Papers of Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts of Kandahar, Pretoria and Waterford

Scope and Content

Two autograph letters, 7th and 8th May 1900, from Lord Roberts to Sir AlfredMilner concerning Mrs. Chamberlain's interference in the Army Hospital atWynburg, Cape Town.

Administrative / Biographical History

Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts of Kandahar, Pretoria and Waterford(1832-1914) was educated at Sandhurst and Addiscombe, joining the BengalArtillery, 1851 and serving in the Indian Mutiny, 1857-1858. He accompaniedSir Robert Napier on his Abyssinian expedition as AssistantQuartermaster-General, 1868 and was made Quartermaster-General of the Army inIndia, 1875. He was Commander of the Punjab Frontier Force, 1878 andMajor-General the same year. He was involved in victories over the Afghans atPeiwar Kotal, 1878 and Charasia, 1879, the occupation of Kabul, 1879, andthe march from Kabul to Kandahar which resulted in the subjugation ofAfghanistan, 1880. He was made Commander-in-Chief of the Madras Army, 1880and of India, 1885-1893.

Leaving India in 1893, he was appointed Field Marshal,1895 and Commander-in-Chief in Ireland, 1895-1899. At the end of 1899 he wasgiven supreme command in South Africa (during the South African War, 1899-1902), immediately increasing the numbers ofmounted troops, helping to remodel transport, and later instituting the blockhousesystem. He forced the surrender of the AfrikanerGeneral Cronje at Paardeberg, February 1900, then occupied Bloemfontein,Johannesburg, Pretoria, defeated General Botha at Diamond Hill, capturedMachadodorp and returned to Britain after the annexation of the Transvaal inOctober.

He served as Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, 1900-1905, devotingthe rest of his life to the cause of national service. He became President ofthe National Service League, 1905 and Colonel-in-Chief of the IndianExpeditionary Force dispatched to France, 1914. The author of Forty-one Years in India, from Subaltern to Commander-in-Chief(London; Bentley & Son; 1897), he was awarded the VC, 1858, GCB, 1880and KG, 1900.

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Collection level description created by Paul Davidson, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House.

Other Finding Aids

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Related Material

Letter from Lord Roberts to 'Mr. Rhodes', written from Paardeberg on 28th February 1900, requesting further supplies of biscuits and forage (ref. MSS. Afr. r. 254)