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Field Marshal Garnet Wolseley


“I heard from Beauregard . . . . I have had so often to dwell upon his having failed to convert Shiloh

into a complete victory at the end of the first day, that I am afraid he does not love me."

Garnet Joseph Wolseley, 1st Viscount Wolseley, KP, GCB, OM, GCMG, VD, PC, 1833-1913.  British Field Marshal.  Autograph Letter Signed, Wolseley, four pages, octavo, with integral leaf, on embossed stationery of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin, [no place], May 8, 1891. 

Wolseley, Britain's leading military figure of the late 19th Century, writes to “Dear Lawley" of two quite different but quite interesting subjects:  the remains of Napoleon's horse, buried in England, and the failure, in his view, of Confederate General Pierre G. T. Beauregard to achieve absolute victory in the Battle of Shiloh.  He writes, in full: 

    "I have seen the pillar of marble over the remains of Nap's charger.  It is in the grounds of an old Manor House near Goschen's place in Kent.

   "When I read your article I wrote to Mrs. Goschen & asked for the address.  I received it & have yesterday written & asked the owner—a Major Roberts whom I know slightly to send you a copy of the inscription & give me all particulars—I remember he told me at the time—some years ago, that long before he inherited the place his uncle or his grandfather had let it for years to a French family who had brought the charger to England with them.  That it died & was buried at his place—

    “When I receive his answer you shall have every particular.

    “I heard from Beauregard this week.  I have often met him, but I have had so often to dwell upon his having failed to convert Shiloh into a complete victory at the end of the first day, that I am afraid he does not love me.  Curious that he should have been 2d in command at Bull Run & at Shiloh & was responsible really for the plan of operations on both occasions.”

Wolseley, one of the most distinguished soldiers of the Victorian age, visited the headquarters of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in 1862.  He deemed Lee not only the greatest military commander of his era but also "the most perfect man I ever met."  He remained an unabashed admirer of Lee throughout his life.  His writings on the American Civil War, largely consisting of his 1887 reviews of the four-volume Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, were edited and published in 1964 under the title The American Civil War: An English View.  

He likely writes here to British journalist Francis Charles Lawley (1825-1901), who covered the Confederate Army for The Times during the American Civil War and later returned to England to write for The Daily Telegraph.

Wolseley served in Burma, in the Crimean War, the Indian mutiny, China, Canada, and widely throughout Africa, including the Ashanti campaign of 1873-1874 and the Nile expedition against Mahdist Sudan in 1884-1885.  He wrote a number of other books and articles, including The Decline and Fall of Napoleon in 1895.    

Wolseley has boldly penned this letter in black fountain pen.  The letter has one horizontal and one vertical fold.  There are remnants of cellophane tape along the right edge of the back page, barely affecting the ends of ten lines of the text but not touching the signature.  The letter is in fine condition. 




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