Sir Ralph Abercromby: no peace in rest
Fate can be a fickle mistress, smiling upon some people and frowning upon others; even war heroes suffering similar deaths can sometimes be lionised or more often forgotten for no apparent reason. Take, for example, those two arch-enemies of Napoleon Bonaparte, admiral Lord Nelson and General Sir Ralph Abercromby. Each suffered fatal gunshot wounds in the heat of battle and yet Nelson is revered as a national hero and poor Abercromby lies forgotten, mouldering beneath a neglected marble slab. This article examines the fate suffered by the hapless general and explores the myth surrounding his death and disturbed afterlife.
From today's perspective one might be forgiven for thinking that these two officers were not held in equal regard in their own day; however, this was not the case; both were recognised for their martial skills (Nelson probably being better known for his supine conquests).
Abercromby's military career was equally successful. Born in Scotland in 1734, he initially studied law at Edinburgh University and then at Leipzig; however, he soon lost interest in law and decided on a military career. Although his father, a lawyer, was disappointed, he encouraged his son...