The Autobiography of Harry Smith

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF
LIEUTENANT-GENERAL

SIR HARRY SMITH
BART, G.C.B.

 

Introduction

The Autobiography of Sir Harry Smith was published in two volumes in 1901. The work consisted of an autobiography covering the period 1787 to 1846, and some supplementary chapters contributed by myself on the last period of Sir Harry’s Life (1846 – 1860). There were also motes and appendices. The present publication consists of the earlier part of the autobiography, and gives the story of the author’s military life to the year 1819, when the occupation of France after Waterloo was over, and the disbanding of veterans typified the close of the great era of the Napoleonic wars. While the original notes have been retained, the appendices have been omitted.

As stated in the original preface, the autobiography (called by its author “Various Anecdotes and Events of my Life.”) was begun by Sir Harry Smith, then Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, at Glasgow in 1824.

At that time it was only continued as fas as page 15 of the present volume. The whole of the rest of the autobiography here given was written at Simla in August and September, 1844.

From Sir Harry’s death till 1900 the MS. was preserved by his former aide-de-campe and friend, General Sir Edward Alan Holdich, G.C.B.1

Sir Harry’s manuscript was very hastily written and never corrected by himself. It was, therefore, necessary for me, in preparing it for publication, to make occasional trifling changes in the construction or order of the sentences, It may, however, be broadly said that the words though are the author’s own, and that nothing was added to the narrative or omitted from it. Such slight additions to the text as seemed desirable (for example, names and dates of battles) were included in square brackets. In some cases, to avoid awkward parenthesis, sentences of Sir Harry’s own were relegated from the text to footnotes. Such notes are indicated by the addition of his initials (‘H.G.S’) I concluded my preface to the original edition by saying, “I shall feel that any labour which I have bestowed on the preparation of this book will be richly repaid if though it Harry and Juana Smith cease to be mere names and become living figures, held in humour and affection by the sons and daughters of the Empire which they served.” The great success which the book achieved is evidence that my wish has been fulfilled, and the present publication will, I hope, make a still large circle of readers acquainted with the earlier and more romantic part of the lives of Sir Harry Smith and his fascinating wife. Those who would follow Sir Harry’s career through the Kafir War of 1835, the war in Gwalior of 1843, the first Sikh War of 1845-46 in which, especially by the victory of Aliwal, he won his chief title to face, and his governorship of the Cape from 1848 to 1852, in which he defeated the Boers at Boomplaats, and became eventually involved in another difficult Kafir War, must turn to the larger work, of which a single volume edition is still in print.

G.C. Moore Smith

Sheffield
December 1909

Introduction | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28

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