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Guide to the General Garnet Joseph Wolseley Letter, 1885 MS 106
Garnet Joseph Wolseley, 1st Viscount, was born June 4, 1833 at Golden Bridge, County Dublin, Ireland, the son of an army major. Wolseley entered the British army in 1852 and fought in many campaigns around the world, including Burma (now Myanmar), 1852-1853; the Crimea, 1854-1856; India, 1857-1858; and China,1860. His record of success in the field and continuous efforts toward army reform led to his appointment in 1871 as assistant adjutant general at the War Office. He served successive governments as chief troubleshooter of the British Empire and conducted the Ashanti campaign in West Africa in 1873-1874, served as high commissioner of Cyprus in 1878, and as an administrator in South Africa, 1879-1880. He returned to the War Office as quartermaster general (1880) and then adjutant general (1882), resuming his efforts toward reform.
Wolseley was then sent to Egypt, where he waged his most brilliant campaign, ending a nationalist uprising under ‘Urabi (Arabi) Pasha in 1882, for which he was rewarded with a barony by Prime Minister William Gladstone. In 1884 Wolseley organized and headed an expedition to the Nile in an attempt to rescue General Charles “Chinese” Gordon and Egyptian forces at Khartoum, where they were under attack by Sudanese rebels. Wolseley was elevated to viscount for his efforts, but bitterly regretted government delays which prevented reaching Gordon in time.
Wolseley later commanded troops in Ireland (1890-94), became field marshal and commander in chief of the British army (1895-1901) and continued to press for reform and modernization of army training and equipment. He was also the author of several books. Wolseley was married to Viscountess Louisa (Erskine) Wolseley. He died March 26, 1913, in Mentone, France.
General Garnet Joseph Wolseley’s letter of 1885 consists of four pages written on one folded sheet, dated June 30, 1885, and sent from Cairo to the publisher MacMillan. Wolseley is primarily concerned with criticizing Prime Minister William Gladstone for his vacillation in sending rescue forces in time to reach General Charles Gordon and Egyptian troops defending Khartoum from attack by Sudanese rebels (1884-1885); he also mentions his plan to produce a fifth edition of his Soldiers’ Pocket Book.
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Permission to publish from the General Garnet Joseph Wolseley Letter must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.
General Joseph Wolseley Letter, 1885, MS 106, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.
Purchased from dealer, September 17, 1962.