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 Letter from Private Francis Ward, No. 1486 C Company, 2-24 Regiment

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PostSubject: Letter from Private Francis Ward, No. 1486 C Company, 2-24 Regiment   Sat Nov 07, 2009 10:11 pm

From Private Francis Ward, No. 1486 C Company, 2-24 Regiment to his aunt, Mrs. Edmunds, late of the Prince Albert Inn, Aberdare.

Rorke's Drift, Natal.
2 February 1879.

I am glad to say that I enjoy capital health and hope to continue so. I am fully aware that you know that I have enlisted. I am now indeed sorry for it. I was under the influence of drink when I did so. I have already served fifteen months .... and I must go through it the best way I can. Ever since we arrived in this country we have been on active service and, most likely, operations will not be over for the next twelve months. I hope and trust that God Almighty will guide me safe through all, so that I may return to my dear native country once more. I daresay that you are aware that Tom Jones, Aunt Betsy's son, was in the same regiment as myself. It is with very deep emotion and regret that I have to acquaint you of his sad death. He was killed on the 22nd of January at Isandula Camp in Zululand, the territory we invaded. There were lost on our side 993 men. I can assure you, dear aunt, it was a most ghastly sight to witness. After our poor fellows were shot, they were brutally mutilated. Kindly write to poor Tom's mother and let her know of his death. I was speaking to him the night before and he requested me to write home if anything should happen to him, also he said he would do the same for me....
He was on guard this day and the company he belonged to went out with five other companies, we having been acquainted that the enemy was not far distant. We left camp at daybreak. In the meantime, the enemy was watching our movements and marched on our right flank towards the camp, which they captured after a terrible struggle. They cut up every man of ours, except three that managed to escape. The enemy brought a force of about 15,000 against our handful of men. Our aide-de-camp was sent out after the column to fetch them back with all haste, the reason being that the enemy had captured our camp. We arrived near camp when it got dark. We opened into skirmishing order and we had four seven-pounders in the centre of the column. They throwed some shells and rocket to the left of the camp; also we fired a few volleys as well before we advanced towards the camp. We had our bayonets fixed; we captured the camp; but the enemy had disappeared---but before they retired, they burnt all things that belonged to us and took away with them one million rounds of ammunition and the colours of our battalion; and the first battalion of ours lost five companies of men and officers; also the artillery and volunteers lost every man; indeed, it was a terrible calamity.

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PostSubject: Letter from Private Ellis Edwards of Cefn Mawr   Sat Nov 07, 2009 10:14 pm

From Private Ellis Edwards of Cefn Mawr, near Wrexham to his family.
Ulundi.
8 July 1879
I wish to express my opinion of the great battle, which we had on the 4th day of July whilst taking the capital of Zululand. The scene was horrible. The fight lasted for one hour and ten minutes and was extremely hard. The strength of the enemy was 25,000 whilst our strength was only 4,500. After hard fighting we repulsed the enemy with the loss of 3000 killed and 500 wounded; our loss was 10 killed and 40 wounded. I can assure you that the Zulus are a lot of fearless men. They poured upon us like a number of lions. The burning of Ulundi---their main support---was the greatest fire I ever saw. It continued burning for four days. I am very much pleased to tell you that I really think the war is close at an end now. We captured 800. Head of cattle. I am very sorry to tell you that it is rumoured in this camp that we are going to India after this affair is settled. At the same time I hope it is wrong, as we have had plenty of foreign climates. I can assure you that the hardships which I have gone through are beyond measure. I have got to wash all my clothes and bake the bread, which we eat. We have to march fourteen miles a day and, after arriving in a strange camp, we have to dig trenches before we get any food. If this regiment does not go to India I shall be at home by Christmas.... I am very sorry to tell you of the sad misfortune, which befell the young Prince Napoleon whilst scouting out in the wilds of Zululand. After the Zulus had killed him they stabbed him in fourteen different places. I was one of the men who removed his body in the van in order to send it home to England....
It is very hard to get any paper or stamps in this part of the world. I have been forced to steal out of the way every time I want to write because we haven't got one moment as we can call our own ... Wood is very scarce here at present. We cook our food with dried cow dung....
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PostSubject: Letter from Private Edward Hughes, E Company, 1-24th Regiment, 2nd Division   Sat Nov 07, 2009 10:16 pm

From Private Edward Hughes, E Company, 1-24th Regiment, 2nd Division to his parents at 4, Little Crown-street, Caernarvon.

Upoko River.July 1879


We have had a very hard time of it but we are now enjoying a few days' ease. We have been up as far as the King's Kraal, Ulundi on the White Umvolosi and after burning all the kraals we came across and knocking the Zulus out of time, have returned to this camp to wait the issue of affairs.
We arrived, after a very hard and tedious march, at the King's Kraal, encamping opposite it on the 1st of July. Nothing of any importance occurred until the 3rd when the Zulus surprised us by opening a smart fire on some of our men who were down at the river getting water. The fire was quickly returned by our men down there on duty. The light cavalry were immediately got ready; 4 nine-pounders were got into position; and it was determined to shift the Zulus out of the place, for as long as they were allowed to remain there, it was evident that we could not get any water without great danger. A couple of shells were, therefore, thrown across the river. This had the effect of making the Zulus scamper off to their kraals at full speed. But our horsemen were waiting for them and chased the enemy as far as their kraals. Our men were obliged, however, to retire for the enemy were reinforced by some thousands. Our loss was slight; that of the enemy considerable. The same night the Zulus kept us awake for nearly two hours singing and shouting in a terrible manner.
Next morning, the 4th, we were all quietly awakened at a very early hour. No bugles sounded and everything was done as quietly as possible. Our men crossed the river and made for the open plain. This movement was quite unexpected by the Zulus, for at seven o'clock about 15,000 of them were seen making for our side of the river; but just at this critical moment our column had reached the open. They were then seen by the enemy who imagined that they had a very easy thing of it. But they calculated wrongly for they were greeted by a tremendous fire from our men as they advanced. Forty-five minutes passed after the first shot, when the Zulus wavered; our men cheered heartily; away went the Zulus as hard as they could run, closely followed by the 17th Lancers who mowed them down like grass.So ended the battle of Ulundi and with it Cetywayo's power over his people.Our loss, as near as I can ascertain, was ten men killed and about fifty wounded.

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PostSubject: Letter from Private Owen Ellis to his father and family.   Sat Nov 07, 2009 10:20 pm

From Private Owen Ellis to his father and family.

Rorke's Drift.
15 January 1879.
Since the time I sent you my last letter I have removed about ten miles inland viz., to the border of Zululand. We are about to march from this place at an early date in order to proceed through and occupy the country of the Zulus, inasmuch as King Cetywayo did not submit to the terms demanded by the British Government. It is now too late for him as we have crossed the Buffalo River by means of pontoons. Rorke's Drift is the name by which the place where we crossed is known. Sooner the better we march through Cetywayo's country, as we have about one hundred miles to travel from this locality to the place where the King resides, viz., the 'Grand Kraals'. After arriving there, the Queen's flag will be hoisted and King Cetywayo will be made into atoms if captured by us and unless he has escaped like Kreli. 2 Several English magistrates have come with us in order to be appointed to magisterial offices in Zululand and to administer the English law in that country. This war will be over in two months' time and then we shall all be hurrying towards England. We are about to capture all the cattle belonging to the Zulus and also to burn their kraals; and if they dare to face us with the intention of fighting, well, woe be to them! As in Transkei formerly they shall be killed as they come across us. We intend starting nine days hence from Rorke's Drift for the 'Grand Kraals' where King Cetywayo resides ...........The order of march is as follows:- Firstly, there is Cetywayo's brother with 2000 of his fighting men well armed with rifles and ammunition; secondly, 500 mounted men with rifles; thirdly, a battery belonging to the artillery with six 6-pounders; fourthly, 500 Cape mounted police; fifthly, 1 - 24th Regiment; and sixthly, 2 - 24th Regiment. All much at a distance from each other as you see the militia do in companies. There is another column about to start simultaneously within about seventy miles of this place, so as to meet together. This column which starts from a place called Utrecht, consisting of the 80th and the 3rd Buffs Regiments. Another column comprising the 90th and 13th Regiments depart from a place called Stanzer; therefore, you will observe that all the troops will meet each other at the Grand Kraals. General Thesiger is with us and he has remained with us since the time we left Pietermaritzburg. All our clothes or kits have been sent down to Durban .... We have only enough clothes to change, viz. two shirts, two pairs of stockings, two pairs of trousers, etc. Our best clothes have been packed on board the ship at Durban. There are only seventeen days' rations for every man; so I think that we shall not be a long time doing our work. I know that we shall arrive at the Grand Kraals in about a week's time.
We have already captured 1300 head of animals, comprising cattle, horses and goats .The bands of the first and second battalions of the 24th Regiment have been sent.

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PostSubject: From Private Owen Ellis to his father and family. 2   Sat Nov 07, 2009 10:21 pm

From Private Owen Ellis to his father and family. 2

Rorke's Drift.
C Company, 1-24th Regiment,
Zululand, Cape Colony.
19 January 1879.

I send you this letter in order that you may understand that we are shifting from Rorke's Drift at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning, the 20th of January for the Grand Kraals of King Cetywayo and perhaps it will take us a week or nine days to reach that place. All the regiments, viz. nine regiments besides the Artillery, the Cavalry and the Cape Mounted Police will meet each other at the Grand Kraals and occupy the country and appoint English magistrates to administer the law unless Cetywayo will submit to the terms now laid before him. Not a single word has yet been received from him but it is said that he is willing to conform to every demand except one and that is giving up his arms. The English Government will therefore do with him as was done with Kreli and Sandili in Transkei....
We had a sermon on the field this morning. The 1-24th Regiment, the 2-24th Regiment, the Artillery, the Cape Mounted Police and the Cavalry had formed themselves into a square, with the chaplain, General Thesiger and all the staff officers in the centre, the drum constituting the pulpit....
After this war is over we shall not be barely a fortnight before reaching Cape Town .... It is said that we shall embark at Durban and take up the wives in passing .... If they would only finish with this row so that I might go to some town where I could see something besides grass land! I should like to go to Cape Town rather than Durban because there are fine barracks at that place and a large town too in which one may see something; but, never mind, we shall not be long before going to Cape Town or Durban and if I have time to write a line or two before embarking, I will send to let you know a little about the history of the journey, how I came through it and other minor matters....

P.S. Perhaps I shall be for a long time after this without writing; therefore, don't be uneasy about a letter. I will send as early as possible. Good afternoon.

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PostSubject: owen ellis letter   Sun Nov 08, 2009 4:38 am

hi littlehand

PRIVATE . Owen Ellis 25B / 312
Born at Twthill , Carnarvonshire : Trade - Butcher ( information supplied by a descendant )
Enlisted at Carnavon 26/6/1874 , Aged 22 yrs , KILLED AT ISANDLWANA 22 / 1 / 1879.
Effects recorded for claim by next of kin . SOUTH AFRICA MEDAL WITH CLASP 1877- 78- 79.

cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: Letter from Private Francis Ward, No. 1486 C Company, 2-24 Regiment   Thu Mar 01, 2012 5:16 pm

littlehand wrote:
(From Private Owen Ellis to his father and family)

The bands of the first and second battalions of the 24th Regiment have been sent to Durban, where they will await our return to proceed on board the ship, whenever that will take place.
This is a mistranslation. What Owen Ellis actually wrote to his father was this:

Quote :
Sylwch eu bod yn gyru y ddau fand, sef bands y 1-24th a’r 2-24th Regiment, i Durban, i aros hyd nes y deuwn i lawr yn ein holau i fyned ar fwrdd y llong, pa bryd bynag y bydd hyny. (Y Genedl Gymreig, 27.2.79, 6.1)

The underlined clause does not mean "[the two bands] have been sent" but "they are sending [the two bands]". Owen Ellis may have thought that this is what would happen, but in the eventuality it did not. And, of course, we know where the bands were on the 22nd of January.

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Letter from Private Francis Ward, No. 1486 C Company, 2-24 Regiment
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