at her feet a trophy of Indian Arms. A palm tree is in the background. Above is the legend 'To the Army of India', and in the exergue the date 1799-1826.

The Ghuznee Medal

This Medal is remarkable as being the first one to be given in India to all troops engaged. Hitherto medals had been issued only to Native Regiments, or those in the service of the East India Company. It is also a matter of interest that this was the first Medal to be issued with a bar for suspension instead of a ring as formerly.

After the capture of Ghuznee on the 23rd July 1839, which resulted in the restoration of the throne of Afghanistan to Sha Sooja-oo Moolk he announced his intention of conferring a Medal upon the troops employed as a mark of his appreciation of their gallantry. The Medal was made at the Government Mint in Calcutta, but Sha Sooja died before it could be issued. The Governor General ordered that the Medal intended to be issued by Sha Sooja should be issued by the Indian Government. It was ready and issued in 1842.

Upon the obverse is a view of the Citadel with Ghuznee on a scroll underneath. On the reverse is a Mural Crown surrounded by two branches of laurel, 23rd July above - 1839 below.

The Order of the Dooranee Empire

This Order was instituted by Sha Sooj a-ool Moolk in gratitude to Great Britain for the restoration of his Kingdom and as a reward to British Officers by whom it was accomplished. It is in three classes; only 6 of the fIrst, 18 of the second, and 40 of the third were given.

General Baumgardt received the Badge and Star of the second class.

'Dur-i-Dauran' the words in Persian characters in the centre of the Order mean 'Pearl of the Age'.


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