HUNTER, Sir Archibald (1856-1936). Army officer.
Personal archive of Sir Archibald Hunter, comprising letters addressed to him and related material. A highly important source for military history, comprising material covering the whole of Hunter's long career, particularly the periods in South Africa and India. In generally good condition with some wear and traces of mounting.
About 100 Letters addressed to Hunter, (1875-1924/1935) including 26 Autograph Letters Signed from Kitchener (1897-1915).
Commencing with the passing-out certificate for Sub-Lieutenant Hunter from the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, 13 August 1875, his appointment to the 4th Foot (27 August) and assigment to Gibraltar (30 August, signed by Buller), various records of service, a letter to his mother written from Abu Farmeh (16 November 1884), papers relating to Hunter's service in Egypt (1884-1889) and the Sudan. Whilst these papers are largely appointments and official communications, the ensuing period shows more personal communications.
Hunter's appointment as Major-General to command a district in India [Quetta], 13 March 1899, is followed by a letter from Sir Evelyn Wood congratualing him on his subsequent appointment to South Africa (10 August 1899):
'... I do not know that you have anyone to thank for your selection except Sir Redvers himself, and to work you performed which induced that selection. I should have laughed at the idea of your coming home or making preparations a week ago, but just now the Boers seems to be rather more dogged. I have, however, myself an idea that when the pinch comes, Kruger will back down. ... I feel sure that you will give as much satisfaction as you did to Lord Kitchener in Egypt. He sat with me for about three quarters of an hour yesterday, and talks of starting tomorrow evening for Egypt and the Sudan.'He is congratulated by a friend on the news from South Africa (6 March 1900):
'From the bottom of my heart do I congratulate you on the most glorious, joyful events of the last week - the relief of Ladysmith and successful termination of it's heroic defence in which you have played so prominent a part ...'Lord Roberts writes a letter of farewell (27 November 1900):
'... I wish much to tell you how greatly I appreciate the excellent work you have done through this war. I knew, of course, of the assistance you had given in the early part of the campaign on the Natal side, and when I wanted someone to arrange for the difficult task of relieving Mafeking I decided to bring you with your Division round to this side of South Africa. You carried out that duty in the same admirable manner as you did the difficult operation which resulted in the surrender of General Prinsloo and upwards of four thousand burghers who had been in arms against us. ...'Several letters and papers of appointment relate to Hunter's three-year command in the Scottish district, including three letters from the Earl of Stair (relative to the drill hall at Stranraer), two letters from Redvers Buller, one immediately following his dismissal from command (22 October 1901):
'... I am at present fighting unseen forces directed as I believe by jealous and unfair lies, and I can truly say that I am fighting it more in the interest of the Army than for any personal motive. ...'Other letters include those from his adjutant-general, the Earl of Derby etc.
The principal correspondence from Hunter's period of command in India (1903-1908) is encompassed in the letters from Kitchener (see below), although there is one letter from Lord Lamington as Governor of Bombay (6 October 1904), on administrative matters. Further papers relate to the appointment as governor and commander-in chief of Gibraltar, special missions to proclaim the accession of George V, his appointment as an aide-de-camp general in waiting to the new king, his promotion to the Order of the Bath (1911). Douglas Haig thanks him for congratulations (1917):
'... I greatly appreciate your kindly congratulations on my promotion to Field Marshal. But I honestly feel that my own merit has very little to do with my reaching that great position. ... I shall always remember your kindness to me when I was in the Egyptian Army, in the fighting before the Atbara, the long summer at Berber before we moved on to Omdurman. ...'Haig was to write again at the termination of the war (26 November 1918):
'... To have been priveledged [sic]to command this splendid army is a sufficient honour for me. I don't want any other. In any case I shall not accept anything until the Pensions for Disabled Officers & men ... are satisfactorily arranged. ...'Much correspondence concerns honours and awards, in particularly the GCB and the Legion d'Honneur.
Letters from Lord Kitchener
Twenty-six letters, one telegram and 4 envelopes, 1897 to 1915, comprising 5 from the Egypt, 16 from India, 5 from London and a further letter from Kitchener's second period in Egypt. These are letters of considerably historical importance.
The Egyptian letters cover the period 2 to 20 August  when Hunter captured and held Abu Hamed and are concerned with the movements of the enemy, supplies, the deaths of officers, the problem of getting the steamers up over the cataracts, the progress of the railway, and other operational and personal considerations.
'... The steamers will I hope start tomorrorow if the Akasha gets in with the gear and Beatty. Flint and his camels have arrived and after 2 days rest will go on so you ought to have a good deal of stuff. ... No news of any reinforcements going to Abu Hamed. ...' [2 August]
'... I am glad the enemy waited for you as it gives them another experience of what they will have to meet. ... I shall have your opinion as to whether the 4 battalion should remain at Abu Hamed or be reduced - There appears to be no idea of Mahmoud doing any thing in the nature of offensive operations in this direction. ... The railway is 124 miles out & going on well. We have all been very grieved at losing Sidney and Fitzclarence they died as soldiers should die. ...' [12 August]
'... I do not think it necessary to reduce the garrison at Abu Hamed at present as we are getting supplies in well. Maxwell is sending you stuff. ... All well here Mahmoud according to last accounts has not moved and has sent no reinforcements to Berber. ...' [14 August]
'... The desertion of 2 men of 9th is a very disagreeable feature could they not be recaptured. I cannot understand it. Do you think they joined the enemy or are in some of the villages. ...' [16 August]
'... As regards the Hamak arabs I think they ought to be useful has Beshan Wad Fadh come in I believe he is their sheikh and Wad el Eila is a dervish. Hanak emir at Berber probably he will escape before long. ... The steamers are now going over better and I hope soon we shall be out of the Kab el Abd district and into better water ... . Can you send me any information about the Cataracts south of your present position[?] ...' [20 August]The largest group is the India letters, starting on 3 April  and continuing until 27 January 1905. They cover a wide variety of topics, including gossip about colleagues, Indian and army politics, the prevalence of venereal disease and Kitchener's efforts to reduce it, Hunter's wish to be appointed to the Japanese army as military attaché, the expense of manoeuvres in Tibet, the impossibility of getting motor cars, Kitchener's attempt to buy Finch's china, etc. The first letter of this group refers to the suicide of General Sir Archibald Hector Macdonald in a Paris hotel following accusations of homosexual activity during his command Ceylon (there were later suggestions made that Macdonald had been done away with because of a plot involving Kitchener).
'... What a horrible thing this has been about Macdonald. I expect he went quite mad after leaving S.A. Did you ever hear of anything of the sort before about him I never did. Brodrick seems to have been having a rough time of it lately.' [Nuski, 3 April 1903]
'... I suppose as we are both free from Indian prejudices it is very natural that Indian practices should strike us in a very similar manner, but as these prejudices are very strong we have to go slow in trying to improve matters. I find it takes about a year to get anything done out here. ...' [11 January 1904 - this letter, of 6 pages 4to, continues by addressing ten specific numbered points evidently raised by Hunter regarding the Indian Army.
'... I agree with you about uniform but it is a matter for each command to decide. At Simla I go to the office once a week in uniform. Here I have no office to go to. ...' [16 March 1904]
'... I am sorry to say Tibet is eating up all our available funds & if they go on as they are doing the bill will be a very heavy one. ... Aden I cannot go to Aden but later you might go. There is a question of handing over Aden to the Imperial Govt and that better be decided before you go. ...' [21 June 1904]
'... These Russians are extraordinary people but no doubt we should be as ready as we can be for emergencies.' [27 October 1904]
'You will I feel sure read the enclosed with interest - & see that I have burnt my boats.
'... I fear I shall have a great deal of trouble to get my proposals about army administation through. The Viceroy backs up the (mil[itar]y?) Dept. I have told him it is in my opinion so vital to the wellbeing and future success of the Army in the field that if not accepted I resign. ...' [8 February 1905 - in the event it was the viceroy, Lord Curzon, who would resign over Kitchener's army reforms]Kitchener's remaining letters range over a variety of subjects - a visit to South Africa and the coronation (1911), Hunter's award of the GCB, a shooting party up the Blue Nile in South Africa, meeting old friends there, and Hunter's wishes for an appointment during the 1914-1918 war. There is included a letter from Hunter to Kitchener, 13 December 1914, submitting a proposal which he intends to send to the War office (not included), and asking 'in what command you intend to employ me', with Kitchener's hasty pencilled reply on the reverse.
'... Khartoum is going ahead quite well & will be a fine town. It was very pleasant to meet so many old friends in Egypt & the Soudan. Gorst is pretty sick & there is some doubt whether he can carry on long.' [London, 14 April (1911)]
'... It is very pleasant here meeting so many old friends particularly amongst the old black troops who are full of when & how they served with me and are I am quite sure glad to see me again. ... Sennar by train and now it is open to the White Nile ...' [The Palace, Khartoum, 31 December ?1911-1913]
'The question of how the new armies will go out has been recently under discussion. The idea of breaking them up into Brigades has been abandoned but at least for the first new army it has been settled to send them out by division if they join the army in France. ...' [Whitehall, endorsed '1 April 1915']The archive also includes a large assortment of invitations, menus, calling cards and similar ephemera, and a large photograph (330 x 425 mm., ca 13 x 17 inches) of the army staff in India, ca 1904, signed by twenty-eight officers including Kitchener and Hunter.
The image is of a group of letters of Kitchener.
John Wilson Manuscripts Limited, Painswick Lawn, 7 Painswick Road, CHELTENHAM GL50 2EZ, UK
Tel and Fax: +44(0)1242 580344 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org