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The Life and Times of Field Marshal Hugh Gough, 1st Viscount Gough
by Christopher Brice

Hugh Gough, an Irishman who became a Field Marshal, a Viscount, and Colonel of the Royal Horse Guards (1855-1869), fought with Sir Arthur Wellesley in the Peninsular War, later becoming Commander-in-Chief, India, where he is best known for his role in the Anglo-Sikh Wars of 1846 and 1848.

Gough was a fighting soldier whose courage was never questioned, being described by one officer as ‘brave as a lion’, however, his competence as a commander has come under much criticism over the years, particularly over his handling of the Anglo-Sikh Wars, even though he never lost a battle. In this biography, the first major account of Gough’s life since 1903, Dr Christopher Brice attempts to understand the man rather merely to defend his reputation.

Gough’s mounted statue used to stand proudly in Phoenix Park in Dublin, however it has long since gone from there. First it lost its head and sword in 1944, then a rear leg in 1956, before being finally blown off its pedestal by the IRA in 1957. None of this had much to do with Gough’s competence as a commander, and much more with his status as an Irishman from an entirely different and colonial era.  The statue was thankfully rescued and repaired, and now stands at Chillingham Castle, in Northumberland.  

This is a substantial and weighty book of some 550 pages, however it is extremely comprehensive in its scope and will be of great interest to those who wish to study the British Army of the mid-19th century and Britain’s colonial legacy in India. Gough was a proud Irishman, and a good soldier, and so this biography is most welcome.

The Editor

Brave as a Lion. The Life and Times of Field Marshal Hugh Gough, 1st Viscount Gough. Helion & Company. www.helion.co.uk. £31.50


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