Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts of Kandahar, Pretoria and Waterford (1832-1914) was educated at Sandhurst and Addiscombe, joining the Bengal Artillery, 1851 and serving in the Indian Mutiny, 1857-1858. He accompanied Sir Robert Napier on his Abyssinian expedition as Assistant Quartermaster-General, 1868 and was made Quartermaster-General of the Army in India, 1875. He was Commander of the Punjab Frontier Force, 1878 and Major-General the same year. He was involved in victories over the Afghans at Peiwar Kotal, 1878 and Charasia, 1879, the occupation of Kabul, 1879, and the march from Kabul to Kandahar which resulted in the subjugation of Afghanistan, 1880. He was made Commander-in-Chief of the Madras Army, 1880 and 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 was given supreme command in South Africa (during the South African War, 1899-1902), immediately increasing the numbers of mounted troops, helping to remodel transport, and later instituting the blockhouse system. He forced the surrender of the Afrikaner General Cronje at Paardeberg, February 1900, then occupied Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Pretoria, defeated General Botha at Diamond Hill, captured Machadodorp and returned to Britain after the annexation of the Transvaal in October.
He served as Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, 1900-1905, devoting the rest of his life to the cause of national service. He became President of the National Service League, 1905 and Colonel-in-Chief of the Indian Expeditionary 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, 1880 and KG, 1900.
Two autograph letters, 7th and 8th May 1900, from Lord Roberts to Sir Alfred Milner concerning Mrs. Chamberlain's interference in the Army Hospital at Wynburg, Cape Town.
The papers were purchased from Argyll Etkin on 9th January 2002.Access Conditions
Bodleian reader's ticket required.Reproduction Restrictions
No reproduction or publication of personal papers without permission. Contact the library in the first instance.
The library holds a card index of all manuscript collections in its reading room.Related Units of Description
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)
Roberts | Frederick Sleigh | 1832-1914 | 1st Earl Roberts of Kandahar, Pretoria and Waterford | commander in the British Army
South African War, 1899-1902 | Hospitals