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 The right horn at iSandlwana

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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: The right horn at iSandlwana   Fri Oct 16, 2015 3:13 pm

Ok, interesting question, how many men in the right horn? I don't expect to get a number accurate to decimal places but its going to be interesting to see what the discrepancy is, also please if possible give sources.
There is something behind the question

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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Fri Oct 16, 2015 5:30 pm

Hi Frank

This is based mainly on a mixture of Laband and Thompson ((Illustrated Guide to the AZW) and Keith Smith's "likely numbers" (Dead was Everything).

Right Horn behind Isandlwana
uDududu  800
iSangqu    250
iMbube      500  (Jackson (Hill of Sphinx))

Right Horn in front of Isandhlwana
Nokhenkhe 1,500

Reserve going behind Isandlwana
iNdluyengwe 1,500

Total   3,000 or 4,500 including reserve.

Steve
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Fri Oct 16, 2015 7:56 pm

Thanks Steve, Im looking forward to a few more ideas.
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Mon Oct 19, 2015 9:56 am

How do the authors obtain these numbers?
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Tue Oct 20, 2015 9:08 am

OH
There are a number of testimonies. Sihlahla.Mehlokazulu etc probably close to 6 or 7. They do vary a lot so its a question really of taking mean averages or accepting your favourite source.

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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Tue Oct 20, 2015 10:08 am

Before the naysayers jump on me, yes this is all speculation. But so is 90% of the written word on the battle. A lot of what is written and passed of as fact doesn't really fit all the known facts and the ground conditions.
Two of my issues have always been the location of the companies on the ridge and the attack path of the right horn. The position of the reserve is an ongoing quest.
This first drawing, sorry its so crude but my computer skills are on the same level as my cooking.
In this Ive attempted to show the line of patrol of Raw, Roberts and Durnford.
Its pretty much an accepted fact that Durnford/Pullein sent a Company onto the ridge before he left camp. Ostensible to replace the NNC piquet and at the same time give back up to the mounted patrols.
Those two patrols separated one towards the north West and one to the East. The met up as they ascended the ridge and saw the Zulu impi in front of them.
These are the two paths indicated.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Durnford meanwhile had gone more North East heading up the Quabe Valley, as shown.
If therefore the Company sent to the ridge was to be of any value in support then doesn't it make sense that they would take up a position that:
A) they could see Patrols on the flat....ish plateau
B) they would be in a position to render assistance.
History tells us the answer to both those questions is a resounding NO. The Narrative of the Field Operations has lead the way in placing the 'support' team behind a rather large hill so blocking of any view of the plateau and at an angle some 90 degrees to the growing threat.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
This is the position as the patrols retreated, the 'support' is totally hidden away and of no use at all to the Patrols of Raw and Roberts. It seems logical that Cavaye would have aligned his force with the developing threat? The argument that going to be put forward to counter that statement is that Cavaye was positioned to counter the right horn coming AROUND the hill. If that's so then it was blind luck, he couldn't see the attack coming for him and seeing the direction the Impi was moving across the plateau he had no reason at all to suspect a change in direction that would have to have been huge.
Essex tends to be in two minds on the position, Stafford vague and the only map that could possibly be of any use seems to have disappeared, Hammers contained in his letter home.

Just my thoughts.
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Tue Oct 20, 2015 1:03 pm

Morning Frank

I think I would put forward the argument you are expecting.

Cavaye, and later Mostyn, are deployed (by Pullein probably at Durnford's instruction) to deny the left flank. When Mostyn is sent up to reinforce Cavaye he sends a message via Essex that Cavaye should take special care not to endanger the right of his (Cavaye's) company. Mostyn is moving in to Cavaye's left. In other words, by that stage it is evident that the threat is seen to be coming from the impi pursuing Raw and Roberts patrols back towards Isandhlwana. But at the time of Cavaye's deployment Raw and Roberts (and Durnford too) were off pursuing a "retreating" enemy. Cavaye was not primarily positioned to support the mounted patrols and hence was not in the right place to do that. It is really a case of there being insufficient numbers to mount a proper defence. Durnford's request for a further company in support was prophetic if you like.

Great diagrams by the way. I suppose that means (leaving aside that biltong stuff) that we can expect to see you on Masterchef at some point?

Steve
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Tue Oct 20, 2015 2:11 pm

Ha ha, nix on the Masterchef mate, if it cant be cooked outside I don't cook it.
I see your argument, and there is merit really in the half dozen different theories. Ive looked at virtually every aspect of that retreat down to the milli second. Roberts for instance was killed by friendly fire in a kraal. So he was pursued, possibly acting as rearguard and thought he would take a fighting position. If we look back at the old maps and photos for old kraal sites theres not on the retreat path from the Tahalane spur so they didn't retreat down that area. If they had retreated in a similar path to Raw then that means Raw didn't come down the Tahelane either. Im pretty sure they came down from the plateau around the site of the present day hotel. If you look at the site now of course theres savage slopes, those were man made. The old photos show a gentle slope, perfect to ride down and defend.
All the early morning threats seemed to have come from the Eastern areas, why would cavaye suddenly need to defend the West? The patrols, raw Roberts and Durnford had all gone East surely logic would say that's the way to turn for a defence line on the ridge? And also to be able to see what was happening would surely be a great advantage.
The traditional positions have never rung true Im afraid. I firmly believe that a massive part of the mystery surrounding iSandlwana is due to wrong interpretations that are accepted as fact. One day I hope to be reincarnated in to the past and be sitting on the battlefield, preferably wearing a 10th Hussars uniform with Gardner written on it. Then I shall be in a position to say............

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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Tue Oct 20, 2015 3:03 pm

Yes, it does feel as though something is not quite right. If Mostyn is concerned enough to warn Cavaye about not endangering his right, why does he slip into the left of Cavaye's company and why do they not turn to face the threat from the right? There must have been something in front of them to keep them occupied but all we hear is that the zulus were going across their front and at sufficient distance to make them waste ammunition.

If you could also manage to conjure up a few troops of 10th Hussars while you reincarnate yourself you might change the course of history!
Steve
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Tue Oct 20, 2015 5:06 pm

Either that or wearing an ESSEX name tag would do rather nicely.
This mini essay should tie up with the last one I did on the troop positions. Possibly I should bore the hell out of everyone by re publishing it.
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Wed Oct 21, 2015 5:24 pm

Frank
As usual from you, some interesting thoughts.  For what it's worth my thoughts on your thoughts are that your basic premises are wrong.
You wrote:
"If therefore the Company sent to the ridge was to be of any value in support then doesn't it make sense that they would take up a position that:
A) they could see Patrols on the flat....ish plateau
B) they would be in a position to render assistance."
I disagree.  Cavaye was sent up the spur to prevent any force coming down from that direction, to prevent the rear of Isandhlwana being gained by an enemy, and to cover any retreat from Raw/Roberts who would have to return by way of the spur.  Durnford had not foreseen that the Zulus could simply come down the escarpment.  I don't think that being able to 'see' the patrols came into it.
As for rendering assistance, it is nonsense to think that foot-soldiers could render assistance to a distant mounted force - the only assistance possible would be to cover a retreat down the spur - which is what Cavaye did.
It does make sense that the company on the ridge was of value in support and, by the by, it was sent there to replace Barry's NNC coy picked up en route by Raw/Roberts.
Lastly your premises are based on the idea that those in the camp BELIEVED that the main impi was on the plateau.  They didn't.  The assumption was that it was a minor force - several hundred warriors - and that the main impi was confronting LC on the Mangeni.
I also disagree about the numbers game of the right horn.  I think you can be reasonably accurate from Zulu sources about the numbers in the constituent regiments.
As an afterthought we cannot be absolutely sure that Roberts was killed by friendly fire.
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Wed Oct 21, 2015 6:42 pm

At what point, do we think, does it begin to dawn on those in the camp that the main zulu force is on the plateau and not confronting Chelmsford? Is it not until they can be seen coming down the escarpment, or is it before that when Mostyn is sent to reinforce Cavaye? When Durnford leaves to intercept what he imagines is an attempt by part of the zulu force to move towards Chelmsford does he still think the main Impi is at the Mangeni, or is he beginning to understand that he is facing a large force himself? It seems clear that by the time Gardner arrives with Chelmsford's message to pack up the tents the penny has dropped. Essex,  up with the companies on the ridge, estimates a force of 3000 formed up to the right, but Jackson notes he "did not notice them much". A strange thing to say about 3000, is he in denial still?

Steve
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PostSubject: The Right Horn at Isandlwana    Thu Oct 22, 2015 2:45 am

Hi Steve
I sure it '' dawned '' on certain people at certain times . I'd say with Durnford's knowledge of the Zulu people it was when he rode into the left horn , he would , I think , have realised it was a horn which was attempting to encircle the camp . Raw no doubt knew when he stumbled across them in the valley , the Headquaters Staff mightn't have realised till later , as they weren't with Durnford or Raw , so therefore , they didn't really have much of an idea in exactly the size of the force which was manoeuvring
into their attack positions. They received messengers ( Shepstone etc etc ) my humble opinion is that when the Zulu began coming down the Escarpment , Pulleine , and his fellow officers were probably still not aware of what was about to transpire ! .
No doubt once they had realised the sheer weight of numbers coming down the ridge etc , then , in my mind , the penny had dropped , quite possibly Pulleine and his officers had an idea earlier , possibly when Cavaye & Mostyn were sent up on the ridge . Trouble is we will never know , I suppose you can put yourself in their shoes and ponder ( being careful as not to let Hindsight & 21st Cen thinking cloud your thoughts ! ) , remembering of course that they never thought they were going to be attacked in the first place ! .
90th Salute
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Thu Oct 22, 2015 5:20 am

Morning all.
Steve
Burned the currie last night and ended with take aways so Masterchef is put on the back shelf for a while.
Julian
Topography in this issue is your biggest single enemy.
To recap, a close examination of the old photos, and my own memories of 40 odd years will highlight the immense changes that have taken places on the side of the ridge. Before the spread of the village onto the mountainside and the advent of the hotel that section of hill was an easy access to the plateau. These days modern visitors tend to look at the track/road leading up and envisage that as the main access.
All the threats from early morning were generated from the East of North, the iThusi/Notch area. it was from there that most of the sightings were spotted.
The piquet on the ridge was nowhere near the spur but was in fact on the rear of knoll facing across the plain.
Why on earth would Pullein/Durnford send of a company to replace the NNC in a different position? A position removed from the route taken by the patrols, unsighted and removed from any of the sightings of the morning. Its illogical.
In your scenario Pulleine/Durnford have suddenly developed awareness of protecting an area but have still totally ignored their rear? Again illogical
I would agree that there is no hard and fast proof of Roberts demise, but certainly the 'suggestions' are there that he took shelter in a kraal, Stafford possibly? There are no marked kraals on the spur so its a pretty short order bet that the kraal was some where above the Church in its present location, again the easiest way down of the plateau in in a direct line for the retreating mounted forces, the gap between the Nyoni hill and the Knoll.
Ive never subscribed to the theory that Raw et all retreated around or to the North of the knoll. Its just not a direct line back to the camp.
Any military commander, and its a given fact in my own career, would piquet/back up another force with a visual position. Again the topography brings the lie to any semblance of that. If those men weren't sent to assist but to piquet they were in the complete wrong position and there are many times in military history that mounted companies retreat back through infantry lines. Didn't Durnford himself ask for a couple of companies of foot soldiers to assist his mounted troops in the event of need, hardly nonsence.
Quote:" the only assistance possible would be to cover a retreat down the spur - which is what Cavaye did."  He couldn't if he was in the historical position, his men would have been at an angle of 90 degrees to the retreating force, so possibly the odd couple of men on the end would have had a sighting. Whereas if the companies were sited between the hill and the knoll all Essex discriptions fit! Including a totally logical reason for the sending of Dyer 500 meters to the left to get a sighting around the Knoll. It would also explain why Essex didn't see that the withdrawl had started and got left behind.
Quote: "It does make sense that the company on the ridge was of value in support and, by the by, it was sent there to replace Barry's NNC coy picked up en route by Raw/Roberts." Sorry but it just doesn't and as pointed out they were in a totally different place from Barry's position, wrong side of the hill and wrong elevation.
My premises are based on exactly the same as history, just attacked from a different angle. Cavayes position is the argument and that really has nothing to do with the assumptions of the value of the force. Its fact that Raw et al were sent onto the plateau, I merely suggest they took the logical route, its fact that Cavaye was sent onto the plateau, again I just question the historical positioning. Its fact that they did cover the withdrawl of the mounted force and engaged the 'right horn' It has nothing to do with any BELIEF of an imminent inundation. Save and except that if my contention of the positioning is correct they would have seen what was about to happen, Stafford did and he was part of that line, he even mentions he sent a note to 'Durnford" in the camp.
There is no numbers game, only an attempt to relate to the juxtaposition of the regiments themselves relative to the terrain and the later body reports, Johnson in particular speaks of moving bones and bodies from the area of his camp and that wasn't at the bottom of the spur but the bowl area formed by the Western side of the spur and the indent on the Nyoni. That is the totally logical place for an attacking force, Ntshingwayo knew that and watched the battle from exactly that point. He could see all of his regiments, left horn, right horn and chest. And of course the reserve out on the plain Very Happy , which if the reserve was in that traditional position he wouldn't have been able to see. A note about the traditional attack formation of the Zulu. It was based on a mass frontal attack with the horns extending from that mass to encompass the enemy. The reserve held back behind the chest. In the historical version of iSandlwana we are told that the right horn was actually a totally detached unit attacking blind around a hill from the main body, having separated a couple of miles back. And of course the reserve was behind that force tucked away down in  valley out of touch completely from the control of the supreme commander. Ntshingwayo had his faults but he wasnt that stupid.
Steve
Probably a touch of uncertainty when they heard all the rifle fire but definitely when Shepstone rode in, even though he was reported to have said that he wasn't believed.


Time for breakfast. Muffins, toasted with some fresh honey I think.
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:14 am

Rusteze/90th
I agree – recognition occurred for different people at diferent times – Pulleine, Raw & Roberts, Durnford – and for Pulleine it must have been when the enemy appeared in masses coming down the escarpment.

Frank
I agree that that section of the escarpment was an easy access to the plateau – my point is that Pulleine would not have thought it so and would not have seen it as the immediate threat.
Cavaye’s replacement of the NNC coy was as replacement for it on picquet duty, continuing the line of picquets which ringed the camp. In that context it makes perfect sense. Cavaye was able to watch the rear (Dyson) – thus no picquet was required behind the mountain (and didn’t LC’s precept hold still that the rear protects itself?). I was careful to say that Cavaye replaced Barry’s coy on picquet, not to say thatit occupied the exact same ground. It would naturally have assumed the best position to serve its purpose.
You wrote that “all the threats were generated from the East of North”. I’d say no. All the observations were from the East of North. These were never perceived as threats, otherwise LC would have been contacted and measures taken for the immediate defence of the camp.
Pulleine certainly developed an awareness of protecting an area but against what? He didn’t know until he could see the enemy for himself, by which time it was too late to do anything about the rear.
Re Raw’s retreat I agree.
Re the reserve’s movement – what a choice for Ntshinwayo – blind behind the mountain but on the shortest route to get to the back of the saddle or (according to you) visible behind the left horn but on a lengthy 270 degree circuitous route of the camp. I don’t think it’s got anything to do with Ntshingwayo’s sense or stupidity but with logic.
Breakfast for me too. Porridge methinks, for a change!
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Sat Nov 07, 2015 10:26 am

Hi Julian
Ive taken the time to look at some very old photo plates, in fact from 1947, of the ridge and the approach to the battlefield. If I were to want to ride from th camp onto the plateau I would surely take what I would consider the easiest route and at the same time be aware of my mounts limitations. In that respect the rockfalls and steeper inclines would be low on my preferred routes. To me that would tend to discount the traditional, and current access point being the direct path between the end of the mountain towards the knoll. Even today the area to the left of the road is territory that rivals the Fugitives path and most certainly would not be the path of choice. There are three alternate areas that would provide a smoother and lower incline, the first to the right of the present road, accessing the plateau to the East of the knoll: the second bisecting the two hills on the plateau and the third to the West of the notch. Given the fact that there were riders up and down the plateau probably from the 20th onwards, including Chelmsford himself I would assume that the best routes would have been chosen long before the troops/piquets were sent up.
Given that I cant see that Pulleine would not have recognised those access points. And again cconsidering that most of the sightings had occurred on the Eastern reaches it would have been a pretty good military option to examine those areas and take care of the potential trouble spot.
The Barry piquet was situated in an ideal position with a free view from the West through the full spectrum to iThusi.
Cavayes posting to the East of the Knoll in a low 'bowl' area could obviously be for a number of reasons: Support for the mounted men scouting the plateau: to act as a piquet replacing Barry: to guard the rear of the mountain: to deter any attack from the plateau.
Looking at those various points the company couldn't be in a position to support the mounted men being behind the knoll and completely unsighted. If, as I have postulated, the Durnford men had accessed the ridge from a more logical point then Cavaye was far to the west. In terms of being a replacement for Barry, the position tradition tells us they adopted is in a bowl with a nil view of the plateau and a limited view to the North obstructed to a great degree by the ridge extending West from the Northern reaches of the Knoll. From that Bowl the view of the back of the mountain and the head waters of the Manzimyama are invisible.
I would tend to suggest that if I were to chose a worse position it would be a very difficult task.

Sorry if Im floging the proverbial dead horse its just I cannot for the life of me see any reason at all for the troops to be positioned as such.
As a recap:
They were on a very difficult access route
It conjecturally wasn't the route used to get onto the platea
It wasn't therefore a position to defend a retreating force
It wasn't a position to defend the rear of the mountain or the road to RD
It wasn't a position that had a view of any potential threat areas.

In terms of the reserve my belief in the Zulu fighting formation has always placed the reserve behind the chest not a few kilometres to the side and rear of the right wing and out of site. Surely the reserve was exactly that, a force to be called on if the army ran into difficulty. In which case the area behind the chest close to the Conical koppie is a logical place for it.
I don't see that the battle was pre planned to a degree that Ntshingwayo thought he would need the reserve to access the back of the mountain, rather join the battle from the front, it was the left and right horns job to cut of any retreat.


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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Sat Nov 07, 2015 1:43 pm

Frank

If you look at the instructions for placing piquets in the Field Service Book 1877 it tends to back up your hypothesis that both Barry and Cavaye were poorly placed. It also tends to underline the fact that there were too few forces left in the camp to adequately cover the ground from which an attack might come. The piquets ought to have been placed so as to cover 1. The highest points on an arc that enabled them to both 2. See each other and the enemy and 3. Enable a slow retreat over adequate ground in the face of an attack. There ought to have been a reserve force behind them to enable the attack to be slowed, so that the camp had time to stand to and organise themselves. My earlier question about when it was realised that an attack was taking place is relevant to the positioning of Cavaye. If it was understood when he was deployed to the ridge, he should have taken up a defensive position  to enable the attack from the North East  to be slowed and the mounted men to retreat and form up behind him. If it was still not understood, he would be obliged to replace Barry on the same piquet position, presumably to guard from the North. That piquet should have been large enough to allow forward sentries to be placed even further forward on the intervening high ground. My guess is that there were simply not enough men to do this, coupled with the complacency that an attack would not occur. It is also to be noted that Durnford and his men made a much better fist of a controlled retreat than did the imperial troops on the ridge (having said that, it may of course simply be that we have a better record from those that survived Durnford's action).

Steve
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Sat Nov 07, 2015 1:59 pm

Hi Frank
You wrote:
“Ive taken the time to look at some very old photo plates, in fact from 1947, of the ridge and the approach to the battlefield. If I were to want to ride from th camp onto the plateau I would surely take what I would consider the easiest route and at the same time be aware of my mounts limitations. In that respect the rockfalls and steeper inclines would be low on my preferred routes. To me that would tend to discount the traditional, and current access point being the direct path between the end of the mountain towards the knoll. Even today the area to the left of the road is territory that rivals the Fugitives path and most certainly would not be the path of choice. There are three alternate areas that would provide a smoother and lower incline, the first to the right of the present road, accessing the plateau to the East of the knoll: the second bisecting the two hills on the plateau and the third to the West of the notch.”
What you say is true but it is also true that, as you also said, you’ve had time to look at photos and to inspect the ground. I don’t believe that Shepstone & Barton had that luxury on the morning of the 22nd. There are also the statements of witnesses who SAW the 2 NNH troops go up by the spur.
“Given the fact that there were riders up and down the plateau probably from the 20th onwards, including Chelmsford himself I would assume that the best routes would have been chosen long before the troops/piquets were sent up.”
What you say is true but it is also true that upon arrival at the camp the men were very busy setting up camp (Mostyn didn’t arrive till the 22nd itself). We know LC liked to take control and not delegate. I wonder whether he would have gone to such trouble. Ordering the posting of picquets I can imagine but as to their exact position and choosing the best route for them to reach it, I doubt.

“Given that I cant see that Pulleine would not have recognised those access points. And again cconsidering that most of the sightings had occurred on the Eastern reaches it would have been a pretty good military option to examine those areas and take care of the potential trouble spot.”
What you say is true but it is also true that Pulleine joined the column on the 17th and was still getting acclimatized. It wasn’t until early in the morning of the 22nd that he realized he was going to be left in command. He was also left with orers to start packing up the camp. Certainly early on he would not have had time to consider such details (would he not imagine that such matters had already been dealt with by LC – the picquets were already in situ after all). Pulleine knew Zulus were in the area – that’s why LC had left that morning because they WERE in the area!! - Pulleine would have expected to see them buzzing around the camp outskirts and seen by the scouts and would not have been unduly alarmed (witnees his 8.05 message).

“The Barry piquet was situated in an ideal position with a free view from the West through the full spectrum to iThusi.
Cavayes posting to the East of the Knoll in a low 'bowl' area could obviously be for a number of reasons: Support for the mounted men scouting the plateau: to act as a piquet replacing Barry: to guard the rear of the mountain: to deter any attack from the plateau.
Looking at those various points the company couldn't be in a position to support the mounted men being behind the knoll and completely unsighted. If, as I have postulated, the Durnford men had accessed the ridge from a more logical point then Cavaye was far to the west. In terms of being a replacement for Barry, the position tradition tells us they adopted is in a bowl with a nil view of the plateau and a limited view to the North obstructed to a great degree by the ridge extending West from the Northern reaches of the Knoll. From that Bowl the view of the back of the mountain and the head waters of the Manzimyama are invisible.
I would tend to suggest that if I were to chose a worse position it would be a very difficult task.”
What you say is true. I have always believed that the positions on the map of the coys on the spur or on the plateau was an approximate one. Once ordered up there I imagine the coy commanders were given considerable latitude as to best positioning and the officers would have used common sense in carrying out their orders. They wopuld certainly have moved to a point giving them optimum visibility (witness the known movement of Dyson’s section).

“In terms of the reserve my belief in the Zulu fighting formation has always placed the reserve behind the chest not a few kilometres to the side and rear of the right wing and out of site. Surely the reserve was exactly that, a force to be called on if the army ran into difficulty. In which case the area behind the chest close to the Conical koppie is a logical place for it.
I don't see that the battle was pre planned to a degree that Ntshingwayo thought he would need the reserve to access the back of the mountain, rather join the battle from the front, it was the left and right horns job to cut of any retreat.”
What you say is true but it is also true that (from Zulu accounts) their amabutho were mixed up and not in their correct disposition. It may also be true that Ntshingwayo sensed that the weak spot in the encirclement was the saddle and route beyond and sent the reserve off there because of the time the left horn was taking to complete the encirclement. It may also be true that the reserve’s leaders (before or after they were ordered to the rear of the mountain) went off on their own initiative because they’d not washed their spears (“Let’s go and fight at Jim’s”)
I’ve begun each para. of my response with “What you say is true…” because it is. My point is that that there are many possible truths and it it’s a question trying to make them fit the known facts not fit what would have been logical.
Interesting and useful post!

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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Sun Nov 08, 2015 1:29 pm

Hi Julian
Taking the debate forward.
Its still debatable as to who sent the first company onto the ridge ( by the way I cant find a reference to troops being sent onto the 'Spur' rather than onto the 'Hill') but weather it was Pulleine or Durnford Im pretty sure they wouldn't have issued an order such as Cardigan/Lucan with an Airey (Pun intended) wave and a "there is your enemy sir". Rather it would have been a direction of exactly where to establish the company line and as Durnford had already sent his men up and probably witnessed their ascent the possibility would exist that he would want his mens line of retreat covered. An indirect way I suppose of getting his way re the support he asked for.
We do know that there are limited statements as to what happened on the ridge, Raw, Stafford etc and possibly only Two maps made. Essex being one, its of little help, and the other from Hammer and we know how difficult that one is to access. So the Narrative could have been drawn from very limited sources. Even HPs map would have had to come from the same sources.
Essex seems to have the more detail in his statements and Im assuming the Narrative ( the earliest map I can trace ) devolves mainly from him.
Essex has some specific statements that at face value place the company line exactly as per the Narrative but at the same time ALL of his statements point at the gap between the Knoll and Nyoni hill.
Three points Essex makes: Dyer is sent 500 yards to the left to look around the hill, from the bowl of the spur that makes no sense at all. His view is no better neither does he have a view down into the Manzimyama as expressed by Snook. IF however the company was posted as I believe, moving a force 500 yards to the West would enable a view round the side of the Knoll and prevent an outflanking manouver. A very logical military tactic.
As a second point from Essex he states that when with the outpost he nearly got left behind as he didn't see the withdrawl of the companies. If the Narrative position is correct Essex would have had a perfect view of the action and movements to the Right. If however Essex was in the position to the left of the knoll he would have had great difficulty in seeing the companies withdrawl, and would have had to beat a hasty retreat more to the west of his access point thus pushing him towards the broken boulder area he refers to.
Finally his third point: the line of Zulus were advancing across his front thickening to the right before disappearing behind a hill. This has always been seen as a reference to the right horn/reserve moving across the northern end of the spur towards the Manzimyama. I would contend however that IF the company was at MY position the line advancing would be the right horn moving across his front passed the North of the knoll for its flanking movement. The thickening to the east would therefore be its separation from the chest disappearing down behind the eastern side of Nyoni hill.

The statements don't fit the accepted facts for me. So possibly they do fit the known facts?

Regards
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Sun Nov 08, 2015 3:55 pm

Hi Frank
You wrote

“Its still debatable as to who sent the first company onto the ridge”

Essex was called back to give supplementary evidence to the Court of Inquiry beyond his written statement.  In that he states that Cavaye’s coy was sent up the spur on to the ridge by Durnford.

“Rather it would have been a direction of exactly where to establish the company line and as Durnford had already sent his men up and probably witnessed their ascent the possibility would exist that he would want his mens line of retreat covered. An indirect way I suppose of getting his way re the support he asked for.”

I agree.

“Essex has some specific statements that at face value place the company line exactly as per the Narrative but at the same time ALL of his statements point at the gap between the Knoll and Nyoni hill.
Three points Essex makes: Dyer is sent 500 yards to the left to look around the hill, from the bowl of the spur that makes no sense at all. His view is no better neither does he have a view down into the Manzimyama as expressed by Snook. IF however the company was posted as I believe, moving a force 500 yards to the West would enable a view round the side of the Knoll and prevent an outflanking manouver. A very logical military tactic.”

I have nothing against this view.

“As a second point from Essex he states that when with the outpost he nearly got left behind as he didn't see the withdrawl of the companies. If the Narrative position is correct Essex would have had a perfect view of the action and movements to the Right. If however Essex was in the position to the left of the knoll he would have had great difficulty in seeing the companies withdrawl, and would have had to beat a hasty retreat more to the west of his access point thus pushing him towards the broken boulder area he refers to.”

I have nothing against this either.  As I said in the previous post I believe the actual positioning of the coys on the plateau’s edge was down to Cavaye and Mostyn’s initiative and preofessionalism.

“Finally his third point: the line of Zulus were advancing across his front thickening to the right before disappearing behind a hill. This has always been seen as a reference to the right horn/reserve moving across the northern end of the spur towards the Manzimyama. I would contend however that IF the company was at MY position the line advancing would be the right horn moving across his front passed the North of the knoll for its flanking movement. The thickening to the east would therefore be its separation from the chest disappearing down behind the eastern side of Nyoni hill.”

Absolutely fine with me, though that still doesn’t preclude the later movement of the reserve in the same direction

“The statements don't fit the accepted facts for me. So possibly they do fit the known facts?”

These certainly do fit the ‘known’ facts and are all perfectly possible theories.  Essex is a ‘guide’, nothing more, to what went on on the ridge.  Remember that I previously wrote “My point is that that there are many possible truths and it’s a question of trying to make them fit the known facts not fit what would have been logical.”  I have no fixed adherence to anything that is ‘accepted’ until it be proven.
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Sun Nov 08, 2015 4:10 pm

Hi Julian
The really interesting issue that comes from the preceeding is that it starts to promote answers for other subsequent issues. But as you rightly point out its all speculation and will be until someone finds 'that' file.
Remembering the project / essay ( Zabanga?) you once had that started to gain a life of its own and acceptance as fact Im very close to writing a 'fictional account' of Isandlwana.
Hell if Morris could do it why not a Boer from the Cape.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Sun Nov 08, 2015 4:42 pm

Hi Frank
It does indeed.
Re Zabange, I wanted to prove the account was absolute fiction and managed to get an admittance as such from the author. By the by, I am including that essay in vol III of Studies in the Zulu War as I've noticed that the non-existent Zabange has started to rear his ugly head again here and there.
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Mon Nov 09, 2015 2:18 pm

Frank Allewell wrote:
Before the naysayers jump on me, yes this is all speculation. But so is 90% of the written word on the battle. A lot of what is written and passed of as fact doesn't really fit all the known facts and the ground conditions.
Two of my issues have always been the location of the companies on the ridge and the attack path of the right horn. The position of the reserve is an ongoing quest.
This first drawing, sorry its so crude but my computer skills are on the same level as my cooking.
In this Ive attempted to show the line of patrol of Raw, Roberts and Durnford.
Its pretty much an accepted fact that Durnford/Pullein sent a Company onto the ridge before he left camp. Ostensible to replace the NNC piquet and at the same time give back up to the mounted patrols.
Those two patrols separated one towards the north West and one to the East. The met up as they ascended the ridge and saw the Zulu impi in front of them.
These are the two paths indicated.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Durnford meanwhile had gone more North East heading up the Quabe Valley, as shown.
If therefore the Company sent to the ridge was to be of any value in support then doesn't it make sense that they would take up a position that:
A) they could see Patrols on the flat....ish plateau
B) they would be in a position to render assistance.
History tells us the answer to both those questions is a resounding NO. The Narrative of the Field Operations has lead the way in placing the 'support' team behind a rather large hill so blocking of any view of the plateau and at an angle some 90 degrees to the growing threat.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
This is the position as the patrols retreated, the 'support' is totally hidden away and of no use at all to the Patrols of Raw and Roberts. It seems logical that Cavaye would have aligned his force with the developing threat? The argument that going to be put forward to counter that statement is that Cavaye was positioned to counter the right horn coming AROUND the hill. If that's so then it was blind luck, he couldn't see the attack coming for him and seeing the direction the Impi was moving across the plateau he had no reason at all to suspect a change in direction that would have to have been huge.
Essex tends to be in two minds on the position, Stafford vague and the only map that could possibly be of any use seems to have disappeared, Hammers contained in his letter home.

Just my thoughts.

Simple question what did whoever sent the companies to the ridge hope to have achieved.
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Mon Nov 09, 2015 2:44 pm

Hi John
Differing views, as with everything at iSandlwana.
My view is that they were sent to firstly replace the Barry Piquet that was commandeered by Durnford to accompany his patrols, the Raw and Roberts patrols. Secondly to support those patrols on the ridge.

The alternate view, from those that accept the position on the Spur as accurate is that they were sent to cover the rear of the camp. Its something Ive argued against on occasion. I don't want to repeat those arguments but they are mainly in this thread.

I have to admit im soundly out voted by everyone from Snook to Knight.

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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:17 pm

John
I would agree that they were sent to replace the Barry picquet and to support the patrols on the ridge. I see no reason to object to their also being sent to cover the rear of the camp. After all neither durnford nor Pulleine had been up there as far we know and they must have imagined that a view could be had both north and east (across the plateau), and west and south-west (behind Isandhlwana) provided the officers used their initiative. This is what I'm sure they did (e.g. Dyson's movement).
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Mon Nov 09, 2015 7:08 pm

That makes sense.

So who were the Mounted Natives sent by Durnford to the top of the hills to the left.

When they say to the left, I take it they mean to the same location as the 24th companies.?
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Mon Nov 09, 2015 7:34 pm

Hi John
Raw and Roberts. they were sent up first and picked up Barry's NNC on the way. Cavaye was sent later.
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Mon Nov 09, 2015 7:59 pm

"Lieutenant-Colonel Pulleine sent out two companies about half-way up-the hill and drew up the remainder, with the two guns in action, in line, on the extreme left of our camp, and facing towards the left, from which direction the enemy were advancing in great numbers."

So which to companies is this referring to?
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Mon Nov 09, 2015 8:28 pm

Hi John
that's Cavaye and Mostyn.
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Mon Nov 09, 2015 8:43 pm

So it was Pulliene who sent them not Durnford?

Frank wrote:
"It seems logical that Cavaye would have aligned his force with the developing threat? The argument that going to be put forward to counter that statement is that Cavaye was positioned to counter the right horn coming AROUND the hill. If that's so then it was blind luck, he couldn't see the attack coming for him and seeing the direction the Impi was moving across the plateau he had no reason at all to suspect a change in direction that would have to have been huge".


Zulu Eyewitness Account
Suggesting that Mostyn's Cavaye's and Dyson's men were first to be overrun.

Norris-Newman, In Zululand. p82

"The soldier's were at this time in the camp having come back from the front all but two companies which went on the hill and never returned, they were everyone killed"

Frank the Zulus in question, would these have the same ones Lt Chard saw disappearing behind the hill, earlier on.
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:32 pm

Frank, John,
Sorry for my rudeness. I saw too late that the issue from John was specifically addressed to Frank.
I deleted my messages.
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Frédéric
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:38 pm

Ymob picking up on your deleted post, didn't the missing companies have something to do with road repairs. The missing companies were never seen again, but the bodies of the compaines on the ridge were found. Or am I miss reading history?
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:19 pm

Bonsoir Ray,
I fear that the theory (myth?) of the "missing companies" (Essex against Chadwick!!!) has nothing to do with the road repairs...
Sometimes you can read that cairns in the same area as those of "Anstey's last stand "belonged to a fatigue party (for the roads repairs).
In reality, no source support this statement.
The fatigue party for the road repairs (Lt Anstey 1/24th) returned to camp without having loss.
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:31 pm

"The Myth of the Missing Companies By Ian Knight.

The disaster at Isandlwana was so swift and so comprehensive that, even today, more than 120 years later, historians remain deeply divided about aspects of the battle. The very intensity of the event, and the paucity of direct evidence relating to it, has led over the years to the rise and fall of a number of conflicting theories, as historians and enthusiasts alike debate everything from logistics to the character traits of those in command.
One theory which has emerged in recent years is that of the ‘lost companies’- the idea that one or more of the companies of the 24th Regiment marched out from the camp, and was over-run in isolation, its fate still largely undetermined today. There are similar stories to be found in most wars, and the myth of the ‘lost command’ or the ‘lost patrol’ is as old as human conflict itself, evoking, as it does, many of the feelings of tragedy, pathos, horror and mystery, which are central to our view of death in battle.
The question is, did anything of the sort occur at Isandlwana? The first suggestion that it might have is to be found in Lord Chelmsford’s despatch of 27 January, breaking the news of the debacle to the Secretary of State for War. After he had returned to Rorke’s Drift from Zululand, Chelmsford had ridden straight to Pietermaritzburg, and it was from there that he submitted a long report of the Isandlwana campaign, as he then understood it. After outlining his own movements, he commented significantly ‘As regards the proceedings of the six companies of British infantry, two guns and two rocket tubes, the garrison of the camp, I can obtain but little information’ 1. Then, intriguingly, he commented that ‘one company went off to the extreme left and has never been heard of since’ 2.
That this might indeed have happened is apparently born out by a reference in arguably the most complete account of the battle from a Zulu source. Mehlokazulu kaSihayo Ngobese was the senior son of the important Zulu induna who lived on the Zulu side of the border at Rorke’s Drift, Chief Sihayo kaXongo. It was Mehlokazulu’s raid into Natal territory in search of his father’s runaway wives, in July 1878, which had been seized upon as a casus belli by the British. Mehlokazulu’s surrender was demanded in the British ultimatum, but King Cetshwayo had been unwilling to give him up, Mehlokazulu fought throughout the subsequent war as a junior commander in his regiment, the iNgobamakhosi. At the end of hostilities he was taken prisoner by the British, and sent to Pietermaritzburg to be tried according to the terms of the ultimatum. In the event, the case was dropped, but while in Pietermaritzburg Mehlokazulu was questioned about his role at Isandlwana, and as a result left one of the most comprehensive descriptions of the battle from a Zulu perspective. At one point, Mehlokazulu appears to confirm Chelmsford’s suspicions when he recalled that,
two companies, which went on the hill ... never returned – they were every one of them killed. They were firing on the wings of the Zulu army, while the body of the army was pushing on, the wings also succeeded, and before the soldiers knew where they were they were surrounded from the west, attacked by the wings from the right, and the main body from the back. They were all killed, not one escaped ...3
If this incident did occur, and in the manner described, it is necessary to identify the troops involved, and the point in the battle at which this took place. And is it possible that the remains of men from one or two companies are still lying, undiscovered, and somewhere away from the main battlefield?
The question of who these men might have been is easily answered. Although detailed dispositions are still uncertain, the broad movements of the main elements of the British force are well known. Sometime before 11 am 4 on the morning of the 22nd, the camp commander, Lt. Col. Pulleine, sent Lieutenant Charles Cavaye’s E Company, 1/24th, onto a low ridge of hills to the immediate north of Isandlwana hill. This movement was apparently made in support of Col. Durnford’s sweep through the iNyoni range, which took place at about this time. Cavaye’s command ascended the so-called ‘spur’, and crossed out of sight from the camp beyond the skyline. Shortly afterwards, once the news of the discovery of the Zulu impi by detachments of Durnford’s men reached the camp, Pulleine despatched a further company of the 1/24th – F Company, under Captain William Mostyn – to support Cavaye 5. Captain Essex, who, as Transport Officer to the column had no particular duties to perform that morning, recalled the despatch of Mostyn’s men;
About noon a sergeant came to my tent and told me that firing was to be heard behind the hill where the company of the 1st Battalion 24th had been sent. I had my glasses over my shoulder, and thought I might as well take my revolver; but did not trouble to put on my sword, as I thought nothing of the matter and expected to be back in half an hour to complete my letter. I got on my horse and galloped up the hill passing a company of the 24th on its way to the front ...6
As he passed, Mostyn, who was presumably on foot,
requested me, being mounted, to direct Lieutenant Cavaye to take special care not to endanger the right of his company, and to inform that officer that he himself was moving up to the left. I also noticed a body of Lieutenant Colonel Durnford’s Mounted Natives retiring down the hill, but did not see the enemy. On arriving at the far side of the crest of the hill, I found the company in charge of Lieutenant Cavaye, a section being detached about 500 yards to the left, in charge of Lieutenant Dyson. The whole were in extended order engaging the enemy, who were moving in a similar formation towards our left, keeping at about 800 yards from our line...7
In this description we find the main evidence to support Chelmsford’s view that troops were sent out to the ‘extreme left’ of the British line. The question is, what became of them?
In some respects, the fighting on the ridge above the ‘spur’ remains the least understood aspect of the battle. At this stage – the very beginning of the Zulu approach – the fighting was still fluid, with both sides able to manoeuvre in a way which they could not once the Zulu net drew closer around the camp. To the right of Mostyn and Cavaye’s companies, and largely ignored by them, Raw’s and Roberts’ troops from Durnford’s command first retreated to the foot of the ridge, and then – supported by Vause’s troop and a company of NNC who joined them at the bottom – counter-attacked back up the slope. The extended position on the ridge was, however, in danger of being outflanked by the advance of the Zulu ‘chest’ along the length of the iNyoni escarpment further to the British right.
It is Essex, again, who provides the clearest evidence of what happened next. In many ways, his accounts remain problematic to conservative historians, since he is not only unequivocal in his view that Mostyn and Cavaye retired safely down the ‘spur’, but he goes on to describe in some detail how he then organised fresh supplies of ammunition for the fighting line, giving the lie to the myth that ammunition failure was an important factor in the British collapse. Of Mostyn and Cavaye’s predicament he says;
About five minutes after the arrival of Captain Mostyn’s company, I was informed by Lieutenant Melville, Adjutant 1st Battalion 24th Regiment, that a fresh body of the enemy was appearing in force in our rear, and he requested me to direct the left of the line formed, as above described, to fall slowly back, keeping up the fire. This I did; then proceeded towards the centre of the line. I found, however, that it had already retired. I therefore followed in the same direction, but being mounted had great difficulty in descending the hill, the ground being very rocky and precipitous. On arriving at the foot of the slope I found the two companies of 1st Battalion 24th Regiment drawn up about 400 yards distant in extended order, and Captain Younghusband’s company in similar formation in echelon on the left. 8
This seems such a positive assertion that there seems little room for doubt that Mostyn and Cavaye did indeed retire from the ridge and join the main firing line. Is it possible, though, that the section under 2nd Lieutenant Dyson, which Essex recalled a detached to the extreme left, was somehow cut off, and gave rise to the idea of the ‘missing company’? Not according to Essex, who – along with an unidentified source – was quoted in the eulogy to Dyson, which appeared in Mackinnon and Shadbolt’s The South Africa Campaign 1879. Quoting a ‘private letter written to his father’, it states;
The last person who saw your son and escaped, that I can find, was Captain Essex, 75th Regiment, acting transport officer. He tell me that just before the Zulu horn got round our flanks and the last overwhelming rush was made, Dyson was with one section of his company, which was in skirmishing order to the left-front of the camp. He gave orders to retire, and I believe, from another witness, that he and all his company rejoined the main body without loss. The five companies were then together in line ....9
It is, of course, unwise of any historian to rely entirely upon one source. Are there, then, any independent witnesses who corroborate Essex’s testimony? Nyanda, a senior man among the detachment of the Zikhali Horse that had first discovered the impi, described the fighting on the ridge in his official report;
One company of the redcoats and the remainder of our men then came out from the camp to support, and marched to the top of the hill on the left of the camp – we dismounted and mixed with them under command of Mr Shepstone – firing – our own footmen all came up the hill at this time (50 men) and supported us. The Zulus then closed on us notwithstanding our fire and we retreated to the bottom of the hill, mixed up with the Company of redcoats that had advanced with us.10
Of course, if Mostyn and Cavaye had not managed to retreat to the foot of the camp, the implications for the firing line were immense. Captain Younghusband’s company had apparently been deployed to anchor the British left, and Essex indicates that Mostyn and Cavaye had fallen in to Younghusband’s right, thus completing the line that stretched out to the guns. If this did not occur, it is difficult to see how the British could have maintained any screen to the north of the camp; the line at this point would have been wide open, and the Zulu would surely have been able to penetrate it. Indeed, if the two companies had been wiped out on the hill, then the Zulu would have accorded to the regiment who faced them – chiefly the uNokhenke – the honour of being first to overcome the enemy. They did not; Zulu sources acknowledge that it was the uMbonambi – who broke through the line on the British right, between Pope’s company of Durnford’s men – who were the first to ‘stab’ the enemy 11.
Moreover, further tentative evidence regarding the fate of these companies is afforded by the subsequent burial detail. It must be admitted that this evidence is incomplete; although some of Lord Chelmsford’s officers made attempt to seek out the bodies of friends and colleagues when Chelmsford returned to Isandlwana on the night of the 22nd, it was of course dark, and the column moved on before daylight. The first attempt to bury the dead did not occur until May, by which time most of the bodies were unrecognisable, and most of the 24th were not interred until June. Further burial details were necessary for several years to come, because the summer rains regularly washed bones out of the shallow graves.
Nevertheless, the evidence afforded by the position of the bodies does tend to confirm the impression that Mostyn and Cavaye’s men did indeed retire to the camp, and were overwhelmed below Isandlwana, and in the valley behind. It is, of course, impossible to trace where individual soldiers fell, but there are tantalising glimpses of the fate of the officers. According to the eulogy in Mackinnon and Shadbolt – based on eyewitness testimony – Cavaye’s remains were recognised on the return of the main body to the camp on the night of the 22nd’12. Clearly, given the limited time that Chelmsford spent at the camp, this would only have been feasible if Cavaye had fallen in the camp area, and his body was relatively conspicuous. It is true that there is no reference to the body of Cavaye’s subaltern, Dyson, ever having been found, but there is some evidence to the fate of E Company’s officers. According to the contemporary regimental history,
Many months afterward a diamond ring was picked up on the field of Isandlwana. By mean of an advertisement, the finder was enabled to identify the ring as having belonged to Captain Mostyn, and restored it to that officer’s family.13
Of course, it is not clear from this where on the battlefield the ring was found, but a ring is an intimate item – most people don’t remove them except under unusual circumstances – and it is reasonable to assume that Mostyn had been wearing it when killed. His remains had probably lain nearby. If the finder of the ring had stumbled across a clump of skeletons lost in the hills above the camp, he made nothing of it; it is far more likely that the ring was found in the camp area. The fate of Mostyn’s Lieutenant, Edgar Anstey, is well documented; it was found on the banks of the Manzimnyama stream, surrounded by a cluster of men of the 24th. The remains were identified by his brother, Captain Anstey RE, and brought back to England for interment 14.
The spread of the bodies in entirely consistent with Mostyn and Cavaye – and the men under their command – having retired on the camp, and been overwhelmed in the fighting below Isandlwana, and in the valley behind. It does not support the theory that these men were killed further out from the camp.
Is it possible, moreover, that successive burial details failed to locate the significant concentration of bodies that two or even one company represents? They might have been missed during the May burials, when the search was largely concentrated in the camp area, but the expeditions in June took place over several days, and were much more thorough. Moreover, the site was searched thoroughly again in September 1879, and yet again in March 1880, when the officer in charge, Lt. O’Connell of the 60th Rifles, specifically made inquiries of natives respecting the kraal where it was said two companies of the 24th Regiment had fallen, but they knew nothing about it. Mr Johnson, the missionary, residing near the field, informed me that he had also made inquiries about this kraal, but that the natives had never heard of it. He believed the story to have no foundation.15
It is also significant that neither the early travellers to the battlefield – who arrived shortly after the war had finished, when much debris was still on the ground – nor modern tourists have found remains indicative of such heavy fighting in the ridge area. A preliminary field search conducted as part of the 2000 archaeological survey discovered nothing to support the ‘lost companies’ theory, although clearly much exploratory work remains to be done.
How can one explain, then, Chelmsford’s remarks to that effect in his original despatch, and the apparent support offered by Mehlokazulu’s account? Both, it seems, were more than a little influenced by the ‘fog of war’.
Chelmsford’s initial despatch was written on 27 January. At that stage, no attempt had been made to collect and collate the evidence of survivors from the battle, and Chelmsford had very little idea what had happened at the camp. Indeed, the purpose of the Court of Inquiry – convened at Helpmekaar on the 29th – was not, as is sometimes supposed, to investigate conduct of the campaign, but simply to provide Chelmsford with a clearer picture of the events surrounding the loss of the camp. It was only on this occasion that the testimony of Essex and other survivors became known, dispelling the rumours that had prevailed since the battle itself.
And Mehlokazulu? Mehlokazulu’s regiment, the iNgobamakhosi, had been on the extreme left of the Zulu line, furthest away from events on the British left. Indeed, Mehlokazulu had been preoccupied with fighting against the stand made by the Colonial Volunteers and by Durnford, and he admitted that in its last stages the fight had been desperate and confusing. ‘Things were then getting very mixed up’, he admitted, ‘what with the smoke, dust, and intermingling of mounted men, footmen, Zulus and natives, it was difficult to tell’ what was going on.16 Clearly, any impression of events that took place beyond Mehlokazulu’s immediate vicinity was influenced by hearsay after the event. And here, perhaps, it is possible that he was responding to descriptions of the fragmentation of the British line that took place as it collapsed. Several witnesses on both sides recalled that different companies of the 24th retired in different directions, and that the Zulus rapidly drove wedges between them. Indeed, the account of ‘Untabeni and Uhlolwani’, two members of the British intelligence department who fought at Isandlwana, is strongly reminiscent of Mehlokazulu’s version, and probably reflects the impression of many who were there;
The company of the 24th, which was returning from the neck, got to within 200 yards of the NNC tents on the left, where they were surrounded and cut off to a man.17


That the 24th companies on the left of the line became separated during the retreat through the camp is supported by uGuku, a warrior of the uKhandempemvu regiment, who, referring to the same incident, recalled,
One party of soldiers came out from among the tents and formed up a little above the ammunition waggons. They held their ground there until their ammunition failed them, when they were nearly all assegaied. Those who were not killed at this place formed again in a solid square in the neck of Sandhlwana ...18
And it is in this terrible picture of the firing line breaking up, of companies becoming separated in the desperate retreat through the camp, of being swallowed up in the chaos, confusion, noise, smoke and horror of the camp’s last moments, that we find the true origin of the story of the ‘missing companies’.
It is, in its way, romantic to imagine that the bones of hundreds of redcoats still lie out in the empty veldt, crumbling under the onslaught of the elements, undiscovered more than 120 years on. They are not; they lie, together with those of their comrades, in the hard soil along the foot of mount Isandlwana and in the Manzimnyama valley beyond, where they fell.


1 Despatch of 27 January, published in British Parliamentary Papers C 2252.
2 Ibid.
3 Mehlokazulu, interviewed on 27 September, 1879, reproduced in The Natal Mercury’s digest of reports on the war, published 1879.
4 It is notoriously difficult to ascertain correct timings in the study of any battle, and this is particularly true of Isandlwana, where the trauma of subsequent events makes the estimates given by survivors unreliable. Contemporary references to the time at which incidents took place are confused and often contradictory. All timings given here are therefore approximate.
5 The most detailed evidence of these movements comes from Captain Essex’s evidence to the Court of Inquiry, held at Helpmekaar of 27 January. Captain Alan Gardner’s evidence also confirms the general outline of these movements. BPP C 2252.
6 Essex, letter dated ‘Rorke’s Drift, January 26th 1879’, published in The Times, 12 April 1879.
7 Essex, evidence at Court of Inquiry.
8 Essex, ibid.
9 J. P. Mackinnon and S. H. Shadbolt, The South Africa Campaign of 1879, 1880.
10 Statement of Nyanda, 25 January 1879. WO 32.
11 Testimony of Mpatshana kaSodondo in C. De B. Webb and J. B. Wright (Ed), The James Stuart Archive. Vol. 3, 1982.
12 Mackinnon and Shadbolt.
13 Records of the 24th Regiment, by Cols. Paton, Glennie and Penn Symons, 1982.
14 Mackinnon and Shadbolt; Anstey family sources.
15 Lt. M. O’Connell, report dated Pietermaritzburg April 16 1980. BPP C-2676.
16 Mehlokazulu’s account, Natal Mercury.
17 Statement of Untabeni and Uhlolwani, WO 32.
18 Account of uGuku in History of the Zulu War and its Origin by Frances Colenso and Edward Durnford, 1880."
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PostSubject: the right horn at isandlwana   Tue Nov 10, 2015 3:58 am

Hi Frank
I think there isn't much doubt that Mostyn and Cavaye are sent to replace Barry , as he ( Barry ) , was to accompany Raw or Roberts .
cheers mate 90th
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Tue Nov 10, 2015 7:18 am

Morning Gary.
No argument from me on that, but then don't you think its logical that they took over the same post? Not a much different one.
John
To try and track all the movements of the Zulus on the plateau that morning and ascribe tasks is impossible. Snook has tried and to a degree so have L and Q. Its a massive amount of guesswork and conjecture Im afraid. So the answer to your question is simply, I don't know.
To muddy the waters though ive often thought that those sightings were of the men coming from Dartnell and looking around for the rest of the impi and simply went the wrong way. It would to a degree answer your question and explain the various sightings of men moving all over the plateau.

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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:48 pm

Frank Allewell wrote:
Morning Gary.
No argument from me on that, but then don't you think its logical that they took over the same post? Not a much different one.
John
To try and track all the movements of the Zulus on the plateau that morning and ascribe tasks is impossible. Snook has tried and to a degree so have L and Q. Its a massive amount of guesswork and conjecture Im afraid. So the answer to your question is simply, I don't know.
To muddy the waters though ive often thought that those sightings were of the men coming from Dartnell and looking around for the rest of the impi and simply went the wrong way. It would to a degree answer your question and explain the various sightings of men moving all over the plateau.

Cheers

Frank bit lost with the highlighted bit?
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Wed Nov 11, 2015 7:08 am

Morning John
See you've got yourself sent to the naughty corner........... silly sod.
However in answer to the question: There were so many sightings of parties of warriors up on the plateau it tends, in my humble opinion, to point not to much towards organised but rather random movements. If we can accept they were random then the question would be why? And honestly there is no logical reasoning as non of those movements seemed to be threatening so my theory devolves around the simplest solution: a few large bunches of men trying to locate their main army.
You asked the question earlier about the earlier sighting made by Chard and Pope, a large group heading across the ridge towards the rear of iSandlwana? I really do believe that this group were the Matyana contingent on route from watching Dartnell and heading towards the main impi. There was a post, from Frederic I think, that highlighted a quote from one of the Indunas saying that Matyana wasn't well liked and he was sent of in the wrong direction. Possibly then it was his men desperately looking for the main impi. Just a thought.

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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Wed Nov 11, 2015 8:16 am

Frank
That can't be so. The reference to Matyana's group related to its being sent off a few days earlier to the south in the Hlazakazi range of hills.
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Wed Nov 11, 2015 8:41 am

Morning Julian
South of the Hlazakazi is a very limited position without crossing the Mzinyathi. It still puts them into the area. Again its highly possible that the NNC patrol South of Hlazakathi on the 21st could have forced them back up the gorge and across the Mangeni valley. Hence all the activity discovered by the mounted forces on that particular day. Wasn't Matyana himself pursued across the valley on the 21st?
Just a thought that its possible that Matyana was intent on joining the main impi and would explain, to a degree the meanderings from the 21st to the 22nd. For want of a better description its a simpler theory than the convoluted decoy theory.

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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Wed Nov 11, 2015 8:53 am

Bonjour,

This is the statement:
“Another account, taken by the interpreter for one of the column commanding officers (a version of which has appeared in the columns of “The Army and Navy Gazette” of 11th October 1879, and is decribed as a “full and accurate account”), is selected as being corroborated in all main points by survivors of the British force, and by the battlefield itself. It is the story of Uguku, a Zulu belonging to the Kandampenvu (or Umcityu) Regiment, who says : “We arrived at Inngqutu eight Regiments strong (20.000 to 25.000 men) and slept in the valley of a small stream which runs into the Nondweni river to the eastward of Sabdhlwaana. (….) The army was under the joint command of Mavumengwana, Tsingwayo, and Sihayo. It was intented that Matyaba ka Mondisa was ti be in Chief command, but he having been a Natal kafir, the other three were jealous of him, and did not like him to put over them; they therefore devided a plan of getting him out of the way on the day of the battle. They accomplished this plan by getting him to go forward with Undwandre to the Upindo to recennoitre, and promised to follow. As soon as he had gone they took another road, viz. north of Babanango, while Mtshana and Undwandwe went south of it, being accompanied by six mavigo (companies). It was our intention to have rested for a day in the valley where we arrived the night before the battle, but having on the morning of the battle heard firing of the English advance guard who had engaged Matshana’s men, and it being reported that the Ngobamakosi were engaged, we went up from the valey to the top of Ingquutu, which was between us and the camp; we then found that the Ngobamakosi were not engaged, but were quietly encamped lower down the valley. We saw a body of horse coming up the hill towards us from the Sandhlwana side. We opended fire on them, and then the whole of our army rose and came up the hill. The enemy returned our fire, but retired down the hill, leaving one dead man (a black) and a horse on the field (…)".

Source: “History of the Zulu war and its origin” p.410-411
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Wed Nov 11, 2015 9:15 am

Another report, I am not sure of the validity of the source (i don't have a whole copy of Milne's report):
"The force met on the 21st was simply Matuyana's tribe going to join the Impi from the "Lundini bush".(Milne's report)
Quoted in rorke's drift forum: "Col. A.W. DURNFORD R.A., A great man?, a hero / Michael Boyle / 19 july 2008)?

About the meeting between Matyana and the British forces, see also the testimony of Magema Fuze in "Cetewayo's Dutchman" from Cornelius Vijn.
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Wed Nov 11, 2015 9:33 am

Thank you Frederic.
Is it therefore feasible that it was this force that was drifting around the plateau early morning of the 22nd and being studiously ignored by Pulleine?
From confronting Datrnell then over the back of Silutshane and across the plain towards the northern end of Quabe and a slight left instead of right brings them onto the plateau close to iThusi rather than the Eastern access to the Ngwebini valley. The mounted piquet gets the fright of there lives and dash of into camp to report the have been chased of their post, the impi moves onto the platea and is observed by Brickhill, Pope Chard etc then moves due West along the line of the ridge passing in front of the knoll and then descending onto the Tahelane bowl before turning North around the hill and heading of passed Barry and Vereker, splits up into three traveling columns ( the normal traveling method of the Zulu) and moves to the North East over the iThusi ridge and links up with the main army. As always with a traveling Zulu impi the rear guard pitches up later with the flank guards and causes more excitment in the camp. Then to top it of the final detachment that had been avoiding Russell and the 2/24th arrives, that's the final 400 that are witnessed turning down the Quabe Valley and are shortly afterwards pursued by Durnford.

Just some wild mental meanderings.
PS. Sorry Ron and Pete, tends to destroy your TMFHT and the whole decoy theory.
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Wed Nov 11, 2015 9:45 am

Frank
So you don't feel that LC's men on the morning of the 22nd were wild-goose chasing Matyana's Zulus?
In the previous post you have Matyana's men finally linking up with the main army. But this did not happen.
All of this conflicts with what Uguku and Milne's accounts tell us which is far less convoluted than the tale of a wandering-tribe-of-Israel! Evidence, Frank, evidence!
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Wed Nov 11, 2015 9:51 am

Hi Julian
As I said, just some rambling thoughts is all. Put it down to the most boring bloody Wednesday waiting for the sun to come out.

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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Wed Nov 11, 2015 9:54 am

In my humble opinion, Milne's reports and Uguku's account are not contradictory but complementary.
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Frédéric
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PostSubject: Re: The right horn at iSandlwana   Wed Nov 11, 2015 10:40 am

Mr Whybra,
I sent you a pm in French ... too difficult for me to express my arguments in English (largely inspired by the thesis of IK in "Zulu Rising")
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Frédéric
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