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 Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013

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PostSubject: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Thu Oct 03, 2013 7:41 pm

ZULU FORUM
Q+A session answers -

Comment from Ian;
Firstly, can I thank everybody who took the trouble to submit some questions for providing some interesting topics - although I see most of you are mainly interested in the events of 22/23rd January! One or two asked largely the same question, so I have answered these only once. Please forgive me for replying to some of them at length - some touch upon the on-going debates about the war, so I felt it was important to outline how I have arrived at my own conclusions, rather than just giving a quick answer. I hope you enjoy my response - it’s been fun replying!

Questions; John.
Of all the books you have written on the Anglo-Zulu War, which book did you most enjoy writing and why?

That’s a difficult one! I’m very fond of The Zulu War; Then & Now which Ian Castle and I wrote back in the early 90s. It was a great adventure to be able to travel around Zululand with a file of old photos, sketches and engravings and try to match up the sites today - it was a revelation to find just how well so many of them lined up, and how recognisable the features are. We tend to take the topography in the newspaper engravings, particularly, for granted, but in fact there was often a very real attempt by those who produced the sketches on the spot to get it right, and it can often still be recognised in the published picture - despite the intervention of the engraver in the process! It was a nice time, too - apartheid had kept visitors away from some of the more obscure sites (in the 1980s, for example, as a white person I had had to obtain a permit to get access to designated ‘black homeland’ areas) and there was a real sense of the country opening up. Many of the sites were relatively undamaged then - although the process of change has accelerated a good deal since then, sadly in some cases. Otherwise, I’m proudest of my Anatomy of the Zulu Army, my book on the Prince Imperial, With His Face to the Foe, and Fearful Hard Times, which I also wrote with Ian Castle, and which remains the only full-length study of the Eshowe campaign. My Companion To The Anglo-Zulu War gave me the chance to explore all sorts of quirky elements in the story, which was fun - although nobody much seems to have bought it! But above all I’d have to say Zulu Rising, which in many ways is the book I’ve been trying all my life to write.

Did the Gatling gun really make a difference at the Nyezane engagement?

Or has too much emphasis placed upon it ?
In real terms I doubt if it affected the outcome of the battle in the slightest. Remember that Midshipman Coker had to hurry it up from the rear of Pearson’s column when the battle started, so that it did not open fire until the battle was well under-way - and perhaps the turning point had already passed. It only fired 300 rounds - a very short burst given that the gun’s nominal rate of fire was 600 rounds per minute (I say nominal because in battle conditions it would have been lower due to the need to change the ammunition hopper, to pause between bursts to allow the smoke to clear, the possibility of jamming, and so on).  I’m sure that it was absolutely devastating to the Zulus in the designated target area, but it probably only killed a small number of men, given that the Zulus were sheltering in the bush at the time. I think, though, that it was probably a real ‘Wow!’ moment for the British troops who witnessed it - it was, after all, the first time it had been used by British forces in action, and I think most of those who saw it must have been impressed, probably even a little shocked, and sensed that it was the shape of things to come. But interestingly although the Zulu accounts of Nyezane mention the effects of musketry, rockets and artillery, they don’t dwell on the Gatling - probably because only a few of them were exposed to it. In real terms, although they remained problematic, the Gatlings  probably had a greater effect at both Gingindlovu and Ulundi than at Nyezane.

Regarding the ‘Secrets Of The Dead’ documentary. In that you opened a prop ammunition box with one swipe with the butt of a rifle, based on bent screws being found on or near the firing lines. How many of these screws were actually found?

I can think of at least seven or eight bent screws that I’ve seen in various collections. Now generally you would expect only a small proportion of debris to have survived on site for a century or more, so for every one that survives now there were an unknown number not found. But even if those eight were the only ones bent in such a way - and we have recovered them 100% (which would be something of an archaeological miracle!) that still represents eight boxes, each with 600 rounds - so that’s 4,800 rounds distributed during the course of the battle. And clearly if those boxes were opened in that way, there is no reason why others would not have been. We also found four or five of the handles from the tin lining of the ammunition boxes in the short area of the firing line we examined - it’s difficult to see how they could have got there without the boxes being opened in those areas. Nobody is going to do anything other than pull open the lining and throw away the used ‘ring pull‘ handle nearby. There are several of the bent screws in the collections of battlefield debris in the Ladysmith Blockhouse and Talana Museums. The point about the screws being bent, of course, is that you can’t just bend a loose screw - it has to be caught between two pretty powerful forces moving in opposite directions, in this case between its length fixed in the body of the wooden box and the lid being violently forced out. In some cases the surviving screws still have the brass collar mounting from the edge of the box proper still in place, which would only be the case if they were smashed out when the box was screwed shut. I’ve attached a photo which clearly shows two of these (centre). Remember that, although a great deal of emphasis is traditionally placed on Smith-Dorrien’s account in his autobiography - which is the basis of the argument that the Quartermasters were reluctant to issue ammunition, and that the boxes were difficult to open - in a letter he wrote to his father much closer to the event he said he was ‘out with the front companies of the 24th handing them spare ammunition’. The apparent contradiction here is actually less than it seems, and I don’t believe Smith-Dorrien changed his mind - merely that the significance of his exchanges with QM Bloomfield seemed greater as he mulled over the events over the years (a common enough trick of memory, particularly with regard to dramatic or traumatic events). In fact, of course, Smith-Dorrien, who was a young wet-behind-the-ears 19 year-old Transport Officer with no Regimental responsibilities at the time, had gone early in the fight to QM Bloomfield, who was guarding the 2/24th’s supplies which constituted the 2nd Battalion reserve, and which had been made ready to send out should the battalion, out with Chelmsford, need them. Bloomfield seems to have told him, at that stage of the battle, to clear off - or at least go on to the 1/24th’s supplies further down the camp - quite rightly, in my view, since I believe that at this stage true extent of the threat to the camp was not yet apparent. Ask yourselves what would have happened, for example, if Bloomfield had released that ammunition to Smith-Dorrien, but that the attack on the camp had proved a feint - and a messenger arrived breathlessly saying Lord Chelmsford was under attack, and he desperately needed the battalion’s reserve supply. But it’s clear from Captain Essex’s account - Essex arrived shortly afterwards - that Bloomfield relented, probably because Essex’s rank added more weight to the request. Essex says he sent ‘an officer’ - surely Smith-Dorrien - and some unattached men out to the line with supplies in the short term, and then loaded up a cart with boxes which he took out. He makes no mention of the rifle companies having any difficulty in opening them, and in general terms I believe the screws and lining-handles are from these boxes. It is also significant in my view that Lt. W.W. Lloyd did a sketch of the debris on the firing line at iSandlwana some months after the battle (it’s published in David Rattray’s book) and right in the middle is an open empty ammunition box. It’s important to note that the Zulus stress that they were fired upon heavily by the 24th companies as those companies retreated to the camp - so clearly the 24th had not run out of ammunition before the retreat. In fact the references to supply failure actually seem to relate to the last stages of the battle, when everything had collapsed, the tents and wagons were over-run, and of course no system of re-supply was then possible - when the men had shot off their last round, that was it. Of course, the battle was lost by that stage. I always think it is instructive, too, to compare the iSandlwana experience with that at Nyezane earlier that same day. There, Captain Fitzroy Hart, who was staff officer to the 2nd NNC, saw his NCOs were running out of ammunition (they carried less rounds than  Line infantry), and sought fresh supplies from the Buffs’ reserve. He anticipated they would be reluctant to release them to another unit - like Bloomfield! - and so took the precaution of getting an authorising note from Pearson first. With that he had no difficulties and he mentions re-supplying his NCOs with no reference to difficulties opening the boxes!

There is a offer of £100.00 English pounds to anyone who can open an ammunition box that has been made to the exact specification as an original, with one blow from a rifle butt. Would you take up that offer ?

I’d have to give a qualified yes to that one! Obviously when you are making a TV programme you have to resort to a degree of short-hand - I think both Tony Pollard (who was in charge of the archaeological dig) and I would have liked to look at the whole question of the boxes in more scientific detail but realistically we had a couple of minutes’ screen-time. It would have been nice (although rather destructive!) to use an original box, but we didn’t have one available. I think what we did gives a good impression of the real thing - and particularly demonstrated the point about the screws getting bent when the box is forced open in that way, thereby confirming the importance of those surviving screws. I did spend a little more time on this question in Zulu Rising and pointed out that the first choice as a tool for opening boxes in an emergency was probably a tent mallet, of which there were many in the camp. But do I think that it could be done with a rifle butt? Yes. First time, every time? No. But a few whacks with a mallet, with a rifle-butt or with the back of an axe-head would get the job done. Otherwise neither those surviving bent screws nor the lining-handles make sense. I do also agree with Mike Snook that it would be a mistake to believe that an experienced battalion like the 1/24th could not open its own reserve ammunition supply.

I have my doubts about the bravery with regards to the Zulu. I based this on the drugs they took before battle. Do you think if they hadn't taken the drug, they still would have charged head on into an army with far superior weapons ?

Yes. The Zulu use of drugs is rather more complex than the Secrets of the Dead documentary implied. As Tony Pollard put it, ‘we wanted to make a documentary about battlefield archaeology but the production company wanted to make one about drug-crazed Zulu warriors!’ There’s no doubt that Zulus did inhale or swallow their protective medicines on going into battle, but these usually only included a small active ingredient, namely cannabis. Native South African cannabis is quite strong (I’m told!!) and can make you quite edgy - in an excited group like an impi going into battle it would have served as a mood enhancer, making the group as a whole more excited and aggressive. But the importance of these medicines was largely psychological - they encouraged the warriors to believe that they were bound by unbreakable spiritual ties to their comrades, that they would overcome their enemies, and that harm would pass them by. The physiological effect on the vast majority of the warriors was very small, yet time and again across Zulu history, whether it be at the battle of the Thukela against the Port Natal settlers in 1838, at iSandlwana or Khambula in 1879, or at Bope Ridge in 1906, they went forward into a swathe of destructive fire with remarkable resolution. In fact - and in fairness I’m not sure the programme made this quite clear - the use of more powerful stimulants was largely confined to a very small group of men who enjoyed a reputation as warriors of particular note, the so-called abaqawe, or heroes - the Zulu hard men, if you like, who staked their reputations publicly before the fighting on the great deeds they were going to achieve, and then had to live up to it! It was these guys for whom a little chemical stimulation gave them that extra edge!


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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Thu Oct 03, 2013 7:43 pm

Questions; Ymob;

How would your apportion the blame for the disaster at Isandlwana between Chelmsford, Pulleine and Durnford (or others)? We already know the thinking of others researchers on the subject likes Julian Whybra, Ron Lock (and Peter Quantrill), Mike Snook and Adrian Greaves...but not yours!

Well, I’ve always been rather wary of making too many easy judgements as I think there is always more grey to these matters than black and white. It’s obviously easy in hindsight to see where someone made an error of judgement - but to me it is more interesting to look at why they made that error. Having more space in Zulu Rising gave me the opportunity to consider this a little more; if you take Lord Chelmsford’s decision to split the force early on the morning of the 22nd, what were the options before him? He was worried about encountering an elusive enemy in difficult terrain, and he’s woken up in the middle of the night by the news Dartnell had done just that. Could he have stood waited til morning in the hope the situation would be clearer? Yes - but he knew the Zulus were more mobile than he and he was worried they might slip away, and the value of that intelligence would be lost. Could he have marched the entire column to intercept them? Probably not - it would have taken hours to pack up the camp, and the Zulus could have been miles away by then. Could he have waited and prepared a defensive position, to be ready should the Zulus attack him the following day? Undoubtedly - but the point was that he didn’t believe they would do that, and he was worried rather that they might out-manoeuvre him. So his thinking was to leave a strong enough force behind him to defend the camp, but advance quickly and quietly to intercept the Zulus, and potentially take them by surprise. If he had succeeded, we might all be congratulating him on his initiative and daring now! Of course in retrospect we can see that the situation was not as he understood it - the main Zulu army was not in front of Dartnell, nor was it trying to avoid contact; in fact, it was seeking a direct confrontation as much as he was. Nor was his intelligence complete since Dartnell had only been able to give an impression that there were Zulus in the vicinity - with evening coming on he could not report fully on their strength, their movements, nor give a reasonable impression of their intentions. So Chelmsford put two and two together and made five - it was the wrong decision, but I can understand why he made it. As to Durnford I think there is some valid criticism to be made for further splitting the forces at iSandlwana camp, and for over-stretching the defensive position - but against that you have to remember that when he arrived at the camp the situation had clearly changed (with the Zulu appearance along the ridge) since Chelmsford had left a few hours before. Durnford had a mounted and therefore mobile column, so he could be forgiven for thinking he was best placed to investigate the unfolding situation - especially as he was not tied by any specific orders to the contrary from Chelmsford. Of course, he might have sent some of his men out whilst establishing a command position at the camp, which would have made overall direction of the battle much easier, and I do think his personal feelings, and in particular a need to be useful and play an active roll, influenced his decision there. It certainly didn’t make it easy to present a co-ordinated defence of the camp with Pulleine somewhere at the foot of iSandlwana and Durnford in the Nyogane! As to Pulleine, although he was a comparatively inexperienced field commander there is no doubt in my mind he was taking advice from the officers of the 1/24th, some of whom had seen a good deal of fighting on the Cape Frontier, and I‘m sure, from various comments made about the defensibility of the ground beforehand, that Pulleine and the 24th had decided before the battle that a position above the dongas to the north front of the camp was the best place to defend it against an attack from that direction - and in many ways I would argue they were right. The problem was, of course, that they were wrong-footed by the belief that it was Chelmsford, rather than they, who would be fighting the main Zulu army - and Pulleine made his initial dispositions without being fully aware of the extent of the attack bearing down upon him. In the event the artillery and 24th companies did, after all, halt the attack of the Zulu ‘chest’ for a while - but the line was hopelessly over-extended when faced with the full sweep of the enveloping Zulu assault.
So, if I were to nail my colours to the mast, who was at fault? Well, ultimately Chelmsford, for under-estimating the skill and determination of his enemies. He had been told how the Zulus fought - but he didn’t quite believe it, and for that he must legitimately shoulder the blame. Splitting his forces was an error in retrospect, but I think understandable - and where he must also accept some responsibility is in not more firmly establishing a chain of command at the camp and making his intentions with regard to it clear. He failed in that because at 3AM on the morning of the 22nd he was thinking about the Zulus in front of him, and took it for granted the camp could take care of itself behind him. He always felt a sense of injustice, incidentally, that he was blamed for the loss of the camp because that he genuinely believed that he had left sufficient troops to defend it - and that if it were lost, it must have been due to a mismanagement of those troops by someone else. That was the basis of his defence over all the years that followed - and whilst of course I believe the buck stopped with him, I do have some sympathy for him. In the two battles that he personally fought afterwards - at Gingindlovu and Ulundi - he won convincing victories, and he just felt it was plain unfair that he be blamed for a battle at which he wasn’t even present. Although of course we don’t know how the battle would have turned out with him in command. The presence of another battalion of infantry, four guns and most of the NNC - the men he took out with him - must surely have made a difference, although he might still have been the one mismanaging the defence! After all, look at his actions at Mangeni on the day - he spread his troops all over the country in small packets, fighting as he had on the Cape Frontier. If they had run into 20,000 Zulus out there, he would have struggled to concentrate his command, and been in real trouble! At the camp, meanwhile, both Durnford and Pulleine were wrong-footed since there were no guidelines from Chelmsford on how they were to manage their respective commands once they were brought together, and neither of them started the day expecting to fight the main army. Here I would highlight a more general failure of British scouting and intelligence - they just didn’t get what was really going on with the Zulus until it was too late. We can play about with various alternative scenarios which either retain most of Durnford’s column in the camp at the start, or allow the British to concentrate earlier than they did - but the fact is they didn’t see the need at the time, any more than did Chelmsford. Another factor to be considered is that all this was happening less than a fortnight into the war - and commanders always make errors based on misunderstanding the enemy and the situation early in a campaign. If they are lucky, they live long enough to learn from those errors - Pulleine and Durnford did not.
But I would also make the point here that the men most responsible for the outcome of iSandlwana were Ntshingwayo kaMahole and Mavumengwana kaNdlela. Throughout the iSandlwana campaign the Zulus consistently made less mistakes and recovered the initiative quicker - to move an entire army largely unnoticed so close to iSandlwana was an extraordinary achievement, and speaks not only of the failure of British reconnaissance but also of the skills of the Zulus in using terrain and successfully masking their movements. And during the battle itself Ntshingwayo’s command and control of his troops was more effective, and the assaults themselves were skilfully made and with great courage. The assumption that the British should automatically have won these battles unless they stuffed up is deeply flawed in my view - and by concentrating our thoughts on what the British did wrong we can be fooled into overlooking what the Zulus did right. In my opinion iSandlwana was more of a Zulu triumph than simply a British disaster.

What do you really think of Inspector Mansel's account that he heard the guns firing in the camp when he was on the way back from Mangeni in the afternoon.?

Mansel of course says that, after Chelmsford had ordered his command to return to iSandlwana, he was near the front with the Mounted Police when a sergeant directed his attention to the sound of the guns - and that he subsequently saw the flash of the guns ’several times’. He outs the time at around 3 p.m., although this was probably a ’guesstimate’ after the event, and David Jackson is right to point out that the context (Chelmsford’s return) puts it later. The mystery of course is that the guns at iSandlwana were over-run significantly before this.
I think there are a number of factors to consider. For one thing, the acoustics at iSandlwana are odd in that sound tends to reverberate around the hills and echo back from different directions. Brickhill draws attention to this on the day, and mentions a discussion between himself and some Carbineers as to the origin of gunfire they could hear in the morning - it was probably Chelmsford skirmishing at Mangeni, but it appeared to come from so different a direction that Brickhill’s group wondered if it could be Wood’s column in action. I’ve certainly noticed myself at various iSandlwana re-enactments, when the sound of volleys bounces back, sometimes after a noticeable delay, from somewhere else entirely. It’s not been properly investigated, but it is also possible there might be acoustic shadows in the countryside between iSandlwana and Mangeni, which might distort the passage of sound over that distance, and could even have prevented Chelmsford hearing much of the battle. The wind direction, too, would be a factor. None of which really explains the flashes seen by Mansel, however, nor the apparent regularity of the shots. One possibility is that his memory of the timing was at fault - that he heard the shots at some other point of the day, and that either consciously or unconsciously he transposed them to the return to the camp. That may sound implausible but memory does often play odd tricks, especially after a traumatic event - people often remember incidents in the wrong sequence. However, given that his account is quite precise, I think it is more likely that he and his men simply saw something else, and mistook it for cannon-fire - perhaps confused by echoes, perhaps not. The most likely thing to my mind is that they were witnessing munitions exploding in the camp - we know that the Zulus set fire to some of the tents after the battle, and indeed Mansel himself mentions this in the context of his story. We also know that the Zulus broke up much of what they found in the camp - it’s possible, I think, that somewhere in all that destruction some munitions exploded. Neither the two guns of N/5 Battery over-run in the battle, nor certainly the Rocket Battery, fired off all their ammunition during the fighting, and there were in any case reserves in the Artillery camp. Were some shells or rockets - or even perhaps boxes of rifle rounds - ignited either by the burning tents or by Zulu interference? The repeated flashes might have been a stockpile of munitions exploding, and the apparent repetition a trick of the echo. Ultimately, though, we are never likely to know, and any suggestion remains speculative!

Were there still survivors at Isandlwana late in the afternoon of the 22nd when Chelmsford was waiting for Glyn’s troops to come up and join him before returning to the camp?

Almost certainly. There are a couple of Zulu references to soldiers either holding out a long time or hiding or playing dead, and only being discovered during the looting which followed the fighting. There are also suggestions that a few individuals from the NNC had managed to slip through the Zulu cordon at some point (probably by passing themselves off as Zulus) and joined Chelmsford on his return. So it’s very likely that there were a few survivors still alive until quite late in the afternoon. It is a sobering thought that they might have been watching Chelmsford come up, and been trying to hold on - but under the circumstances I don’t think Chelmsford could have done anything else. To push on to iSandlwana with his own command scattered and the NNC in the van might perhaps have persuaded the Zulus to abandon the camp earlier, but it would more likely have invited further disaster.  

Could the camp be have been saved - or a part of it - if Lord Chelmsford had returned to Isandlwana after he received Pulleine's first message (9h30)?
Good question! Probably. But remember that it took several hours to move between iSandlwana and Mangeni - Chelmsford would have needed to respond quickly, to regroup his own command, and march straight back. That would have taken three or four hours. Of course his presence in force on the road, even in the distance, might have influenced the Zulu attack, in which case the whole scenario of the battle might have been different. But remember that Pulleine’s early message was sent in response to those first Zulu movements north of the camp - the camp was not actually under attack at that point, nor did he suggest directly to Chelmsford that it was. Chelmsford sent Milne up onto Magogo hill to look back, and Milne has attracted some criticism because he didn’t see anything wrong - but of course even in the middle of the morning the Zulu attack had not taken place, so there wasn’t much for him to see. Much is made of Milne noting that the tents were still standing and, by implication, that Milne mistook the real situation - but at that point the camp was not under direct attack, there was no reason to strike the tents, and Milne could not in any case see anything from his position of the Zulu movements between the iNyoni ridge and the Ngwebeni. On the other hand, Chelmsford was engaged in a running fight with small groups of Zulus at Mangeni, and from his viewpoint Milne could see Zulus in the opposite direction, towards Siphezi. None of which really made it obvious to Chelmsford that the camp was in any more danger than he was, or prompted him to make an immediate decision. As the day progressed, and rumours of the attack begin to circulate, Chelmsford obviously became more troubled and looked back more often - but pretty much any movement he made after noon would not have got him back to the camp before the battle was decided.


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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Thu Oct 03, 2013 7:45 pm

What do you think of the Durnford’s behaviour at Isandlwana - did he, as Lt Henderson suggested in his letter to his father, ‘lose his head’?

I think Durnford was a typical man of his age, class and profession - he was accustomed to keeping his personal feelings under check - but that on 22 January he was wrestling with some powerful emotions, and that these sometimes broke through his controlled exterior. As I tried to explore in Zulu Rising, he had suffered a good deal of physical and emotional pain since 1873, and I think this was seething within him. In his early behaviour during the war - notably his premature move down to Middle Drift, which Chelmsford had reprimanded him for - he had revealed the extent to which he was determined to prove himself energetic and useful, and to wipe out the legacy of Bushman’s Pass. To me there is a touch of desperation in the way he pushed his column on the march from Middle Drift to Rorke’s Drift, and even in the way he pressed on to iSandlwana on the 22nd leaving his baggage wagons, including his reserve ammunition, trailing in his wake. Chelmsford’s order to him to move his column to iSandlwana had suggested to him that he was needed to play an active changing situation at iSandlwana on the morning of the 22nd, and the absence of specific orders to the contrary from Chelmsford had allowed him the flexibility to act on his own initiative. He might have remained at iSandlwana that morning and sent out scouts to investigate the reports of Zulu movements - but with his personality and history I can’t think that was ever going to happen. I think the battle highlighted his conflicting emotions - which come out in the snappy comments he was heard to make about his scouts, and to the Carbineer vedettes. For me, it’s difficult to avoid the impression that he was exhilarated by the fight for the Nyogane, and in deliberately exposing himself to Zulu fire he was demonstrating not only his personal bravery but addressing the failures of Bushman’s Pass. I think his African troops responded well to this sort of conspicuous leadership - hence Jabez Molife’s glowing description of him at that point - but his white officers may have felt rather differently. All of them would have known the story of Bushman’s Pass, and I think his stand in the donga made Henderson, at least, think Durnford was gung-ho and foolhardy, and leading them into another disaster. It is interesting to note that all of his white officers - including the regular, Cochrane - found reasons to leave him whilst that stand was going on, whether to look for ammunition, carry orders or whatever, and Simeon Nkambule makes the point that by the time the Mounted Native Contingent finally left the Nyogane, all of their white officers had disappeared. I don’t think Durnford ‘lost his head’ - but I do think he was showing the strain. I’ve always thought it interesting that Nourse says he saw Durnford later in the camp, as everything collapsed, and Durnford spoke not of the desperate military situation, of trying to shore up the defence or organise a proper withdrawal, but of ’the disgrace’.  

There is a report in the Natal Mercury from 'a gentleman' that Melvill received the Queen’s Colour from Pulleine's hands and was entrusted with its safety. He even recorded Pulleine's words. But who was this man, was he a surviving officer? Do you think this story is true?

I am very suspicious of this story! As you suggest, it is odd that the ‘gentleman’ is not identified - to have heard Pulleine’s remarks he must have been there and survived. But who among the survivors was near enough to Pulleine and his staff during the battle? None of the regular officers - who would be the most likely candidates - mention this incident, yet why would they not if they had indeed witnessed it? It reflected no shame on either the 24th or on themselves, so why not just come out and say ‘I saw this’? In fact none of the officers who survived placed themselves near Pulleine at the height of the battle - and if they had, I think their recollections would have been of great interest to the Court of Inquiry, trying to find out what decisions were made with regard to the safety of the camp during the battle, yet they don‘t appear in the evidence gathered there. Perhaps some of the officers’ servants who survived might have heard it - but again, why not simply say so? In fact most of these seem to have survived precisely because they were in the rear of the fighting, rather than in the forefront. And, given the etiquette of the day, it would be unusual to refer to a common soldier as ‘a gentleman’. I don’t believe any survivor heard this conversation - I think the ‘gentleman’ was Col. Glyn, who was keen to make it clear, in the event of any public or press speculation, that Melvill was acting properly in leaving the battlefield with the Colour. In fact, we don’t know the circumstances of Melvill’s departure from the camp. As adjutant the safety of the Colour was in any case his responsibility - he might indeed have been ordered to carry it away by Pulleine, or he might quite legitimately have done so on his own responsibility. Personally I’ve always thought it more likely in any case that the Colour was brought out to rally the battalion - and that Melvill only tried to save it once he realised it was too late for that. Perhaps he could not get through the chaos to join Pulleine - perhaps Pulleine was already dead. Remember that in the 1870s the main purpose of Colours on the battlefield was to rally the battalion under pressure - exactly this happened at Maiwand in Afghanistan the following year, when Col. Galbraith ordered the 66th’s Colours to be unfurled as the battalion was being over-run. I’d be very surprised if the officers of the 1/24th had not thought of unfurling the Colours once the fighting had reached the camp and was very confused - it seems unlikely to me that they would move straight to carrying them away when this was exactly the situation in which they were needed. The report in the newspaper is couched in rather too heroic terms for me to take it at face value - it’s almost as if the ‘gentleman’ knew it would make a great stirring scene in a painting, or in a movie a century later! - and its anonymity is suspicious.


Lt Hillier, NNC, is recorded as noting that Melvill's and Coghill's bodies ‘lay behind the bodies of two soldiers, where they had made a stand’. Ron Lock and Peter Quantrill in Zulu Victory thinks that the two soldiers may well have been Imperial Mounted Infantry. Adrian Greaves (Isandlwana: How the Zulus Humbled The British Empire) and Mark Maplesden (article: Sergt 1313 T. Cooper, F Co, 1/24th, KIA at Isandlwana or a Rorke's Drift Casualty?) suspect that one of them was Sergeant Cooper, 24th ( a relative of yours, I believe). What do you think?

It doesn’t work for me, I’m afraid. The presence of extra bodies around Melvill and Coghill shifts a bit like a mirage - some reports mention them, others don’t, usually depending on how dramatic they want to make the scene - but in fact those who describe finding the bodies either officially or in the greatest detail (Black, Harford) make no mention of other bodies nearby, and strongly suggest Melvill and Coghill were alone. I think Melvill and Coghill were among the last to try to get away from Sothondose’s (Fugitives’) Drift - the British officers who survived generally seem in any case to have been at the tail end of the straggling line of survivors, and remember Coghill had an injured knee, and both men must have been exhausted. I have walked the fugitives’ trail many, many times, and I can assure you the walk up from the river to Melvill and Coghill’s grave is a killer, especially after crossing the river! One reason I think they were killed, in fact - whether you believe they were killed by Zulus who had crossed over, or by Africans on the Natal bank - was that they easy prey, the last of the stragglers. Adding two men with them would have altered the whole dynamic of the incident - two more men might have helped them away quicker, and they would have been a less easy target, and so might have escaped an attack in any case. Higginson doesn’t mention any other men with them - whatever our reservations about his account - but neither does Brickhill, who saw Melvill struggling to get up onto the Natal bank. I’m tempted to suggest that if there had been five of them rather than three, Higginson might have been more inclined to stay with Melvill and Coghill, since he would have been much safer than going off on his own! So I don’t believe there were any others killed with them. Certainly there were others killed on the Natal bank - we know that the civilian Dubois was killed after crossing by shots fired from the Zulu bank - so perhaps the tale of extra bodies just grew with the telling. I know that today there are two cairns just below Melvill and Coghill’s monument, and this has perhaps added to the confusion - however, it is worth remembering that Melvill’s and Coghill’s bodies were lying a few yards apart when first found, and covered with stones - they were later exhumed and re-interred at the foot of the large rock a few yards away where they remain today. I think those two cairns were their original graves. It’s worth noting that neither contemporary newspaper drawings - based on Harford’s sketches - nor later reports of the re-burial mention other bodies in close proximity. Remember too that some early reports said they were surrounded by a ring of dead Zulus - and that seems to have been wishful thinking too!
Which of course doesn’t leave much scope for Sgt. Thomas Cooper (yes, he is a distant relative of mine) to be one of them! But I’m sceptical of this in any case. It is based on the fact that Cooper’s family noted his place of death as Rorke’s Drift, rather than iSandlwana, on his memorial card. But Cooper wasn’t IMI, he was 1/24th, an infantryman - we don’t even know if he could ride a horse! For him to have been found near Melvill and Coghill would require us to believe he left his company - under what circumstances? - found a rider-less horse, rode it sufficiently well to escape across very difficult country and through a swollen river, only to rally to Melvill and Coghill at the very end. To my mind, it is easier to suggest that his family just made a mistake on the memorial card - after all, some of the first reports of iSandlwana in the press described the battle as taking place ‘near Rorke’s Drift’. With a lot of confusion about what iSandlwana was actually called, I think they just went for an easier option!

The fate of Coghill and Melvill is only known to us by the testimony of Lt Higginson (NNC). Do you think Higginson’s account is reliable?

I think we have to be careful of thinking that an eyewitness to anything, and in particular a hugely traumatic event like iSandlwana, can only be wholly reliable or wholly unreliable - there is a vast spectrum in between! Some witnesses are scrupulously honest, even if they reveal shortcomings in their own behaviour, whilst some are honest about events in general precisely to obscure their lack of clarity about their own participation. Some remember events very clearly and accurately, some remember aspects very clearly but totally forget or fail to mention other incidents entirely. For some the significance of elements within their memory changes over time as they struggle subconsciously to make sense of overwhelming experiences which were largely beyond their control - both Hook and Smith-Dorrien stress different elements in their earliest recollections to aspects they dwell over at greater length in later accounts. One of the effects of trauma is in any case to damage the recollection of time, sequence and distance - it makes some things seem shorter than they were, others longer, and often jumbles up the sequence in which incidents occurred. So all of our eyewitness testimony with regard to iSandlwana is flawed - and sadly as historians we are not in a position to cross-examine the survivors and say ‘but did you really mean that? You don’t tell us what you did next …’! Funnily enough I had a conversation just recently with an American friend who was in the US military in the Iraq War; he said that he had recently been to a reunion with some colleagues who had all been on the same raid together. He said he remembers that event very clearly - but at some point, whilst they were talking and he outlined his recollection of events, he was shocked when one of his colleagues said ‘But I remember that completely differently!’ As historians we have to learn to weigh up each account and decide not only what we think of a particular witness’ general veracity but also his reliability on specific points - can he be believed on that, was he close enough at the time to see it, does he have something to hide or something to prove, was he, even, being led by a particular line of questioning? With Higginson, I think he is quite detailed and reliable - in so much as it can be tested against other accounts - in his general report on iSandlwana, which of course was given shortly after the event. We can reconstruct something of Melvill and Coghill’s story from other witnesses - Smith-Dorrien saw them during the flight, for example, and Brickhill saw Melvill in the river - but we are largely dependent on Higginson for the last part of the story, the unsuccessful attempt to get out of the Mzinyathi valley. My own feeling is that he is evasive on this - I think his claim that he left them to look for horses was probably an excuse to cover the fact that he abandoned them somewhere in the valley, perhaps because Coghill’s injury was slowing them down. I think, in fairness, most of the survivors were much closer to exhaustion and panic by the time they had crossed the river than they cared to remember. Perhaps Higginson thought they were all safe anyway by that stage, being on the Natal bank, so he needn’t in any case have stayed with them - perhaps he only needed to think of an excuse later, after he found out they had been killed. Either way, I don’t think he was around when they were killed, so we really don’t have any eyewitness testimony of how they died (apart from some second-hand evidence from a Zulu source). I do have some sympathy with Higginson since he is judged by history on this point - but it’s worth remembering nobody else stuck around either!

Do you really think that Clery wrote an order to Pulleine the 22 January, before Lord Chelmsford marched out from iSandlwana? What do you think those orders, written or verbal, contained in reality?

I think he probably did. Remember that Clery had grumbled that the presence of Lord Chelmsford with the Centre Column had effectively robbed Col. Glyn of the role of column commander because, inevitably, Chelmsford made all the strategic decisions. Glyn’s staff was left with little more to do than issue the practical directions in the light of those decisions. It seems to me entirely in keeping therefore that Clery would have issued orders to Pulleine regarding the safety of the camp since Lord Chelmsford, at that point, was thinking of his own possible battle ahead, and was certainly not bothering about what was going on behind him. That would have been Glyn’s responsibility, and Clery again says that Glyn showed little interest in these sorts of details and left them to him (Clery). Again, Clery is adamant in his report that he not only sent written orders - which did not survive the battle - but spoke personally to both Pulleine and his adjutant, Melvill, to ensure they understood them. Of course, he is stressing this after the event to make it clear there was no lack of direction on Glyn’s part, but these directions were not in any case rocket science - the main point of them was to ensure the safety of the camp, and Chelmsford’s standing orders provided a tactical blue-print on how that might be achieved should it be attacked. In the event Pulleine seems largely to have followed this blue-print (guns in the centre, infantry on either side, mounted men and auxiliaries on the flanks). I think the fact that Clery’s conversation with Pulleine and Melvill took place can also be inferred from their reaction when, later in the day, Durnford asked them to act in a manner which might have compromised the order to ‘defend the camp’ - and they refused to do it. Clearly they had a firm impression at that point of what was expected of them.

Questions; IanSas1.
Lt. Carey; should he have been held accountable for the death of the Prince ?

That’s an interesting one! I had a good look at this in my book on the Prince Imperial, With His Face to the Foe. My own feeling was that the whole incident was really the fortunes of war, but if anyone were to shoulder the burden of blame it was the Prince himself, who insisted on going further and staying longer than he was advised. Certainly there is an issue that no proper chain of command had been established - senior officers (Harrison, Buller) treated the Prince as if he were in command, and yet he held no official rank within the British Army. Carey was undoubtedly the senior officer - but he joined the patrol as an afterthought, and was never officially placed in command. Throughout the Prince acted as if he were in command - and Carey was complicit in this. When the attack happened the patrol scattered - it’s worth remembering that even the Prince ran away, and that no one made any effort after that first volley to make a stand. If it were Carey who was killed and the Prince who survived, would Louis have had to answer for Carey’s death? And of course at his court martial Carey pointed out that if he were responsible for the Prince’s death he was equally responsible for that of Abel and Rogers (and indeed the Zulu scout, who is usually overlooked, but who died nonetheless!) It’s hard to avoid the feeling that Carey’s actions were subject to particular scrutiny because of a high-profile casualty. Where I think Carey did let himself down was in not making any attempt at a rally once they were clear of the Zulus - I think had he rallied them men on the hill-side and perhaps directed a volley at the Zulus he could have argued that he re-established authority at that point and tried to cover the escape of anyone left behind. In fact, with the possible exception of their Zulu scout - who was probably still running at that point - it would have made no difference, since the other three were probably already dead by that stage. But the fact that he made no such attempt did leave an unpleasant impression that he had done nothing to save anyone - and, as the only surviving officer with rank, arguing that it wasn’t really his patrol really didn‘t let him off the hook. There’s no doubt that many officers would have considered it a matter of honour as well as their duty to stand and fight rather than run under those circumstances, and there was a generally feeling that that was how it ought to be done; Wolseley, of course, considered that it was the duty of a British officer to fight and die with his men, pure and simple, and there was never an excuse to run away. Although it is worth noting that deliberately going forward into an anticipated conflict is a very different thing to being surprised off guard, and the attack was all over in a few minutes. It would have taken a cool nerve and quick thinking to react well in those first few seconds when the mealie-fields were suddenly full of Zulus and the musket balls were flying. It is interesting that both the court and Lord Chelmsford clearly felt some sympathy for Carey - there was a clear feeling that, in a similar situation, one quick error of judgement and ‘there but for the Grace of God go I’. The court even suggested that losing his staff posting would be a sufficient punishment for Carey - which suggests they did not attribute any huge guilt to him. The real issue was, of course, that the Prince was desperate to see some action, that Harrison felt sorry for him and believed that the ground ahead of the invading column was cleared of the enemy, and therefore safe, that the Staffs of both columns connived at this, and that Louis himself was the one who insisted on going too far, and ultimately placing himself and the patrol at risk. Perhaps Carey should have reigned him in - but given the extent to which the Staff seemed to indulge the Prince, I can understand why he didn‘t.

Do you think the VCs awarded at Rorke’s Drift were only awarded to deflect the public’s eye from the disaster at Isandlwana?

No, but …! I think there are two different issues here - were those deeds heroic and worthy of recognition, and - separate issue! - did the need to deflect public attention affect the decision to recognise those deeds? I think it’s pretty clear that all those men who received the VCs for their actions at Rorke’s Drift had behaved in a remarkable way - indeed, so did quite a few others, and there is a very real sense in which the line drawn under those eleven was an artificial one. It was felt too many VCs were being awarded and this might devalue the deeds recognised, so they should stop awarding them - but even that decision implies others had an equally good claim to them, and had to be ruled out for reasons that were nothing to do with individual acts of courage. That said, it was recognised very early on that Rorke’s Drift would soften the blow of iSandlwana - Chelmsford himself urged Glyn to produce and submit a report on Rorke’s Drift as quickly as possible as it was ’good news’ to send back to London.  As Clery remarks, the troops in Africa recognised that the garrison had behaved very well, but otherwise did not attribute anything special to Rorke’s Drift - Wolseley himself later commented that troops who fought desperately because they were surrounded and fighting for their lives were not displaying the sort of heroism - of willingly and selflessly placing themselves in danger which they might not otherwise have had to do - which he expected of the Victoria Cross. But from the very beginning Rorke’s Drift was taken up by the British Press and public, and I think there was then a willingness to reflect that, and there was certainly a lot of regimental lobbying behind the scenes to ensure that the various corps present received a share of the glory. There’s no doubt that the public reaction to Rorke’s Drift helped fend off for quite a while some of those inevitable searching questions about the conduct of the iSandlwana campaign.

Do you believe that the Zulu King, sent his army to Isandlwana to talk peace ?

Not really, but I think there was a sub-text here which was understood by his commanders, Ntshingwayo and Mavumengwana. From the beginning the king was adamant that the war was not of his making - that the British were the aggressors, and that the Zulus would only fight in defence of their own territory. Cetshwayo wanted to preserve that moral high-ground - of course he was realistic enough to understand that putting 25,000 ritually prepared men close to the enemy was most likely going to lead to a military confrontation and, after all, he was perfectly entitled to defend his country against a foreign invasion. I think there was a small element of grasping at straws, but above all a need to ensure that any conflict took place on terms politically favourable to the Zulus. In real terms I think what he told his commanders was ‘look, if you can avoid a conflict so be it, but if you can’t, make me look good - make it clear they fired the first shot, and we are the injured parties. And if that happens, kill them all with my blessing (apart from an officer or two who would be useful as a hostage!)’. I think his commanders understood that - and I think the coincidence of the new moon (a bad omen), the king’s requirement to play it carefully, and a need to rest from the march across country from oNdini all contributed to the decision not to attack on the 22nd (remember - and this factor is often overlooked - latecomers were still arriving at the Ngwebeni bivouac into the night of 21/22nd - which would have left them tired should an attack have been launched at dawn on the 22nd, the usual time for an assault, and also made it difficult for the commanders to be sure of their men’s initial dispositions). To me it is very significant on a number of levels that the commanders were in conference on the 22nd when the impi was discovered: it explains, for one thing, why the amabutho rushed forward - many of their commanders were not with their men to restrain them - and it confirms to me that no proper assault had been launched. The generals were still talking; if an attack had been properly planned, the officers would have been at the head of their men. What were they talking about? Well, it’s not recorded, but personally I am certain they were discussing whether they had done enough to fulfil the king’s instructions (they could argue that by delaying the attack for a day they had certainly not precipitated the fight, and had ‘given peace a chance‘) -  but also of course they must have been discussing options for an assault on the camp in response to the reports by their scouts of the British position since daybreak. Remember that Mehlokazulu had been a scout that morning, and on reporting to Ntshingwayo Ntshingwayo had remarked ‘alright - we will wait and see what they do’. I think a plan of attack was thrashed in that meeting, but probably with the intention of delivering it on the morning of the 23rd - first light being the favoured time. When the shooting began, however, the regimental commanders rushed back to their men with a common sense of purpose - which explains how, once they had re-established order over them, the attack was as well co-ordinated as it was.
I’m increasingly convinced, incidentally, that far from deliberately luring Lord Chelmsford into splitting his forces, the main army was unaware that he had done so. It’s not clear how much scouting the Zulus had been able to do on the evening of the 21st - there was some, certainly, although the British noted much more activity on the morning of the 22nd. If the Zulus noticed that there seemed perceptibly more troops at iSandlwana on the evening of the 21st than on the following morning, they may well have been a little confused - and this may have been another factor in delaying the attack. Remember that Chelmsford only took the decision to split his force during the night of the 22/23rd, that he ordered his detachment to make ready silently, specifically so as not to alert any Zulu scouts, that there was a heavy mist in the valley forward from iSandlwana, masking his movements, and that he had reached Mangeni by daylight on the 22nd. It’s quite possible the Zulus had missed this move entirely.

What was the purpose of the Zulu King coming to London? Why was he treated like a celebrity, considering what happen at Isandlwana?

To argue that he be restored to Zululand. In the years since the invasion both government and public opinion had begun to swing against the war. Confederation was discredited, and there was a growing feeling that the war had been unjust. Coupled with that, the post-war settlement of Zululand had begun to collapse. Whilst in captivity in Cape Town Cetshwayo had received a number of influential visitors, several of whom - like Lady Florence Dixie - argued his cause on their return to London. In effect the king suggested that if he was restored to Zululand he could maintain order under British supervision. He was granted permission to visit London to put his case. During the war he had been portrayed in the press in fairly stereotypical and hostile terms, as a tyrannical savage, so I think initially there was an element of the freak show about public interest in him. By the time he arrived, of course, he had been living in Western society for several years, and he knew how to dress in European clothes and carry himself well - so the crowd was surprised to see that the snarling villain of the iSandlwana story was actually rather smart and regal. This seemed to focus the general feeling that he had been badly treated, and his visit in fact secured him a good deal of public support. And of course he met Queen Victoria at Osborne House - she was a little more cool, since of course she knew many of the officers who had fought in the war, but she nonetheless famously presented him with that three-handled silver mug. Yet his visit wasn’t entirely successful - he was restored to Zululand, but great swathes of the country were set aside for those who had opposed his return, and this if anything accelerated the conflict and led to a full-blown civil war.


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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Thu Oct 03, 2013 7:46 pm

I understand you became interested in the Anglo-Zulu War, after your father took you to the cinema to see Zulu, did he ever realise what impact it would have on you, and that you would become the leading authority on the Anglo-Zulu war?

Not at all! I used to love epic films when I was a kid, and my parents thought Zulu was just another wet Saturday afternoon entertainment. Even now, though, I remember the impact it had on me then - and the scene that hooked me was right at the beginning, in the iSandlwana opening sequence. I sat there, dwarfed by the big screen, watching the camera pan round over the dead soldiers until it rested on the bloody hand of the man draped over the wagon, and thinking ‘what on earth has happened here?’ In a sense I’ve been trying to answer that ever since! I remember coming home and making plasticine models of redcoats and sticking pins in them to represent spears! I do sometimes think, though, that life would have been easier if they’d taken me to see The Sound of Music…

Had you written a book prior to visiting the battlefield of Isandlwana?

No. I started writing about the war when I was a teenager, mostly for war gaming, model soldier or militaria magazines - I wouldn’t recommend anyone track those articles down, they don’t contribute anything to our collective knowledge! - and I was involved in founding the Victorian Military Society but my first visit to iSandlwana was in 1979, for the centenary celebrations. I went again several times in the ‘80s, including a memorable six-week trip in 1985 spent hitch-hiking round what was then KwaZulu. My first book, in the Osprey Elite series, wasn’t published til 1989, and my first full-length book, Brave Men’s Blood, until 1990 - so by that time I had spent quite a bit of time on all the battlefields. I think it’s important to have some first-hand knowledge of the ground when you are writing about a battle in depth, and obviously the Zulu battlefields are particularly important to me - although in fairness I have occasionally written about other British Colonial campaigns, notably in various Osprey titles, including battlefields I’m not personally familiar with.

People that have visited the battlefield nearly all say they become very emotional. Can you remember how you felt?

It gets me every time, still, even though if you add up the separate days I’ve spent there now it runs into years! The first time, back in 1979, our party was on two big coaches (because we were part of the official commemoration - not me personally, but the ex-British Army personnel in our party), and as there was no viable road then by way of Rorke’s Drift, we approached instead from the Nquthu side - and suddenly the ground fell away as we crested the iNyoni escarpment, and there was iSandlwana on the plain below us. In those days there was much less Zulu settlement along the foot of the escarpment than there is now, and iSandlwana seemed isolated in the veldt, brooding and mournful. I’ve seen it in lots of different lights and weathers - it broad sunlight, in the early-morning mist, at sunrise or sunset, or at the height of a storm - and it always has that same brooding feeling to me, a sense of some ancient, sinister mystery, as if the landscape had prepared it specially as a marker for some dark and dramatic event! Even now, when there are a steady trickle of visitors to the site, when I’m wandering over the battlefield, though the dongas and the long grass, those cairns always take me right back to what happened there in a very personal way, whether its looking at them en masse in the nek area, or stumbling across an isolated one unexpectedly.

Questions; Impi
Apart from yourself, who would you recommend as a battlefield Zulu War guide?

Ha - that’s a question that is bound to make me offend somebody! Technically I am the leader and speaker of the Holts tour rather than a battlefield guide because, as a non-South African, I can’t register there as a qualified guide, and in any case we are accompanied by Paul Marais, who is a registered guide, and who does many of the other duties involved in guiding which I don’t pretend to do. These days I greatly enjoy staying at Isandlwana Lodge, which nestles under the iNyoni rocks - it remains a very special experience, sitting on the veranda first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon, and watching the moods of the mountains change right there in front of you. And of course if you stay there Rob Gerrard will give you a tour - or they can organise for Lindizwe Dalton Ngobese to do it, and from him you’ll get an interesting Zulu interpretation. There are a lot of good battlefield guides based in Dundee, nearby, and here I’ll single out Mike Nel, because he’s a mate of mine! There are only a few who do the entire war - most specialise in their local area - but among those who do is Ken Gillings, whom I’ve also known for years, and who certainly knows his stuff!

Do you read, books on the subject by other authors?

Yes. It’s important for me to keep up to date on what others in the field are doing. Some books by other authors I cherish and clutch to my bosom - some I throw across the room in irritation! But I’m not going to tell you which is which!

My personal opinion is that you are the leading authority on the Anglo-Zulu War. Who would you say would comes second?

That’s very flattering, thank you - I’m sure there are those who would disagree! When I was young I was a great fan of Donald Morris, and even though my own views on the history have moved on from his (he was to that extent a victim of his success - he inspired a generation of enthusiasts who took his research to another level, and sadly rather left his work behind) I still greatly respect his achievement. He wrote most of the book whilst serving as a CIA agent in Berlin in the late 50s and early 60s, and so had to do a lot of his research by correspondence - and in the days before the internet! So to have come up with what stood for a long time as the standard history was remarkable. And I still find some of his writing very moving. Otherwise I’m a big fan of John Laband as he was the first to properly map the sites in recent times, and he’s brought a wonderful degree of academic rigour to writing about the war, particularly the Zulu perspective. Jeff Guy is brilliant in analysing the forces which drove Britain and the Zulu kingdom to war, although he’s not personally interested in the military detail. Lee Stevenson’s work on Rorke’s Drift is excellent. Otherwise I admire certain researchers in particular fields - I’d want to be pretty sure of myself before contradicting David Jackson on the role of the 24th at iSandlwana, for example. For a sheer good read, though, I enjoy T.V. Bulpin’s book Shaka’s Country, which is not at all academically rigorous, but which tells the whole story of the kingdom in an entertaining and rather wistful way.

Did the death of David Rattay have an impact on you in anyway?

It’s probably fair to say that David and I were closest in the early days of his lodge. Ian Castle and I took one of the first specialist interest groups to stay at Fugitives‘, not long after it had opened, and I stayed there several times as friend before working there for seven months in 1992/3. In those days David had spare time occasionally for us to go off exploring, walking across the top of the ridge above Sihayo’s homestead, for example, or looking for the site of Gamdana’s homestead and Major Smith’s grave (we didn’t find it, by the way, even though most people now look in the wrong place!). After Fugitives’ started to become popular there were more demand on David’s time, and he was often away lecturing, whilst I went onto a busy few years writing. Even so, his death was a great shock. Funnily enough I had been at Rorke’s Drift a few days before it happened - it was the anniversary of the battle - and I bumped into one of Dave’s staff, who said ‘oh, he’s away giving a talk; he’ll be back tomorrow, you’ll probably see him’. Well, I didn’t, and of course thought nothing of it at the time - I’d only been home twenty-four hours when it seemed that everyone I knew in South Africa rang me to tell me the news. Although Dave was always the first to say he was a story-teller rather than a historian, there is no doubt he held thousands of people spell-bound over the years, and I can definitely sense a drop-off in the level of interest now he is no longer travelling the world enthusing people.

Do you intend to write anymore books on the Zulu war?

    I certainly hope so! In fact I’ve got one coming out in a new Osprey series any day now - the series is called Combat, and focuses on the individual experience of battle of troops on either side in given conflicts. I’m currently writing something with a rather greater scope on the Victorian soldier in colonial wars generally - but there are still several aspects of the Anglo-Zulu War that I’d like to look at in more detail, and certainly other aspects of Zulu history. In real terms, though, the market is a limitation - publishers are aware that whilst there’s a seemingly endless interest in iSandlwana and Rorke’s Drift that interest drops off quite sharply when you look at other areas of the war. I do have a book looking at Rorke’s Drift in greater detail that I started about ten years ago but shelved - there has been some interest recently in my returning to that. One day I’d like to do something on a particular interest of mine, the shield patterns of the Zulu amabutho in 1879, but I think it would be a bold publisher to take that on!

Who was you favourite Zulu War personality who fought in the Zulu War?

Hmmm…Well, on the Zulu side I’ve always been intrigued by Mehlokazulu and Zibhebhu, although both of them were quite hard men with a less attractive side! Mehlokazulu of course led the raid into Natal to capture his father’s runaway wives, and that was cited in Frere’s ultimatum; he later fought throughout the war, and left a good account of it, and he went on to be one of the few Zulu chiefs who joined the rebellion in 1906. Zibhebhu was a bit of a turn-coat, fighting loyally in 1879 but then accepting a post as one of the British-appointed ‘Thirteen Chiefs’ and becoming an implacable enemy of the Royal House - but there’s no doubt he was an extraordinary commander and warrior. I don’t feel quite so attached to the British personalities because of course most of them are only moving briefly through the history of Zululand - although John Dunn fascinates me, and I’d love to get the chance to write a new biography of him.

Col. Durnford was a known to sympathise with the Zulu cause - why was he allowed to take part in the Zulu war?

Durnford was a man for whom duty was everything, and I don’t think anyone doubted that he would do whatever job he was given to the best of his considerable ability. Indeed, I think Chelmsford considered it a plus that Durnford could work well with African troops - it made him the ideal person to raise the NNC. He was quite a dynamic person and threw himself into his duties with energy - he worked hard, and Chelmsford appreciated that. I don’t think his views on the Zulus were really held against him - I think it was his judgement, after Bushmans’ Pass, that was questioned. On the other hand it is worth remembering that Chelmsford didn’t have a bottomless pool of senior-ranking officers - in fact he was quite limited, and if he had reservations about Durnford, I’m sure he set them aside in the light of Durnford’s other qualities. He couldn’t really afford not to.

The attack on Hlobane - was that really nothing more that a cattle capturing expedition? What was there to be gained by attacking the mountain?

Well, I think it is generally accepted now that the abaQulusi cattle - as many as 2000 head - were one objective, partly because they were financially valuable to the captors and partly because they were regarded as a legitimate military target, a means to disadvantage the enemy. But Hlobane had served as a focus of Zulu resistance in the area - the abaQulusi used it as a stronghold and their ally, the Swazi Prince Mbilini, moved between his homes there and in the Ntombe valley, coordinating raids in the area. Wood had tried unsuccessfully to drive the abaQulusi off back in January, so he regarded it as unfinished business, and when Chelmsford asked his remaining commanders along the border to make diversionary attacks to distract the Zulus from his own advance to relieve Eshowe, Hlobane seemed to Wood the obvious choice. And in fairness I think had it been successfully stormed it would indeed have discouraged the Zulus in the northern sector. But of course Wood under-estimated how difficult it would be to attack - both physically and in terms of Qulusi resistance - and he didn’t take seriously enough a report that King Cetshwayo had sent his main army to support his followers in the northern sector. The result was the second greatest British disaster of the war after iSandlwana.

One of the Rorke’s Drift defenders, a civilian, was buried outside the cemetery wall, why was this?

Hook says that Louis Byrne, who was a civilian storekeeper attached to the Commissariat Department, and who was shot through the head during the battle, was buried outside the cemetery. Hook was based at Rorke’s Drift for some months after the battle, and so should have been well aware of the cemetery but I must admit I have no idea why this was the case - all I can think is that the 24th initially buried their dead side by side, and that Byrne was set to one side as a not being in their Regiment. Of course Trooper Hunter of the Natal Mounted Police was also killed during the battle, and he wasn’t 24th, so was he buried separately? In fact, at the risk of being rather macabre, it would have been difficult to identify those killed inside the hospital because of course they were largely cremated as the building burned down around them - Hook says that Maxfield’s remains could only be identified by a small piece of a check shirt he was wearing. So quite how the dead were identified and gathered it‘s difficult to see. Certainly I don’t think we should read any imputation into the location of Byrne’s grave - he was, after all, working in military service and was killed playing his part in the defence. Once the stone monument was erected there doesn’t seem to have been any physical indication that Byrne was anywhere other than within the cemetery.

If the Zulu army that attacked Isandlwana had moved on invade Natal, what was there to stop them?

Very little! There were African auxiliaries posted at some of the river crossings, and various small garrisons at points on the line of communication (including Helpmekaar, of course), and some of the 4th Regiment were on the road from Greytown to Helpmekaar. Further back, there were bigger garrisons in Durban and Pietermaritzburg - but very little that was comparable to the concentration the Zulus had already defeated. Of course, the towns and some of the garrisons were entrenched, which would have made them difficult targets - although had the Zulu army wanted to it could simply have by-passed some of these positions. Civilians living in isolated communities or on farms would have been very vulnerable - so too would the African communities who had contributed to the NNC! But in fact of course that was never King Cetshwayo’s intention, because he wanted to keep the moral high ground that came from being the victim of British aggression, of fighting only in defence of Zulu territory. It’s easy to forget, too, that there would have been real practical problems for the Zulus in invading Natal. They could certainly move quickly and didn’t need the same lines of communication that a conventional European army did - but they would still have been at grave risk of being cut off from the border behind them. They would also have been entirely dependant on foraging to supply themselves - and remember that they had already been travelling solidly since 17 January. After Rorke’s Drift the attackers were so exhausted that someone saw them in retreat, the warriors dragging their shields through the grass, they were so tired. So any quick strike, in the aftermath of iSandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, would have risked over-tiring even them. Also, unless it had been planned before-hand, there would also have been a real difficulty in co-ordinating an attack and focussing on clear objectives. After any battle, the Zulus would have to regroup in hostile territory - it was hard enough for the wounded to walk home after iSandlwana or Khambula but would have been much worse in Natal, at risk from attacks from Natal Africans looking for soft targets, and with some powerful rivers to cross. That said, of course, the Zulu high command might still have exploited the confusion that reigned on the British side of the border for a week or two after the battle, and, once their men had recovered from iSandlwana, launched smaller limited raids from a number of points into Natal - and caused the British no end of grief! Even that, however, would have required a very specific strategic plan, and a firm hand in keeping the men assembled - the great tendency after a heavy engagement was for the army to disperse, and it would have taken considerable effort to keep them mobilised over a series of engagements.

Questions; Springbok
Can you give your opinion on how many piquets were stationed around iSandlwana?

The map in the official Narrative of Field Operations puts mounted vedettes on Mkwene, immediately north of the camp, on the slight rise in the middle of the iNyoni ridge, on iThusi (the furthest point of the iNyoni ridge visible from the camp), on Amatutshane (the ‘conical hill’) and on a high point just beyond the Nyogane donga to the south. The infantry picquets are in a curve arcing from the NNC on Mkwene out beyond the Nyogane and round to the southern end of Mahlabamkhosi (‘Black’s kopje’). These were daytime posts, and were drawn in at night to a circle much closer to the camp. Now, obviously this map cannot be held to be entirely reliable, and indeed the positioning of the troops during the battle on it is highly suspect - but, since it was compiled from the reports of men who were there, it is nonetheless a source to be taken seriously. And I think it is largely correct with regard to the vedettes for a number of reasons. Lt. Davies mentions that Lt Scott of the Carbineers was posted on Amatutshane, and Mehlokazulu confirms this by his reference to mounted men on the hill. From this position Scott not only had a good forward view of the country towards the Silutshana and Magogo hills, but he was also able to serve as a hub, co-ordinating any response that was necessary with regard to reports from the outlying posts. In my opinion Tpr Barker confirms this by the way he describes various Carbineer vedettes, including himself, falling back to Scott when the Zulus first appeared early in the morning. Remember that Inspector Mansel complained that he had wanted to push mounted vedettes further forward but that Clery had refused - my feeling is that Clery wanted a chain of outposts that were not only within sight of each other, but also of the camp, and he may have felt that pushing vedettes further out would isolate them and make them vulnerable to no very good military purpose. A significant factor in this, in my view, is that mounted vedettes were expected to give visual signals of any changes in the situation; Barker himself says, that on first seeing some Zulu movements, ‘we gave the usual signal’. That would have entailed riding their horses round in a circle, the warning for ’enemy in sight’ - and whilst I accept they may have conveyed such a signal by means of vedettes further back down the line repeating it, I think it much more likely that they were within direct sight of the camp - indeed, Clery’s order to Mansel only really makes sense if that were the case. The Nyezi position, further forward, is out of sight from Scott’s position on Amatutshane, for example, because of the lie of the land, although it would have been visible from the top of iThusi. But if a vedette on iThusi could overlook the iNyezi rise anyway, why bother to put a further vedette on iNyezi?

Do you believe a vedette was on iNyezi or Bizanani hill or Qwabe, and what were the movements of Barker and Hawkins?

No, for the reasons above. I’m not sure what purpose a vedette on iNyezi would serve, since it doesn’t offer a radically different view of the country than could be obtained from the top of iThusi. Yes, it was further out, but as I’ve suggested the line of sight to the camp and to other vedette outposts was restricted, meaning that any outpost there would be isolated, and would have only rather limited ways of passing information back to the camp in a hurry. I realise this has arisen because Tpr. Barker’s account refers to distances which would place him that far out - he says that the Carbineer vedettes were ‘posted to the direct front and left of the camp’ and that he and Hawkins were ‘on a hill to the extreme front quite six miles away’. Well, of course iThusi is not six miles from the camp but it is the furthest significant high point visible from it. In regard to his perception of distance, however, Barker says at one point they retired on Lt. Scott’s position, ‘about two miles nearer the camp’. Well, if we are fairly confident that Scott was an Amatutshane, that would place Amatutshane about four miles from the camp - in fact it is less than two miles from iSandlwana, which suggests to me that after the event his exertions during the day made the distances seem greater to Barker than they were. His recollection of time was also affected, I think, and I’ll come back to this in a minute - remember that sequence, timing and distance are all things which can be affected when recalling a stressful event. Barker says that shortly after they had retired to Scott they saw Zulus both on the hill they had occupied and on the skyline further to the left, where two other vedettes had been forced to withdraw. That seems to me entirely consistent with other accounts of those early Zulu movements, who were seen from the camp to be on the flank of iThusi and on the skyline of the iNyoni ridge abutting it further west. To be honest, I struggle to reconcile it with the idea that the Zulus were further out at iNyezi, for example, at that stage of the day, because the Zulu accounts stress that it was the amabutho in the ‘chest’ who went forward early in the morning, rather than the left ‘horn’, as it must have been were the Zulus to be approaching iNyezi. Indeed, several Zulu sources, including Mehlokazulu, specifically suggest that the left ‘horn’ took no part in those early movements. I am, by the way, sceptical that they might have been Zulu stragglers - not because I don’t believe there were stragglers, but because (for a number of reasons I won’t bore you with here!) I think any stragglers were further north and east at that point in the day. Barker says he and Hawkins went back to their post and that the Zulus retired, some of them lingering on a hill in the distance. Again, subject to my comments about distance, I think they were actually on iThusi looking at the Zulus returning towards the bivouac in the Ngwebeni valley. He then describes a certain amount of too-ing and fro-ing, some of which is clearly condensed because he runs the sequence together, with no reference to the hours between those first sightings and the subsequent attack, and indeed he puts the fall of the camp at ‘about 10.30 or 11 a.m.’ which of course is much earlier than most other sources, and really not the case. I say this not to discredit Barker in general, but merely to flag up that his perceptions of time and distance are generally the weakest part of his account. To me, though, it is significant that he makes no mention of witnessing Durnford’s advance, which he could hardly have missed if he were riding around in the country near iNyezi, since Durnford‘s advance took him right past iNyezi. Barker does, however, mention seeing Raw and Roberts’ men on the heights ‘on the extreme left in skirmishing order‘ - a movement which could be watched from iThusi but not from iNyezi - and refers to actions of the rocket battery. Given that we know the rocket battery was over-run somewhere on the slopes of the iNyoni west of, and close to,  iThusi, it places Barker closer in once again. Taken together all this strongly suggests to me that, whatever his impression of the distances involved, Barker was actually stationed on iThusi, and not on iNyezi.

In Brickhill’s statement (page 4 para 3) he talks of ‘stands’ being made. He refers to ‘the Basutos who had a narrow escape of being cut of at the crest, but who came through past the General’s tent and who shouted to each other and kept up there fire from a few rocks under iSandlwana’. Looking at the time frame and assuming Brickhill’s got things in order, this takes after the artillery had passed, - he states he saw them at the corner of the camp - with my time clock I therefore put it after Henderson et al had left. Could this be a reference to George Shepstone’s men?
It could be - the reference to ‘rocks under iSandlwana’ is tempting. He certainly seems to be talking about the mounted units who had been up onto the heights - you rightly highlight his reference to ‘being cut off at the crest’, referring to the withdrawal down the escarpment under pressure from the Zulus - and the units involved, the three troops of amaNgwane Horse - Raw’s, Roberts’ and Vause’s  - suffered nearly 30 casualties between them. Although some of these losses would have been scattered across the field and line of flight - including some, like Roberts himself, perhaps hit accidentally by N/5’s shell-fire - it is possible a number of them might have rallied to Shepstone. I would still be a little wary of taking the sequence too literally, nonetheless - he is clearly describing events that took place at roughly the same time, and moves on from talking about the artillery to talking about stands in general - he could simply mean that all this was happening at roughly the same point in the battle. Perhaps the ‘Basutos’ he saw were one of the groups who got away, pausing to fire a few last shots - perhaps not. Perhaps this is indeed an illusive reference to what Shepstone was doing there among the ‘rocks under iSandlwana’, and who is buried with him under the cairns nearby.

What happened to Captain O.E. Murray of the NNC?

Good question! Hamilton Browne of course suggests that Murray was sent back to iSandlwana from Dartnell’s reconnaissance to the Mangeni on the evening of the 21st with two companies of the NNC escorting cattle they had captured during the day. No one else confirms this. It’s possible - although these two companies must surely have reached iSandlwana before the battle, and yet they do not feature in accounts of the fighting. It’s possible that Murray might actually have been with those who, like Avery and Holcroft, returned to the camp in disgust on the night of the 21/22nd, following the false alarms among the NNC. David Jackson speculates that Murray might even have returned to the camp on the 22nd with Captain Gardner, Major Smith and Lt. Griffith. Browne speaks highly of Murray and may simply have been keen to protect a friend’s reputation by inventing a story to legitimise Murray’s return to camp - alternatively, given the systematic collapse of the 3rd NNC from the 21st onwards, he may just have got it wrong. There is just one point, though, which makes me wonder whether there is some truth in the story - there are several references to the uMbonambi ibutho using a herd of cattle to mask their push through the British line at the height of the battle. I’ve often wondered - whose cattle? Cattle the impi had been driving with it, or had rounded up that morning when foraging? Possibly, but it’s a long way to have driven them from their bivouac by that point. Cattle from the camp? More likely, since the transport oxen would have had to graze somewhere, and it has always seemed far more likely to me that they would do so on the grassy slope in front of the camp than in the steep rocky valley behind. Might it just be, though, that they were the cattle recently brought in by Murray’s companies - or is it just a coincidence that these cattle were, after all, lingering close to the track to Mangeni? If so, it poses more questions than it answers, of course, for where did the escorting NNC companies then go? Either way, Murray is usually given on the list of those killed at iSandlwana.


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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Thu Oct 03, 2013 7:47 pm

Questions; Chard1879
Why did Edward Durnford advise Fanny Colenso to stop with the campaign to clear Col Durnford’s name, along with Col. Luard?

This of course relates to the incident in which, during the burials at iSandlwana on 21 May, Veterinary Surgeon Longhurst, of the 1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards, claimed to have seen Captain Theophilus (‘Offy’) Shepstone Jnr remove a packet of papers from Durnford’s body. Edward Durnford hoped that these might have been the last orders issued to Durnford by Chelmsford’s staff, and suspected that in not releasing them Shepstone might have been covering up something which might have embarrassed Chelmsford and vindicated Durnford’s actions. He questioned first Longhurst and then Shepstone himself, although Shepstone denied removing any documents from the body, official or otherwise. Frances Colenso - who was generally known as Nel, by the way, rather than Fanny - took up the cause in Natal and persuaded Col. Luard, who was then commander of the Royal Engineers in Natal, that the honour of the Corps was at stake  and Luard pressed for, and eventually secured, a Court of Inquiry into the issue. But this rather rebounded on Edward Durnford because the court limited itself to asking whether any such documents were removed, but not why - for fear that Lord Chelmsford might be dragged into the proceedings. And this of course was the issue Durnford was really interested in! Shepstone stuck to his story, various key witnesses were unavailable to testify, and those that did contradicted themselves (at one point everything seemed to hinge on whether Durnford’s body was or wasn’t wearing his uniform jacket when discovered!). Col. Luard, recognising that it was going nowhere and was in danger of degenerating into  a wrangle between soldiers which could only reflect badly on them all, withdrew from the proceedings, and in the end Shepstone was exonerated - without, actually, any greater clarity on the subject of ‘last orders’ having been achieved. This was probably the worst result for Edward Durnford, since it undermined the credibility of his campaign in general - I think he found it an embarrassment, and that’s why he asked Nel Colenso to drop it. In fact, of course, she continued to worry at it - believing that the Shestone family were covering something up - until her death from tuberculosis the following year.

There as been some discussion relating to Durnford’s orders. Some say he was following orders issued to him prior to the one he received on the 22nd Jan ordering him to move to the camp. Do you think this is true?

Well, of course the most recent orders are always considered to update any issued previously, precisely because the military situation might have changed in the meantime. But I do think the orders issued by Chelmsford to Durnford on 19 January established a framework in Durnford’s mind in which he thought Chelmsford wanted him to act. ‘I shall want you to co-operate against the Matyanas’, Chelmsford wrote, which actually implies that he wanted Durnford to retain an independent and mobile capacity as a column commander. Whether or not Chelmsford, at 2.30 AM on the morning of the 22nd, actually intended Durnford to take command at iSandlwana, and thereby be bound by the imperative to ‘protect the camp’, those words were not - famously! - incorporated into his orders that day. So Durnford went forward to iSandlwana thinking that he was still required to ‘co-operate’, rather than to remain in reserve; of course he wanted a more active role anyway, and the fact there was nothing when he arrived there to suggest Chelmsford now required something else from him can only have confirmed in his own mind his right assume one.

Do you believe that the last of the 24th died as depicted in the painting near the cave on the side of the hill? Or was in just Victorian melodrama?

This incident is based on a Zulu account, so I think it probably did happen - but not quite as R.T. Moynan’s painting represents it! Moynan of course has the soldier standing upright in the cave entrance, falling forward as he is hit, his hand raised almost in a gesture of blessing, the Zulus at his feet looking on with awe, rather like the Roman soldiers before the crucified Christ! It’s a painting full of Victorian symbolism and assumptions about the ‘White Man’s Burden’ and the sacrifices necessary for a civilising mission. In fact, if it happened at all, I think it was much more unpleasant than the painting suggests. Although the entrance to the cave is fairly open, not unlike the painting, there is a much lower chamber at the back which extends a few more feet back into the mountain. It would just about be possible to crawl into that, and from there fire point-blank at any Zulus who put their head round the entrance to the cave. It would have been cramped, claustrophobic, smelly, and every shot would have been deafening and filled the cave with smoke. But - it would have been very difficult for the Zulus to get at him, which makes sense of the story that they couldn’t kill him until they got together and fired a volley into the cave - that would have entailed creeping up to the fallen boulders at the entrance, then firing into the smaller chamber at the back. The soldier probably hoped that he could have hidden there, and was unlucky to have been discovered in the first place - and it’s altogether a much bleaker and less heroic story than the painting conveys. Of course, although it is supposed to have taken place in one particular cave, at the foot of the cliffs behind the ‘Younghusband cairn’, there are other caves, and we don’t know for sure exactly where it happened. Nor have we any way of knowing whether this was the last survivor, or whether there were others whose stories were simply not recorded.

In you opinion did Adendorff desert from the Battlefield of Isandlwana?

No! In fact I think poor old Adendorff has had a raw deal from history! It’s odd - I meet so many people who take the film Zulu, wonderful as it is, to be a documentary, and believe that the garrison were all Welsh and sang Men of Harlech, yet the film presents Adendorff in a largely heroic light and makes much of him staying at Rorke‘s Drift, but nobody believes it! Personally I am quite sure that the anonymous letter written by a survivor from the NNC, the ’Poltroon’ letter published in the Natal Witness, who talks about commandeering a horse during the rout at iSandlwana, of escaping with Hlubi’s men, of riding ahead to Rorke’s Drift to warn them whilst Hlubi’s men stopped to water their horses, and then staying to fight at Rorke’s Drift, is by Adendorff. Yes, there are some inconsistencies with timing in it, but there inconsistencies in many of the survivors’ accounts and it was a private letter, not an official report, and in any case, as I’ve already said, survivors of traumatic events often jumbled the sequence of events in their recollection. He gives a perfectly plausible account of leaving the camp at just about the same time as all the other colonials who got away, and he describes how Hlubi’s men kept together and shot their way through the Zulu right ‘horn’, which enabled them to escape by way of the road to Rorke’s Drift. Since we know Hlubi’s men did escape by that route - Chard says they approached the mission by way of Rorke’s Drift rather than Fugitives’ Drift - I see no reason why Adendorff couldn’t have done what he says he did. Chard of course went out of his way to note that Adendorff was the only survivor of iSandlwana who stayed at Rorke’s Drift - and his presence at the post is confirmed the next morning, and in a sketch by Harford. In which case he was the only man on the British side to have fought at both iSandlwana and Rorke’s Drift - but still everyone thinks he ran away! Give the guy a break!

Do you think Coghill & Melvill deserved the VC.?

Melvill’s citation, of course, says he was awarded the VC for attempting to save the Colour, and there’s no doubt in my mind that his exertions were heroic. Having been down the fugitives’ trail many, many times - always on foot, in fairness - it has always struck me that it must have been a nightmare to ride down, especially with a battle going on all around, and whilst clutching a cumbersome and heavy cased Colour with one hand. Coghill was actually awarded his VC for turning back into the river, once he had reached the safety of the Natal bank, and rescuing Melvill, thereby risking his own life when he might otherwise have got away. Like the Rorke’s Drift awards, I think we have to be wary of being too judgemental at this distance. But of course there were doubts, even at the time. Chelmsford had the utmost faith that Melvill acted properly, but did wonder whether the VC was appropriate when carrying out a duty actually gave the officer an increased, rather than decreased, chance of survival. Wolseley was rather more forthright, although his opinion was coloured by his general distaste for the way Chelmsford had handled the campaign, and by an underlying belief that the VC was more appropriate for those who had deliberately courted danger - he said quite simply that he disapproved of Melvill and Coghill being made into heroes, and that there were no circumstances in which the bodies of officers should be found so far from their men. Presumably his attitude would have been that the Colour should have been given to an NCO or ordinary soldier to save, who was not abandoning any officer’s duties by doing so. I do sometimes wonder what would have happened if we change the end of the story regarding Melvill and Coghill - if we followed it as far as their crossing of the river, where the Colour is lost, but then imagine them surviving and reaching Helpmekaar safely. Would they still have been awarded the VC then? I think, on the whole, there would have been few doubts cast about their behaviour because several survivors had seen Melvill trying to get the Colour away, and of course in any case they would have been in a position to explain themselves (and what a great deal more we would have learned about Pulleine’s handling of the battle if they had!). But they still would have been the only two officers of the 24th to get away - I can’t help but feel Wolseley wouldn’t have approved! - and I doubt if they would have got the VC. In a sense their deaths validated an attempt which was, after all,  otherwise a failure.

The Zulu war-doctor in the Secrets of the dead documentary wouldn't say what the ingredients were of the medicines he prepared for you, did he tell you off camera?

No, but we had a sample analysed. It was all vegetable matter - various herbs and plant extracts - but there was cannabis in it which, as our chemist pointed out, ‘was the active ingredient’! Mostly of course these medicines had a psychological effect because the Zulus believed in their potency - but the cannabis would have served as a mood enhancer, helping to build the excitement of the group as a whole. He was a genuine war-doctor, by the way, the personal inyanga of Prince Gideon Zulu who organised the ceremony. It was a very impressive event to be involved in, even with just a small impi - the excitement was electric and, during the final stage, when the warriors ran past the fire and were spattered with some of the potions, the atmosphere positively seethed!

Which Zulu War battle interests you the most?

I’ve got to say iSandlwana, which never ceases to fascinate me, and which remains an extraordinary place to visit, although Hlobane comes a close second. The fighting there took place over such a big area - when you are up on the top of that mountain it feels like you are on a lost world, and that if you turn your head quickly enough you might just see Buller go riding by! - and there are still so many mysterious aspects to it, I’d really like to spend some more time on it. If you are interested, have a look here for my thoughts on my most recent visit to Hlobane - http://www.ianknightzulu.com/walk-hlobane To be honest, though, I’m always interested and excited to hear of anything new about any of them.

In later life, was Chelmsford effected  or haunted by the disaster at Isandlwana, or did he just get on with his life?

I think he had very conflicted feelings about it. He was undoubtedly a humane man - in all the efforts to point the finger of blame at him, we should remember that he was popular among the troops under his command who may not have thought him a military genius, but appreciated that he behaved towards them all like a gentleman, with politeness - and I’m sure he was deeply shocked by his experience of the return to iSandlwana on the evening of the 22nd. But at the same time he genuinely believed that he had left enough men to guard the camp, and that if it had then fallen it must have been due to some mismanagement by those left in charge which was not his fault. As a result he fell into the trap of trying to justify himself rather too hard - which in itself suggests to me there was a feeling in there somewhere of private guilt. But the fact that his conduct of the campaign continued to be challenged over the years meant that he constantly had to return to justifying himself - in a sense, he could never move on from the battlefield of iSandlwana. And whilst the military establishment closed ranks around him, and Queen Victoria personally intervened to protect him from criticism, it is significant that, for all the honorary posts he was given in later life, he was never allowed to command troops in the field again.

Was it true that during the making of Zulu, the actors were warned not to interfere with Zulu women, or they would be sentenced to hard labour?

I believe so - have a look at Sheldon Hall’s excellent book on the making of the film, Zulu; With Some Guts Behind It. In fact in 1963 it was still illegal under South Africa’s infamous Immorality Act for Europeans and Africans to get romantically involved, and the South African government was very wary of this bunch of British film people being unleashed on rural KwaZulu-Natal - it was felt that actors were exactly the sort of licentious, depraved bohemian types who might flout the law. Apparently they were given stern warnings that they might be flogged if they were found to have enjoyed any sort of relationship with the Zulu girls - there is a story that Stanley Baker quipped ‘well, if I’m caught, could I have the flogging at the same time?’ It is said that one of the crew - not the cast - was indeed indiscreet in that regard and did leave the production as a result and return to England. It’s easy for outsiders to forget, now, how strict a lot of those apartheid laws were - as late as 1985 I wangled my way onto the set of Shaka Zulu in Eshowe, and met some of the cast in the local hotel there. Henry Cele, who played Shaka, was also staying there - but I wasn’t allowed to meet him in the bar or restaurant because as a black person he wasn’t allowed in a ‘whites only’ bar, despite mixing with the white cast and crew on a daily basis, and I wasn‘t allowed in the ‘blacks only‘ bar. In the event we smuggled him into Kenneth Griffith’s bedroom for an hour - he wasn’t allowed there, either! - and I interviewed both of them there!

Questions; 6pdr
You write on page 327 of ZULU RISING (Macmillan 2010) ‘Durnford had no doubt expected to find fresh orders from Chelmsford awaiting him in the camp, yet there were none.’ Personally, I am in sympathy with this viewpoint but what evidence beyond circumstances indicates that this is true?

Of course there is nothing in writing to confirm his expectation - but here I would refer back to my comments about the orders of 19 January. Chelmsford had stated then that he might need Durnford to co-operate in his forward movements (i.e. against Matshana kaMondise) and that he would ‘send you fresh instructions on this subject’. The controversial note written by Crealock early on the morning of the 22nd merely ordered Durnford forward to iSandlwana, but it also mentioned both that Chelmsford was about to ‘move off at once to attack a Zulu force’ and that Bengough’s NNC battalion was being brought forward in support. The tenor of this message, I think, strongly implies that the hour for Durnford’s ‘co-operation’ was at hand. Remember, too, that he was commanding a mobile column - it consisted of mounted troops and NNC, both of whom were regarded as best suited for reconnaissance work, rather than a more cumbersome defence. I believe Durnford understood his role in this light - it is the reason he pushed forward rather impatiently from Rorke’s Drift, leaving his baggage wagons trailing behind. The obvious question on his arrival at iSandlwana was ‘what now?’ Certainly he went straight to Pulleine for what the Americans call a ‘sit-rep’ - asking for an update on the situation. Since there had been no reference in Crealock’s note as to what Durnford should do once he arrived at iSandlwana - it said neither ’stay there’ nor ’advance to support me’ - I can’t really see how Durnford would not have hoped to find the ‘fresh instructions’ Chelmsford had earlier mentioned. Of course there weren’t any - which allowed Durnford to use his initiative in what seemed to be a rapidly changing situation.


Do you believe Durnford died fighting to keep an escape route open for others or was he simply trapped at that spot by circumstances?

The stand was made at a significant point - across the road at the top end of the camp. This would been an obvious place for the Zulus to make for because there would have been tents and wagons on either side - it was the clear way through. So I’ve no doubt the stand was made there to try and hold them back, to allow those behind to escape, or reform, or whatever. It’s worth noting that the Volunteers seem to have taken up this position before Durnford joined them, and that Durnford deliberately chose to join them. I think he simply saw that here was a useful centre of resistance so he went to it. It’s possible that some of the Volunteers at this stage still hoped that by holding the Zulus back they might themselves get away at some point - but Durnford must surely have known by that point that he was going to die.  There was no question, I think, that he would have chosen to escape - his personal courage was never in doubt, and the shame of surviving would have been too great. For him personally it was chosen ground - and literally a ‘last stand’.

What would be the most likely turn of events in your mind if the attack on the camp had not occurred and Pulleine had endeavoured to move toward the Mangeni?

I think, despite their reservations about attacking on the 22nd, the Zulu commanders would not have believed their luck! The Zulu scouts would, of course, have watched the progress of the column as it packed up the tents, inspanned the oxen and marched out - I would be very surprised if they had let a golden opportunity to attack it go by. If they had let the column pass the strategic situation would have been rather odd - the main Zulu army would have technically outflanked an entire column, just a few miles away, and got between it and Natal! If they had attacked, on the other hand, presumably the battle would then have gone something like Nyezane, with Pulleine deploying his troops according to Chelmsford’s Standing Orders to defend the extended column on the march. In some respects the ground would have been more favourable to Pulleine than that iSandlwana - it’s more open on the road to Mangeni, the Zulu movements would have been more obvious - but Pearson’s victory at Nyezane was no walk-over, and of course Pulleine would have been facing a much greater Zulu force. I think the Zulus would have outflanked him, rolled him up, and the outcome would have been much the same as iSandlwana. But! There is one imponderable of course - Pulleine would have been closer to Chelmsford, and the battle would have been more obvious to those out at Mangeni. Chelmsford would presumably have hurried back - might he have intervened in time to turn the battle? Possibly. On the other hand, he might have hurried back piecemeal, and his units been swallowed up as they arrived in the general fighting. It might have been a greater disaster - and imagine Lord Chelmsford and his staff, riding at the head of his men to see what was going on, suddenly ambushed by Zulus moving through the dongas and long grass of the plain …

Questions; Little hand -
What is the maximum number of guests you allow on one of your battlefield tours?

I think 24 is the maximum, but they would have to be couples or sharing! We are actually limited by the number of rooms in some of the lodges we stay at (particularly Isandlwana Lodge). I think we have a twelve room limit, so if we have twelve singles that fills the tour - but usually we have a few couples or people travelling together who don’t mind sharing. Most groups are around 15 strong, which means we can keep to a smaller bus, which is easier for getting around, and is a nice number for me to get to know and to talk to.

How many of the battlefields are covered during a tour?

All of them! There are of course lots of good tours that just cover iSandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, and indeed many people choose to fit in a couple of days there as part of a self-drive tour. But where the Holts tour - the group I lead - is unique is that it tackles them all, starting on the coast, working our way past the Ultimuatum Tree to Gingindlovu, Nyezane and Eshowe, then Ulundi, then up to the northern sector. We visit Ntombe and Khambula, and if you want to, and are fit enough, we walk right across the top of Hlobane to the Devil’s Pass. Then we spend the last few days at iSandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, not only looking at the battles in detail but also the peripheral areas (the site of the Zulu bivouac, where Lord Chelmsford went, and so on). It really is the most comprehensive tour of its type. I can’t tell you that it’s cheap - but I honestly think it would take you two or three visits to South Africa to cover the same ground if you were travelling under your own steam. If you are interested the itinerary can be found here - although at the time of writing they haven’t put next year’s dates up yet http://www.holts.co.uk/2013/04-2013zulu.html

Is there a high risk of snake bites on the tours! I hate snakes?

We’ve never had one yet! There are snakes in the area - this was one of the subjects I looked at in my Companion to the Anglo-Zulu War - but we’ve never had a problem on a tour. We have occasionally seen them, but usually moving off through the grass at speed - the sound of a party clumping about in the bush is usually enough to drive them away!

How far is the nearest medical centre from the place where tour guests stay?

It depends where we are, but the South African side of the operation, Paul Marais - who is both a very experienced registered tour guide and a seasoned African traveller in his own right - is qualified to give first aid, and most of the towns have good hospitals. We have had the odd medical glitch - fortunately no accidents! - over the years but we’ve always been able to organise treatment, and I’ve always been impressed with the quality of the care.

Are the local people friendly or hostile towards guests?

  Always been friendly so far! Of course one can never really generalise but for the most part Zulu people in rural areas are rather curious about foreign travellers and pleased to see them. On the 2011 tour we were at the Ulundi battlefield monument when a local police car drew up. I thought ‘oh dear, what have we done?’ - but it turned out to be a Zulu policeman whose great-grandfather had fought with the uVe in the battle, and he wanted to come and share his stories with us! Obviously it pays to treat people with respect wherever you go in the world, and South Africa does have a crime problem (although more in the city than the rural areas) so one should always be a bit street savvy, but we’ve never encountered anything but friendliness on the tours.

Have you ever drank Zulu beer? If yes what would you compare it to?

Many times, and if you come on the tours you’ll get the chance too! It has a rather gritty texture, a bit like a watery gruel, and is a bit sour, - it puts me in mind of a watery, yeasty yoghurt, but it’s actually very refreshing on a hot day.

Have you ever been given, an artefact from the Zulu War by the Zulus?

Quite a few of my South African friends have! I was once with a couple of friends exploring the country on the northern side of Hlobane mountain, and we met some elders who turned out to be abaQulusi. They had quite a few stories about the battle - including some incidents which have never made it into our books! - and after a while one of my friends asked if they had anything their ancestors had used in the battle. One old boy said ‘Oh yes, I have my grandfather’s gun!’ - and he went off and came back with an 1853-pattern Enfield musket! He assured us it was the very gun his grandfather carried in the battle and of course it’s exactly the sort of weapon they did carry - although he did get a little uncomfortable when pressed for details. My friend was a former policeman, and very much still looked the part, and I think the old boy was worried there might still be a warrant out there for shooting at a white man! In the end, he swapped it with my friend for something more modern and practical - I forget what exactly. The same friend had a nice story about when he was still in the police, and was working on faction fighting in the iSandlwana area. The police had been tipped off that one faction had got an impi together - only half a dozen men - and that they were going to attack another faction at first light one particular morning, so the police went out and raided them during the night. They were all arrested at a homestead close to and within sight of iSandlwana. After some vigorous searching the police turned up some firearms, including a rusty shot-gun and a dodgy home-made weapon - and a Martini-Henry rifle! Of course I wanted to know what happened to it - but it had to be surrendered as evidence, and was almost certainly destroyed as a confiscated weapon!


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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Thu Oct 03, 2013 7:50 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Thu Oct 03, 2013 9:55 pm

Thank you Ian for taking the time to answer my questions..

The Zulu War; Then & Now. I don't have this book, but will add to my collection. 
I have Zulu Rising' and this is the book I refer to most! 

The Gatling gun is my most Favourite weapon of the Zulu War, as you say it must have had the WOW factor, when it kicked into action, must have scared the hell out of the Zulu's 

Ammunition boxes. 
I still have my reservation, about the distribution of the ammuntion during the battle, but will take on board what you say, and give it some thought? 

£100 offered if an ammo box, could be opened with the butt of a rifle, providing its made to the same specifications. If hit right, I think it could be done. 

Either way the screws do suggest boxes were opened in this fashion. 

"the use of more powerful stimulants was largely confined to a very small group of men who enjoyed a reputation as warriors of particular note, the so-called abaqawe, or heroes - the Zulu hard men" 

That makes sense. This would involved the so called Red dust! 

Once again thank you well worth the wait. 

Hope this can be repeated at some stage.
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:23 pm

Ian Knight wrote:
It is interesting to note that all of his white officers - including the regular, Cochrane - found reasons to leave him whilst that stand was going on, whether to look for ammunition, carry orders or whatever, and Simeon Nkambule makes the point that by the time the Mounted Native Contingent finally left the Nyogane, all of their white officers had disappeared.
Now!!! That's a very good point!!

certainly no mention of Durnford following, Yesterday order's.
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:40 pm

Bonsoir Mister Knight,

Thank you for yours answers - a great moment for me-
One suggestion (with all my respect) about the question: "In your opinion did Adendorff desert from the battlefield of Isandhlwana?"
Do you have read "A brave fugitive: an anonymous account of Isandhlwana" by Mister Julian Whybra?
An exceptionnal essay (as always with this historian) with news on the identity of the anonymous writer
You can find it in "studies in the zulu war 1879" volume I by Julian Whybra (Gift Ltd / 2012)
You had said "it's important for me "to read books by others authors.

Bien à vous.
Merci encore.

Frédéric BOMY
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:50 pm

Apart from yourself, who would you recommend as a battlefield Zulu War guide?

Ha - that’s a question that is bound to make me offend somebody! Technically I am the leader and speaker of the Holts tour rather than a battlefield guide because, as a non-South African, I can’t register there as a qualified guide, and in any case we are accompanied by Paul Marais, who is a registered guide, and who does many of the other duties involved in guiding which I don’t pretend to do. These days I greatly enjoy staying at Isandlwana Lodge, which nestles under the iNyoni rocks - it remains a very special experience, sitting on the veranda first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon, and watching the moods of the mountains change right there in front of you. And of course if you stay there Rob Gerrard will give you a tour - or they can organise for Lindizwe Dalton Ngobese to do it, and from him you’ll get an interesting Zulu interpretation. There are a lot of good battlefield guides based in Dundee, nearby, and here I’ll single out Mike Nel, because he’s a mate of mine! There are only a few who do the entire war - most specialise in their local area - but among those who do is Ken Gillings, whom I’ve also known for years, and who certainly knows his stuff!

Ken Gillling's would have been my first choice.

Do you read, books on the subject by other authors?

Yes. It’s important for me to keep up to date on what others in the field are doing. Some books by other authors I cherish and clutch to my bosom - some I throw across the room in irritation! But I’m not going to tell you which is which!

I could guess who's books those would be!

My personal opinion is that you are the leading authority on the Anglo-Zulu War. Who would you say would comes second?

That’s very flattering, thank you - I’m sure there are those who would disagree! When I was young I was a great fan of Donald Morris, and even though my own views on the history have moved on from his (he was to that extent a victim of his success - he inspired a generation of enthusiasts who took his research to another level, and sadly rather left his work behind) I still greatly respect his achievement. He wrote most of the book whilst serving as a CIA agent in Berlin in the late 50s and early 60s, and so had to do a lot of his research by correspondence - and in the days before the internet! So to have come up with what stood for a long time as the standard history was remarkable. And I still find some of his writing very moving. Otherwise I’m a big fan of John Laband as he was the first to properly map the sites in recent times, and he’s brought a wonderful degree of academic rigour to writing about the war, particularly the Zulu perspective. Jeff Guy is brilliant in analysing the forces which drove Britain and the Zulu kingdom to war, although he’s not personally interested in the military detail. Lee Stevenson’s work on Rorke’s Drift is excellent. Otherwise I admire certain researchers in particular fields - I’d want to be pretty sure of myself before contradicting David Jackson on the role of the 24th at iSandlwana, for example. For a sheer good read, though, I enjoy T.V. Bulpin’s book Shaka’s Country, which is not at all academically rigorous, but which tells the whole story of the kingdom in an entertaining and rather wistful way.

Morris's work of course set the foundation in this subject, people today speak far to much of the errors, that his excellent work.

Did the death of David Rattay have an impact on you in anyway?

It’s probably fair to say that David and I were closest in the early days of his lodge. Ian Castle and I took one of the first specialist interest groups to stay at Fugitives‘, not long after it had opened, and I stayed there several times as friend before working there for seven months in 1992/3. In those days David had spare time occasionally for us to go off exploring, walking across the top of the ridge above Sihayo’s homestead, for example, or looking for the site of Gamdana’s homestead and Major Smith’s grave (we didn’t find it, by the way, even though most people now look in the wrong place!). After Fugitives’ started to become popular there were more demand on David’s time, and he was often away lecturing, whilst I went onto a busy few years writing. Even so, his death was a great shock. Funnily enough I had been at Rorke’s Drift a few days before it happened - it was the anniversary of the battle - and I bumped into one of Dave’s staff, who said ‘oh, he’s away giving a talk; he’ll be back tomorrow, you’ll probably see him’. Well, I didn’t, and of course thought nothing of it at the time - I’d only been home twenty-four hours when it seemed that everyone I knew in South Africa rang me to tell me the news. Although Dave was always the first to say he was a story-teller rather than a historian, there is no doubt he held thousands of people spell-bound over the years, and I can definitely sense a drop-off in the level of interest now he is no longer travelling the world enthusing people.

agree 

Do you intend to write anymore books on the Zulu war?

   I certainly hope so! In fact I’ve got one coming out in a new Osprey series any day now - the series is called Combat, and focuses on the individual experience of battle of troops on either side in given conflicts. I’m currently writing something with a rather greater scope on the Victorian soldier in colonial wars generally - but there are still several aspects of the Anglo-Zulu War that I’d like to look at in more detail, and certainly other aspects of Zulu history. In real terms, though, the market is a limitation - publishers are aware that whilst there’s a seemingly endless interest in iSandlwana and Rorke’s Drift that interest drops off quite sharply when you look at other areas of the war. I do have a book looking at Rorke’s Drift in greater detail that I started about ten years ago but shelved - there has been some interest recently in my returning to that. One day I’d like to do something on a particular interest of mine, the shield patterns of the Zulu amabutho in 1879, but I think it would be a bold publisher to take that on!

It just amazes me, on how much has been written on the Zulu War bearing in mind, it only lasted months rather than years.

Who was you favourite Zulu War personality who fought in the Zulu War?

Hmmm…Well, on the Zulu side I’ve always been intrigued by Mehlokazulu and Zibhebhu, although both of them were quite hard men with a less attractive side! Mehlokazulu of course led the raid into Natal to capture his father’s runaway wives, and that was cited in Frere’s ultimatum; he later fought throughout the war, and left a good account of it, and he went on to be one of the few Zulu chiefs who joined the rebellion in 1906. Zibhebhu was a bit of a turn-coat, fighting loyally in 1879 but then accepting a post as one of the British-appointed ‘Thirteen Chiefs’ and becoming an implacable enemy of the Royal House - but there’s no doubt he was an extraordinary commander and warrior. I don’t feel quite so attached to the British personalities because of course most of them are only moving briefly through the history of Zululand - although John Dunn fascinates me, and I’d love to get the chance to write a new biography of him.

I had you down for the Prince Imperial!!!

Col. Durnford was a known to sympathise with the Zulu cause - why was he allowed to take part in the Zulu war?

Durnford was a man for whom duty was everything, and I don’t think anyone doubted that he would do whatever job he was given to the best of his considerable ability. Indeed, I think Chelmsford considered it a plus that Durnford could work well with African troops - it made him the ideal person to raise the NNC. He was quite a dynamic person and threw himself into his duties with energy - he worked hard, and Chelmsford appreciated that. I don’t think his views on the Zulus were really held against him - I think it was his judgement, after Bushmans’ Pass, that was questioned. On the other hand it is worth remembering that Chelmsford didn’t have a bottomless pool of senior-ranking officers - in fact he was quite limited, and if he had reservations about Durnford, I’m sure he set them aside in the light of Durnford’s other qualities. He couldn’t really afford not to.

Drinking, Gambling, ect

The attack on Hlobane - was that really nothing more that a cattle capturing expedition? What was there to be gained by attacking the mountain?

Well, I think it is generally accepted now that the abaQulusi cattle - as many as 2000 head - were one objective, partly because they were financially valuable to the captors and partly because they were regarded as a legitimate military target, a means to disadvantage the enemy. But Hlobane had served as a focus of Zulu resistance in the area - the abaQulusi used it as a stronghold and their ally, the Swazi Prince Mbilini, moved between his homes there and in the Ntombe valley, coordinating raids in the area. Wood had tried unsuccessfully to drive the abaQulusi off back in January, so he regarded it as unfinished business, and when Chelmsford asked his remaining commanders along the border to make diversionary attacks to distract the Zulus from his own advance to relieve Eshowe, Hlobane seemed to Wood the obvious choice. And in fairness I think had it been successfully stormed it would indeed have discouraged the Zulus in the northern sector. But of course Wood under-estimated how difficult it would be to attack - both physically and in terms of Qulusi resistance - and he didn’t take seriously enough a report that King Cetshwayo had sent his main army to support his followers in the northern sector. The result was the second greatest British disaster of the war after iSandlwana.

Em!!! I will give that some thought!!!

One of the Rorke’s Drift defenders, a civilian, was buried outside the cemetery wall, why was this?

Hook says that Louis Byrne, who was a civilian storekeeper attached to the Commissariat Department, and who was shot through the head during the battle, was buried outside the cemetery. Hook was based at Rorke’s Drift for some months after the battle, and so should have been well aware of the cemetery but I must admit I have no idea why this was the case - all I can think is that the 24th initially buried their dead side by side, and that Byrne was set to one side as a not being in their Regiment. Of course Trooper Hunter of the Natal Mounted Police was also killed during the battle, and he wasn’t 24th, so was he buried separately? In fact, at the risk of being rather macabre, it would have been difficult to identify those killed inside the hospital because of course they were largely cremated as the building burned down around them - Hook says that Maxfield’s remains could only be identified by a small piece of a check shirt he was wearing. So quite how the dead were identified and gathered it‘s difficult to see. Certainly I don’t think we should read any imputation into the location of Byrne’s grave - he was, after all, working in military service and was killed playing his part in the defence. Once the stone monument was erected there doesn’t seem to have been any physical indication that Byrne was anywhere other than within the cemetery.

Is there no marker to show where he was buried? Seems odd that he died defending RD along with then rest, but separated in death.?

If the Zulu army that attacked Isandlwana had moved on invade Natal, what was there to stop them?

Very little! There were African auxiliaries posted at some of the river crossings, and various small garrisons at points on the line of communication (including Helpmekaar, of course), and some of the 4th Regiment were on the road from Greytown to Helpmekaar. Further back, there were bigger garrisons in Durban and Pietermaritzburg - but very little that was comparable to the concentration the Zulus had already defeated. Of course, the towns and some of the garrisons were entrenched, which would have made them difficult targets - although had the Zulu army wanted to it could simply have by-passed some of these positions. Civilians living in isolated communities or on farms would have been very vulnerable - so too would the African communities who had contributed to the NNC! But in fact of course that was never King Cetshwayo’s intention, because he wanted to keep the moral high ground that came from being the victim of British aggression, of fighting only in defence of Zulu territory. It’s easy to forget, too, that there would have been real practical problems for the Zulus in invading Natal. They could certainly move quickly and didn’t need the same lines of communication that a conventional European army did - but they would still have been at grave risk of being cut off from the border behind them. They would also have been entirely dependant on foraging to supply themselves - and remember that they had already been travelling solidly since 17 January. After Rorke’s Drift the attackers were so exhausted that someone saw them in retreat, the warriors dragging their shields through the grass, they were so tired. So any quick strike, in the aftermath of iSandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, would have risked over-tiring even them. Also, unless it had been planned before-hand, there would also have been a real difficulty in co-ordinating an attack and focussing on clear objectives. After any battle, the Zulus would have to regroup in hostile territory - it was hard enough for the wounded to walk home after iSandlwana or Khambula but would have been much worse in Natal, at risk from attacks from Natal Africans looking for soft targets, and with some powerful rivers to cross. That said, of course, the Zulu high command might still have exploited the confusion that reigned on the British side of the border for a week or two after the battle, and, once their men had recovered from iSandlwana, launched smaller limited raids from a number of points into Natal - and caused the British no end of grief! Even that, however, would have required a very specific strategic plan, and a firm hand in keeping the men assembled - the great tendency after a heavy engagement was for the army to disperse, and it would have taken considerable effort to keep them mobilised over a series of engagements.

Yes that makes sense!! Thank you.
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:49 pm

Pete thank you so much for organizing what has been such a comprehensive
reply from Ian,wow! that will feed us all for many moons i'm sure, i remain
very impressed by the diversity of the questions posed,i give my personal
laurels to springbok, who continuously demonstrates his great understanding
of the events un-folding,in real time on the day in question. on a personal note,
i am more than gratified that Ian perceives Morris in the light that i have been
banging on for years.stunning repost from one of the leading lights in this genre.
cheers
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Chard1879

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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:06 am

This question and answers session. Certainly has been a major contribution to this forum! Just glad I'm a member! Salute 

Good post Xhosa!
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:28 am

thank you chard1879,that was kind of you to say.
cheers xhosa
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Fri Oct 04, 2013 7:16 am

Whats that football chant I hear over Sky sports.............One Ian Knight, theres only one Ian Knight...
Pete really all the kudos in the world for arranging that.
Ian.............. Bayete Nkosi.

Brilliant just Brilliant
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90th

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PostSubject: Ian Knight's replies to the 50 questions 3rd Oct 2013   Fri Oct 04, 2013 10:07 am

Hi Springy.
Agree with you 100 % , extremely generous of Ian Knight to take the time to answer these questions in the detail that he has done . agree 
Cheers 90th Very Happy


Last edited by 90th on Fri Oct 04, 2013 1:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Ian Knight's reply to Questions.   Fri Oct 04, 2013 1:02 pm

It's been great reading Ian's responses to the questions put to him.

A big thank you to Pete for arranging this, and a very big thank you to Ian for answering the questions at such great length.  Salute 

Ian had a relative called Cooper in the AZW, hummmm, I wonder? scratch 

Ian and I could well be related Rolling Eyes What an honour Very Happy 

Salute
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90th

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PostSubject: Ian Knight's reply to questions 3rd Oct 2013   Fri Oct 04, 2013 1:41 pm

Unless I've miscounted Ian actually answered 52 questions ! Salute . Well done to all involved .
90th.
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Fri Oct 04, 2013 1:51 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:00 pm

image after a painting by Moynan, ' The Last of the 24th ',
on the back cover of Ian's excellent ' There will be an awful
row at home about this.' cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Fri Oct 04, 2013 3:08 pm

Martin
You a welshman then are you????? Very Happy 
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Fri Oct 04, 2013 4:49 pm

Mr M. Cooper wrote:
It's been great reading Ian's responses to the questions put to him.

A big thank you to Pete for arranging this, and a very big thank you to Ian for answering the questions at such great length.  Salute 

Ian had a relative called Cooper in the AZW, hummmm, I wonder? scratch 

Ian and I could well be related Rolling Eyes What an honour Very Happy 

Salute
For who! You maybe Joker 
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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Fri Oct 04, 2013 5:08 pm

Mr Cooper says: wrote:

Ian had a relative called Cooper in the AZW, hummmm, I wonder? scratch
Bonsoir,
Yes, it seems to me this information is in the "silver book" with two photos of Cooper (from memory, i 'm not at home)
Cheers
Frédéric
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Fri Oct 04, 2013 11:15 pm

Mr Knight very informative!  Thank you for taking the time to answer the questions.

As said before, I hope there is a repeat session at some point?
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PostSubject: Ian Knight's reply to Questions.   Sat Oct 05, 2013 1:32 am

Hi springy.

I think you know the answer to that me old mate Wink  Very Happy 


Chard

Yes, that is what I meant (but you knew that didn't you) Suspect, I would indeed be honoured to be related to Ian.


Hello Frederic.

Many thanks for the information, much appreciated. Salute
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:39 pm

Mr M. Cooper wrote:
Hi springy.

I think you know the answer to that me old mate Wink  Very Happy 


Chard

Yes, that is what I meant (but you knew that didn't you) Suspect, I would indeed be honoured to be related to Ian.


Hello Frederic.

Many thanks for the information, much appreciated. Salute
Oops !!, Looks Martin has knocked JW of the pedestal Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:53 pm

It has been said many times, that army protocol dictated that Durford would have assumed command. I have asked in the past. 

Where does it show this to be true. Does anyone have a copy or a link to army regulations in that era. You cannot base an argument on something that cannot be substantiated. If it can be shown to true, that at least justifies some of Durnfords actions!
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Sat Oct 05, 2013 11:51 pm

John

I cannot find anything regarding army protocols from 1879. Does anyone have anything that shows Durnford was deemed senior and expected to take command, when he arrived at Isandlwana.
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Sun Oct 06, 2013 1:05 am

Superb answers, Ian. Brilliant, as usual.
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Sun Oct 06, 2013 1:14 am

Off topic.
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Sun Oct 06, 2013 1:15 am

Off topic.
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Sun Oct 06, 2013 1:37 am

Off topic.
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Sun Oct 06, 2013 12:02 pm

I think Ian Knight, as represented himself well. And it's quite obvious why he has been branded the most leading authority on the Anglo Zulu War! Salute
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Sun Oct 06, 2013 2:32 pm

my posts ( in this instance ) have been deemed off topic..
and before.. i could present my analogy re the nineteenth
century parallels.but fine. cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Sun Oct 06, 2013 3:54 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Sun Oct 06, 2013 4:11 pm

who's been out of line. cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Tue Oct 08, 2013 5:28 pm

i know I am just adding to a number of comments saying pretty much the same thing - but Mama D brught me up well - so I would also like to add my thanks to Pete for organising  this and to Ian for spending an enourmous amount of time providing comprehensive answers to the questions.

A great read and much food for thought- Brilliant

Thanks

SergioD
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:40 pm

Super set of Q and A. Great reading, I have been at it for a few days now!
No surprises anywhere for me, but then again, Ian Knight is the author I have read more than any other Zulu war author or historian.

Also seems that Ian Knight feels Lord Chelmsford was the British officer chiefly to blame for the Isandhlwana defeat, and quite rightly holds the Zulu commanders as those MOSTLY to blame for the defeat.
Less of a British disaster - more, it was a Zulu victory! Quite obvious really when you think about it!

Superb!
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Thu Oct 10, 2013 9:36 am

A fantastic Q&A session by the NO 1 historian. Also, a lesson in grammar & punctuation, sadly lacking in most members on this site!
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Thu Oct 10, 2013 3:34 pm

I don't think you have ever said anything constructive! Ever.
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Thu Oct 10, 2013 5:11 pm

runner2 wrote:
A fantastic Q&A session by the NO 1 historian. Also, a lesson in grammar & punctuation, sadly lacking in most members on this site!
Incorrect abbreviation;  number one; or no.1 would be acceptable.
split infinitive; lacking sadly, is correct form.
not "in" but "from" was the word you were looking for here.
ommission of words here. Poor English, adversely affecting the meaning of the sentence.
not "on" but "of" would have been the correct word here.

I make that 5 mistakes - you must do better runner2!

Here is your post in a slightly more correct grammatical form, runner2:

A fantastic Q&A session by the number one historian. Also, a lesson in grammar & punctuation, lacking sadly, from the posts of most members of this site!
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PostSubject: Ian Knight's reply to Questions.   Thu Oct 10, 2013 5:22 pm

LOL, LOL, LOL.

Well done Kopie. agree 

Very, very funny. Very Happy 

I am still laughing while trying to write this.  

Salute
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Thu Oct 10, 2013 8:11 pm

Kopie. agree  Now lets wait for a stupid or abusive comeback.
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PostSubject: Ian knights replies to questions from forum members    Thu Oct 10, 2013 10:37 pm

If your going to give it , be prepared to cop it ! . LOL.
90th agree 
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Sun Oct 13, 2013 12:22 pm

I am about to go into town for some retail therapy. Might go and ask about IK's new book whilst there.
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Sun Oct 13, 2013 12:43 pm

Hope your going on your own, otherwise your get dragged around every shop in town! In which case it will be unlikely you see the book!
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PostSubject: Knight's reply to questions 3 / 10 / 13   Sun Oct 13, 2013 12:47 pm

Or any book for that matter !! No  No  No 
90th .
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PostSubject: Re: Ian Knight's reply to Questions, submitted by forum members. 3rd Oct 2013   Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:12 pm

Seems to be a worldwide epedemic. Very Happy 
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