A Sketch of the Life of the Late...

CHAMPION Lieut.-Colonel John George ([1855])


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of the 95th Regiment. With Extracts from his Correspondence. Small 8vo. Steel-engraved vignette of Champion's tomb. Ink inscription of the Signet Library to the front pastedown, light browning, otherwise very good in the original chestnut embossed cloth, gilt, a little rubbed, spine lightly sunned and a little chipped at the head. [iv], 82pp. For Private Circulation Only, n.d.

Uncommon. After Sandhurst Champion was gazetted ensign in the 95th Regiment in 1831. In 1838 having attained the rank of Captain he embarked for foreign service, first on the Ionian Isles, then Ceylon and finally in 1847 to Hong Kong. By inclination a botanist, on his return to England in 1850 he brought with him a collection of specimens which were to serve as part of the materials for Flora Hongkongensis. On his departure for the Crimea he lodged his last set of plants at Kew.

In the Crimea he took part in the Battle of the Alma, Kinglake notes his initiative and resolve in the assault of the Great Redoubt. Informed by Capt. Sargent that they had no firm orders, "Although of a negative kind, this information was at the moment of great importance to Champion; and, the troops being all this while under a severe fire, he quickly came to his resolve. In answer to a remark from Sargent, he said to him at once: "Then lead on with your company!" Thereupon Sargent led forward his company, which was followed by the other three, all four of course under the orders of Champion." [The Invasion of the Crimea Vol. III, p.119] Kinglake further describes Champion as a "man of great gentleness and piety; and if he was not endowed with intellectual gifts, he was able to express the feelings of his heart with something of a poetic force." [ibid p.120]

At Inkerman Champion was involved in the outburst of troops from the Sandbag Battery [see Kinglake Vol. VI, pp.246-7], Kinglake remarking that he was "ever vehement in fight as in prayer". It was during the pursuit of the fleeing Russians down the "steeps" that Champion received his mortal wound, "... whilst restraining the too eager pursuit of some of the soldiery that the brave, pious Champion fell. To make his way through the copse-wood at a part where no horse could well penetrate, he had just quitted his saddle, when a musket-ball gave him his mortal wound." [ibid. pp.248-9]. He was gazetted Lieut. colonel and C.B. for his conduct at the battle, but died in Scutari on the 30th November 1854. His name is probably better remembered for his natural history pursuits, "His name is commemorated in the genus Championia, and among other plants by the splendid Rhodoleia Championi. Champion was also an entomologist, and a red longhorn beetle, Erythrus Championi, was named after him" [DNB]

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