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GLASGOW, GEORGE, army officer; d. 28 Oct. 1820 in London, England.

George Glasgow was appointed a cadet in the Royal Artillery on 2 April 1771, gazetted a second lieutenant on 8 Sept. 1774, a first lieutenant on 7 July 1779, and a captain-lieutenant on 29 Sept. 1784. He remained in this intermediate rank until 25 Sept. 1793, when he was promoted captain and appointed second in command of a company of the 1st Battalion, Royal Artillery, which shortly thereafter mustered in Flanders as part of an expeditionary force commanded by the Duke of York. It is not certain that Captain Glasgow participated in Britain’s ill-starred campaign in the Low Countries in 1793 and 1794, but it is known that on 20 Oct. 1794 he was transferred to the 4th Battalion and posted to command a company stationed at Quebec, Lower Canada. His company remained at Quebec until May 1799, when it was dispatched to Montreal. By February 1800, however, it had returned to the capital.

On 3 Dec. 1800 Glasgow was promoted major, and then on 25 Dec. 1801 lieutenant-colonel. The first promotion removed him from the roster of company commanders and signalled his eligibility for a superior command; the second made him the senior artillery officer in the Canadas. Two further promotions, to colonel on 24 July 1806 and to major-general on 4 July 1811, established him securely within the senior echelon of the British command structure on this continent. No other member of this establishment could equal his long service in Lower Canada.

On receipt of the news of the American declaration of war against Great Britain on 18 June 1812, Lieutenant-General Prevost, captain-general and governor of British North America, acted swiftly to ensure that the most vulnerable sectors of his extended frontier were assigned to subordinates who had had extensive experience in field operations. The defence of Quebec, his capital and vital port of entry for supplies and reinforcements, he entrusted to Glasgow who, although never involved in operations, possessed much command and staff experience as well as a thorough knowledge of the terrain and military problems of Lower Canada. In this, his first major command, Glasgow seems to have given general satisfaction since he retained it until July 1815, save for brief periods of special duty in Upper Canada in January 1814 and February 1815 and in Montreal in December 1814 and January 1815. From 14 June to 25 Sept. 1813, while Prevost was preoccupied in Upper Canada, Glasgow served as president administering the government of Lower Canada.

Meanwhile, Glasgow had not neglected the artillery, which was critically under strength. In June 1812 he was able to deploy only four companies comprising 18 officers and 420 gunners, and few horses or drivers were available to constitute a field train. With Britain fully committed in Europe, only minimal strength could be spared for the struggle in North America and, despite Glasgow’s complaints, by the end of 1813 his corps of gunners had increased by a scant 116 although by this time he had 149 drivers of all ranks. None the less, by skilful improvisation – principally, according to its commander, by “calling in the assistance of additionals from the Line and Militia and leaving the Field Guns with scarcely half their complement of artillery men” – his small force made an honourable and important contribution to every battle in 1812 and 1813. Napoleon’s defeat in the spring of 1814 permitted Britain to post large reinforcements to Canada, and Lieutenant-Colonel Edward W. Pritchard, who succeeded Glasgow in command of the artillery in July, inherited a force which by autumn had grown to eight companies.

Glasgow’s staff appointment became redundant with the end of the war and the beginning of demobilization, and in August 1815 he was granted leave to return to England. He had served continuously in Canada for 21 years and had played a most important role in the War of 1812, demonstrating a high degree of competence, if not brilliance. Retired on 23 Sept. 1815 with a pension of £700 per annum, he received one last promotion, being gazetted a lieutenant-general on 12 Aug. 1819.

Glasgow had married Margaret Green, who predeceased him; they were survived by nine children, eight of whom had been born in Canada.

John W. Spurr

PAC, RG 8, I (C ser.), 679, 686, 690, 693, 730, 1221, 1224, 1232. PRO, PROB 11/1637/673; WO 17/1513–19 (mfm. at PAC). Doc. hist. of campaign upon Niagara frontier (Cruikshank), vol.1. Battery records of the Royal Artillery, 1716–1859, comp. M. E. S. Laws (Woolwich, Eng., 1952). G.B., WO, Army list, 1771–1820. List of officers of the Royal Regiment of Artillery . . . , comp. W. H. Askwith (4th ed., London, 1900). Officers of British forces in Canada (Irving), 2, 9, 21, 261. Hitsman, Incredible War of 1812, 29, 45, 138, 177.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

John W. Spurr, “GLASGOW, GEORGE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed September 23, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/glasgow_george_5E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/glasgow_george_5E.html
Author of Article: John W. Spurr
Title of Article: GLASGOW, GEORGE
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1983
Year of revision: 1983
Access Date: September 23, 2014