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Colonel Tumblety

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Colonel Tumblety

Post by Karen on Thu 3 Mar 2011 - 22:09

The following death announcement of Colonel Tumblety appeared in a London and China newspaper in 1865. Could this Colonel Tumblety have been related to Dr. Francis Tumblety - his father or an uncle, perhaps?


We notice with great regret in the latest advices from China that two of the gallant fellows who held prominent positions in Colonel Gordon's force have succumbed to disease, which has laid them low after passing unscathed through all the extraordinary perils from which neither Gordon nor the best of his officers seem ever to have shrunk. Captain Charles Davidson, who commanded the steamer Hyson from first to last, and Colonel Tumblety, who latterly succeeded to the command of the 1st Regiment, are the two officers whose loss we have to record. Both, we are informed on good authority, were highly respected and trusted by Colonel Gordon, who was not too well provided with men whom he could either trust or respect. Captain Davidson was Irish by birth, and possessed, under a rough exterior, the most distinguished attributes of a truly gallant sailor. We cannot do better, in seeking to commemorate his services, than by extracting from an article in the Cornhill Magazine for November last, the following paragraph on this subject: -

"The undaunted captain of the Hyson - a man more capable of fighting a battle against enormous odds than of subsequently penning a report of his victory, but utterly inaccessible to the bribes which were frequently offered him as the price of desertion with his vessel - handled this curious little war vessel with such daring and discretion, that the mere sight of the smoke from her funnel was sufficient to put to flight a rebel army."

The Hyson, indeed, throughout the whole of Colonel Gordon's campaign, was constantly spoken of as rendering most invaluable assistance. We have seen a private letter of the gallant Colonel's, in which he says: -

"Captain Davidson contributed most materially to nearly every action, more especially in the capture of Quin-san, Soo-chow, Ye-shing, and Le-yang. The evacuation of Hoo-chow-fu may also be attributed to his skill and courage, since, pushing his steamer over the barriers in the creek, and passing the forts at full speed, he took them in rear and compelled their surrender, which subsequently entailed the abandonment of the city. He was a gallant, hardworking, zealous, and trustworthy man, and I deeply regret his loss."

Colonel Tumblety was one of those brave and self-taught characters who rise literally from the ranks, having been at the outset a private in H.M.'s 99th Regiment. Taking his discharge from the Queen's service, he obtained a position in Colonel Gordon's force, and rose eventually to the command of the 1st Regiment. Previously to this he had on more than one occasion been entrusted with the command of detached expeditions, in which his conduct gave uniform satisfaction, and at the time of the dissolution of the force he was one of the officers of longest standing. It is with the most genuine regret that we discharge the mournful duty of recording the untimely end of both these gallant fellows; but their friends we trust, will feel it a comfort to know that the memory of their brave and honest work has not passed out of sight. We have little doubt that the intelligence of their death will be most regretted by Colonel Gordon, who was the best able to judge of their services.

Source: The London and China Telegraph, February 16, 1865, Page 78

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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