This Item Has Been Sold


“I am very grateful to you for selecting me for employment with the 21st Lancers.”


By: Winston S. Churchill

5 x 8 inches (Folded single leaf; two-and-a-half pages)

Item Number: 204063


A rarity with enormous resonance: Winston Churchill’s note of thanks to Field Marshal Lord Wolseley, Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, for appointing him, after much lobbying by Lady Randolph Churchill, to the 21st Lancers under Lord Kitchener in the Sudan; a posting that would ultimately result in Churchill’s writing THE RIVER WAR.

On Cumberland Place W. notepaper, dated July 23 [1898], all in Churchill’s hand:

Dear Lord Wolseley,
I am very grateful to you for selecting me for employment with the 21st Lancers. Perhaps you will remember my coming to see you nearly three years ago, when the advance in the Soudan began, and asking you to let me go. I have been trying to get leave ever since, but until two days the matter looked hopeless. I am therefore all the more delighted at an unexpected success and I beg you will accept my best thanks for your kindness.
Believe me,
Yours, sincerely,
Winston S. Churchill

Together with the original stamped and postmarked envelope, addressed in ink, all in Churchill’s hand:

Field Marshal Lord Wolseley
etc. etc. etc.
War Office

It was the death of a young officer in the 21st Lancers that created the vacancy which provided Churchill with his opportunity after all had seemed lost. Kitchener was disinclined toward the young journalist-soldier and had specifically rejected all efforts at securing a place for Churchill under his command. Only the intercession of the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, himself, on Churchill’s behalf, forced Kitchener to change his mind.

GARNET JOSEPH, 1ST VISCOUNT WOLSELEY (1833-1913) was one of the outstanding generals of the Victorian era, best known for leading the relief of Gordon at Khartoum in 1884-1885. Wolseley served as Commander-in-Chief of the Army from 1895-1900 during which time Winston Churchill sought and eventually secured permission from Wolseley to visit Cuba as a young subaltern in 1895.