17 September 2004
An interesting Cabul and Gwalior campaign pair to Captain George Reid, 1st Bengal Cavalry, who accompanied the Buffs into action at Punniar, was A.D.C. to three Governor-Generals, and died whilst Superintendent of the Mysore Princes
(a) Cabul 1842 (Captain George Reid, 1st Light Cavy. Depy. Afst. Qr. Master General) contemporary engraved naming, fitted with contemporary silver bar suspension and ribbon fitments
(b) Punniar Star 1843 (Captain George Reid, 1st Light Cavalry) retaining original hook to reverse, top point of star neatly pierced and fitted with contemporary silver bar suspension and ribbon fitments, both medals contained in a contemporary fitted case, the blue silk lining of the lid embossed in gold letters ‘Medals awarded in India to Captain George Reid 1st Bengal Cavalry’, the case with trade label of ‘Martin, Baskett & Martin, Cheltenham, Goldsmiths to the Queen’, affixed to its bottom, retaining clasp broken on the case, the first very fine, the second extremely fine
This lot was sold as part of a special collection, The Brian Ritchie Collection of H.E.I.C. and British India Medals.
George Reid, the son of George Reid of Jamaica, and later of Watlington Hall, and Louisa, the fourth daughter of Sir Charles Oakeley, 1st Baronet, (a former Governor of Madras), was born at Shrewsbury on 29 April 1808. He was educated at Westminster School and nominated for a Cadetship in the Bengal Service by W. Wigram, Esq., on the recommendation of A. Reid, Esq. He arrived in India on 18 March 1826, and was posted Cornet to the 1st Light Cavalry. He was Adjutant from 1828 to 1830, and was appointed Interpreter and Quartermaster in 1832. In 1833, he became embroiled in a dispute over ‘Troop allowance’ which he had drawn in the absence of one Lieutenant O’Hanlon who was entitled to the money but was absent doing duty with the 9th Cavalry. Later, O’Hanlon was tried at a Court Martial (regrettably on what charge is unclear) from which Reid emerged unfavourably due to his inability to answer the prosecutor’s questions.
Between 5 August and 14 October 1839, Reid served as Brigade Major to the Marwar Field Force and participated in the reduction of Jhansi, which ensured the succession of Gangadhar Rao, the goodly ruler of that state, who died without a recognised heir in 1853, leaving his determined young widow, Lakshmibai (the formidable Rani of the Mutiny) to argue to the case of their adopted son. Reid was promoted Brevet Captain on 28 September 1840 and, in April 1842, served as Acting Brigade Major and Quartermaster to elements of the Cavalry Brigade west of the Indus. He subsequently took part in Pollock’s advance on Cabul. Having served as Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General, 2nd Class, at Saugor in early 1843, he was appointed A.Q.M.G. to Sir Hugh Gough’s Army of Exercise on the Gwalior border. In December 1843, he accompanied the left wing of the Army of Gwalior, commanded by Major-General John Grey, into that state, and was present on the 29th when the Mahrattas attacked the baggage train near Punniar.
Having beaten off this initial attack, Grey found his force threatened by a large body of Mahrattas occupying a chain of hills to the east. Grey immediately sent H.M’s 3rd Regiment (The Buffs) and some Sappers and Miners to attack their front. In the teeth of a heavy fire the Buffs drove the Mahrattas from height to height in a succession of gallant rushes and captured eleven of their guns. After the victory was secured, Grey wrote in his despatch to Gough, the C-in-C of the Army of Gwalior: ‘I beg to draw your Excellency’s particular attention to ... the conduct of Brevet Captain G. Reid, Assistant Quartermaster-General, who accompanied the Buffs into action, and by his gallantry rendered me the greatest service, merits my warmest approbation’ (London Gazette 8 March 1843).
On 1 February 1844, he was appointed Honorary Aide-de-Camp to the Governor-General, Lord Ellenborough, who was replaced that same year. Reid then became A.D.C. to William Wilberforce Bird who held the reins of power until the arrival of Sir Henry Hardinge, whom he served in the same capacity until July 1845, when he was appointed ‘Superintendent of the Affairs of the Mysore Princes’. Captain Reid died three months later on 16 October 1845 at Calcutta.
A contemporary news cutting announcing his death that accompanies these medals notes that ‘It is a singular fact that this is the third officer who has died holding the situation of Superintendent of the Mysore Princes within the last 14 months, and a fourth got removed from it on account of ill health, the disease of the three that died being an affection of the liver.’
Refs: Hodson Index (NAM); Officers of the Bengal Army, 1758-1834; IOL L/MIL/10/27, 36 & 38.