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 Wagons at Isandlwana

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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Mon Feb 29, 2016 11:57 am

Rusteze
I had considered that the ox-waggons of the Additional Reserve might be in the waggon park but they were in company waggons and should have been with the coys i.e. behind their tents. Remember that the coys were expecting to pack up the camp that day and move forward so I'm thinking the coy waggons would all have been nearby ready to be packed up with tentage and equipment and, essentially, kept together for organizational reasons.
The waggon park was essentially for waggons of supplies arriving and waiting to return, not to mention Durnford's waggons probably left there too by Erskine.
That said, you may be right.
Frank
You may well be right about the boy - my inclination would certainly be from Kambula's description towards the younger of the boys in camp.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Mon Feb 29, 2016 12:05 pm

So if the possibility exists that it could have been either of those two then the waggon he was guarding could also have been a 1/24th?

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Mon Feb 29, 2016 1:27 pm

I wonder if it was just a practical thing. The ox wagons being difficult to get along behind the tents and the problems of turning etc. Your point about expecting to pack up camp that day and the unlikely need to call on the additional reserve ammunition might equally have led them to leave them where they were. No need to unpack at all.

Steve
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Mon Feb 29, 2016 2:21 pm

Steve
The problems with turning would be done away with if they were driven in straight, tents etc of loaded and then reloaded. Once the ground was cleared they could take as big a turn as they wanted.
I read that there were 220 wagons at iSandlwana on the 22nd that's a hang of a lot of real estate.
I don't know if you have a copy of the John William Simpson/L and Q painting? Its shows the whole layout remarkably well.

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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Mon Feb 29, 2016 3:39 pm

Frank
Theoretically, yes re the boy.
Interesting, your total of 220 waggons, my best estimate is 106...do you feel another topic coming on???

Xhosa/Frank
And yet the painting is based on info from L&Q.
Have you seen the diagram in Jackson p. 15 based on the diagrams in the Soldier's Pocket Book, the Field-Force Regulations and Harford's Journal?
There are small but distinct differences in the layout.
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Mon Feb 29, 2016 3:52 pm

Hi Julian
Im going to check back to see where that figure sprung from, I do know it cropped up in conversation with Norman and Pam at Talana but I have seen it in a document as well. I really must get down to doing some filing and cross reference work.
That's actually the layout I normally use as a reference, surprise surprise, but the one posted from Xhosa is really visual.
There are some graphic differences with the RA camp the wagons tent layouts etc. I think the key 'base' is actually from Harford, he was there but is known to be different in his memory on other issues.
Cheers
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Mon Feb 29, 2016 7:30 pm

Frank
Actually, I can't see QM Pullen leaving his waggon in the charge of a boy. He would surely have left it with his QM-Sergt, wouldn't he?
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Mon Feb 29, 2016 7:45 pm

How old do we think this boy is?
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impi

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Mon Feb 29, 2016 9:34 pm

Can we count on his statements?

COE-Smith-Dorrien

6th Evidence.—"Lieutenant Smith-Dorrien, 95th Regiment, states : I am Transport Officer with No. 3 Column. On the morning of the 22nd I was sent with a Despatch from the General to Colonel Durnford, at Rorke's Drift, the Despatch was an order to join the camp at Isandlwana as soon as possible, as a large Zulu force was near it.  I have no particulars to mention besides."


46 years later!!!! Memories of Forty-Eight Years Service.

“When I had been engaged at this for some time, and the 1/24th had fallen back to where we were, with the Zulus following closely, Bloomfield, the Quartermaster of the 2/24th, said to me in regard to the boxes I was then breaking open, " For heaven's sake, don't take that, man, for it belongs to our Battalion." And I replied, " Hang it all, you don't want a requisition now, do you ? "



Yet when someone posted in another thread

“Colonel Durnford was just moving off with his levies towards Sandspruit (away from Isandhlwana), but on reading the dispatch, which conveyed instructions to move up to reinforce the Isandhlwana camp”


Where it suggests SD knew what the ordered said.

It was said his memory was clouded being so late after the event? So it wouldn't stand

So should we not tread carefully, when using SD's text. Or are we saying his memory was okay when it makes our story work.?
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Tue Mar 01, 2016 5:20 am

Morning impoi
I would say its more like using material from ll the old reccolections that can be substantiated. Reading between the lines is probably to the point with SD. I for one do not trust any of his times, pressure of the battle, more significant issues overtaking those memories, could be a lot of reasons. But I do trust his placements, where he was and what he was doing. So yes I agree with you we do need to tread carefully, but as the saying goes, something about babies and bath water?
That phrase you quoted: "Where we were" is a brilliant example and its one that niggles the hell out of me when looking at Julians theory because it says to me that they were actually at the 2/24th reserves. Its the only place that works for me.
But again we musnt forget that the COE evidence was severely truncated by the board and restricted to events leading to the fall. His memoirs do of course broaden out his part in the battle.

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Tue Mar 01, 2016 5:43 am

Julian
Its an interesting issue. Why would a guard, boy, private, be left on a specific wagon. There were a number of waggons in that area, was that the only one that had been 'robbed' of its contents?
Pullen himself was at a point detracted from his duties sufficiently to try and organise a rear guard, if the Zulu were that close he needed that, then why bother with a guard?
Your theory does work in that a guard for a specific wagon was put into place, could very well be the Chelmsford wagon, that fits.
What Ive been trying to do is think aloud and look for other reasons, accessibility to Kambule, possibly a 1/24th 'boy'. They are all possible but the key thing is your theory is the only one with a motive/reason.
Theres also evidence that ammunition was unloaded from that wagon, rounds on the floor for Kambule, BUT and it really is a big but is that phrase from SD. That to me puts it firmly at the 2/24th camp.
There is of course another possibility in that the officer recruited by Essex was not SD and that SD was operating independently. So there were seperate groupings enacting with Bloomfield.
1) SD raids the 2/24th and is admonished by Bloomfield, that one box doesn't go far at all.
2) SD takes what he can and goes to the front then retires back to the saddle.
3) Bloomfield realising there is no more ammunition for his battalion heads back to the saddle.
4) He meets with Essex who prevails on him to release ammunition from Chelmsfords wagon.
5) Essex goes back to the front sending of the cart with another officer ( not SD )
6) Bloomfield gets shot.
7) The pre placed 'boy' is left to guard the balance of the wagon.
8) Kambule retreats and meets up with the 'boy'.

Does that work?
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John

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Tue Mar 01, 2016 8:12 am

It's possible the "Boy"was Boy Green, could it not?
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Tue Mar 01, 2016 8:18 am

Morning John
Anythings possible but I would tend to think that Green was with Shepherd attending to the wounded.

Cheers
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Tue Mar 01, 2016 8:56 am

impi
Yes, one has to be careful with S-D's 1925 account and even with Essex's April account. Events become blurred, their order mixed, as I've written above. The only things which one CAN take as accurate would be specific anecdotes like the Bloomfield banter and then try to fit them within the context of S-D's earlier accounts.
Frank
Yes, that would work but it's one of many possible scenarios and we are now starting to enter uncharted waters, impossible to verify of course but interesting.
John
Boy Green was civilian servant and not subject to any 'officer's orders'. And as Frank said, he would have been with his master, Shepherd.
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John

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:17 am

Frank Allewell wrote:
Morning John
Anythings possible but I would tend to think that Green was with Shepherd attending to the wounded.

Cheers

Shepherd was seen on a few occasions by various witnesses, but none mentioned seeing a boy with him, does that not seem a bit odd, and no mentioned of boy greens body being found with Shepherd. ?
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:23 am

John
No it's not odd at all.
Is Coghill's servant mentioned every time Coghill appears in accounts? No.
Is anyone's? No.
Would Gardner's personal servant attend to his master during the course of a battle? No.
Would anyone's? No.
Hundreds of bodies had no specific mention or identification. Why should anyone have bothered with poor old Green.
Green could have been anywhere. In the hospital tents, in Shepherd's tent...
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John

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:32 am

The fact he was a boy, may have give someone a reason to mentioned it, the same reason the boy was mentioned on the Wagon.
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:51 am

Julian
Again, thinking out loud.
John
Key issue would be Green wouldn't accept orders from a 'strange' QM' unless of course his master ordered it and cant really see that.

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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Tue Mar 01, 2016 12:23 pm

Plus the fact that the boy was from the 24th and thus definitely not Green.
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John

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Tue Mar 01, 2016 1:17 pm

So what other boys were present. Where they could be considered a boy? Where the drummer boys actually known as drummer boys.?
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PostSubject: Boy controlling ammunition   Tue Mar 01, 2016 2:51 pm

Hi John,
It is also recorded in the annals that an umfaan was in control of an ammunition wagon during the battle.
Now for those not familiar with Zulu language an umfaan translates into a black pre pubescent male, ie =< 12 years of age. Boys of this age were commonly used as "voerloopers" on the transport wagons, ie they led the span of 16 yoked oxen.
The authorities did  make much use of local transport riders under contract to deliver various war cargoes around the colony, including such things as hay and  mielies for horses at  Isandlwana. The  wagons generally used by the transport riders were large half tent type Boer wagons  with a capacity of 5-6 t. So with all of this in mind, maybe the large 1-2/24th ammunition reserve was loaded on to one of those wagons because of  its size and the boy(umfaan) was left by his baas at his wagon to see to its safety .
In terms of the overall guestimate as to how much ammunition was lost, I agree that the 360k rounds for the 1-2/24 is about right, but the  Colonials (NC, NNC, NMP etc) also carried their own reserves, so about another 140k can be added to the number, ending up with a total of 500k rounds.

regards

barry


Last edited by barry on Wed Mar 02, 2016 7:08 am; edited 1 time in total
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Tue Mar 01, 2016 3:11 pm

Barry
A couple of points re your post. A voorlooper would have been in control of the oxen when the waggon was in motion and their general care. He would not have been left 'in charge' of a waggon of ammunition and certainly not placed so by a British officer or NCO. I can't think of the source you must be referring to - though I know there's something one of Chelmsford's force returning describing seeing a dead umfaan on a waggon, I can't recall it - can you remind me?
Also ox-waggons could be loaded with up to 4 tons for VERY short journeys or internal camp manoeuvrings but no-one ever did for practical reasons - it just exhausted the animals (I'm quoting from Dunne here). A ton was the usual amount the oxen could reasonable be expected to cope with (just under a ton for mules).
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Tue Mar 01, 2016 3:49 pm

John
There were just boys from the 1st and 2nd battalions present ('Boy' was their rank). No other units. These were not drummer boys - that's just a popular colloquialism for 'Drummers', who would have been with their coys.
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PostSubject: Ox wagons   Tue Mar 01, 2016 5:38 pm

Hi Julian,

No, I have not seen anything about finding a dead umfaan on a wagon. More on that one may very well just  be the missing piece in the jigsaw before us.

The only possibly related account which I have somewhere in my library is about the ghastly scene of drummer/band boys found post the battle tied spread eagled  to wagon wheels and gutted "like sheep". This was  refuted by many and I hold no opinion on it either way.  However once the news of this atrocity was received back home the WO changed the rules  immediately strictly disallowing any "boys" on the battlefield in the future.
 
Transport riding in SA at that time was a source of income for many, particularly struggling farmers not making it on the land. This included many Boers from further afield who eagerly sought lucrative contracts with the authorities in Natal to deliver the war goodies across the colony. At that time a good 90% of this hired transport was tractioned by draft oxen as farmers merely yoked up their farm wagons,  travelled to town, and picked up their cargoes.  Wagons thus drawn were slow and lumbering , but, most importantly the oxen could be sustained off the sometines barren veld found along the journey. These ox wagon trips across Natal involved much overnighting in very inhospitable places, and it was from this practise that the laagering concept evolved.

Mules by contrast were fast, but they could not easily live off the veld and were very susceptible to nagana sickness and they died in their hundreds when passing through such infected areas. They needed to be fed costly forage which increased the cost of transport. So mule drawn transport was very much in the minority, being reserved, mainly, for fast short costly deliveries around the populated urban areas of the colony. The military however, had quite a use for mules, particularly the delivery of ammo and equipment on the battlefield.

Now, round about page 150 in L and Q's ZV there is reference to the need to change from an ox drawn wagon to mule drawn one because of the requirement for speed on the reserve ammo wagon ordered by Chelmsford.  This is possibly what I think the umfaan question may relate too.

Trooper Clarke's  (NMP) dairies already posted on this forum recounts a bellowing draft ox being cut lose from a wagon wheel at Isandlwana on the night of 22/01, much to the annoyance of his superior Mansel. His unpublised diaries recount  too the march up to  Isandlawana in Dec  1878 as being slow as they had to wait for the NMP columns'  Commisiariat wagons to catch up and then the troopers, each so often, had to pull the oxen and the wagons out of the mud. Needless to say the air remained blue.

The post battlefield wreckage picture indeed shows many Boer type wagons there, all of which would have been ox drawn. So oxen were definitely there in numbers.

I will revert shortly on a reference for the report of the umfaan on the ammo wagon however.

regards

barry
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:32 pm

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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Mar 02, 2016 9:28 am

Barry
Thanks, I look forward to hearing of that reference. The one I recalled is by a Colonial out with Chlemsford who sees on his return to camp “a poor little dead umfaan, as if asleep, atop a waggon” or something like that. No mention of ammo wagons definitely. That’s what I thought you were thinking of.
I have still not heard from Ron Lock re my reference (see EVENT ONE above) to the change to mule-waggon (p. 150 ZV).
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Mar 02, 2016 10:29 am

Bonjour,
About the"umfaan", I am not sure that is your reference but...

"We marched out a mournful crowd. In a donga, close under the Isandhlwana hill, lay an overturned wagon (...).
One little umfaan, a leader of one of the spans, was on his knees with his face buried in his hands on the grond, dead and stiff".

Fred Symons, Natal Carbineers quoted in the journal of the AZWRS (John Young) vol. 3 issue 3.

Cheers

Frédéric
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Mar 02, 2016 11:21 am

Frederic
An umfaan is a young boy.

Cheers
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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Mar 02, 2016 11:31 am

Bonjour Frannk,
Thank you for your kindness.
I know. The information is indicated by Barry in a previous message and "umfaan" is very close to the same word in French ("enfant")
On the other hand, I do not know what was a "baas". I suppose it has nothing to do with the political party of Saddam Hussein ... A "master" maybe?
Cheers
Frédéric
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Mar 02, 2016 11:37 am

Frederic
Yes, that's the reference I had I mind. Thank you. Not atop the waggon. But on his knees by his span of oxen.
'Baas' is simply South African accent for 'boss'.
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Mar 02, 2016 11:45 am

Bonjour Mr Whybra,
Thank you very much.
Frédéric
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Mar 02, 2016 12:04 pm

This is from an earlier thread in 2012 discussing the ammunition issue - another reference to a native boy handing out ammunition.

Subject: Re: The ammunition question   Tue Apr 24, 2012 5:05 pm Reply with quote
Came across this from "Ron Lock" Author and Zulu War Historian.

"I have recently come accross a 1929 account, by a Mr. Wheatland Edwards, a survivor of the Carbineers, that I had not seen before. Part of his account gives an insight into the chaos during the last moments of the camp.

"We were cut off entirely from the ammunition tent although we could still hear the little piccanin shouting "M'nition, baas! M'nition, baas!" in a high pitched voice. As brave a little fellow as one could hope to find. And all the time he handed out cartidges to those who could get near the tent. He must have gone on doing so until he was killed with the others!"


Frank

In the same thread you asked whether anyone had come across a direct reference to the reported account by Rev. Owen Watkins of the boy on the ammunition waggon's discussion with Simeon Kambula. I wonder the same thing. Did you get an answer?

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Mar 02, 2016 12:18 pm

Bonjour,
The piccanin (?) is he obligatory a native? (I.E: M'nition, bass!) or a child of a civil conductor for example?
if so, this testimony seems interesting about the organization of the supply chain of ammo in dire straits....
Cheers

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Mar 02, 2016 12:21 pm

Sorry,
"desperate situation" / "organization of the supply chain ammo" = oxymoron!!! Very Happy Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Mar 02, 2016 12:34 pm

I get the translation:
piccanin: "A black African child"
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Mar 02, 2016 12:57 pm

Hi Steve
No it died a death im afraid.
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Mar 02, 2016 1:12 pm

Thanks Frank. I have no knowledge of Watkins and so no reason to doubt him. Is he regarded as reliable?

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Mar 02, 2016 3:00 pm

Rusteze
Watkins arrived in 1881 to look after Kambula's 'flock'. There would have been lots of locals who would have heard this story from Kambula himself.
And I'd forgotten the story about the piccanninny at the NC's ammunition tent (note, not waggon).
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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Mar 02, 2016 3:02 pm

Frank Allewell wrote:
Julian
Its an interesting issue. Why would a guard, boy, private, be left on a specific wagon. There were a number of waggons in that area, was that the only one that had been 'robbed' of its contents?
Pullen himself was at a point detracted from his duties sufficiently to try and organise a rear guard, if the Zulu were that close he needed that, then why bother with a guard?
Your theory does work in that a guard for a specific wagon was put into place, could very well be the Chelmsford wagon, that fits.
What Ive been trying to do is think aloud and look for other reasons, accessibility to Kambule, possibly a 1/24th 'boy'. They are all possible but the key thing is your theory is the only one with a motive/reason.
Theres also evidence that ammunition was unloaded from that wagon, rounds on the floor for Kambule, BUT and it really is a big but is that phrase from SD. That to me puts it firmly at the 2/24th camp.
There is of course another possibility in that the officer recruited by Essex was not SD and that SD was operating independently. So there were seperate groupings enacting with Bloomfield.
1) SD raids the 2/24th and is admonished by Bloomfield, that one box doesn't go far at all.
2) SD takes what he can and goes to the front then retires back to the saddle.
3) Bloomfield realising there is no more ammunition for his battalion heads back to the saddle.
4) He meets with Essex who prevails on him to release ammunition from Chelmsfords wagon.
5) Essex goes back to the front sending of the cart with another officer ( not SD )
6) Bloomfield gets shot.
7) The pre placed 'boy' is left to guard the balance of the wagon.
8) Kambule retreats and meets up with the 'boy'.

Does that work?


Smith- Dorrien In a letter to his father written at Helpmekaar shortly after the Battle he states "I was out with the front companies of the 24th handing them spare ammunition.
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Mar 02, 2016 3:07 pm

impi
Yes, he wrote that. The sentences which follow are interesting too. The idea that he was doing that before Essex's first approach to Bloomfield and then returned to gather round spare unarmed men has to run contrary to the notion that he was one of Essex's men gathered at his first approach to Bloomfield. He can't really be doing both. That's typical of the 1925 account and timeline.
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Mar 02, 2016 5:10 pm

Xhosa

I agree with you that it is difficult to come up with a definitive timeline but I do not think it is impossible to come up with an approximate one.
Timelines aside I do think it's possible to come up with an approximate sequence of events in order (i.e. we may not know the times of them but we do know the order in which they occurred). And that I think is very important for historians.
Furthermore, I would say that for certain individuals it is possible to do both, i.e. timeline and sequence.

It's useful to do this as an exercise because one then gets a framework of cross-referenced events on which to hang the actions of others.
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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Mar 02, 2016 5:10 pm

Julian Whybra wrote:
Rusteze
Watkins arrived in 1881 to look after Kambula's 'flock'.  There would have been lots of locals who would have heard this story from Kambula himself.
And I'd forgotten the story about the piccanninny at the NC's ammunition tent (note, not waggon).

There is a testimony about an ammunition box (200 rounds?) taken in a NC's tent by some Durnford's troopers (from memory).
Cheers
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Wagons at Isandlwana   Wed Mar 02, 2016 6:42 pm

Julian Whybra wrote:
impi
Yes, he wrote that.  The sentences which follow are interesting too.  The idea that he was doing that before Essex's first approach to Bloomfield and then returned to gather round spare unarmed men has to run contrary to the notion that he was one of Essex's men gathered at his first approach to Bloomfield.  He can't really be doing both.  That's typical of the 1925 account and timeline.

Julian I wonder if the conversation between Smith and Bloomfield actually took place, regarding the requisition, I think it was a myth?
I don't think Bloomfield under the circumstances would refuse ammunition?
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