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 The ammunition question

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90th

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PostSubject: The Ammunition Question    Thu Jun 19, 2014 11:58 am

Hi Springy
Well I won ! , although it isn't enough to get a taxi to the airport let alone a flight to the Cape !  Mad Mad Mad Mad 
90th  Salute 
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jun 19, 2014 12:27 pm

90th
Old African saying. You eat an elephant one mouth full at a time.
Les
Thanks mate.
Frederic
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This is the ridge to the South of the camp. You can see the monument with the spike, that's the site of Durnfords stand. I believe that the Zulu left horn came around from the donga, way down to the right of the photo, and up behind this ridge before going over into the tents.
The uMbanambi regiment had split, some extending with the Uve and the balance hitting on the knuckle ( opposite the NNC ).

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jun 19, 2014 12:30 pm

90th
No don't have the Fitzroy book, but Ive been reading some of the excerpts you've been posting. Certainly looks good.
I picked up a first edition Moodie a couple of years back, pride of place in the collection, Les weep your heart out mate.  Very Happy 

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jun 19, 2014 3:49 pm

Frank just got in and saw that, i'm crying! naughty african  Very Happy 
its cracking the flags here in manc, sizzling! think 90th said it
was the same for him.  Shocked 
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jun 19, 2014 4:25 pm

90th wrote:
I know there are references stating Ammunition was getting sent to the Firing line , my problem is ,  and will always be ,  just how much actually got delivered ? , probably no doubt some got delivered , but I believe not enough .

90th,
I think if we look at more maps that depicted where the lines were AFTER the retreat down from the spur this question seems less important. This is because the 3 north facing companies would have been driven back toward/on the 2nd Battalion ammunition wagons. Indeed one source says that for that part of the line almost backed up against Bloomfield's position before it shattered entirely.

I certainly do see your point wrt Pope's company...but then we also have the vignette of the drummer boy who would not leave with Molife after it was clear the battle was lost. My understanding is the drummer boys were a primary source of ammunition distribution. They may have been too young to understand the peril they were in and "soldiered on" despite the danger. Hard to know for sure.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jun 19, 2014 4:32 pm

Hi Steve
The one 90th and I are constantly praising is Ian Knights. For both us its the first one we grab when a question is asked that we need an answer for. It is for me anyway, 90th just pulls the answers out of his memory. But he is younger than me.  Very Happy 

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jun 19, 2014 4:33 pm

springbok9 wrote:
It has been speculated that the call started at one point and was then repeated...

Yes, I know -- mostly by YOU!  Wink  (But don't get me wrong Frank -- I find your speculations absolutely invaluable.)
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jun 19, 2014 4:47 pm

Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy  As Ive said ad naseum its all about what we think as individuals.

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jun 19, 2014 7:18 pm

Just a reminder of a Post made by 90th some time ago.

This from Ian Knight.


AMMUNITION
My view on this is pretty straightforward - there was no significant failure of supply of ammunition to the forward companies which contributed to the British defeat.
Much of the myth to the contrary comes from Smith-Dorrien's account of his conversation with the 2/24th's Quartermaster, Edward Bloomfield, and Bloomfield's famous reply 'For Heaven's sake don't take that man, for it belongs to our battalion.' In his memoirs, written much later, Smith-Dorrien implies that this exchange happened at the height of the battle, and that the British collapse followed shortly afterwards. Yet curiously in a letter to his father written just after the battle Smith-Dorrien doesn't mention this incident, but says pretty much the opposite - that he was out at the front line for most of the battle distributing ammunition to the 24th. This apparent contradiction can best be explained by his shifting memory - that the incident with Bloomfield took place earlier in the battle - and that in fact Smith-Dorrien did in the end get his ammunition.
It's worth noting that the 2/24th camp lay closer to the line than the 1/24th one. Smith-Dorrien - who, as a transport officer, had no particular duties in battle, and was exactly the sort of individual likely to be employed to fetch fresh ammunition - came across the 2/24th supplies first. These were loaded on a wagon (marked by a coloured flag) behind the battalion tents. But - and this is a very significant point - before he had left the camp early that morning, Lord Chelmsford had ordered that the reserve supply for the 2nd Battalion - whom he took with him - be made ready to be sent to him if he needed it. In other words, the 2/24th had marched out with the usual 70 rounds in their pouches, and their reserve, 200 rounds a man, was still in camp. So when Smith-Dorrien asked for some, Bloomfield not unnaturally said no. In my view it would have been a dereliction of his duty to do otherwise - he had been specifically ordered to have it ready for Chelmsford if he needed it. Supposing, at this early stage, the attack on the camp had proved a feint, and the real attack was directed at Chelmsford - the 2/24th (and Bloomfield!) would have been in real trouble if Chelmsford sent back for it, only to discover it had been issued at Isandlwana!
In fact, however, it is clear that Bloomfield relented soon after this. Captain Essex arrived, having intitially been up onto the ridge with Mostyn and Cavaye - when Mostyn and Cavaye retired, Essex went to make sure there was a supply of ammunition being sent out to them (in other words, pretty much at the height of the battle). Now presumably he found Bloomfield and Smith-Dorrien still together, because Essex says Bloomfield then helped him pack up boxes to go to the front line. Why did Bloomfield relent? Well, for one thng Smith-Dorrien was still wet behind the ears, a young 19 year-old lieutenant, and Bloomfield probably didn't trust his judgement - Essex, on the other hand, was older, a captain, and Smith-Dorrien's superior. Also, the situation had then changed, for we know from Essex's account that the full extent of the Zulu attack only really became apparent when Mostyn and Cavaye were forced off the ridge - so Bloomfield could judge for himself now that the situation was quite serious. Essex says he sent some unattached men, mostly RA, out to the line under an officer - this was presumably Smith-Dorrien, as confirmed by his letter to his father - carrying boxes. With Bloomfield's help Essex then loaded up a Scotch cart with ammo, and took it out himself. A Scotch cart could carry up to sixty boxes - each with 600 rounds. We don't know how many Essex loaded up, but it was presumably quite a few - so a lot of ammunition went out to the line.
Did it reach it, could the boxes be opened, and did the 24th companies keep up their fire? When we did the partial archaeological survey of Isandlwana in 2000, we went over sections of the firing line with metal detectors. Although the battlefield has been picked over across the years, we still found quite a lot of debris. There were indications that the 24th had initially advanced further out than most historians thought - down into the hollows towards the dongas running across the foot of the iNyoni heights - but had then retired to a more secure position 100 or 200 meters behind, presumably as the Zulu attack developed. This was on higher ground and in some places there are quite a few boulders for cover (behind one cluster of rocks we found half a dozen Martini-Henry cartridge-cases on top of one another). Now one would expect this to have been the 24th's position when the reserve ammunition (Smith-Dorrien, Essex) reached them - and indeed, we found the remains of a number - again, maybe half a dozen - of the ring-pull handles from the lining of the boxes along this position. This shows that boxes not only reached them, but were opened there. Of course we would expect to find remains surviving from only a small proportion of boxes opened - so the likelihood is many more boxes were opened on these positions.
The boxes themselves are held together by copper bands, but there is a wedge-shaped sliding panel in the middle. This is screwed down - one screw - and obviously this screw is supposed to be removed. But in an emergency a sharp blow to the edge of the panel will split the wooden lid around the screw and knock it out. The dig was filmed for the TV documentary series 'Secrets of the Dead', and Tony Pollard and I re-enacted breaking open a box to see if it could be done. In fairness, the box was one made up by the TV company and not made of mahogany, as the real boxes were - but a sharp blow on the edge with a rifle butt broke it open very easily. Since then it has been pointed out to me by a serving colonel that actually the troops would probably have used the mallets provided to knock in tent pegs, as there were hundreds of these in the camp.
Now here's another interesting point. When we broke it open, the screw stayed lodged in the box side, but was bent over by the impact. Over the years a number of the real screws have been found on the battlefield bent in this way - and of course it would be exceptionally difficult to bend them by some other means (try bending a screw without one end of it being fixed in something! Fix it in something and whack it with a hammer and you'll see what I mean).
To me this is very clear proof - together with the remains of the lining lids - that there was no major problem opening the boxes. It's also interesting to note that one of the W.W. Lloyd sketches of the battlefield in the David Rattray book shows debris on the firing line - including very clearly an open and empty ammunition box.
The other point to mention is whether the Zulus mention any failure of the 24th's fire early in the battle. They do not. They talk about some badly aimed volleys, and the firing ceasing when the 24th rose up to retire on the tents - but many of them (I won't list them all here!) talk about the 24th stopping to fire volleys as they fell back, and the heavy volume of fire that the stands on the nek put down. Obviously, this would not have been possible if the 24th had been forced to retire due to ammunition failure.
It is true that Qm Bloomfield was shot dead while loading boxes onto a mule, and that someone says they saw mules plunging about trying to throw off their boxes - but this must have been later in the fight, after Essex had taken out his cart (simply because we know Bloomfield was alive then - Essex says he was killed shortly after). As the Zulu attack developed, so their fire grew heavier, much of it passing over the heads of the 24th and falling on the flats or in the camp behind - hence stories of ammunition runners being hit before they reached the line. But - it is important to note that only a small part of the resupply operation was affected in this way.
It's also worth saying most of the evidence we have is regarding the 2nd Battn supplies - there is no reason to believe that the 1st 24th did not also (admittedly perhaps later, being further away) send out ammunition to their own companies in addition - but that we don't have the evidence on this point because everyone involved was killed. As probably did the Volunteers - and one of the NNC who survived (a man named Malindi) mentions specifically that 'our ammunition failed once but we got more from the camp'.
It's also true that Durnford was in a different position - when he arrived in the camp that morning his ammunition wagons were still on the road behind him - and he rode out again before they had arrived. There are a number of suggestions that, as a result, when he sent men back from the donga to get fresh supplies, they couldn't find where his wagons had been parked - and that his men did indeed run out of ammunition.
Finally, of course even if the soldiers of the 24th had a good supply of ammunition in their pouches when they retired from the forward positions, this could not last indefinately, and that once the fighting was raging hand to hand among the tents it was impossible to organise fresh supplies. So they kept shooting until it was gone - and hence the stories of men running out of ammunition in the 'last stands', and fighting on with the bayonet.
There are those, of course, who say that all the archaeological evidence of open boxes could be explained by the Zulus smashing open the boxes afterwards. To me it seems absurd to argue that an experienced battalion like the 24th could not open their own boxes but that the Zulus (many of whom had never seen a European wooden box before) could. Nor is this consistent with the remains being found along the British forward positions. I have no doubt that the Zulus did smash open the boxes they captured, but that most of these were undistributed ones still in the camp. The late Donald Morris had a length of copper strap from a box which had clearly been prised off by a pointed object - in my view this is evidence of a Zulu having tried to open the box, since a soldier of the 24th would have known that the straps did not need to be removed to access the packets within.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jun 19, 2014 7:33 pm

yeah Knight is one of the better ones!

their reserve, 200 rounds a man, was still in camp. So when Smith-Dorrien asked for some, Bloomfield not unnaturally said no. In my view it would have been a dereliction of his duty to do otherwise - he had been specifically ordered to have it ready for Chelmsford if he needed it. Supposing, at this early stage, the attack on the camp had proved a feint, and the real attack was directed at Chelmsford - the 2/24th (and Bloomfield!) would have been in real trouble if Chelmsford sent back for it, only to discover it had been issued at Isandlwana!

lets examine this in detail, " this early stage" was it not the case that at this early stage the camp
was being attacked by many thousands?......
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jun 19, 2014 9:50 pm

xhosa2000 wrote:
their reserve, 200 rounds a man, was still in camp. So when Smith-Dorrien asked for some, Bloomfield not unnaturally said no. In my view it would have been a dereliction of his duty to do otherwise - he had been specifically ordered to have it ready for Chelmsford if he needed it.

With all due respect to Mr. Knight, I'm going to play Devil's advocate here. First off, what Chelmsford wanted was a second wagon loaded so that the regiment would have a supply at its new camp. He did not in any way expect to deprive the existing camp from enough to defend itself during an attack. And indeed, I believe that Bloomfield had two wagons sitting side by side at the time of the attack. At any rate there were plenty of rounds available for both camps...and Helpmakaar had even more bullets 12 miles away.

If we take SD's story at face value (which is admittedly problematic since it was written decades later,) it's also interesting that he perceived the Zulu threat as a clear and present danger whereas the (presumably) grizzled veteran fussed like a maiden aunt. We know who turned out to be correct.

I have a theory about that fussing. The British Army abroad was expected to be, if not profit making, at least a break even proposition. Without getting into who is right and who is wrong, the exact same set of issues that lead to the American Revolution (or war of independence,) were rearing their ugly head in S. Africa. The colonists did not want to pay for their own garrisoning and neither did the Conservative government in London. Frere was therefore asked NOT to exacerbate the situation by prosecuting wars...and when he actually lost the first battle incurring great unbudgeted expenses, it cost him his job and brought down Disraeli's government.

Throughout a myriad of memoirs and newspaper reports I have noticed an ongoing concern with profiteering and the spoils of victory -- part of the pattern of over confidence. Chelmsford promised land to the colonists for fighting the Zulu, promises which he had no authority to make or meet. (This is also part and parcel of the vilification of Durnford, who notably, had found no basis for any such land grabs. He just wasn't playing his part.)

The constant concern with grabbing up not just cattle, but any livestock available is evident because they were reselling these animals with all sorts of attendant corruption. A Marxist might note that Durnford's scouts were chasing after cattle to pilfer when they blundered into the Zulu army! Smith-Dorrien, being an offspring of the military class, noticed all of this, including the profiteering which became obvious to him even as a 19 year old.

So, I think this was accountability gone wrong. I think Bloomfield felt every round had to be accounted for -- and it wasn't going to come out of his skin -- especially if those asking were not members of his regiment.


Quote :

Supposing, at this early stage, the attack on the camp had proved a feint, and the real attack was directed at Chelmsford - the 2/24th (and Bloomfield!) would have been in real trouble if Chelmsford sent back for it, only to discover it had been issued at Isandlwana!

Honestly, I don't think there was any shortage of ammunition. But getting a heavy ammunition wagon through contested terrain would have been a very tough challenge had Chelmsford's "advance force" been attacked instead. That is just one of the reasons his decision making deserves close questioning.

Quote :

lets examine this in detail, " this early stage" was it not the case that at this early stage the camp
was being attacked by many thousands?......

Apparently, it was to Smith-Dorrien but he had been up near the main headquarters tent earlier and therefore had a better grasp of the situation than the majority on the battlefield that day.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jun 19, 2014 10:04 pm


xhosa2000 wrote:
their reserve, 200 rounds a man, was still in camp. So when Smith-Dorrien asked for some, Bloomfield not unnaturally said no. In my view it would have been a dereliction of his duty to do otherwise - he had been specifically ordered to have it ready for Chelmsford if he needed it....not me!
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jun 19, 2014 10:25 pm

xhosa2000 wrote:
In my view it would have been a dereliction of his duty to do otherwise -

1) There were two wagons. It needn't have come from "Chelmsford's wagon."
2) That means that Bloomfield was in dereliction of duty when Essex showed up and took it anyway. You can't have it both ways.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jun 19, 2014 10:59 pm

6pdr, listen! and then look carefully!!
you are mixing up the quote's,two different
people are we! lj and ij... Very Happy   Suspect 
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jun 19, 2014 11:07 pm

Extract. Mehlokazulu

"A: The men on horseback retreated very slowly when they saw the Zulu army, while the uKhandempenvu , also called the Umcityu. chased them. The men on Horseback withdrew and dismounted four times, remounting when we were close. Our Army must have seemed numerous at all times, because we never stopped in our advance. There's a small red hill to the side of Isandlwana and there, two compaines of men on horseback confronted the iNgobamakhosi, to which I belong. Approximately the same distance from the camp as between the courthouse and fort napier, but we were high up on the slope. Some of the men on horseback had white stripes on their trousers and there were also men dressed in black , but none of the native contingent was in front of the hill. The iNgobamakhosi and Uve Regiments attacked on this side. The English force stopped to turn around and fire, but we withstood the fire: they couldn't stop us.

There is a donga on the side of this small hill in which we were stopped by their fire. I saw that they kept their horses inside the donga and all we could see were their helmets. They opened fire at us and we had to retreat with heavy losses, laying down and waiting to get up again"


What regiment is he referring to? Highlighted in orange.

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Thu Jun 19, 2014 11:18 pm

This cartoon demonstrates the British
attitude to a tee, look at the laughing
Zulu in the picture, Chelmsford is seen
as trampling on Pullein's memory, of
course there was no ammunition failure
in the sense most think of it, its taken
well over a century to overcome the
propaganda and dissemination which was
put in place from the out set and rein-
forced by vested interest..

http://illiweb.com/fa/pbucket.gif?sort=6&o=0
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Fri Jun 20, 2014 1:08 am



What regiment is he referring to? Highlighted in orange.

[/quote]


Bonjour,
The troopers with Durnford (NNH and colonial units under Bradstreet)
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:37 am

Ulundi
In Durnfords retreat he stopped in at least two dongas before getting to the one referered to by Mehlokazulu, and identified by ymob.
This one is at the bottom of the 'Notch.
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A Closer view, shows how bad the countryside is
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And this how deep it is
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This is the type of terrain that the column was having to cross.

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Fri Jun 20, 2014 9:02 am

Thanks Sprinkbok. Are we talking thousands or Hundreds of Zulu attacking these men in the donga.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Fri Jun 20, 2014 10:48 am

Ulundi
Well into the thousands, iNgobamakhosi were in the region of 4000, Uve also 4000 plus there were elements of the Undi Corps and uMbonambi.
Compare that strength with the right horn of under 3000, and the chest of around 5-6000 Definitly not balanced, so possibly lends credence to the story of the army only attacking because they were surprised?
Something to puzzle over ?

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Fri Jun 20, 2014 12:42 pm


Ymob
Some bold statements there my friend.
Pope on the way down? Not according to Harry Davis; 'the infantry were on my immediate left but none on my right. Ergo Popes men were in place during the battle of the donga.
Mehlokazulu mentions that his regiment suffered under a cross fire from the colonials and the soldiers.
The only people that could order a Company around would either be its regimental commander, its adjutant or the camp commander surely? The 2/24th were out of camp, that would rule out Glyn or Clery, the obvious choice then would be Pulleine, via one of his minions.

With regard to 'Durnford didn't find him!' We don't know that.
He could have done. We do know that Durnford was seen on a track through the camp. Harry Davis sees him at the front of the Artillery camp, Jacob Molife says: 'the colonel rode straight on to the Generals tent at the upper end of the camp.'
At some time on this ride Gardner spotted Durnford and spoke to him. Gardner was told to stay with Pulleine ( Gardners statement ). Its then only an extention to suppose that gardner had been sent to find out what was happening with Durnfords force. Again by extention, Pulleine had to be in a position to see that side of the battle field. There are only two places, behind the eastern front or from the Head Quarters area. If he was behind Pope on the Eastern front and sent Gardner to see whats going on he would have missed Durnford who would have been riding of at a large tangent. My thoughts therefore would place Pulleine, right or wrong, at the HQ tent.
Durnford and Essex meet up on the firing line, Essex says he went there to check on the ammunition supply, theres no mention of Pulleine by him. It was during that meeting that the NNC started to rush past them.
uMbonambi
They were credited with being the first into the camp. The left horn when they were held up by Durnford moved towards the South, there is a ridge there that runs up from the donga to the koppie. The 1/24th camp was on the bottom slopes of that ridge/fold. Its feasible that the left horn used that natural feature to get around and into the tented camp area and so attack the southern flank, and also to be first into the camp.

What we do know is that Durnford got back across the camp to that flank to try and cover the left horn. Hamer says: '1 company and Colonel Durnford covered the retreat.' Mehokazulu mentions the same group of about 100 and identifies Durnford and the continual shout of 'Fire', so they did have ammo in order to: ' fire at a fearfull rate.'

But as always, " You Pay your money and take your choice."

Hi Springbok,
This analysis strengthens your point of view (I.E: left horn: no immediate danger for Pulleine)
But as you say: "you pay your money and take your choice" Salute

I.E: Many thanks for the photos: help to understand the topography...
Cheers

Frédéric

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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Fri Jun 20, 2014 1:01 pm

ymob
Frederic look at the prievious post to yours above. The numbers of the left wing, right wing and chest don't balance, the left horn is close to twice the size of the chest which should be the strongest. Ive often thought that maybe Ntshingwayo could have been cleverer than we think. We do know that there was a lot of confusion between left horn and right horn up on the plateau. Historians have all put this down to the inpi being disturbed and just charging of.
But what if????????? What if Ntshingway got to the ridge line, looked down and saw the way the troops were lining up parallel to the ridge, he looks down the Quabe valley and sees his left horn chasing down Durnford. Is it possible he then diverted a portion of the chest to go down onto the plain and join up with the left horn knowing he could out flank the troops lining up below?

Just a thought for you to ponder !

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Fri Jun 20, 2014 1:57 pm

springbok9 wrote:
ymob
Frederic look at the prievious post to yours above. The numbers of the left wing, right wing and chest don't balance, the left horn is close to twice the size of the chest which should be the strongest. Ive often thought that maybe Ntshingwayo could have been cleverer than we think. We do know that there was a lot of confusion between left horn and right horn up on the plateau. Historians have all put this down to the inpi being disturbed and just charging of.
But what if????????? What if Ntshingway got to the ridge line, looked down and saw the way the troops were lining up parallel to the ridge, he looks down the Quabe valley and sees his left horn chasing down Durnford. Is it possible he then diverted a portion of the chest to go down onto the plain and join up with the left horn knowing he could out flank the troops lining up below?

Just a thought for you to ponder !

Cheers
Springbok,
My brain works since two evening on your interesting theory (the chest is the danger for Pulleine)!!!... Idea (but i can't see- for the moment- the light!)
Where is Mister WHYBRA?
I am curious to know his point of view, as you i am sure!
I.E: Your last though is  possible, very possible.

Amitiés.
Frédéric
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jun 23, 2014 3:19 pm

An interesting discussion but a lot of it has been covered in other posts already. I'll limit my involvement to the last five pages of posts and just make some general comments but answering specific questions here and there.

Smoke
The whole question of smoke on the field is a red herring. Conclusions based on the smoke produced by firing 130 year-old weapons are groundless. I'd be surprised if they didn't produce a lot of smoke! Smoke is not mentioned at the time as a problem and it should be noted that the firing line facing the plateau moved at least three times (ostensibly to get a better firing position or sighting but could also possibly have been to move out of 'settling smoke'). Whatever the shortcomings of British officers, knowingly halting their coys in palls of smoke is hardly credible. Officers were far more flexible and adaptable than they are being given credit for.

John
Your quotation from Moberly contains an inaccuracy. It was the Mark V (not VI) ammo box that was at Isandhlwana with the lid held in place by a single locking screw.

Ray63
There is plenty of evidence to show that ammunition was reaching the firing line coys. This has been collated and placed on the forum in other posts. I know that I've done it at least twice.

xhosa
The men ceertainly carried 70 rounds each and possibly 100 if the Field Force Regulations were being adhered to (and there is no reason to suspect they were not given Cherlmsford's order to Pulleine re his ammo waggon).

6pdr
Smith-Dorrien is referring to the waggon of the regimental reserve of the 2/24th i.e. the waggon loaded with the 30 extra rounds per man waiting to be sent out to Chelmsford's men. No wonder Bloomfield was angry. "Don't take that man! It belongs to OUR battalion!", i.e. the 2nd.

Springbok
Morris did not communicate with David Jackson before TWOTS was published. They did not meet until some years later - briefly - in an airport lounge when they compared their interpretations. They never communicated by letter.

Ray63
You wrote that "the officers were too busy saving themselves to think about ammunition". That's both unfair and unjustified. Not one 24th officer lived to tell the tale and every officer who was responsible for ORs at acompany level died with their men on the field of battle. There is not one shred of evidence to substantiate your remark.

Mr Greaves
You wrote that there "has to have been a problem with the ammunition. If it was getting to the line they would have held." I think you are misinterpreting the evidence here. The withdrawal occurred because of the flanking movements of the Zulu army combined with a frontal assault by the chest. The fact that the withdrawing coys maintained their fire (see Mehlokazulu et al.) during the withdrawal so well demonstrates that they had plenty of ammo.

Pakade's men
The reason why Pakade's men broke at that point was because it coincided with the Zulus' frontal charge. As springbok says, I would have been surprised if they hadn't broken.

Ulundi/ymob
The men in the donga being referred to are NMP, NC, and IMI (possibly a few BBG) under Bradstreet. They were on the extreme left of the NNH.

Sprongbok
Interesting proposition that the left horn was out of Pulleine's sight and therefore out of his mind, and that Tshingwayo diverted part of the left horn away from Durnford and towards the camp's right flank. I can't say that I find that it holds water particularly. Pulleine was far too much of a professional for that (and if he hadn't been, Melvill/Gardner would soon have reminded him).
Whilst it's true to say that to Pulleine, Durnford was away on the right and therefore would/should have the situation in hand (with some justification) and would let him know if he needed help (hadn't he made Pulleine so promise?!!), it is also true that the firing line curved or bent back (ultimately) to take the Zulu left horn into account. The far right was in fact out of Pulleine's line of sight initially but the action there would soon come into his vision. Wasn't it Pulleine who ordered Gardner to take Bradstreet and the mounted men and direct them to that part of the field?
Ntshingwayo was incapable of controlling the amabutho once the attack was launched and could not have exercised any control over (a portion of an already mobile wing). The time to do that was when Durnford could still have been cut off. Instead the left horn followed Durnford in towards the camp.
Your suggestion, I believe, holds more water when applied to the Zulu right horn and British left. Although Pulleine received isolated reports from the vedette on top of the mountain, neither he nor Durnford seem to have been aware (until very late - too late) of the build-up of Zulu force behind the mountain.

Just some thoughts to keep my hand in - I'm pretty much snowed under at the moment with personal and work matters - but I do keep an eye on what's being posted. Keep up the good debate!
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jun 23, 2014 3:59 pm

From Julian
Sprongbok
Interesting proposition that the left horn was out of Pulleine's sight and therefore out of his mind, and that Tshingwayo diverted part of the left horn away from Durnford and towards the camp's right flank. I can't say that I find that it holds water particularly. Pulleine was far too much of a professional for that (and if he hadn't been, Melvill/Gardner would soon have reminded him). I cant agree, he seems to have been prone to loosing control, wasn't it stated that at one time he was non plussed, could have been Brickhills words. Plus of course most of his experience was in administration.
Whilst it's true to say that to Pulleine, Durnford was away on the right and therefore would/should have the situation in hand (with some justification) and would let him know if he needed help (hadn't he made Pulleine so promise?!!), it is also true that the firing line curved or bent back (ultimately) to take the Zulu left horn into account. The far right was in fact out of Pulleine's line of sight initially but the action there would soon come into his vision. I shall dig out some photos taken along the length of the firing line, the donga is invisible across the current open ground, back then it was covered in tents.Wasn't it Pulleine who ordered Gardner to take Bradstreet and the mounted men and direct them to that part of the field? It was indeed and my contention is that at that point Pulleine was at the HQ tent, I have said that there were only two points he could have seen what was going on and that is one of them
Ntshingwayo was incapable of controlling the amabutho once the attack was launched and could not have exercised any control over (a portion of an already mobile wing). I do believe that that's a hoary old myth that's been perpetuated, the regiments did perform manouvers close to the ridge edge, its certainly a possibility that it was at his instigation. The time to do that was when Durnford could still have been cut off. Instead the left horn followed Durnford in towards the camp. Possibly it was the intention to do just that and the tangle with the rocket battery delayed that, when Durnford came round the corner the hand to hand scuffle was in progress. IF the RB wasn't in evidence that wing would have cut Durnford of rather well.
Your suggestion, I believe, holds more water when applied to the Zulu right horn and British left. Although Pulleine received isolated reports from the vedette on top of the mountain, neither he nor Durnford seem to have been aware (until very late - too late) of the build-up of Zulu force behind the mountain.
Will be good when you are cleared so we can take this forward, my thoughts incidently are not born out of any discussion on the forum but built up over a number of years and pretty much 'ground tested'. I shall fairly soon be putting down some detail in terms of times etc that hopefully will augment my case. Small thought to mull over while your labouring away is why was the size of the left horn so big? Almost 50% if not more that the whole force. I will post more accurate figure on that,

Cheers nice to hear from you again
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jun 23, 2014 4:31 pm

(Although Pulleine received isolated reports from the vedette on top of the mountain, neither he nor Durnford seem to have been aware (until very late - too late) of the build-up of Zulu force behind the mountain)....... i find that statement unbelievable..Porteous ands Mostyn were watching the right
horn going in their hundreds past their left front, the Zulu hardly heeding their fire continued to ' slip
around the back '! question? what did those two officers think the Zulu were doing, and did no one
communicate the fact to anybody at the time, or during the withdrawal? obviously not!.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jun 23, 2014 4:43 pm

Cant argue with that Les. Provided You mean Cavaye and Mostyn that is ? And I do not believe that that intel was not passed down to Pulleine.

Cheers Mate

Meant to ask by the way did you get that large scale map printed?
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jun 23, 2014 4:48 pm

Springbok

Momentarily non-plussed - that's from Gardner I believe and relates to the moment when confronted with two seemingly diametrically opposed situations - Chelmsford asking him to send on his waggons and pack up the camp and Shepstone asking for support in the face of a Zulu attack.  It was momentary and with a prompt from Gardner was followed by decisiveness.

Re Pulleine's line of sight - I was referring to Durnford's position way out on the plain, beyond Conical Koppie (I should have been clearer) - hence out of sight, out of mind.  Don't bother with the photos - I know the donga was visible from the front of the camp.  

We agree about the HQ tent position.

Remember that the 'hoary old myth' about Ntshingwayo's control of lack of the impi emanates from a hoary old Zulu who was there.  His words not mine.  And unless an ibutho was static - how would it be done??  Ntshingwayo had no control about the forward movement of the Zulus once the umCijo went pounding after Raw/Roberts, nor about the regimental order of attack which the Zulus adopted.  Nor about preventing Qetuka's coys of the uNdi corps from taking part in the left horn attack when his originally-designated position should have been elsewhere.

The rocket battery tussle was with musket/rifle-armed skirmishers, not with a full-blown regiment.  Russell's men could not possibly have held their own with anything of that order.

Re size:
centre umCijo umBonambi (umHlanga maybe)                   6500  (+1000 maybe)                      
left horn inGobamakhosi uVe (part of uNdi)                      6250 (+300 perhaps)
right horn uNokhenke, umXapo, uNodwengu                     4650
reserve uDhloko, uNdi (and inDluyengwe)                        5600  (+1000)
Where does the 50% come from?

xhosa/springbok

I agree that it's difficult to wonder what was going through Cavaye and Mostyn's minds and to understand why info passed on (if it was) wasn't acted upon.  I can only assume that once Mostyn and Cavaye withdrew down the slope they did not know what those right-horn Zulus had done (they may also not have known if there was a way down to the west of the mountain giving access to the rear).  Someone WAS sent to the rear of the mountain to hold them up - I suspect it was Murray's men with Shepstone in command - that's based on the fact that no-one in camp mentions Murray's coy, that no-one from that coy survived, and the position of Shepstone's body - but even as a suspicion it was too little too late.


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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jun 23, 2014 4:50 pm

Les Ive met with such an amazing and talented man. ( Its way of topic so I will let Pete decide where to put this ). He works in wire and beads, such a typical African Medium, Ive just bought the big 5. Awesum is the only description of this man talent. So much so that Ive commission a statuet of a 24th private and also a Zulu warrior. Looking forward to seeing them.
I will keep you up dated in case you manage to win some cash.  Very Happy 
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jun 23, 2014 4:54 pm

Julian
I will get back to you tomorrow. But I think your out on the left horn by a few thou, give or take the odd hundred or so.

Cheeers
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:06 pm

Julian Whybra wrote:

6pdr
Smith-Dorrien is referring to the waggon of the regimental reserve of the 2/24th i.e. the waggon loaded with the 30 extra rounds per man waiting to be sent out to Chelmsford's men.  No wonder Bloomfield was angry.  "Don't take that man!  It belongs to OUR battalion!", i.e. the 2nd.

I absolutely agree that Bloomfield was referring to a second wagon, and also that the contents of that wagon belonged to the 2/24th. In my imagination that 2nd wagon would be sitting with Bloomfield just behind the 2nd's tents. Do you see it any differently?



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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:10 pm

Springbok

Figures disagree:

inGobamakhosi:
Mehlokazulu 80 amaviyo plus 60 izinDuna total 5600
Mpatshana 80 amaviyo                         total 5600
uNdi prisoner                                      total 7000
Natal Witness                                     total 4000
Fynney 86 amaviyo                              total 6020

uVe
Mpatshana    13 amaviyo                      total   650
Fynney         70 amaviyo                      total 3500

inGobamakhosi AND uVe
Sihlahla       101 amaviyo                      total 5050
Nokenke deserter                                 total 5000

uNdi
Qetuka's coys    perhaps at most                    300

Thus I arrive at a combined figure using Mehlokazulu and Mpatshana (who were in a position to know) of 6250 plus 300 for Qetuka.


6pdr

No I see its position the same as you. We agree.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:15 pm

Julian Whybra wrote:


Momentarily non-plussed - that's from Gardner I believe and relates to the moment when confronted with two seemingly diametrically opposed situations - Chelmsford asking him to send on his waggons and pack up the camp and Shepstone asking for support in the face of a Zulu attack.  It was momentary and with a prompt from Gardner was followed by decisiveness.

Julian -- Decisiveness? Can't see any evidence to support this while Pulleine does seem to have required "guidance" by subordinates on more than one occasion. I will readily concede that I can't prove Pulleine didn't behave "decisively" after Gardner's...um...suggestion...if you will admit that you can't really prove the Colonel was decisive. (But points for the suggestion that SOMEBODY in command MIGHT have sent Shepstone behind Isandlwana -- I hadn't thought of that one before -- just ASSUMED he did it himself!)
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:37 pm

6pdr

Re decisiveness, the result of the 'tri-meeting' was that Mostyn's coy was sent up in support of Cavaye and the mounted men and Essex was ordered to assist in the extension of the line.
What are the other occasions that you refer to when Pulleine seems to have required guidance by subordinates?  I don't know of any.  An officer commanding has staff officers and an adjutant who exist for the purpose of offering advice, if called upon, and a good officer commanding will take advantage of it as necessary.  The conversation with Durnford over sending out coys in support of his eastward movement was one in which Pulleine made objections based on his orders. To this was added Melvill's voice, in his role as adjutant, but not as 'guidance' to Pulleine.  What else might you be thinking of?

Shepstone would not have acted on his own initiative.  He had already reported directly to Pulleine once before (in the obvious place: the HQ tent) and the obvious person/place he would report again was Pulleine/HQ tent.  Given Shepstone's position on the north-facing line with the NNH and the line of his rearward movement I had always assumed that it had been Pulleine who would have ordered him to the rear of the mountain (with the very last reserve).  It might have been Durnford but Durnford was in no obvious position to know whether there even WAS a reserve.  
I have always also wondered whether someone else was holding up the right horn behind the mountain.  I've been tempted to think it might have been Roberts's troop (about which we hear no more) which might have preceded the right horn down the west-of-the-mountain escarpment.  Roberts may have been with them (I don't necessarily believe the 'killed-by-friendly-fire' story though it might be so) and Roberts's body position is not known.  The right horn took an awfully long time to proceed down the back of the mountain and I've always felt that SOME unsung hero must have been holding it up.  But I don't know for certain and would be pleased to receive reports shooting the theory down in flames and opening up other avenues of exploration.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:44 pm

Win some cash, nope, i dont chase foolish dreams Frank, i never bet!
its a karma thing with me if its meant to come it will! i have no problem
with anybody nudging that process along though  Very Happy . the map is truly
awesome, lack of space dictates a back seat for the time being, and as
you know your kindness means its mine for ever, the definition is just
as good as i have seen..i will certainly be interested to see the finished
statuettes, you have good taste i know that!.

Pete gave me a playful dig about the R-H book last night, honest truth is
i have all the zulu war books i will ever need..as said before the bankers
were found out!. mostly 1st eds, so i'm in no hurry to acquire more, they
will come or not whatever!. yes Cavaye..you know, i know!.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:57 pm

(The right horn took an awfully long time to proceed down the back of the mountain and I've always felt that SOME unsung hero must have been holding it up. But I don't know for certain and would be pleased to receive reports shooting the theory down in flames and opening up other avenues of exploration.)......

Hiya Julian,
I dont entertain the notion for one second that i could shoot
anybody down! but to my mind, and putting aside minutiae or
speculation..in my opinion..the right horn was not delayed, or
if they were, certainly not by the white's, the right horn did its
job very nicely thank you. as all know the zulu could relay
information with uncanny accuracy..maybe the stalling of the
left was communicated to the right, making their progress just
that bit less urgent, and with the all clear, as it were..bang!
as people know my assertions are very much black and white..
i leave it to others to provide the shade. just a thought.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jun 23, 2014 6:21 pm

Julian Whybra wrote:


Re decisiveness, the result of the 'tri-meeting' was that Mostyn's coy was sent up in support of Cavaye and the mounted men and Essex was ordered to assist in the extension of the line.

OK on Mostyn, although this was a simple reinforcement of a prior decision that was POSSIBLY taken by somebody else (Durnford?).  Remember too that Pulleine had access to Chelmsford's written instructions and doesn't seem to have adequately implemented them.

Essex?  The way I've seen that told is he hurried up there on his own and acted like a company officer simply because it allowed him to participate. Or are you simply referring to the withdrawal from the spur where Younghusband's company was placed to anchor the new line and cover the withdrawal?  I guess that does demonstrate pretty much the last positive control over events...unless it's the dispatch of Bradstreet's colonials or sounding the bugle...

Quote :

What are the other occasions that you refer to when Pulleine seems to have required guidance by subordinates?

The two primary ones (but there is a 3rd that I can't remember right now) are those which you cited. Gardner politely telling him to get a grip and Melvill privately interceding on his behalf. This does not sound like he was a very assertive personality that day BECAUSE in neither case did he ASK FOR the input.  I agree that a wise commander would solicit input from his subordinates but that's not the way the stories are told. It sounds a lot more like, out of respect for the dead, nobody wanted to positively assert that he was not driving events but reacting to them, and too slowly.

Quote :

Shepstone would not have acted on his own initiative.  He had already reported directly to Pulleine once before (in the obvious place: the HQ tent) and the obvious person/place he would report again was Pulleine/HQ tent.  Given Shepstone's position on the north-facing line with the NNH and the line of his rearward movement I had always assumed that it had been Pulleine who would have ordered him to the rear of the mountain (with the very last reserve).  It might have been Durnford but Durnford was in no obvious position to know whether there even WAS a reserve.  

Point(s) taken.  It's unlikely that Durnford was involved for a number of reasons but I do wonder how somebody in command of the battle could have felt that anybody could be spared from the fight under his nose UNLESS it happened during that brief interval when the Zulu were temporarily suppressed by the heavy MH fire.

Quote :

I have always also wondered whether someone else was holding up the right horn behind the mountain.  I've been tempted to think it might have been Roberts's troop (about which we hear no more) which might have preceded the right horn down the west-of-the-mountain escarpment.  Roberts may have been with them (I don't necessarily believe the 'killed-by-friendly-fire' story though it might be so) and Roberts's body position is not known.  The right horn took an awfully long time to proceed down the back of the mountain and I've always felt that SOME unsung hero must have been holding it up.  But I don't know for certain and would be pleased to receive reports shooting the theory down in flames and opening up other avenues of exploration.

Interesting speculation.  The bodies of Shepstone's small group were found in an appropriate spot.  What about Roberts & Co?  We don't know where they fell?
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jun 23, 2014 6:38 pm

(Interesting speculation. The bodies of Shepstone's small group were found in an appropriate spot. What about Roberts & Co? We don't know where they fell?)....How many at best do you think was
opposing the right horn! and then think of the time scale! how much time do you imagine was bought?
the answer must be very little!. as you say..speculation. and that certainly is not fact. the very fact
that Julian has joined, is surprising to me!
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jun 23, 2014 6:44 pm

xhosa2000 wrote:
as you say..speculation. and that certainly is not fact. the very fact
that Julian has joined, is surprising to me!

Agree with your counterpoints Xhosa...but I would also point out that the strong point of this board is THINKING OUT LOUD.  Gets the blood circulating even if it ultimately leads to dead ends.
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PostSubject: Re: The ammunition question   Mon Jun 23, 2014 6:58 pm

i hear you, so no need to shout! and no need for dead
ends either, this battle has been done to death and
back again, there is nothing new!  Very Happy ...yet!.

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