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Major General Sir Abraham Roberts, Army Staff, 1854 (c).

Oil on canvas by unknown artist 1854 (c).

Roberts (1784-1873) was appointed ensign in the Waterford militia in 1801 and two years later joined the 48th Regiment of Foot. In 1805 he entered the East India Company's service, joining the 1st Bengal European Regiment on arrival in India. During his long service in India Roberts served under General Gerald Lake during the 2nd Maratha War (1803-1805) and in many other smaller campaigns. In 1813 he was seconded to the public works department, where he was one of the founders of the hill station at Simla. Apart from service during the Nepal War (1814-1815), Roberts remained with the public works department until 1832 when he took command of the 1st Bengal European Regiment.

During the 1st Afghan War (1838-1842) he commanded the 4th Brigade of the Army of the Indus before being appointed commander of Shah Shuja's contingent in November 1839. Roberts was unhappy about the occupation of Afghanistan and voiced his concerns to his superiors, warning of disaster. His suggestions went unheeded, and he resigned his appointment in November 1840, despite having been made a Commander of the Bath.

On returning to India he commanded the 72nd and then the 15th Bengal Native Infantry. After leave in England from 1844 to 1851, Roberts commanded the Punjab division, the most important divisional command in India. When it was split later in 1852 he assumed command of the larger element, the Peshawar division, his son Frederick (later Field Marshal Lord Roberts) acting as his aide-de-camp. Roberts retired because of ill health in December 1853 and returned home. He was promoted to lieutenant-general in 1857 and general in 1864. Colonel of the 1st Bengal Fusiliers from 1859, Roberts was made a KCB in 1865 and GCB in 1873.

NAM Accession Number

NAM. 1960-07-6-1


National Army Museum, London


National Army Museum, Study collection

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