Bulwer, Edward Earle Gascoyne (DNB12)

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BULWER, Sir EDWARD EARLE GASCOYNE (1829–1910), general, colonel of the royal Welsh fusiliers, born on 22 Dec. 1829 at Heydon in Norfolk, was second of the three children, all sons, of William Earle Lytton Bulwer of Heydon Hall, who married on 11 Dec. 1827 Emily (d. 1836), daughter of General Isaac Gascoyne, M.P. for Liverpool. The eldest son, William, born on 1 Jan. 1829, of the Scots guards, was severely wounded in the Crimea, and subsequently took an active part in the volunteer movement, becoming brigadier-general in command of the Norfolk volunteer infantry. The third son is Sir Henry Ernest Gascoyne Bulwer, G.C.M.G., late colonial governor. Their father was elder brother of Sir William Henry Lytton Earle Bulwer, Lord Dalling and Bulwer [q. v.], and of Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, first Baron Lytton, the novelist. [For early descent, see article on the first Lord Lytton.]

Edward was privately educated, partly at Putney. Then, like his brothers, he went to Trinity College, Cambridge; but after a year there made up his mind to enter the army. On 21 Aug. 1849 he joined at Winchester the 23rd royal Welsh fusiliers. Before he was of age he gained by purchase on 13 Dec. 1850 the step of lieutenant, and he spent the next few years partly in Canada and partly at home stations. On 4 April 1854 he embarked on the Trent with his regiment for Scutari, where it was formed, with the 7th fusiliers, the 33rd regiment, and the 2nd battalion of the rifle brigade, into the 1st brigade of the light division. A company of his regiment were the first British soldiers who landed in the Crimea on 14 Sept. On 20 Sept., on which day his eldest brother was severely wounded, Edward Bulwer took part in the crossing of the Alma and the storming of the redoubt, which added lustre to the past services of the royal Welsh fusiliers. On the following day Bulwer was promoted to be captain. The regiment endured great hardships afterwards in the trenches, losing ninety-six men in January 1855, was severely handled on 8 Sept. in the attack on the Redan, and maintained its reputation for valour, until the news of the armistice signed in March 1856 reached the allied forces in the middle of April. It left Sevastopol 14 June, arriving 21 July at Gosport, and proceeded to Aldershot, where it was inspected by Queen Victoria. Bulwer received the Crimean medal with two clasps and the Turkish medal, and then for six months served as A.D.C. to the major-general commanding the eastern district.

Under article 23 of the treaty which was signed at Paris on 30 March and ratified on 27 April 1856, it was necessary to investigate the condition of the Danubian principalities. Bulwer was attached to the commission under his uncle, Sir Henry (afterwards Lord Dalling), and he served on this special duty from September 1856 to September 1857. In May and June 1857 his regiment had sailed for service in China, but on news of the Indian Mutiny was diverted to India. Bulwer rejoined the colours while the royal Welsh fusiliers were proceeding from Calcutta to serve under Sir Colin Campbell at Lucknow. The 23rd regiment was engaged in constant fighting at the relief of Lucknow on 22 Nov. 1857, and at the operations which followed until the advance on Lucknow in March 1858, when the 23rd formed part of the attacking force under Sir James Outram. Bulwer, who had obtained his majority by purchase on 26 Jan. 1858, marched in September, in the temporary absence of Colonel Pratt, with his regimental headquarters and six companies out of Lucknow to join Colonel Purnell's force. The final capture of Lucknow had dispersed many thousands of armed rebels, whom it was necessary to reduce to order before it was possible to re-establish the civil government. In this work Bulwer especially distinguished himself on three occasions in command of a detached column, of which 180 men of his own regiment formed a part. On 23 Sept. he encountered the rebels entrenched near Selimpore on the river Gumti behind an outer and inner ditch with rampart. His men, after a hot march of twenty miles, carried the entrenchments and scattered the enemy, killing 700 of them. Then occupying the fort of Gosainganj, he cleared the neighbourhood of mutineers, and, in the words of Brigadier-general Chute's despatch, 'established confidence and tranquillity.' 'Every credit,' wrote the brigadier on 26 Sept. 1858, 'is due to Major Bulwer for the zeal and ability evinced in the performance of this most important duty.' Lord Clyde reported to the governor-general on 5 Oct. his 'high opinion of the brilliant manner in which these operations were conducted.' Again, at Jabrowli on 23 Oct. and at Purwa on 29 Oct., Bulwer won victories over vastly superior forces, leaving on the latter occasion 600 sepoys dead or wounded on the field and carrying off two guns (cf. Thomas Henry Kavanagh, How I won the V.C.). For these and other mutiny services Bulwer received a brevet lieutenant-colonelcy dated 26 April, and the C.B. in 1859.

Despite Bulwer's prowess in the field, it was in staff employ and not in active service that he was henceforth employed. He served as assistant inspector of reserve forces in Scotland (1865-70), and then as assistant adjutant-general for recruiting there in 1870. From 1873 to 1879 he was assistant adjutant-general, at headquarters, for auxiliary forces. The period was a critical one in British military history. Lord Cardwell's new short-service system made it necessary to re-organise the infantry regiments and weld into a homogeneous whole the regular and auxiliary forces, as far as possible, as a county organisation. During Bulwer's term of office and in the teeth of much opposition a commencement was made of this localisation. His experience taught him that ‘in an army raised by voluntary enlistment it is not wise to have too many compulsory clauses,’ that young men still growing and immature are of great value as soldiers, that the reserves may be trusted when called on, and that ‘the interest of the man and the interest of the state should be made identical’ (cf. his article on the British army in the National Review, March 1898). On 1 Oct. 1877 he was promoted to the rank of major-general, and on 10 March 1879 was given command of the Chatham district; but in the following year he was back at headquarters as inspector-general of recruiting (1880–6), taking active part in the supply of troops for the Egyptian and Sudan wars and in carrying out the reforms of H. C. E. Childers, the secretary of state for war [q. v. Suppl. I]. In 1886 he received the K.C.B., and became deputy adjutant-general to the forces (1886–7), being promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general on 10 March 1887. He was also deputed in 1886 to serve on the commission of inquiry into the Belfast riots. From 1889 to 1894 he was lieutenant-governor and commander of the troops in Guernsey, serving also as a member of Lord Wantage's committee to inquire into the conditions of service in the army in 1891, and being promoted to be general on 1 April 1892. He retired from the active list in 1896. Honours still awaited him. He was honorary colonel of the 3rd battalion Norfolk regiment 1896–1905, and on 31 March 1898 he received the distinction, which he valued above all others, of colonel of the royal Welsh fusiliers. He was made G.C.B. in 1905. To the end of his life he took a deep interest in the Duke of York's Royal Military School, Chelsea, of which he was for many years a commissioner. He died after a long illness in London on 8 Dec. 1910.

In July 1863 he married Isabella, daughter of Sir J. Jacob Buxton, baronet, of Shadwell Court, Norfolk, who, dying in 1883, left one son and four daughters.

[The Times, 10 Dec. 1910; Kinglake, Invasion of the Crimea; T. H. Kavanagh, How I won the Victoria Cross, 1860; Major Broughton Mainwaring, Historical Record of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers; Reports on annual recruiting presented to Parliament.]

W. L-W.