Sunday, June 15, 2014

Captain and Lieutenant-Colonel (later General Sir) Henry Clinton, First Regiment of Foot Guards, 1758

Oil on canvas, attributed to M L Saunders, 1867, after the original attributed to Andrea Soldi (1703 (c)-1771), 1758 (c).
Henry Clinton (1730-1795) is most famous for having been Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in North America during the American War of Independence (1775-1783).
The son of Admiral George Clinton, Royal Governor of New York, from 1745 Henry Clinton served in an independent company of infantry in New York. In 1751, he was first commissioned as a lieutenant in the Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards but transferred to the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards in 1758. In 1760, he served in Germany during the Seven Years War (1756-1763).
On the outbreak of the war in America in 1775, Clinton, then a major-general, distinguished himself at the Battle of Bunker's Hill and played an important role in the subsequent Battle of Long Island and the capture of New York. Although diffident by nature, he was frustrated that his strategies to defeat the rebel forces were dismissed by successive commanders-in-chief. In 1778 Clinton applied to resign his commission but instead, following the resignation of the commander-in-chief, found himself appointed to that position. In March 1788, France allied with the rebels, prompting the British Government to divert troops from America to the French West Indies. In order to make best use of his diminished forces, Clinton employed a cautious strategy of raids. In this, he was frequently at odds with his second-in-command, Lieutenant-General Charles, second Earl Cornwallis, who favoured large-scale military operations. After the dramatic capitulation of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781 that turned the tide of the war, Clinton resigned his command. Subsequently he and Cornwallis engaged in a public campaign of mutual vilification. Clinton was promoted General in 1792 and appointed Governor of Gibraltar in 1794.
Copy and photo from National Army Museum.

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