Joseph Garnet Wolseley

From: Field-Marshal Viscount Wolseley,
The Story of A Soldier's Life,
Westminster, 1903


From: The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, 1910-1911.

GARNET JOSEPH WOLSELEY, Viscount (1833- ), British field marshal, eldest son of Major Garnet Joseph Wolseley of the King's Own Borderers (25th Foot.), was born at Golden Bridge, Co. Dublin, on the 4th of June 1833. Educated at Dublin, he obtained a commission as ensign in the 12th Foot in March 1852, and was transferred to the 80th Foot. with which he served in the second Burmese War. He was severely wounded on the 19th of March 1833 in the attack of Donabyu, was mentioned in despatches, and received the war medal. Promoted to be lieutenant and invalided home, he exchanged into the 90th Light Infantry, then in Dublin.

He accompanied the regiment to the Crimea, and landed at Balaklava in December 1854. He was selected to be an assistant engineer, and did duty with the Royal Engineers in the trenches before Sevastopol. He was promoted to be captain in January 1855 after less than three years' service, and served throughout the siege, was wounded at the Quarries on the 7th of June, and again in the trenches on the 30th of August. After the fall of Sevastopol Wolseley was employed on the quartermaster-general's staff, assisted in the embarkation of the troops and stores, and was one of the last to leave the Crimea in July 1856. For his services he was twice mentioned in despatches, was noted for a brevet majority, received the war medal with clasp, the 5th class of the French Legion of Honour, the 5th class of the Turkish Mejidie and the Turkish medal.

After six months' duty with the 90th Foot at Aldershot, he went with it again in March 1857, to join the expedition to China under Major-General the Hon. T. Ashburnham. Wolseley embarked in command of three com­panies in the transport "Transit," which was wrecked in the Strait of Banka. The troops were all saved, but with only their arms and a few rounds of ammunition, and were taken to Singapore; whence, on account of the Indian Mutiny, they were despatched with all haste to Calcutta. Wolseley distinguished himself at the relief of Lucknow under Sir Colin Campbell in November, and in the defence of the Alambagh position under Outram, taking part in the actions of the 22nd of December 1857, the 12th and 16th of January and the repulse of the grand attack of the 21st of February. In March he served at the final siege and capture of Lucknow. He was then appointed deputy-assistant quartermaster-general on the staff of Sir Hope Grant's Oudh division, and was engaged in all the operations of the campaign, including the actions of Bari, Sarsi, Nawabganj, the capture of Faizabad, the passage of the Gumti and the action of Sultanpur. In the autumn and  winter of 1858 he took part in the Baiswara, trans-Gogra and trans-Rapti campaigns ending with the complete suppression of the rebellion. For his services he was frequently mentioned in despatches, and having received his Crimean majority in March 1858, was in April 1859 promoted to be lieutenant-colonel, and received the Mutiny medal and clasp.

Wolseley continued to serve on Sir Hope Grant's staff in Oudh, and when Grant was nominated to the command of the British troops in the Anglo-French expedition to China in 1860, accom­panied him as deputy-assistant quartermaster-general. He was present at the action at Sin-ho, the capture of Tang-ku, the storming of the Taku Forts, the Occupation of Tientsin, the battle of Pa-to-cheau and the entry into Peking. He assisted in the re-embarkation of the troops before the winter set in. He was mentioned in despatches, and for his services received the medal and two clasps. On his return home he published the Narrative of the War with China in 1860.

In November 1861 Wolseley was one of the special service officers sent to Canada to make arrangements for the reception of troops in case of war with the United States in connexion with the, mail steamer "Trent" incident. and when the matter was amicably settled he remained on the headquarters staff in Canada as assistant-quartermaster-general. In 1865 he became a brevet colonel, was actively employed the following year in connexion with the Fenian raids from the United States, and in 1867 was appointed deputy quartermaster-general in Canada. In 1869 his Soldiers' Pocket Book for Field Service was published, and has since run through many editions. In 1870 he successfully commanded the Red River expedition to put down a rising under Louis Riel at Fort Garry, now the city of Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, then an outpost in the Wilderness, which could only be reached through a network of rivers and lakes extending for 600 miles from Lake Superior, traversed only by Indians, and where no supplies were obtainable. The admirable arrangements made and the careful organization of the transport reflected great credit on the commander, who on his return home was made K.C.M.G. and C.B.

Appointed assistant adjutant-general at the war office in 1871 he worked hard in furthering the Cardwell schemes of army reform was a member of the localization committee, and a keen advocate of short service, territorial regiments and linked battalions. From this time till he became commander­in-chief Wolseley was the prime mover and the deciding influence in practically all the steps taken at the war office for promoting the efficiency of the army, under the altered conditions of the day.

In 1873 he commanded the expedition to Ashanti, and, having made all his arrangements at the Gold Coast before the arrival of the white troops in January 1874, was able to com­plete the campaign in two months, and re-embark them for home before the unhealthy season began. This was the campaign which made his name a household word in England. He fought the battle of Amoaful on the 31st of January, and, after five days' fighting, ending with the battle of Ordahsu. entered Kumasi, which he burned. He received the thanks of both houses of Parliament and a grant of £25,000 was promoted to be major general for distinguished service in the field, received the medal and clasp and was made G.C.M.G. and K.C.B. The freedom of the city of London was conferred upon him with a sword of honour, and he was made honorary D.C.L. of Oxford and LL.D. of Cambridge universities. On his return home he was appointed inspector-general of auxiliary forces, but had not held the post for a year when, in consequence of the native unrest in Natal, he was sent to that colony as governor and general commanding.

In November 1876 he accepted a seat on the council of India, from which in 1878, having been promoted lieutenant-general, he went as high-commissioner to the newly acquired possession of Cyprus, and in the following year to South Africa to supersede Lord Chelmsford in command of the forces in the Zulu War, and as governor of Natal and the Transvaal and high commissioner of South-East Africa. But on his arrival at Durban in July he found that the war in Zululand was practically over, and after effecting a temporary settlement he went to the Transvaal. Having reorganized the administration there and reduced the powerful chief Sikukuni to submission, he returned home in May 1880 and was appointed quartermaster-general to the forces. For his services in South Africa he received the Zulu medal with clasp, and was made G.C.B.

In 1882 he was appointed adjutant-general to the forces, and in August of that year was given the command of the British forces in Egypt to suppress the rebellion of Arabi Pasha. Having seized the Suez Canal, he disembarked his troops at Ismailia, and after a very short and brilliant campaign completely defeated Arabi Pasha at Tel-el-Kebir, and suppressed the rebellion. For his services he received the thanks of parliament, the medal with clasp, the bronze star, was promoted general for distinguished service in the field, raised to the peerage as Baron Wolseley of Cairo and Wolseley, and received from the Khedive the 1st class of the order of the Osmanieh.

In 1884 he was again called away from his duties as adjutant-general to command the Nile expedition for the relief of General Gordon and the besieged garrison of Khartum. The expedition arrived too late; Khartum had fallen, and Gordon was dead; and in the spring of 1835 com­plications with Russia over the Penjdeh incident occurred, and the withdrawal of the expedition followed. For his services be received two clasps to his Egyptian medal, the thanks of parliament, and was created a viscount and a knight of St Patrick. He continued at the war office as adjutant-general to the forces until 1890, when he was given the command in Ireland. He was promoted to be field marshal in 1894, and was nominated colonel of the Royal Horse Guards in 1895, in which year he was appointed by the Unionist government to succeed the Duke of Cambridge as commander-in-chief of the forces. This was the position to which his great experience in the field and his previous signal success at the war office itself had fully entitled him. His powers were, however, limited by a new order in council, and after holding the appointment for over five years, he handed over the command-in-chief to Earl Roberts at the commencement of 1901. The fact that the unexpectedly large force required for South Africa, was mainly furnished by means of the system of reserves which Lord Wolseley had originated was in itself a high tribute to his foresight and sagacity; but the new conditions at the war office had never been to his liking, and on being released from responsibility he brought the whole subject before the House of Lords in a speech which resulted in some remarkable disclosures.

Lord Wolseley had been appointed colonel-in-chief of the Royal Irish Regiment in 1898, and in 1901 was made gold­stick in waiting. He married in 1867 Louisa, daughter of Mr A. Erskine, his only child, Frances, being heiress to the viscountcy under special remainder. A frequent contributor to periodicals, he also published The Decline and Fall of Napoleon (1895), The Life of John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough  to the Accession of Queen Anne (1894), and The Story of a Soldier's Life (1903), giving in the last-named work an account of his career down to the close of the Ashanti War.

From the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, 1910-1911.

From: Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, 1999.

Wolseley (of Wolseley), Garnet Joseph Wolseley, 1st Viscount, Baron Wolseley of Cairo and of Wolseley.
Born June 4, 1833 , Golden Bridge, County Dublin, Ireland. Died March 26, 1913 , Mentone, France.
British field marshal who saw service in battles throughout the world and was instrumental in modernizing the British army.

The son of an army major, Wolseley entered the army as second lieutenant in 1852 and fought with distinction in the Second Anglo-Burmese War, the Crimean War, and the Indian Mutiny. Surviving many wounds, which cost him the sight of one eye, Wolseley became at 25 the youngest lieutenant colonel in the British army. As a staff officer under Sir James Hope Grant, he sailed to China in 1860. His planning and deeds are described in his Narrative of the War with China in 1860 (1862).

Late in 1861 the U.S. seizure of two Confederate agents on the British ship Trent created a temporary crisis. Wolseley was then sent to Canada to improve that colony's defenses in case of war with the United States. In 1870 he led the Red River expedition through 600 miles (950 km) of wilderness to suppress the rebel Louis Riel, who had proclaimed a republic in Manitoba. Success in the field and dedication to improvement of the service, as revealed in his Soldier's Pocket-book for Field Service (1869), led to his appointment (May 1871) as assistant adjutant general at the War Office.

A highly efficient commander with an admiring public, Wolseley was employed by successive governments as chief troubleshooter of the British Empire. In 1873 he was sent to West Africa to lead a punitive expedition against the Ashanti kingdom, resulting in the destruction of its capital at Kumasi. Two years later he was sent to Natal in southern Africa to induce the colonists to surrender some of their political rights to promote federation in South Africa. When calamity struck the British forces battling the Zulus in 1879, Wolseley was given command in South Africa. After restoring order in Zululand, he moved on to the Transvaal, where he discouraged rebellion among the Boers.

Returning to the War Office, first as quartermaster general (1880) and then as adjutant general (1882), he devoted himself to reform until interrupted by a nationalist uprising in Egypt under Arabi Pasha. In his most brilliant campaign, Wolseley swiftly seized the Suez Canal and, after a night march, surprised and defeated Arabi at Tall al-Kabir (Sept. 13, 1882). Prime Minister William Gladstone rewarded him with a barony. Back in Egypt in 1884, he organized and headed an expedition to the Nile to rescue his friend General Charles “Chinese” Gordon, besieged at Khartoum in the Sudan. An advance party arrived on Jan. 28, 1885, two days after the city had fallen and Gordon had been killed. For his efforts, Wolseley was elevated to viscount. (The title devolved on his only daughter upon his death.)

After serving as commander of the troops in Ireland (1890–94), he became a field marshal and commander in chief of all Britain's forces (1895–1901). In that office his greatest contribution was in mobilizing the army with characteristic thoroughness for the South African War (1899–1902).

"Wolseley, Garnet Joseph Wolseley, 1st Viscount, Baron Wolseley of Cairo and of Wolseley"
Encyclopaedia Britannica,, [Accessed August 10, 2002].

An account of the funeral of Viscount Wolseley from: Major General C.E. Callwell, K.C.B., Field Marshall Sir Henry Wilson, His Life and Diaries, London, 1927:

Lord Wolseley died in the south of France on March 25, his body was brought home for interment, and lay in state at the War Office for two days. The military funeral of the illustrious Field-Marshal took place on March 31, and, in view of that other impressive, sombre pageant that was to take place nine years afterwards in London—to be recorded later—Wilson's references to the stately ceremony in Wren's cathedral possess an interest of poignant significance:—

I went to Lord Wolseley's funeral in St. Paul's. A magnificent ser­vice in a glorious place. A curious fog and darkness which added to the weird effect. The cathedral packed with people, and immense crowds along the whole line from the W.O. to St. Paul's. A wonderful sight.

Very pathetic to see Frances Wolseley kneeling alone when the coffin was lowered into the crypt. The final drums and Dead March, and "Last Post" up in the top gallery, was extraordinarily impressive.

From: Major General C.E. Callwell, K.C.B., Field Marshall Sir Henry Wilson, His Life and Diaries, London, 1927.

  In 1902, Commander Charles N. Robinson, R.N., edited and published Celebrities of the Army, a collection of portraits and short biographies of senior offices and major heroes of the South African War. These include Baden-Powell and several officers with whom he served in India and Africa both before and during the war. The portraits are quite elegant and are presented along with biographical information.
  It was at the Siege and Defense of Mafeking during the South African (Anglo-Boer) War that Baden-Powell made his name and first gained public recognition. 1999-1902 marks the Centennial of the War. Developed as part of that observance, Perspectives on the South African War provides a collection of links to original and contemporary sources on the South African War.

Robert Baden-Powell, Founder of the World Scout Movement, Chief Scout of the World. A Home Page for the Founder. Links Relating to Baden-Powell on the Pine Tree Web and elsewhere.

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