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* Home > Spies > Grant
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* * * Lieutenant-Colonel Colquhoun Grant (1780-1829)
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National Portrait Gallery: 5261; Colquhoun Grant (link to an enlarged view)
(By courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London: NPG 5261, portrait of Colquhoun Grant by George Jones from 1815-1820)
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The capture of Grant
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The escape
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Colquhoun Grant was one of the Duke of Wellington’s most famous intelligence officers, but he never thought of himself as a spy. In the nineteenth century spying was still considered an underhand and dishonest way of warfare. To brand Grant a spy would have been to cast doubt on his status as an officer and a gentleman.

Grant was born in 1780 in Morayshire, the youngest of eight brothers. He became an infantry soldier before he was fifteen and his army life was dominated by the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte in Europe and the threat of cross-Channel invasion. In 1808 he followed Wellington to Spain and Portugal for the Peninsular War.

Wellington soon realised that the French outnumbered his forces. He therefore needed to have as much advance information as possible and he developed a network of intelligence officers and local spies. He valued both strategic information, gathered by the interception of enemy letters, and tactical intelligence, gathered by men in the field such as ‘exploring officers’.

For more on Wellington’s intelligence gathering, read about General Scovell
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