Sir Harry Smith

From Academic Kids

Lieutenant-General Harry George Wakelyn Smith (28 June 1787-12 October 1860) was a notable English soldier and military commander of the early 19th century. Sir Harry (as he preferred to be known) is particularly remembered as the hero of the Battle of Aliwal (India) in 1846.

He was born in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, the son of a surgeon. A chapel in the town's St Mary's church was restored in his memory in 1862, and a local college also bears his name.

He first came to prominence during the Peninsular War in which he served from 1808 through to the end at the Battle of Toulouse in 1814. He was also present at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

In 1828 he went to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa where he led a division during the Sixth Kaffir War of 1834-1836, later serving briefly as governor of the Province of Queen Adelaide.

Posted to India, he participated in the Gwalior campaign (1843) (after which he was knighted) and the Sikh War (1845-1846), where he distinguished himself at the battles of Moodkee, Ferozeshah and, in particular, at the Battle of Aliwal on the Sutlej on 28 January 1846 (after which he was created Baronet of Aliwal).

He was Governor of the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa from 1847 to 1852 during a period of intense unrest. He battled disaffected Boers at Boomplaats in 1848, and his final years in South Africa saw further actions during the Eighth Kaffir War. While he eventually lost the faith of some of his superiors, he was welcomed back to England a hero.

His wife Juana (whom Smith married when she was just 14, while serving in Spain during the Peninsular campaign) gave her name to Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal. Harrismith in the Free State was named after Smith himself (a further town, Aliwal North in the Eastern Cape, also marks Smith's connection with South Africa).

His autobiography, first published posthumously in 1901, is regarded as a classic of love and war.

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