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Arthur Fitzroy Hart

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Category: Military
Reference No: 8590
Status: Available
Price: £50.00
  Arthur Fitzroy Hart

click on the small image to see a larger version


English soldier, with a distinguished career marred by disastrous misjudgement at the Battle of Colenso in the Second Boer War.

Hart was wounded and mentioned in despatches during the Ashanti War of 1873-74 and, as a Lieutenant, was in the thick of the action in the opening battle of the Zulu War at Inyezane on January 22, 1879.

He saw service in the First Boer War (1880-81) and during the Egyptian War of 1882 fought in actions at El-Magfar, Tel-el-Mahuta and Kassassin (where he was wounded), and the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir.

During the Second Boer War (1899-1902) Hart commanded the 5th (Irish) Brigade at the Battle of Colenso on 15 December 1899. Not waiting for all his battalions to arrive, Hart sent his troops up Tugela Heights piecemeal and they were repulsed with almost 500 casualties. Two battalions of reinforcements arrived in time to prevent a complete rout but two colonels were among the dead and the Royal Enniskillen Fusiliers lost 72% of their officers and 27% of their rank and file. It was a classic example of a donkey leading lions into battle.

Hart’s failure played a major part in Buller's decision to call off the attack on the Boers.

(It is interesting that a contemporary W.D. and H.O. Wills Ltd cigarette card, featuring a colour image of Hart and a description of his service to the reverse, makes no mention of his uselessness in the Battle of Colenso. It talks of him “always emerging from action with distinction for courage and skill”. Of Colenso it simply says “His brigade has been in the hottest fighting in Natal and was especially so at Colenso in the fall of the year 1899”. No point in spoiling a rattling good story for the sake of the truth!)

This is a very fine signature in black ink on a 4.75" x 1.75" piece cut from the bottom of a letter. Hart has added his location beneath his signature (Camp at Springfontein*) In very good condition.
* Springfontein is the location for an infamous concentration camp, built during the Second Boer War. 568 people
of all ages are recorded in the Springfontein Grave Register as having died there between April 4th and December 31st 1901.