Colonel Sir Charles Stuart, KB (January 1753 – 25 May 1801) was a British nobleman and soldier. The fourth son of John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute and Mary Wortley Montagu, he was born in Kenwood House, London.
He had several notable brothers and sisters, including John Stuart, 1st Marquess of Bute (1744–1814); The Most Rev. and Hon. William Stuart (1755–1822), a clergyman who became Archbishop of Armagh, and James Archibald Stuart (1747–1818), another soldier who raised the 92nd Regiment of Foot in 1779. His sisters were Lady Louisa Stuart (1757–1851), a writer who died unmarried, Lady Mary Stuart (c. 1741–1824), who married James Lowther, later the 1st Earl of Lonsdale; Lady Anne Stuart (born c. 1745), who married Lord Warkworth, later the 2nd Duke of Northumberland; Lady Jane Stuart (c. 1748–1828), who married George Macartney, later the first Earl Macartney; and Lady Caroline Stuart (before 1763–1813), who married The Hon. John Dawson, later first Earl of Portarlington.
The Hon. Charles Stuart embarked upon a military career in 1768, when he enlisted as an ensign in the 37th Regiment of Foot. He purchased a lieutenantcy in the 7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers) in 1770 and a captaincy in the 37th Foot in 1775. Late that year, he became a major commanding a battalion of the regiment, and saw service in the American War of Independence. In 1777, he was commissioned as a lieutenant-colonel of the 26th Regiment of Foot, which he commanded until 1779.
On a visit home to England, he married Anne Louisa Bertie, daughter of Lord Vere Bertie, on 19 April 1778. He returned briefly to America, before coming back to London as a liaison to the ministry. A harsh critic of the Army’s conduct, he was, however, highly favored by General George Clinton. His two sons were born after his return from America:
* Charles Stuart, 1st Baron Stuart de Rothesay (2 January 1779 – 6 November 1845)
* Captain John James Stuart (29 August 1782 – 19 March 1811), died aboard his command, the frigate HMS Saldanha
He was promoted to colonel in 1782, but his criticisms and the disfavor of George III towards his father prevented further military commands. He had been elected MP for Bossiney in 1776, succeeding his elder brother Lord Mount Stuart, who had been created Baron Cardiff. Stuart continued an MP for the remainder of his life, except the years 1794–1796, but showed little interest in politics. In 1792, on the death of his father, he inherited the estate of Highcliffe House in Hampshire.
With the opening of hostilities against France by the First Coalition, he returned to active service. On 23 May 1794, he took command of the army in Corsica, and supervised the taking of Calvi (the action in which Horatio Nelson lost an eye). Col. John Moore was at the time his adjutant general. Stuart was promoted to lieutenant-general for this action, and on 24 October 1794, was made colonel of the 68th Regiment of Foot. However, his pride and violent temper led him to quarrel with Lord Hood, commanding the Mediterranean Fleet, and with the civilian viceroy of Corsica, Sir Gilbert Elliot, Bt. His partiality for Pasquale Paoli against Elliot, and other conflicts, led Stuart to resign in February 1795. On 25 March 1795, he left the colonelcy of the 68th for that of the 26th Regiment of Foot, which he held for the remainder of his life.
===Defence of Portugal===
He took command of a force sent to Portugal in January 1797 to defend Lisbon, and was notably successful in instilling discipline and spirit into the force, which was partly foreign in composition.
===Capture of Minorca===
In 1798, he was sent to attack Minorca with 3,000 men, an appointment heartily approved by Lord St Vincent, who praised Stuart as an excellent general and inspiring leader of troops. Though unequipped with siege artillery, he successfully dissimulated and bluffed the Spaniards into surrendering the island without loss of life, an exploit for which he was made a Knight of the Bath. From 15 November 1798 until 1800, he served as the British governor of the island. In March 1799, he responded to an appeal by Admiral Nelson (who, like St Vincent, thought him an excellent leader), and brought the 30th and 89th Regiments under Col. Blayney to Palermo, from whence they were dispatched to secure Messina against French invasion.
An able general and administrator, Stuart’s quarrelsome disposition and tendency toward insubordination blighted an otherwise promising military career.