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Biographical entry Mouat, Sir James (1815 - 1899)

VC 1858; CB 1856; KCB 1894; MRCS Aug 29th 1837; FRCS Oct 21st 1852.

4 January 1899
General surgeon


The elder son of Surgeon James Mouat, King's Hussars, 13th Infantry, and 15th Dragoons, who died on the voyage home from India in December, 1848; the younger son was Frederic John Mouat (qv).

He was educated for the medical profession at University College Hospital and in Paris, and entered the Medical Department of the Army in 1838; was promoted Surgeon in 1848, Surgeon Major in 1855, Deputy Surgeon General in 1858, Surgeon General in 1864, and retired on half pay in 1876. He served throughout on the regimental medical system in the 44th, 4th, and 9th Regiments of Foot; in the 6th Dragoon Guards from Aug 15th, 1854, and on the Medical Staff through the Crimea. Before Sebastopol he was in medical charge of the General Field Hospital; he was also present at the Battles of Balaclava, Inkerman, and Tchernaya, and at the night attack on the Russian outposts on Feb 19th, 1855.

James Mouat was the first of the medical profession and of the FRCS to win the Victoria Cross. At the Battle of Balaclava, Oct 25th, 1854, after the famous Charge of the Light Brigade, and the Light Cavalry having retreated, Mouat volunteered and went out to the assistance of Lieut-Colonel Morris, 17th Lancers, lying dangerously wounded in an exposed position, in front of the Russians. Mouat dressed his wounds and, by arresting haemorrhage, saved his life. For his services, besides the Victoria Cross, he received the Medal with three Clasps, the Turkish Medal, was appointed CB and a Knight of the Legion of Honour. From January, 1856, he held the local rank of Deputy Inspector-General of Hospitals, and was promoted to that rank at home in October, 1858.

He served in the New Zealand Campaign of 1860-1865; under General Pratt in 1860-1861, and was twice mentioned in dispatches. As principal Medical Officer he was present in the Field throughout 1863-1865 under Sir D Cameron, was mentioned in dispatches, and received the banks of the New Zealand Government for valuable services rendered to the colony. His reports were reprinted in the Medical and Surgical History of the New Zealand War.

A martinet as to attire whether in uniform or mufti, he was always the champion of medical subordinates. He advocated the retention of the regimental system for medical officers until he recognized that a return to it was impossible, when he frankly accepted the autonomous medical corps with military titles.

He received a good service pension in 1868, was appointed Hon Surgeon to the Queen in 1888, and promoted KCB in 1894.

He died at 108 Palace Gardens Terrace, Kensington, on Jan 4th, 1899, and bequeathed his decorations and medals to the United Service Institution, Whitehall, in the museum of which they are exhibited.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Johnston's RAMC Roll, No 4530. Lancet, 1899, I, 131. Brit Med Jour, 1899, I, 125].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England