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 The ammunition question

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kopie



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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:46 pm

springbok9 wrote:
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 ?

Springbok, short of ammo and without it are two different things. The companies would have commenced retiring long before they had fired their last bullets. "In good order" we would have expected no less of these experienced and disciplined soldiers, even if they had in fact been down to their last bullet.
But no, I am inclined to think that the ammo issue was just another excuse - refer to my post above.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:19 am

Kopie
I agree.
A lot of the ammo issue was caused by Morris taking a statement from Smith Dorrien out of context.
Impi
It was quoted that the Zulu were around 100 yards from the line when the retreat started. When the line broke the impi broke through the line. So as well as fighting of the advance from the front there would have been Zulus all around. The fact that there are very very few cairns near the firing line shows really that the retreat was pretty well controlled until around about the RA camp area. That's when it started to break down. Hence the large amount of cairns from then on. I will post a photo from the mountain looking down onto the plain that really illustrates that pretty well. So a progression, in my opinion, would be that at the retire being sounded the companies were pretty well stocked but fending of the advance used those stocks up as they retired. In addition the Zulu muskets would now have been discharged at really close range into the squares, so a slow leak of personel and ammo.
G.H and A would have taken the brunt of that.
Younghusband staying close to the mountain would have got to an ammo wagon, 2/24th, pretty quickly, that allowed him to survive longer.
C,E and F were just below him and also managed to get across to the saddle and beyond. They could and probably did get to the regimental reserve on the saddle. Again that allowed Anstey to retreat down the trail.

Just my thoughts.

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6pdr

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:27 pm

springbok9 wrote:

A lot of the ammo issue was caused by Morris taking a statement from Smith Dorrien out of context.

How so? I follow the rest of your argument...but I've always thought SD's memoirs pretty explicit. In his memoir he gets some things very wrong, but he does talk about the ammunition boxes, screwdrivers etc...being a hindrance. OTOH, he also makes it clear that ad hoc efforts were made such that some soldiers on the line were replenished. It seems to me that this argument turns on the rate of consumption prior to the retreat.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jan 07, 2014 2:40 pm

Morris put a huge emphasis on the of the cuff remark by Smith Dorrien regarding "hang it all you don't want a requisition now do you"?
As Horace himself says, the remark was meant to indicate the level of coolness displayed, not an angry or heated response.
Ive seen arguments that suggest the ammunition wasn't getting to the line. SD in a letter home to his parent specifically mentions he was both loading onto bearers and was on the line distributing. Essex to for that matter and we do know from his own statement that at the time the line broke he was there talking to Durnford.
So no I don't believe there was a universal shortage. Yes the Donga was evacuated because of a shortage, but consider that replenishments were on the way down, Davies?, and the carbineers did reform at the second donga, so they did have enough ammo to hold back the left horn for a considerable amount of time.
The companies on the line all retreated with a certain amount of success before being overwhelmed. There is more than sufficient testimony from the Zulus that confirms that, as I said earlier look at the cairns.
So yes I stand by my point, the companies had enough ammunition to fight their way of the line for some considerable amount of time. And I believe the majority did manage to reach a replenishment area. 1/24 wagons are on the site of a stand, Younghusband at least passed the 2/24th wagons and C E and F had a rally around or close to the Regimental reserves.
There are statements that indicate there was no ammunition, mules bounding around etc etc. Don't forget this battle was fought over a big area and most statements represent a narrow and limited view of the givers ambit.
History has the final word really. Over 80 percent of the troops got to the saddle area. They had to have had a way and means to repell the thousands of Zulu. How many shots would a rifle man retreating over a distance of a mile fire in order to insure his survival? Do that maths and it will tell its own story.
Only my opinion really

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6pdr

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:19 pm

springbok9 wrote:
Morris put a huge emphasis on the of the cuff remark by Smith Dorrien regarding "hang it all you don't want a requisition now do you"?
As Horace himself says, the remark was meant to indicate the level of coolness displayed, not an angry or heated response.

My question is strictly wrt to S-D's account.  It's all in how the "hang it all" sentence is read.  Had he left out those three words I think peoples' first impulse would be to read it with a note of ironic James Bond-like detachment...but adding that phrase makes it sound like he was exasperated. Let's keep in mind that irony did not come naturally to your average Victorian officer. It was not the default mode of expression prior to the lost generation.  So my guess is that Horace was surprised (and perhaps chagrined) by the passion his account provoked many decades later (which must have seemed very odd to him indeed after WW1)...and he attempted to mitigate its impact.   I don't otherwise quarrel with your version of events however.

Or to put it another way...I find it difficult to fault Morris for his interpretation.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:47 pm

Your possibly right. But my long held critical view of the 'Morris effect', still affects my judgement Im afraid. I fully understand that he wrote most of the book from Germany, without the advantage of the internet and instant communication. He did however spend time in Natal with SB and others, he did communicate with David Jackson etc, so I cant understand that he could still draw a lot of the conclusions he did. ( Coffin Rock is a classic example)

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6pdr

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:59 pm

The value of Morris' work is not in the particulars now. From an academic perspective he offered the first great synthesis. We can fault some of his fact finding in TWoTS but it inspired others to attempt equally ambitious projects. As importantly it also raised awareness of the battle, war and imperialism. For better or worse, I doubt you'd have ZULU and ZULU DAWN without TWoTS. That later scholars were able to poke holes in such an omnibus account is only natural. There are many, many other areas of history that desperately need a TWoTS, if only to inspire the focus of others who will cast a more skeptical gaze. In other words, from a historian's perspective, TWoTS is a very high quality problem to have...
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:56 pm

Perhaps it was another cover up. The officers were to busy saving themselves to think about ammunition. There pretence that ammunition was be sent to the lines was to show they had some part to play in the Battle. Could have been a bit awkward with the amount of ammunition in the camp. Deny there was an ammunition problem! 
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jan 07, 2014 7:31 pm

Makes no sense.  Essex & Smith-Dorrien concerned themselves with ammunition straightaway...and said so.  And nobody I know claims a conspiracy was necessary in blaming a shortage of ammunition for the defeat. That's just your run-of-the-mill, weak-minded, excuse making trying to pass for history. It wouldn't have got the command group off the hook though.


Last edited by 6pdr on Tue Jan 07, 2014 7:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jan 07, 2014 7:38 pm

No need for the last bit!
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jan 07, 2014 7:42 pm

littlehand wrote:
No need for the last bit!

Why not? It wouldn't have helped Chelmsford deflect responsibility even if there WAS an ammunition cock-up. He, and his staff, were responsible for seeing to it the camp was defended. The buck stopped there. But anybody sitting around a campfire who wanted a ready-made excuse would be quick to latch on to the ammunition theory because the British Army had no specific way to supply the front line at the time.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jan 07, 2014 7:54 pm

Well I guess, Pulleine was more interested in pack it into wagons ready for the off!
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jan 07, 2014 8:15 pm

littlehand wrote:
Well I guess, Pulleine was more interested in pack it into wagons ready for the off!

That's what I think too. Without Melvill there, who knows what might have happened!?
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jan 07, 2014 8:17 pm

Without Melvill there  scratch 
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jan 07, 2014 8:32 pm

well i think i know what caused the defeat!
seriously! forget the massive red herring
which is the ammunition question! fact is
they blazed away quite merrily and withdrew
in good order, they fought like brave men to
the very last, all the feint hearts had left!!.
leaving just the warrior's who could'nt or
would'nt leave. massive overwhelming force
of numbers did for the lot.they rallied to each
over whilst they could, little knots in a sea of
carnage,using their dead to drag the bayonets
down..alas they were ' stamped flat ' and were
' eaten up '. as springbok says. look at the
position of the cairns..
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:30 pm

There has to have been a problem with the ammuntion. If it was getting to the firing lines they would have held.

This issue with Bloomfield is a load of rubbish. He would have seen first hand the situation in the camp and would not have been that stupid, as to ask for requisitions for supplying ammuntion.

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John

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:44 pm

"Bloomfield" Totally agreed Mr G. Here a reference to his military career!  He was a professional soldier.
Unlikely to have asked for a requisition. He was 11 year old when he enlisted.    


Quartermaster Edward Bloomfield, who was killed at Isandlwana of 22 January 1879, was born on the 7th of November 1835, and was consequently in his forty-fourth year at the time of his death. When a lad of eleven years of age he enlisted in the Scots Fusilier Guards. He was transferred to the 2nd Battalion of the 24th Regiment on its formation, and accompanied it to Mauritius, to Burma, and to India. After twenty-two years’ honourable service, he was promoted, in 1868, from the rank of Colour-Sergeant to that of Sergeant-Major, an appointment which met with wide-spread satisfaction, and on the occasion of which his comrades took the opportunity of presenting to him some small token of their regard. “We have been in the company with you several years, and have never had cause to wish you aught but well,” wrote the men of the K Company, with other kindly words which appear to have come straight from their hearts as they went straight to his. He returned from India to England in 1873, when he obtained the good conduct medal, and in September of the same year was promoted from the rank of Sergeant Major to that of Quartermaster. On his promotion being announced in the “London Gazette,” the following paragraph appeared in the Battalion Orders of the regiment, bearing date September 26 1873: - “During the number of years Quartermaster Bloomfield has been in the Battalion, he has ever performed his duty with the greatest zeal and ability, and to the entire satisfaction of his commanding officers; and it is highly meritorious service which has secured for him such a distinguished mark of the Queen’s favour. He again embarked from England with the regiment in February 1878, for the Cape, and, after arriving there, served through the whole of the operations in connection with the suppression of the Gcaleka outbreak, performing the arduous duties which fell to his lot with the zeal and ability for which he was distinguished.
In November 1878, Quartermaster Bloomfield proceeded with the regiment to Natal to join the force being prepared to act against the Zulus in the event of their refusing to comply with the terms of Sir Bartle Frere’s ultimatum. He took part with the regiment in the subsequent advance of Colonel Glyn’s column, in January 1879, into the enemy’s country, and was present at the storming of Sihayo’s stronghold in the Batshe Valley. He the accompanied the regiment to Isandlwana, and in the disastrous encounter with the enemy at that position on 22 January shared the fate of the officers and men of the regiment who fell. He was killed while discharging his duty with the cool steadfastness which characterised him, being in the act of serving out to the men, in the thick of the engagement, the cartridges which enabled them to make their last desperate stand against the savage foe.
On the announcement of Quartermaster Bloomfield’s death being made, many letters from unexpected sources, testifying to his worth, and bearing record of his acts of simple, unostentatious kindness in the past were written, the burden of each and all being that those who had known him had never – to use words already quoted – had cause to wish him aught but well. “He was a stanch soldier, a warm-hearted friend, and a good husband and father, “ wrote Captain St. Aubyn, late of the 2-24th, - a brief summary of his character which is supplemented by words written in a letter to "The Times” by Major-General Ross, during whose command the Quartermaster obtained his rank: “A more upright, conscientious man I am sure never existed.”
If one soldierly attribute may be said to have distinguished Bloomfield more than another, it is that he was intensely thorough: that which he laid his hand to, he did cheerfully and with all his might.
Quartermaster Bloomfield is commemorated on his widow and daughter’s headstone at Lorne Road Cemetery, Brentford, Essex."

Source: Anglo Zulu War Historical Society
 

  EDWARD BLOOMFIELD QUARTERMASTER, ANOTHER SCAPEGOAT. ALONG WITH LORD CHELMSFORD,
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6pdr

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Wed Jan 08, 2014 6:40 pm

Well then we're all in agreement because not even Smith-Dorrien claimed he actually asked for a requisition. Nice straw man you knocked over though...
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Wed Jan 08, 2014 7:11 pm

So am I reading this correct. There was a ammuntion problem, and the reason behinds this lays with the incompetence of the officer in command of the camp, for not ensuring ammuntion was not available when needed.

6prd. Melvill can you elaborate on the " Witout Melvill " comment!
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Wed Jan 08, 2014 11:05 pm

But the time, they started to issue the ammuntion it was to late. There wasn't a chance of get enough to the firing lines. Who was responsible for Durnford's supply, was any of his men with his ammuntion wagon. Or did they just park it up and leave it there, the 24th supply would have been no use to the colonials. There is an account, when a colonial rider comes in for ammuntion only to find the ammuntion boxes hadn't been opened, who's ammuntion was he referring to ? Dunfords or the 24ths?
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 2:42 pm

24th wrote:
There is an account, when a colonial rider comes in for ammuntion only to find the ammuntion boxes hadn't been opened...

Perhaps this is because there were multiple ammunition boxes, not one.


Last edited by 6pdr on Thu Jan 09, 2014 2:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 2:50 pm

Chelmsfordthescapegoat wrote:
6prd. Melvill can you elaborate on the " Witout Melvill " comment!

CTSG,

I was merely agreeing with Littlehand's observation about how lost Pulleine was. When he received Chelmsford's message to move the camp he began to focus on that until Melvill brought him up short with a comment that implied it would be better to worry about the enemy rather than diverting resources to pack the wagons. Had Melvill not been the sort to get in Pulleine's (and, yes, Durnford's) face, things might have gone much worse for the British. Instead of being largely absent, Pulleine might have done positive harm.

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 2:59 pm

6pdr said..things might have gone much worse for the British.  scratch 
how much more worse than total annihilation could it get.  Very Happy 
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 3:10 pm

xhosa2000 wrote:
how much more worse than total annihilation could it get.  Very Happy 

I can see you're never read Bernard Malamud. Things can ALWAYS get worse. Even at Cannae or the Little Big Horn there was not COMPLETE annihilation...or survivors would not have written memoirs for us to squabble over. And if the entire force had been bagged, they might have been routed and killed more quickly. One way the latter might have happened is if Pulleine had pulled men off the line to pack wagons for Chelmsford's planned relocation. That said, Pulleine's cluelessness wouldn't have directly impacted the ammo supply. Those wagons were stocked, in situ and staffed. I don't believe anyone could/would have sent them off in the midst of an attack...but as they say in court the exchange with Melvill, "goes to establish his state of mind at the time."  Salute 
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:52 pm

I can see you're never read Bernard Malamud. you say 6pdr..
an american jewish short story writer who mainly wrote about
the human condition.. 6pdr yet again you assume!!
"If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance". Orville Wright..one of yours i believe!

Lets stick to what i actually said please, and please in this place you will not get away with
splitting hairs in such an obvious fashion.

there was not COMPLETE annihilation...or survivors would not have written memoirs for us to squabble over. you said..
every thing in that camp was dead! stabbed to the very metal's. remember all the feint heart's
had fled! those who remained were completely annihilated!..think about what you posted!  Salute 
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:54 pm

We know, helmet and hands falls we're going to the Compaines, but as someone has asked was it to those men nearest the camp. I doub't that any were getting out to the furthest Compaines. Most were no doub't looking to get way before the horns closed. I'm not sure, but is it possible that Pulleine had been killed before the lines broke. He doesn't seemed to have any input in the distrubuting of the ammuntion in oneway or another?
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:04 pm

xhosa2000 wrote:
those who remained were completely annihilated!..think about what you posted!

xhosa -- My bad. I should have posted a  Very Happy after the Malamud comment. It was meant as a joke, not as a challenge.

But the fact remains that those who were dead could not flee...so of course they were completely annihilated...but the entire column was not. 
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:18 pm

sas1 wrote:
We know, helmet and hands falls we're going to the Compaines, but as someone has asked was it to those men nearest the camp. I doub't that any were getting out to the furthest Compaines. Most were no doub't looking to get way before the horns closed. I'm not sure, but is it possible that Pulleine had been killed before the lines broke. He doesn't seemed to have any input in the distrubuting of the ammuntion in oneway or another?

I agree that Pulleine wasn't DIRECTLY responsible IF there was an ammunition shortage...but it would have been his responsibility, generally speaking, to adjust to any shortcomings in the defense as best he could. BTW, I think Essex said he dispatched a cart full, so it wasn't strictly hand and hat. AFAIK though resupply was typically handled by dispatching individuals back to the supply point to retrieve ammunition. From what I've read, common practice was a "pull system" rather than a "push system" meaning the ranking officer in a formation would send somebody when he thought his troops were running low. My guess is that the lack of a documented "push" supply procedure was because new weapons like the M-H were increasing the rates of fire faster than the military bureaucracy could adjust...but that's just a guess. In any case, Pulleine certainly hadn't the experience to anticipate the problem...assuming there even was a shortage of ammo aside from the donga.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:26 pm

Agree, if they had. Ordered Compaines to the front, for the purpose of engaging the enermy, they should have ensure they had the necessary equipment to do so!
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:35 pm

sas1 wrote:
Agree, if they had. Ordered Compaines to the front, for the purpose of engaging the enermy, they should have ensure they had the necessary equipment to do so!

For me to believe there was a widespread shortage (apart from in the donga) I would have to see the balance of Zulu accounts mentioning it. By and large the Zulu accounts do not mention a concerted slacking off of firing until very late in the battle when "last stand" groups were cut off and isolated from each other and the ammunition supply. We do know there was plenty left in the wagons when the battle was over.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:41 pm

Hello everyone, a very interesting discussion!
Mr Greaves wrote:
There has to have been a problem with the ammuntion. If it was getting to the firing lines they would have held.


The firing line had to retreat because it was outflanked on both sides.
So when was the ammunition problem solved as the infantry continued to fire for several more hours?

Andy
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 6:49 pm

6pdr
A small point but Im sure that it was Gardner that suggested to Pullein that he ignore the Generaks order, this after commenting that he looked nonplussed when hearing Shepstones report.

Regards
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 6:55 pm

Of interest to the discussion is that Essex doesn't mention a lack of firepower when the line disintegrated, he had been with Durnford shortly before, in fact Essex attributes the line collapse to the NNC stampeding through the lines. And he,Essex had gone down to the line, appox 300 yards away from the camp, to check on the ammunition supply chain. He makes no comment that there was a shortage.
Its at this point, when the companies then converged that Mehlokazulu states the fire power was at its strongest, hardly an indication that the supply chain had failed.
Just a thought.

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 7:09 pm

" NNC stampeding " I think the NNC were used as Scapegoats. If they hadn't run, what else were they supposed to do. As we say the Battle was lost mainly due to o erwhelming numbers. An unarmed unit can not be blamed for the collapse of the line, who was protecting the NNC?
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 7:16 pm

SAS
It happened, theres testimony to that effect, from widely disparate sources. The fact that they were at a critical part of the battlefield and closest to the advancing impi is a poor piece of Generalship on behalf of Pulleine and I fully agree they could not be faulted for retreating. But the point is they did, and that was a key element, not the only one, in the line breaking.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 7:19 pm

I just have my doubts regarding these officers accounts. They seem to give a good account of themselves, but quick to relate what others did wrong. And not one mentions the officers commanding being incapable.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 7:21 pm

6pdr  Salute  and i was a tad to quick
at leaping to the ' none challenge ' your
posts are interesting.. hope you have
your thermals on. vortex.  Shocked 
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 7:26 pm

The retreat is mentioned in other accounts, Nyanda I think is one Plus there are at least two from the colonial side. The NNC were in a no win situation, the impi was close enough to shout threats, they had only traditional arms to defend themselves, pretty invidious position. And I wouldn't have traded positions with them, but PC or not they did break.

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 7:33 pm

6pdr
Thanks for the reminder Xhosa, hope that 6pdr and the family are all well and seeing out the vortex safely.

Take care out there
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 8:00 pm

Who was the Native regiment that retreated prior to the NNC.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jan 09, 2014 9:17 pm

springbok  Salute 
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:37 am

SAS
Wally Erskine seems to think that Pakade's men were the first to break, 2/3rd NNC. Malindi 1/3rd NNC confirms that then says that when that happened they were ordered to retire. Shortly after the retreat sounded.
Lt Walter James map 18.3.1879, entitled '3rd position at 1PM' is pretty clear on the break point.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jun 16, 2014 10:53 pm

I have been considering this of late, and can't think of an argument to dispute it.

"An observation by Ian Knight.

"Smith-Dorrien’s comment that the 24th were ‘making every round tell’ should be taken as a tribute to their reliability rather than at face value. This is particularly important, because an unrealistic assessment of the potential destructiveness of rifles on the battlefield can distort our reading of events. Clearly, if the 24th did indeed hit their targets with every shot, the 600-odd men of the 24th in the firing line would have killed the entire Zulu army in 34 volleys!"

The men would have had enough ammuntion on them to allow 34 volleys. What prevented them from doing so.  scratch 
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jun 17, 2014 2:07 am

springbok9 wrote:
SAS
Wally Erskine seems to think that Pakade's men were the first to break, 2/3rd NNC. Malindi 1/3rd NNC confirms that then says that when that happened they were ordered to retire. Shortly after the retreat sounded.
Lt Walter James map 18.3.1879, entitled '3rd position at 1PM' is pretty clear on the break point.

Cheers

OR, after the retreat was sounded did Pakade's men simply move out the quickest?  Convenient to use them as the cause afterward but anybody who really knew from the British line was surely killed.  What I'd like to know is how otherwise competent officers could have possibly allowed such a vulnerability to develop in their defense line to begin with?  It strains credulity. If we are going to assume that both command and line officers were that passive then the British had ABSOLUTELY no chance of surviving this encounter.  Was Pulleine that clueless?  How about the various lieutenants and captains?  

Chelmsfords' orders clearly stipulated that colonial formations -- white or black -- be deployed in a more or less protected fashion to be used for a follow up pursuit.  Textbook stuff that we see executed later in the war.  Is there another example of militia (because apart from the mounted troops, that's what the NNC was, at best) being mistakenly stuck in the center of a line of Regulars in any other battles during this time frame? Just because something is clearly indicated does not make it true.  By themselves, maps drawn post-battle are just paperwork.


Last edited by 6pdr on Tue Jun 17, 2014 2:16 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jun 17, 2014 2:12 am

Chelmsfordthescapegoat wrote:
What prevented them from doing so.  scratch 

The fact that they weren't supermen? In modern combat you're lucky to hit at 1%, let alone 100%. What he is implying is that too many people inflate the men of the 24th to be perfect soldiers. They may have been steady shots, but having 20,000+ men encircle them wasn't something any 600 men could have dealt with under the circumstances.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jun 17, 2014 2:55 am

the ammunition ' problem ' is a mute point!
25,000ish overwhelming 1700, whats the
problem, over extended lines,, for god sake
they were a mile and a half from the camp
when the doo started hitting the fan! the
consensus is that they retired in good order,
well can somebody define good order?

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jun 17, 2014 8:03 am

There are a number of issues that need a response.
CTSG
If every shot hit then yes Ian would have been right, but there is a Zulu testimony that comments on the bullets striking the ground. That would indicate that some sights/range calling was out.
Break down the numbers, approx. 3000 men facing of against each company of just over 100 men. 30 -1 running down on the line if each private got of 6 rounds in a minute and scored 100% accuracy that still leaves 24 or so Zulus covering that 200 metres in under a minute. Once they were motivated to charge it was overwhelming.
6pd
Political sensibilities aside, there are to many pointers to take a rapidly retreating NNC out of the equation. Essex is pretty clear on the issue. As to what effect that had on the line? It must have had some form of reaction, did it cause the bugles to be sounded? Most certainly the bugles were sounded afterwards.

Julian and I had a lengthy discussion on why the NNC was in the position it was. His view point was that the line was formed in accordance with the instructions laid down by Chelmsford. My view point is because of the nature and speed the conflict developed it was formed by the situation. The NNC at the 'hinge' were most likely retreating towards the camp and found them selves in line, we do know there were NNC on the ridge falling back in front of the chest, we also know there were NNC between the Conical koppie and the Notch. Either of those detachments would have been following a retreat path that put them in that position.
I don't believe they were positioned deliberately in that position, or indeed they were moved forward from the camp. If that's an acceptable proposition then the only other way the got to that point was on retreat. They had imperial forces either side of them delivering a fair rate of fire down hill into the dongas, in fact one company was moved forward to get a clearer shot into the donga. At that point the NNC were in the perfect position to do what was intended of them, wait for the impi to break and flee and then chase and destroy. So why would there be a concern for them?

Its only when the impi started to advance and the slow withdrawl to the final line position happened that they felt in danger and broke.

Maps drawn post battle are history recorded, usually by the winners, in this unusual case by the losers.

Les, the mile and a half from camp was at the begging of the conflict, on the spur. When the line formed they were a matter of yards away from the NNC lines.

Cheers

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jun 17, 2014 12:45 pm

The ammunition question! all 45/46....pages of it
in this place alone! the ammo was in wagons which
were clearly marked, every man in that camp knew
what the red flags indicated, indeed most will have
marched alongside,pushed and dragged them at
some point..so what was the most important factor!
yes springbok i fully understand your comment but
the British had never encountered the zulu! i find the
notion of a perfect storm, ludicrous! every shot kills
or renders a Zulu ineffective..what! 55 Europeans
escaped to tell there tale! all from their own narrow
perspective, were the British really that rigid in their
tactics to be able to withdraw in good order, if so
good order implies that behind the front some pretty
decisive decisions were promptly being made, so it
again beggers belief that Pulleine was not asking for
and receiving information in a continuous flow, so at
the first he was estimating the progress of the enemy
and thinking amongst all the other information, the
ammunition!! its more than basic.." hang it all qm you
dont want a reacquisition now do you" in my view that
is utter b.....ks, looking at the sheer mass of the enemy
you would imagine he would be slinging boxes off as
damned quick as he could! but no we are left forever with
the image of this vastly experienced officer as a slow
methodical automaton..but on who's say so. from one
amongst other's who fled the field! did panic set in as the
line collapsed and they were driven in? yeah i reckon it
did, the back to back struggles were conducted with bravery
and grim determination, but then they would be, they had
no where else to go, so they all got chopped, simple!. just
my opinion, other opinions as they say are available..
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jun 17, 2014 1:31 pm

Hi Les
There are a few things connected to iSandlwana that started of in the imagination of various authors and have been accepted as fact.
The Smith Dorrien quote, " Hang it all man you don't want a requisition now." is a prime example of Morris taking that to mean a criticism of a pedantic QM.
To believe that this bunch of hardened soldiers wouldn't know how to smash open an ammo box with any tool that happened to be around. smash on the ground is beyond belief.
So yes I fully agree.
The ammunition wagons were in three separate locations, one behind each of the battalion camps and the third on the neck being the regimental reserves. The closest to the Northern and Eastern front lines was a matter of a couple of hundred yards. The 1/24th was about the same distance from Pope. They weren't a mile away.
There was prior preparation, bandsmen were told of as stretcher bearers and ammunition carriers, albeit they didn't anticipate what was coming after them.
Essex makes it plain that he was asked by the retreating Cavaye etc to get additional supplies forward. I wont believe that such an experienced regiment left it to the last possible moment to get extra ammo.
Nope for me the retreat was an staged withdrawl, until that frantic and brave rush by the impi set up the rush from the NNC and then the coalesence of the companies into more compact formations and the fighting retreat. It was a fighting retreat, the bodies didn't start appearing until half way across the camp face.

Just my thoughts.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Jun 17, 2014 2:08 pm

Nope for me the retreat was an staged withdrawl, until that frantic and brave rush by the impi set up the rush from the NNC and then the coalesence of the companies into more compact formations and the fighting retreat. It was a fighting retreat, the bodies didn't start appearing until half way across the camp face.


Yeah Frank, i have no problem with that, a staged withdrawal sure! but who
was talking to who, and at what points! answer probably.. every one! the
two forward company commanders watching the zulu right horn slip around
the back! were they conversing as well as directing fire! ie, one nipping over
to the other while the nco's carried on! and so on..these were all well seasoned
and highly disciplined troops who had been in country for some years and could
reasonable expect to predict the outcome going forward..only they could'nt! the
Zulu gave not a fig, they had their own agenda..to throw the white dogs out of
their country.. so we have read they thought " they were giving the ...... a right
hammering". and when the fire slackened, our hero rose and said his piece..and
the whole game was up! but back to my original question..who, was talking to
who? blaming the poor NNC just does not wash, more scapegoating in my
opinion.
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