Ben Blackwood is a captain of the 1st Battalion of the 2nd Foot Guards, presently serving as Brigade-major for the 1st Brigade in the 2nd Division. He is a PC belonging to Keiju. His PB is Ian Ogilvy.
Father: Sir Robert Blackwood
Mother: Lady Frances Blackwood
Early life and service with the 37th Foot Edit
The Blackwoods of Hawks Hill are an old landed family, with a notable tradition of service. Benjamin Blackwood does, therefore, come from sound stock. The house into which he and his siblings were born was well regulated, owing chiefly to his father's strict sense of order. It was from him that Benjamin learned the importance of discipline, and also acquired his private resentment for men who insist on having complete control over everything that goes on around them.
Despite being the eldest son, Benjamin was set on a military career - which pleased his father greatly. The elder Blackwood had long hoped at least one of his sons would go to the army as he had done. Of the three boys only Benjamin showed interest, with William preferring a life of ease and Eugene desiring nothing more than to be a Marine. Thus, Benjamin was seventeen when Sir Robert purchased his son's first commission, naturally choosing the 37th Foot for his regiment as that had been his own. Benjamin was with the North Hampshires during their service in Gibraltar, where after three years he purchased up to the rank of lieutenant. He remained with the North Hampshires for only a few more months before applying for leave to visit home.
Unknown to his family, Benjamin had a particular ambition. Spending his career in the Line was not part of his plan. Instead, he had a deep desire to elevate himself to the more select world of the Guards. Advancement of this sort was expensive, of course, but he had been preparing for it from the start. Careful attention paid to news and rumours eventually paid off and, while home on leave, he learned of a prime opportunity: a captain's vacancy in the Second Guards. It was with no small amount of luck, as well as the influence provided - discreetly, of course - by his father's connections, that the deal was sealed in Blackwood's favour. The arrangements were made and the necessary sums exchanged hands, and soon enough he had achieved his ambition.
The cost of such advancement could be counted by more than money, however. Sir Robert was less than pleased when the news of the transaction reached him. There were hot words exchanged regarding it, for his father viewed it as blatant betrayal of regimental loyalty never mind an extravagant waste of funds, and when Blackwood left Hawks Hill to join his new regiment, it was without a backward glance. Father and son have not corresponded with each other since.
Service with the Coldstream Edit
As a Coldstreamer, Blackwood saw service in Egypt and Denmark before being dispatched to Portugal. He inherited command of the Light Company after his major was killed and for a time managed well in his new position. However, in a short, sharp fight with the otherwise-retreating French army after Oporto, Blackwood lost nearly half his company killed or wounded. He was exceptionally fortunate to remain in command, though his card was undoubtedly marked by both the colonel and the adjutant. Nothing less than flawless behaviour from him would see him keeping his company and he knew it. Accordingly, he exercised more caution than he ordinarily might have done when the regiment went into action at Talavera, but his men and subalterns acquitted themselves ably - much to his relief.
Unfortunately, that sterling performance was not enough to permit him to retain his company. Not long after the battle, Blackwood learned that the Light Company was to be given to another officer and he was to assume the duties of Brigade-Major for the 1st Brigade, under the command of Major General Tilson. In some respects, the appointment to the staff is a promotion, but Blackwood is not entirely sure it is a wholly good thing, but it's a vastly preferable outcome to being cashiered. There is more fighting and hard marching in store. Every man in the army knows it. Blackwood hopes fervently that no further misfortune will fall on him. His career depends upon it.
Like many other men in his family, he is more athletically slim instead of bulky. Blackwood is not especially tall but his bearing makes him appear to be. His posture is unfailingly erect and controlled, as if it is physically impossible for him to slouch. His light brown hair is worn just long enough to cover his ears, so to conceal the fact that he is missing the top part of his left ear, a wound earned at Talavera. There is a thin accompanying scar along his left temple, though this is more difficult to detect beneath his hair. His usual expression is neutral, though little enticement is needed for his lips to quirk up in a smile.
He is well aware of the importance placed upon immaculate turnouts in his regiment and his uniforms are of the highest order possible. Previous service in a regular Line regiment taught him many tricks with respect to maintaining his clothes and himself while on campaign. These skills were not any he'd thought he'd need again, but the nervous uncertainty of his batman has made it necessary for Blackwood to attend to much of his own toilette.
In many ways, Blackwood is more like his father than he would care to admit. He likes a challenge and is known to apply himself fully to any task he might be given. Even as a boy, he was stubborn, disliking giving up on anything he made a start at. Such determination is useful in an officer, so long as it is kept in check. This is something Blackwood occasionally struggles with. There have been occasions where his insistence on seeing a task through has lead to difficulties. There have been others where it has resulted in success.
The ability to think calmly under fire is important and Blackwood has trained himself over the years to keep his head when the pressure is on. He has been on the battlefield and knows from hard experience that keeping one's cool when the world appears to be coming apart is absolutely vital. Likewise, he has perfected the expressionless mask necessary for an officer, to conceal his inner feelings. This has come in handy under fire and also when sitting down to a game of cards.
Pride is a powerful motivator for him as well. He is fiercely proud of the regiment in which he serves and does not look kindly upon any slights to it. In this, he is again like his father. That he chose to purchase into a more prestigious Guards regiment and thus leave the Line was viewed as a grievous slight by his father, who had long pushed his eldest son to remain tied to his original regiment, whatever the cost. While Blackwood is aware of this, he refuses to acknowledge it. Nor is he of a mind to sell out and return home to take up the duties of country gentleman. He had never cared much for the life of a landowner, even though he is the heir to the estate.
Strengths and weaknesses Edit
- Blackwood is not one to run from a fight. He is a firm believer in the idea that an officer must lead from the front. No one could say he is a coward either. Courage tempered by good sense is the mark by which he measures himself and in the main, he meets it as the situation demands.
- It's vitally important for a company officer to remain cool-headed when under pressure and Blackwood has proven to possess this ability. Even when his company was overrun by French cavalry, he kept his senses and was able to get the survivors to the nearest British square, where they promptly involved themselves in repulsing further attacks.
- Prior to his receiving a staff appointment, he was not one to aspire to lofty heights but, having been granted a post outside his regiment, he happily accepted. It was a promotion in all but name and despite not being ambitious, Blackwood recognises the possibility of gaining advancement - and, he hopes, his father's eventual approval.
- In spite of his general level-headedness, Blackwood can be rash and seemingly thoughtless. He showed an example of that when prematurely ordering his company to charge advancing French infantry, which very shortly caused him to lose half of his company to a surprise counter-charge by French dragoons. This is due more to a tunnel-vision form of bravery than honest carelessness, but the consequences of it can be grave indeed.
- He has several years' experience in the Line but none as a staff officer, which means his learning curve in this new role is steep indeed. It is already proving a greater burden than he expected and a small part of him wishes to be back with his former company.
- In order to suitably fit himself out for his new duties, he was obliged to draw loans from a number of friends. To request assistance from his family was unconsciable. He is now in debt, after a fashion, and is finding that a staff officer's expenses are greater than he had first thought. He thus keenly hopes the army's pay will soon come through.