Zulu Dawn: General Lord Chelmsford: For a savage, as for a child, chastisement is sometimes a kindness. Sir Henry Bartle Frere: Let us hope, General, that this will be the final solution to the Zulu problem
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 CHELMSFORD and the zulu people

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Posts : 2084
Join date : 2010-10-22
Location : France

PostSubject: CHELMSFORD and the zulu people   Wed Jul 22, 2015 12:39 am

Bonsoir à tous,

Ian Knight wrote in “Zulu Rising” about the skirmish at Sihayo’s stronghold the 12 January: (p.216)
“Two of the wounded Zulus were taken back to Rorke’s rift to be treated at the field hospital there, a sop to Lord Chelmsford’s finer feelings; many more must surely have been left among the boulders to live or die without assistance or comfort of any kind”.
Unless I misinterpreted the explanation given by Ian knight, it seems to me that Chelmsford’s clemency was maybe motivated by humanity but certainly also for other reason: “political manipulation” of the Zulu people.

LC wrote to FRERE the 12 January 1879 about the two Zulus wounded:
“(….) I have visited two wounded Zulus who are in our hospital and have seen that they are well looked after – Directly they are well enough I shall let them go that they may tell their friends how the British make war”. (KNIGHT Ian: “The National Army Museum book of the Zulu War” p.78)

At the Sihayo’s stronghold, a number of women and children had been captured by the British.
Just before the attack of the stronghold LC gave this recommendation to Hamiton-Browne: “I shall hold you responsible that no women or children are killed” (HB: “A Lost Legionary in South Africa”)
The prisoners were fed and taken care of, then let’s go the next day. Such clemency was weakness to the native’s way of thinking. (“Black soldiers of the Queen” by P.S Thompson p.40)
“It is the Zulu custom to kill everyone on the spot; prisoners are never taken”. (Mitford: “For the Zulu country”)
In battle, the Zulus made no distinction between their enemy’s soldiers and non combatants; since the days of Shaka it had been common practice to ‘sweep everything clear’, to destroy the enemy in whatever way possible to bring a firm end to a conflict. Non combatants, were in any case, regarded as guilty by association; if they supported an enemy, then they were as legitimate a target as the enemy themselves. (Ian Knight: “Campanion to the Zulu war” p.39)
LC searched the rallying of the tribal leaders, as Gamdana and the two Matyana.
It’s the reason why he was so patient and merciful with Gamdana and his followers.
After 5 five years under the authority of Cetewayo, the Zulus’s Chiefs would welcome the chance to escape the yoke of his tyranny and stay to the more enlightened administration offered by the British.
In other way, Zulu state would fall apart if pressure were applied to his constituent parts. (“Zulu rising” p.230)
In a letter to WOOD, LC wrote the 16 January 1879:”Our first move must therefore be to the Isanblana (sic) hill there is wood and water- I shall from there clear the Equideni (sic) forest or receive the submission of the chiefs and headmen residing in the district (…)”.

Just a thought.


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PostSubject: Re: CHELMSFORD and the zulu people   Thu Jul 23, 2015 11:49 pm

it seems to me that both Zulu wounded were taken prisoner by Harford.

HARFORD initially made 5 prisoners.
-One was left in the cave, intransportable given the seriousness of these injuries (testimony of Harford);
- The other 4 have started down the cliff to reach the position of Chelmsford (testimony of Harford).

During the descent, two died (Harford letter to his mother).

Remain two prisoners who survived.

I know no other evidence from the British or the Zulus who mention other warriors (injured or not) who have been captured that day.

For the reasons stated in my previous post on this subject, the survivors hid for fear of being put to death.

After the fight CHELMSFORD gave any instructions to check for wounded enemies (there is no evidence on this subject to my knowledge).

So the prisoners of Harford seem to be the two injured taken to Rorke's Drift hospital.

It seems that their damages were superficial for two reasons:
- (As i wrote in my last post) Chelmsford seemed to have no doubt about their recovery (see the letter to Frere the same day as the attack on the Sihayo stronghold)
-We know that the Two wounded were no longer present at the Rorke's Drift hospital 10 days later

The injured have been brought on the sole initiative of HARFORD not following instructions from CHELMSFORD, I arrive at the following conclusion:

CHELMSFORD took the opportunity that was offered to him by HARFORD using both captives for political purposes.
I recall that it is the day of the skirmish with supporters Sihayo he told to FRERE his intentions about them.
The humanitarian aspect of its decision remains to be demonstrated.


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Frank Allewell


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PostSubject: Re: CHELMSFORD and the zulu people   Fri Jul 24, 2015 9:48 am

Hi Frederic
I would agree on that, the Zulus in the hospital didn't survive though, I don't have the statement to hand but one of the VC winners mentions their fate.
There is also a number of testimonies as to Lord Chelmsfords character when dealing with the rank and file so he did have compassionate side.

Cheers my friend
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PostSubject: Re: CHELMSFORD and the zulu people   Fri Jul 24, 2015 10:42 am

Bonjour Frank,

I wanted to say that the two Zulus were not present at the hospital 10 days later...because they had survived!!!! Very Happy  

I have no knowledge about a account by a VC vinners who mentions their fate before the attack of the 22 January.
I suppose it 's not the testimony by Hook?
'There was only one patient in the room, an auxiliary of the NNC, one of  Prince  mKHUNGO'S iZigqoza who had been wounded in the attack on Sihayo's stronghold, and whose leg was heavily bandaged. (I.E: during the attack of the hospital the 22 January)The patient keep calling out "Take my bandage off, so that i can come!" But it was impossible to do anything except fight, and i blazed away as hard as i could.(From HOOK /« Zulu Rusing » p.502, note 63 p.662 / Source : Hook, account, Royal Magazine).
This native was killed few minutes after by the Zulus in the hospital.
It seems to me that Morris wrote by error thai this native was a zulu warrior, a follower of Sihayo? and not a Native of the NNC.
But this point is not essential...

Of course, you may be right about the humanity of Chelmsford about the Zulus before the disaster of Isandhlwana.
But i don't find any convincing evidences that are not motivated by "political objectives".
Sorry,but if Chelmsford was compassionate with his solders it's not sure at all that he has the same feeling with his enemies.

Thank you very much for your answer.




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PostSubject: Re: CHELMSFORD and the zulu people   Fri Jul 24, 2015 12:04 pm


Congratulations for starting on an impressive piece of research across a large number of sources.

This is an interesting subject and, like you, I tend to think that LC's desire to care for his wounded captives was so they could be used for political purposes more than for humanitarian reasons. But I do not have the evidence to support that view at the moment and we need to discover more. It might be worth taking a look again at the exchanges between Frere and Chelmsford who, I think, were content to achieve the subjugation of Cetswayo by any means including bringing some of his subjects over to their side if they could.

Keep up the good work.

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PostSubject: Re: CHELMSFORD and the zulu people   Fri Jul 24, 2015 12:28 pm

Bonjour Steve,

Thank you for your kind words.
i have recently read others evidences in the exchanges between CHELMSFORD and FRERE and others on this subject (the subjugation of Cetewayo by any means).
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PostSubject: Chelmsford    Fri Jul 24, 2015 4:07 pm

Hi Steve
Certainly LC was more than happy to make an attempt on some of the zulu Chiefs to change sides .
90th Salute
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