Zulu Dawn: General Lord Chelmsford: For a savage, as for a child, chastisement is sometimes a kindness. Sir Henry Bartle Frere: Let us hope, General, that this will be the final solution to the Zulu problem
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 (Blaming of Durnford for the Isandlwana Disaster) ZULU by Saul David

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PostSubject: (Blaming of Durnford for the Isandlwana Disaster) ZULU by Saul David   Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:35 pm

durnfordthescapegoat. Have you read this book. See below .

Review Written by Kentspur

It is almost a rite of passage for men of a certain age to have seen - and fallen in love with (in a manly way) - the film 'Zulu' with Stanley Baker and, of course, Michael Caine.

Such men can be spotted by their occassional use of phrases like 'sixty, I think we got sixty' or 'hold them, hold them!' etc etc. Fascination with the Zulu War bites early and holds on. When I was a kid, the classic was 'The Washing of the Spears' by Donald Morris - a book I have bought and given away three times. Now, in all good bookshops, it's Saul David's work.

As a long-standing Zulu War reader, I think it's pretty jolly good. He doesn't spend too much time in tortuous descriptions of Zulu life prior to the war - as some writers have done - and cuts to the heart of Lord Chelmsford's perfidy (in the blaming of Durnford for the Isandlwana dsiaster) more effectively than any book I've read. For David, there is no real 'mystery' as to who was primarily at fault at Isandlwana; it was Lord Chelmsford. The slimy set-up of the dead Colonel - led by Chelmsford's odious 'aide de camp' Colonel Crealock - is well-described with fluent indignation.

Chelmsford's failures after the Isandlwana catastrophe are also made revealingly clear. His abandonment of his own line of communication so he could not be superseded by his replacement Garnet Wolseley and his indecent haste to clear the site of the final battle at Ulundi so there could be no humliating reverse speak volumes about the fundamental 'rotter-ness' of the man.

David's book is not perfect. I have just finished 'Red Sabbath' by Robert Kershaw on Custer's Last Stand and the military precision and insight Kershaw brings to that colonial disaster would be well applied to Isandlwana. David does not have the clearest of narratives through that astonishing battle, but - don't get me wrong - it's not bad. Kershaw's book is exceptional and David - a Victorian specialist - does really well with the context of the war and mind-set of the men involved.

I was amused to see the most popular 'critical' review, which - judging from the books the 'customer' says they have authored - appears to come from Zulu War obsessive Ian Knight. Mr Knight has written an awful lot of books on the Zulu War and, prior to Mr David's intervention, was the 'go to' guy on the conflict. I'm not being nasty, but nothing Mr Knight has written (and sad to say I've read a lot of it) is anywhere near as good as what Saul David has produced and his 'review' is - well - a bit sour and stinks of grapes. Naughty Saul David not knowing how the rockets were fired! That's the big stuff, isn't it?

I think this is an excellent account of the most famous of Victoria's little wars.
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PostSubject: Re: (Blaming of Durnford for the Isandlwana Disaster) ZULU by Saul David   Fri Mar 13, 2009 12:08 pm

Thanks for the reference. I will get hold of Saul's Book. It would seem that the AZW fraternity is quite a small but divided one. The only reviews of Saul's book that I read were quite neagtive and so I had not really got round to reading it. I did enjoy his book on teh Indian Mutiny though. Over on the other forum currently al lot of rather nasty things have been said about Mr David, which I think is unfair. So in conclusion I will read Saul's book and decide for myself.
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PostSubject: Re: (Blaming of Durnford for the Isandlwana Disaster) ZULU by Saul David   Fri Mar 13, 2009 9:01 pm


The real truth of what took place on that 'black Wednesday' will never be known, as not only are all the excutive military officers dead; but. of the fugitives who escaped, not one was in a position to say what orders were given or from whom they were received, as they either belonged to the native infantry or cavalry,and therefore fighting outside the camp.

It seems that some officer in command of the camp that day not only neglected his duty by not fulfilling the orders given, but also forgot the most simple military rules laid for warfare against the Zulus in a book published officially, entitled 'Regulations for field forces in South Africa.

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Saul David 1879

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PostSubject: Re: (Blaming of Durnford for the Isandlwana Disaster) ZULU by Saul David   Fri Mar 13, 2009 11:29 pm

The senior officer who fell at Isandhlwana—with having disobeyed his orders, and so caused the disaster. This attack was followed up by Lord Chelmsford in a letter in the Times of August 25th; and in a speech (House ofLords) on the 2nd of September.The statements made by Lord Chelmsford, on which he bases his charge, are full of misrepresentation, and are largely contradicted by proved facts. The main features of the case, viz., the circumstances to and sur-rounding the situation at Isandlwana, are ignored ; and he thus strives to limit the question, as he had at the Court of Inquiry, to the actions of the camp defenders.The most cursory inquiry proves that there is not the slightest foundation for the charge Lord Chelmsford has made ; and, further, that the question of " orders " in no manner covers the causes of the disaster.It may suffice here to say that Colonel Durnford was the commanding officer of No. 2, a distinct Column, and marched into Isandlwana camp at or soon after 10.30 A.M.,finding there no further knowledge of the enemy's move-ments than that reported to Lord Chelmsford, and received by him between 9 and 10 A.M.The strength of the enemy being unknown, small de-tached bodies only having been seen, it was Colonel Durnford's plain duty to reconnoitre, which he did withhis own troops, not interfering with the camp force, who are shown to have been under the distinct orders of Colonel Pulleine.Within one hour and a half of Colonel Durnford's arrival, his and Colonel Pulleine's forces were suddenly attacked by an overwhelming Zulu army, which had been permitted to approach, unseen and unsuspected, through sheer carelessness and negligence of their superior officer.Colonel Durnford had no orders whatever regarding the camp beyond (if it were so) " take command of it." And Colonel Pulleine's orders, if assumed to have been binding on Colonel Durnford, were not departed from. Lord Chelmsford's statements.

Colonel Dumford's previous career may also be called inevidence. His behaviour at the Bushman's Kiver Passproved how unswerving he was in obedience to orders. Before finally leaving the events of the 22nd January,we must fully notice an important episode that occurred,and which had a serious bearing on the disaster we have to lament. We have seen that the guns with an escort " were ordered to retrace their steps .... to join Colonel Glyn at the rendezvous near the Mangane Valley. We will now follow their movements.When Lord Chelmsford discovered that the enemy he had come in search of had disappeared, 4 guns royalArtillery, 2 companies 2-24th Regiment (Captains Churchand Harvey), and about 50 Natal Native Pioneers, the whole under the command of Lieut.-Colonel Harness,RA., were ordered to march to a rendezvous in advance by a different route to that taken by the remainder of the column ; this was necessary, as the guns could not go overthe ground taken by the latter. To carry out the order,they had to retrace for over two miles the route by which they had come in the morning, and then bear to the left.This was done (a short halt having first been made, to let men and horses have a rest), and about twelve o'clock they reached some rising ground, when they again halted, not being certain of the direction of the rendezvous, to await Major Black, 2-24th, Assistant Quartermaster-General,who had gone on to find it. Almost immediately after this halt the firing of cannon was heard, and looking towards the camp, about eight miles off, they saw shells bursting against the hills to the left of it Soon after-wards a body of about 1,000 natives suddenly appeared inthe plain below, between them and the camp ; the Native Pioneers thought they were Zulus. Captain Church told Colonel Harness if he would let him have a horse he would go and find out. Colonel Harness at once gave him one,and sent a mounted sergeant with him. As they galloped towards the natives, a European officer rode out, and when they met said : " The troops behind me are Commandant Browne's contingent, and I am sent to give you this message : ' Come in every man, for Grod's sake ! The campi s surrounded, and wil be taken unless helped at once'Captain Church rode back as fast as he could, and found Colonel Harness in conversation with Major Gösset (aide-de-camp) and Major Black, both of whom had come up during his absence. Colonel Harness promptly said:"We will march back;" but Major Gösset ridiculed the idea, and advised him to carry out his orders. Colonel Harness then asked Major Black and Captain Churcht heir opinions. They both agreed with him without hesitation. Colonel Harness gave the order to return,and started without a moment's delay ; Major Gösset riding off in the direction of the General About 1.30p.m. Lieut.-Colonel Harness was on his way to the camp,and had got over about two miles of ground when hewas overtaken by Major Gösset with orders from the General to march back to the rendezvous. The orderwas obeyed.Now the startling reflection comes home that to thismost important fact, bearing on the events of the day(for even if too late to save life, Colonel Harness wouldhave saved the camp), there is not a hint even in thedespatches of Lord Chelmsford, or the official statementof his military secretary.The latter goes so far as to say, in paragraph 17 of his statement "I am not aware what messages had been sent from the camp and received by Colonel Glyn or his staff;but I know that neither the General nor myself had upto this time received any information but that I have mentioned." This statement refers to a time after the The first official mention of this appears in a Blue-book of August,1879, where Lieutenant Milne, R.M". (aide-de-camp), says : " In the meantime, news came that Colonel Harness had heard the firing, andwas proceeding with his guns and companies of infantry escorting themto camp. Orders were immediately sent to him to return and rejoin Colonel Glyn."

General had arrived at a spot about a mile from where Commandant Browne's battalion of natives were halted,after he had received the message, " Come in, every man,for God's sake," etc., and after he had met Colonel Harnesson his return march to the rendezvous ; and not only that,but apparently after the receipt of a most importantmessage from Lieut-Colonel Pulleine, described as follows by the special correspondent of the Times of Natal(Captain Norris-Newman) : " We did halt there, and found the staff there as well, looking on through the field-glasses at some large bodies of Kafirs [Zulus], who werein close proximity to our camp about ten miles off. The Mounted Police were ordered to halt and off-saddle ; but Captain [T.] Shepstone and his volunteers had orders to proceed back to camp to see what was up. I joined them,and we had not gone far on the road when a mounted messenger came up with a note from Colonel Pulleine tothe General, saying that the camp was attacked by large numbers of Kafirs, and asked him to return with all the help at his command. With this we halted, and awaited the up-coming of the General, who came along at once,and proceeded up the valley to reconnoitre. About three miles had been got over, during which we passed the four guns under Colonel Harness, and some of the 24th ....on their way to encamp at the new ground. A mountedman was then seen approaching, and was recognised as Commandant Lonsdale. He brought the dreadful newsthat, having chased a Zulu on horseback, he got separated from his men, and had ridden quietly back to camp ; but on arrival there, within about three hundred yards of it(at about 2 p.m.), he found large bodies of the enemy surrounding it and fighting with our men. He had just time to discover his mistake, turn, and fly for his life,when several bullets were fired at him, and many Zulusstarted in chase."—Natal Colonist, January 30th, 1879.The above message is undoubtedly that mentioned by Captain Gardner as having been despatched from the camp at or soon after twelve o'clock.

And there still remains the fact that, not only as regards Colonel Harness, does there appear to be an unaccountable omission in the "statement" alluded to,but also we find mention of only one message from the camp; where as other messages are known to have been received, and to have been in the possession of the Assistant Military Secretary."Here also we must allude to Sir Bartle Frere's despatches of January 27th, and February 3rd and 12th.In the first he says : ' In disregard of Lord Chelmsford's instructions, the troops left to protect the camp were taken away from the defensive position they were in at the camp, with the shelter which the waggons, parked,would have afforded. . . ." "We know that the troops did the best they could, left as they were by their General in an open camp — we know they had no"defensive position"—and we know that the waggonswere not " parked " but drawn up in rear of their owncamps.Sir Bartle says, February 3rd: "It is only justice to the General to note that his orders were clearly not obeyed on that terrible day at Isandhlwana camp."And on February 12th, he says : " It is impossible to shut one's eyes to the fact that it was, in all human probability, mainly due to disregard of the General's orders that so great a disaster occurred " (a little qualifying his sweeping assertion of February 3rd).But yet again Sir Bartle returns to the charge, and says,June 30th : " It is difficult to over-estimate the effect ofsuch a disaster as that at Isandlwana on both armies,but it was clearly due to breach of the General's order,and to disregard of well-known maxims of militaryscience." By the General's directions this statement was to be " of the facts¦which came under his cognizance on the day in question."— Further remarks on the messages will be found in the appendix." Lord Chelmsford's statements compared with evidence."

what grounds Sir Bartle Frere bases those assertions we know not—no known orders were disobeyed—and, inspite of the special pleading in these despatches, we must come to the conclusion that Sir Bartle Frere's remarks were penned in utter ignorance of facts, and that theaccusations concerning "disregard of well-known maxims of military science " should have been applied, not to the soldiers who fell at Isandlwana.

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PostSubject: Re: (Blaming of Durnford for the Isandlwana Disaster) ZULU by Saul David   Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:34 pm

I have been reading your posts. which shows you have a very keen interest in Durnford, and you seem annoyed that he was seen as the scapegoat over the disaster at Isandlwana. My own person view on this, is that the lost was down to Chelmsford., if we could undertake a survey relating to who was to blame I’m sure you will find that Durnford would not be seen as the Scapegoat.

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PostSubject: Re: (Blaming of Durnford for the Isandlwana Disaster) ZULU by Saul David   Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:39 pm

Would I not be right in saying, that if Durnford had remained in the camp at Isandlwana the out come would have been different.
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PostSubject: Re: (Blaming of Durnford for the Isandlwana Disaster) ZULU by Saul David   Sat Dec 17, 2011 11:35 pm

Guest wrote:
Would I not be right in saying, that if Durnford had remained in the camp at Isandlwana the out come would have been different.

Nope they would have lost just the same Idea

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