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 What price Valour?

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PostSubject: What price Valour?   Sun Feb 02, 2014 1:37 am

Was not the AZW pretty much like the Wild West!
primary objective..conquest!! very lucrative side-
line..rustling..prize money! very nice..discuss.
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PostSubject: Re: What price Valour?   Mon Feb 03, 2014 2:26 pm


I'm not sure that the AZW was like "the Wild West" which often played out as a competition between ranchers and farmers. Also, you don't have the issue of California being at the end of the rainbow or railroads to link the country together. But I must admit that there were a lot of promises made by Chelmsford when he was in recruiting mode of land. And there was A LOT of cattle grabbing that could be rationalized to some extent but was nonetheless motivated partially by greed. Smith-Dorrien points to profiteering that seems to have gone largely unchecked...or at least there is precious little documentation of official moves to put a damper on it. One of the drawbacks of the Army's approach to supply was that most of this was part and parcel of a campaign. Ironically the American army is experiencing a lot of the same issues as a result of having turned over much of its logistical support systems to private contractors.
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PostSubject: The attack om Sirayo's kraal, 12/01/1879   Mon Feb 03, 2014 5:33 pm

Read what NMP Trooper Clarke had to say about this matter of captured cattle . The  transcription following is verbatim from Vol 1/9 of his diaries, pages  20-21.

Verbatum transcription commences:
January 12th 1879

I was on guard last night from 8 o’clock until 10 and from 2 this morning  but had only been on sentry duty for about half an hour when I was warned for patrol (ie at 2.30am )  and had to saddle up. We paraded at 4 am with 850 NNC, 4 companies 1/24th, ,  100 Mounted Infantry and the Volunteers, Col Russell having command of the Cavalry.
We started at 5am with the Natal Carbineers as advance guard and the Mounted Infantry guarding our flanks. The roads to the  Bashee river were very boggy and our progress was slow. On arrival at the drift Lord Chelmsford and Col Glynn formed the plan of attack, the result being that we were sent around to the right of the Nqutu mountain to attack the Zulus flanks while the NNC and 1/24th made the main, direct attack on the hill.
We could plainly see the Zulus on top of the mountain and it was some time before we reached the neck at the top of the Bashee valley, consequently the Zulus had time to assemble in large numbers at a point commanding the neck.
The Carbineers and the Mounted infantry had gone around the mountain out of sight, but we were unable to cross a large donga, so had to head it. As we reached the foot of the hill a hot fire was poured down on us by the Zulus hidden in the rocks , but their marksmanship was very bad a no one was hit.
Mr Mansel immediately ordered the even numbers to dismount and extend in skirmishing order, which they did. I was one of the odd numbers so had to remain with the horses which was an unpleasant job as the Zulu fire consisting of  pot legs etc were constantly flying over us. Being my first experience under fire , the whizz of the bullets made one involuntarily bob the head , but I had no thought of being hit, my chief anxiety being having a shot at the enemy.
After firing a few shots the skirmishers were ordered to withdraw and they went up the hill very quickly, clearing the enemy out as they went. On their reaching the top of the hill they had some shooting at the retreating enemy and killed several. We, with the horses moved to the right and met the rest of our men ( even numbers) at the end of the range , with the other troops, ie Infantry., who had also killed several Zulus , taking some prisoners and capturing a large herd of cattle.
After  offsaddling and having partaken of  some coffee and tiffin, we prepared for the descent into the valley again, passing on the way the dead bodies of the enemy  killed by the NMP. One of these was believed to be that of Sirayo’s son.
The rain commenced again as soon as we reached the  Bashee Valley and as a result a very unpleasant march back to camp ensued. I pitied the Infantry who had to nudge the swamps, spruits and quite dense bushy country along the way. The prisoners taken in the attack on Sirayo’s Kraal were released by Chelmsford, but the cattle captured were sold to butchers  for 30/- each and afterwards bought back by the Imperial  Government  for £18 a piece and fed to the troops. Horses fetched   £2 10/-, resulting in our cattle money not amounting to much.
January 13th 1879
Chelmsford had not much regard for our horses for we were turned out again this morning at 4 am  and were kept out all day watching the country towards Ulundi.
… end of transcription.
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PostSubject: Re: What price Valour?   Mon Feb 03, 2014 6:16 pm

Yes, there are a myriad of examples.  I remember one extended example of contractors being promised cattle at ridiculously low prices.  When somebody with a clue in the Commissariat,or whatever, got wind of it they tried to scotch the deal but were overridden from above.  Smith-Dorrien's umbrage at the sale of a "poisoned farm" where the pasture was riddled with Red Water fever was because he tripped over the same machinations.  The army paid full price for the farm despite everyone knowing its grazing was worthless. Being young and principled S-D made a ruckus (literally kicking a contractor out of his tent who had the temerity to try to bribe him with Champagne) only to be outmaneuvered by higher powers: the sale went through at the original price. Why were these things happening?  Kickbacks of course...but also because these imperial adventures were supposed to be self-financing...and they were not.  

When the US entered the 2nd Gulf war one of the ways it was sold to the populace and politicians was that all the cheap Iraqi oil we seized would make the venture profitable.  Naturally, no cheap oil ever materialized and war was an enormous drain on our treasury much as the AZW ended with Cetshwayo being deposed but Britain had to spend a fortune to first buy up, and then replace, all the transport in southern Africa. It got worse when the reinforcements were sent -- the Lancers alone would have cost a bloody fortune to ship over and maintain.

Again and again if you read the primary sources you see the constant focus on seizing cattle or other domesticated animals. This was part and parcel of a supply system which encouraged the army to "live off the land" but it was also a manifestation of overconfidence and IMO helped to erode discipline.  Petty pilfering may be endemic to warfare but when your reconnaissance can be compromised by the profit motive, you have a problem.  It is broadly symbolic that the battle of Isandlwana is supposed to have commenced as the result of some overenthusiastic chasing after cattle.
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