KEANE, JOHN, rani LORD KEANE, of Ohuznee in Afghanistan and of Cappoquin in the county of Waterford, was the second son of Sir John Keane, Bart., of Belmont in that county, by Sarah, daughter of J. Kiley, Esq. He was born in 1781, and entered the army in his thirteenth year, his first commission bearing date 1793. Rising by gradual promotion, in 1799 he obtained a company in the 44th regi ment of foot, became aide-de-camp to the Earl of Cavan in Egypt, and served for several yearn in the Mediterranean. In 1809 he took part in the campaign of Martinique, and was present at the siege of Dessaix.
Having obtained his colonelcy in 1812, he joined the British army in Spain under the Duke of Wellington, who intrusted him on his arrival at Madrid with the command of a brigade in the third division, with which be served until the peace of 1814, taking part in the battles of Vittoria, the Pyrenees, Nivelle, Orthes, and Toulouse, besides several other minor actions. In 1814, having attained the rank of major-general, he was appointed to a command ordered for particular service on the West India station. He accordingly proceeded to Jamaica, and with the military force under his command he co-operated with Admiral Cochrane in the attack on New Orleans. In the following December he effected a landing near that city, but was almost imme diately superseded by Sir Edward Pakenham, who however appointed him to the command of a brigade under himself: in the subsequent attack on the enemy's fortified lines General Keane received two severe wounds. From 1823 to 1830 he held the commandership of the forces in Jamaica, and for upwards of a year administered the civil govern ment of the island also: In 1833 General Keane was appointed com mander of the forces at Bombay, and five years later received authority from the Indian government to organise and lead into Scinde a force intended to co-operate with the army under Sir Henry Fane. The chief command however of the combined forces almost immediately devolved on him. He was now called upon to lead a considerable army, and to conduct operations requiring much discretion, delicacy, and tact in dealing with those half-friendly powers whose existence is one of the greatest difficulties in the government of a semi-civilised country. With the open oo-operation, but often in opposition to the secret intrigues, of these wavering friends, the British commander in India has much to do. After a long and harassing period of suspense, during which our army was exposed to much suffering and hardship, the British army entered Cabul in May 1839, and on the 21st of July Sir John Keane sat down before the fortress of Ghuznee, a citadel standing on a rocky eminence, and hitherto deemed impregnable.
For thirty years the fortifications of the place had been constantly receiving additions to their strength, and it was garrisoned by 3500 Afghan eoldiera under Mahomed Hyder Khan, a younger son of Dhost Mahomed Khan, the ruler of the country, with a commanding number of guns and an abundance of arms, provisions, and stores. Though surrounded by hostile tribes who severely harassed them in all directions, the British army on the 23rd of the month was set in motion for assaulting the fortress. The gates were blown in; an entrance was effected, after a desperate struggle, though with the loss of only 200 men ; and in forty-eight hours the English colours were flying upon the heights of Ghuznee. The Prince Mahomed Hyder surrendered himself a prisoner, and the city was restored to its lawful prince, against whom Mahomed had rebelled. This success inspired the British forces with the highest confidence, and proportionately despirited the native troops of Dhost Mahomed, who fled away on the approach of Sir John Keane to Cabo!. Such was the end of a war in which the British forces were involved against their will by the perfidy of the Afghans, though there are not wanting those who say that the war itself might have been averted if our commander-in-chief had acted with greater prudence and discretion. For the capture of Ghuznee Lord Keane received the honour of a peerage, being created in December 1839 Baron Keane of Ghuznee in Afghanistan, together with the thanks of the court of the East India directors and of both houses of parliament, and other marks of royal and public approbation. The East India Company settled a pension of 20001. a year upon himself and upon his two next successors in the title.
As to his professional character, it was said by those most competent to form a judgment that Lord Keane was more fortunate than skilful, and he was far from popular in his eastern command on account of a partiality towards the Queen's army, which led him to underrate the gallant services of the Company's officers, such as Sir William Nott and others; and in spite of the brilliancy of the coup de main by which he reduced Ghuznee, he failed to secure that unqualified approbation which great victories generally ensure for a commander-in-chief.
Lord Keane was twice married. By his former wife be left four ions, the eldest of whom succeeded to his title; his second wife, Miss Boland, whom he married after his return to England in 1840, survived aim, and is since re-married to William Pigott, Esq., of Dullingham EIonse, Cambridgeshire. Lord Keane died of the dropsy at Burton Lodge, Hampshire, August 24th, 1844.