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 The Dead At Isandula.

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PostSubject: The Dead At Isandula.   Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:37 pm

The Dead At Isandula.

The appendix to the Blue-book on South Africa issued yesterday contains despatches respecting the burial of the dead at Isandula. In February last, in consequence of a question asked in the House of Commons, Sir Michael Hicks-Beach obtained copies of despatches which had been forwarded by Sir Garnet Wolseley to the War Office on the subject, including a report from Major Bromhead, which stated that in September last year he encamped at Isandula with two companies of the 2-24th Regiment. The battle-field was thoroughly cleaned, and all debris removed and buried or burned. The remains still unburied were decently interred, as well as such as were found only partly covered. Being unable to obtain the necessary information to identify individual graves, Major Bromhead caused three cairns to be erected at points where the largest number had been buried, and sixteen young eucalyptus trees were planted in a circle round the lower cairn. During the halt at Isandula part of a broken colour-pole, 2-24th Regiment, was found on the battle-field, and one of the colour cases was found in the bed of the first stream that crosses the fugitive track. In April last Sir Garnet Wolseley reported that, it having been brought to his notice that the action of the weather had exposed the bodies of some of the dead who had been buried at Isandula he had directed a party, under the command of Lieutenant O’Connell, 60th Rifles, to proceed to the spot to examine carefully the ground and to rebury any exposed remains. Lieutenant O’Connell reported that on arriving at the battle-field he extended his men in a line across the place where Lord Chelmsford’s camp had been, and moved them slowly backwards and forwards. They removed all the uncovered bones they could find and buried them in two large deep graves, and renewed the stones and earth over the graves that required it. A trench was dug on the upper side of the place where the Carabineers were buried, and a small wall made along the side of the trench to prevent the earth falling into it and filling it up again. This will prevent the water running down the hill and washing the earth off these graves. He found skeletons of Zulus along the line of their attack; these he cause to be buried where they lay. There were no traces of the remains of the two Europeans which had been last seen last October where the road crosses the spruit. There were many bodies of Europeans and Zulus, including some Natal Zulus, lying exposed throughout the first half-mile of the “fugitives track.” These were deposited in a large grave and a cairn of stones erected over it. Near were the guns were lost there were many bodies which had once been buried, but had become exposed by the action of water flowing in the spruits and dongas. These remains were re-interred in some instances and better covered in others. There were very few between the point where the “fugitives’ track” crosses the second spruit and the cliffs over the Buffalo, and those found were, with the exception of one or two, unburied. There were several bones in the bed of the second spruit, which is crossed by the “fugitives’ track.” It appeared to Lieutenant O’Connell that all men of the infantry who had escaped so far were killed here. All the bodies were lying in the watercourses here caused to be reburied on the banks and above flood water level and well covered with bits of rock and stone. There were but few bones close to the “fugitives’ drift,” as all those who fallen there seemed to have been carefully buried. Several of the graves, however, required recovering. He believed that a few stray bones would be found from time to time at Isandula for many years to come, owing to the watercourses. He made inquiries of natives respecting the kraal where it was said two companies of the 24th Regiment had fallen, but they knew nothing about it. Mr. Johnson, the missionary, residing near the field, had also made inquiries about the kraal, by the natives had never heard of it. He believed the story to have no foundation. Chaplin Ritchie reported to the Chief of Staff he celebrated the funeral service over the remains which had been buried by Lieutenant O’Connell’s party; and, speaking both as a clergyman and as one who lost a very near connection and many intimate friends in the engagement, he expressed the opinion that all had been done “that the most sensitive relative of any of the deceased could desire.”

Daily News, Thursday, August 26, 1880
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