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 The Battle of Isandlwana

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SirDCC

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Fri Apr 16, 2010 11:06 pm

I only have a handful of books on the AZW so it isn't easy to look things like this up but as joe said in the BBC Time watch doc' it does say :

"An hour later, as the hard-pressed British defenders fought for their lives, a portion of Chelmsford's force at Mangeni Falls received word that the camp was in danger of being overrun. On his own initiative a Colonel Harness gave orders for his small force of artillery and infantry to return to camp. But it had only progressed half a mile when a staff officer rode up with express orders from Chelmsford to resume its original march because the message was a false alarm. The last chance to save the camp had been thrown away."

I would imagine Saul David would base this statement on fact? scratch

Edit : After a search around the net I've found this from ' History of the Zulu War and It Origin - Frances Ellen Colenso '

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No mention of a false alarm but there again there is no reason given why he should not answer the call of help from Isandlwana ...
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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Fri Apr 16, 2010 11:46 pm

Hi SirDCC. Yes I do believe it was based on fact. Harness was part of the panel on the court of inquiry, therefore could not give evidence (One way of keeping him quite). As directed by Chelmsford.

Adjutant- General, Camp, Helpmakaar, Natal, January 29, 1879.
HERE WITH proceedings of Court of Enquiry assembled by order of His Excellency the Lieutenant-General Commanding. The Court has examined and recorded the statements of the chief witnesses.
The copy of proceedings forwarded was made by a confidential clerk of the Royal Engineers.
The Court has refrained from giving an opinion, as instructions on this point were not given to it.
(Signed) F. C. HASSARD, C.B., Colonel Royal Engineers, President.

Proceedings of a Court of Enquiry, assembled at Helpmakaar, Natal, on the 27th January, 1879, by order of His Excellency the Lieutenant-General Commanding the troops in South, Africa, dated 24th January, 1879.
President:
Colonel F. C. Hassard, C.B., Royal Engineers.
Members
Lieutenant-Colonel Law, Royal Artillery.
Lieutenant-Colonel Harness, Royal Artillery
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SirDCC

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Sat Apr 17, 2010 12:36 am

Yes Admin certainly food for thought scratch

I've also found this from Military History Journal - Vol 4 No 4 - The Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 - Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift :

"Soon after this a message was received from Comdt Browne which read, "For God's sake come with all your men; the camp is surrounded and will be taken unless helped". Maj Gosset was present when this was received and when Harness decided to move off to assist, he carried the message to Chelmsford who had already received a report that the Zulus were attacking Isandlwana. He had galloped up the slopes of Mdutshana, a nearby koppie from which Isandlwana is clearly visible, seeing nothing amiss he apparently discounted both reports and sent orders for Harness to return"

This is as 90th said when Milne looked over the camp through his telescope.
I still would think that a reason for his return would have been given though I'm yet to find out if it was 'false alarm'

Also how could a message like "For God's sake come with all your men; the camp is surrounded and will be taken unless helped" be ignored?
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90th

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PostSubject: isandlwana   Sat Apr 17, 2010 2:20 am

hi all.
You will find Hamiton - Browne said he sent off 3- 4 messages imploring the Good Lord to head back to the camp , The good
lord in his infinite wisdom decided to ignore these calls for help , most likely thinking they were Alarmist Messages, He then decided to order Harness"s return to his camp . And dont forget his wonderful line ' I left a 1000 men to defend this camp ". Basically saying
Its not my fault !.
cheers 90th.
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joe

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Sat Apr 17, 2010 7:20 am

hi

'A good comander never devides his force in and enemys country, without knowing its disposition.'

:lol!:

thanks joe
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Chard1879

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Sat Apr 17, 2010 5:58 pm

Do you think if Harness had arrived at Isandlwana, it would have made a difference to the out come. I feel it would have been a bit to late.
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joe

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Sat Apr 17, 2010 8:07 pm

hi Chard1879,
I dont think they would have made it to the camp in time, they would have being strung out along the trail, which would give them certain defeat.

thanks joe
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90th

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PostSubject: isandlwana   Sun Apr 18, 2010 2:16 am

hi all.
By the time Harness was attempting to make his way to Isandlwana it would have been far to late to save the camp.
The good lord was in a predicament allround as his forces at Mangeni were spread all over the place trying to find
the army that was at that point carving up his own camp at Isandlwana !.
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Mon Apr 19, 2010 9:51 pm

SOUTH AFRICA—THE ZULU WAR— THE DEFEAT AT ISANDLANA—THE COURT OF INQUIRY.—QUESTION.HL Deb 18 July 1879 vol 248 c730 730
LORD TRURO asked, Why Colonel Harness, who could give very full information with regard to the Isandlana disaster, was put upon the Court of Inquiry—a course which deprived the Court of the assistance of a most important witness?

VISCOUNT BURY , in reply, said, the suggestion that Colonel Harness was put upon the Court of Inquiry to deprive it of a material witness was a presumption which the noble Lord was not justified in putting forward.

LORD TRURO explained, that what he said was that that was the effect of the appointment. He did not say it was done for that purpose.

VISCOUNT BURY The noble Lord who commands in South Africa is a a Member of your Lordships' House, and he is not here to defend himself. The War Office is not in possession of the information which would enable you to come to a conclusion. In these circumstances I think we are bound to suspend our judgment.

HL Deb 18 July 1879 vol 248 c730 730
LORD TRURO asked, Why Colonel Harness, who could give very full information with regard to the Isandlana disaster, was put upon the Court of Inquiry—a course which deprived the Court of the assistance of a most important witness?

VISCOUNT BURY , in reply, said, the suggestion that Colonel Harness was put upon the Court of Inquiry to deprive it of a material witness was a presumption which the noble Lord was not justified in putting forward.

LORD TRURO explained, that what he said was that that was the effect of the appointment. He did not say it was done for that purpose.

VISCOUNT BURY The noble Lord who commands in South Africa is a a Member of your Lordships' House, and he is not here to defend himself. The War Office is not in possession of the information which would enable you to come to a conclusion. In these circumstances I think we are bound to suspend our judgment.
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Mon Apr 19, 2010 10:05 pm

See what I mean about laying the problem at Chelmsford door. 131 years on.
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90th

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PostSubject: isandlwana   Tue Apr 20, 2010 3:04 am

hi ctsg.
I think if the Good Lord " Opened the door " and copped it on the chin instead of bolting it shut , we wouldnt be having
this discussion , so we do owe him 131 yrs on , a little gratitude . Wink .
cheers 90th.
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Mr Greaves

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:45 pm

Just a few questions relating to after the Battle.

1) Chelmsford. claims he wanted to re-take the camp.
2) Chelmsford. states he arrived at night to spare his men from the awful sights.
3) Chelmsford. Receives reports that Rorkes Drift is under attack.


1) Chelmsford must have received reports that the Zulu’s had left Isandlwana. Would he really have tried to re-take the camp and how would he have accomplished this.

2) If he knew the camp had been taken, he must have had some idea, what awaited them, so why did he not just sit it out where he was and by pass Isandlwana all together?

3) When he realised the camp had been taken and all was lost it was still daylight, so why did he not attempt to get to Rorkes Drift. Surly he could got have got neared enough for the artillery to swing into action. That may have been enough to put the Zulu’s off.

And I don’t understand why?

Chelmsford himself states that it was almost impossible to fortify Isandlwana, due to the rocky ground. He also states that it would have taken to long to form a larger. Yet even after the Battle he was prepare to put himself and his men in the same position at the same location, as those he had left earlier. Why?

Mr G.
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90th

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PostSubject: Isandlwana   Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:33 am

hi MrGreaves.
Without digging about to much I will try and answer your questions .

1/ Chelmsford informed his men of the demise of the camp when they got within a couple of miles or so , he told them they
needed to re -take the camp. The artillery fired half a dozen shells or so into the camp in the hope of whatever zulus were
still there would flee . He then ordered Wilson - Black and the 2 / 24 th to take the stony kopje to the left of the camp which
he did without opposition , This is now called Black 's kopje.

2/ The whole thing is I dont think he had any idea what awaited them if he did he may not have split his force in the first place !
He couldnt very well sit it out as his men hadnt had any provisions for nearly 24 hrs and the colonial and native forces were looking
at nearly 36 hrs !!. He also couldnt afford to let the zulus keep the camp. And the only way his column could get to R.D was through
Isandlwana as there wasnt another way of getting there .

3/ It was indeed still daylight when they began to move back to the camp , but it was 10 -12 miles away and even as they virtually
double- timed to get back it was dark before they arrived . The troops by this time were well and truly done in , and were certainly
in need of rest . They didnt know the numbers or the whereabouts of the zulu army so it would have been folly to continue to R.D.
Also the sky was illuminated from the hospital burning at R.D , and if a thousand couldnt hold the camp , what chance 130 !.
I dont think he had any other choice in the matter , he was blessed that the zulus had basically withdrawn as he more than likely
would have suffered the same fate. Hope this helps.
cheers 90th.
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:39 am

90th. Good reply. But it must have been apparent that there were no Zulus at Isandlwana maybe the odd few, but nothing of consequence, and firing a few shells over the top would not have achieved anything. And to be honest if the Zulus had still been there in force, I would like to think they would have gone straight into attack mode. Like you said Chelmsford men were well done in, it would have been over in a few hours.

Do you know how many men Wilson - Black had under him to re-take the and the stony kopje I presume he would have only had rifleman.


I do believe Chelmsford would have been more than aware of what too expect, as he was well aware of the Zulu’s traditions. (Disembowelling)

But at the end of the day would Chelmsford have, had enough ammunition to enter into battle. Most of the ammo was left at Isandlwana.

Maybe Chelmsford was cleaver enough to play de-lay tactics. Dragging his heels in order not to get into a confrontation. (Which is good soldering if you don’t have the means at your disposal.


Dave
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:47 pm

That's a very good point Dave.

Quote :
But at the end of the day would Chelmsford have, had enough ammunition to enter into battle. Most of the ammo was left at Isandlwana
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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:57 pm

Dave
if you consider that Chelmsfords reason for leaving the camp was to chase down the main impi and force a confrontation, one would assume that he had enough ammunition to do just that.
I dont fault him however for avoiding battle, his force had been wondering around the Mangeni area and had force marched back to Isandlawana. The column would have been in no fit state to fight a serious and protracted battle.
I believe the reason given for firing the artiller was to clear out the last few stragglers from the camp area. Looters and the odd drunk. Blacks foray was with fixed bayonets and was to do the same thing.
Good command decisions rather than delay or avoidance.
Dont forget that we look on some 131 years later with the benefit of hindsite ( the most exacting science) the decisions taken then were prompted by the intelligence available. And not a lot of that.

Regards
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90th

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PostSubject: Isandlwana   Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:10 pm

hi Dave .
According to Zulu Victory by Lock and Quantrill Wilsone - Black and 4 comp of the 2 / 24th stumbled through the darkness with
fixed Bayonets to take the kopje which now bears his name. As cfords command was marching to R.D they come across 3,000
odd zulus going the opposite way and were ordered to hold fire unless attacked , I have read I think from I. Knight that they only
had 70 rounds per man , so therefore werent keen on starting something they more than likely couldnt finish. They didnt take
any ammo boxes that were at the camp even though there were many scattered on the ground and amongst the wagons .
No doubt C'ford didnt want a confrontation , he just wanted to get back to the drift . Delaying tactics were good tactics at that
point .
cheers 90th.
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old historian2

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Thu Apr 22, 2010 12:23 pm

Well it seems to me that the Good Lord Chelmsford as some may say! Had no intentions of getting involved in a confrontation, be it Isandlwana or Rorke’s Drift. He did what he done for reputation purposes. (I.e.) I made my way to the camp as quickly as possible. Now there is a book somewhere, which contains a letter from a Soldier to his Parents, the soldier was at the time with Chelmsford advancing back to Isandlwana. He writes along the line of

“ We were made to stand and wait for sometime before given the order to move. And this was done while our comrades were fighting for their lives”
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Thu Apr 22, 2010 12:54 pm

The Battle of Isandlwana delays the war by months. The good Lord Chelmsford.
Made all the right decisions, which were no doubt’s base on preserving what forces, he had left at his disposal.

With reference to returning to Isandlwana “Only fools rush in” Chelmsford was no fool. He re-grouped, retired and awaited reinforcements. Which Consequently resulted in him beating the Zulu’s.
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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Thu Apr 22, 2010 2:44 pm

With refrence to the court of inquiry.

Is it not fair to say.

The Good Lord Chelmsford was not present at Isandlwana at the moment of the disaster. He could not from his own personal observation send to England an entirely satisfactory report to the authorities.There was but one option open to him—to order the assembly of such a Court of Inquiry to inquire merely into matters of fact and not into matters of opinion.
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Sat Apr 24, 2010 1:09 am

The Zulu army took so much care to move to the valley without being seen, why on earth did they allow the young Zulu herdsman to bring in the cattle when they knew the British were out on patrols and in day light. Did they what the British to attack first.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Sat Apr 24, 2010 8:02 am

CTSG
Chelmsford constituted the Court of Enquiry to present the view point he wanted presented. He excluded key testimoney by virtue of the courts mandate.
Smacks of Watergate etc.
I remain positive that Chelmsford in his next life was Richard Nixon.

Regards
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90th

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PostSubject: Isandlwana   Sat Apr 24, 2010 10:14 am

hi sringbok9.
Spot on, that is the reason he appointed Harness in the position that he did , because he was then gagged
and couldnt enter his say on what transpired .
cheers 90th.

Watergate = Waterfall ( Mangeni ) :lol!: .
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Sat Apr 24, 2010 2:27 pm

Quote :
"Inquiry to inquire merely into matters of fact and not into matters of opinion."

That includes both of your opinions. Idea
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Sat Apr 24, 2010 3:28 pm

CTSG

"Opinions are not necessarily truths any more than botanical propositions are trees." - Dr Thomas

Regards
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PostSubject: Firing line at iSandlwana   Tue May 25, 2010 9:45 pm

Hello,
Just want to go back to a point "joe" made in January about the firing line of the British at iSandlwana. I took this photograph this year with the Holts Battlefield Tours and i think it really helps understand the distance between each soldier and how thin the red line would have been across such a huge perimeter, manned by just 6 under-strength companies.Hope you all enjoy it. Any questions just ask.
JCAWG
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90th

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PostSubject: battle of Isandlwana   Wed May 26, 2010 2:40 am

hi JCAWG.
Thanks for posting the photo , it does put the front line into perspective when you see it actually as it was ,
all though a few hundred missing Idea . You get the idea of the space between the ranks .
cheers 90th.
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joe

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Wed May 26, 2010 6:52 am

Thanks for posting that photo JCAWG, as 90th says it does put it all into perspective-and how easy it would be for the zulus to run up to and overrun.

thanks joe
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Wed May 26, 2010 10:52 am

If Pulliene had listened to Durnford, " pull your lines in", instead of Chelmsford, standing orders, He wouldnt have been defending a rather large part of Zululand and the 24th would have stood a fighting chance.

Regards
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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:41 pm

Let me quote from Mike Snook

The distance between soldiers would have been equivalent to the width of your average lounge carpet, imagin an armed seasoned soldier standing either side of your carpet with a loaded MH and you start to rush at them from 400 metres away................ my cash would be on the MH.
Makes you re think doesnt it?

Regards
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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:59 pm

Unless of course if there was not enough ammunition for the MHs ...........
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Thu Jul 29, 2010 9:43 pm

And of course no where to run. Idea And if you did its all up hill. Are these the lads that were low on ammo.

Its a pity we can't get a photo showing just how far the Rocket Battery were from the hill of Isandlwana. Going by the film Zulu Dawn they were a great distance away. Hung out to dry as someone said.
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90th

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PostSubject: rocket battery   Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:33 am

hi 24th.
Hung out to dry , I'm afraid it was a case of very much so ! , in regard to the Rocket Battery Suspect .
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:59 pm

Hi 24th

You asked about the rocket battery and their distance from the camp.

I don't know if this will help but I have posted a series of 4 photographs at http://gallery.me.com/umbiki#100243&view=grid&sel=0. Not perfect I know but with a bit of imagination, and by visually "stitching" the photographs together (try the "carousal" view option), you will, hopefully, get a semblance of a panoramic view across the battlefield and thereby some sense of perspective.

To explain, the photos were taken above the battlefield from the iNyoni ridge, looking South - In the photo I have labelled "Far Left" you will see the conical hill. The rocket battery met its unfortunate end just a bit further to the left (i.e. East) of this - just around the corner in this photo, as it were. From here the photographs take you right (i.e. West) across the plain to iSandlwana Hill. Just to complete the picture, I have added the photograph "Far Right" which shows the Shiyane (Oskarsberg) - the dark hill in the centre of the photo - above Rorkes Drift.

As I say, not perfect but the best I can do to offer some sort of perspective. I should know this but without looking it up, the distance from iSandlwana Hill to the Conical Hill is probably just over 2km, as the crow flies, but I'm sure other Forum members will know the exact distance.

Hope this is helpful.

U
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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:49 pm

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Fri Aug 20, 2010 11:07 pm

"Lord Chelmsford and his invasion force set up camp at Isandlwana, a place that is about to become famous in the history of both Great Britain and South Africa. The camp is considered a temporary place, so fixed defences are not prepared, contrary to prevailing military doctrine. Around 850 tents are erected, along with 250 wagons and other logistics vehicles, covering an area of half a mile long by 300 yards wide. The British are confident, believing that the Zulu’s are unlikely to actually fight, so some commanders lament the fact that they are being denied a chance for glorious battle. A toast is proposed in the Officers Mess of the 24th Regiment of Foot, that they would not repeat the saga when in a skirmish with the Sikhs in India in 1848, the Queens Colour was lost. During the ensuing meal, a scout enters the camp and reports that King Cetshwayo had ordered a force of 30,000 warriors to defend the Zulu Kingdom.

21/1/79
Lord Chelmsford despatches a reconnaissance force of 150 colonial volunteers and around 1,000 members of the NNC, under the overall command of Major John Dartnell. They find small bands of Zulu warriors who skirmish, but do not stand and fight. Later the same day, Dartnell encounters a larger force that tries the anticipated tactic of luring the British into a trap by engaging and then rapidly disengaging, to create the impression of being vanquished so as to lure the enemy into a prepared killing ground. Dartnell sets up a temporary camp at the Hlazakazi Heights, overlooking a valley and a component of the encamped Zulu force. Dartnell concludes that this larger Zulu force will threaten Chelmsford’s advance on Ulundi, so he prepares a report to his commanding officer, which reads, “My Lord, my Lord, these people want to fight” (Mills & Williams, 2006:48). This message is despatched by horseman, arriving at Isandlwana at 01:30.

22/1/79
On receipt of Major Dartnell’s message, Lord Chelmsford interprets it as meaning that the main Zulu force had been located (an error that history has subsequently shown), so he despatches one of the battalions of the 24th Regiment of Foot, being supported by 4 of his 6 artillery pieces (seven-pounder guns). Chelmsford also orders Colonel Anthony Durnford, left in command of the temporary camp at Rorke’s Drift, to come forward and reinforce the camp at Isandlwana. At dawn, Lord Chelmsford moves out with another force of 1,100 men, ostensibly to support the 1,600 he had already despatched, believing that the main Zulu force would be engaged by them. This leaves around 1800 men (or 30% of the fighting force) at Isandlwana. In his haste, Chelmsford fails to leave clear orders about the chain of command in his absence, creating confusion in the hours to come.Chelmsford reaches Dartnell’s position at about 06:00, with the intention of bringing the Zulu forceto contact. On arrival however, the Zulu force that had so worried Dartnell, seems to have vanished. A small impi is spotted in the north-east so chase is given. Chelmsford becomes irritated as the day
wears on. Back at Isandlwana, the absence of clear orders now becomes an issue as Colonel HenryPulleine and Colonel Anthony Durnford ponder the next move. Who is actually in command of the camp? While this is being sorted out, a patrol under the command of Captain George Shepstone, while chasing a band of fleeing Zulu’s, stumbles upon the main force and recoils in terror as 40,000 resting Zulu warriors appear in a ravine beyond the plateau that they had been charging across. It is
this force that is sitting out the Day of the Dead Moon, consistent with their orders. Shepstone’s men panic and fire a volley of shots before beating a hasty retreat. The Zulu commanders, fearing that their tactical advantage of surprise has now been lost, decide to attack

Back at Isandlwana, Colonel Pulleine is given a message from Lord Chelmsford, stating that a new site had been located, and he (Pulleine), must strike camp and advance to that new location. Shortly after this, Captain Shepstone arrives with the news of the recently-discovered main Zulu force. Faced with this new turn of events, Colonel Pulleine writes a message to be sent back to Lord Chelmsford stating: “Heavy firing to the left of our camp. Cannot move camp at present” (Mills & Williams, 2006:49). In an act of insubordination, Captain Gardiner writes a note to Major Clery (an officer on patrol with Lord Chelmsford), that Shepstone had come in for reinforcements and that the whole remaining British contingent was too thinly spread out to make an effective defensive stand (Rattray, 1997). Both of these messages reach Lord Chelmsford after the Battle of Isandlwana is over. As Pulleine and Gardiner watch, a black snake-like object erupts across the horizon. The snake rapidly splits into two as the horns of the bull – standard Zulu military doctrine called iziMpondo Zenkhunzi (horns and chest of the bull) – fall into place as a prelude to battle. When ready they wait for the orders from their commander, mTshingwayo kaMahola Khoza, a 70-year old warrior of great experience. On his command 15,000 warriors lurch forward in a perfectly disciplined advance on the stretched-out British line and battle is joined. Durnford and his small force of 200 riflemen, supported by the remaining 2 seven-pounder guns, hold off the advance of the left horn of the impi. Under the early afternoon sun, the British soldiers start to run out of ammunition, resulting in a brief lull in fighting

The Zulu’s are encouraged by this and immediately rally when Ndlaka, a senior Induna, gives a stirring rendition of Cetshwayo’s orders, saying: “You did not say you were going to lie down. The little branch of leaves that beats out the fire (Cetshwayo’s traditional name) did not order this” (Rattray, 1997). Seconds later Ndlaka is shot in the head, but after his rally re-mobilizes the advancing warriors. At 14:29 the solar eclipse changes the battlefield into an eerie place of darkness, mystery and death. By 15:00 the battle is over and 727 British troops, along with 52 officers and 471 black troops lie dead, many disembowelled as is customary practice (a process known as Mcqambula in which the power of the deceased passes to the victor as the gall bladder is removed and the contents drunk). A small band of retreating
British, anxious to save the Queens Colours of the 24th Regiment, are over-run and killed as they make for Rorke’s Drift, making that unit the only one in British history to have lost their colours twice in battle.

A report in the Natal Mercury at the time speaks of the fears of the surviving soldiers: “Oh! How dreadful to all were those fearful hours,knowing that we were standing and lying among the bodies of our own comrades, though how many we little knew then. Many and deep were the sobs … at discovering, even in the dim morning light, the bodies of dear friends brutally massacred, stripped of all clothing, disembowelled, and in some cases with their heads cut off. How the night passed, I fancy few of us knew …” (Laband & Knight (1996) cited by Mills & Williams, 2006:53). In the Battle of Isandlwana (image reproduced through the courtesy of the Wikipedia Commons), the British suffer their largest single tactical defeat for half a century, losing the entire regiments of the First Battalion of the Twenty-Fourth and the South Wales
Borderers, along with a large number of supporting troops. Among the dead is Colonel Durnford, who along with Colenso (Durnford is engaged to Colenso’s daughter Frances), originally protested against the war, and was a member of Frere’s Boundary Commission that found in favour of the Zulu’s. At the height of the battle, when there is a full eclipse of the sun, bringing near total darkness to the battlefield, an almost supernatural element is given to the Battle of Isandlwana. The final casualties of this catastrophic battle are 52 officers dead, along with 1,277 other ranks on the British side (i.e. near total annihilation), with 3,000 Zulu’s dead and another 3,000 wounded. Mills & Williams (2006:56) note that while this is a stunning Zulu victory, it lays the foundation for their ultimate defeat at the Battle of Ulundi (July 1879), which crushed the Zulu as an independent entity, allowing for the eventual start of 110 years of unchallenged white domination in South Africa.

22/1/79 News of the annihilation of the British forces at the Battle of Isandlwana arrives at Rorke’s Drift."


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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Thu Aug 26, 2010 10:27 pm

Nice Image of the fight in the camp.
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90th

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PostSubject: battle of Isandlwana   Fri Aug 27, 2010 2:51 am

hi littlehand .
I'm certain that image is from one of the BBC Doco's regarding the zulu war , which name escapes me at the moment .
Possibly ' Day of the zulu - The true story '.
cheers 90th.
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Umbiki

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Fri Aug 27, 2010 1:14 pm

scratch No waggons and/or oxen?

U
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90th

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PostSubject: battle of Isandlwana   Fri Aug 27, 2010 1:25 pm

hi umbiki.
I can handle the no wagons or oxen as they would have been further to the left , but where are the tents :) .
cheers 90th.
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joe

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Fri Aug 27, 2010 1:29 pm

Hi
You can see some collapsed tents to the right of the photo, or are my eyes going and it is something else?

thanks joe
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90th

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PostSubject: battle of Isandlwana   Fri Aug 27, 2010 2:12 pm

hi joe.
Yes , there are tents to the right , didnt see them till after I had sent my post , but there should be many many more as they
werent struck or destroyed till after the killing had taken place . Suspect .
cheers 90th.
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SirDCC

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Fri Aug 27, 2010 5:22 pm

In all fairness to the documentary this came from (Timewatch - Zulu the true story) it was made with a handful of re-enactors and a few computer graphics ...

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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Fri Aug 27, 2010 5:33 pm

The bottom photo certainly brings home the reality of events on that day.
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Umbiki

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Fri Aug 27, 2010 5:53 pm

Yes, but in the original pic there should be wagons behind the tent lines as well as on the nek (i.e. to the left) and loads of livestock milling about everywhere. As for the latter pics; well, I think you can safely assume a few (lot?) more stripped corpses - but maybe that was a bit too much for the BBC.

U

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Sun Sep 12, 2010 7:36 pm

Isandula.
From the Daily News we take the following extract, describing more graphically than it had previously been described a visit to the scene of tho momorable disaster with which our campaign iu Zululand was opened. The writer is Mr. Archibald Forbes, who accompanied the expedi- tion to Isandula on the 20th May. We select for quotation only that portion of the narrative which relates to the sad discoveries on that memorable field of blood :

" At the top of the ascent beyond the Bosbeo, which the Dragoon Guards crowned in dashing style, we saw on our left front, rising above the surrounding country, the steep, ¡solated, and almost inaccessible hill, or rather crag, of Isandala ; the contour of its rugged crest strangely resembling a side view of a couchant lion. On the lower neck of the high ground on its right were clearly visible up against the skyline the abandoned waggons of the destroyed column. No Zulus were seen. Flanking parties covered the hills on either side the track, along which the head of the column pressed at a trot, with small detach- ments of Natal Carbineers in front of the Dragoon Guards, Now we were down in the last dip, had crossed the rocky bed of the little stream, and were canteringg up the slope that stretched up to the crest on which were the waggons. Already tokens of the combat and bootless flight were apparent. The line of retreat towards Fugitives' Drift, along which, through a clink in the Zulu environment, our unfortunate comrades who thus far survived tried to escape, lay athwart a rocky slope to our right front, with a precipitous ravine at ita base. In this ravine dead men lay thick mere bones, with toughened, discolored skin like leather covering them, and clinging tight to them, the flesh all wasted away. Some were almost wholly dismembered, heaps of clammy yellow bones. I forbear to describe the faces with their blackened features and beards blanched by rain and sun. Every man had been disembowelled. Some were scalped and others subjected to yet ghastlier mutilation. The clothes had lasted better than the poor bodies they covered ; and helped to keep the skeletons together. All the way up the slope I traced by the ghastly token of dead men the fitful line of flight. Most of the men hereabouts were infantry of the 24th, It was like a long string with knots in it, the string ' formed of single corpses, the knots of clusters of dead where, as it seemed, little groups might have gathered to make a hopeless gallant stand and die. I came on a gully with a gun limber jammed on its edge, and the horses, their hides scored with assegai stabs, hanging in their har- ness down the steep face of the ravine. A little further on was a broken and battered ambulance waggon, with its team of mules mouldering in their harness, and around lay the corpses of soldiers, poor helpless wretches, dragged out of an intercepted vehicle and done to death without a chance of life.

Still following the trail of bodies through long rank grass and among stores, I approached the crest. Here the slaughtered ones lay very thick, so that the string became a broad belt. Many hereabouts wore the uniform of the Natal Police. On the bare ground, on the crest itself, among the waggons, the dead were less thick, but on the slope,beyond, on which from the crest we looked down, the scene was the saddest, and more full of weird desolation than any I had yet gazed upon. (There was none of the stark blood- curdling horror of a recent battlefield ; no pool of yet wet blood ; no raw gaping wounds ; no torn red flesh that seems yet quivering. Nothing at all that makes the scene of yesterday's battle so rampantly ghastly shocked the senses, A strange dead calm reigned in this solitude of nature. Grain had grown luxuriantly round the waggons, sprouting from the seed that dropped from the loads, falling in soil fertilised by the life-blood of gallant men. So long in most places had grown the grass that it mercifully shrouded the dead, whom four long months to-morrow we have left unburied.

As one strayed aimlessly about one stumbled in the grass over skeletons that rattled to the touch. Here lay a corpse with a bayonet jammed into the mouth up to the socket, trans- fixing the head and mouth a foot into the ground. There lay a form that seemed cosily curled in calm sleep, turned almost on its face, but seven assegai stabs have pierced the back. Most, however, lay flat on the back, with the arms stretched widely out, and hands clenched. I noticed one dead man under a waggon, with his head on a saddle for a pillow, and a tarpaulin drawn over him, as if he had gone to sleep, and died so. In a patch of long grass near the right flank of the camp lay Durnford's body, the long moustache still clinging to the withered skin of the face. Captain Shepstone recognised him at once, and identified him yet further by rings on the finger and a knife with the name on it in the pocket, which relics were brought away. Durnford had died hard-a central figure of a knot of brave men who had fought it out around their chief to the bittor end. A stalwart Zulu, covered by his shield, lay at the colonel's feet. Around him, almost in a ring, lay about a dozen dead men, half being Natal carbineers, riddled by assegai stabs. These gallant fellows were easily identified by their comrades who accom- panied the column. Poor Lieut. Scott was hardly at all decayed. Clearly they rallied round Durn- ford in a last despairing attempt to cover the flank of the camp, and had stood fast from choice, when they might have essayed to fly for their horses, Close beside the dead at the picquet line a gully traverses the ground in front of the camp. About 400 paces beyond this was the ground of the battle before the troops broke from their formation, and on both sides this gully the dead lie very thickly. In one place nearly fifty of the 24th lie almost touching, as if they had fallen in rallying square. The line of straggling rush-back to camp is clearly marked by the skeletons all along the front, Durnford's body was wrapped in a tarpaulin and buried under a heap of stones. The Natal Carbineers buried their dead comrades roughly. The gunners did the same by theirs. Efforts were made at least to conceal all the bodies of the men who had not belonged to the 24th Regi ment. These were loft untouched by special orders from General Newdigate. General Mar- shall had nourished a natural and seemly wish to give internment to all our dead who so long have lain bleaching at Isandula, but it appears that the 24th wishes to perform this office themselves, thinking it right that both battalions should be repre- sented, and that the ceremony should be postponed till the end of the campaign. In vain Marshall offered to, convoy a burial party of the regiment with tools from Rorke's Drift in waggons. One has some sympathy with the claim of the regiment to bury its own dead, but why postpone the interment till only a few loose bones can be gathered ? As the matter stands, the Zulus, who have carefully buried their own dead, and who do not appear to have been very numerous, will come back to-morrow to find that we visited the place, not to bury our dead, but to remove a batch of waggons.

Wandering about the desolate camp, amid the sour odor of stale death, was sickening. I chanced on many sad relics-letters from home, photographs, journals, blood-stained books, packs of cards. Lord Chelmsford's copying-book, con- taining an impression of his correspondence with the Horse Guards, was found in one of his port manteaus, and identified, in a kraal two tniles off. Colonel Harness was busily en- gaged in collecting his own belongings. Colonel Glyn found a letter from himself to Lieutenant Melvill, dated the day before the fight. The ground was strewn with brushes, toilet bags, pickle bottles, and unbroken tins of preserved meat and milk. Forges and bellows remained standing ready for the recommence- ment of work. The waggons in every case had been emptied, and the contents rifled, Bran lay spilt in heaps. Scarcely any arms were found and no ammunition. There were a few stray bayonets and assagais, rusted with blood. No firearms. ,

I shall offer a few comments on the Isandala position. Had the world been searched for a position offering the easiest facilities for being surprised, none could have been well found to surpass it. The position seems to offer a pre mium on disaster, and asks to be attacked. In the rear . laagered waggons would have dis- counted its defects ; but the camp was more defenceless than an English village Systematic scouting could alone have justified such a posi- tion, and this too clearly cannot have been car-
ried out."




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Younghusband

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PostSubject: Isandhlwana   Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:17 am

Interesting commentary:

Quote :
Had the world been searched for a position offering the easiest facilities for being surprised, none could have been well found to surpass it. The position seems to offer a pre mium on disaster, and asks to be attacked

Most commentators (and historians since) seem to have a contradictory view - ie the hill was very defendable.

Surely the inability to laager the camp was paramount to the eventual downfall not the site itself..
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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:52 am

There is source material that says Smith Dorean, Glyn, Hamilton Brown and Dunbar all complained about the camp siting. And yes its exactly as quoted, indefensible. The only serious defence that could have been made would have been moving all the troops onto Mahlabamkhosi. Now that would have been a defensive position.

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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:37 pm

Which regiment would this cairn have been dedicated to? I’m thinking Rocket Brigade.
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PostSubject: Re: The Battle of Isandlwana   Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:51 pm

OH
opposit side of the battlefield, just below or at Durnfords last stand.

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