Gen. James Abercromby

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About Gen. James Abercromby

General James Abercrombie or Abercromby (1706 – April 23, 1781) was a British Army general and commander-in-chief of forces in North America during the French and Indian War, best known for the disastrous British losses in the 1758 Battle of Carillon.

Appointed an ensign in the 25th Regiment of Foot at age eleven. He was promoted to captain in 1736, and purchased a major's commission in 1742. He was promoted to colonel in 1746 and served in the Flemish Campaign of the War of Austrian Succession. With the outbreak of the Seven Years' War in 1756, he was promoted major general and ordered to America as second in command to Lord Loudoun for the upcoming campaigns against the French. Abercrombie commanded a brigade at Louisbourg in 1757 and became Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in North America after Loudoun's departure in December.

Early life

Abercrombie was born in Glassaugh, Banffshire, Scotland to a wealthy family, and purchased a major's commission to enter the army in 1742. He was promoted to colonel in 1746, and major-general in 1756.

Seven Years War

Abercrombie commanded a brigade at Louisbourg in 1757 and became commander-in-chief of the British forces in North America after the departure of John Campbell in March of 1758 (see Commander-in-Chief, North America).

That summer, he led an expedition against Fort Carillon (later known as Fort Ticonderoga). Abercrombie was a genius at organization, but vacillated in his leadership to the point where his troops called him Mrs. Nanny Cromby. He managed the remarkable feat of assembling 15,000 troops and moving them and their supplies through the wilderness. Then, on July 8, he directed his troops into a frontal assault on a fortified French position, without the benefit of artillery support. More than 2,000 men were killed or wounded. Eventually his force panicked and fled, and he retreated to his fortified camp south of Lake George. This disaster caused his replacement by General Jeffrey Amherst and his recall to England in 1759. On his return to England, he sat as a member of parliament, and supported the coercive policy toward the American colonies.


ABERCROMBY, James (1706-81), of Glasshaugh, Banff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970 Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency BANFFSHIRE 1734 - 1754

Family and Education

b. c.1706, 1st s. of Alexander Abercromby of Glasshaugh. m. Mary, da. of William Duff of Braco, sis. of William Duff, 1 surv. da.

Offices Held

2nd lt. 25 Ft. 1717, 30 Ft. 1724; capt. 1 Ft. 1736; lt.-gov. Stirling castle by 1739-d. ; maj. 1742; lt.-col. 1744; col. 1746; col. 50 Ft. 1755-6; maj.-gen. 1756; col. 44 Ft. 1756-d.; c.-in-c. America 1756-8; col. 60 Ft. 1757-8; lt.-gen. 1759; gen. 1772.


Returned by a brother-in-law, William Duff, later Lord Braco, Abercromby voted regularly with the Government. During the war of the Austrian succession he served as quartermaster general under General James St. Clair at L’Orient in 1746 and was wounded at Hulst in 1747. Classed as Old Whig in 1746 and ‘pro’ in 1747, he gave up his seat in 1754 to Lord Braco’s son, now of age. His military career was terminated by his defeat at Ticonderoga in 1758. He died 3 Apr. 1781.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754 Author: Romney R. Sedgwick

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