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
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
After six months' duty with
the 90th Foot at
Aldershot, he went with it again in March 1857, to join the expedition to
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
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
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,
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Late in 1861 the
seizure of two Confederate agents on the British ship Trent created a
temporary crisis. Wolseley was then sent 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
In 1873 he was sent to
West Africa to lead a punitive expedition against the
kingdom, resulting in the destruction of its capital at
years later he was sent to Natal in southern Africa to induce the
colonists to surrender some of their political rights to promote
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
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"
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