Fraser, Alexander George, sixteenth Baron Saltoun 1785-1853, general, was the elder son of Alexander, fifteenth lord Saltoun of Abernethy in the peerage of Scotland, by Margery, daughter and heiress of Simon Fraser of Newcastle, a director of the East India Company. He was born in London on 12 April 1785, and on 13 Sept. 1793 succeeded his father in the Scotch peerage when still a minor. He entered the army as an ensign in the 35th regiment on 28 April 1802, and was promoted lieutenant on 2 Sept. following, and captain on 7 Sept. 1804. On 23 Nov. 1804 he exchanged into the 1st, afterwards the Grenadier guards, with which regiment he served continuously for many years. In September 1806 he accompanied the 3rd battalion of the 1st guards to Sicily, where it formed part of the guards brigade under Major-general Henry Wynyard, and in October 1807 he returned to England with it. In September 1808 he again left England, as lieutenant and captain of the light company of the 3rd battalion of the 1st guards, and his battalion formed one of the two comprising the guards brigade of Major-general Henry Warde which landed at Corunna with the army under Sir David Baird. From Corunna Baird marched to meet Sir John Moore at Mayorga, and in the terrible winter retreat which followed the guards distinguished themselves by their good order. Saltoun was present throughout the severe campaign, and at the battle of Corunna with his light company. In 1809 his battalion formed part of Major-general Disney's brigade of guards in the Walcheren expedition, and in 1811 it was sent to Cadiz, but too late to be present at Barrosa. At the close of 1812 he joined the 1st battalion of his regiment with the main army before Burgos, and from that time he went through the Peninsular campaigns with the 1st brigade of guards. He commanded the light infantry company of his battalion throughout the campaigns of 1813 and 1814, and was present at the battle of Vittoria, the battle of the Pyrenees, the forcing of the Bidassoa, the battles of the Nivelle and the Nive, and at the operations before Bayonne, especially in the repulse of the sortie. He was promoted captain and lieutenant-colonel on 25 Dec. 1813, and posted to the 3rd battalion of his regiment, but as it was in England he obtained leave to continue to serve with Lord Wellington's army in the Peninsula. He returned to England, and joined his old battalion on the conclusion of peace in 1814. On 6 March 1815 Saltoun married Catherine, a natural daughter of Lord-chancellor Thurlow, and in the following May he was again ordered on foreign service. At the battle of Quatre Bras he commanded the light companies of the 2nd brigade of guards, and at the battle of Waterloo he held the garden and orchard of Hougoumont against all the onslaughts of the French, while Sir James Macdonell of the Coldstream guards held the farmhouse itself. Saltoun had four horses killed under him during this day's fighting, and lost two-thirds of his men. When the guards made their famous charge on the Old Guard of France, the light companies were led on by Saltoun, who also received the sword of General Cambronne when that French officer surrendered. For his signal bravery in this great battle Saltoun was made a C.B., a knight of the orders of Maria Theresa of Austria and of St. George of Russia, and in 1818 he was made a K.C.B. He had been a representative peer of Scotland ever since 1807, and as a consistent tory he received the post of a lord of the bedchamber in 1821, in which year he was also made a G.C.H. On 27 May 1825 he was promoted colonel; in 1827 he became lieutenant-colonel commanding the 1st battalion of the Grenadier guards, and on 10 Jan. 1837 he was promoted major-general. In 1841 Saltoun received the command of a brigade in the opium war with China under Sir Hugh Gough, which he commanded at the battle of Chin-keang-foo and in the advance on Nankin. On Gough's departure from China Saltoun succeeded him in the command-in-chief of all the troops left in that country, a post which he held until 1843. For his services during this war he received the thanks of parliament, and in 1846 he was appointed colonel of the 2nd or Queen's regiment. He was promoted lieutenant-general in 1849, made a K.T. in 1852, and he died at his shooting-box near Rothes on 18 Aug. 1853, being succeeded as seventeenth Lord Saltoun by his nephew, Major Alexander Fraser. Saltoun held the very highest reputation as a gallant soldier; his bravery and coolness in action were proverbial in the army; his defence of the orchard of Hougoumont has made his name famous in English military history; and the Duke of Wellington once described him as a pattern to the army both as a man and a soldier. He was also an accomplished musician and a musical enthusiast, and was at the time of his death president of the Madrigal Society of London and chairman of the Musical Union.
Gent. Mag. October 1853
Royal Military Calendar
Hart's Army List
Hamilton's Hist. of the Grenadier Guards
Contributor: H. M. S. [Henry Morse Stephens]