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 End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.

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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:52 am

Tradition tells us that that on the morning of 23rd January the Zulu impi saw from RD Chelmsfords force approaching and decided to call of the attack.
There are few points that the RD/Isandlwana road are that visible from.
The top of the rise leading down to the drift, from what is now Fort Melvill and from the mission station itself.
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This the view from Fort Melvill directly above the ponts.
The maximum distance you can see towards isandlwana from here is the top of the ridge, around a kilometre or so.
From RD itself the view is not to much better.
So the question arises if tradition is correct then the Zulus would have seen Chemsford at no more than a kilometre away so by the time they, the Zulu, had got down to the drift ( over to the right on the picture ) then Chelmsfords horsemen would have been at pretty much the same place at the same time. But source material tells us that the retiring impi passed Chelmsford on the road, at some point. Just doesnt tie up at all. Excepting if the attack was called of much earlier, that would have given the impi time to cross the river and make ground along the road.

Just a thought to ponder on.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:28 pm

What prompted this string was sitting on top of the hill at Fort Melville and trying to picture the various activities and putting them together. Then Barry posted this:
Hi Springbok9,
I have been comparing the wording in the first section ( there are 4) of the booklet and very much agree that the general report ( section 1) was authored by Rev Smith, the vicar of Estcourt. The similarity between those words and a diary attributed to him are just too similar to be a coincidence. So, whoever wrote it was definitely there too, ie none other than Rev Smith.
However , Smith details the strategies of the three 1000 man Zulu reserve regiments which came to "do" Rorkes Drift, and that information must have been fed to him by someone else. Interestingly out of that section we learn that whilst marching from the Nek at Isandlwana, where they assembled prior to the march to RD, these regiments were attacking stragglers and survivors of Isandlwana. That partially answers the question where the MH's supposed to have been used to fire on RD came from.
One error that I see in his report was the time of arrival of Chelmsford's relief column, Smith puts it at about 08h00, but in reality it was just after daybreak, ie about 06h00.

The thinking again started, If the column arrived at 0600 then what time would it have had to leave isandlwana? 12 miles away.
Then what time would the impi have left RD to avoid meeting Chelmsford on the open plain on the Zulu side of the river?

Anyone like to take a stab at a marching pace and time to cover 12 miles, across country?

Cheers
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barry

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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Mon Jan 27, 2014 5:28 pm

Hi Springbok9
A nice one to chew on.
What I do know is that Chelmsford and his HQ section  left iSandlwana for RD before daybreak, and thus  he  and most of  his  column, which followed close behind did not see the details of  carnage and wrecking of the iSandlwana camp in the stark light of day.
Troops who were the exception here were those surviving NMP  led by Insp Mansel .They were detailed  to be the  column rearguard on that march and only left the battleground after the first grey light of dawn was upon them.
So, given the  geographical location  and time of the year, I would estimate that the General left the battlefield at about 04h55 and the NMP rearguard at about 05h25
These were all mounted men so had the  ability to progress at quite a pace. This puts the eta at RD, some 18kms away, of the relief force  quite easily at about 06-6h30.
There was only one slight delay along the way when a solitary inebriated Zulu, who was very full of liquid "courage" and concealed on a hill just beyond the crossing of the spruit ( Manzimnyama 2.4kms) opened fire on the column. Needless to say,that nuisance  was very quickly dealt with.
Shortly after that, the returning defeated impi, of some 3000-3500, travelling in the opposite direction was passed by the relief column.  Only insults were exchanged, no bullets. A guess  would be that this would have been at the  journey halfway mark ( ie 9kms ), and if so, they would have left RD well before dawn as they were not mounted. They well knew that the hornets nest had been disturbed and would have been quite eager to get away from RD and its long sharp bayonets well before sunrise, as retribution was certainly to follow.
So, based on the time and movements, imo the Zulus could not have been at RD when Chelmsford arrived with his relief force.

regards

barry


Last edited by barry on Thu Jan 30, 2014 3:38 am; edited 2 times in total
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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Mon Jan 27, 2014 8:55 pm

Bonsoir Barry,
Mardall or Inspector Mansel and sub inspector Philips?
Kind regard



Frédéric
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:55 pm

Barry wasn't they left behind, ie it was forgotten that rear guards has been posted?
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barry

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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Tue Jan 28, 2014 4:20 am

Hi Ymob, 24th and Springbok9,

Ymob  : Correct, thank you, it was Insp Mansel , Mardall was not in that action.

24th : I have no record of the NMP being left behind on that mission. The NMP company was very much part of the column and were the rear guard.
However, on another two occasions, NMP  guards/rear guards  were left behind. The first was on 21/01 when three pickets posted out on prominent hill features  near Isandlwana were not recalled until about eight o'clock at night. As a result the pickets missed their camp dinner and were very peeved.
The second was on 02/02 when Maj Back undertook the first post battle inspection of Isandlwana, in his search for the missing 1/24th Colours.
He took the 10 members of the NMP garrison at RD with him that day. Not finding the missing Colours on the battlefield he went down to the Buffalo so as to widen the search. He left NMP Cpl Groesche and Tpr Clarke, alone,  as rear guard, on the battlefield. It was on that day too that the two dead pack mules were found on the "Trail" with  their ammunition panniers still intact on their backs. However, seeing Zulus on surrounding hilltops taking interest in their presence , and sensing that Black had forgotten to fire the pre-arranged pistol shot, the signal for their recall, these two troopers took off post haste, on "very fast" horses  and rejoined Black's  party at the river. As an aside , at the river they found the missing colours and Melville and Coghills dead bodies on the Natal side of the river. They also found a rider and horse dead at the bottom of a krantz. They had jumped to their deaths

Springbok9 : It is very clear from your superb colour panoramic  that the Zulus could not have had significant visual forewarning, in the dark pre dawn hours  of Chelmsford's impending arrival. The picture well illustrates that the topographical undulations and folds in the hills and the relatively low vantage point would not permit any lookouts seeing much of the route, even if it was light. The rough timings given in my earlier post  preclude that too. In short, the Zulus had decided to depart their RD encampment at about the same time as Chelmford left his with the RD relief column.

regards,

barry


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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:16 am

Hi Barry
I think Maxwell was the last to leave isandlwana on the 23rd, could be wrong I need to check his diary.
Im trying to put together a logical 'time and motion' study for the morning of the 23rd at RD. One thing is becoming more and more apparent though is that the impi didn't cross the Mzinyathi by the drift. It just puts to many people in the same place and time.
Second point is that Im coming to the conclusion that the mounted force was well in advance of the infantry. And again this possibly is the force the impi spotted, not the main column.
I have seen a reference some where that the impi re crossed the river at Elands Kraal. That puts them well away from the line of march of the column so in order for the well documented passing of the two to take place the Zulus would have had to have split its force.
Masses to do today, end of the tax year, but will get onto it again later in the week.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:23 am

[I have seen a reference some where that the impi re crossed the river at Elands Kraal.

Cheers[/quote]

Bonjour Frank,

Maybe the refrence is:
Memory of DEDEKIN family, "Zulu Rising" by Ian Knight p.520.
Regard?

Frédéric
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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:31 am

barry wrote:
Hi Ymob,24th and Springbok9,

Ymob  : Correct, thank you, it was Insp Mansel , Mardall was not in that action.

24th : I have no record of the NMP being left behind on that mission. barry

Bonjour Barry,

it seems to me (from memory):

-Trooper W.J CLARKE (NMP) "My career in South Africa"
- Tropper SYMONS (NC) / Symons Papers / Talana Museum
-Inspector MANSEL (NMP) / quoted in a book of Dunrford's brother

Regard

Frédéric
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:20 am

Thanks Frederic.
The interesting thing about that trading store is that its still there and still owned by the same family. I met the owner a few weeks ago at the store.

Cheers.
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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:34 am

springbok9 wrote:
I met the owner a few weeks ago at the store.

Cheers.

Lucky Frank
Maybe have you got "news" on the battle of Isandhlwana / Rorke's Drift by the family?
From "Zulu Rising" (Ian Knight had interviewed the family), I only know the story about the tired warriors with their shield "too heavy"...
Cheers.

Frédéric
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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:01 am

Chard and Smith both put the final withdrawl by the Zulu at 8 oclock. Chelmsford we know left iSandlwana at first light, approx. 4 to 4.30. The Bashe valley where the two forces passed each other is arguably half way between the two.
If those times are accurate then Chelmsford would have arrived there at around 6 and the impi ( tired and dispirited ) around 10. So they couldn't have seen each other!
But its also reported that the Zulu at Rorkes Drift saw the returning column and then called of the attack around that 8 oclock mark.
Smith says that the Zulu appeared on the hills to the South West around 7 oclock and then sat down to watch the mission.
Obviously the 'two place at once' theory drifted over by most historians and writers wont work. Snook has the impi crossing the Mzinyathi and being pressed onto the river as the column passed, hummmm.

There is also the report that a tired group of Zulu where seen at Elands kraal, that's below fugitives drift on the Mzinyathi. However they wouldn't have seen or passed the column on that route.

So putting all the points together would it be fare to say that there must have been a staged withdrawl from Rorkes Drift?

The last attack happens at 4 oclock, its repulsed and a dispirited Zulu army; they have travelled hard for three days, covered huge amounts of territory, chased the fugitives, fought a twelve hour battle and been soundly beaten, withdraws. They move in the night down to the Mzinyathi, cross at the drift and head back to the main army at isandlwana. That would put them at a crossing point with the column at around 6 oclock in the Bashe valley.

All is now silent at Rorkes Drift. No attacks, no skirmishes, nothing. Untill 7 oclock when Zulus appear on the hill to the South West.
We do know that when the invading impi crossed the river on the 22nd they split with components going on to burn homesteads along the river in Natal.
My Hypothesis is that having travelled up and down burning and looting this regiment then decided to rejoin their friends at Rorkes Drift and arrived around 7 oclock, sat and waited for the rest of the regiments, who had in the meantime left for home. After a while of waiting they saw on the ridge the other side of the river, and a kilometre away, the mounted vanguard of the column approaching. The men in the mission were still active, other men approaching. I would think that the impi induna decided that enough was enough and led his men away from those mounted men going around the side of the mountain ( Smiths testimony) not across the face directly for the drift. That direction change would put them then on course for Elands Kraal, still a fare distance away.
So we have the timings now clicking together, we have the time and space working and the suvivors statements make sense.

Have I missed anything at all?

Cheers
As always, happy to have the theory discussed.
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PostSubject: End of the attack on RD   Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:19 am

Seems to make sense to me !
Cheers 90th
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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:30 am

Looking at Smith in general, and his accounts, is it possible for one man to see as much as he saw relating to the battle. He knows the names of nearly every man killed or wounded, when it happened. What the defenders were doing inside the hospital. He has obviously included other accounts with his own?
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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:43 am

Hi SAS
Yep pretty sure he has, but we need to be aware that this battlefield wasn't much bigger than decent size garden. and there wasn't a lot of men in there. I would think that anything that happened would have been witnessed by most people, and what wasn't seen by some would have been passed around pretty quickly.

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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Fri Jan 31, 2014 10:08 am

Hi Sprinbok9
Reading further into the account of  the march of Chelmsford's  RD relief force I see that the passing of the two forces occurred at the head of the Bashee river valley, and the Zulu's were reported to be 5000 strong there, at that time.
In this account there is no mention whatever of the two forces passing near or on a river, or obstructing one another doing so. If that ever happened it must have been another event.
Now it occurs to me too that the burning and wrecking team who were destroying farms on the banks of the river on that day were very likely not the same ones who took the beating at RD. I think the hypothesis that the two joined up for their return has a lot of credence, and hence the jump in number from 3500 at Rd, to 5000 Zulus, returning via the Bashee Valley .

regards

barry


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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Fri Jan 31, 2014 11:24 am

barry wrote:
Hi Sprinbok9
Reading further into the account of  the march of Chelmsfords  RD relief force I see that the passing of the two forces occurred at the head of the Bashee river valley, and the Zulu's were reported to be 5000 strong there, at that time.
In this account there is no mention whatever of the two forces passing near or on a river, or obstructing one another doing so. If that ever happened it must have been another event.
Now it occurs to me too that the burning and wreaking team who were destroying farms on the banks of the river on that day were very likely not the same ones who took the beating at RD. I think the speculation that the two joined up for their return has a lot of credence, and hence the jump in number from 3500 at Rd, to 5000 returning via the Bashee Valley .

regards

barry
The same morning there is a story with a zulu who had attacked alone the column of Chelmsford in march.
This warror was certainly drunk.
But the zulus who were at Rorke's Drift hadn't plungered the camp of Isandhlwana.
This warrior had certainly found the alcohol in the farms on the banks of the river.
The question is, before, during ou after the battle of Rorke's Drift.
Cheers
Frédéric
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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Fri Jan 31, 2014 12:00 pm

During the fight at Rorke's Drift some zulus had attacked farms (HAMILTON-BROWNE " A lost Legionary in south africa" / the story with Wilsone Black and Duncombe at Night at Isandhlwana / "Zulu Rising" p.472)
Cheers

Frédéric
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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:43 pm

just popped into my head, Wilsone Black's
Genital's..ouch!  Sad   Very Happy 
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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:21 pm

The elements I have separated are:
The last sighting of the Zulu at RD, Chard,Smith,Kenkins, plus three or four other reports. 8 o'clock
The time of departure for the column from isandlwana: approx. 4.30.
The crossing of the two armies, The Bashee river.
The relief force arrives 9 o'clock ( two separate confirmations of that time )
The sighting of Zulus at Elands Kraal

Its therefore impossible for the main impi to have left RD at 8 and crossed at the bashee. They were tired, dispirited, in no mood for a long walk/run home or another fight.
Its also impossible for the impi to have gone back via Elands Kraal and still crossed the column.

Baring in mind all the facts, and they are attributable facts not guesses. There had to have been two separate elements returning from RD.
For an impi to have crossed the army at the Bashee it could not have left at 8 oclock.

Those are the facts, happy to have anyone juggle them around and come up with a scenario.

Frederick
Brilliant piece of reasoning my friend.  Salute 

Xhosa
Possibly he was kicked out of the mess ie: Black Balled  Not getting involved 

Barry  Salute 

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Fri Jan 31, 2014 4:23 pm

Frederick
Brilliant piece of reasoning my friend.  Salute 
 
Cheers[/quote]
 
Bonjour Frank,
 
Thank you for your kind words.
I learn every day.
 
Cheers.
 
frédéric
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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Fri Jan 31, 2014 4:27 pm

Extract from Reynolds account

"About 6 o'clock a.m., we found, after careful reconnoitring, that all the Zulus with the exception of a couple of stragglers had left our immediate vicinity, and soon afterwards a large body of men were seen at a distance marching towards us."


Extract from Bournes account.

"The attack lasted from 4.30 p.m. on the twenty-second to 4.00 a.m. on the twenty-third - twelve exciting hours - and when daybreak occurred, the enemy was out of sight. About 7 o'clock they appeared again to the south-west. But help was at hand; Lord Chelmsford with the other half of his original force was only an hour's march away"

Which puts LC arriving around 8 o'clock.
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PostSubject: End of the attack on RD   Sat Feb 01, 2014 1:17 am

Hi Springy .
The following is from ' Eyewitness In Zululand ' by Lt.Col H.W.Bennett , a letter from Walter Alphonse Dunn who took part in the battle of RD , was recommended for the VC but it wasnt given . I quote '' Towards morning there was a longer pause than usual
causing us to wonder what devilment the zulu's could be planning ; but when the pale dawn , glimmering in the east , lit up the scene they had disappeared !. Without a sound to betray their movements they had gone - beaten ; carrying their wounded with them ; all except a few whose case was hopeless , it goes on and then he says '' About 7am our attention was drawn to a large column of men advancing towrds us some miles off in zululand . Unfortunately he doesnt make a point of their arrival time !
Cheers 90th
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PostSubject: Re: End of the attack on Rorkes Drift.   Sat Feb 01, 2014 7:09 am

So the theory seems to stand up under scrutiny.

Love it when a plan comes together.
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