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  4.4 General Sir David Baird  

©National War Museum of Scotland
General Sir David Baird (Study related to The Battle of Alexandria and the Landing of the British Troops at Aboukir); 1802

Watercolour on paper
10.7 x 8.9 cm

Attributed to

avid Baird was born on 6th December 1757, in Edinburgh, the fifth son of William Baird, Esquire, and heir to his cousin, Sir John Baird of Newbyth. He enlisted in 1772 and fought with the 73rd Regiment at Pollilur, where he was captured by Tipu and imprisoned for four years at Seringapatam. He survived, and distinguished himself in the Third Mysore War at the capture of Savandrug. In the final Mysore War, he led the British attack on Seringapatam in 1799. He died at Ferntower, near Crieff in Perthshire, on 18 August 1829.

This portrait is not directly related to the Mysore Wars but shows the general three years after the Fall of Seringapatam, when he was fighting in the Egyptian campaigns. The watercolour, and an even more characterful drawing by Thomas Hickey, dated Madras 21 September 1799, are far more vigorous portraits than the much more famous, posthumous, full-length icon commissioned by Baird's widow from Sir David Wilkie in 1834. It was said of Baird that few men of his time filled a broader space in the public eye than he, a claim that is more than justified by Baird's long and impressive military career:

  6th Dec 1757 Born Edinburgh
  1772 Ensign, 73rd Regiment
  24 Sept. 1778 Captain, 73rd, under Sir Hector Munro
  Jan 1780 To Madras, wounded & taken prisoner at
  Sept 1780 Battle of Pollilur
  March 1784 Released from prison; joined Regt at Arcot (73rd re-numbered 71st )
  June 1781 Major, 71st
  Oct 1787 Returned to Britain
  Dec 1790 Lieutenant, 71st
  1791 Returned to India, taking part in the reduction of Tipu's hill-forts, especially Savendroog, and action at Seringapatam, 1791 and 1792
  Sept 1795 Colonel, 71st
  Dec. 1797 Brigadier General 71st, to Cape of Good Hope
  June 1798 Major General, 71st, and after some time in The Cape, asked to return to India
  1st Feb 1799 Joined the Army forming at Vellore
  4th May 1799 Led the final attack on Seringapatam
  May 1801 Colonel, 54th
  1802 Egyptian campaign against the French
  1803 Mahratta campaign, taken prisoner by a French Privateer on the journey home
  1804 Knighted
  1805 Lt.Gen. commanding a force against the Dutch settlers at the Cape of Good Hope
  1807 Fought at the bombardment of Copenhagen
  1808 Second in command to Sir John More at Corunna in Spain. Lost his left arm in an attack by the French
  1808 Awarded Knight of the Bath
  1809 Baronet, for gallantry in Spanish campaign
  1829 Governor of Fort St George
  18th Aug 1829 Died Ferntower, Perthshire

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