Baden-Powell was a soldier who came to specialise in scouting and reconnaissance and subsequently founded the Scout movement. He was born in 1857 in London and went to Tonbridge School and Charterhouse. He joined the army in 1876, serving in the 13th Hussars, initially in India and Afghanistan and later in the early 1880s in Zululand. He was on the army staff in west Africa during campaigns against the Ashante. In 1890 he was appointed as Military Secretary to the Commander-in-Chief Malta where he also worked for the Director of Military Intelligence.
Baden-Powell served in the Second Matable War in 1896 where he was involved in the relief of the beleagued forces in Bulawayo. He led many intelligence gathering missions Ito the Matopos Hills, developing ideas on scouting that he would use later. After a brief spell serving in the Fourth Ashante War on the Gold Coast he returned to England to command the 5th Dragoon Guards (1897-99) during which time he wrote his manual on scouting ‘Aids to Scouting’. Soon after the outbreak of the Second Boer War in 1899 he was sent to South Africa and sent to Mafeking to raise two regiments to help defend the railway town. He took charge of the forces defending Mafeking during the 31 week siege. The relief of Mafeking was celebrated throughout the country. He helped to set up the South African Constabulary before returning to England in 1903.
He was promoted from colonel to Major-General and later he became Inspector-General of Cavalry commanding the first Territorial division in North East England.
Baden-Powell was knighted in 1909, retiring from the army in 1910 to concentrate on developing the Scouting movement which he had founded just a few years before. He had effectively begun the Scouting movement following a camp he had wet up for boys on Brownsea Island in 1907. He wanted to encourage individual responsibility, an outdoor life, fitness and the routine of living in a camp which he believed would help establish firm discipline. The Girl Guides was established by his sister Agnes in 1910 but when he married Olave St Clair, his wife took over the organization of the Girl Guides.