Sir Henry Evelyn Wood, V.C.,
Henry Evelyn Wood was born in 1838 in Braintree, Essex, the youngest
son and one of eleven children of Sir John Page Wood, Bt. He was
educated at Marlborough College and served as a Midshipman in the
Crimean War during the siege of Sebastopol.
Seriously wounded in the attack on the Redan as a member of the Naval
Brigade, Wood was mentioned in dispatches and recommended for the
Victoria Cross. He then left the Royal Navy to join the Army, being
commissioned a Cornet without purchase in the 13th Light Dragoons and
subsequently at his own request transferred to the 17th Lancers in
order to be able to participate in the Indian Mutiny.
Once in India he commanded a squadron of the 3rd Light Cavalry and
saw action at Rajghur, Sindwaho (or Sinwaho) and was again
recommended for the Victoria Cross.
In June of 1859, he joined Beatson’s Horse as a Brigade Major and
successfully hunted out a band of robbers in the jungles between Beora
On September 4, 1860, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The citation
for the award of Lieutenant Wood’s Victoria Cross reads:
On 19 October 1858 during an action at Sinwaho, India, Lieutenant
Wood was in command of a troop of light cavalry and attacked almost
single-handed a body of rebels, whom he routed. He also subsequently
at Sindhora, rescued, with the help of a duffadar and a sowar, a Potail
from a band of robbers who had captured the man and carried him into
the jungle where they intended to hang him.
(The Cross is currently held by the National Army Museum, Chelsea,
Wood returned to England in 1860 having received the Indian Mutiny
medal and the Victoria Cross for his services in India.
In 1861 Wood was promoted Captain and in 1862 he became a Brevet
Major in the 73rd Highlanders.
In 1865, he left the infantry for the cavalry and after a stint as an
aide-de-camp in Dublin, Wood transferred to the General Staff at
Aldershot until 1871, when he became a full Major in the 90th Regiment.
In 1867, he married the sister of the 4th Viscount Southwell, Mary
In 1873, Wood was promoted Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel and traveled to
South Africa with Wolseley. In 1874 he served in the Ashanti War as a
“Special Service Officer” under Wolseley. He was wounded on January
31, 1874, at Armoaful. For his services, he received the Ashanti medal,
was five times mentioned in despatches and was made a Companion of the
Order of the Bath (C.B.)
Following the Ashanti Campaign, Wood held various staff appoints until
the 90th Regiment embarked for South Africa in 1878, at which time he
rejoined the regiment.
In January 1879 he took part in the Anglo-Zulu War and was given command of the left column of the army that crossed the
Zulu frontier. Shortly thereafter, he received the local rank of Brigadier General. Defeated at Hlobane, he recovered and
decisively beat the Zulus at Kambula and also took part in the final battle at Ulundi.For his services in the Zulu War, Evelyn
Wood received the Zulu War medal and clasp, was mentioned in despatches fourteen times and raised to become a Knight
Commander of the Order of the Bath (K.C.B.). Upon returning to England, he was appointed to command the Chatham district.
With the outbreak of the First Boer War, Wood was sent back to South Africa in January of 1881 with the local rank of Major
General. Upon the death of Colley, he succeeded to command and the High Commissionership. He remained in Natal until
February 1882, at which time he was awarded a Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (G.C.M.G.) and
returned to the Chatham command.
Wood was given command of the Second Brigade of the Second Division in the Egyptian expedition to put down Arabi Pasha and
later commanded the Fourth Brigade. Thereafter, he was made Sirdar of the Egyptian army until 1885, during which period he
thoroughly reorganized it. Wood also served in the Nile campaign of 1884-1885, in command of the line of communications. In
1886 he was allowed to return to Britain. He was awarded the Egypt medal with clasps, Order of the Medjidie 1st Class and the
Khedive’s Star for his services during his time in Egypt.
Promoted to Lieutenant-General in 1891, Wood was raised to the Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (G.C.B.). He saw further
service as Quartermaster-General at the War Office and as Adjutant-General of the Army.
Promoted full General in 1895, Wood commanded the II Army Corps and Southern Command from 1901 to 1904. On April 8,
1903, Sir Evelyn Wood was promoted Field Marshal.
In 1907 he became Colonel of the Royal Horse Guards. After retiring from active service, Sir Evelyn Wood became chairman of
the Association for the City of London, and on March 11, 1911 he was appointed Constable of the Tower of London, a position he
would hold until his death.
Field Marshall Sir Evelyn Wood, V.C., G.C.B., G.C.M.G., died on the 2nd of December, 1919, at his home in Harlow, Essex. He is
buried in Aldershot Military Cemetery.
A cabinet size photograph of Sir Evelyn
Wood in uniform with medals up by the
London Stereoscopic Company, Ltd. of 110
& 108 Regent Street, London.