Open Book

NINETEENTH-CENTURY MEMOIRS

 

 

The following published memoirs are all available online. What follows is a list of memoirs, a brief description of their contents, and links to access the original sources.

Summaries compiled by Katrina Van Der Ahe

Adye, John, Defense of Cawnpore by the Troops, 1858            

This account focuses largely on General Windham, and his heroism, ability and strategies. The other officers mentioned in the Appendixes are commended for their bravery, particularly from pages 52 to 56, with specific listings of commemorations. The focus is on the gallant actions during the defense, centred around General Windham.

Adye, John. Some Recollections of a military life, 1895                 

John Adye’s work focuses primarily on his administrative work and opinions on the larger scale military and political situations. He was involved in several of the major conflicts, like the Crimean War, and the Indian Mutiny, as well as in other battles in Egypt and India. Heroism is one of the key aspects of the work, and he presents the British troops as courageous.

A.E.O. Some Recollections of a Sepoy Officer, Between 1844 and 1858, 1872       

These recollections are mostly focused on a border depiction of the Sepoy army and the British in India, as well as the geography of the places the author went. It includes his reaction to the Bengal Army’s mutiny. The majority of the memorial is focused more on context than individuals or people.

Anon, Twenty-Five Years’ Soldiering in South Africa, A Personal Narrative by a Colonial Officer, 1909      

This account focuses on mundane and smaller details of a soldier's life and service. There is a strange incident that is record of all the men in the camp waking up at once and trampling one another when the sound of guns caused chaos and confusion.

Barker, George Digby. Letters from Persia and India, 1857-59: A Subaltern's Experiences in War, 1915   

These letters, by George Digby Barker, focus on the 78th Highlanders, who were exemplary soldiers. Barker is very descriptive in his accounts of the geography, and illnesses suffered including several who were “killed by the sun.” He also describes one General Stalker, who did not have enough troops to defend Bushire, who commits suicide. The majority of these letters focus on heroism, or very descriptive accounts of the battlefields and travels he took in the army.     

Browne, Sam. Journal of the Late General Sir Sam Browne from 1840-1878, 1937

Browne’s account focuses on his career, and the heroism of the British troops. Browne received consistent promotions throughout his career and served mostly in India. Cholera is one other recurring theme within.

Burne, Owen Tudor. Memories, 1907    

Burne’s account is focused on social, political and administrative matters. His approach is typically larger scale; discussion of Indian Mutiny. Focused on the internal working of the Military, and his own position and class within it.

Butler,William. An Autobiography, 1913

Butler’s account includes considerable histories of places and peoples, as well as geography. He discusses the impact of war on men, uncertainty in regards to a situation in Egypt and the Cape.

Callwell, C.E. The Memoirs of Major-General Sir Hugh McCalmont, 1924   

Very centred on Sir Hugh McCalmont, with little mention made of soldiers as individuals. There are not frequently long descriptions of conflict and when occured; it is based on McCalmont’s experiences and perspective. This account is limited to his travels, administrative work and political ambitions.

Cunynghame, Arthur. My Command in South Africa, 1874-1878, comprising experiences of travel in the colonies of South Africa and the independent states, 1880                      

Cunynghman’s account is largely focused on his ethnographic observations while he was traveling South Africa, during his military inspections and tours and is mainly focused on the Boers, Kafirs and Zulu. He also includes funny anecdotes from the various places he visits.

Dunlop, Robert Henry Wallace. Service and Adventure with the Khakee Ressalah; Or, Meerut Volunteer Horse, During the Mutinies of 1857-58, 1858

The beginning of this account largely focuses on Dunlop’s personal experiences and administrative accounts. It is very contextual, although there is some discussion of group and individual responses to rebellion.

Elsmie, G.R. Field-Marshal Sir Donald Stewart. An Account of His Life, Mainly in His Own Words, 1903     

This account focuses almost entirely on the deeds and life of Sir Donald Stewart, and follows the arc of rise to military glory with Stewart as an ideal of British military service. There is also discussion of social, administrative, and political concerns. Minimal depictions of other soldiers or their behavior. Stewart was in most cases a commander removed in some ways from the combat itself.

Forbes-Mitchell, William. Reminiscences of the Great Mutiny, 1857-59, Including the Relief, Siege, and Capture of Lucknow , and the Campaigns in Rohilcund and Oude, 1893                 

This account is centred on the Ninety-Third Highlanders during the Sepoy Rebellion, and focuses largely on acts of heroism. Describes going into an abandoned Sepoy boathole covered in gunpowder as a trap he narrowly avoided. He mentions the mental break of Captain Waterman, who was left behind behind by the soldiers.

Gordon, Charles Alexander. Recollections of thirty-nine years in the army: Gawalior and the battle of Maharajpore, 1843, the gold coast of Africa, 1847-48, the Indian mutiny, 1857-58, the expedition to China, 1860-61, the siege of Paris, 1870-71, etc., 1898  

Gordon’s account is highly detailed in its descriptions of socio-political and historical context of the battles he is participating in. He is well traveled and involved in several significant events in the late nineteenth century. He does not comment much on troops specifically except to refer to their bravery. He is also removed from conflicts in various instances, acting on the sidelines or not with British troops such as his involvement in the Siege of Paris

Harrison, Richard. Recollections of a life in the British Army during the Latter Half of the 19th Century, 1906       

Harrison was involved in several of the conflicts of the late nineteenth century, including the Indian Mutiny, the Second Opium War, and the Zulu War. In describing these conflicts he provides a history of why the events are happening and tends towards a larger scale perspective.

Jones, Oliver J. Recollections of a Winter Campaign in India: in 1857-58, 1859     

This account is written more as a travel log, than a recording of military events. Desriptions of heroism of  Sir William Peel, Colin Campbell. But the major focus of the book is on Jones and his travels throughout India with detailed descriptions of the geography, peoples and contexts.

Low, Charles Rathbone. The Life and Correspondence of Field-Marshal Sir George Pollock, 1873

Low’s account of Sir George Pollock includes some interesting notes on behavior of the troops. There are accounts of Generals being cowardly or incompetent, such as Major General Marley abandoning his post, or other generals poor behaviour. Pollock though remains a heroic figure with a distinguished career throughout the work. There is also reference to Robert Sale, a good soldier who didn’t want to be a commander and was reckless because of this.

Maude, George Ashley. Letters from Turkey and the Crimea, 1896

This account focuses more so on physical illness, cholera, than combat. Maude writes to his wife about the geography, conditions of where he is staying and people they know. He also has a large focus on his family back home in these letters. There are not long descriptions of combat; it is a very personal and loving set of letters intended to keep his wife up to date about how he was.

 

Medley, Julius George. Year's Campaigning in India, From 1857 to 1858, 1858    

Medley’s account is that of an engineer and his focus is on the more technical side of battle; he focusses on the sieges of Delhi and Lucknow, the description of troops and illness. There is some accounting of valorous actions but his focus is mostly on the engineering aspects of warfare and his own travels throughout India.

Munro, Surgeon-General. Records of Service and Campaigning in Many Lands, 1887       

Focus is largely on the medical staff, and Munro’s experiences as his career developed are very personal not a larger scale focus. Not a lot of actual contact with the soldiers being described; there is quite a lot on geography and internal military politics though.

 

Munro, Surgeon-General. Records of Service and Campaigning in Many Lands v 2, 1887 

This account, his second volume, is largely focused on physical health and factors that affected it; cholera which was a major topic of discussion. On the whole this document was largely focused on his personal experiences, physical illness, and how that impacted the soldiers.

Ogsten, Alexander. Reminiscences of Three Campaigns, n.d.      

Ogsten is writing as a surgeon and has a medical focus, and frequently discusses physical illness, and sanitation issues, and the standards of medical care. He is largely positive in his discussion of the British Empire and military. From Chapter XLVIII on he focuses on his experiences in the First World War.

 

Parr, Henry Hallam. Recollections and correspondence, with a short account of his two sons, Lieutenants A. H. H. Parr and G. R. Parr, 1917     

He focuses on social aspects and the history of the places he is in, with a fair amount of context included. He was plagued with ill health but was well regarded by comrades and is consistently described as a being devoted to his sons. And the end of this work describes his sons.

Parr, Henry Hallam. A Sketch of the Kafir and Zulu Wars; Guadana to Islandhlwana, 1880

Hallam is highly focused on the historical, geographic, and tactical context of the Kafirs, Zulu and Boers actions and behaviour.

Seymour, Michael. Memoir of Rear-Admiral Sir Michael Seymour, Bart., K.C.B, 1878        

The focus in this account is the heroic naval career of Michael Seymour. It deals with combat in the larger sense and  considerable retelling of his domestic life and changes in social status. This account is a good example of Seymour’s heroism, ability, and devotion to the British Navy.

Sherer, John Walter. Daily Life During the Indian Mutiny: Personal Experiences of 1857, 1898

Sherrer does not describe conflicts often, and is largely writing a non-combatant perspective of the Mutiny. This account is mostly on his own travels and experiences with the battles appearing almost as a side note.

Smith, Harry. The Autobiography of Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Smith, Baronet of Aliwal on the Sutlej v. 1, 1902  

This account discusses the heroism of British soldiers during the various battles Smith was involved in. He describes them as valiant and brave but it is mostly focused on him. The Duke Wellington is also a key figure of heroism and depicted as a great man. Smith also includes a lot of personal details and domestic accounts focusing on the social aspect of the campaigns he was involved in. This volume goes to end of the Battle of Waterloo.

 

Smith, Harry. The Autobiography of Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Smith, Baronet of Aliwal on the Sutlej v. 2, 1902  

Largely focused on Harry Smith’s life, in terms of the domestic, social and political sphere. The battles recounted consistently focus on his heroism, and that of the British troops. It looks at the glories of the Empire through its soldiers. Though there are some descriptions of "funkers."

Smith, Richard Baird and Colonel H.M. Vibart. The Leader of the Delhi Heroes in Delhi Heroes in 1857, Private Correspondence of the Commanding Engineer during the Siege and other Interesting Letters Hithero Unpublished, 1897          

Specifically focused on Delhi, but also broad within that context. The main focus is on  Smith, the central figure of this work, as well as a few engineers, and the generals he worked for. The chief engineer and  General Reed, and General Wilson broke down under the strain. Also references that "Beldars" were being killed and wounded, in the dangerous work, which Smith protested.

Smith-Dorrien, Horace. Memories of Forty-Eight Years’ Service, 1925       

Smith-Dorrien is focused largely on his own experiences, and he does not embellish much. He is focusing on the social, administrative aspects of service. There are some references to anxiety in the context of night raids from the Boers and his experiences in the Great War.

Turner, Alfred E. Sixty Years of a Soldier’s Life, 1912                   

Turner’s experiences and memoir largely focuses on his time in Ireland, as Divisional Commissioner of Police. The account is concerned for the most part on civil, political, and social matters. The majority of this is focused on the social, political, and civil context in Ireland.

Walker, Beauchamp. Days of a soldier's life: being letters written by the late General Sir C.P. Beauchamp Walker during active service in the Crimean, Chinese, Austro-Prussian (66), and Franco-German (70-71) wars, 1894  

Walker is very personally focused, and his letters function as travel logs with considerable attention paid to the social aspects of military life. His account from Crimea does focus on the heroism there. At some point he is not with the British Army but stationed in Prussia and his account is largely social or based on the Prussian military.

Wolseley, Garnet J. The Story of a Soldier’s Life v. 1, 1903           

This account has a large scale focus, but does mention some specific incidents such as during the Indian Mutiny where a soldier tried to strangle his tent mate and woke the whole camp. This book itself is hard to read at points because various pages are illegible.

Wolseley, Garnet J. The Story of a Soldier’s Life v. 2, 1903           

This volume has a larger scale focus, with his accounting of diplomatic matters. He also spends a large portion of it in Canada, and is not actively involved in combat. And during the Ashanti War, he was in a position of command focused more so on geographic, and ethnographic matters as well as the larger scale military factors.

Wood, Evelyn. From Midshipman to Field Marshal, 1906           

This account focuses on heroism, as well as the technicality and practicalities of battle. There is also a considerable focus on physical health and factors of heat upon the men. Two interesting accounts, one of cowardice on the part of African members of the British Army. And a strange recording of an officer wandering around at night between the huts with a lighted candle in his nightshirt humming Handel’s “Dead March,” who thought he was dead.

 

Wood, Evelyn. From Midshipman to Field Marshal v. 2, 1906     

This account is very similar to the first volume, it deals with heroism and his own physical illness. There is a greater concern in this volume on building and developing the army; there are not a lot of conflicts depicted.

Younghusband, G.J. A Soldier’s Memories in Peace and War, 1917

This work includes several personal details, and is written in a similar fashion to a novel. Youngshusband centres his account on personal anecdotes, as well as societal records, including accounts of significant people he accounted for and his anecdotes about them. He also looks at army customs, and focuses heroism with the entirety of on chapter on recipients of the Victoria Cross.