George Clarke Musgrave, son of Joseph and Sarah Ann (LeButt) Musgrave, was born at Folkestone, England on May 1st 1874. His time in this world carried him through the great challenges and changes of the reigns of Victoria, Edward VII and George V. For his own character, though, he always felt himself more closely aligned with the reformers, the heroes, the visionaries and the Empire builders of the 19th century, than with the dour and stifling traditionalists of the 20th.
Following service in the British Army, brought to a premature end by injury and subsequent medical discharge, George Clarke became a war correspondent and journalist, seeing action with both British and American forces in West Africa, Cuba, South Africa, China, the Balkans and France. His articles from these conflicts were published in many national and international journals including: the Illustrated London News, the London Chronicle, the Daily Mail, Strand Magazine, Black and White Review and the New York Times. He also wrote a number of books which were readily published and well received by audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Unfortunately these are now out of print and first editions are rare and expensive. But his words should be read and, in seeking to bring his library back to life, my intention here is twofold: Firstly, to present authentic versions of our author's original works, written with a particular focus on preserving the action, the excitement, the drama and the emotion of his original narrative and, secondly, to knit together the diverse and tangled threads of his career which spanned some twenty five years in which he grew from a raw but determined twenty-one year-old neophyte of the media circus to a seasoned, brilliantly analytical and highly respected observer of war.
As an active correspondent in five theatres of war over a period of more than two decades, George Clarke Musgrave was wounded three times, imprisoned twice, arrested as a spy, saved from execution following intervention by the British Government and later deported from Cuba to Spain. Throughout his career, he walked the same battlefields as many of history's well-known figures from the press corps and the military and earned the respect and admiration of presidents and politicians, generals and foot-soldiers, his peers, his editors, his publishers and his readers. Amongst his press colleagues he counted: Bennett Burleigh, Karl Decker, Herbert Seeley, John Black Atkins, Lester Ralph, George Lynch, Emile Dillon, Rene Bull, Herbert Morrison and, as a young reporter, Winston Churchill. He served under assignment with: Prince Henry of Battenberg, Sir Francis Scott, Lord Roberts, Lord Wolsley, Lord Roberts, Baden-Powell, Buller, Chaffee and Joffre and he witnessed the culmination of several conflicts, including: the humiliating submission of the Ashanti despot Prempeh, the Spanish capitulation at Santiago and the surrender of Cronje at Paaderburg, leading to the relief of Ladysmith and the ultimate defeat of the Boers. Perhaps the most notable of our author's war-forged bonds, though, were with General Garcia, leader of the Cuban insurgents, who authorised his commission as a Captain in the Cuban army, and with Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, Colonel of the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American war in 1898, with whom he developed a life-long friendship.
After taking a commission in October 1899 to follow the second Boer War, our author returned to America in the spring of 1900 before his marriage in June. He was then called back from his honeymoon by the New York Times for an urgent assignment to Peking to cover the Boxer Rebellion, which proved to be an experience that changed his life. On his return from China, our author joined Roosevelt's team and, while working under cover, travelled throughout Europe, the Balkans, Russia, Scandinavia and South America as the Vice President's "eyes and ears," writing nothing more until the outbreak of the Great War. This he called his "decade of silence."
His writing came to a close at the time that the Great War in Europe drew to its conclusion. When American forces joined the Allies on the Western Front in late 1917, our author left France and returned to England, from where he made several transatlantic trips, sometimes travelling alone and sometimes accompanied by his wife and son Edwin. On his travel manifests he commonly listed his occupation as a journalist but he was, in fact, writing as an author at this time. "Under Four Flags for France" was published in 1918 and in May of 1919 he journeyed from Liverpool to New York, and on to Havana, where he spent some weeks researching and preparing the manuscript for his final book, "Cuba - the Land of Opportunity."