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 Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford

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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:29 pm

Known facts are just that! interpretation can be anything! as Julian says
what competent commander would place a poorly equipped, armed, and
demoralised unit bang in the middle of the front line, it beggars belief!
they were not the first to bolt..scape goated as was their commander.
its not as all cut and dried as some would have! yes we can just about
piece together the time line ( just ).
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Wed Mar 19, 2014 4:00 pm

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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Wed Mar 19, 2014 5:06 pm

Julian Xhosa
I will reply in full with files at hand tomorrow.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:24 pm

sas1 wrote:
Durnford had no choice but to return to the camp. Is it clear that he took command back again. I thought he couldn't find Pulleine? I think is been posted beford, but Durnfords comment to Pulleine was if Zulu's were seen, they should be attaked!

SAS1,

Much as I've been having the time of my life monitoring this discussion, I should point out that we're DEEP into the area of informed speculation, the operative word being speculation.  There is no testimony of Durnford being with Pulleine again after they separated subsequent to their meeting before noon.  There is very, very tenuous evidence that Durnford might have reassumed control, even if we ASSUME that's what he was trying to do. It's true there was "terrible coordination" between the two Colonels in general, but without satellite telephones it would have been difficult for them to regain contact once the shooting started...and nobody actually KNOWS when Pulleine was shot (assuming that's how he actually died) so he may not have been alive for Durnford to find by that point in the battle.  

Just my .02.  I am sure Frank will have some counter-battery fire -- or I'm hoping so at least because, aside from his time and movement studies, he has wonderful intuitions.  - 6pdr


Last edited by 6pdr on Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:58 pm

xhosa2000 wrote:
...as Julian says
what competent commander would place a poorly equipped, armed, and
demoralised unit bang in the middle of the front line, it beggars belief!

If Lonsdale's unit was in place prior to the N/5 battery setting up, as well as the infantry flanking it then it's conceivable they would have been out in front of the Regular line for the simple reason that you are so sensitive to: disregard for them as military assets, or to be less charitable, human beings.   It is against all doctrine that I am aware of during this time period to place troops in front of guns -- even if it was really BELOW guns -- as that would degrade the capabilities and morale of even an elite unit. During the age of rifles troops were never even deployed in front of howitzers or mortars.

The trouble is that IMO Lonsdale was "not himself," and thus might have sat passively UNTIL that battery opened fire.  At that point I think ANYBODY would have moved, with or without orders. It would have been an extremely unpleasant place to be due to noise, flaming detritus, and suboptimal sight lines.

The original point Frank and I were beginning to engage over was whether Pulleine's dispositions were in conformance with with Chelmsford's written notes.  I can see why a commander who is hard pressed and short of reserves would throw any unit unto a breech (or the threat of one) as an act of desperation.  But that was HARDLY the situation when those guns and the troops directly flanking them were deployed. Up on the spur Cavaye's boys were having a lark as they shot at animated targets crossing 800 yards away.  Nobody perceived the camp as being in danger yet; least of all Pulleine who is purported to have said something along the lines, "Oh what a fool a fellow is to open fire and scare them away." (That's a VERY loose rendering but I don't feel like looking it up.)

Personally, I can't think of one good reason to place an auxiliary unit at the center of the main line of battle. OTOH I can think of a reason for claiming so after a humiliating loss -- the same one Durnford was already familiar with -- scapegoating.  No doubt Lonsdale's unit DID run, but then so did everybody who could, especially after that bugle was blown.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:33 pm

Personally, I can't think of one good reason to place an auxiliary unit at the center of the main line of battle. OTOH I can think of a reason for claiming so after a humiliating loss -- the same one Durnford was already familiar with -- scapegoating. No doubt Lonsdale's unit DID run, but then so did everybody who could, especially after that bugle was blown.....thank you 6pr you make my point exact!.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:37 pm

6pdr
I am absolutely convinced that Pulleine adopted the disposition suggested by Chelmsford's Instructions.  If Durnford had been there, I am sure he would have done exactly the same as Pulleine.  As I showed in my article with David Jackson years ago, that was also what Pearson did on the Inyezane on the same day in the south of the country.
xhosa
I do not believe that everybody did 'run' when the bugle was blown. Everyone who survived spoke of an orderly retreat (you might say, well they would, wouldn't they) but there's no reason for the Zulus to say it too. And they did. The troops fought in formation till the end. The exception was of course the native auxiliaries and the civilians, which is perhaps what you meant.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:12 pm

Thanks for that Julian, but no! i was not referring
to the imperial troop's, as we know they fell like
stones...unless you were wearing a blue patrol
jacket, i was talking about when the line collapsed
and the NNC, where ever they were! turned when
they saw the Edendale/Sikhali retiring from the
field.i agree with your first statement hundred per
cent..6pdr mentioned the bugle.it would just be to
contentious to name in order(ish) who apart from
civilians, joined in the flight and left the red coats
to perish.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:40 pm

Is it not a case of the British being forced back to the camp, rather than a retreat.

Extract from Brickhill's account.

"Capt Shepstone, then said " I'm not an alarmist , Sir but the Zulus are in such black masses over there, such long black lines that you have to give us all the assistance you can. They are now fast driving our men this way."

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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:46 pm

impi wrote:
Is it not a case of the British being forced back to the camp, rather than a retreat.

Extract from Brickhill's account.

"Capt Shepstone, then said " I'm not an alarmist , Sir but the Zulus are in such black masses over there, such long black lines that you have to give us all the assistance you can. They are now fast driving our men this way."


Shepstone said that after riding back from the initial sightings/contact. The main bodies were not grappling with one another then. At this point nobody back in the camp was the least bit worried about a Zulu attack; indeed they were hoping for it. The time period we are discussing wrt the retreat happened maybe an hour later.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:18 pm

Shortly after Shepstone delivered he request for asstistence. Pulleine and Gardener left Brickhills position ?

Brickhill went to the camp hoping to get a weapon to join in the fight. when he got to the camp he states,

" I found the whole army drawn out in battle aray to the extream left of the camp, under the Ingutu. The D. Horse holding the plain to the left of the Northern neck: the white mounted force to its right and two feild pieces a little behind, between them. The infantry arranged in line in the rear about a mile from the nearest camp. the whole 4.5 miles of the Ingutu was by this time covered in Zulu's"

What men was Shepstone referring to that. were fast being pushed back to the camp.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:53 pm

So can we assume when Pulleine had left Brickhill, he went to the camp to arrange the Battle formations ?
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:05 pm

I think Shepstone was referring to those men, who had found the Zulu's hidden in the valley. Lt Raw?
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:06 am

impi wrote:
What men was Shepstone referring to that. were fast being pushed back to the camp.

Shepstone went out with two troops of Zikali's mounted horsemen. They stopped 4 times to skirmish during their retreat on the spur.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:27 am

impi wrote:
So can we assume when Pulleine had left Brickhill, he went to the camp to arrange the Battle formations ?

Pulleine received the report from Shepstone, which Gardner witnessed because he approached the Colonel simultaneously, where the command tents were located, up and behind the bivouac of 2nd Battalion.  One account says Pulleine was in the tent, another that he came out.  Another account -- perhaps from Brickhill if that's what you are reading -- had him nearby but he was definitely "in the camp." A number of sources heard and saw Shepstone.  Pulleine would probably have passed his orders to Melvill and that would probably include the order to sound the call to parade in front of the tents again.  The exact minute by minute details of these things can not be completely determined from the testimony given -- there are too many contradictions and omissions in the stories.  Many believe Pulleine would have "commanded the battle" from in front of the HQ tent by the flag pole. Others that he would have descended to the rocky ledge/knuckle area during the battle.  Snook (based on nothing whatsoever,) has him mounting a horse and cantering about the battlefield. It's open to conjecture.  No version can be conclusively proven or dismissed.  There is simply not enough information.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 7:55 am

Impi

The 24 retreated due to a bugle call telling them to retire, around the time Durnford abandoned the Donga.

It was an organised withdrawal as it could have been in the circumstances, not a panicked rush of men forced by the Zulus.

Higginson for example says the 24 were retreating "slowly," while the NNC were bolting.


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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 7:56 am

About time the forum woke up and had a decent discussion again.
Julian /Les
Let me make myself clear, in none of my posts have I indicated I agree with the positioning of the NNC out in front of the troops. There is a difference between being on the Knuckle, Elbow, Bend and Hinge; however you would like to phrase it and forward of the line.
Much is being made of Chelmsfords orders to COLUMN COMMANDERS: The relevant section is:
British Infantry in front line, deployed, or extended, with one or both flank companies thrown back. Native Contingent in line, in echelon, well clear of each flank of British Infantry well to the rear. Mounted Infantry in rear of each flank, ready to move around the flanks and rear of the enemy.

I’ve emphasised above the distribution of the orders, COLUMN COMMANDERS. AS Glyn was the column commander he would have had those orders. Pulleine was not a column commander and would not have been privy to those instructions. He had only been with his Battalion a few days and was still finding his feet.

Glyn left the camp in a hurry that morning, without speaking to Pulleine (See Clery).
Would Pulleine have therefore been aware of the existence of those orders? Would he have had time that morning, the 22nd, to go scouting through standing orders?

I would contend not. That being the case how would he know the formation ordered by Chelmsford?

The line itself I maintain was not a designed defensive line but a line formed by itself as troops/companies became available and joined in. E and F came of the ridge in a hurry mixed up with Stafford, Shepstone and Lonsdale. Probably Barrie’s piquet as well. The hit the flats running and were backed up by A company. Those two fell in line with A company and retreat back to within 400 yards of the NNC camp.

The NNH positioned themselves in a Donga in front of A company. (Uguku)
Also Raw; The troops engaged in the camp firing over us.

According to Jackson there were four native Contingent companies in the Line. Two between C Company and F Company and two between ‘Dyer’ and G Company. ‘All four being front line.
According to Laband there were Three NNC companies between E and F Companies and Three between A and H Companies with One more on the extreme right.

None of those fits in with Chelmsfords standing orders.

And neither of those line formations fit with the Archaeological dig of 2000, relative to the Gun positions.

The presence of the NNH and NNC in the line is again confirmed by Cochrane ( …..the Mounted Men and Lonsdale’s Contingent fell back into Camp, and in spite of the Artillery fire and steady muskets of the infantry, who were in a good position amongst the stones and boulders to the left and left centre of the Camp, and who stood their ground most gallantly…….. )

Again Raw comments: ‘We took up to the left of a company of the 24th Regiment having on our left a troop of Lonsdale’s men.


Mention of the ‘tactical withdrawal’ by the NNC is covered in virtually every account including from the Zulu perspective ( Umtegolalo , to Longeast )

Within days of the battle Symonds had questioned the survivors and subsequently wrote a report.
This Narrative, written in 1879 is in the Regimental Archives at Brecon. Portions have been used by Atkinson in the regimental history and portions by Frank Emery. My attempts to get a copy proved futile. I do however have a copy of Frank Emery’s precise. ( June 1978)The narrative was embargoed until all participants likely to be embarrassed had died.
‘As the aforesaid foe approached nearer and nearer, terror entered there soles ( NNC) , the inborn fear of the hated and terrible Zulu possessed them, their officers could scarcely control them, and at last breaking all restraint they stripped of their clothes and red puggarees, hoping thereby to escape detection and bolted en mass. What finally drove them to flight was doubtless the sight of their comrades, the one company just mentioned, flying before the advancing Zulu chest: as this company occupied ( though farther in advance ) the central position of our line of defence, as it broke and fled it left a gap in the line through which the closely pursuing enemy poured into the camp.

Back to Essex.
Les you cast doubts on Essex because of the poor quality of his map. Quite rightly so.
However he makes the point that he cannot be certain of the positions on the right, I think that looking at his movements that can be explained.
From the time Essex left his tent he was fully occupied in communicating with the ridge, directing fire being involved in the retreat and then being requested by E and/or F company commanders to arrange ammunition for them. This he did from the 2/24th camp. Those ammunition wagons were above the camp under the lee of the mountain. E and F companies were on the Western portion of the North facing line, looking onto the ridge. So Essex movements were fairly linear along the line of the mountain base. To the Ridge, back from the ridge, to the mountain, back to the line to tell them that ammo was on the way.
These movements were all at the Western side of the battlefield. Well away from the eastern facing troops, he would have had no idea what was going on down there, I doubt he could even see the line.
When he returned to the E and F contingent he: ‘noticed a number of Native Contingent infantry retreating post haste towards the camp there officers endeavouring to prevent them, but without effect, on looking round to that portion of the field to our right and rear, I saw the enemy was surrounding us. I rode up to Colonel Durnford who was near to the right ( East ) and pointed this out to him. He requested me to take men to that part of the field and endeavour to hold the enemy in check, but while he was speaking, those men of the Native Contingent who had remained in action rushed past us in the utmost disorder, thus laying open the right and rear of the companies 1is Battalion Regiment on the left and the enemy dashing forward in a most rapid manner poured in at this part of the line.’

The maps produced after the battle, Symonds, Forbes/ Norris ( Sorry can’t remember which ) and the Narrative all show a NNC force at the centre of the line ( knuckle?)
The Narratives map is reputed to be based on information supplied by Hammer. He did we know send at least two maps to the War Office. Plus a third showing the positions on the ridge.
Symonds is reproduced from testimony.

Julian /Les
I fully agree that it’s nothing short of stupidity to have had the NNC in such a critical position. Possibly that came about from the hinging movement when the straight line was bent away from the donga and occupied the rocky ridge. The ‘hinge part being exactly where the NNC were.
6pr
As I’ve attempted to show above I can see no comparison with the conditions on the ground and Chelmsfords plan.

Please don’t think that for one minute I’m attempting to exonerate Chelmsford, or even Durnford or Pulleine. I’m just attempting to logically break the sequence down.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 8:39 am

Excellent post Springbok!!!!

Reading Brickhill's account he say's that the "Artillery threw about 25 shots from different parts of the field during the battle. Does this mean the guns were moved at various stages, or were they positioned in such away, that they could hit targets on the Northernmost end of Ingutu to the Kraal in front of Conical hill.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 8:54 am

Ive been looking at that very point.
I think they started up at the west end of the line, up against the mountain, shelling the right horn. Possibly this is where Roberts died.
Then they moved along the line to the east, shelling the ridge.
One gun was taken away by Smith down behind Popes position.
Ive identified those three points, but cant really prove it as yet.

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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 9:10 am

Springbok wrote:
One gun was taken away by Smith down behind Popes position.

It was possibly this Gun, that nearly wiped out the NNC near Popes position. the shell exploding over their heads.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 9:14 am

John, Brickhill does make mentioned to that.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 9:27 am

John
If you look at the paragraph sequence from Brickhill.
He talks about that shot before Durnford got to the Donger So I would assume it was a shot from a different position.
That could mean it was exploded above the men coming down of the ridge which would put the guns at the first place I mentioned, nice bit of confirmation guys.

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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:50 am

Frank

Re Chelmsford’s instructions
It is inconceivable that Glyn would not have discussed Chelmsford’s Instructions with his staff i.e. his second in command, staff officers, his adjutant, and senior brother 24th officers. He would have had to in order to cover all eventualities regarding his own person such that they were fully informed. Once Pulleine had arrived to take up post it would have been essential that he was brought up to date by Degacher and Glyn regarding his duties, responsibilities and orders. It was part of his job and whatever else Pulleine was, he was meticulous and assiduous in his work ethic.
Where he required a reminder of information he would have had Melvill and Coghill ready to whisper in his ear and act as sounding boards (that was their task in life).
Durnford’s copy of the Instructions was found on the field of battle and reside at Chatham. Glyn’s copy would have been in the HQ tent at Isandhlwana. A second set of the Instructions materialized a couple of years ago (the intimation being that they were Glyn’s copy) and remain in private hands but as far as I’m aware it has not yet been proved that they are genuine (I’m happy to stand corrected if anyone knows better).
Whilst I agree that there is no evidence to suggest that Pulleine had read Chelmsford’s Instructions, there is no evidence to suggest he hadn’t, any more than he had or hadn’t read the vademecum issued to all officers before the war commenced.
I don’t believe your contention will hold water.

Re the defensive line
I partially agree with you that the line formed as troops/coys became available and joined in. I disagree that this line formed “by itself”. There was a method to the madness such that A and C coys and the guns were positioned such that E and F were required to fall back into an already set formation. [It is worth noting that Pulleine COULD have instructed E & F to withdraw further back into a line formed around the camp itself or into a square formation. But he didn’t. The nature of the line facing the plateau had been pre-determined.]
It is certainly true that some of the native units ended up in awkward places wedged in between coys or (briefly) in low-lying folds in front of the perimeter. Stafford’s coy, as an example, simply ‘got in the way’ – I can hardly imagine that Pulleine was concerned about them and certainly didn’t issue orders for them (if he was even aware of them!). Raw’s NNH, as a second example, were not long in the low-lying ground but moved as its position became more exposed to safer ground.
The NNC coys were supposed to be lying in support of the British infantry in Chelmsford’s Instructions. Krohn’s coy was indeed doing this on the left of the line remaining, broadly speaking, on the parade ground. Erskine’s coy had been on the left too and may well have been ‘drawn into’ the line by E and F’s withdrawal. Lonsdale’s coy (and possibly Barry’s) had been doing the same thing on the right of the line until it was ‘drawn into’ the line by Pope’s movement. Once Stafford’s coy had all arrived in camp from escorting the waggons, he simply took his men to the line where he saw the NNH had positioned itself (probably by happenstance and probably not by Pulleine’s wish).

Essex and Durnford and the NNC
When Essex was speaking to Durnford and the NNC broke and fled he can only have been referring to Lonsdale’s coy (and also of Barry’s) – these are the ones which ran surely?

Guns
I would be extremely interested to hear what evidence you have for the guns having been at any time on the left near the mountain as I have in no account seen mention of this. The guns are recorded as having been placed on the rocky knoll by Curling with one subsequent movement to the right in support of Durnford before returning to position.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:29 am

Hi Julian
The basic point is that the line as indicated by Jackson and laband ( I think Im right in differing to those two gentlemen ) Has no resemblance to the quotation I posted from Chelmsfords orders.
The flanks are not refused.
There are no Mounted infantry to the flanks, like you I discount Stafford.
There were multiple non regular forces in the line.
The only similarity is that it was a line.
Stafford didn't go directly to the line after escorting the wagons, he was engaged on the ridge.
The possiblility that the NNC were 'supposed' to be in reserve is probably correct, according to Chelmsfords orders that is, the point is they weren't.
Malindi confirms they were ordered to retire and did with the company alongside. So no they didn't break. Barry? Possibly, Lt James map indicates it rather well.

I looked through file after file last night, I will re look to find the reference to the guns on the West end.

And yes considering the disinterest from Glyn, its highly possible that the orders weren't communicated. But we will never know, add to the list Im afraid.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:59 am

Frank

Well, in the nicest possible way, I have to disagree.  I feel that the line does resemble Chelmsford's Instructions (CI from now on).

It is true that the flanks are not refused.  I would say that on the left there was no need to refuse the flank - the mountain did the job for them.  On the right it may be that Pulleine believed the Conical Koppie fulfilled the same function there.  I suppose ultimately it might be said that Pope's coy did that job.

The MI are not on the flanks, it is true.  But remember, their purpose in the CI was to be able to rush out and chase a defeated enemy - the easiest place to do that from was the flanks.  At Isandhlwana there were no MI to speak of.  The small group that were there WERE on the left with no leftward exit till Gardner hoovered them up and took them to the right to support Durnford.  There was the NNH and on the right, Davies and Henderson's troops fulfilled CI's function.  On the left Raw and Roberts's troops, although out of the finial position, fulfilled that task.

There were multiple non-regular forces in the line, but by happenstance, and to be honest, even if by design Pulleine did not have a lot of choice in the matter since regulars were in short supply.

The similarities extend beyond 'the line'.  The guns were in the middle (as per CI), infantry were positioned either side (as per CI), NNC were lying in support (initially) i.e. Krohn and Lonsdale (as per CI), Cavalry were on the left (MI and Raw/Roberts) and right (Davies/Henderson).  The main difference is that there was no British reserve lying in rear.  That was because Pulleine had none.

Barry's coy certainly broke - a number of writers say it did.  It is entirely feasible that part of Lonsdale's did too though I agree absolutely that Malindi's section as per his statement did not.

Glyn was disinterested as far as Chelmsford was concerned but not as far as his beloved regiment was concerned.  It is also a matter of what Pulleine (a bvt lieut.-col. don't forget) regarded as his duty and what Glyn's staff felt their professional duties were toward Pulleine.  I'm sorry but I really feel that you are on a sticky wicket in expecting Pulleine and Glyn's staff to have been in ignorance of CI.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:17 pm

Hi Julian
Of course we disagree, that's what this battle is all about, many many areas to do so. Would be boring as hell if there weren't.

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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:45 pm

Frank
I know that you know that! That's what makes it so pleasant, so rich, and so appreciated: to be able to argue points based on reason, logic and knowledge with someone forming their opinions in a similar manner without resorting to verbal and physical violence (for a change!).
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:58 pm

Im going to post a photo that shows the area that the 2000 dig identified as the Gun site. Now this is frightening.

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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:16 pm

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What makes a crazy sort of sense is that from this position you walk forward twenty to twenty five paces and you look straight down into the donga, almost see H company was it, doing that. Its just so damned far away from the ridge and the withdrawl area.
Anyway enjoy
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:30 pm

This is the traditional 'knuckle' position with the guns a few yards behind the camera and the rocky ridge of to the right. That village on the prievious shot is invisible, dead ground.

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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:43 pm

springbok9 wrote:

As I’ve attempted to show above I can see no comparison with the conditions on the ground and Chelmsfords plan.

Please don’t think that for one minute I’m attempting to exonerate Chelmsford, or even Durnford or Pulleine. I’m just attempting to logically break the sequence down.

Frank, I've seen no reason to question your motives no matter how much we do/don't agree...and in this case we're really at odds. Let me just make this observation. To hold your point of view -- and you make your points well -- one has to conclude that Pulleine exercised virtually no control whatsoever over events. What you are basically saying is that the line was forged and evolved almost organically from constant pressure provided by the Zulu. He was a man who was almost entirely captive to events.

I have always felt that mentions we have of Pulleine exerting positive leadership during the battle are notable for their complete absence... BUT...the kind of pressure you are assuming for me does not gibe with many accounts of the battle that include a calm before the storm and then a waxing and waning of intensity/volley fire. I know this is not a very SPECIFIC observation but it does go toward how each of us "sees the battlefield."
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:07 pm

Frank
The photos are excellent quality and I see what you are driving at but they are not inconsistent with known facts. The firing line is known to have moved forward and back on at least two occasions (better field of fire/ moving beyond smoke).
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:13 pm

Julian Whybra wrote:
[left]
There were multiple non-regular forces in the line, but by happenstance, and to be honest, even if by design Pulleine did not have a lot of choice in the matter since regulars were in short supply...The main difference is that there was no British reserve lying in rear.  That was because Pulleine had none.

The lack of a reserve, for me, tends to support Frank's view of the line forming "by itself" because it explains why Pulleine was so hostage to circumstance.  Without a reserve he would have been constantly responding to Zulu initiatives/thrusts and never had the opportunity of changing or challenging the momentum.  (Then again, it also supports my bias that the outcome of the battle was decided the moment it began.)

Really, the only affirmative effort to reset the battlefield was the retreat which is why there is so much discussion of those bugles.  It's really, really important to understand who ordered the recall/retreat and why...and unfortunately it seems we shall never know.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:20 pm

6pd
Differences in opinion are good news. So question away, would be a waste of time though I have no motive, actually I have in trying to promote dialogue.
That being said let me answer your perfectly valid points, Julian as you have seen disagrees with me.
I believe the 'line' evolved. The initial points of contact for the impi were the confrontation on the ridge and the spilling over of the centre left over the Nyoni ridge. The two companies were sent onto the ridge to face the one threat, Younghusband was sent across to assist in the fall back of those two. The last two companies ( at that point there were only 5 companies) were sent to support the guns looking on to the Nyoni ridge. So the 'line' actually began with a detachment facing onto the ridge.
As the fighting on the Tahelane plateau spilled over onto the flats thoes companies and the volunteers
backed away and took up position on the flats and repelled the right horn. As the full volume of the chest started to become apparent the lines were extended in open order. the volunteers filled the gaps and G company took up position on the eastern end of the line. From there the line bent and the other issues came into place.
So long winded but that line evolved yes. Obviously there was a level of control on who set the position and firing tempos etc. For that the CO was indeed Col Pulleine.
But and this is the point Julian and I diverge, Pulleine set the parameters of the defense but was effectively presented with a situation beyond his control and made the best of it. But I cant for the life of me see a resemblance to Chelmsfords orders and really don't believe they were a part of the thinking. Pulleine reacted to a threat in the best way he could.
The line up itself in no way effects its ability to stop the Zulu, it worked for a while, very well. But there was that perfect storm that blew in. Ive taken a broad stroke brush to paint a picture that should probably have a detail brush used. But we don't have those details, and never will. But the confidence of the men, arrogance some would say, the determined shear balls of the Zulus, the final fear and acceptance, the exhultation of the victors, the final realisation that really no one won. Can you imagine that slow walk back their home kraals when the battle was done.......................


I have my thoughts and really do not try to enforce those. Hence the reason Julian and I can discuss things. We agree that's good, we don't that's also good.

Hell CTSG and I spent around thirty pages arguing all to no avail, Ive still got my views and he is still wrong  Very Happy 

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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:23 pm

Hi Julian
Sorry wrong motive. When I was going through some files last night I came upon the results of the dig and for the first time compared it back with some photos. So no real motive in posting other than one of interest that the Guns were so far forward.
Just a fun thing.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:28 pm

6pr
I think if there was a reserve we would probably classify Dyer as being it. He was the extra company. Some where I have the quote of a count up of the number of companies on parade, there was one extra mentioned Im sure. So Dyer gathered up the proverbial 'sick, lame and lazy'.
Again reading curling, he seemed to think the companies on parade were under strength, 50 per company I think. Potentially then those were the numbers that responded to the fall in and the balance, fatigue parties, work parties excused duties cooks and battle washers etc were called out late when Pulleine issued the instruction for evry one that could hold a gun. So yep maybe Dyer was the reserves.

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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:31 pm

springbok9 wrote:
What makes a crazy sort of sense is that from this position you walk forward twenty to twenty five paces and you look straight down into the donga, almost see H company was it, doing that. Its just so damned far away from the ridge and the withdrawl area.

Unfortunately, despite the excellence of your photos, it's almost impossible to see what you are getting at unless you make the short walk forward from the original gun position to the spot where they could fire down at the "disappearing village" in the donga.  You almost need to film a short video for people to understand that dead ground would have made the lynchpin of the defense, (the 7 pounders,) vulnerable to a sudden rush UNLESS the line was extended forward.

Rob Caskie (sp?) made the further point that the disproportionate size of Isandlwana may have also led the participants to UNDERESTIMATE their distance from the camp.  Though it's not as disorienting as the acoustics in that vicinity, I do think it's possible that men who'd only been in the area a short time could make the  mistake of thinking they were closer to support than they really were.


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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:45 pm

springbok9 wrote:
Obviously there was a level of control on who set the position and firing tempos etc. For that the CO was indeed Col Pulleine.
But and this is the point Julian and I diverge, Pulleine set the parameters of the defense but was effectively presented with a situation beyond his control and made the best of it.

Yes, but the way you are describing it Frank, the company commanders would have really been controlling the parameters of the defense; certainly after the decision was taken to deploy the companies on the right in open order. From that point forward things spun out of control and the battle was beyond influence, EXCEPT for falling back in one manner or another.

For me the crux of this disagreement is the deployment that took place between ~12 and 12:30 because after that the jig was up.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:46 pm

Hopefully once the animation is completed a more clear picture will evolve for the guys on the forum.
Ive heard Rob say that ( also heard him say: " make mine a double." ) When you look at the battlefield as a tourist you see that great big open field running all the way up to the mountain, it looks huge. But when you consider that the tented area came down to close to the first donga, it becomes exactly as Rob says. You would have looked up and seen the front of the tents not really realising the additional distance covered by the camp. Does that make sense?

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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:52 pm

If that's the impression Im giving its incorrect. Some one at some point said this is the line we will defend and this is how long that line will be. This is the anchor etc. That decision could only have been made on a macro basis by the Battalion/Camp commander. The defence line taken up by Younghusband for instance would have been specified. The balance of the companies would have dressed of him and so on down the line. Pulleine had a big part to play make no error.
Im not taking anything away from him, he fought the fight. But the table he ate off had already been selected
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:55 pm

springbok9 wrote:
Does that make sense?

Yes. Can't wait for the animation!
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:01 pm

Frank
The point I'm trying to make is that given the piecemeal nature of the original commitment towards the north and the way in which it evolved, I would say that there was a point when E and withdrew, when the chest appeared on the skyline, that there was a realization that here was the impi (it was not facing Chelmsford 15 miles away) and that Pulleine made a conscious decision about where he was going to fight. He COULD have withdrawn the line at THAT point to a square or a line much nearer the tents but he didn't. He had time. Not a lot but enough. The line he chose to establish may have been the one he was presented with, but it was also the one which had the greatest resemblance to the CI's optimal disposition. Not exactly it I grant you but close enough to satisfy Pulleine and his staff. What I do believe is that it was a firing line by design (whatever its demerits) not by default.
Dyer's composite coy almost certainly WAS the reserve but not for long.
Pity about the guns-on-the-left theory - I was looking forward to something juicy emerging!
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:42 pm

Sorry haven't had a chance to re look. Will do so in the morning.

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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:45 pm

No rush. I shan't be able to respond till Monday.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:48 pm

I had two indications
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 8:33 pm

Springbok. Very interesting map. Thanks for posting!

Do you know the origin of the map. It was printed in London, but how did they come by it?

Another question that been bothering me. From my old mate Brickhill.

He states that a party of Dunfords men, when back the way they came along Rorkes Drift road then behind Isandlwana to the most northernmost area to check the enemy recently seen in that area.

Would this have been the large mass of Zulus seen by Major Chard earlier.? According to Brickhill, the party was sent By Durnford left at 11:00 that would mean an hour prior to Durnford making his attack which was around 12ish. At what point did the 11.00 party encounter the Zulus behind Isandlwana.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 9:31 pm

impi
This was Raw and Roberts. It is generally assumed that Brickhill was mistaken in assuming that they went 'back the way they had come' and then north on to the plateau since everyone else says they went up the spur on to the plateau. Brickhill may have glimpsed Vause go back that way (to escort the waggons) and mistook his troop for Raw/Roberts's men.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 9:41 pm

Julian, I have read that Brickhill did not understand Shepstone had been out on the escarpment and so believed he had been with Vause escorting in Durnford's baggage train. Are you saying he believed that of Shepstone's entire force?
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 9:56 pm

Do we know where Pulleine, Gardener and Brickhill was, when Shepstone came in to ask for assistance. They're could not have been near the command tent, because Brickhill say Pulleine and Gardener went away together, after which Brickhill went to the camp to look for a weapon, on arriving say's the whole Battle array was in poistion. I can't quite see how Pulleine had time to give direction to the Compaines to take-up position.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford, Pulline. & Durnford   Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:05 pm

Deleted. Unnecessary comment!

Impi asked a reasonable question.
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