Online Encyclopedia

FREIHERR VON HUGH HALKETT (1783-1863)

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V12, Page 845 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
FREIHERR VON HUGH HALKETT (1783-1863), British soldier and general of infantry in the Hanoverian service, was the second son of Major-General F. G. Halkett, who had served many years in the army, and whose ancestors had for several generations distinguished themselves in foreign services. With the " Scotch Brigade " which his father had been largely instrumental in raising, Hugh Halkett served in India from 1798 to 18o1. In 1803 his elder brother Colin was appointed to command a battalion of the newly formed King's German Legion, and in this he became senior captain and then major. Under his brother's command he served with Cathcart's expeditions to Hanover, Rugen and Copenhagen, where his bold initiative on outpost duty won commendation. He was in the Peninsula in 1808-1809, and at Walcheren. At Albuera, Salamanca, &c., he commanded the 2nd Light Infantry Battalion, K.G.L., in succession to his brother, and at Venta del Pozo in the Burgos retreat he greatly distinguished himself. In 1813 he left the Peninsula and was subsequently employed in the organization of the new Hanoverian army. He led a brigade of these troops in Count Wallmoden's army, and bore a marked part in the battle of Gohrde and the action of Schestedt, where he took with his own hand a Danish standard. In the Waterloo campaign he commanded two brigades of Hanoverian militia which were sent to the front with the regulars, and during the fight with the Old Guard captured General Cambronne. After the fall of Napoleon he elected to stay in the Hanoverian service, though he retained his half-pay lieutenant-colonelcy in the English army. He rose to be general and inspector-general of infantry. In his old age he led the Xth Federal Army Corps in the Danish War of 1848, and defeated the Danes at Oversee. He had the G.C.H., the C.B. and many foreign orders, including the Prussian order of the Black Eagle and pour le Merite and the Russian St Anne. See Knesebeck. Leben des Freiherrn Hugh von Halkett (Stuttgart, 1865). His brother, SIR COLIN HALKETT (1774-1856), British soldier, began his military career in the Dutch Guards and served in various " companies " for three years, leaving as a captain in 1795. From 1800 to the peace of Amiens he served with the Dutch troops in English pay in Guernsey. In August 1803 Halkett was one of the first officers assigned to the service of raising the King's German Legion, and he became major, and later lieutenant-colonel, commanding the 2nd Light Infantry Battalion. His battalion was employed in the various expeditions mentioned above, from Hanover to Walcheren, and in 1811 Colin Halkett succeeded Charles Alten in the command of the Light Brigade, K.G.L., which he held throughout the Peninsula War from Albuera to Toulouse. In 1815 Major-General Sir Colin Halkett commanded the 5th British Brigade of Alien's division, and at Waterloo he received four wounds. Unlike his brother, he remained in the British service, in which he rose to general. At the time of his death he was governor of Chelsea dansk " by conviction. He saw in the closest possible 'union between the kingdom and a Schleswig freed from all risk of German interference the essential condition for Denmark's independence; but he did not think that Denmark was strong enough to carry such a policy through unsupported, and he was therefore inclined to promote it by diplomatic means and international combinations, and strongly opposed to the Conventions of 1851–1852 (See DENMARK: History), though he was among the first, subsequently, to accept them as an established fact and the future basis for Denmark's policy. Hall first took office in the Bang administration (12th of December 1854) as minister of public worship. In May 1857 he became president of the council after Andrae, Bang's successor, had retired, and in July 1858 he exchanged the ministry of public worship for the ministry of foreign affairs, while still retaining the premiership. Hall's programme, " den Konstitutionelle Helstat," i.e. a single state with a common constitution, was difficult enough in a monarchy which included two nationalities, one of which, to a great extent, belonged to a foreign and hostile jurisdiction. But as this political monstrosity had already been guaranteed by the Conventions of 1851–1852, Hall could not rid himself of it, and the attempt to establish this. " Helstat " was made accordingly by the Constitution of the 13th of November 1863. The failure of the attempt and its disastrous consequences for Denmark are described elsewhere. Here it need only be said that Hall himself soon became aware of the impossibility of the " Helstat," and his whole policy aimed at making its absurdity patent to Europe, and substituting for it a constitutional Den-mark to the Eider which would be in a position to come to terms with an independent Holstein. That this was the best thing possible for Denmark is absolutely indisputable, and " the diplomatic Seven Years' War " which Hall in the meantime conducted with all the powers interested in the question is the most striking proof of his superior statesmanship. Hall knew that in the last resort the question must be decided not by the pen but by the sword. But he relied, ultimately, on the protection of the powers which had guaranteed the integrity of Denmark by the treaty of London, and if words have any meaning at all he had the right to expect at the very least the armed support of Great Britain.' But the great German powers and the force of circumstances proved too strong for him. On the accession of the new king, Christian IN.., Hall resigned rather than repeal the November Constitution, which gave Denmark something to negotiate upon in case of need. But he made matters as easy as he could for his successors in the Monrad administration, and the ultimate catastrophe need not have been as serious as it was had his advice, frankly given, been intelligently followed. After 1864 Hall bore more than his fair share of the odium and condemnation which weighed so heavily upon the national Liberal party, making no attempt to repudiate responsibility and refraining altogether from attacking patently unscrupulous opponents. But his personal popularity suffered not the slightest diminution, while his clear, almost intuitive, outlook and his unconquerable faith in the future of his country made him, during those difficult years, a factor of incalculable importance in the public life of Denmark. In 187o he joined the Holstein-Holsteinborg ministry as minister of public worship, and in that capacity passed many useful educational reforms, but on the fall of the administration, in 1873, he retired altogether from public life. In the summer of 1879 Hall was struck down by apoplexy, and for the remaining nine years, of his life he was practically bedridden. He died on the 14th of August 1888. In politics Hall was a practical, sagacious " opportunist," in the best sense of that much abused word, with an eye rather for things than for persons. Moreover, he had no very pronounced political ambition, and was an utter stranger to that longing for power, which drives so many men of talent to adopt extreme expedients. His urbanity and perfect On this head see the 3rd marquess of Salisbury's Political Essays, reprinted from the Quarterly Review. hospital. He had honorary general's rank in the Hanoverian service, the G.C.B. and G.C.H., as well as numerous foreign orders. For information about both the Halketts, see Beamish, History of the King's German Legion (1832).
End of Article: FREIHERR VON HUGH HALKETT (1783-1863)
[back]
HALISAH (Hebrew, ny'S " untying ")
[next]
HALL

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.