Cardigan, James Thomas Brudenell
CARDIGAN, JAMES THOMAS BRUDENELL, 7th Earl of (1797-1868), English lieutenant-general, son of the 6th earl of Cardigan (the title dating from 1661), was born at Hambleden, Bucks, on the 16th of October 1797. He studied for several terms at Christ Church, Oxford; and in 1818 entered parliament. He entered the army in 1824 as cornet in the 8th Hussars, and was promoted within eight years, by purchase, to be lieutenant-colonel in the 15th Hussars. With this regiment he made himself one of the most unpopular of commanding officers. He gave the reins to his natural overbearing and quarrelsome temper, treating his men with excessive rigour and indulging in unscrupulous licentiousness. Within two years he held 105 courts-martial, and made more than 700 arrests, although the actual strength of his regiment was only 350 men. In consequence of one of his numerous personal quarrels, he left the regiment in 1834; but two years later, at the urgent entreaty of his father, he was appointed to the command of the 11th Hussars. He played the same part as before, and was censured for it; but he was allowed to retain his post, and the discipline and equipment of his regiment, in which he took great pride, and on which he spent large sums of money, received high commendation from the duke of Wellington. He succeeded to the peerage on the death of his father in August 1837. In September 1840 Lord Cardigan fought a duel, on Wimbledon common, with one of his own officers. The latter was wounded, and Lord Cardigan was tried before the House of Lords on a charge of feloniously shooting his adversary. But the trial was a mere sham, and on a trivial technical ground he was acquitted. In 1854, at the outbreak of the Crimean War, he was appointed to the command of the light cavalry brigade, with the rank of major-general, and he spent a very large sum in the purchase of horses and on the equipment of his regiment. He took a prominent part in the early actions of the campaign, and displayed throughout the greatest personal courage and the greatest recklessness in exposing his men. In the charge of the light brigade at Balaklava (q.v.) he was the first man to reach the line of the Russian guns; and Cardigan and his men alike have been credited by the bitterest critics of the charge with splendid daring and unquestioning obedience to orders. At the close of the war he was created K.C.B., and was appointed inspector-general of cavalry, and this post he held till 1860. In 1863 he engaged without success in legal proceedings against an officer who had published an account of Balaklava which the earl held to contain a reflection on his military character. He attained the rank of lieutenant-general in 1861. He was twice married, in 1826 and 1858, but had no children. On his death, which took place on the 28th of March 1868, the family titles (including the English barony of Brudenell, cr. 1628) passed to his relative, the second marquess of Ailesbury.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)