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The Elephant Battery, circa 1875 - Colonel James John Graham (1808-1883)
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The Elephant Battery, circa 1875 - Colonel James John Graham (1808-1883)

Measurements: Overall: 50.5cm (19.75in) x 86cm (34in)

£1300

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Heightened watercolour on paper. Framed and glazed.

This depiction of an Elephant Battery shows the business end of the multitude of beasts and men that comprised a Royal Garrison Artillery heavy battery in India circa 1875. By 1890 this included 4 x 40 pounder rifled muzzle-loading (RML) guns, and two 6.5" howitzers, manned by 4 officers and 88 Other Ranks. Transport was rendered by 12 elephants, 2 per gun and howitzer, tended by 24 mahouts under a jemadar. 262 bullocks tended by 131 drivers supervised by 6 sirdars under a jemadar. and an unspecified number of Indian followers such as grass cutters, conservancy (sanitary) orderlies and others. While elephants proved themselves highly intelligent and surprisingly surefooted draught animals over difficult country, they were also known for their ‘a strong sense of self-preservation’. After one or two unfortunate incidents when elephants galloped off with the limbers immediately after the guns they had drawn had been brought into action, their use in the forefront of battle was abandoned.

A note verso tells us that one of the subalterns, commanding one of the two ‘divsions’ of two guns each, in this battery was Walter Ferrier Graham, (‘he is on pony on right as you look at it’), and that the watercolour was ‘done’ by his father, ‘General’ [sic] Graham, from a photograph sent home by Walter …’ Colonel J.J. Graham (1808-83) is known to history as
the first writer to produce a full English translation of Carl von Clausewitz's military-philosophical classic, ‘On War’ (London: N. Trübner, 1873)

The Carl von Clausewitz expert Dr. Bassford writes, ‘Graham himself is an elusive character, surprisingly so. His father, his son, and at least one of his grandsons were generals, but J.J. himself was put on half-pay in 1842 and never returned to active service in the British army. He entered Sandhurst in 1822, served in the West Indies as deputy judge-advocate, and evidently served briefly as an engineer. From 1832 to 1835 he took civilian employment as secretary and treasurer to the South-Eastern Railway Company in England and then returned to the army as a captain in the Seventieth (Surrey) Regiment of Foot. He was involved in a colonization scheme in Canada in 1851, apparently aimed at settling British veterans there. In June 1854 he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel on the unattached list (i.e., he was not attached to any British regiment) and then served as military secretary to Sir Robert Hussey Vivian, commander of the British ‘Turkish Contingent’ in the Crimean War. For the latter service he was awarded the Turkish Medal and also the Sultan's Order of the Medjidie, Third Class. He sold his commission in 1858.’ (https://www.clausewitz.com/readings/OnWar1873/Translator.htm)

His son Walter Ferrier Graham (1850-1933) was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1871; served in India in the 1870s, and with the Garrison Artillery, Northern Division, 1st. Brigade, 5th. Battery, Halifax in 1886. He was promoted Brevet Colonel in 1901.
 

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