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Zulu Dawn Film Lt. Col. Pulleine: Lord Chelmsford assures us that there is no way the Zulu can get around us without our knowing. Col. Durnford: Zulu generals have a nasty habit of doing the unexpected. It might be wise to picket the hills.
 
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Frank Allewell

Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: The Western Slopes   The Western Slopes EmptyTue Apr 16, 2019 10:13 am

Archibald Forbes wrote probably the most compelling and emotional description of the battlefield at iSandlwana describing the bodies along the Fugitives trail as ‘a long string with knots in it.’
Forbes had joined the expedition on the 21st May ,led by General Marshall, to bury the dead at iSandlwana and retrieve  the much-needed wagons from the camp. A large force set of early in the morning splitting into two divisions, one approaching from the North and the second, including Forbes, along the traders track and across the Manzimyama stream.
He. In great detail describes the approach up the slope towards the saddle and the Fugitives trail of to the right.
“The line of retreat towards Fugitives Drift, along which, through a chink in the Zulu environment, our unfortunate, who thus far survived, tried to escape, lay athwart a rocky slope on our right front, along with a precipitous ravine at its base. In this ravine dead men lay thick, mere bones, with toughened discolored skin like leather covering them, and clinging tight to them, the flesh all wasted away. Some were almost wholly dismembered, heaps of yellow, clammy bones. I forbear to describe the faces with their blackened features and beards bleached by the rain and sun. Every man had been disemboweled. Some were scalped, and others subject to yet ghastlier mutilations. The clothes had lasted better than the poor bodies they covered, and helped to keep the skeletons together. All the way up the slope I traced by the ghastly token of dead men, the fitful line of flight. Most of the men hereabouts were infantry of the 24th. It was like a long string with knots in it, the string formed of single corpses, the knots clusters of dead where (as it seemed) little groups might have gathered to make a hopeless stand and die. I came on a gully with a gun limber jammed on its edge, and the horses, their hide scored with scored with assegai stabs, hanging in their harness down the steep face of the ravine. A little further on was the broken and battered ambulance wagon, and around lay the corpses of the soldiers’ poor helpless wretches, dragged out of an intercepted vehicle, and done to death without a chance for life.
Still following the trail of bodies through the long grass and amongst stones I approached the crest. Here the slaughtered ones lay very thick, so that the string became a broad belt.”

There is no ambiguity about the description of the route taken by Forbes, along the area track. He is specific in mentioning the long grass so the question needs to be asked: How far along the slope could he actually see  through the long grass with any degree of clarity? Are the sights he describes truly in the distance or are they close to the road.
It’s an important question because it places a line of flight away from the traditional fugitive’s trail sloping of towards the South. It also places a line of retreat taken by a fighting force trying to follow the line of the road towards Rorkes Drift. There are no recorded cairns along that route? And yet Forbes is descriptive in his accuracy including his description of horses dangling in their traces. From the road the oft referred to crevasse  is invisible and so conjecturally would be the horses. He would have had to have journeyed down the trail for any sign of that deep fold in the ground.
Is his statement therefore a conflated account? Or were there bodies along the line of the track, if there were why are there no cairns in the area? Traditionally the first cairns are those just to the West of the saddle.
Lieut. William Whitelock Lloyd, a talented artist took the trouble to climb Shiyane above Rorkes Drift and viewing through a telescope painted the scene looking across at the Nek between iSandlwana and Mahlabamkosi.  This remarkable painting shows the original approach road over the Nek and the extensive erosion and dongas prevalent. The donga to the South of the road in particular appears very deep and could easily be the site of wagons coming to grief.
A number of years ago I located a photograph in the archives at Pietermaritzburg. The photo taken from the area of the Manziyama indicates a significant number of large cairns. I’ve since traversed that area and discovered what could be the remnants of those cairns.
In trying to trace the origins of the cairns I looked at the Alfred boast map, difficult to read, but even so there are no cairns so marked.
I turned to the 1944 aerial photos and while there is a possibility they are shown, it is a possibility rather than a probability. What those photos do show however is the position of the old track. They also show the huge amount of cultivation in the area to the West of the mountain with a myriad of fields and a number of imusi.
So, who could have been the occupants of those cairns? If we are to believe Forbes hasn’t conflated his account there would have been a string of bodies stretching from the saddle down to the Manzimyama. If, as I believe, his description is conflated and there were no bodies along the track then it would seem to point to a force, extensive force, fighting a fairly successful retreat down the slope from the saddle only to meet their fate at the bottom of that slope.
This then would beg the question as to why Boast didn’t include the cairns on his map? A possible answer would be that as they were off to the right of the track, possibly hidden in the undergrowth, and no where close to the Fugitives route, that they simply weren’t seen. The potential for that would be great, Russell’s force would be an example only being discovered much later.
There were a number of subsequent teams sent to the battlefields and it could be speculated that one of them located and buried the remains.
The next question would be of course who was this body of men? A possible clue could be found in Edward Durnford’s book ‘A Soldiers Life and Work in South Africa. 1872 to 1879, A memoir of the late Colonel A.W.Durnford’ (p234).
He quotes Inspector George Mansell NMP saying “ Lieut.-Colonel Pulleine, with about 40 men of the 24th was seen about 800 yards on the Natal side of the Nek,” and  by Captain Cracroft Nourse NNC, “and near this spot were afterwards found about 40 men in the bed of the stream, and no doubt it was those very men. They had been killed close together, and one body was very like Pullein’s, but nobody could recognize it for certain.”

Umhotii speaks of the ‘main body being forced along and over the road until they met up with another impi and being maneuvered down towards the Manzimyama.

There are many sightings, or reputed sightings, of Col Pulleine’s body:

Colonel Hamilton Browne NNC in ‘A Lost Legionary in South Africa’ pp.140-142

“I had just time to get  to the door of my tent…my camp was on the extreme left of the line…I had not time to dismount as I heard the bugle sound the advance and I galloped back to my men as fast as I could without trampling on the bodies of my poor comrades.  On my way I reined up my horse sharply, for there lay the body of my old friend Lieut.-Col. Pulleine; I could do nothing for him…so I saluted the poor remains and passed on as quickly as I could to my men.  When I reached them, I asked the Adjutant if any orders had reached us.  He replied, “No, sir.  Everyone has moved off except ourselves and the rear-guard of M.I. which Major Black has taken command of.”  Good old Black, I thought, always at the post of honour.  Well he rode up to me and asked me “What was I doing there?”  I said, “Waiting for orders.”  He made a few remarks in Gaelic and then said, “Come on, old fellow.  Move off just in front of me, and if these black devils come after us we will have a nice little rear-guard action of our own.”  I did so, and sorrowfully returned by the same road we had so gaily advanced along three days before.”

Trooper Charles Tatham, NC (burial party) from “Hill of the Sphinx”, p.76
”We found the bodies of Colonel Pulleine and Colonel Durnford lying amongst those of the Imperial soldiers (who had fallen back on the camp and rallied round the former), Natal Mounted Police and Volunteers who made the last stand. I saw the bodies of both these officers...”.  

Anon. Corporal, 17th Lancers, Northern Echo, 12 July 1879
”We buried the Colonel of the 24th [Pulleine] and the Major [Stuart Smith] of the 5th Brigade Artillery in full uniform. I enclose you letters and cards which lay close to the Colonel of the 24th . They had evidently been playing cards, for a whole pack was kicked about. Lots of music, too, I picked up”.

Captain C. Nourse, 1/1 NNC(Natal Witness  18 or 19 January 1929)
-”The guns, which I had thought had escaped, horses and men, were all dead, huddled in a donga. The last and most pathetic sight was half about half a company of the 24th, with their Colonel mounted in their midst, assegaid, just out of reach of their bayonets”.

So a number of differing accounts of Pulleine's body being found, all of which have questioned attached.

Hamilton Browne places the body between his tent on the extreme North of the camp and the point he rejoined his men. The night of the 22nd his men were assigned a position close under iSandlwana and during the morning were formed up ready to move of with the rest of the column. He doesn’t mention where this long stream of men were formed up but as a rear point anchored on the west of the saddle the stream could have easily reached much lower down the slope. Behind his men were the NMP rearguard.
In his diary Maxwell is specific in saying they were all out of camp “before objects could be clearly seen.” The possibility does therefore exist that Hamilton Browne’s sighting area could be increased from the Northern Camp to the Manzimyama area.
If Maxwell is to be believed would that not therefore throw doubt on Hamilton Browne’s sighting of Pulleine’s body close to the camp? Credence should be given that in returning to his men Hamilton Browne saw the body at the latest, and lightest point in order for it to be recognisable, along the Western slope in fact.

Again, popular history has led us to believe that this force was commanded by Anstey, a theory that has been compellingly repudiated in recent publications. So, who did lead that force and exactly which direction where they moved into by the two horns of the Zulu army?
From the top of Shiyane at Rorkes drift a part of the battle was witnessed by  the Rev.Otto Witt, Rev George Smith and Surgeon James Reynolds.
“I observed that the Zulus were fighting heavily, and presently I saw the English were surrounded in a kraal some distance from the camp.”
From Shiyane there is no view of the iSandlwana plain or the camp area so the kraal mentioned by Rev Witt could only have been on the Natal/Western face of iSandlwana.
In the map drawn by Captain Anstey for the Narrative there are two kraals indicated, one either side of the track on the western face in a direct line from iSandlwana to the Manzimyama crossing.
Both of these kraals are visible on the 1944 aerial survey photos and remains of one still exists.
The available evidence seems to point to a large force fighting their way down the slope and across the Manzimyama before succumbing to the Zulu force. The position of its retreat and demise is parallel to the line of the road and Its position fits well with the comments of Nourse and Mansell.
Traditionally most, if not all, conclusions from the above quotes have been assumed to be referring to the so-called Anstey last stand further South from this position. The Anstey body position has recently been called into question with a good case being made that he wasn’t initially buried on the Manzimyama. There was however a significant stand made in that Southern Position. It’s possible that acknowledged history is correct and all these quotes do refer to this particular stand. My question therefore would:

If  Conditions where right for Anstey’s and Pulleines bodies to be recognized at that point, why is it referred to as Anstey’s last stand instead of Pulleines?

Grateful thanks to Julian Fred and Steve for their assistance. The concept is mine and mine alone so any spears or war clubs that need to thrown must be directed firmly at me.

Criticism:
In the whole range of literature nothing is more entertaining and instructive than sound and legitimate criticism. Rev Caleb Colton.


Thanks to Steve for posting the photos. In the today picture Ive only indicated the general area of the cairns.


Last edited by Frank Allewell on Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: The Western Slopes   The Western Slopes EmptyTue Apr 16, 2019 11:03 am

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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: The Western Slopes   The Western Slopes EmptyTue Apr 16, 2019 6:11 pm

Nice piece of detective work Frank. I am tempted to add another layer around the question of Pulleine's and Durnford's actions. We know that once Durnford had realised that he was being outflanked on both the right and the left he returned briefly to the tents - we do not know why. Slightly earlier he had asked whether it would be possible to bring some infantry in behind him to give some cover - now that it was becoming ever more desperate, did he return to the tents to seek out Pulleine and arrange for the two of them to try and keep open a final route over the neck? Pulleine rallies the remaining 24th that are streaming back through the camp and makes a stand on the neck. Younghusband with C Coy. is up above him nearer the mountain - he eventually charges down to join the larger group. Meanwhile Durnford and the Carbineers have fallen back again to a point on the east side of the neck and there they make their stand. Speculation of course but for me it is more credible than Pulleine expiring in his tent.

Steve
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: The Western Slopes   The Western Slopes EmptyWed Apr 17, 2019 6:59 pm

Hi Frank,

As you may remember I raised the point of the ‘kraal fight’ and what Witt saw, a while ago and you sent me the 1940s aerial photos to study.

It would seem to me all about the timing of the arrival of the Right Horn – conventionally, it is said to have arrived just as the British were retreating from the Zulu Centre & Left onto the saddle – sort of the final nail in the coffin, forcing the survivors behind Blacks Kopie, along the Fugitives Trail.

However, had it been slower in turning up, some of the retreating British could have been heading down the Western slope towards the stream. This may tie in with Shepstones stand at the rear of the hill.
As for HBPs demise – I recall Melvill or Coghill saying that “Pulleine’s been shot”......but I cannot recall to whom (I thought it was Private Williams but I can’t find it in my account) - which may give a clue as to where he may have at least been wounded if not killed.

On the subject of guns – one crashed into the ravine but where was the other brought to a halt?

Cheers

Sime
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Frank Allewell

Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The Western Slopes   The Western Slopes EmptyThu Apr 18, 2019 6:45 am

Morning Simon
Your right there was a meeting, M and C witnessed I think by two others where a statement that "The Colonel has been shot." I need to check that but I do have a feeling that it was 'Colonel' not Pulleine. That could then refer to Durnford, there was also a seperate mention of Durnford 'being shot'.
One of the guns ( carriages?) was found out on the plain, obviously being taken away but from whence it came I dont know. I would assume that the two were retreating in close tandem. Unfortunatly my study is a 'crime scene' due to some affirmative action shopping and I cant get access. The place is a bloody shambles.
I think that there is also the possibility that a great many of the fugitives had allready departed the scene, chased by the right horn, the left having been held up by Durnford and Scott could possible then have been a tad late in trying to close the gap and in doing so arrived on the western saddle just in time to closed that avenue of to the '40' and forcing them down to the manzimyama. The right horn at that point having been well and truly split: Portion entering the camp, portion up the mountain chasing Shepstone, portion running along the manzimyama chasing fugitives. The balance facing the saddle.
Just a thought.

cheers
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: The Western Slopes   The Western Slopes EmptyThu Apr 18, 2019 4:12 pm

Hi Frank,

I have read the quote about Durnford being shot and wondered if it was he that was the 'Colonel' and I was getting mixed up

Williams says:-

Lieutenant Coghill galloped up to Colonel Glyn's tents and gave orders for them to be struck and placed in the wagon which was done, when he came up again and ordered the grooms to take the horses to the rear part of the Camp.

I then saw Lieutenant Melvill leaving Camp with the Queen's Colour and Lieutenant Coghill close behind him; the latter told me to come on or I should get killed; just then the two guns of the R.A. retreated out of Camp past me and I could see the men on foot who had attempted to escape turned back and coming into Camp.


Would M or C have known that Durnford had been shot - given that he was over by the Blacks Kopie (where the memorial is now?) and you would assume that they were with or near the 24th and possibly close to HBP. Also would they have referred to AWD as 'the colonel'?

According to (albeit modern) painting I have seen, Glyn's HQ (and 'his' tent?) was roughly in the rear centre of the camp.

It also involves the old question of when did Melvill collect the colours from the 24th camp, it implies that he had collected them from the 1st/24th camp, took them to the area of the firing line and the back through the camp past Glyns HQ during which time Williams was told to 'do one'

Cheers

Sime
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: The Western Slopes   The Western Slopes EmptyThu Apr 18, 2019 4:32 pm

ps it was Bickley who recalled the conversation between M&C and he definitely says Colonel Pulleine's been shot but unfortunately he appears to have been over the saddle (this is not an innuendo but referring to the location..... Very Happy ), when this conversation happened, so it does not help out with the location of HBP being killed.

Sime
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The Western Slopes   The Western Slopes EmptyFri Apr 19, 2019 10:13 am

Hi Sime
Mainwaring in his account seems to re inforce Maxwell in his assesment of the visual conditions. His company was rearguard and he commented that "we never saw very far round on account of the dense fog.
One of the last sightings of Durnford was I think by, Harry Davies who placed him in the area of the RA camp, directly below the command tents. So entirely possible that Coghill did see him, however your quite right the reference was to Pulleine. Unfortunatly we will never know, barring a miracle, where Pulleine was. We do know that Coghill passed the command area 3 times, issuing orders to John Williams on each occasion so that would lead to the conclusion that Pulleine wasnt in that area. We also know that at one point Brickhill went looking for him. Its very probable then that Pulleine would have been down on the firing line, the question then would be if Coghill would have been with him or not. Or even did Coghill merely hear that Pulleine was shot?
Cheers
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