Sir Donald Stewart, 1st Baronet
Sir Donald Stewart, Bt
Sir Donald Stewart
|Born||1 March 1824|
Forres, Moray, Scotland
|Died||26 March 1900 (aged 76)|
|Service/||British Indian Army|
|Years of service||1840–1885|
|Commands held||Commander-in-Chief, India|
Second Anglo-Afghan War
Field Marshal Sir Donald Martin Stewart, 1st Baronet, GCB, GCSI, CIE (1 March 1824 – 26 March 1900) was a senior Indian Army officer. He fought on the Aka Khel Expedition to the North-West Frontier in 1854, took part in the response to the Indian Rebellion in 1857 and, after serving as commandant of the penal settlement of the Andaman Islands, fought in the Second Anglo-Afghan War as Commander of the Quetta Army. In that role, he advanced through the Bolan Pass to Quetta, and then on to Kandahar in January 1879. In March 1880, he made a difficult march from Kandahar to Kabul, fighting on the way the Battle of Ahmed Khel and Battle of Arzu, and then holding supreme military and civil command in northern Afghanistan. He became Commander-in-Chief, India in April 1881 and a member of the Council of the Secretary of State for India in 1893.
Born the son of Robert Stewart and Flora Stewart (née Martin) at Mount Pleasant, near Forres, Moray in Scotland, Stewart was educated at schools at Findhorn, Dufftown and Elgin and at the University of Aberdeen.
Stewart was commissioned as an ensign in the 9th Bengal Native Infantry on 12 October 1840 and was promoted to lieutenant on 3 January 1844 and to captain on 1 June 1854. Later that year he served on the Aka Khel Expedition to the North-West Frontier.
During the Indian Rebellion, after a famous ride from Agra to Delhi with dispatches, Stewart served as the deputy assistant adjutant-general at the Siege of Delhi in Summer 1857 and then as assistant adjutant-general at the Siege of Lucknow in Autumn 1857. After serving through the campaign in Rohilkhand he was promoted to major on 19 January 1858 and to lieutenant-colonel on 20 July 1858. He became deputy-adjutant-general of the Bengal Army in 1862 and, having been promoted to colonel on 20 July 1863, he commanded the Bengal brigade in the Abyssinian expedition in 1867. Promoted to major-general on 24 December 1868, he became commandant of the penal settlement of the Andaman Islands, and was present when one of the inmates assassinated Lord Mayo, British Viceroy of India, in 1872. After being exonerated in the subsequent inquiry, he was appointed Commander of the troops at Lahore in 1876.
Promoted to lieutenant-general on 1 October 1877, Stewart commanded the Quetta Army during the Second Anglo-Afghan War advancing through the Bolan Pass to Quetta, and then on to Kandahar in January 1879. In March 1880, he made a difficult march from Kandahar to Kabul, fighting on the way the Battle of Ahmed Khel and Battle of Arzu, and then holding supreme military and civil command in northern Afghanistan. On hearing of the Maiwand disaster, he despatched Sir Frederick Roberts with a division on his celebrated march from Kabul to Kandahar, while he led the rest of the army back to India through the Khyber Pass. For this he was given the thanks of parliament and created a baronet.
Stewart became Military member of the Council of the Governor-General of India (effectively War Minister) in October 1880 and, having been promoted to full general on 1 July 1881, he became Commander-in-Chief, India in April 1881. In order to achieve efficiency savings he proposed merging the Bengal Army, Madras Army and Bombay Army into a single military force but this was rejected by the India Office. During the Panjdeh Incident in March 1885 he secured a significant increase in the number of British troops in India. He returned to London to become a member of the Council of the Secretary of State for India in 1893 and, in that role, again argued - this time successfully - for the creation of a single Indian Army. He was promoted to field marshal on 26 May 1894 and became a member of the Royal Commission on Indian civil and military expenditure as well as Governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea from 1895 until his death on 26 March 1900. He died at Algiers in Algeria, and is buried in Brompton Cemetery in London.
In 1847 Stewart married Davina Marine; they went on to have two sons and three daughters. Lady Stewart was invested as a Companion of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India (CI) by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle on 6 March 1900.
Honours and awards
Stewart's honours included:
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) - 21 September 1880 (KCB - 25 July 1879; CB - 14 August 1868)
- Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India (GCSI) - 7 December 1885
- Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE) - 24 May 1881
- Elsmie, pp. 1-17
- Caption to Indian Celebrities- Sir Donald Stewart WDL11439.png, Library of Congress
- Heathcote, p. 270
- "No. 22085". The London Gazette. 19 January 1858. p. 273.
- "No. 22778". The London Gazette. 9 October 1863. p. 4836.
- "No. 23481". The London Gazette. 23 March 1869. p. 1878.
- Heathcote, p. 271
- "No. 24508". The London Gazette. 2 October 1877. p. 5458.
- "No. 24984". The London Gazette. 14 June 1881. p. 3002.
- "No. 24894". The London Gazette. 22 October 1880. p. 5383.
- "No. 25034". The London Gazette. 4 November 1881. p. 5402.
- "No. 24955". The London Gazette. 29 March 1881. p. 1438.
- "No. 26516". The London Gazette. 26 May 1894. p. 3117.
- "No. 26630". The London Gazette. 31 May 1895. p. 3145.
- "No. 26618". The London Gazette. 23 April 1895. p. 2354.
- "No. 27319". The London Gazette. 31 May 1901. p. 3697.
- Elsmie, pp. 443-4
- "Court Circular". The Times (36083). London. 7 March 1900. p. 6.
- "No. 24886". The London Gazette. 28 September 1880. p. 5069.
- "No. 24747". The London Gazette. 29 July 1879. p. 4697.
- "No. 23412". The London Gazette. 14 August 1868. p. 4511.
- "No. 25537". The London Gazette. 8 December 1885. p. 5934.
- "Sir Donald Stewart, 1st Baronet". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- Elsmie, George Robert (1903). Field-Marshal Sir Donald Stewart: G.C.B., G.C.S.L., C.I.E.; an account of his life, mainly in his own words. London, John Murray.
- Heathcote, Tony (1999). The British Field Marshals 1736–1997. Leo Cooper. ISBN 0-85052-696-5.
- Vetch, Robert Hamilton (1901). Dictionary of National Biography (1st supplement). London: Smith, Elder & Co. .
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Stewart, Sir Donald Martin". Encyclopædia Britannica. 25 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 913.
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