Major-General Alexander Campbell, of Monzie, ca.1795
by Sir Henry Raeburn, R.A. (1756-1823)
Alex Campbell Capt 62d Regt, his signature from a regimental paylist dated Pointe-Lévy, Québec, 28 January 1777
Born: 10 July 1751
Regimental commission dates:
Captain, 6 November 1772
Lieutenant-Colonel, 31 December 1782
Captured: Saratoga, New York, 17 October 1777 (Convention Army)
Died: Leamington, England, 24 February 1832
Normally, the service history of any man named Alexander Campbell would be impossible to track due to the overabundance of the name. Thankfully, the 62nd Regiment's Alexander Campbell was not just any other man, and in fact, tracking the service history of this most accomplished officer is relatively easy due to the rank and position which he ultimately attained: that of full General in the British Army.
Born the eldest son of Colonel Robert Campbell of Finab (died 1790), Member of Parliament for Argyllshire and receiver-general of Scotland, by his wife Susanna (née Erskin), Alexander Campbell began his stellar, regimental-hopping career as an ensign in the 42nd or Royal Highlanders, with a commission date of 21 April 1769. He spared no time seeking promotional opportunities and soon afterward gained his lieutenancy in the 1st or Royal Regiment, on 25 December 1770. On 26 September 1772, Campbell was made a captain in the 50th Regiment, but did not serve with that corps; an speedy arrangement was made, and Campbell instead exchanged into the 62nd Regiment (replacing a captain named James Higginson, who then transferred to the 50th Regiment). Alexander Campbell took command of his new battalion company, and in that position came to Canada with the rest of the regiment in 1776.
Sometime before the start of the Northern Campaign of 1777, Captain Campbell and his company lieutenant, John Jones, took command of the regiment's light infantry company, replacing Captain Erle Hawker and Lieutenant William Wilkinson. The reason for this change is not known for certain, but can be inferred: although Hawker was an old campaigner, he had little light infantry company command experience, and it may have been thought that a younger captain was needed to command the regiment's elite light troops. For his part, Jones was one of the original lieutenants appointed to the light company when it was formed in 1771. Therefore, during the Northern Campaign of 1777, Captain Alexander Campbell commanded the regiment's light infantry company along with Lieutenants George Preston Vallancey and John Jones. During the course of the Northern Campaign of 1777, Campbell's light infantry company served in the British light infantry battalion commanded by Major Alexander Lindsay, Earl of Balcarres (53rd Regiment). As such, Campbell, his two lieutenants, and his men were removed from their parent regiment during the entirety of the campaign, and ended fighting in separate actions of the same battle (and sometimes, fighting in different battles altogether), camping in different locations, and serving in different brigades. The light infantry company was not reunited with the regiment until the event of the Saratoga surrender on 17 October 1777.
Campbell has long been misidentified by writers and historians who have confused him for any number of other officers in Burgoyne's army with the same surname. The mistake is significant, considering the event in question. After the Battle of Freeman's Farm (19 September 1777), General Burgoyne sent messengers to deliver information to General Sir Henry Clinton in order to inform that general of the increasingly precarious predicament the Army from Canada was facing. One of these officers was generically referred to as “Captain Campbell,” but he was not the Captain Campbell of the 62nd Regiment as has for the longest time been assumed, done due to the fact that Captain Campbell of the 62nd Regiment was the only officer of that rank and surname commonly known to have served with Burgoyne in 1777. The officer in question was instead Captain Colin Campbell of the Royal Highland Emigrants, on detached service with Burgoyne's army and serving with his brother's (Superintendent Major John Campbell) Indian Department. Collin Campbell achieved his mission to reach Clinton, but was unable to make his way back and was therefore unable to deliver Clinton 's reply to Burgoyne. Returning to the City of New York, Colin Campbell was given a “promotion” to a regular marching regiment of the line, as captain in the 1st Battalion, 71st Regiment, on 14 October 1778.
After being captured at Saratoga, Alexander Campbell lost little time in getting exchanged, and was one of the first Convention Army prisoners who was able to secure it for himself (on 7 January 1779). Even before his exchange, however, on 18 August 1778, Campbell was promoted to the rank of major in the newly-raised 74th Regiment of Foot, a highland regiment, in which he no doubt felt right at home.
After the 62nd Regiment's repatriation to England in 1781, Campbell, not apt to disappoint anyone expecting another regimental swap, returned to the 62nd as its new lieutenant-colonel (replacing its longtime commander, Lieutenant-Colonel John Anstruther) in December 1782. Campbell served as commander until he again traded into another corps, exchanging regiments with Captain and Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Horneck of the 3rd Regiment of Foot Guards on 5 June 1789.
According to the March 1832 issue of the Gentleman's Magazine, Campbell 's military service entailed the following:
…having joined the [62nd] regiment in Ireland, he embarked with it for Canada, where he served as Captain of light infantry under Gen. Carleton, in the campaign of 1776 [sic], and that of the ensuing year under Gen. Burgoyne. After the surrender of the army at Saratoga, at the end of 1777, having procured a majority in the 74th, he exchanged from the Americans, and, repairing to New York, was appointed to serve as Major to the first Battalion of light infantry, in which situation he continued two campaigns, and at the end of the war commanded at Penobscot, until appointed at the close of 1782 to a Lieut.-Colonelcy of the 62d.
With that regiment he was quartered in Scotland and Ireland until 1789, when he exchanged into the 3d guards, in which he served, as Captain of light infantry, the campaign of 1793, and part of 1794, under the Duke of York; but, having attained the rank of Colonel, Oct. 12, 1793, and having raised the 116th regiment in 1794, he first served as Brigadier-General, and after as Major-General (Feb. 26, 1795) on the staff of Lord Moira's army.
In 1796 he served under Sir Ralph Abercromby in the West Indies, and Nov. 10 was appointed Colonel of the 7th W. I. reg. In 1797 he served on the staff at Newcastle , in 1798 in Ireland, and subsequently in Scotland. In 1802, for the first time, he was on half-pay; but, having received the rank of Lieut.-General, April 29 that year, he was placed on the staff of Ireland and Scotland for five years. He was appointed Colonel of the 13th Foot 1804; General 1812; and Colonel of the 32d foot 1813.
Campbell was a founding member of the Highland Society of Scotland in 1784, and was the Member of Parliament (House of Commons) for Anstruther Easter burghs 1797-1802 and Stirling burghs from June 1807 through July 1818. He married Christina Menzies and they had at least three children (one son and two daughters). Like father, like son, Alexander Campbell (1812-1869) succeeded his father to Monzie Castle and, after his grandfather, the Parliamentary representation of Argyllshire (1841-1843).