Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, KB, lived from 13 November 1761 to 16 January 1809. He was a professional army officer who rose to become a general and is best known for his victory - and his death - at the Battle of Corunna in Spain. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
John Moore was born in Glasgow, the son of doctor and writer Dr John Moore. He attended Glasgow High School, but in 1772, at the age of eleven, set off with his father and Douglas Hamilton, the 16 year old 8th Duke of Hamilton and a private pupil of Dr Moore, on a grand tour of Europe that would last until 1776. As well as travelling through France, Germany and Italy the party spent two years in Geneva.
On returning to Britain, John Moore, now 15 years old, joined the army as an Ensign in the 51st Regiment of Foot. He first saw action in 1778 during the American War of Independence as a Lieutenant in the 82nd Regiment of Foot. In 1783 Moore was posted home, and the following year was elected as Member of Parliament for Lanark Burghs. In 1787 he was promoted to the rank of Major and rejoined the 51st Regiment of Foot. After campaigns in Corsica in 1791 he was promoted to Colonel. By 1798 Moore was a Major-General commanding troops engaged in the suppression of a rebellion in Ireland.
In 1799 Moore was wounded during an action at Egmond aan Zee in what is now the Netherlands, and two years later fought in Egypt. In 1803 Moore was in command of Army training in south-east England, introducing a number of innovations and developing the first permanent light infantry regiments in the British Army. He later commanded the development of the defences along the Kent coast to ward off a feared Napoleonic invasion. He introduced Martello towers to Britain and oversaw the construction of the Royal Military Canal as a line of defence.
Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore took command of British forces in Spain and Portugal in 1808. In the face of the arrival of an overwhelmingly strong French Army of 200,000 in Spain and the defeat of the Spanish army, Moore commanded an orderly retreat which culminated at the British army's intended embarkation points for England at La Coruña and Vigo. The Battle of Corunna is considered a victory by Moore's troops over the French under Marshal Soult: which brought enough time to allow the orderly embarkation of the British army. Moore himself was fatally wounded by a cannon ball, living just long enough to learn the French had been repulsed. Moore was buried at La Coruña and when the French subsequently took control of the town a monument to him was erected at the command of Marshal Soult. Sir John Moore is also commemorated by a statue in his native Glasgow's George Square.