Sir Redvers Henry Buller

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Buller, Sir Redvers Henry (1839–1906). Soldier. Buller was a man of outstanding personal bravery, but his indecisiveness in high command cast a shadow over his later career. He took part in the Zulu War (1878–9), winning the Victoria Cross, and in the Gordon relief expedition in the Sudan (1884–5). He then climbed the army ladder steadily until refusing the post of commander-in-chief in India, before reluctantly agreeing to command in South Africa in 1899 at the beginning of the second Anglo-Boer War. He then made the unwise decision to divide his force into three columns, he himself commanding one. This resulted in a series of piecemeal defeats and his replacement in overall command by Lord Roberts. Buller's subsequent leadership of his own column demonstrated the same qualities of hesitation, and his later public attempt to refute his critics was not well received.

Kenneth Ingham