Edward Bruce Hamley

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Edward Hamley
"English Strategy"
Lt-General Hamley as caricatured by Ape (Carlo Pellegrini) in Vanity Fair, April 1887
Born (1824-04-27)27 April 1824
Died 12 August 1893(1893-08-12) (aged 69)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Rank Lieutenant General
Commands held Staff College, Sandhurst
Battles/wars Crimean War
Anglo-Egyptian War
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George

Lieutenant General Sir Edward Bruce Hamley KCB KCMG (27 April 1824 – 12 August 1893) was a British general and military writer and a Conservative politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1885 to 1892.

Early life

Hamley was the youngest son of Vice-Admiral William Hamley, born at Bodmin, Cornwall, and entered the Royal Artillery in 1843.


Hamley was promoted captain in 1850, and in 1851 went to Gibraltar, where he began his literary career by contributing articles to magazines. He served throughout the Crimean campaign as aide-de-camp to Sir Richard Dacres, commanding the artillery, taking part in all the operations with distinction, and becoming successively major and lieutenant-colonel by brevet. He also received the CB and French and Turkish orders.

During the war Hamley contributed to Blackwood's Magazine an admirable account of the progress of the campaign, which was afterwards republished. The combination in Hamley of literary and military ability secured for him in 1859 the professorship of military history at the new Staff College at Sandhurst, from which in 1866 he went to the council of military education, returning in 1870 to the Staff College as commandant.

From 1879 to 1881 Hamley was British commissioner successively for the delimitation of the frontiers of the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria, Ottoman Empire in Asia and the Russian Empire, and Ottoman Empire and Greece, and was rewarded with the KCMG. Promoted colonel in 1863, he became a lieutenant-general in 1882, when he commanded the 2nd division of the expedition to Egypt under Lord Wolseley, and led his troops in the Battle of Tel el-Kebir, for which he received the KCB, the thanks of Parliament, and 2nd class of the Order of Osminieh.

Hamley considered that his services in Egypt had been insufficiently recognised in Lord Wolseley's despatches, and expressed his indignation freely, but he had no sufficient ground for supposing that there was any intention to belittle his services.

Later life

From 1885 until his death on 12 August 1893, Hamley was Member of Parliament for Birkenhead in parliament in the Conservative interest. He was promoted to general in 1890.[1] He was appointed Honorary Colonel of the 2nd Middlesex Artillery Volunteers on 6 November 1887.[2] Hamley is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London.[3]


Hamley was a clever and versatile writer. His principal work, The Operations of War, published in 1866, became a text-book of military instruction. It was praised by the German General Helmuth von Moltke, Chief of the Prussian General Staff, and until 1894 it was the sole text used in the entrance examination for the Camberley Staff College. He also published some pamphlets on national defence, was a frequent contributor to magazines, and the author of several novels, of which perhaps the best known is Lady Lee's Widowhood.

The War in the Crimea was published in 1891 by Seeley and Co., London. Within this publication, was a complete overview of events leading up to the war in the Crimea all the way through to the close of the war.

Some of his contemporaries, many of them members of General Wolseley's "ring" of confidantes, considered him too rigid or opinionated in his views. Field Marshal Evelyn Wood wrote that "Hamley expected his students to accept his deductions as well as his facts, and did not encourage original research".


  1. The London Gazette: no. 26074. p. 4172. 29 July 1890.
  2. Monthly Army List 1887–1893.
  3. Brompton Cemetery

Further reading

  • Shand, Alexander Innes. The Life of General Sir Edward Bruce Hamley, K.C.B., K.C.M.G. Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood and Sons, 1895. OCLC 3351673

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
College newly independent
Commandant of the Staff College, Sandhurst
Succeeded by
Archibald Alison
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
David MacIver
Member of Parliament for Birkenhead
Succeeded by
Arnold Keppel, Viscount Bury