Charles William Wilson
Life of an explorer and soldier
He was born in Liverpool on 14 March 1836. He was educated at the Liverpool Collegiate School and Cheltenham College. He attended the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and was commissioned as an officer in the Royal Engineers in 1855.
His first appointment was as secretary to the British Boundary Commission in 1858, whose duty it was to map the 49th parallel between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. He spent four years in North America, during which time he documented his travels in a diary, the transcription of which can be found in "Mapping the Frontier" edited by George F. G. Stanley.
In 1867 he joined the Palestine Exploration Fund and had a leading role in the Survey of Western Palestine project. In 1868 he joined the Ordnance Survey of Sinai. In 1872 he was elected to the Society of British Archaeology. In 1874 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society.
He became director of the topographical department at the British War Office and assistant quartermaster-general in the British Intelligence Department. In 1876 he received an Order of the Bath. He then headed the Ordnance Survey of Ireland.
From 1884 to 1885, Wilson took part in the Khartoum Relief Expedition, commanded by Garnet Wolseley. He was part of the advance rescue force led by Sir Herbert Stewart. After Stewart was mortally wounded Brigadier-General Wilson took command of this group of about 1,400 men. On two Nile steamers Wilson's Desert Column reached Khartoum in the afternoon of 28 January 1885. It came two days too late: Khartoum had been seized by the Mahdists in the early hours of 26 January. Between 5,000 and 10,000 inhabitants were slaughtered, among them Major-General Charles George Gordon.
He was appointed director of the Ordnance Survey in Ireland and was director-general from 1886 to 1894. From 1895 until his retirement in 1898, he served as the director-general of military education.
He died on 25 October 1905.
- "Major General Sir Charles William Wilson, 1836–1905". Palestine Exploration Fund. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
- "Charles William Wilson". The Geographical Journal. 26: 682–684. 6 December 1905. JSTOR 1776079.