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 Durnford was he capable.2

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Mr M. Cooper

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PostSubject: Durnford was he capable.   Mon Dec 03, 2012 11:17 am

Hello Ebsworth and welcome to the forum.

Your post does make sense with regards to the concentrating a defensive position within the camp, but I think that Saul might have made a mistake with regards to instructions being found on Pulleines body, if I recall correctly, Pulleines body was never identified (although Maori Browne did say that he saw Pulleine's body when he was leaving the camp in the early hours).



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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:50 pm

Pascal MAHE wrote:
Hi all

Mehlogozulu was a prisoner, he told what he was told to say ...

Cheers

Pascal

Pascal, it is good to see that you are thinking and questioning at last.
However, please think and question everything, 100% of the stories and accounts, not only those that you disagree with.
But yes, what you say IS possible.
However, I am inclined to think that Mehlokazulu was telling the truth, because if anything, what he says contradicts what those who wanted to scapegoat him would have wanted him to say.
(But it is an account that does completely contraduct what Henderson said isn't it?)
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:59 pm

Yes Sir
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:13 pm

[quote="tasker224"]
Pascal MAHE wrote:
Hi all

Mehlogozulu was a prisoner, he told what he was told to say...

I also think it's very important to note the POSSIBILITY that Mehlokazulu's account is at best partial truth because he was a prisoner and also because it is a translated account and it's always possible in such cases that we are getting the translator's bias (either intentionally or unintentionally) as well. GIven your interactions on this forum, I think you must be sensitive to this issue.

That said, in my opinion Mehlokazulu is one of the most trustworthy sources available. Everything we know about him indicates that he was not a man who could be easily cowed. He died a rebel to the end -- without ever seeming to have benefited post-war by catering to the politics of those who emerged to claim the spoils.. And in his accounts there is precious little grandstanding or displaying 20-20 hindsight as there is with somebody like Maori Browne. My guess is that he wasn't nearly as humble as he comes off, but he thought it would not be wise to brag too openly to his captors about his personal victories (i.e. those he had killed himself.) But he did seem to do his best to report accurately on the conduct of others -- particularly those he admired.

Another more subtle point about Mehlokazulu is that he grew up along the border with Natal yet his father was more acculturated than he was by most accounts. Given the increasing British/Natal influence during this time period that strikes me as a clue to his personality. I think he was an unusual man -- unusually reliable. I also wouldn't have wanted to face him on a battlefield.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:20 pm

Well said 6pdr, that hits the nail on the head imo, from what I have read about the man.
One heck of a warrior, ruthless, brave, and very, very smart.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:43 pm

littlehand wrote:
It was a gallant failure, its effect negligible, a gesture only.

Even if what you say is true, it is a gesture that ran counter to the general trend of events under tremendous pressure and with very high stakes -- i.e. the loss of his life. Gestures like that are what military culture is built upon.

To be clear, those of us who regard Durnford's conduct as heroic believe that the far easier thing for him to do was to ride off on his horse as he had EVERY right to do. It is NOT a matter of whether his gesture changed the course of the battle. It is a matter of how his conduct measured up according to the standards of the day -- and by attempting to hold open an escape route for others he behaved as the epitome of the gallant Victorian soldier handed down to us by Kipling. If he was was an Indian boy, his name would have been Gunga Din!
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 2:13 pm

[quote="6pdr"]
littlehand wrote:
It was a gallant failure, its effect negligible, a gesture only.

An appalling remark, not even a month since Remembrance Day.
Doesn't even justify a response 6pdr.
I hope LH will re-read and realise the disrespectful wording of this comment both to Durnford himself, the other men who died at iSandlwana and all those who have given their lives for their friends, King/Queen and country since; and that he withdraws it.
I am sure it was just badly worded and not meant to offend, as LH is not that kind of bloke.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 2:32 pm

I'm not saying he has lied, but he wanted to flatter the victors...
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:11 pm

Had to catch up with this - I was working away this weekend and four pages have filled up...

6pdr
Yes, volume 2 will be available from the same source.

impi/tasker
Henderson never made his remark about Durnford public. It has only been known about since the early 1990s.
Henderson and Hall both state that they were keeping watch for the approach of the Zulus at RD. This was some time after the mixed NNH group had galloped off. When they did return with the nes of the advancing impi they found themselves 'shut out' of the RD camp and so knelt by the outside of the wall and fired all their ammo before retreating to the orchard and remaining to observe. At about 6pm when the hospital was fired they rode off. An accusation of cowardice at RD is difficult to sustain.
At Isandhlwana, at best, it seems that some of the NNH (Henderson among them) were cut off from getting back to Durnford's stand by the advance of the left horn and had little choice but to flee. When they crossed the saddle and saw the Zulus across the road I imagine no thought other than escape crossed their minds.

Tasker
There was no necessity to order Durnford to take command at Isandhlwana. By the very fact of his being there and his rank, he was obliged to take command. The question is whether Durnford was ordered to proceed to Isandhlwana and remain there. He was not.

Drummer boy
Holding the 'gap' for those in the camp to escape was achieved in two halves - Durnford's stand and Shepstone's stand at the rear of the mountain. It is not known who ordered Shepstone to hold back the right horn - it may have been Pulleine or it may have come from Durnford. A large number of NNC were found there and it may be that Shepstone took Murray's men (the only available reserve) to engage in that task. They could not possibly have lasted long - a forlorn hope - but did eveidently keep the horns apart for long enough for a large number of men on foot to try to get away - witness the string of dead over the saddle and down the Fugitives' Trail.

Chard
DB was quite correct in his quotation though I notice he has not yet posted the source. I won't deny him the pleasure.

Ebsworth
Saul David makes a large number of errors in his book and it really is not to be relied on. No Instructions were found on Pulleine's body (indeed, no body was found either). Instructions were found near Durnford's body (possibly on it).
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:20 pm

Hi Julian

Then the following of what you sent me is when?

Best regards

Pascal
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:23 pm

Chard

It came from Edward Durnford's book quoted in Ian Knight, the orginal quote was from a NMP survivor.

Tasker

Just becuse Durnford fourght in that stand doesn't mean he started it, he most likely joined them when they were already fighting, i'm not douting his bravery, i'm just pointing out that he gets credited with the stand when it is likely others that rallied the men in the first place given that Durnford was seen all over the camp, the saddle by Essex ect.

Julian

Thanks, do you know if there is a report on the NNC being found at the rear ? I've never read a source on that stand or the bodies being found / buried only one on Shepstone's death.



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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:29 pm

DB, as the senior officer, the men would have rallied around Durnford so in effect he was the nucleus, he was in command of it. Hence "Durnford's stand."
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:33 pm

Durnford was quite content to stay at the camp, Higginson's report changed that and Durnford immediately went looking for a fight in the open veldt - he was hot-headed, impulsive lack of judgement that people who knew him best (like Sir T Shepstone) worried about. 'My idea is wherever Zulus appear we ought to attack.' Crackpot thinking - because, based on the charactersitics of their deployable military capability, the British were only capable of prosecuting the war on the operational offensive but tactical defensive.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:44 pm

Tasker

There were other officers in the stand, the 30 redcoats had to have been led by someone, most likely Pullen
who was seen organising a stand, and the Carbineers and Police were lead by Scott and Bradsteat. The NMP survivor
states they were already dismounted and fighting when Durnford rode up to them.


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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:49 pm

It's a minor point DB14. But when Durnford joins them, he is in command.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:55 pm

Durnford in command.The poor guy Sad
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:06 pm

Drummer Boy 14 wrote:
There were other officers in the stand, the 30 redcoats had to have been led by someone, most likely Pullen
who was seen organising a stand, and the Carbineers and Police were lead by Scott and Bradsteat. The NMP survivor
states they were already dismounted and fighting when Durnford rode up to them.

I have no issue with this but it's also true that the Carbineers and NMP had been with Durnford in the donga. I believe you are correct however that Pullen (a quartermaster) is most frequently credited with organizing the stand on the British right in the hope of preventing the circle being closed.

On another note (and this is absolutely not directed at DB who has been notably level headed,) I think we (me included) should really step back and take a deep breath whenever we are about to make a post that assumes intimate knowledge of the participants' state of mind. For example, none of us will ever know exactly what Durnford was thinking or feeling when he made the decision to remain on the field rather than join some of his men who were encouraging him to leave with them. We can makes suppositions, but there is no way to prove anyone right or wrong. Therefore to get emotional or make ad hominum attacks is not only a waste of energy, but silly. Likewise, I don't understand getting insulted on behalf of somebody who has been dead for 130+ years. Playing the victim is a tactic for the weak...minded.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:29 pm

Quote :
I believe you are correct however that Pullen (a quartermaster) is most frequently credited with organizing the stand on the British right in the hope of preventing the circle being closed

The only primary source, that mentions "Pullen" is from that of Brickhill.

Pullen asked Brickhill to go to Pulliene and send help. Pullen then went towards the front of the stones Kopie, follow by several soldiers. Don't think several soldiers would constitute a last stand.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:31 pm

He would have had the bandsmen and pioneers with him being the QM, most likely he took them.


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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:33 pm

Julian Whybra wrote:
It is not known who ordered Shepstone to hold back the right horn - it may have been Pulleine or it may have come from Durnford.

Isn't it possible as well that Shepstone took the initiative himself (or is that just in the movies?)

Too bad we don't know. It really would help in evaluating Pulleine's role in the battle. It has always struck me that the officers sent up toward the spur on the north end of the camp should have sent somebody back to Pulleine saying, "Hey, we're OK for now but a large force is working it's way behind us."

Maybe that message WAS delivered, but it doesn't seem to have been documented. The Lieutenants in those companies shouldn't have been content to merely range their troops taking potshots as a column of the enemy outflanked them. That doesn't require Sandhurst training -- children in a snowball fight know better than to let their opponent work around behind them. But the only evidence of positive maneuvering to avoid encirclement by the right horn are the remains of Shepstone & Co. If is was Durnford that sent them, he could have only done it far too late to make too much of a difference or as you aptly put it -- a forlorn hope. Assuming he was still alive at that point, that would also be yet another indication of Pulleine's lack of leadership...or indictment of his tactical acumen.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:35 pm

Pulleine's leadership during the battle is conspicuous by its absence.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:40 pm

Quote :
He would have had the bandsmen and pioneers with him being the QM, most likely he took them
If it was, he only took several. Anything else would be based on speculation.

Can anyone show a single piece of historical evidence which shows that Durnford was a good field commander
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:43 pm

[quote="impi"]
Quote :

Can anyone show a single piece of historical evidence which shows that Durnford was a good field commander

Can you show a single pice of evidence to show that Chard and Bromhead were good officers pre RD?
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:45 pm

RD was an British Victory, that speaks for its self.

Again you are avoiding the question. As normal.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:47 pm

impi wrote:
The only primary source, that mentions "Pullen" is from that of Brickhill.

Pullen asked Brickhill to go to Pulliene and send help. Pullen then went towards the front of the stones Kopie, follow by several soldiers. Don't think several soldiers would constitute a last stand.

OK, but the fact that he sent Brickhill to ask Pulleine for reinforcement (though it could, of course, not be forthcoming,) indicates to me that he was trying to staunch the flow of Zulu into the camp from at least the Zulu left horn. Using terms like "last stand" only seems to inflame people here. I think it is better to say that prominent historians have attributed Pullen with taking positive action to prevent encirclement. Perhaps he was successful enough that Durnford joined him...or perhaps Durnford joining in made his efforts in that regard a temporary success. I doubt there's any way to know that for sure but either way it was an appropriate step (other than simply running for his life which at his age wasn't likely to take him far in any case.)
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PostSubject: Durnford was he capable.   Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:53 pm

impi.

You keep asking for evidence for this, evidence for that, a source for this, and a source for that, you say Durnford did this, and Durnford did that, you want people to give you an account for this, and an account for that, yet only one day last week you said that you had Zulu War Books, with respect impi, Imay I suggest that you READ THEM.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:56 pm

impi wrote:
RD was an British Victory, that speaks for its self.

No, you miss the point. The point is that seemingly previously mediocre officers are capable of performing heroically on the day when the chips are down, as Durnford, Bromhead and Chard did.

If you want evidence, go back a few pages in the Durnford thread and read Barry's post in which he quotes the relevant part Mehlokazulu's statement regarding Durnford's conduct.
Read about Durnford's admirable restraint in obeying his orders to not shoot first regarding the Bushman's Pass incident, in any good book on the AZW.



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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:58 pm

impi wrote:
RD was an British Victory, that speaks for its self.

Again you are avoiding the question. As normal.

No, he's not. It's just on the face of it a silly question. By the same logic Durnford, as a result of conducting a text book delaying action, he must have been a capable cavalry commander. He was also asked to raise the native units. So even had he not proven a talented field commander (and he could not have been much worse than Pulleine in my estimation,) he was of proven value to the British Army and Natal.

Nobody could "prove" Chelmsford was very good at his job after Isandlwana. He brought down the Zulu empire. So what does such posturing really achieve in these discussions, eh?
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:08 pm

Mr M. Cooper wrote:
You keep asking for evidence for this, evidence for that, a source for this, and a source for that, you say Durnford did this, and Durnford did that, you want people to give you an account for this, and an account for that, yet only one day last week you said that you had Zulu War Books, with respect impi, Imay I suggest that you READ THEM.

Salute

Impi

Jackson's books are by far the most detailed, i highly suggest you read them.



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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:24 pm

This is the truth :Pulleine's leadership during the battle is conspicuous by its absence.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:04 am

Durnfords men were on the extreme right flank and they did run out of ammunition and were forced to mount up and ride back into the camp, what affect did this have on the British lines, and the Battle it's self.
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PostSubject: Durnford was he capable.   Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:35 am

Ray.

Read my post in this thread on Sunday Dec 02, 11.58 am, Top of page 38, this should hopefully explain things to you.

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:52 am

Ray63 wrote:
Durnfords men were on the extreme right flank and they did run out of ammunition and were forced to mount up and ride back into the camp, what affect did this have on the British lines, and the Battle it's self.

First of all, these men were not from the 24th and as such, on average, they carried less ammunition on them. Secondly, they ran out of ammunition because of the extremely large force arrayed against them. Third, even if they had more ammunition they were being outflanked by dint of sheer numbers. Finally, the British line was a house of cards. Whichever part of it that pulled away first was going to lead to a swift and inexorable collapse.

The idea that the colonials and NNH could have held out forever (or something like that) if they just had the ammunition is a mythconception...especially given where the wagon they used for replenishment was located. They would quickly have been assaulted from three directions -- the front and right flank from the extreme left horn and in the rear by the extreme right horn (which spilled over the nek and into the camp.) Moreover there was a big gap between Durnford's left and Pope's "G" company which would have been exploited sooner or later anyway because there were no reserves to address it...so eventually they would have been completely surrounded.

What these endless "what ifs" ignore is that the British command had terrible intelligence of the enemy before the battle and not enough numbers during the battle to compensate with tactical flexibility. Apart from the fantasy defense of a regimental square or a fortress of wagons backed up against the hill at the very outset of the battle, it was just a matter of which element of the defense collapsed first...and then it was all over but the shouting.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:01 am

6pdrs wrote:

"Apart from the fantasy defense of a regimental square or a fortress of wagons backed up against the hill at the very outset of the battle "


Fantasy defense for men for men as LC, Durnford and Pulleine...!

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:05 am

Pascal MAHE wrote:
Fantasy defense for men for men as LC, Durnford and Pulleine...!

It's a fantasy defense because, as usual, it gives no credit to the Zulu. They would simply have climbed up the rear of Isandlwana and shot down into the laager/square. In other words, unless the British could hold the heights, or at a minimum deny them to the Zulu, the supposed advantage of having a hill behind the lines would have become a marked disadvantage. Who do you think was better equipped to climb that hill? The British who were outnumbered 25:1 or the Zulu who were light troops by nature. And don't think the Zulu didn't have plenty of firearms, because they did...as the Rocket Battery learned the hard way.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:18 am

They would not get the laager at the foot of the mountain and would undo the tents before ...

Only 2% of Zulus with muskets they do not know how to use ...

Behind a laager, the 24 th is saved
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:06 am

Thanks for the reply. But it doesn't answer the question, that just tells me how and where they ran out of
ammuntion,and that they wasn't the 24th.

I will shorten the question.

"
Quote :
what affect did this have on the British lines, and the Battle it's self"
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:29 am

Ray hope this answer your question.

"The areas of contention largely revolve around the conduct of the British companies during the battle, and in particular, their positions, and the reasons for their collapse.  In the conventional view, the 24th are pictured in two compact lines, deployed at a sharp angle to one another, with the field guns between them, and a company of the Natal Native Contingent covering the angle.  According to this interpretation, these companies are able to hold their position against the Zulu attack, until such time as ammunition runs short, whereupon their fire falters.  Seeing this, the NNC break, and the Zulus burst through the centre of the position, rolling up both lines from the flank, and killing the 24th where they stood.  In the revised history, the 24th companies are initially drawn up in a line, facing northwards (i.e., not at right angles to one another) and are interspersed with various Native Horse and NNC companies.  Most importantly, there is no ‘angle’, and no NNC company protecting it; the 24th are deployed right up to the guns on either side.  As the attack of the Zulu left horn develops, however, the companies to the right of the guns turn to face it, so that at the height of the battle the British line forms a gentle curve, running from the north (left) to south-east (right).  In this version of events, the collapse has nothing to do with ammunition failure; the line is simply too over-extended to cover its front indefinitely, particularly when Durnford’s command abandon the right flank.  The 24th companies are ordered to withdraw, with the intention of taking up a new position closer to the tents.  As they do so, however, the NNC units retire faster than the 24th, gaps appear in the lines, and the Zulus mount a swift assault which pushes between the various 24th companies, and prevents them from re-forming.  The fighting then continues through the camp area, onto the nek below Mount Isandlwana itself, and down into the Manzimnyama valley behind."
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:41 am

yes me too...
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:46 am

Sorry, guys. It wasn't really the issue of whether the document was found on Pulleine's body or not. I'm sometimes not very clear about these things. It was more the fact that Chelmsford had issued instructions to commanders (all of them, I think) on how the Zulus should be confronted...

According to the Anglo-Zulu War Society, etc, these orders, found in Durnford’s jacket, were hand-written and signed by Chelmsford. They are dated Monday 23.12.1878 and must, therefore, had superseded Chelmsford’s original ‘Regulations for Field Forces in South Africa 1878’. The Society reproduced them in their exact form, using the original, unabridged and grammatically uncorrected text.

The Following Instructions are forwarded for the Consideration of Officers Comdg Columns when entering Zululand.

1) - 14) etc

15) In order to obtain the earliest information of a night attack, being intended, a group of British Infantry (six men), and a section of Natives (10 men), under an Officer should be pushed well forward to the Front, and to the rear, and to, each flank of the outposts just before dark. These groups of (16) men, should be at least 500 yards in front of the Line of outposts, and should be instructed to fire volleys in case the enemy is discovered to be advancing. Each of the 4 parties should be provided with a Lantern, and Flays, so that when having to fall back to the outpost they may not be fired on by their own side. They should also have the countersign given to them.
16) The possible tactics of the Zulus are as follows-
A) Avoid the Troops and attack our line of communications.
B) Attack the Column when on the line of march.
C) Attack the camp at night & charge into it with all their numbers.
D) Await attack in position between White, & Black Umvelosi Rivers.
17) Whatever tactics are adopted, it may be looked upon as a certainty – that when Zulus attack, they will threaten one or both flanks, as well as the front.
nb.item 17) indicates that Chelmsford was fully aware of the threat to a Zulu attack to the flanks. Ed.
18) The Formation which seems best adapted to meet such an attack is as follows - British Infantry in Front Line, deployed, or extended, with one or both flank companies thrown back.

Both flank companies thrown back – Native Contingent inline, in echellon (sic) well clear of each flank of British Infantry and well to the rear of each flank. The guns in line and in front of British Infantry.
Mounted Infantry in rear of each flank, ready to move round the flanks, and rear, of the enemy.
British Infantry in reserve well in rear of the centre.


And isn't this the formation that Pulleine/Durnford adopted in practise???

If so, weren't they simply following a textbook instruction? Given that this thread is about Durnford's "capability", I'm not sure that they can be criticised for following the strategy prescribed by their commanding officer. Other things maybe...

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford was he capable.2   Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:53 am

We can not find a document on a guy that we never found the body!

Yes LC left Pulleine a tactical instructions, they are to die laughing ....

It is the military regulations of 1877, as valid against the Xhosa that LC confused with Zulu ...

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