John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudoun

General John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudoun (5 May 1705 – 27 April 1782) was a Scottish nobleman and British army officer.

The Earl of Loudoun
The Earl of Loudoun
Born(1705-05-05)5 May 1705
Died27 April 1782(1782-04-27) (aged 76)
Allegiance Kingdom of Great Britain
Service/branch British Army
Battles/warsSeven Years' War

Early career

Born in Scotland two years before the creation of the Kingdom of Great Britain, in which his father Hugh Campbell, 3rd Earl of Loudoun was a significant figure, Campbell inherited his father's estates and peerages in 1731, becoming Lord Loudoun.

He raised a regiment of infantry that took part in the Jacobite Rising of 1745 on the side of the Hanoverian government. The regiment consisted of twelve companies, with Loudoun as colonel and John Campbell (later 5th Duke of Argyll) as lieutenant-colonel. The regiment served in several different parts of Scotland; three of the twelve companies, raised in the south, were captured at Prestonpans.

Eight companies, under the personal command of Lord Loudoun, were stationed in Inverness. Loudoun set out in February 1746 with this portion of his regiment and several of the Independent Companies in an attempt to capture the Jacobite pretender, Charles Edward Stuart. The expedition was met by a ruse de guerre (by only four Jacobites) which suggested a large force protected Stuart, and they returned without engagement.

This was later publicised as the Rout of Moy. After this, Loudoun fell back to join the Duke of Cumberland's army, giving up the town of Inverness to the rebels. Following the battle at Culloden, Loudoun led his mixed force of regulars, militia and highlanders in "mopping up" operations against the remaining rebels

Seven Years War

North America

In 1756, Loudoun was sent to North America as Commander-in-Chief and Governor General of Virginia, where he was unpopular with many of the colonial leaders. When he learned that some merchants were still trading with the French, while he was trying to fight a war against them, he temporarily closed all American ports. Despite his unpopularity the county of Loudoun, formed from Fairfax in 1757, was named in his honour.[1]

As Commander-in-Chief during the Seven Years' War (called the French and Indian War in the Thirteen Colonies), he planned an expedition to seize Louisbourg from the French in 1757 but called it off when intelligence (possibly including a French military deception) indicated that the French forces there were too strong for him to defeat. While Loudoun was thus engaged in Canada, French forces captured Fort William Henry from the British, and Loudoun was replaced by James Abercrombie and returned to London. Francis Parkman, a 19th-century historian of the Seven Years' War, rates his martial conduct of the affair poorly.

Many historians debate whether he played a fundamental part in the Seven Years' War. Arguably, he was an influential figure as he embarked on reforms for the army such as replacing the ordinary musket with the flintlock musket for greater accuracy. He made improvements by embarking on a road improvement programme, recognising the need to supply the army as he replaced the traditional supply line with army wagons. His focus was centralising the system of supplies and had built storehouses in Halifax and Albany, whilst recognising the importance of waterways as a means of transport. Most notably, he integrated regular troops with local militias-and the irregulars were to fight a different kind of war, than the linear, European style of warfare in which the British had previously been trained.

Benjamin Franklin's anecdotes of Lord Loudon

Benjamin Franklin provides several first-hand anecdotes of Loudon's North American days in his Autobiography, none complimentary.[2] The following are excerpts:

(Loudon) set out for New York before me; and, as the time for dispatching the packet-boats was at his disposition, and there were two then remaining there, one of which, he said, was to sail very soon, I requested to know the precise time, that I might not miss her by any delay of mine. His answer was, "I have given out that she is to sail on Saturday next; but I may let you know, entre nous, that if you are there by Monday morning, you will be in time, but do not delay longer." By some accidental hindrance at a ferry, it was Monday noon before I arrived, and I was much afraid she might have sailed, as the wind was fair; but I was soon made easy by the information that she was still in the harbor, and would not move till the next day. One would imagine that I was now on the very point of departing for Europe. I thought so; but I was not then so well acquainted with his lordship's character, of which indecision was one of the strongest features. I shall give some instances. It was about the beginning of April that I came to New York, and I think it was near the end of June before we sail'd. There were then two of the packet-boats, which had been long in port, but were detained for the general's letters, which were always to be ready to-morrow. Another packet arriv'd; she too was detain'd; and, before we sail'd, a fourth was expected. Ours was the first to be dispatch'd, as having been there longest. Passengers were engaged in all, and some extremely impatient to be gone, and the merchants uneasy about their letters, and the orders they had given for insurance (it being war time) for fall goods; but their anxiety avail'd nothing; his lordship's letters were not ready; and yet whoever waited on him found him always at his desk, pen in hand, and concluded he must needs write abundantly.

Going myself one morning to pay my respects, I found in his antechamber one Innis, a messenger of Philadelphia, who had come from thence express with a packet from Governor Denny for the general. He delivered to me some letters from my friends there, which occasion'd my inquiring when he was to return, and where he lodg'd, that I might send some letters by him. He told me he was order'd to call to-morrow at nine for the general's answer to the governor, and should set off immediately. I put my letters into his hands the same day. A fortnight after I met him again in the same place. "So, you are soon return'd, Innis?" "Return'd! no, I am not gone yet." "How so?" "I have called here by order every morning these two weeks past for his lordship's letter, and it is not yet ready." "Is it possible, when he is so great a writer? for I see him constantly at his escritoire." "Yes," says Innis, "but he is like St. George on the signs, always on horseback, and never rides on."...

This daily expectation of sailing, and all the three packets going down to Sandy Hook, to join the fleet there, the passengers thought it best to be on board, lest by a sudden order the ships should sail, and they be left behind. There, if I remember right, we were about six weeks, consuming our sea-stores, and oblig'd to procure more. At length the fleet sail'd, the general and all his army on board, bound to Louisburg, with the intent to besiege and take that fortress; all the packet-boats in company ordered to attend the general's ship, ready to receive his dispatches when they should be ready. We were out five days before we got a letter with leave to part, and then our ship quitted the fleet and steered for England. The other two packets he still detained, carried them with him to Halifax, where he stayed some time to exercise the men in sham attacks upon sham forts, then altered his mind as to besieging Louisburg, and returned to New York, with all his troops, together with the two packets above mentioned, and all their passengers! During his absence the French and savages had taken Fort George, on the frontier of that province, and the savages had massacred many of the garrison after capitulation....

On the whole, I wonder'd much how such a man came to be intrusted with so important a business as the conduct of a great army; but, having since seen more of the great world, and the means of obtaining, and motives for giving places, my wonder is diminished.


In 1762, he was sent to Portugal to counter the Spanish invasion of Portugal as second-in-command, and he became overall commander in 1763. Despite being unable to prevent the loss of Almeida, the British forces soon launched a counter-attack that drove the invaders back across the border.

Later years

Back in Scotland, in 1763 Loudoun was made Governor of Edinburgh Castle,[3] a post he held for the rest of his life.

In 1770 he was promoted to full general.[4]

Loudoun's interest in horticulture led to his estate being renown for its landscaping. He collected willow species in particular from around the globe.

On 23 January 1773, the town of Loudon, New Hampshire was incorporated and named in Campbell's honor.[5] Loudonville, New York was also named after him as well as the then unincorporated town of Loudon, Massachusetts which was renamed to Otis upon incorporation.

Campbell remained a bachelor, and on his death in 1782 was succeeded as earl by his cousin, James Mure-Campbell.

See also


  1. "About Loudoun > History". Loudoun County. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  2. Franklin, Benjamin (first published 1791). The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Chapter XIX. Online version:
  3. Gray, W. Forbes (1948). A Short History of Edinburgh Castle. Edinburgh: Moray Press. p. 75
  4. Haydn's Book of Dignities (1851) p. 318.
  5. Janness, John Scribner (1895). Notes on the first planting of New Hampshire and on the Piscataqua patents. Vol. 25. New Hampshire (Colony) Probate Court.
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