Sir Edward Bruce Hamley

(1824—1893) army officer and military writer

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(1824–93), soldier and scholar. Commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1843, he saw action in the Crimean war before becoming the first professor of military history at the British army Staff College, Camberley, 1859–65. The fruit of his six years lecturing there was The Operations of War (1866), which became a textbook in Britain and the USA. It was much influenced by Jomini, with a tendency to be prescriptive rather than descriptive. However, at least one of its readers was saved from disaster by recalling a line from it. In 1914 FM French was considering taking the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to shelter under the guns of Maubeuge, and remembered being warned that a soldier who did such a thing was like a sailor who clutched hold of the anchor during a storm. Hamley returned to Sandhurst as commandant, 1870–7, when he raised the profile of the college nationally, although he was very much a man of his times. It was said that he ‘would as sooner find a student reading Jorrocks as The Operations of War, and would alter the programme of study to suit the convenience of those who would go a-hunting’. He held a field command in the Egyptian campaign of 1882 when he was not generally deemed a success.

From The Oxford Companion to Military History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Military History.

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