Charles Cornwallis Chesney

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Charles Cornwallis Chesney (born September 29, 1826 in County Down , † March 19, 1876 in Sandhurst ) was a British officer and military historian.


Chesney came from an Anglo-Irish family, his father was a former captain of the Bengali artillery. Chesney attended school in Tiverton and attended the Royal Military Academy Woolwich . In 1845 he graduated as Second Lieutenant of the Pioneers and first in his class. He served in England and was in New Zealand during the Crimean War . In 1858 he became professor of military history at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst .

He was the brother of George Tomkyns Chesney and nephew of Francis Rawdon Chesney . In 1864 he succeeded Edward Bruce Hamley as Professor of Military History at Staff College Camberley . From 1868 he was a member of the Royal Commission for Military Education (Royal Commission of Military Education), which reformed the teaching system in the military schools of the British Army. In 1871 he was sent by the government as a military observer to Germany and France to prepare reports on the siege operations (particularly of Paris ) (the report was published but kept confidential). In 1873 he became a lieutenant colonel. He was not interested in military promotion, nor in active commands, but devoted himself entirely to military history work and advice. He had a high standing in the British Army and was consulted by officers of all ranks and was the last commanding engineer officer of the London area. Overwork, coupled with a very celibate life, contributed to his untimely death.

In 1865 he published on the American Civil War in Virginia . He became known for his lectures on the Battle of Waterloo , which were published as a book in 1868. The Encyclopedia Britannica of 1911 highlights the turning point the book made in British military historiography about Waterloo, which previously consisted mostly of memoir literature. For the first time, Wellington's mistakes would have been analyzed there and the Prussians would have been granted their deserved share in the success of the campaign in English literature.

He published a lot in military history magazines such as the Edinburgh Review (published separately as a book in 1874).


  • A Military View of Recent Campaigns in Virginia and Maryland , Smith, Elder and Company 1865
  • The Waterloo Lectures. A study of the campaign of 1815 , Longmans, Green 1868, Archive
  • The Tactical Use of Fortresses. A farewell lecture, concluding a course of military history for military engineers, 1868
  • with Henry Reeve: The Military Resources of Prussia and France, and Recent Changes in the Art of War, Longmans, Green 1870, Archive
  • Essays in Military Biography , New York: Holt 1874, Archives