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Robert Napier of Magdala

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Category: Military
Reference No: 10500
Status: Available
Price: £30.00
  Robert Napier of Magdala  Robert Napier of Magdala

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Indian Army officer.

Napier fought in the First Anglo-Sikh War and the Second Anglo-Sikh War before seeing action as chief engineer during the second relief of Lucknow in March 1858 during the Indian Mutiny. He also served in the Second Opium War as commander of the 2nd division of the expeditionary force which took part in the Battle of Taku Forts in August 1860, the entry to Peking in September 1860 and the destruction of the Old Summer Palace in October 1860.

Napier achieved his greatest fame as an army officer when he led the expedition of 1868 against Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian ruler was holding a number of Protestant missionaries hostage, in his mountain capital of Magdala, as well as two British diplomats who had attempted to negotiate their freedom (Tewodros had unwisely taken them hostage as well).

On the 10th of April Napier defeated the 9,000 troops still loyal to Tewodros at the Battle of Magdala for the loss of only 2 British lives. Although Emperor Tewodros surrendered his hostages and made repeated efforts for a negotiated surrender, the distrustful Napier pressed on and ordered an assault on the mountain redoubt on 13 April 1868. The British captured Magdala, and Emperor Tewodros killed himself.

For this victory Napier was elevated to the peerage as Baron Napier of Magdala on 11 July 1868 and granted an annuity for life.

This is a very fine 2-page letter, handwritten in ink (June 18 1888) to a Mr Thomas, thanking him for the "use" of a man called Cecil.
It reads (in full)

I thank you for the note regarding Cecil.
He appears to me every thing I could desire as to his appearance and manner. He is neat, careful and considerate in all things.
I have not had time to make any estimate as to his progress but I have no doubt that it has been fair and as much as his ability permits.
I thank you and Mrs Thomas for your use of him.
Believe me, dear Mr Thomas
Yours very truly
Napier of Magdala


One vertical and one horizontal crease, In very good condition.