Thence Buller went home, and though he seems to have returned to Canada in 1871, he was there only a short time. In the meanwhile he had passed into the Staff College, and at the end of the year left his battalion to go through the course. He never again did regimental duty with the 60th.
His life at the Staff College was uneventful. He was a Whip to the Drag-hounds of which the well-known General Leir-Carleton was the Master. He took a prominent part in the life of the College, and is described as’a wonderfully clever, clear-headed man, who could play the game all round—in work, hunting, and society—and endowed with a rare fund of anecdote.’ Among his contemporaries there the most distinguished in after-life were Sir John Ardagh and Sir William Gatacre. He did not think his prospects very brilliant. He had had fifteen years of service without a chance of distinction, and lamented his fate. But the opportunity was now at hand. In the August of his second year he was studying on the ground the battlefields of the Franco-German War, when he had so vivid a dream of receiving an urgent letter from Sir Garnet Wolseley that he forthwith returned home. Here surely enough he found the letter offering him an appointment on the Staff of the Expeditionary Force to Ashanti. Buller was, however, unwilling to lose the fruit of his work at the Staff College, and it was not until the Commander-in-Chief had decided that for purposes of his profession he should be considered to have graduated that he definitely accepted the appointment in Ashanti. The little campaign that followed was chiefly remarkable for the astonishing number of able men collected by Sir Garnet Wolseley. Colley, Evelyn Wood, Brackenbury, Baker Russell, Alison, Butler, Greaves, Home, Maurice, and many others formed what became known as the ’Ashanti Ring,’ a term intended to be one of reproach, but proving in the long run one of the highest praise. ’First and foremost among them as one whose stern determination of character nothing could ruffle, whose resource in difficulty was not surpassed by anyone I ever knew,’ says Lord Wolseley in his ’Story of a Soldier’s Life,’ was Redvers Buller. Endowed with a mind fruitful in expedients, he inspired general confidence, and thoroughly deserved it. Had a thunderbolt burst at his feet he would have merely brushed from his rifle jacket the earth it had thrown upon him, without any break in the sentence he happened to be uttering at the moment.’ It was remarked by regimental officers that Buller had none of the airs which service on the Staff seemed to give to some of his confreres. Sir Garnet Wolseley made him head of the Intelligence Department; and, with the spirit of thoroughness in which he carried out everything he undertook, he at once made a study of the idiosyncrasies of the various native tribes, a study which, at the end of the campaign, was noted by the General in his dispatch as having given him invaluable help in dealing with all the kings and chiefs. While moving a vote of thanks in the House of Commons, Mr. Disraeli, the Premier, said that in spite of the extraordinary difficulties from beginning to end, it was remarkable that the intelligence was wonderfully complete. Continually with the advance guard in the dense forest, often scouting in front of it, Buller carried his life in his hand. Well to the fore during the first fight at Essaman he was struck by a slug, the force of which was happily broken by a hard substance in his pocket. At the fight of Ordashu he was slightly wounded. After the capture of Coomassie he was appointed Prize Agent, and spent the night in the palace, superintending the collection of the silks, gold, ornaments, &c., which formed the booty. His services were frequently acknowledged in Sir Garnet’s dispatches, and at the end of the war he received a brevet majority and a C.B.
On returning to England Major Buller was appointed Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General at Headquarters. Here he attempted, though with no great success, to inspire the Horse Guards' authorities with Hawley’s views on drill and manoeuvre. It was during this period that he took a leading part in the reorganisation of the Naval and Military Club, and established it on the excellent social and financial basis on which it has ever since rested.