The Boy’s Own Paper was a weekly magazine published in the United Kingdom from 1879 to 1967. During the late Victorian period it was one of the most popular boy’s papers and had a distinctly patriotic slant to its content. It published adventure stories, notes on nature, sports and games, puzzles and it included prints of famous men of the day that were frequently stuck to boy’s bedroom walls in the same manner posters are today. In the late Victorian period the heroes for many boys were the generals and admirals of the British Empire involved in daring do on the frontiers of Empire and tonight we have one of those illustrations from the Boy’s Own Paper depicting two Victorian heroes: Major General Charles Gordon and General Lord Wolseley:Major General Gordon
Major-General Charles George Gordon CB (28 January 1833 – 26 January 1885), also known as Chinese Gordon, Gordon Pasha, and Gordon of Khartoum, was a British Army officer and administrator. He saw action in the Crimean War as an officer in the British Army. However, he made his military reputation in China, where he was placed in command of the “Ever Victorious Army,” a force of Chinese soldiers led by European officers. In the early 1860s, Gordon and his men were instrumental in putting down the Taiping Rebellion, regularly defeating much larger forces. For these accomplishments, he was given the nickname “Chinese Gordon” and honours from both the Emperor of China and the British.
He entered the service of the Khedive of Egypt in 1873 (with British government approval) and later became the Governor-General of the Sudan, where he did much to suppress revolts and the local slave trade. Exhausted, he resigned and returned to Europe in 1880.
A serious revolt then broke out in the Sudan, led by a Muslim religious leader and self-proclaimed Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad. In early 1884 Gordon had been sent to Khartoum with instructions to secure the evacuation of loyal soldiers and civilians and to depart with them. In defiance of those instructions, after evacuating about 2,500 British civilians he retained a smaller group of soldiers and non-military men. In the buildup to battle, the two leaders corresponded, each attempting to convert the other to his faith, but neither would accede.
Besieged by the Mahdi’s forces, Gordon organised a citywide defence lasting almost a year that gained him the admiration of the British public, but not of the government, which had wished him not to become entrenched. Only when public pressure to act had become irresistible did the government, with reluctance, send a relief force. It arrived two days after the city had fallen and Gordon had been killed.
Field Marshal Garnet Joseph Wolseley, 1st Viscount Wolseley (4 June 1833 – 25 March 1913), was an Anglo-Irish officer in the British Army. He became one of the most influential and admired British generals after a series of successes in Canada, West Africa, and Egypt, followed by a central role in modernizing the British Army in promoting efficiency. He served in Burma, the Crimean War, the Indian Mutiny, China, Canada and widely throughout Africa—including his Ashanti campaign (1873–1874) and the Nile Expedition against Mahdist Sudan in 1884–85. Wolseley served as Commander-in-Chief of the Forces from 1895 to 1900. His reputation for efficiency led to the late 19th century English phrase “everything’s all Sir Garnet”, meaning, “All is in order.”
With both of these men being involved in the Sudan campaigns, I suspect that this print dates to around 1885; showing the martyred hero of Khartoum and the commanding officer of the British forces sent to suppress the rebellion.