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Film Zulu Dawn:Lt. Col. Pulleine: His Lordship is of the cetain opinion that it's far too difficult an approach to be chosen by the Zulu command.Col. Durnford: Yes, well... difficulty never deterred a Zulu commander.
 
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impi

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:05 pm

Well it's not far from there you can't miss it. He discovers cartridges that have not been fired, the brass casing showing teeth marks which indicate where the Zulus got at the powder.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:08 pm

Pages 105 to 108
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jul 11, 2013 6:44 am

The Zulu took the ammunition packets for use as stuffing for their muskets, as they sometimes took MH rifle rounds to recover only the powder for their muskets...
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:59 am

Archaeology (and before that local Zulu children) also found hundreds of cartridge cases along the firing line. I myself have one.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:27 am

Mainwarings map dated 13/11/1879 indicates an area marked G to H ( the firing line) and annotates: ' strewn with empty cartridge cases.'
cheers
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:35 am

Springbok
Well done, I'd forgotten that.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:41 am

Yes, this is the way that the archaeologists have known about or were the five coys of Custer at LBH ...

But this technique is approximate, idem for Isandhlwana...
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:53 am

During the battle, Bloomfield refuses to bypass regulations requiring that ammunition be dispensed in small, properly recorded quantities, causing an ammunition shortage that forces British troops to retreat.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:16 pm

For you it's absolute and total nonsense ?
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jul 11, 2013 3:01 pm

I could be wrong, but I don't think Bloomfield live to long to cause a prolonged effect.

Was he not the chap who brains were splattered over SD face?
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jul 11, 2013 3:15 pm

From Forty Eight Years Service S.D.

Smith Dorrient wrote:
"Forty-five empty wagons stood in the camp with the oxen in. It was a convoy which I was to have taken to Rorke's Drift for supplies early in the morning, but which was stopped until the enemy should be driven off. These wagons might have at any time been formed into a laager, but no one appeared to appreciate the gravity of the situation, so much so that no steps were taken until too late to issue extra ammunition from the large reserves we had in camp."

So we not have a rough idea that those sent out of the camp did so with their 70 allocated rounds
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jul 11, 2013 3:40 pm

24th wrote:
From Forty Eight Years Service S.D.

Smith Dorrient wrote:
"Forty-five empty wagons stood in the camp with the oxen in. It was a convoy which I was to have taken to Rorke's Drift for supplies early in the morning, but which was stopped until the enemy should be driven off. These wagons might have at any time been formed into a laager, but no one appeared to appreciate the gravity of the situation, so much so that no steps were taken until too late to issue extra ammunition from the large reserves we had in camp."

So we not have a rough idea that those sent out of the camp did so with their 70 allocated rounds

One of the thing that we should keep in mind is that SD's memoir, written many decades after the events, were an accounting of his actions, not a balanced history of the battle. So, just because he got involved with trying to free up the flow of ammunition, does not mean the battle hinged on that issue. First of all, he was a very, very minor player that day (which is why he survived, btw) being a Special Service officer assigned to the commissary. His boss, Essex, hadn't been doing anything except writing letters before the battle started (and he was slow to even recognize the fact,) and Horace was at loose ends himself having just come back from Rorke's Drift. Like any 20 years old gung-ho type, Horace enthusiastically pitched in to help as best he could. But because he later became a general (and because it suits some peoples' purposes,) his very few observations about what occurred on the battlefield that day are given undue weight. What's most valuable in his account is probably his memories of running for his life along the Fugitive's trail.
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jul 11, 2013 4:03 pm

I take you point!!! But most of the officers if not all, kept very quiet, didn’t want to say something that could harm there career, as those under suspicion and who put together the court of enquiry had friends in very high places. Being involved in something like the Battle of Isandlwana I think would stay with someone all their life. To recall it many years after the event, knowing certain personalities were dead and could no longer do you any harm to a career or reputation, they may as well say what they really saw.


Didn’t Hamer write a letter to his father, where he states Durnford was like a madman, and wishes he had never served under him?

I have never seen an original copy of SDs book but he also mentions something about Melvill and Coghill.

Smith Dorrient wrote:
“Below Fugitives' Drift the river flows into a deep gorge and the right bank is inaccessible. The river was in flood, and a lot of fugitives, men and horses, must have been swept away through this gorge, or only have succeeded in effecting a landing well below the path leading from Fugitives' Drift up the right bank. I surmise that Melvill and Coghill may both have been swept down-stream towards X (see sketch, p. 12), and there have met, and in endeavouring to get back together to the path of the fugitives were killed by Zulus who had crossed higher up. As far as I can make out, their bodies were found near Z. The official account, published in 1881, is quite incorrect as to the movements of these two officers. I may say that I was never consulted.

So if anyone has a copy I would be interested to see the sketch.

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PostSubject: Too little, too late   Thu Jul 11, 2013 6:01 pm

Hi 24th,
A nice one from SD, thanks for posting.
By all accounts, most of the men at the front only had that ammunition (70 rds) which was in the bandoliers on their person.
Thus , very few ammunition cartons were actually opened at the furthest firing points.
When ammunition resupply from the regimental stocks controlled by the quartermasters did not come through to the lines fast enough, the menace presented by the enemy forced the fall back and the Zulus were quickly behind the lines early in the battle cutting off the supply altogether. This, as we know, fell into the enemy hands in its entirety.
Part of Chelmsford's deceitful cover-up was hushing-up this issue and not telling the public about the Isandlwana ammunition fiasco, as it would probably would have caused the fall of the government of the day.

regards,

barry
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6pdr

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jul 11, 2013 6:43 pm

24th wrote:
Didn’t Hamer write a letter to his father, where he states Durnford was like a madman, and wishes he had never served under him?

I have never seen an original copy of SDs book but he also mentions something about Melvill and Coghill.

I think that's correct...but I believe he was also the guy that SD helped back up on his horse after they got across the Buffalo. Basically, SD risked his life to save Hamer who was supposed to help SD in return. Instead, Hamer simply rode away leaving SD in the lurch. This incident is also in SD's memoirs although he doesn't actually name Hamer -- which goes to your point about the officers keeping mum -- but it's quite clear from other accounts that this was an act of cowardice and betrayal. So, I weigh Hamer's opinion of Durnford accordingly...rather than the way a grieving T. Shepstone did...and Shepstone was Durnford's natural enemy anyway.


Lucky Horace was a born distance runner, as he makes clear on the first page of 48 Years.

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:16 pm

It's like most wars the truth always comes out years later.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Fri Jul 12, 2013 12:04 am

24th wrote:
I take you point!!! But most of the officers if not all, kept very quiet, didn’t want to say something that could harm there career, as those under suspicion and who put together the court of enquiry had friends in very high places. Being involved in something like the Battle of Isandlwana I think would stay with someone all their life. To recall it many years after the event, knowing certain personalities were dead and could no longer do you any harm to a career or reputation, they may as well say what they really saw.


Didn’t Hamer write a letter to his father, where he states Durnford was like a madman, and wishes he had never served under him?

I have never seen an original copy of SDs book but he also mentions something about Melvill and Coghill.

Smith Dorrient wrote:
“Below Fugitives' Drift the river flows into a deep gorge and the right bank is inaccessible. The river was in flood, and a lot of fugitives, men and horses, must have been swept away through this gorge, or only have succeeded in effecting a landing well below the path leading from Fugitives' Drift up the right bank. I surmise that Melvill and Coghill may both have been swept down-stream towards X (see sketch, p. 12), and there have met, and in endeavouring to get back together to the path of the fugitives were killed by Zulus who had crossed higher up. As far as I can make out, their bodies were found near Z. The official account, published in 1881, is quite incorrect as to the movements of these two officers. I may say that I was never consulted.


So if anyone has a copy I would be interested to see the sketch.

Anyone got a copy of this letter?
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Fri Jul 12, 2013 3:41 pm

Ulundi, I think it was post in the "Was Durnford Capable Thread" I recall the letter in-question was sent by Hamer to his father, it was his father who publicised it.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Sun Sep 01, 2013 5:44 pm

When the firing slackened, was it mainly due to stoppages caused by fouling and torn cartridges! 
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:14 pm

Ray63 wrote:
When the firing slackened, was it mainly due to stoppages caused by fouling and torn cartridges! 
Who are you asking about? The regular formations or Durnford's men? Only asking because they carried different weapons and occupied different parts of the battlefield so the answers you get may depend on assumptions about that.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:47 pm

9pdr. As I understand it there was a point in the battle where the Zulu's seemed to withdraw. But due to a slackening in fire on the British lines, the Zulu took advantage and launch there final attack.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:56 pm

Ray63 wrote:
9pdr. As I understand it there was a point in the battle where the Zulu's seemed to withdraw. But due to a slackening in fire on the British lines, the Zulu took advantage and launch there final attack.
I think the word "withdraw" is too strong, though I suppose there might have been elements of the Zulu left and center which began to retreat.  By and large however, the agreed upon narrative is that the Zulu left horn and center were driven to ground by the heavy fire encountered from cannon, rifle and carbines.  Therefore the usual characterization of what happened is that the Zulu attack faltered. It should be stressed that this period was brief and AFAIK this did NOT extend to the Zulu right horn which was working inexorably encircling the camp for the entire duration of the battle.

I think it's pretty much beyond dispute that at least some of the men in the donga with Durnford began to run short of ammunition...and so of course their volume of fire would have slacked off.  [Few, if any, of those men would have been armed with Martini Henry rifles from what I have read, but there are some real experts on the question here.] Durnford was occupied clearing jammed carbines with his teeth and good arm. He also certainly sent men back in search of ammunition. It is therefore possible to argue the Zulu attack regained its impetus when the fire from the donga slackened.  But it is equally true that his position in the donga was being outflanked by the constantly extending Zulu left horn. (This is one problem with trying to defend against 25K attackers with 1-2K defenders!)  Thus, we can debate the main reason Durnford's force retreated ad infinitum but it seems pretty clear that it was only a matter of time before that happened and the defensive line (such as it was) disintegrated.

The situation was in the center was somewhat more stable. The regulars were armed with the MH and had more consistent support from the two 7 pounders; thus the Zulu attack also temporarily lost momentum in the center. Was it because the rifles got too hot?  Doubtful. There are various claims as to why the attack regained impetus...many having nothing to do with firepower...but it hardly matters because holding the center only meant encirclement.

And that is because, through it all, the advance of the Zulu right horn BEHIND THE HILL was virtually unchecked. Pulleine did almost nothing to hinder it for a multitude of possible reasons, including that he had no reserve to deploy in any case. The reason you don't read about this more is because almost none of the European survivors were deployed there or witnessed any of that. To its credit the film ZULU DAWN attempts to illustrate the arrival of the Zulu right wing by showing the cattle they drove over the nek stampeding ON TO (instead of away from) the battlefield and getting in among the tents. Heavy fire had never driven the men who the cattle were running from to ground in the first place!

So IMHO, the whole narrative about the battle hanging on a knife's edge when the ammo ran out is a red herring -- a way to avoid the uncomfortable implication that all the Queen's horses and all the Queen's men were NOT going to defeat the Zulu impi that day.  Sometimes a stout heart and prodigious ammunition supply simply isn't enough; especially when your command staff badly blunders.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Sun Sep 01, 2013 8:11 pm

I know it's been asked before, but never received a reply.

Why was the bugle call sounded to cease fire. Heard twice?  Witnessed by Curling?
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Sep 02, 2013 1:29 am

24th wrote:
I know it's been asked before, but never received a reply.

Why was the bugle call sounded to cease fire. Heard twice?  Witnessed by Curling?
Interesting question!  Donald Morris wrote that, "Pope's G Company had already refused its right flank to face the uMbonambi, and his bugler sounded "Retire" as the inGobamakhosi started forward." (The Washing of the Spears, p. 375.)

Standing on it's own, this is a confusing claim. Why would Pope issue an instruction to the entire force by himself?  Was Pulleine there?  Did he order it?

On page 231 in HOW CAN MAN DIE BETTER, Mike Snook conjectures this: "Pulleine and his aides rode across to the nearest drummer, probably one of George Wardell's, and told him to sound retreat."  AFAIK this is PUREST, PUREST conjecture without the slightest shred of evidence to support it.  Snook would simply prefer to believe that. But he does offer reasonable suppositions about what might have triggered it -- Durnford's abandonment of the donga -- and what Pulleine might have hoped to achieve. "The only viable tactic for dealing with the unfolding crisis, would be to withdraw the companies back to a central rallying point, where the battalion could form a 'receive cavalry' square." (p. 231)

In ZULU VICTORY, Lock and Quantrill simply write, "Somewhere a bugle sounded 'retreat' and all along the British line men tried desperately to rally together in small fighting bodies..." (p. 211)  While this explains virtually nothing, it does have the virtue of sticking to the facts as known.

Ian Knight seems to have given this a great deal of thought in his ZULU RISING and come in somewhere between Morris and Snook.  He writes that with the combination of Durnford's withdrawal and a fresh Zulu surge Pulleine must have realized his firing line was too far forward and Pope plus the camp were bound to be taken from their right. "...Pulleine's only option was to try to withdraw as quickly as possible and take up a new position closer to the tents. And he had to do it, moreover, before the Zulus beat him to it.  The bugles sounded the 'Cease Fire' and then 'Retire', the sound being passed from one company to another down the line." (p. 396-397 of the edition printed for US consumption.)

The most direct comment from the Zulu side was made by uMhoti who was with the uKhandempemvu. "Then, at the sound of a bugle, the firing ceased at a breath, and the whole British force rose from the ground and retired on the tents. Like a flame the whole Zulu force sprang to its feet and darted upon them..."

IMO, this addresses the most interesting question but I am not convinced it definitively answers it: "Which came first?  The final Zulu charge or the bugle calling retreat?"  Depends upon whom you find most credible.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:50 am

6pd
Heres an interesting piece of conjecture for you to mull over.
Gardener witnesses the mounted force leaving the donga and rides across ( to see that he must have been upper centre camp, it isnt visible from the firing line). He meets Durnford on his way back to the camp ( Durnford was at the withdrawl, witnessed) Durnford says" the troops are to spread he needs to get them together". Thats all supported fact.
The conjecture.
Durnford rides across to Pope/Pullein and orders, he is senior remember the withdrawl. The Chest sees this and moves forward. the line fragments and the rest is history!

Does that fit in with the known facts?

Extrapolate that further and it helps to place some of the players: Durnfords given the order and leaves Pullein in charge and moves across to the right of camp to group his men against the left horn. Pullen is in the camp and sees the line fail and the 'loungers' start to run. He pulls them together to join Durnford.

Gardiner is now mid camp and sees the line fail and he heads of to the saddle, second line of fugitives now movingout.

Its a fun exercise to try and place the players in a context that works.

Cheers

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:04 pm

springbok9 wrote:
6pd
Heres an interesting piece of conjecture for you to mull over.
Gardener witnesses the mounted force leaving the donga and rides across ( to see that he must have been upper centre camp, it isnt visible from the firing line). He meets Durnford on his way back to the camp ( Durnford was at the withdrawl, witnessed) Durnford says" the troops are to spread he needs to get them together". Thats all supported fact.
The conjecture.
Durnford rides across to Pope/Pullein and orders, he is senior remember the withdrawl. The Chest sees this and moves forward. the line fragments and the rest is history!

Does that fit in with the known facts?

Extrapolate that further and it helps to place some of the players: Durnfords given the order and leaves Pullein in charge and moves across to the right of camp to group his men against the left horn. Pullen is in the camp and sees the line fail and the 'loungers' start to run. He pulls them together to join Durnford.

Gardiner is now mid camp and sees the line fail and he heads of to the saddle, second line of fugitives now movingout.

Its a fun exercise to try and place the players in a context that works.
Springbok,

Indeed, it IS a fun exercise to try to come up with a functional narrative that fits the location of all the primary players as we think we know them.  They linchpin of your version of events is Durnford finding Pulleine and issuing him orders.  It has the makings of a wonderful story! The irony of Durnford desperately trying to pull the irons out of the fire for the Regulars is near to exquisite.  The only trouble with it is that I would think SOMEBODY who survived would have witnessed the meeting of Durnford and Pulleine.  It seems to me -- but you would know better -- that Durnford's every move (or nearly) has been tracked during the battle.  OTOH, fortunately there is scant evidence of Pulleine's presence on the battlefield after the attack commences.  Perhaps this creates enough of a window in combination with Durnford's movement track to allow a historical novelist (or an anti-Snook) to make your case. It's certainly a seductive one!  But as with all historical theories/explanations which exhibit a perfect symmetry -- perhaps a bit too convenient for genuine historians to ever swallow.

In any case full marks for using your historical imagination.  I absolutely love it!

- 6pdr
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:14 pm

6pd:D 
It is fun.
The linch pin of that scenario is that it gives a valid reason for Durnford prancing across the plain and then turning back, it also coincides the withdrawl from the Donga with the withdrawl from the firing line. And who would have mentioned it? Melvill and Coghill were killed as were all the other potential witnesses, and if Gardiner had hot returned to the line but carried on across the camp, then yes its a feasible hypothesis. Of course its probable that Coghill or maybe Essex may have made mention of it. But look at the tiny glimses,the report that Durnford was seen on the firing line with his Batman holding his drawn sword for instance.
Apart from Donald Morris I dont think there has been a valid piece of fiction written ( I do discount that horendous Saul David attempt). And of course Zulu Dawn.
Could be an interesting exercise.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:49 pm

springbok9 wrote:
6pd:D 

Apart from Donald Morris I dont think there has been a valid piece of fiction written ( I do discount that horrendous Saul David attempt). And of course Zulu Dawn.
Could be an interesting exercise.
Cheers
FLIGHT OF COLOUR by Adrian Greaves perhaps? Rolling Eyes 

You are not being charitable to Mr. Morris who bore the burden of establishing the template after all. Shocked

You are correct that we've yet to see the definitive historical novel on the topic. agree  For my money the best so far is still ZULU DAWN...but that one is long in the tooth now.  Somebody has to seize the colours and carry them to safety!  Salute
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:57 pm

24th wrote:
I know it's been asked before, but never received a reply.

Why was the bugle call sounded to cease fire. Heard twice?  Witnessed by Curling?
24th yes it was Curlng. Perhaps he was hearing things, as it seems as far as I know the only one who heard it. " Twice"
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Sep 02, 2013 10:19 pm

Possibly! I'm sure there is another mention by another survivor!
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PostSubject: The ammunition question   Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:27 pm

Hi John / 24th
I'm fairly certain that several people testified that they heard Bugle calls , cant tell you who they were , or , the calls they heard .
90th .
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:51 pm

90th wrote:
Hi John / 24th
I'm fairly certain that several people testified that they heard Bugle calls , cant tell you who they were , or , the calls they heard .
90th .
Well, I just quoted one such. uMhoti who was with the uKhandempemvu: "Then, at the sound of a bugle, the firing ceased at a breath, and the whole British force rose from the ground and retired on the tents. Like a flame the whole Zulu force sprang to its feet and darted upon them..."
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:08 am

Just can't think of a reasonable explanation as to why cease fire would have been sounded. 
Unless some cleaver Zulu found a bugle! Shocked
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PostSubject: the ammunition question   Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:57 am

Would the 'two' bugle calls not have been, 1st=cease fire, 2nd=retire/retreat? I am sure I have read this somewhere in one of my books.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Sep 03, 2013 1:42 am

Mr M. Cooper wrote:
Would the 'two' bugle calls not have been, 1st=cease fire, 2nd=retire/retreat? I am sure I have read this somewhere in one of my books.  
As I also just quoted:

Ian Knight in ZULU RISING wrote: "...Pulleine's only option was to try to withdraw as quickly as possible and take up a new position closer to the tents. And he had to do it, moreover, before the Zulus beat him to it. The bugles sounded the 'Cease Fire' and then 'Retire', the sound being passed from one company to another down the line." (p. 396-397 of the edition printed for US consumption.)
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Sep 03, 2013 1:43 am

littlehand wrote:
Just can't think of a reasonable explanation as to why cease fire would have been sounded. 
Unless some cleaver Zulu found a bugle! Shocked
5th columnists, no doubt.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:11 pm

Does anyone have the account, of Bloomfield actions before he was KIA.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:24 am

LH
Only a couple of mentions.
Coghill wrote to Clery on the morning of the 22nd.
Dear Major
"Bloomfield QrMaster came to me just now with his finger in his mouth saying the light spring waggon would have not hold the 2000 rations so have requisitioned a larger one from the MI....................I do not think any waggon can cross the last donga near the Kraal."

This actually links a couple of actions on the time scale. Bloomfield has been told to get ammunition reserves ready for the force heading to the Mangeni, so he has had a look at the Donga and voiced concerns. This is probably where Anstey has been detailed of by Clery to work on the road.

Second mention is by Essex: " I went to procure ammunition with the assistance of Quartermaster 2nd Battalion.............

The next mention I have of him is with Smith-Dorrien. And the discussion about the ammunition.

I don't have it to hand but there is a further reference to him being shot I believe

I haven't checked but I don't think his body was identified either.

Cheers
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Oct 28, 2013 6:11 am

As a lot has been speculated about rates of fire. The official returns from Gungundlovu may be of interest.
Firing started at 6.04 and ceased completely at 7.10. The dead within 400 yards was 473 and within 1000 yards another 300.
The average shots fired per regular was 6.2 and the average for the whole force was 10.

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Nov 07, 2013 8:39 pm

Here's an interesting observation by "Mossop" at the Battle of Kambula.
 
 “Running the Gauntlet”.  Mossop wrote.

“The camp to be defended was large, we had lost a  lot of men on Holbane mountain the previous day. We were armed with Martini Henry rifles charged with black powder, and each shot belched out a cloud of smoke; it became so dense that we were almost choked by it – and simply fired blindly into it. There was one continuous roar from cannon, rifles and the voices of men on both sides shouting. The smoke blotted out all view. It made every man feel that all he could do was to shoot immediately in front of him – and not concern himself with what was taking place elsewhere”.
 
Is this what happened at Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift? Could this answer the question to the low casualty rate, compared to the ammunition expenditure?
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Nov 07, 2013 9:01 pm

Nice one John, certainly a possibility. I thought Mossop's lot were equipped with the Snider?
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PostSubject: The Ammunition Question   Fri Nov 08, 2013 12:23 am

Yes John this has been mentioned several times in past threads that the smoke from the repeated firing probably contributed to the lowish casualty rate , we know it was hot that day about 30 deg if not more , and it was reasonably still , as in no wind . So it isnt to difficult to realise that the smoke certainly obscured the zulu's . I think Neil mentioned the smoke in several of his threads and its also been spoken of in Doco's .
90th
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Dec 31, 2013 10:22 pm

The design of the famous Isandhlwana ammunition boxes which, according to popular legend, could not be opened during the Battle because there was a dearth of screwdrivers, has been investigated by J. A. Verbeek and V. Bresler in an article entitled 'The Role of the Ammunition Boxes in the Disaster at Isandhlwana' published in the December 1977 issue of The ]ournal of the Historical Firearms Society of South Africa. Examination of the evidence, both documentary and material, has convinced the authors that the story is little more than a myth.

Both Morris and Clammer in their popular histories of the Anglo-Zulu War state categorically that the disaster at Isandhlwana was in large measure due to the design of the small-arms ammunition boxes. Both described the boxes but do not agree as to the method of fastening the lids. Morris states, 'The lids were held down by two strong copper bands, each secured by nine stout screws'; according to Clammer 'the lids of the ammunition boxes were held in place by six screws, and by some oversight there was a dearth of screwdrivers.

From the specifications laid down in the Ordinance Department's 'List of Charges', which they quoted extensively, Verbeek and Bresler described the ammunition boxes used from 1863 to 1880 and suggest that the box in use in January, 1879 was the Mark VI which had a sliding lid held in place by only one 2 inch, cheese-head screw. Fragments of boxes excavated at Isandhlwana and complete boxes examined by the authors appear to be this Mark VI box, or possibly the earlier and similarly secured Mark V. The bands around these boxes were to strengthen them and did not in any way affect the sliding lids.

The contemporary primary literature examined by the authors makes little reference to the ammunition boxes which suggests that the legend grew up later. It may have originated in inferences drawn from the failure to get ammunition during the Battle and from the elaborate instructions on the subject issued before Chelmsford's advance on Ulundi. 'Each wagon and cart with the convoys must have some ammunition boxes placed on it in such a position as to be easily got at. The regimental reserve boxes must have the screw of the lid taken out, and each wagon and cart will have the screwdriver attached to one of the boxes, so that it may be ready for opening those in which the screw has not been taken out.

'The design of the ammunition box was in no way to blame for the disaster at Isandhlawana' state the authors of this fully documcnted and clearly illustrated article which can be seen in the Reference Department of the Natal Society Library.

Another view of a possible cause of the disaster is given by Richard Wyatt Vause, who commanded a Sekali [Also spelt Sikali: Eds.] troop (Natal Native Horse) at Isandhlwana. Not long after we had read the article by Verbeek and Bresler. Mr. Don Stayt of Underberg showed us a transcript of Vause's diary. Vause was Mr. Stayt's grandfather.

"We had a smart ride about 12 miles. arriving at Isandhlwana between 10 and 11 a.m. After riding through the camp we halted for a few minutes to give the men a biscuit as they had started without breakfast and we expected a hard day's work. While giving my men their biscuits Col. Durnford) sent for me and ordered me to take my troop and ride back to meet our wagons as the Zulus were seen in our rear and he expected they would try and cut them off. My orders were to see the wagons safely into camp and then join him again about 12. I got back with the wagons and hearing firing about two miles to the front of the camp I at once gave the order to trot and started off to find Colonel Durnford. I soon came across Captain Shepstone and as he asked me to stop with him I dismounted the men and extended them in skirmishing order. We were soon under hot fire but continued to advance though very slowly as the Zulus were under good cover and we had to expose ourselves every time we advanced. On arriving at the top of the hill we perceived the enemy in overwhelming force coming from behind and, fearing our ammunition would soon be exhausted before we could regain the camp, Capt. Shepstone gave the order to retire back to our horses. Fortunately the Zulus were shooting very badly and as yet few casualties had occurred on our side. As soon as the Zulus perceived we were in retreat they came on with a shout and were rapidly gaining on us when we regained our horses. As soon as the men were mounted we retired slowly to the camp, dismounting at every few yards and firing a volley but without holding the enemy in check .... as they did not seem to mind our fire at all. After regaining the camp to our dismay it was found that the ammunition boxes had not been opened and the Zulus being so close on our heels we had no time to look for screwdrivers. [Our italics: Eds.] Fortunately one of my Kaffirs came across a box with a few in it which I distributed amongst the men. By this time the soldiers had expended their ammunition and the Zulus had cut through them and were in amongst the tents and we were obliged to retire again."

[Vause managed to reach the Buffalo River with about six of his men but lost his horse in trying to ford the river. Assisted by a 'little Kaffir boy' and later by 'Edwards of the Carbineers' he was able to reach Helpmekaar where despite a laager of wagons and mealie sacks, the 38 defenders expected to be defeated.] Fortunately the Zulus were repulsed at Rorke's Drift and did not get as far as Helpmekaar. I lost 30 men and 10 were wounded so I have not many left out of my original 50."

By M. P. MOBERLY
Source: Natalia.org,za
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Wed Jan 01, 2014 7:03 pm

It is no surprise really, that the myth about running out of, or slow supply of ammunition grew up after the Isandhlwana defeat.
It certainly seems to me that white, middle class, arrogant England and the officers in charge of the whole fiasco, was grasping at any excuse, any piece of misfortune to explain away the defeat. Anything was more palatable than the truth; that the great army of the Empire had been outwitted, out thought, out manouvred and out fought by an enemy that they considered inferior to them in every conceivable way.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Sun Jan 05, 2014 7:18 pm

Which companies were nearest to the camp ? Could it have been just these companies they were receiving fresh supplies of ammunition.

Is there any accounts that state. companies further out were also receiving ammunition. I'm not sure how far Essex was supposed to have sent the ammunition, but the fact remains we have nothing to say it got to the companies in-question?
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:46 pm

They had 70 rounds per man, so how much
of that would be lost during the battle?
neil has explained how the round was prone
to damage, ie when the rifle fouled through
continuousness firing, also the thin rolled
brass cartridge was easily damaged, and we
have reports of cartridges falling from pouches
as the withdrawal became more urgent!.

Examine the rate of fire during the other Zulu
War engagements. there was no screwdriver
shortage after Isandhlwana..  Wink 
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:09 pm

I was referring to the distribution of the ammuntion. Was it actually getting to the Compaines furthest from the camp. Or we're they left to their own devices? You comments regarding Lost and damaged rounds leaves those on the outskirts of the camp, more prone to lower quantities of ammuntion.
I did read somewhere that the men were issued, with a 100 rounds when in action, was the quota bolstered up at Isandlwana before the men were sent out?
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:38 pm

sorry Ray63, i will leave it to the experts  Salute 
yes..70 plus 30 in reserve, of course if the reserves
could be located in time! they was'nt..The Zulu got
the lot!!.  Wink 
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:59 am

There is one simple question to be asked that would really decide if the companies had ammo.
Without it how did they retire in pretty good order across the whole face of the battlefield ? An impossible task with just bayonets. And we do know that they did in fact reach either the lower slopes of the mountain, the saddle, the traders road and indeed the manzimyathi stream. A long long way.

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impi

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:02 pm

This maintaining a heavy fire, during their fall back is all well and good, but just how far were the Zulus from them before they started to fall back. They could have been retiring in good order, stopping firing a volley then continued with the fall back. If they covered 3 or 4 hundred yards at a time stop fired, continued, it would have been enough to slow the Zulus down? 7o rounds per man would have done the job! We don't know how many rounds they had used prior to the fall back. But I'm guessing they would have waited until the Zulus were within 800 to 500 yards before firing commenced!

Of course the question as already been asked were the men issued with additional rounds? 100 per man.
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