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Chaplain George Smith, Rorke's Drift--signed.
(Isandula Collection)
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 Caleb Wood

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90th

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PostSubject: Caleb Wood    Fri Nov 20, 2015 11:55 pm

This morning I was reading an account of RD by Caleb Wood , which seems to have been a previously unknown account ! , this was posted on Ian Knights F/B page , C.W states that when the first chap arrived at RD , following the Isandlwana Massacre , he rode straight through the camp ! , later two others appeared , one of which asked to speak to the officer in command , he spoke to Bromhead ( we know Chard was down at the river talking to Adendorff ) these two claimed they were able to escape due to the fact they were bathing in the river . Seems it was printed in the Nottingham Daily Express , no date . C.W states he heard the conversation , he and several others had gathered around to hear the news .
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PostSubject: Re: Caleb Wood    Sat Nov 21, 2015 6:29 pm

Hi 90th,

I found this account a while ago but kept it under wraps as it is featuring in my book that is to be released next year. I supplied a copy of the account to Kris Wheatley but asked her to keep it quiet until after the release of my book. I didn't tell anyone else about it as I touted it to my publisher as a previously unknown account, but it looks like the cat is now out of the bag!

The date of the article is 23rd July, 1914. [Nottingham Daily Express]
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PostSubject: Caleb Wood    Sun Nov 22, 2015 6:00 am

Hi nt
Sorry about the post , I possibly asked you about your book on Ian's F/B page ? .
cheers 90th scratch scratch
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PostSubject: Re: Caleb Wood    Sun Nov 22, 2015 10:04 am

Hi 90th,

Yes, quite possibly. Well I remember speaking with a chap from Australia anyway. Gary I think?

I'm assuming that's you?

Neil
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PostSubject: Caleb Wood    Sun Nov 22, 2015 10:39 am

Yes Neil That's me Joker
90th
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PostSubject: Re: Caleb Wood    Sun Nov 22, 2015 10:50 am


Oh, good stuff!

Cheers Gary Salute

Neil
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Caleb Wood    Wed Nov 25, 2015 7:43 am

This sounds like Fletcher and would account for his description BUT it doesn't quite tally with the other accounts of his arrival. Given the date of the account [1914] Wood's memory can only have been faulty or confused over the years - still he's remembered one interesting piece of info. I suppose the 'river' must've been the Manzimnyama.
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PostSubject: Re: Caleb Wood    Wed Nov 25, 2015 3:32 pm

Isn't this business of the two of them bathing in the river a little odd? If we are talking about the Manzimnyama (and I cannot think what other river it could have been), it means that the two must have left the camp, on their horses, to bathe in the midst of the various alerts during the morning. Seems a tad relaxed? And then, at some point realising the camp was under proper attack hot legged it to RD.

Steve
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Caleb Wood    Wed Nov 25, 2015 3:52 pm

Rusteze,
The scenario as I see it - pure conjecture of course - would be as follows.
Caleb Wood's 1914 account is a little confused with the passage of time.
First Fletcher arrived with the news of the camp, hatless and bootless and wearing not very much.
Then Adendorff and Sibthorpe (?) arrive. Then Evans and Whelan arrived.
There was a man who simply rode on without stopping. Several people mentioned him. But he wasn't the first to arrive. This man was probably Granger.
Wood has confused these events.
Fletcher may well have been bathing - a bit strange in the midst of everything on the 22nd but possible. If the first fugitives hurtled over the saddle to the Manzimnyama then they may have warned him and he hotfooted it to RD without bothering to 'dress'.
Wood has remembered the salient points but confused the order of events.
All in all, I see Wood's account as unlikely but possible...and after all, why would he make up something like that. It does help explain Fletcher's appearance.
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PostSubject: Re: Caleb Wood    Wed Nov 25, 2015 4:40 pm

Even saying it was Fletcher (and it does go to explain his odd attire) what is a Carbineer trooper doing by himself some way from the camp having a bath when he knows the Zulus are all around? Like you, I see no reason why Wood would lie, so I wonder whether there were more Carbineers out doing their ablutions than just Fletcher? Would he really have gone alone?Conjecture, as you say.

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Caleb Wood    Wed Nov 25, 2015 5:11 pm

Rusteze
What you say is true. But we are lucky and are writing with hindsight. If Fletcher was doing just that, doesn't it say a lot for the mindset of all those in camp that complacency did not just exist in the minds of LC & co.? Even if you think that's going too far, wouldn't it still just be saying a lot about where those in camp thought the danger lay? I.e. not in the rear of the mountain.
In all my thoughts about Isandhlwana I try never to forget where poor old Pulleine, Durnford etc thought the main impi really was (and that that thought must have percolated down to the lowliest private). What a shock it must have been to them!
(P.S. I proved that this man was Fletcher in footnote 17 of 'A Brave Fugitive' and also the identities of the other RD arrivals in fn. 19.)
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PostSubject: Re: Caleb Wood    Wed Nov 25, 2015 6:02 pm

I agree it demonstrates complacency by all concerned and to an alarming degree. I think we too easily pass over this attitude towards the enemy held by all ranks.  As a result I believe those out with Chelmsford were in a physical state of shock when they understood what had happened. For my money, it goes a long way to explain why LC quickly moves away from the battlefield on 23rd and makes no effort to return for a shamefully long time.

"A Brave Fugitive" is very good and I eagerly await the next set of studies.

steve
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PostSubject: Re: Caleb Wood    Wed Nov 25, 2015 7:00 pm

When we think of the Manzimyama we tend to think of the area the fugitives crossed, a long way from the camp. But in actual fact the closest point was where the road crossed and that's very close just at the bottom of the hill. So yes highly possible they could use it to bath in. Very Plausible. Plus of course it was on the escape road back to RD.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Caleb Wood    Thu Nov 26, 2015 8:46 am

...and might explain why Fletcher was first to reach RD. I'm wondering whether he was a solitary picquet (they were placed in ones and twos) on the saddle/at the rear of the mountain or one of perhaps 2 picquets placed on Stony Koppie who decided to go and have a wash. If he/they remained at their posts till the last minute they would have had a good view of events.
Fletcher left no account but family oral history says he escaped via Fugitives' Drift and received an assegai wound in the shoulder. The tip broke off and was kept by him as a souvenir.
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PostSubject: Re: Caleb Wood    Thu Nov 26, 2015 9:10 am

Two things come to mind. Firstly theres the possibility (remote) that he was bathing in the river, alongside the road to RD and saw the right horn coming down the Manzimyama valley ( I have a photo of that angle that I must dig out) and then fled along the river and up over Mpethu. Seems unlikely as the first destination, I would assume, would have been back to the camp.
Secondly, if the impi did come down the valley ( the traditional route of the right horn) they could have cut him of from the camp and possibly the road forcing him to flee over the hill towards the drift.
Its still a feasible concept though.
I will see if I can put together a montage to illustrate it.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Caleb Wood    Thu Nov 26, 2015 9:38 am

Should have added, in picture 3 there is a ridge that stretches in the middle distance from off camera left right across the photo. That is the hill that the fugitives rode diagonally down towards the Manzimyama. This shot shows how steep that incline really is.

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PostSubject: Re: Caleb Wood    Sun Mar 06, 2016 4:31 pm

rusteze wrote:
I agree it demonstrates complacency by all concerned and to an alarming degree. I think we too easily pass over this attitude towards the enemy held by all ranks.  As a result I believe those out with Chelmsford were in a physical state of shock when they understood what had happened. For my money, it goes a long way to explain why LC quickly moves away from the battlefield on 23rd and makes no effort to return for a shamefully long time.

"A Brave Fugitive" is very good and I eagerly await the next set of studies.

steve

Bonjour,
At Isandhlwana, the 22 January 1879:
"The Zulus attacked our camp while our men were washing their clothing, as any good soldier dies whenever he has the chance"

Source: "The Oldham Weekly Chronicle", April 26th, 1879 quoted in "The Journal of the AZWRS (I.E: John Young),""Sweeney's story" (I.E:1939 Drummer William Sweeney, 2-24th Regiment) vol. n°1, issue n°2, pp.19-21

Cheers

Frédéric

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