Father: Robert Todd MP
Mother: Flora Todd (née MacGregor)
Siblings: Robert, Elizabeth Rawling (née Todd), Edward (Vicar, Parish of Hampsthwaite), Rosalind Browne-Grant (née Todd), Marjorie MacConachie (née Todd), Donald (Major, 3rd Squadron, 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards)
Though of middling height and with an unremarkable build, James Todd manages somehow to make himself seem more dominant than he physically is. He developed this intangible presence when he was in university and it has stood him in very good stead since. His upbringing was respectable enough but one would be hard pressed to know that by the plain style of dress Todd prefers. He has been in the army's service long enough to know that expensive clothing does not last long. It is not unheard of for him to make do with roughly-made articles when supplies run short, in much the same manner as the private soldiers.
His round face is noticeably creased and the first hints of grey are becoming more obvious in his untidy mop of dark hair, suggesting that age is ever so slowly catching up him. Todd is naturally energetic, however, and indeed he tends to carry himself as might a much younger man. He is nearly obliged to have such vivacity, given his present occupation. Life on the march is far from easy, Todd knows very well, and he is quite aware that he is fortunate to have a hardy constitution. He remembers the cold winters of Canada and the hard conditions endured in Egypt, and expects that future campaigns will be similarly trying. Accordingly, he did what he could to gain weight while in Lisbon and later in Oporto, in an attempt to stack the odds in his favour as much as he could.
Todd is not one to tolerate attempts to defy his authority, whether by officers or private men. He knows very well what his professional limits are and with regard to the welfare of the men under his charge, he considers his the first and last word of law and woe betide anyone who is foolish enough to try pushing his limits. The potential thus exists for considerable disagreements between himself and the regiment's officers, but Todd is also well enough mannered to not be uncivil when he is fighting the corner of the wounded and sick.
While he is no physician, he is quite a competent surgeon with a respectable record of service. Keeping his knowledge and skills current is as much a point of personal pride as it is a professional necessity. He knows that the men are more likely to trust a surgeon who knows what he's about, just as he's aware that it's equally important to not be officious and unapproachable. Over the years, Todd has perfected an easy, accessible style which helps bridge the natural gulf between him and the men.
Despite himself, Todd tends strongly toward defining his circle of friends and acquaintances along regimental lines. This is as much a product of circumstances as not. He spends much of his time amongst the men and officers of his regiment and thus, quite naturally, has the strongest bonds with them. He does mix socially with officers from other corps, but not quite as frequently. His fellow surgeons form the one class of men with whom he is able to interact utterly freely, as might be expected. Of course, the restricted society of the army makes it necessary to be more willing to rub elbows with men he would otherwise avoid, and Todd has often had to deal with officers for whom he has nothing but dislike.
Discretion and common sense are requirements for an army surgeon and Todd is happily possessed of both. In the main, he instinctively knows what to say and what not to say, and when to do so. He does not make an overt effort to be respected by the men but his very nature and the many confidences he has kept over the years have both helped make him known as a reliable surgeon. Neither does he go out of his way to inflict unnecessary harm or suffering on his patients. A soldier's lot is quite hard enough, he knows. A little compassion and gentle handling when a man is wounded often do more to aid recovery than medicine itself, he's learned.
Early life Edit
As the third son of four, and the fifth of seven children, it goes without saying that James Todd grew up in a crowded household. His father was a respected merchant and Member of Parliament. The influence thus afforded to the family gave them more opportunities than they would otherwise have enjoyed. Todd's eldest brother was the only one of the brood who pursued no career but that followed by their father. The other sons each elected to make their own ways when they were of age, even though they were not actually obliged to do so. Their mother was a firm believer in equal education and saw to it that all her children received thorough schooling in the necessary subjects. Todd's sisters received additional lessons in music and dancing, which no doubt helped them to each achieve suitable marriages.
If he had not chosen medicine for his career, Todd might easily have gone to the law. He showed an early affinity for intensive study, as well as an aptitude for verbal sparring. Two uncles were senior men of the law, one a magistrate in York and the other a King's Counsel, and Todd was almost assured of a place at Cambridge, until he quarrelled severely with his father over the matter of his ultimate career path. The result was that the young man instead went north to St Andrews, where he studied medicine, in open defiance of his father and his restrictions. He was not the only rebel, either. His youngest brother, Donald, likewise spurned his father's wishes to take up a post with a political colleague and instead borrowed money from Edward to purchase a cornet's commission in the cavalry.
University and medical practise Edit
Todd did well at St Andrews and upon completing his studies, travelled to York in the hope of building his career there. He met with consistent hard luck and false starts, however, though seldom through any true fault of his own. His lack of success led to a depression and he sought comfort wherever he could find it, until it suddenly dawned on him that he was doing nothing but wasting his life and his talents. Of course, it helped that this realisation was made upon awakening in a bed that was not his, alongside a woman he did not know. Needless to say, Todd vacated York at once and made his way south to London. The sprawling heart of the country afforded Todd better opportunities than Yorkshire had, and with hard work and diligence, he was able to establish himself as a surgeon. This lasted for ten years, until the outbreak of war with revolutionary France.
Army service Edit
In a fit of patriotic fervor, Todd abandoned his practise and applied to become an army surgeon. He was quickly deemed acceptable and was packed off to join the 5th Foot, which at that time were in Canada. The regiment did not return until 1797 and was home for nearly two years until it was sent to Holland. The failure of that expedition disgusted him, not the least because of the great cost in men. He chose to exchange into the 23rd Foot, upon hearing that the 5th were bound for garrison duty in Gibraltar. As it turned out, this move was less than wise. The 23rd was very shortly off to a very busy three years, spanning the failure at Ferrol to the hard-fighting in the Egyptian campaign. It was not until 1804 that the regiment saw England again, a mere shadow of its former self.
Todd had endured his share of the suffering in the latter campaign, falling ill with dystentery at Aboukir but still gamely sticking to his duties. He applied for leave after the regiment returned home and, upon receiving it, travelled north at once. His reception in Leeds was warm and relieved, even where his father was concerned, and Todd was able to enjoy a month of luxurious inactivity. When his leave expired, he reluctantly set off south once more, but he only got as far as Sheffield before his horse was spooked by a rabbit. He was unable to keep his seat and broke his leg in the fall. The misfortune laid him up for several weeks and obliged him to miss the 23rd's sailing for Hanover. Once he was again fit, he found it necessary to exchange into the 60th Foot, since his previous post had been taken over by his former assistant.
He was placed into the 5th Battalion of his new regiment and joined it in time to manage the medical inspections of a large batch of recruits at Portsmouth. The battalion soon embarked for Cork, where it wintered, and in the early summer of 1808 it departed for Portugal. Todd had been placed with the 3rd Company of the battalion, the former being under the command of Captain John Vickery. The battalion was engaged at Rolicia and Vimeiro before being ordered to join the garrison at Lisbon, and thereby missed the great retreat across Spain. The following spring meant a fresh campaign and he was with his company as it marched up and across Portugal and into Spain.
The summer was not free of difficulties, for troubles between his riflemen and the redcoats of the division sprang up with distressing regularity. Disputes with the army's provosts left Rifleman Joe Newbury badly concussed and with broken ribs, in addition to a re-injured knee, and a feud between Riflemen Jack Kirridge and Sam Mayden and an unknown redcoat left Kirridge dead and Mayden wounded. An attack upon the baggage by French cavalry caused several casualties in the company, including Captain Vickery himself. After Talavera, Todd also found himself temporarily responsible for wounded and terrified French prisoners, who had suffered an attack by Spanish partisans while in 3rd Company's custody. If the pace of events thus far in the campaign continue, Todd is certain it is going to be a very long war.