Biography of General Richard Guyon

General Richard Guyon

for the period 1838 - 1855

                                                            Museum of War Budapest


Letter to Gen. John Slade by the writer
Family and early life
The Hungarian war for freedom
Between the wars
Asiatic Campaign

Publications concerning the Hungarian war for freedom
Publications concerning the Asiatic Campaign
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The Hungarian war for freedom
The crimean war


My Dear Sir John,

No longer your near neighbour, health and other events having called me from my native valley to a more distant part of this country, our once frequent greetings and friendly social intercourse have been in some degree suspended; but I trust I am not unmindful of the acts of friendship and hospitality which I have so often recieved at your hands; and as the disposition to shew our gratitude, even in trifles, is one of the pleasantest feelings in our nature, I know not in what more agreeable form I can express my sense of past obligations, than by dedicating to you, an honoured veteran in the Queen's army, a sketch of one of the bravest soldiers that ever drew sword in the cause of constitutional freedom. Connected, as is the subject of this memoir with Somersetshire (for I am proud to say that General Guyon is a native of this county, a fact but little known; as well as an old and intimate ally of the far-famed Admiral Slade), it affords an additional reason for associating his name with yours, in this brief , but authentic outline of the services of one, who fought with heart and hand, for right against might; who has exhibited the lofty resolve of a Picton or a De Lacy Evans, with the romantic bravery of a Murat or a Canrobert ; who was neither a rebel nor an insurgent, as mendaciously asserted by the Austrian Government; but one of the most chivalrous and truthful of England's sons; and who, unhappily, by the intrigue of governments, and the neglect of his native country, has been deprived of the opportunity of serving the cause of our Allies in the contest in which we are now engaged.
The naval and military annals of this country, probably do not contain a name more famous or heroic exploits in maintaining the honour of England, than that of Guyon. General Guyon's father, a commander in the Royal Navy, shattered by wounds received in action, died in 1844; he saw much hard service for a period of 22 years, during which time he was in almost continuous employment afloat from 1782 to 1804. The details of the numerous occasions in which he was engaged with the enemy would be here out of place;  In 1806 he was appointed to the Sea Fencibles, and served engineering and artillery departments of his profession, and skilled in the military tactics of the principal nations of Europe, speaking with fluency the Turkish and foreign languages (a rare qualifi cation in British officers), possessing all the daring bravery of Kmety, the heroic defender of Kars (whose recent escape has given joy to every Englishman), with a greater amount of military science, it is said, than appertains to that distinguished chief, he has been regarded by high military authority as the most accomplished soldier of his age and standing, with the exception of Omar Pasha and General Klapka.
It is scarcely to be credited that the hero of Branyiszko, who led the splendid Hungarian cavalry so often to victory; who, at the battle of Temesvar, routed the united cavalry forces of two empires; who won more battles, was engaged in more skirmishes and combats than any general that took part in one of the most chivalrous and sanguinary wars on record; who formed and organised an Asiatic Army for the protection of Turkey, and subsequently laid the foundation of that power which contributed to the glorious defence of Kars, should have hitherto received none of the military decorations and honours, which have been so lavishly distributed on persons of less pretensions.
Independently of General Guyon's brilliant deeds in the cause of constitutional freedom, and of his subsequent services with the army in Asia, it should be known, that when not engaged in active military duties, no British subject, whose fate it was to have lived in Roman Catholic countries, ever exerted himself more ardently in the support of Protestant principles and institutions than Guyon! and by his manly course of action, in political as well as in religious matters, he has brought down upon himself the fear, as well as the hatred, of Austria. Had Guyon lived (as an intelligent writer has observed) in the days of Cromwell, rewards.and military honours would have surrounded him, and his return to his native land would have been the signal for a general ovation. It has been observed by the Magyar patriot, whose political opinions we do not endorse, but whose marvellous talents and ardent love of country few will dispute, that the deeds of General Guyon are the subject of imperishable history, not to be encircled withinthe narrow limits of a hasty memoir.  Unreservedly I adopt the dictum of that high authority, only remarking that with individuals, as with nations, time is everything; and to postpone the opportunity of recording the services of General Guyon, serves but to keep his merits hidden from the English public. Well knowing that this imperfect memoir has no claim to literacy merit, and can be only regarded in the light of a mere compilation, gathered from the labours of others, I was unwilling to run the gauntlet of public criticism, and had intended to print it solely for private circulation amongst the friends and relatives of General Guyon; but one on whose experienced judgment I could rely (a popular and esteemed member of the House of Commons), was pleased to give it as his opinion, that a sketch of the achievements of General Guyon, if published in an inexpensive form, would be read with interest, far beyond the circle of private friends; and, fortified with the authority of a generous critic, who observes, that the deeds of a good and gallant soldier touch not only our personal but national sympathies, and should be more than a private memento, I have rushed, rashly perhaps, into print; consoling myself with this reflection, that if I have failed to do justice to the merits of General Guyon, I shall at least have experienced the luxury of performing a disinterested action, and be enabled, if this little sketch s hould be received with any degree of public favour to cast my mite into the treasury fund of one of our partriotic institutions.
You, dear General, are one of the oldest soldier in the British service; and if old age often brings with it its sorrows and troubles, you, I think, have been singularly favoured. Health, long days, and prosperity have been your lot. You have lived to see your elder sons obtaining the highest rank in their respective professions, and your younger sons and grandsons gathering their first laurels in Crimean fields. May your days be lengthened yet a little while, that you may live to see the honourable termination of a war which the great voice of public opinion has declared to be just in its obligation, glorious in its object, and inevitable in its necessity.
And now I must conclude this long letter, by remarking, that we have great reason to be proud of a county which has so largely participated in the national glory. Few counties, indeed, have sent forth more distinguished and promising men than the heroic Guyon; the gallant and accomplished Admiral Blade; the lamented Colonel Yea, who received and merited the appellation of "The Soldier's Friend,'' whose. services have been acknowledged by two Commanders-in-Chief, and. who, had his life been spared, would have obtained the highest rank in the British Army;. Colonel Chapman, whose famous batteries have so often silenced the Russian guns; Colonel Simmons, the right hand of  Omar Pasha whose career has been a. series of splenid triumphs over the enemy, from the opening campaign on the Danube to the passage of the Ingour, and whose achievements have been repeatedly acknowledged by the illustrious Commander-in-Chief of the Ottoman forces; Colonel Jacob, of Eastern renown, who has long commanded that magnificent force, the Scinde Irregular Horse, perhaps the first cavalry officer in India; not forgetting the gallant Hood, who, though young, has given proof that in him the historic lustre of his name will not pass away. It was he who, when commanding a rocket battery at Eupatoria, was suddenly assailed by fourteen guns and six thousand Russian cavalry, which apparently overwhelming force, with the aid of a hundred bluejackets and fifty Turks, he repulsed in a manner worthy of all praise.

My dear General, 
Yours sincerely,

Weston-super-Mare, Dec. 13, 1855.

ISBN-13: 9781151620453;

ISBN-10: 1151620459;

Publication Date: 12/24/2009;

Pages: 68; Publisher:

General Books LLC;

Book Type: Paperback

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