Bassano - Photographer
25 Old Bond Street, London, England
The following biographical sketch of Cornelius Francis Clery originally appeared in the 1902 edition of Celebrities of the British Army.
"The name of Lieut.- General Sir Cornelius Francis Clery is best known as the author of a standard work on Tactics, a work which has long been accepted as a text-book by our own
military authorities, and is so well thought of that it has been translated into at least four foreign languages. Like so many of our other more prominent sons of Mars, Sir Francis Clery
is an Irishman, his family having for generations been settled in the picturesque county of Cork. It was there that the subject of our sketch was born on February 13th, 1838. Early in
life he developed strong military instincts, and so it was resolved that he should become a soldier. Thus, on March 5th, 1858, he was gazetted to an ensigncy in a regiment whose
distinguished services during the Indian Mutiny had earned for it a world-wide reputation - the 32nd Light Infantry - obtaining his lieutenancy June 5th, 1859. Young Clery was
Adjutant of his regiment from November 5th, 1861, to January 15th, 1866, when promotion to a Company disqualified him for retaining a position which he had held with the utmost
Good soldier though he had shown himself to be, he seemed almost to despair of getting a look in on service; but he went to the Staff College in 1869, and passing out at the end of
1870 made such a record that he was at once appointed an Instructor of Tactics at the Royal Military College, taking up his duties on January 27th, 1871, and exchanging them on
September 4th, 1872, for those of Professor, which important chair he filled until May 23rd, 1875. He then proceeded to Ireland as Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster
General on the Headquarters Staff at Dublin, and on April 5th, 1877, was transferred to Aldershot in the same capacity.
On May 31st, 1878, he proceeded on Special Service to South Africa, and in the following year, with twenty-one years' service, received his baptism of fire in the Zulu War. He was
present at the engagement at Isandhlwana and battle of Ulundi, his reward being a splendid Mention in Despatches, the Brevet of Lieut.- Colonel and the medal with clasp.
On the organizing of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in 1882 Lieut.-Colonel Clery was provided for as Brigade Major at Alexandria, and on the close of operations was raised
to the status of Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster-General of the Army of Occupation. But his position during the war against Arabi gave him few opportunities. Hence the medal
and Khedive's star constituted his only recognition.
When the late Sir Gerald Graham set out for the Soudan Expedition of 1884 Colonel Clery accompanied him as Assistant Adjutant-General, and was present in the hardly-contested
engagements of El-Teb and Tamai. At the close he found himself honourably mentioned, promoted to the Brevet rank of Colonel and created a C.B., besides getting two clasps to his
war medal. In the following year he served with the Nile Expedition, and on March 4th, 1886, was created Chief of the Staff of the Army of Occupation with the rank of Brigadier
-General. He finally left Cairo at the end of 1887, and on August 15th, 1888, was gazetted Commandant of the Staff College, retaining that post for five years. December 20th, 1894,
saw him promoted a Major-General ; on January 25th, 1895, he joined at Aldershot as Major-General commanding an Infantry Brigade; on March 13th he was transferred to the
Headquarters Staff of the Army as Deputy Adjutant-General of the Forces.
On October 9th, 1899, he sailed for South Africa as Lieut.-General Commanding the 2nd Division of the Field Force, with the rank of Lieut.- General, which command he has held
ever since. It is no secret that Sir Redvers Buller entertains the highest opinion of Sir Francis Clery's fighting qualities ; and it is in a large measure due to his good advice that the
field force in Natal has been able quietly but surely to force the Boers back from positions which at one moment it seemed almost hopeless for us ever to think of occupying, so
unsurmountable did the geographical difficulties appear."
During the Anglo-Zulu War Clery acted as principle staff officer to the Center Column's titular commander Colonel Glynn of the 24th Regiment. Clery was primarily responsible for the
layout of the ill fated camp at Isandlwana and contrary to what is stated in the above biography was not present at the camp when it was overrun by the Zulus. He was in fact out with
scouting force that left the camp under Lord Chelmsford earlier that morning. After the termination of the Chelmsford's fisrt invasion Clery was transferred the Evelyn Wood's Flying
For his service during the Anglo-Boer War he was created a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George. He retired from the army due to ill health in 1901 and died at
Westminster in 1926.