Charles James Napier was born in the Palace of Whitehall in London in August 1782 into a military family. Aged 12 he joined the 33rd Infantry and by the time of the Peninsular war had risen to command the 50th Foot. He was wounded at the Battle of Corunna (January 1809) and mistakenly left for dead on the battle-field. He was fortunate in that he was discovered by a French drummer-boy and taken Prisoner. He was eventually released and returned to Britain. By 1810 he had returned to Iberia in command of the 102nd Regiment and took part in a number of battles including Badajoz.
In 1839 he was appointed Officer commanding the Northern Districts of Britain, but soon was posted to India as Military Commander for the Bombay Region and was responsible for the annexation of Sindh province (contrary to the orders he had been given). The following year he was made Governor of the Bombay region, but clashed over policy with the representatives of the British East India Company, resigned and returned to Britain. By 1849 he was back in India as Commander in Chief, but again clashed with civil authorities, this time, Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General. Napier resigned again and returned to Britain. On his return, he was highly critical of the administration in India predicting that continuation of these policies would lead to problems – as they ultimately did in 1857 when a revolt broke out in the colony. However, at the time his concerns were dismissed. Napier did not live to see his words of warning come true as he had died in 1853 and was buried in the Garrison Church at Portsmouth.
The statue in Trafalgar Square was erected in 1856.