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

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impi

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PostSubject: Chelmsford Choice   Tue Jan 11, 2011 6:25 am

If we take into account the fact, that Lord Chelmsford did not fortify the camp at Isandlwana, should he have still divided his column when Dartnell asked for assistance, he could have taken the whole column,but would this have been to time consuming therefore putting Dartnell at risk.

The other question is was Dartnell's position fortified and could he have repelled a Zulu attack.

Last question. The Zulu King was not comfortable with his men attacking fortified positions was this lesson learnt years before at Blood River.
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Jamie



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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford Choice   Tue Jan 11, 2011 1:30 pm

In respect to Dartnell and his overnight position it would have probably been possible to defend this position with regular infantry or colonial troops. You have to remember that morale and actual combat experience was very slim in the NNC that formed the sides of the square at the time. They were also tired, hungry and frightened. Link to picture below:

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Therefore with the fighting men that actually held this elevated position at the time, in my opinion the cabability of the Zulu army would have destroyed any defensive position held by lightly armed troops.

In regard to Chelmsford's thinking, after not engaging with the Zulu Army - where he thought it was - his next plan, late morning was to bring up the remaining troops from Isandlwana to Mangeni. Chelmsford chose to go light and attempt to engage the Zulu Army moving across his front 10 miles away by splitting the column. And as we know - the rest is history!

Now whether Dartnell and the NNC were expendable.......... After all - they were on a strong probing mission with orders to return to camp that day.

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Jamie
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford Choice   Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:56 pm

Jamie. Thanks for the information and link.

Quote :
After all - they were on a strong probing mission with orders to return to camp that day.

So whole column arrive at Isandlwana and Dartnell was sent off on a probing mission. Or did Dartnell commence his mission after they had cross at Rorkes Drift.

Maybe a silly question but i'm a learner. Idea
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford Choice   Tue Jan 11, 2011 4:34 pm

Chelmsford did have 'some' intelligence in respect to the direction the Zulu Army was heading to meet him. On arrival at Isandlwana he feared that the Zulu Army may well be able to use the terrain to the south to get behind him and make for the border or indeed seek a battle by cutting him off etc. This area is known as the Mangeni Valley - South of Isandlwana - and behind the hills that screened the south of Isandlwana Plain.

He ordered about 1700 men mainly NNC to do a reconnaissance role and sweep the hills to the South of the camp and return to Isandlwana before nightfall. The mission commenced the day after the column arrived at Isandlwana and 10 days oor so after crossing Rorkes Drift.

It was also a show of force to the local chiefs that intended to secure submission.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford Choice   Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:45 pm

So Chelmsford dived his column into three. Not two.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford Choice   Tue Jan 11, 2011 6:01 pm

So in theory if they had all got stuck in to fortifying Isandlwana on arrival, the remainder may have had some chance. 1700 men along with the rest of them would have made light work of the fortifying. I recall it being said somewhere that Chelmsford said it would have taken to long to laager. Surly a couple of hundred men or less could have man handled the waggons into position along with the help of the oxen.
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford Choice   Tue Jan 11, 2011 6:16 pm

To me, there is no question that Isandlwana could not be fortified. The base of the hill is too rocky and earthworks would have been a monster task to construct. A lot of digging. Chelmsford never intended to fortify Isandlwana as he proposed to move further East / South within a day or so of setting up camp at Isandlwana. He had to provoke a Zulu response soon so he did not stretch his supply lines too far and time was already against him due to road re-building between Rorkes Drift and Isandlwana - losing him 7-9 days.

Use of the wagons would have been the only way to strengthen or fortify a defense at the (temporary) camp site. Same old story in that he never once expected to be attacked so near the border!

Chelmsford split the column in 2 not 3. One half to Mangeni - the other to defend the camp at Isandlwana until he could probe the ground further East and South of the Isandlwana Plain. It is fair to say he 'overlooked' the North of the camp..........
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford Choice   Tue Jan 11, 2011 6:29 pm

Thanks Jamie very informative.
Quote :
road re-building between Rorkes Drift and Isandlwana - losing him 7-9 days
Never knew about this. Was this down to the R.E
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PostSubject: Re: Chelmsford Choice   Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:11 pm

I should have been more specific. The track as it was known was in very bad condition between Rorkes Drift and Isandlwana with the heavy rains and the problem of not being able to support the volume of wagons and cattle required to use it to move Eastward.

Chelmsford did use 1/3rd NNC and imperial troops to attand to the track - for example Major Dunbar and his 2/24th company sent to repair a length of track directly below Sihayo's homestead in the Batshe valley. Valuable days were lost doing this due to boggy waterlogged ground and of course labour intensive back breaking work.
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