7th April 1900
Obituary for General Woodgate
SEVERAL circumstances combine to impart peculiar sadness to the death of Major-General Sir E. R. P. Woodgate, late commanding the 11th Brigade in South Africa, from the effects of wounds received in action at Spion Kop. Not only was this the deceased officer’s first command of a British brigade in the field, but he had held it only a few weeks when he received the wound which led to his death. He had entered, too, on this campaign with the prestige derived both from a long and varied career of general usefulness and from marked success in the recent and difficult operations in connexion with the rising in Sierra Leone. Of great ability and wide experience, he was looked upon as certain to emerge from the war with a greatly enhanced reputation, and his death at the age of fifty-four on the threshold of the Generals’ list will be very widely and genuinely regretted in service circles.
Major-General Sir Edward Robert Prevost Woodgate, K.C.M.G., C.B., was the second son of the late Rev. Henry Arthur Woodgate, B.D., rector of Belbroughton, Worcestershire. He was born in 1845, was educated at Radley, and joined the 4th King’s Own, now the Royal Lancaster Regiment, in 1865. He served with the King’s
Own in the Abyssinian Expedition of 1868 and was present at the action of Arogee and the capture of Magdala. He was next employed on special service in the Ashanti war of 1873-74, and took a distinguished part in the actions of Esaman, Ainsah, Abrakampa, and Faysunah, the battle of Amoaful, and the capture of’
Kumassi. In this campaign Lieutenant Woodgate won two mentions in Despatches, and, having passed through the Staff College in 1877, was, naturally enough, selected for special employment in the South African war of 1879. Here he won two fresh mentions in Despatches for his work as staff officer of the Flying Column in the Zulu campaign – he was present both at Kambula and Ulundi – and was rewarded with a brevet majority.
From 1880-85 Major Woodgate served as brigade-major in the West Indies, subsequently returning to regimental duties, and obtaining, in 1893, the command of the 1st Battalion Royal Lancaster. In 1896 he was, in recognition of his distinguished war record, appointed C.B., and in the following year he relinquished his battalion command to take over charge of the 4th Regimental District at Lancaster. In April, 1898, he was specially sent out to Sierra Leone to organize the New West African Regiment, which was intended to relieve the West India Regiment from duty on this coast. The measure proved not only a wise but a timely one, as the new corps had hardly been raised when it was called upon to take the field against Bai Bureh and other malcontents who had risen in armed opposition to the hut tax. The regiment behaved admirably, and the operations were most skillfully directed by Colonel Woodgate, whose health, however, became so greatly impaired that in 1899 he found it necessary to return home. Here employment was found for him in the shape of another regimental district command, that of the 17th District at Leicester. He had only held this four months when, on the formation of the 5th Division under Sir Charles Warren, he was given command of the 11th, or Lancashire Brigade, consisting of the 2nd Royal Lancasters, 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, 1st South Lancashire, and 1st York and Lancaster.
Arriving at Durban in December, General Woodgate crossed the Tugela with Sir Charles Warren at Wagon Drift on January 16-17, and on the night of the 23rd he occupied Spion Kop. In the fighting which ensued on the following day General Woodgate was so dangerously wounded in the head as to necessitate his being relieved in the command of the troops on Spion Kop, and subsequently in that of his brigade.
Meanwhile the rewards for the operations in Sierra Leone had been gazetted, General Woodgate being promoted to a Knight Commandership of the Order of St. Michael and St. George. This honour he has only lived a few weeks to enjoy, his terrible wound at Spion Kop having ultimately proved fatal. He was operated on after the action by Mr. Treves, and at one time hopes were entertained of his recovery, but paralysis supervened, and, after lingering for eight weeks, he has died at Mooi River, the third general officer who has been killed in, or died from wounds received in, the course of this campaign. -The Times.
A window in Radley College Chapel was paid for by subscription in his memory. Detail of the Woodgate window