Baird was a tough and brave Scot who achieved fame at the capture of Seringapatam in 1799 but who was doomed to play second fiddle to other generals. As a young captain he served in India with the 73rd Highlanders in Sir Hector Munro's campaign, but at the disastrous battle of Pollilur in 1780 he was wounded, captured by Hyder Ali and imprisoned in the stronghold at Seringapatam for 4 years in chains with the bullet still inside him. When Baird's mother heard of his captivity she famously remarked, "God help the chiel chained to our Davie." (chiel being an old Scottish word for a fellow or lad)
More service in India and the Cape of Good Hope followed but in 1799 he was a major-general serving in General Harris's siege of Seringapatam. Baird had the satisfaction of leading the assault on the stronghold where he spent those 4 miserable years, and seeing the dead body of Tipoo Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore and son of Hyder Ali.
In 1801 Baird led the Indian Army in Egypt in Abercromby's campaign against the French. In the same year he was appointed Colonel of the 54th Regiment which lasted until 1807 when he became Colonel of the 24th Regiment. He led an expedition to the Cape of Good Hope in 1805 where Cape Town was captured from the Dutch and he became governor of the Cape.
In 1807 he was wounded in the bombardment of Copenhagen and the following year he was second in command of the British army in the Peninsula where Sir John Moore led them back to Corunna. He took over when Moore was killed but shortly after his arm was shattered by a musket ball and he had to relinquish command. Baird had difficulty coming to terms with the rise of the more junior Arthur Wellesley who was twice given positions that Baird had hoped to attain. He reached the rank of General in 1814 and was made Commander-in-Chief in Ireland in 1820. He died at his home in Crieff in Perth and Kinross, on 18th Aug 1829 aged 71.
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