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 Death of the Prince Imperial BY ARCHIBALD FORBES

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PostSubject: Death of the Prince Imperial BY ARCHIBALD FORBES   Tue 17 Feb 2009 - 12:06

BY ARCHIBALD FORBES
I was with Herbert Stewart, the cavalry brigade-major,
when Carey came to him with Harrison's warrant for an
escort. Carey did not mention, nor did the document
state, that the escort was for the Prince Imperial. Stewart
ordered out six men of Beddington's Horse a curiously
mixed handful of diverse nationalities and he told Carey
that he would send Captain Shepstone an order for the
Basuto detail of the escort ; but that time would be saved
if Carey himself on his way back to headquarters would
hand Shepstone the order and give his own instructions.
Carey chose the latter alternative and departed. An hour
later, while I was still with Stewart, the six Basutos
paraded in front of his tent. Either Carey or Shepstone
had blundered in the instructions given them, that was
clear; but nothing could now be done but to order the
Basutos to hurry forward and try to overtake the other
instalment of the escort. Meanwhile the Prince had been
impatient; and he, Carey, and the white section of the
escort had gone on. Carey made no demur to the
scant escort, since nothing was to be apprehended and

since he himself had been recently chaffed for being
addicted to requisitioning inordinately large escorts. Harrison
later met the party some miles out, and sanctioned its
going forward notwithstanding that the Basutos had not
joined, which indeed they never succeeded in doing. The
party then consisted of the Prince, Carey, a sergeant, a
corporal, four troopers, and a black native guide nine
persons in all.
When Harrison had announced the tidings of the tragedy,
I went to my tent and sent for each of the four surviving
troopers in succession. They were all bad witnesses, and I
could not help suspecting that they were in collusion to keep
something back. All agreed, however, that Lieutenant Carey
headed the panic-flight ; and next day it transpired that,
when a mile away from the scene and still galloping wildly,
he was casually met by Sir Evelyn Wood and Colonel Buller,
to whom he exclaimed :
"
Fly ! Fly ! The Zulus are after
me and the Prince Imperial is killed !
" The evidence I took
on the night of the disaster, and that afterwards given before
the court of inquiry and the court-martial on Carey, may now
be briefly summarised.
The site of the intended camp having been planned out by
the Prince and Carey, the party ascended an adjacent hill
and spent an hour there in sketching the contours of the
surrounding country. No Zulus were visible in the wide
expanse surveyed from the hill- top. At its base, on a small
plain at the junction of the rivers Tambakala and Ityotyozi,
was the small Zulu kraal of Etuki, the few huts of which,
according to the Zulu custom, stood in a rough circle which
was surrounded on three sides at a little distance by a tall
growth of " mealies "
(Indian corn) and the high grass known
as "Kaffir corn." The party descended to this kraal, offsaddled,
fed the horses, made coffee, ate food, and then
reclined, resting against the wall of a hut in full sense of
assured safety. Some dogs skulking about the empty kraal
and the fresh ashes on the hearths might have warned them,
but they did not heed the suggestion thus afforded. About

three o'clock Corporal Grubbe, who understood the Basuto
language, reported the statement of the guide that he had
seen a Zulu entering the mealie-field in their front. Carey
proposed immediately saddling-up. The Prince desired ten
minutes' longer rest, and Carey did not expostulate. Then
the horses were brought up and saddled. Carey stated that
at this moment he saw black forms moving behind the screen
of tall grain, and informed the Prince. Throughout the day
the latter had acted in command of the escort, and he now
in soldierly fashion gave the successive orders,
"
Prepare to
mount !
" " Mount !
" Next moment, according to the
evidence, a volley of twenty or thirty bullets one witness
said forty bullets were fired into the party.
Let me be done with Carey for good and all. He had
mounted on the inner, the safe, side of the hut, and immediately
galloped off. On the night of the event he
expressed the opinion that the Prince had been shot dead at
the kraal, but owned that the first actual evidence of misfortune
of which he became cognisant was the Prince's riderless
horse galloping past him. The men were either less
active or less precipitate than was the officer. One of their
number fell at the kraal, another on the grassy level some
150 yards wide, between the kraal and a shallow "donga" or
gully across which ran the path towards the distant camp.
As to the Prince the testimony was fairly unanimous.
Sergeant Cochrane stated that he never actually mounted,
but had foot in stirrup when at the Zulu volley his horse,
a spirited grey sixteen hands high and always difficult to
mount, started off, presently broke away, and later was
caught by the survivors. Then the Prince tried to escape on
foot, and was last seen by Cochrane running into the donga,
from which he never emerged. Another trooper testified
that he saw the Prince try to mount, but that, not succeeding,
he ran by his horse's side for some little distance making
effort after effort to mount, till he either stumbled or fell in
a scrambling way and seemed to be trodden on by his horse.
But the most detailed evidence was given by trooper Lecocq,
a Channel-Islander. He stated that after their volley the

Zulus bounded out of cover, shouting
" Usuta !
"
(" Cowards ! ")
The Prince was unable to mount his impatient horse, scared
as it was by the fire. One by one the troopers galloped by
the Prince who, as he ran alongside his now maddened horse,
was endeavouring in vain to mount. As Lecocq passed lying
on his stomach across the saddle, not yet having got his seat,
he called to the Prince,
"
Depechez-vous, s'il vous plait,
Monseigneur !
" The Prince made no reply and was left alone
to his fate. His horse strained after that of Lecocq, who
then saw the doomed Prince holding his stirrup-leather with
one hand, grasping reins and pommel with the other, and
trying to remount on the run. No doubt he made one
desperate effort, trusting to the strength of his grasp on the
band of leather crossing the pommel from holster to holster.
That band tore under the strain. I inspected it next day and
found it no leather at all, but paper-faced so that the Prince's
fate really was attributable to shoddy saddlery. Lecocq saw
the Prince fall backwards, and his horse tread on him and
then gallop away. According to him the Prince regained his
feet and ran at full speed towards the donga on the track of
the retreating party. When for the last time the Jerseyman
turned round in the saddle, he saw the Prince still running,

pursued only a few yards behind by some twelve or fourteen
Zulus with assegais in hand which they were throwing at him.
None save the slayers saw the tragedy enacted in the donga.
Early next morning the cavalry brigade marched out to
recover the body, for there was no hope that anything save
the body was to be recovered. As the scene was neared,
some of us rode forward in advance. In the middle of the
little plain was found a body, savagely mutilated ; it was not
that of the Prince, but of one of the slain troopers. We found
the dead Prince in the donga, a few paces on one side of the
path. He was lying on his back, naked save for one sock ;
a spur bent out of shape was close to him. His head was so
bent to the right that the cheek touched the sward. His
hacked arms were lightly crossed over his lacerated chest, and
his face, the features of which were in no wise distorted but
wore a faint smile that slightly parted the lips, was marred by

the destruction of the right eye from an assegai-stab. The
surgeons agreed that this wound, which penetrated the brain,
was the first and the fatal hurt and that the subsequent
wounds were inflicted on a dead body. Of those there were
many, in throat, in chest, in side, and on arms, apart from the
nick in the abdomen which is the Zulu fetish-custom, invariably
practised on slain enemies as a protection against
being haunted by their ghosts. His wounds bled afresh as
we moved him. Neither on him nor on any of the three
other slain of the party was found any bullet-wound ; ah1 had
been killed by assegai-stabs. Round the poor Prince's neck
his slayers had left a little gold chain on which were strung
a locket set with a miniature of his mother, and a reliquary
containing a fragment of the true Cross which was given by
Pope Leo III. to Charlemagne when he crowned that great
Prince Emperor of the West, and which dynasty after dynasty
of French monarchs had since worn as a talisman. Very sad
and solemn was the scene as we stood around, silent all and
with bared heads, looking down on the untimely dead. The
Prince's two servants were weeping bitterly and there was a
lump in many a throat. An officer, his bosom friend at
Woolwich, detached the necklet and placed it in an envelope
with several locks of the Prince's short dark hair for transmission
to his mother, who a year later made so sad a
pilgrimage to the spot where we now stood over her dead son.
Then the body, wrapped in a cloak, was placed on the lanceshafts
of the cavalrymen, and on this extemporised bier the
officers of the brigade bore it up the ascent to the ambulancewaggon
which was in waiting. The same afternoon a solemn
funeral service was performed in the Itelezi camp, and later
in the evening the body, escorted by a detachment of cavalry,
began its pilgrimage to England, in which exile, in the chapel
at Farnborough, where the widowed wife and childless mother
now resides, the remains of husband and son now rest side
by side in their marble sarcophagi. The sword worn in
South Africa by the Prince, the veritable sword worn by the
first Napoleon from Arcola to Waterloo in reference to which
the Prince had been heard to say,
" I must earn a better right
to it than that which my name alone can give me" had
been carried off by his Zulu slayers, but was restored by
Cetewayo when Lord Chelmsford's army was closing in upon
Ulimdi.
To be slain by savages in an obscure corner of a remote
continent was a miserable end, truly, for him who once was
the Son of France !
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PostSubject: The curious case of the Prince Imperial   Sat 25 Jun 2011 - 18:34

By Charles Stephenson
The curious case of the Prince Imperial

"‘I regret to have to report’
On 2 June 1879 Lord Chelmsford, Lieutenant-General commanding in South Africa, wrote to Colonel Frederick Arthur Stanley, who, despite his inferior military rank, was, as Secretary of State for War in Disraeli’s administration, his political superior:

[The] Prince Imperial acting under orders of the Assistant Quarter Master General [Colonel R. Harrison] reconnoitred on 1st of June road to camping ground of 2nd of June accompanied by Lieutenant Carey …

The Prince Imperial and two troopers are reported missing by Lieut. Carey who escaped and reached this camp after dark. From the evidence taken there can be no doubt of the Prince being killed. 17th Lancers and ambulance are now starting to recover the body but I send this off at once hoping to catch mail.

I myself was not aware that Prince had been detailed for this duty.

This message was not the first tidings of woe that Chelmsford had despatched to Stanley that year, for on 27 January he had written ‘I regret to have to report a very disastrous engagement which took place on the 22nd [January] between the Zulus and a portion of No 3 Column left to guard a camp about 10 miles in front of Rorke’s Drift.’ This ‘very disastrous engagement’ was the battle of Isandlwana during the brief course of which over 1,300 men of Chelmsford’s force, both European and African, had perished after being surprised and defeated at camp by the Zulu main impi.
The political effects of this disaster were somewhat, but only somewhat, mitigated by the successful defence of Rorke’s Drift later that day – an engagement that saw no fewer than 11 Victoria Crosses awarded – but the strategic effects were profound; the invasion of Zululand was aborted as Chelmsford was forced to withdraw and redraft his plans. It was clear to him that he had gravely underestimated his enemy. Chelmsford’s generalship has been justly criticised over the Isandlwana debacle, but it must be conceded that he learned the lessons attendant upon it and issued strict instructions upon the tactical dispositions the forces under his command were to utilise for the second invasion, which commenced on 1 June, 1879.

Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, though moving swiftly to mitigate the fallout from Isandlwana by ensuring that the victory at Rorke’s Drift attained maximum publicity, was, as he said, ‘stricken’ by the defeat. Stricken he might have been, but his government swiftly made available reinforcements for the equally stricken Chelmsford to avenge the defeat. Amongst these was the Prince Imperial of France, only son of the late Emperor Napoleon III.

The Prince Imperial
Born on 16 March 1856, and baptised Napoléon Eugène Louis Jean Joseph at Notre Dame on 14 April, he had as godparents no less than His Holiness the Pope and Her Majesty the Queen of Sweden. His was, if his father had his way, to be a military life. Napoleon III, however, was not content to surround his only son and heir with ‘the halo of Napoleonic tradition’; he also fostered the belief that with the name he had inherited came the ability that had made that name great. That such talents are not necessarily heritable was to become abundantly clear in 1870 when war with Prussia ensued. The part played by the three principal members of the imperial family was brief; on 1 July the Chamber of Deputies voted war credits and on 15 July war was declared; on 28 July Napoleon III and the Prince Imperial took their leave of Paris, leaving the Empress Eugenie as regent, to go to the front where the emperor would take command of his armies. On 2 August, with Napoleon nominally in command the French advanced and briefly took Saarbrücken, where the heir, albeit from a fairly safe distance, saw the face of war for the first time in his life; the ‘Prince Imperial’s Baptism of Fire’ as one journalist was to put it. By 3 September Napoleon III had surrendered himself at Sedan to Wilhelm I, after sending the Prince Imperial to safety in England via Belgium, whilst the army there had capitulated to Moltke. The following day a Republic was declared and the Empress was forced to flee Paris, and seek safety in England. On 8 September Eugenie met with her son at Hastings, where they stayed at the Albion Hotel for two weeks before moving to Camden Place in Chislehurst, which she had rented for £500 per year from the owner, a Mr N. Strode. The descent from Imperial Regent to tenant-in-exile had indeed been precipitate. The Emperor joined them there on 20 March 1871.

The teenage Prince, bewildered no doubt by the dramatic change in his own and his family’s fortunes, proved somewhat impervious to attempts to educate him, that is until he decided, in 1872, to enrol as an officer cadet at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. This necessitated passing an entrance examination, for although the purchase of commissions had been abolished the previous year as part of the reforms of Edward Cardwell, Secretary of State for War from 1868–74, engineer and artillery officers had never been allowed to purchase, and all had to pass the RMA course as gentlemen cadets prior to receiving a commission. By dint of application the Prince Imperial, who had, at least in the eyes of Bonapartists, succeeded his father as Napoleon IV following the latter’s death on 9 January 1873, made a success of his time at the ‘Shop’, and passed out 7th in a class of 34 on 16 February 1875. Though he announced that he would not take a commission in the Royal Artillery he did make it plain that he felt a strong affinity with the regiment.

This affinity was given expression in the Prince’s application to attend the 1875 autumn manoeuvres, the granting of which was conveyed to him by no lesser personage than the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, the Duke of Cambridge, grandson of King George III and cousin of Queen Victoria:

I have great pleasure in assuring you that there will be no difficulty in carrying out your wishes, and … to your being attached to a battery … wearing the uniform of an officer of the corps. I can assure you that it affords me great pleasure to see you continuing your military studies … in so creditable and highly honourable a manner.

Queen Victoria herself was also a patroness of the young Prince, reflecting her friendship with the Empress no doubt, but also perhaps something of her liking for him. She had written to the Duke of Cambridge concerning the Prince Imperial and the 1875 manoeuvres:

I am very glad that it has been arranged that he should be attached to a battery of artillery – the more so as I believe that I am the person who first suggested it to him, indirectly, through Lord Cowley … when he spoke to me of what could be done to occupy him. It was also widely, if erroneously, believed that the Prince Imperial was destined for marriage to the youngest of Albert and Victoria’s brood, Princess Beatrice. Whatever other rumours might have surrounded him then, one thing was known: he had the entrée to the most exalted social circles in Britain, which is a fact that, it will be argued, had some bearing on his fate.

‘I am leaving Europe, and I may be away some months’
Sir Henry Bartle Frere, Governor of the Cape and High Commissioner for South Africa from 1877 to 1880, wanted a military solution to the Zulu ‘problem’, as he saw it, and accordingly was instrumental in arranging one. As the subsequent Court of Enquiry into the Zulu War of 1879 discovered, he had written before the campaign started of the need for it to begin and end with ‘a sharp and decisive success’. It certainly began with one at Isandlwana, but not for the British.

Getting himself attached to the reinforcements called for after the Isandlwana debacle had not been easy for the prince. He only achieved it by intensive lobbying at the highest level and up to Queen Victoria herself. However there was a crucial condition attached to his posting: his was not to be a combatant role. This might have been thought a fatal disability, because there is compelling evidence that the Prince Imperial’s desire to join the Zulu War had rather less to do with not wishing to ‘remain a stranger to the fatigues and the danger of those troops amongst whom I have so many comrades’, and much more to do with his political aspirations. This evidence comes, in part, from his own pen in a letter dated 20 April sent following his arrival in Africa: ‘The reasons that caused me to go are all political, and outside these, nothing influenced my decision.’ One, at least, of these political reasons was the result of the elections held in France the previous year when the republican parties had, for the first time since the demise of Napoleon III, gained an ascendancy.

That he harboured hopes of a restoration of the dynasty whose name he bore might appear ridiculous in retrospect, but this was by no means the case at the time. Republican France, in its third such incarnation, was far from politically stable, and there was a substantial, though by 1879 ebbing body of opinion in favour of ushering in a new imperial era under the aegis of the young Napoleon IV. Opponents of this view were acutely aware that in his person resided the hopes of the imperialist party, and for this reason they took great pains to ridicule him.

The prince stepped off a ship for the last time on 31 March at Durban with two letters of introduction to Lord Chelmsford; from the Duke of Cambridge and the governor of the Woolwich Academy, Sir Lintorn Simmons. Chelmsford was otherwise occupied at the time with planning his second invasion of Zululand, and therefore unable to receive him. The prince wrote to his mother on 2 April and again expressed his desire for action: ‘My regret is not to be with those who are fighting; you know me well enough to judge how bitter it is. But all is not over and I shall have my revenge upon my ill luck.’ Had the Prince Imperial been able to somehow contrive his presence at Rorke’s Drift, he would have gained the glory he sought in abundance. That had been a consequence of the disaster of Isandlwana and Chelmsford was determined that there would be no repetition of such an action during his second invasion of Zululand, though he was still to complain (in a letter of 1 May) that certain officers had, apparently, learned nothing from this debacle.

The death of the Prince Imperial
Much ink has been expended in relating and analysing the action that led to the death of the Prince Imperial. The only sources for what happened are the statements of the survivors and the later evidence provided by the attackers, and the basic facts are well known.

The prince had taken part in two reconnaissance patrols over the period of 13–20 May and had exhibited an alarming propensity to hazard himself and others by dashing off after individual Zulus whenever he spotted them. He was then grounded by Chelmsford, the C-in-C tactfully ‘asking’ him to ‘accompany’ his headquarters for the future, and so keep out of possible contact with the enemy and thus harm’s way. This was effective until 1 June, the date that Chelmsford began his main advance back into Zululand. On that day there was a muddle, or rather a series of muddles. The end result was that the Prince Imperial, Lt. Jaheel Carey, Sergeant Robert Willis, Corporal Grubb, Troopers Le Tocq, Abel, Cochrane and Rogers and an African guide, whom nobody apparently bothered to remember the name of, went on a patrol into Zululand. Their ostensible purpose was two-fold: to reconnoitre a site for the use of the 2nd Division on the following night, and for Lt. Carey to complete some cartographic work. Prior to setting off the Prince wrote a short note to his mother. A postscript, the last line he was ever to write, touched on French politics, specifically the election of a Bonapartist Deputy in Paris: ‘I’ve just heard of the fine election of M. Godelle. Please let him know that I am delighted at the good news’.

Setting off at around 9am the patrol was some eight miles beyond the site of the camp it was supposed to be reconnoitring by about 3pm, and the decision was made by the Prince to halt for coffee at an apparently deserted kraal. This decision and the subsequent sequence of events are evidenced by statements given by the survivors the following day. According to these accounts, given by Willis, Grubb, Le Tocq, and Cochrane, it emerges that the Prince Imperial gave the orders to unsaddle the horses and rest for a period of time; all four are unanimous on this point. Only Corporal Grubb mentioned the presence of several dogs in the vicinity and that there were traces of recent Zulu occupation. None of them mention at what time they actually arrived at the kraal. But Le Tocq and Cochrane said that they were there an hour, whilst Willis and Grubb stated that the Prince Imperial said at one point that the time was 3.50pm and the horses should have ten minutes more rest. Grubb, the only member of the party who could speak his language, reported that the guide told him he had seen a Zulu across the river when he returned the horses from watering. The party prepared to mount, the four being unanimous that it was the Prince Imperial who gave the orders ‘prepare to mount’ and then ‘mount’.

Almost simultaneously with the last order there was a volley of fire from the cover around the kraal and the horses, frightened by the noise, panicked. Trooper Rogers lost his horse and, according to Grubb, took shelter behind a hut. The rest mounted as best they could, Le Cocq said that he lay across the saddle as he couldn’t get his feet into the stirrups, and bolted. According to Grubb, Trooper Abel was struck in the back by a bullet as they fled, and Abel must have been one of the two men that Willis stated he saw falling from their horses. What of the Prince Imperial?

Grubb said that he looked back and ‘saw the Prince was clinging to the stirrup-leather and saddle underneath his horse, and he then fell. His horse, as far as I could make out, trampled on him’. The last man of the party to actually see the Prince alive was Cochrane, who said that when he was about fifty yards from the kraal he ‘saw the Prince on foot, closely pursued by [about a dozen] Zulus’. Subsequent cross-examination of these witnesses, described by their commanding officer as ‘trustworthy’, was not to materially alter these facts as established by them. The cross-examinations took place at the subsequent court-martial of Lieutenant Carey, whose position was rendered unenviable by the events described, as well he knew. Carey’s 2 June statement then was something of an exculpatory exercise on his own behalf;

… as the men vaulted into the saddles I saw the black faces of Zulus about twenty yards off rushing towards us … They shouted and fired upon us as we rode off. I thought that all were mounted, and, knowing that the men’s carbines were unloaded, I judged it better to clear the long grass before making a stand. Knowing from experience the bad shooting of the Zulus, I did not expect that anyone was injured. I therefore shouted as we neared the donga, ‘we must form up on the other side. See to the retreat of everyone.

Unfortunately for Carey, none of the others recalled him giving that last order, not that it could have made the slightest material difference to the situation.

The fate of the Prince was ascertained by the recovery of his body and by later statements from some of his assailants. Having been unable to mount his horse as it galloped away, he had indeed fallen and been trampled as reported by Grubb and le Tocq. Upon regaining his feet he had tried to run for it pursued by some seven Zulus, but, unsurprisingly, he had been unable to outdistance them and had turned to face them. After firing two ineffectual revolver shots the Prince Imperial of France was overwhelmed and stabbed to death. Surgeon-Major Scott, who examined the body the next day in situ, later made the following statement:

He died, in my opinion where I found him. He was lying on his back with the left arm across, in a position of self defence. I counted eighteen assegai wounds, all in front. It is true there were two wounds found on his back, but from their nature I am satisfied that they were the terminations of wounds inflicted in front. Any one of five of the wounds would have proved mortal. There were no bullet wounds. I believe the body was not moved . . . [because] … there were no abrasions on … [it] … indicating that he had been dragged. There was a patch of blood underneath the head and neck, caused, apparently, by a wound he received on the side of the neck, and also by a wound through the right eyeball. The body was stripped …

If the Prince Imperial had not died a hero he had certainly not died a coward. But he was dead, and as is the enduring way with humankind, when something goes wrong someone has to be blamed.

Misbehaviour before the enemy
The man chosen to take the blame was Lieutenant Jahleel Brenton Carey. He was tried by Field General Court Martial on 12 June 1879, the indictment being:

For having misbehaved before the enemy on June 1st, when in command of an escort in attendance on the Prince Imperial, who was making a reconnaissance in Zululand; in having, when the said Prince and escort were attacked by the enemy, galloped away, and in not having fully attempted to rally the said escort or in other ways defend the Prince.

Carey defended himself vigorously, claiming that he had not been in command of the patrol, and that the Prince Imperial had chosen the spot to rest; that he had not known that the Prince had become unhorsed; and that he had tried to rally the survivors after the rush to safety. He was sent back to Britain to await the findings of the court, which were not published at the time.

The death of the Prince Imperial caused, so it is said, a greater shock to the populace of Britain, and certainly France, than the disaster of Isandlwana. Perusal of contemporary newspapers would seem to indicate that this was indeed the case, and in an early manifestation of what we would now call ‘public opinion’ the blame for the fate of the Prince was laid, not at the door of Lieutenant Carey, but rather with the higher echelons of the British Army, whether at home, in Africa, or both. Carey had assumed the position of scapegoat in the ‘opinion’ of the ‘public’.

If one were to itemise all the things not to do when reconnoitring Zulu territory, the patrol covered the list completely, and it is legitimate to conclude this without resorting to hindsight. That the Zulus were a brave and resourceful enemy was, in June 1879, a fact well known. The only area where they were inferior to the British forces was that of firepower and, against men on horseback, mobility. Armed essentially with weapons only effective at close range they had to be prevented from getting close by the use of effective and controlled firepower, and it was thus essential to be able to see them in good time. Since, at the time, effective firepower could only be delivered by large groups of men, groups that could not deliver it were only able to avoid defeat by utilising tactics of avoidance through superior mobility. Chelmsford’s tactical instructions following Isandlwana show that he had learned these lessons. The behaviour, or misbehaviour, of the nine men of the patrol indicates that they either ignored, or were ignorant of, these lessons learned so painfully. Much has since been made of the uncertainty as to exactly who was in command of the patrol, indeed it formed a central plank of Carey’s defence that he was not in command. Who was actually formally in command of the patrol was irrelevant before the attack. From the consequences of the attack it would appear that nobody competent was in command. The Prince Imperial certainly gave the critical orders, but the results show that he was incompetent to command.

There are a number of obvious points that support such a contention; perhaps the first being that the patrol was some eight or ten miles beyond the position that it had set out to survey; around twenty miles inside Zululand. Carey argued that they thought the area was clear of the enemy. This is an astonishing assumption in the light of what had gone before, and well might Chelmsford have noted that some had learned nothing from Isandlwana. There was also the choice of place to take a rest for an hour - a position surrounded by cover. The only possible legitimate reason for selecting and utilising such a site would have been the assurance, not the assumption, that there were no enemy in the vicinity, a condition that also applies to the failure to post a lookout. Corporal Grubb, a man of much experience, later related that he was unhappy with the arrangements for safety made at the kraal – but he did not see fit to raise this matter with anyone at the time. To compound the first two errors the weapons that six of the patrol carried were unloaded, thus depriving them of instant access to the first necessity, however inadequate their single shot carbines would have been in practice, of fighting Zulus – firepower. The second essential, especially if firepower was lacking, was mobility, and this was discarded by the decision to unsaddle the horses. These errors together ensured that the patrol had lost any fight before it started. They were helpless to do anything but flee in disorder – every man for himself.

There is no evidence that any of the men of the patrol had shown previous signs of incompetence, yet all, including, remarkably, the guide, acquiesced in the arrangements. Most accounts cease mentioning him after he drew Grubb’s attention to his sighting of a lone Zulu, but surely here was one person with knowledge of Zulu methodology, yet even he seemed to show unconcern over any possible danger and paid for it with his life. The six men of the Natal Horse were irregulars, and thus unaccustomed to what might be termed proper military discipline. They were less likely to respect bad orders simply because they came from an officer. Nevertheless they too participated in this act of negligence, and two of them paid for it with their lives.

Why Lieutenant Carey submitted himself to the will of the Prince Imperial is easier to understand and can probably be summed up in two words: social deference. As stated previously, the Prince Imperial was known to move in the most exalted social circles and was rumoured to be linked romantically with a royal princess. Carey was from a firmly middle-class background, his father being a clergyman, and had originally been commissioned into the socially unprestigious 3rd West Indian Regiment. In the class-based hierarchical society of the time these factors had an importance difficult to grasp today. In addition, Carey had spent his formative years from the age of eight to sixteen in France during the reign of the Prince’s father, Napoleon III. He spoke fluent French and was thoroughly Francophile. On the fateful day he was in the company of a personage socially elevated in British society, and one moreover that may well have become the ruler of France as Napoleon IV. It becomes quite possible to understand why Carey deferred to the Prince Imperial in the way he did.

‘… the charge is not sustained by the evidence …’
The Prince Imperial had gone to Africa with the support of Queen Victoria and the Duke of Cambridge in order to make his name as a military figure commensurate with the family name he bore. This he had done for political purposes, in furtherance of which he determined to take an active and, he hoped, heroic part in the campaign whenever the opportunity arose. The local commanders, principally Chelmsford, had tried to restrain him, but through a series of muddles he contrived to evade their strictures by venturing out with Carey, whom he was able to overawe. The consequence was that he met his end in distinctly unheroic circumstances, being surprised whilst, in effect, picnicking. That he got the patrol into such a militarily untenable situation is compelling evidence that if his great-uncle’s abilities were indeed heritable, they had skipped more than one generation.

Carey, having survived, was the one that had to answer the charge of ‘misbehaviour before the enemy’. He was found guilty, though with a recommendation for mercy, and this finding was transmitted to the Duke of Cambridge for his confirmation. The received wisdom until recently has been that the Duke decided that the court’s findings were too severe and that there had been mitigating circumstances. Carey, he judged, should not suffer dismissal and official disgrace, and he was so informed in a letter of 16 August 1879:

… Her Majesty has been advised that the charge is not sustained by the evidence, and accordingly has been graciously pleased not to confirm the proceedings, and to direct that the prisoner be relieved from all consequences of his trial. Captain [promotion effective 6 June 1879] Carey is released from arrest and will rejoin his regiment for duty"
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PostSubject: Re: Death of the Prince Imperial BY ARCHIBALD FORBES   Sat 25 Jun 2011 - 21:05

This about wraps it up.

Quote :
The Prince Imperial had gone to Africa with the support of Queen Victoria and the Duke of Cambridge in order to make his name as a military figure commensurate with the family name he bore. This he had done for political purposes, in furtherance of which he determined to take an active and, he hoped, heroic part in the campaign whenever the opportunity arose. The local commanders, principally Chelmsford, had tried to restrain him, but through a series of muddles he contrived to evade their strictures by venturing out with Carey, whom he was able to overawe. The consequence was that he met his end in distinctly unheroic circumstances, being surprised whilst, in effect, picnicking. That he got the patrol into such a militarily untenable situation is compelling evidence that if his great-uncle’s abilities were indeed heritable, they had skipped more than one generation.
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PostSubject: Re: Death of the Prince Imperial BY ARCHIBALD FORBES   Sun 26 Jun 2011 - 12:13

The British army has obviously learnt a few lessons since then on protecting celebrity royal military tourists. Both Harry and William have done a tour of the war on terror and made it safely back to blighty. Same with Prince ANdrew in the Falklands.
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PostSubject: Re: Death of the Prince Imperial BY ARCHIBALD FORBES   Sun 26 Jun 2011 - 16:02

Harry was only there for about a day. :lol!:
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PostSubject: Re: Death of the Prince Imperial BY ARCHIBALD FORBES   Thu 12 Jul 2012 - 10:40

I was reading, another course of the princes demised, is because his trousers were to tight.
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PostSubject: Re: Death of the Prince Imperial BY ARCHIBALD FORBES   Sun 29 Sep 2013 - 22:18

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PostSubject: Re: Death of the Prince Imperial BY ARCHIBALD FORBES   Sun 29 Sep 2013 - 23:02

Gentleman, i am very interested in this
aspect,great post. cheers xhosa
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PostSubject: Re: Death of the Prince Imperial BY ARCHIBALD FORBES   Sun 29 Sep 2013 - 23:36

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PostSubject: Re: Death of the Prince Imperial BY ARCHIBALD FORBES   Mon 30 Sep 2013 - 22:52

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PostSubject: Re: Death of the Prince Imperial BY ARCHIBALD FORBES   Mon 2 Dec 2013 - 1:36

"The Prince Imperial

by Alf Wade
This article is the text of a talk to the S.A. Military History Society by Mr Alf Wade, of Vryheid, Natal, in March, 1974.

Situated on the common at Chislehunt in Kent is a 20-foot Maltese cross which appears to be a local war memorial. The inscription on the base is as follows:
'I shall die with a sentiment of the deepest gratitude to Her Majesty the Queen of England, to all the Royal Family and to the country where, for eight years, I have received such cordial hospitality.'

Did this unusual person, intimate with the Royal Family, erect a memorial to himself? The answer to that is set out below in less eye-catching script:
'In memory of the Prince Imperial and in sorrow at his death, this cross is erected by the residents of Chislehurst 1880.'

The strange first-person message does, in fact, quote the actual words of the Prince Imperial. He wrote this sentence as the sixth clause of his will the day before he sailed for South Africa, where as a young Royal Artillery subaltern, he met a lonely and terrible death facing hopeless odds.

Napoleon Eugene Louis Jean Joseph, the Prince Imperial of France, was born at the Tuileries, Paris, on 16th March, 1856, in what was the most glorious year of the recently established Second French Empire. Shortly after three o'clock in the morning, the guns at Les Invalides began to boom a one hundred and one gun salute. Not many people were aware of or even bothered to count, the shots, and it was morning before the public learned that the Empress Eugenie had been safely delivered of a son. The birth was a semi-public affair with hordes of official witnesses, including the Emperor's cousin, Prince Napoleon, known as 'Plon-Plon', who had just been relegated to third place in the line of Imperial succession. The young prince was the son of Napoleon III (1808-1873), Emperor of France and third son of Louis Bonaparte (King of Holland, during the ascendency of his brother, the great Emperor). His mother was Eugenie Marie de Guzman, the beautiful younger daughter of the Spanish Count de Montijo and his Scottish wife, Donna Maria Kirkpatrick. They were married in the Cathedral of Notre Dame on January 30th, 1853, before the Archbishop of Paris and many other important dignitaries.

The joy of the Emperor and Empress at the birth of their son was unbounded and it was expressed not only in gracious words to the almost endless deputations that daily came to the Palace from far and near to congratulate the Sovereign and his consort, but also by all manner of acts of grace and benevolence. There were amnesties to offenders, substantial donations to charitable institutions and individuals in need, not to mention various privileges and favours to towns and societies. Every legitimate child born in France on the same day received a present and was accorded the honour of having the Emperor and Empress as godparents.

His mother, Eugenie, was a remarkable person. She spent over fifty years in England and died in 1920. Her political insight was striking and it is worth recalling her reaction at the age of 92 to the Treaty of Versailles:
'This is no peace', she said 'these are the seeds of future war.'

The private baptism of the young Prince took place at the Palace on the 17th March, 1856, while the public baptism at Notre Dame on June 15th was an imposing event. Pope Pius IX agreed to be the Prince's godfather and the many cardinals, bishops, princes, ministers, noblemen and women added further colourful splendour to the historic building. The vast congregation witnessed an event that seemed to promise so well for the future of France.

Among the many gifts to the little Prince, perhaps the most remarkable was that from the City of Paris. This took the form of a magnificent cradle, representing an ancient Norman nef or ship, adorned with suitable devices, including the Imperial Eagle and a guardian figure holding aloft the Imperial Crown.

The Prince's education began at the age of seven; his first tutor was M. Monnier who taught him to read and write. As both his parents spoke English well and his devoted nurse, Miss Shaw, was English, the Prince in due course acquired a good knowledge of English. Latin, history and literature followed and he was found to have a flair for mathematics. On 8th May, 1868, at the age of twelve, the young Prince was confirmed by the Archbishop of Paris and took his First Holy Communion. When he was fourteen, the Franco-Prussian War broke out, on 19th July, 1870, and, attired in the uniform of a 'sous-lieutenant', he rode off with his father who was to take personal command of the French forces.

On August 2nd, the Prince received his military initiation in the famous skirmish at Saarbrachen where he saw shells explode and men with bandaged limbs, and picked a spent bullet off the ground. The soldiers were amazed at the courage of the boy of fourteen in a real battle. The war did not last long and, in a brief letter, Napoleon III surrendered to the King of Prussia. That letter dated 2nd September, 1870, spelt the end of the French Empire. Napoleon was taken prisoner of war and the young Prince, conducted by a faithful guardian, joined his mother at the Marine Hotel in Hastings, England, where she had arrived a few days earlier.

Towards the end of September, 1870, the Empress and the Prince took up their residence at Camden House, an estate in the district of Chislehurst, Kent, about half an hour's railway journey from London. Soon afterwards, the Emperor arrived after his release by the Prussians. In England, Napoleon III and his family found refuge and were befriended by Queen Victoria.

In 1872 the Prince became a military cadet at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and was attached to the Royal Horse Artillery at Aldershot. During his stay at Woolwich, his father died on 9th January, 1873, and he became head of the Bonapartist Party in France. He was a popular person at the Academy and was even admitted to the highly unofficial 'Alpine Club', a practice of which was to decorate the towers and spires of Woolwich with chamberpots on the eve of the annual inspection by the Duke of Cambridge.

At graduation in 1875, Louis achieved first place in riding and fencing and ranked seventh over-all in a class of 34 cadets. He might have come fourth had he sat for the examination in French, but he refused to take unfair advantage of his classmates. Political circumstances prevented his taking a commission in the British Army but, by permission of Queen Victoria, he was attached to 'A' Battery, Royal Artillery, with the privilege of wearing the uniform of a lieutenant Royal Artillery. He took part in the annual manoeuvres at Aldershot and elsewhere.

In the Army he made his greatest friends - Captains Woodhouse, Slade and Arthur John Bigge. All three were to become famous, Woodhouse and Slade as generals, while Bigge, who was private secretary to Queen Victoria for many years, was created Baron Stamfordham by George V in 1911. Slade and Bigge fought the Zulus at Kambula and later returned to South Africa with Colonel Wood and the party which escorted Eugenie when she made her pilgrimage there in 1880.

The Prince's name was romantically linked with many famous women, including Queen Victoria's daughter, Princess Beatrice. By this time, the Zulu War had broken out and many of his friends had gone to the front. Louis asked to be allowed to go but Disraeli would not agree. Then came the horrifying news of Isandhlwana, and after further appeals, he was granted permission to go out in his private capacity as a 'spectator' in the role of additional aide-de-camp to Lord Chelmsford. The French exploded and a host of rumours swept the land. Louis, ignoring the storm, told his party that he wished to take advantage of an opportunity to gain experience and improve his knowledge of military matters.

He wrote out his will on 27th February, 1879, directing that, if he were killed, he should be buried beside his father until such time as their bodies could rest in French soil. He made several generous bequests and left his weapons to his closest comrades. A rather peculiar request concerned his uniforms which he left to his friends, except '... the last I shall have worn, which I bequeath to my Mother.' He signed the will 'Napoleon' - the first and only document in this manner. He sailed on the 'Danube' from Southampton on 28th February, 1879. He had hoped that they would call at St. Helena but they touched at Madeira instead.

On 26th March, 1879, the ship docked in Table Bay where he was entertained by the Governor of the Cape, Sir Bartle Frere and Lady Frere. The ship sailed for Durban the next day and arrived on 31st March. Most of Durban was at the Point to greet him as he came ashore in the uniform of a British lieutenant.

Destiny took a sinister hand in Durban. One of his two horses was killed in a landing accident, and the other was taken ill. While visiting the Royal Hotel one day, Louis glanced out of a window and noticed a civilian trotting past on a magnificent grey. The rider turned out to be the managing director of Randles, Brother and Hudson and the horse was named Percy. After some discussion, Mr. Bennett sold the animal to Louis. Shortly afterwards, the second of his two horses died and he purchased another which he named Fate.

At this time, Lord Chelmsford was busy preparing for the second invasion of Zululand and on 17th April, accompanied by the Prince Imperial, he moved his head- quarters from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. Louis was one of the earliest patrons of the Oaks Hotel and outside the Imperial Hotel can be seen a hitching rail which he used. Chelmsford then moved up country and the Prince, following a few days later, caught up with him at Dundee. They made their way to Kambula to visit Evelyn Wood, travelling via Landman's Drift, Koppie Alleen and Conference Hill. At Kambula, Louis met his great friends, Lieutenants Arthur Bigge and Frederick Slade. These two men had served their guns in the open during the attack on the Kambula Camp on March 29th.

They moved on, travelling via Conference Hill and Balte Spruit to Utrecht where Chelmsford set up his headquarters on 8th May, 1879. Louis was now attached to the staff of Colonel Richard Harrison, RE, who was acting Quarter-Master General and whose major concern was to find a suitable way south and east from the Blood River into Zululand.

Louis was in fact sent out on two patrols into Zululand. The first, on 16th May 1879 from Koppie Alleen under Colonel Harrison, was a day patrol only. The second, under Commandant Bettington leading Troop '3' of the Natal Horse, was more venturesome. The Natal Horse was raised in February 1879 after Isandhlwana and consisted of the NCOs of the disbanded 3rd Regiment NNC in three troops. Bettington had 6o mounted men under his command. They penetrated into Zululand as far as the headwaters of the Nordwent River and then returned to the base camp at Conference Hill.

On Sunday 1st June, the Second Division moved towards its new camp just north of the Itelezi Hill (Fort Warwick), The day's orders called for a patrol to proceed about ten miles south east to select a suitable site for the advancing Second Division. Louis volunteered to lead this patrol but, since he was not officially an officer, he could not command the patrol. At this stage, Lieutenant Jaheel Brenton Carey applied for permission to join the patrol to verify some observations made previously. At 9.15 a.m., they left the Koppie Alleen camp.

In addition to Louis and Carey, the patrol consisted of six of Bettington's troopers. They were Corporal Grubb, a Natal farmer and a veteran of 16 years in the RA; Le Tocq, a French-speaking Channel Islander; and Troopers Abel, Rogers, Cochrane and Willis. There was also a Zulu guide mounted on Louis' horse Fate while Louis himself was on Percy. Also with them was Louis' little fox terrier. Just out of camp, they came across Colonel Harrison who rode with them for about an hour. Harrison, noticing the absence of Bettington, assumed that Carey was replacing him.

The patrol rode down the valley to the west and by noon had reached the end of the ridge where they halted while Louis made a quiet sketch of the countryside. By 3 p.m. they had reached a deserted kraal about 230 yards further on, and they off-saddled and knee-haltered their horses. Coffee was soon made and everyone relaxed. Carey and Louis were discussing Napoleon Bonaparte's campaigns. No lookout was posted as the area appeared clear of the enemy.

At about 4 p.m., the Zulu guide reported that some Zulus had been seen In the neighbourhood. Scarcely had the order to mount been given than a volley ripped out of the long grass nearby, causing a stampede. About 40 Zulus charged out of the grass screaming. The Prince made desperate efforts to mount his horse but was impeded by the animal's terrified rearing and plunging. With the Zulus now closing in, he decided to run with the horse, holding the stirrup leather. When it broke, he found himself alone with his sword and revolver and he turned to meet his death. He fired three shots with his left hand as his right hand had been trampled by his horse as it fled.

Despite being hit by an assegai, Louis held the Zulus back for an instant, defending himself with the weapon which had hit him but the odds were overwhelming. It was over in a few moments and he was stabbed to death.

Rogers fared no better. When the first shots were fired, his horse bolted and he was last seen trying to load his rifle. He did not have a hope. Trooper Abel managed to mount but, as he moved off a bullet smacked into his back. He threw up his hands and slid off his horse.

The next morning, search parties were sent out from Wood's camp as well as from the camp of the Second Division. The body of Trooper Abel, badly mangled and naked, was discovered first about a hundred yards from the kraal. Nearby was Rogers, also naked with his belly ripped open. At this spot lay the body of the Prince. He too was naked except for a thin gold chain with a medal and his great-uncle's seal about his neck. There were no less than seventeen separate wounds in his body, all in front. The ground about was bloody and trampled, and nearby were the speared remains of his terrier. Later seven Zulus, captured at Ulundi, testified that the Prince had fought like a lion.

The body was placed on a blanket, carried to a nearby ambulance and taken to the camp on Itelezi Hill. Here the viscera were removed and buried in a biscuit box while the body was crudely embalmed by the surgeons as well as possible with the materials (mainly salt) available. The body was sent back to Natal accompanied by an escort of Natal Carbineers. The party travelled via Koppie Alleen, Vegkop, Landman's Drift, Dundee and so to Pietermaritzburg where they arrived on Sunday, 8th June. There were impressive ceremonies in Pietermaritzburg; even Colenso and Macrorie made a rare mutual appearance. The body lay during the night in the Catholic Church in Loop Street (now St. Mary's, School Lane).

By 11th June the cortege had reached Durban where the whole town turned out to pay their last respects. The coffin was taken aboard HMS Boadicea and conveyed to Cape Town where it was transferred to HMS Orontes which arrived in Plymouth on July 10th.

The casket was opened in the chapel at Woolwich for formal identification by the Prince's Doctor, Dr Conneau, and an American dentist, Dr Evans. The obsequies in the Chapel at Chislehurst were conducted by Cardinal Manning. Over 40 000 people attended the funeral, including Queen Victoria and her daughter, Beatrice. The pall-bearers were the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of Connaught, Crown Prince Gustave of Sweden and two Frenchmen.

An unfeeling person sent the dead Prince's Mother a box containing the blood-stained remains of his uniform, smeared with mud from the donga. In 1888, his remains, together with those of his father, were re-interred in the crypt of Farnborough Abbey, Hampshire. There Louis rests with his parents.

In 1880, Eugenie visited South Africa. In the company of Sir Evelyn and Lady Wood, Bigge and Slade, they visited Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Seven Oaks, Greytown and Utrecht. They lunched on the Kambula battlefield on 16th May and, on May 21st, erected a stone cross on Campbell's grave on Eastern Hlobane. They crossed Hlobane, descending via the Devil's Pass where Buller won his VC. They also visited the grave of Piet Uys at the foot of the pass. On 1st June 1880, on the anniversary of her son's death, Eugenie spent the night in prayer at the very spot where he was killed. Towards dawn, a very strange thing happened. 'Although there was not a breath of air', she says, 'the flames of the candles were suddenly deflected, as if someone wished to extinguish them, and I said to him. "Is it indeed you beside me? Do you wish me to go away?"'

Slowly she rose and walked to her tent in the early light. Her pilgrimage was over!

The Prince Imperial's Prayer

It is written in his own hand and was found in his prayer-book. Translated into English, it runs as follows:

'My God I give Thee my heart, but Thou, give me faith. Without faith there can be no ardent prayer, and prayer is one of my soul's needs.
'I pray to Thee, not that Thou shouldst remove the obstacles that stand in my way, but that Thou shouldst allow me to overcome them.
'I pray to Thee, not to disarm my foes, but that Thou shouldst aid me to conquer myself and deign, O God, to hear my prayer.
'Preserve to my affection those who are dear to me. Grant them lives of happiness. If Thou wilt shed upon this earth only a certain sum of joy, O God, take my share from me.
'Distribute it among those most worthy, and let the worthiest be my friends. If Thou wouldst make reprisals upon me strike me.
'Misfortune is turned to joy by the sweet thought that those whom one loves are happy.
'Fortune is poisoned by this bitter thought: I am glad and those whom I love a thousandfold more than myself are suffering. Let there be no more good fortune, O God, for me. I flee from it. Take it from my path.
'Joy I may not find save in forgetting the past. If I forget those who are no more, I shall be forgotten in my turn, and how sad is the thought which makes one say "Time wipes out everything".
'O my God, show me always where my duty lies; give me strength always to do it. When I have come to the end of my life, I shall turn my eyes towards the past without fear. Its memory will not be for me a long remorse. Then shall I be happy. Instil deeper into my heart, O God, that the conviction that those whom I love and who have died are the witnesses of all my actions. My life will be worthy for them to see, and my inmost thoughts will never cause me to blush.'
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PostSubject: Re: Death of the Prince Imperial BY ARCHIBALD FORBES   Mon 2 Dec 2013 - 22:40

hiya sas1, what an epic tale! it caused
more fuss than Isandhlwana! and of
course put an end to a dynasty, great
post! xhosa
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