Edward Pakenham

Born 3/19/1778 in Tullynally Castle, County Westmeath, Ireland
Died 1/8/1815 in New Orleans, Louisiana


Sir Edward Michael Pakenham (19 March 1778 – 8 January 1815), styled The Honourable from his birth until 1813, was a British politician and major general who was killed at the Battle of New Orleans.

Pakenham was born at Pakenham Hall (now known as Tullynally Castle), County Westmeath, Ireland to Edward Michael Pakenham, 2nd Baron Longford and the former Catherine Rowley. He was educated at The Royal School, Armagh. His family purchased his commission as a lieutenant in the 92nd Foot Regiment when he was only sixteen. Between 1799 and 1800, Pakenham represented Longford Borough in the Irish House of Commons. He served with the 23rd Light Dragoons against the French in Ireland and later served in Nova Scotia, Barbados, and Saint Croix. He led his men in an attack on Saint Lucia in 1803, where he was wounded. He also fought in Denmark and Martinique, where he was wounded again.

In 1806, his sister Catherine married Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington.

Pakenham, as adjutant-general, joined his famous relative in the Peninsula War. In 1811, he fought in the battle of Fuentes de Onoro to defend the besieged fortress of Almeida and helped to secure a British victory. Later in 1812, he was praised for his performance at Salamanca in which he commanded the Third Division. In the following year he was appointed a Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath, which was enlarged to a Grand Cross in 1815. He also received the Army Gold Cross and clasps for Martinique, Busaco, Fuentes d'Oñoro, Salamanca, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthez, and Toulouse.

In 1814, Pakenham, having been promoted to the rank of major-general, accepted an offer to replace General Robert Ross as commander of the British North American army, after Ross was killed by a sniper. The next year during the battle of New Orleans, he was soundly defeated by Major General Andrew Jackson. While rallying his troops near the enemy line, grapeshot from US artillery shattered his knee and killed his horse. As he was helped to his feet by his senior ADC, Major Duncan MacDougall, Pakenham was wounded a second time in the arm. After he mounted MacDougall's horse, more grapeshot ripped through his spine, fatally wounding him, and he died as he was carried off the battlefield at the age of 36. His last words were reputed to be telling MacDougall to find General Lambert to tell him to assume command and send forward the reserves. (Robin Reilly, "The British At The Gates", GP Putnam's Sons pub., 1974, page 291.)

There is a statue in his memory at the South Transept of St Paul's Cathedral in London. His body was returned in a cask of rum and buried in the Pakenham family vault in Killucan in Westmeath, Ireland. General Pakenham was also known for a surly temper and a relative was recorded as remarking "The General has returned home in better spirits than he left."

There is a small village in Ontario, Canada named in honor of the general's short visit there. The village is located on the Mississippi River which originates from Mississippi Lake and empties into the Ottawa River