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 Durnfords retreat.

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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Durnfords retreat.   Sat Nov 05, 2016 11:15 am

From ymob on a different topic.
But during his fighting retreat, it does appear to me that Durnford was trying to relieve pressure on the camp not to destroy the Zulus facing him.

What makes you believe that he was trying to relieve pressure rather than just a fighting retreat? The extent of his knowledge was very localised, with of course the exception that there was a reported chance he could have been surrounded in which case a fast retreat would have made more sense
Would it not have been more beneficial if he had just turned and got back to camp as fast as possible? After all he didn't at that stage know what was going on in the camp area or to his Rocket Battery. .

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Sat Nov 05, 2016 11:23 am

Did he perhaps see this war as 'his big chance' and that he wasn't about to throw it away by a headlong retreat back to camp at the first sight of the enemy ?
An orderly withdrawal under fire would look so much better.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Sat Nov 05, 2016 11:32 am

I dont see Durnford as a glory hunter..i also think his fighting
retreat was a vain attempt to stall the left horn, i think he
knew the sky was about to fall in!. remember he knew the Zulu
well much more than even the colonials under his immediate
command, he also at that time knew the RB had gone.. telling
a RB trooper to go back for SM's body..
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Sat Nov 05, 2016 11:35 am

Sorry, for SM..i meant Stuart Broadfoot Russell.
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Sat Nov 05, 2016 11:56 am

I see no point in cod psychoanalysis of Durnford - we cannot know his motives. It seems to me obvious what he was trying to do in a practical sense. His force was designed for skirmishing , not as a steam roller. Once he had unexpectedly met the enemy at close quarters he had to fall back to create enough space for his riflemen to have an effect. His aim was to slow down the advance and try to keep it at arms length. I believe that all he could realistically do was to try to relieve the pressure from the Zulu left horn long enough to allow a defence to be cobbled together nearer the camp. But the outflanking movement of the left horn, together with the right horn coming over the saddle in the rear, defeated him in that aim. I don't think that "relieving pressure" and "mounting a fighting retreat" are mutually exclusive. One surely results from the other?

Steve
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Sat Nov 05, 2016 1:51 pm

Steve
But surely 'relieving pressure' intimates that he was aware of what was happening out of sight in the camp?
Les
The RB incident only occurred later when he had reached the plain and was well within sight of the camp.
Eaton
No doubt at all that the withdrawl was extremely well directed and executed. All due credit to Col Durnford for that
But would he have been better with a fast retreat to warn the camp? We do now know of course that the camp was quite possibly already under threat, but he didn't.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Sat Nov 05, 2016 2:03 pm

Les,

Stuart Broadfoot Russell?

Me thinks you've merged Stuart Smith with Francis Broadfoot Russell!

John Y.
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Sat Nov 05, 2016 3:16 pm

Frank

I take your point about his lack of knowledge early on about what was happening elsewhere. But, at the very least, he was reducing pressure on himself by falling back. And it must have occurred to him that he was probably not alone in facing the onslaught.
I certainly agree that he had not set off to relieve pressure on the camp - in truth it is not terribly clear what he did set off to do, other than in some general sense discover the (disappearing) enemy and engage. But he had it in the back of his mind that he might encounter difficulties by asking for two companies of the 24th. In truth there were insufficient imperial troops left in the camp by Chelmsford for Pulleine to agree to that (regardless of what his orders might have been). But a proper fighting retreat might have achieved its purpose if Durnford had had a couple of hundred of the 24th at his back.

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Sat Nov 05, 2016 7:27 pm

Yeah Frank i get that, my point only was that Durnford knew
the RB had gone as he was withdrawing..

Hi JY. i see you see what i did there.. i even wrote Stuart Smith
at one point and then changed it to SM. brain fart pure and simple.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Sat Nov 05, 2016 7:27 pm

How would you describe Durnfords purpose Steve? This is where I have a problem. If it was a delaying action in order to give the camp time to prepare, he wasn't aware of the enormity of the attack, for the impi chasing him then why didn't he send urgent messengers back? Its an issue Ive puzzled over for a long time. A genuine conundrum.

cheers

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Sat Nov 05, 2016 7:58 pm

His failure to send messengers would suggest that either he didn't consider the camp to be at any risk, or he was purely focused on front line fighting and had lost sight of the bigger picture.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Sat Nov 05, 2016 9:01 pm

I agree it could not have been a delaying action that was in Durnford's mind when he set off from the camp. We have analysed his few recorded statements and his actions over the years and it leaves us, as you say, with a conundrum. What seems clear is that his determination to pass through Isandhlwana is pre-determined - it is decided before he reaches the camp and before he is briefed by Pulleine (he has met Chard on the way, but I don't think that was the trigger for his plan). That has led us to speculate about a missing order from Chelmsford telling him to back-up the force heading for Mangeni. That would account for Durnford's actions and fit much better with his earlier orders. But there is no proof.

Alternatively, it might be argued that once Durnford is briefed about the locations of the Zulu sightings on the ridge (and he sends two troops up to investigate), he takes his column more towards the ridge, drawn by the sightings, than he would otherwise have done. So his plan (or orders) to back-up Chelmsford get adjusted to follow a retreating enemy. Except they are not retreating. Once he collides with the left horn his plans change radically.

Why did he do all that? We have to disregard what we know now and try and put ourselves in Durnford's shoes and what he knew, or thought he knew, then.

1. The General had gone out in pursuit of the main Zulu army which was at Mangeni.
2. The sightings on the ridge were worrying, but secondary.
3. The camp was large and well equipped (if not well protected), they did not fear an attack.
4. The over-riding objective was to bring the Zulu to a decisive battle.

In a nutshell, the General had decided where the main enemy was (why else would he have taken half the column out with him?) so why would Durnford doubt him?

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Sun Nov 06, 2016 12:02 am

Bonsoir,

In the absence of evidence, we tend to conclude that Durnford didn't sent message to the camp when he met the left horn.
I wonder if it was really the case.

Please, take a look at situation in the Mangeni the same day:
-Trooper Symons and some fellows Carbineers were bringing nine prisoners to the new campsite when they met up with" some of Colonel Durnfod's mounted natives" (Zulu Victory", p.215).
-A mounted native met by Fynn told him: "The Zulus have taken and demoslished the camp at Sandlwana completely".
-There is also the testiminoy from Crealock about the warning given by a native (perhaps the same native described by Fynn).
Generally historians have concluded that this native had been sent by Hamilton-Browne.
Only one messenger sent by HB is totally unknown (name, rank, black or white man..). All others are identified and are white men. Given the profound contempt of HB for the natives, I can't believe that he sent a black messenger to LC about the annihilation of Isandhlwana.
For this reason (and others), I am convinced that this native was a Durnford's Messenger. However, no official report of LC or senior officers who were in the Mangeni mentions messages receipted from Durnford.

Conclusion: It's not because we have no official reports saying that Durnford sent messengers to Pulleine that he didn't sent messengers to Pulleine.

Incidentally, do you think it was absolutely necessary for Durnford to warning Pulleine?
-Remember his meeting with the 2 Carbineers (and the mention of Lt Scott and Pulleine);
-Curling wrote: "About 12 o'clock we were turned out, as heaving firing was heard in the Direction of Colonel Durnford's force" (C.2260 p.84).

Durnford would know that exchanges of fire with the enemy would be heard in the camp.

Cheers

Frédéric
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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Sun Nov 06, 2016 12:04 am

Frank Allewell wrote:
From ymob on a different topic.
But during his fighting retreat, it does appear to me that Durnford was trying to relieve pressure on the camp not to destroy the Zulus facing him.

What makes you believe that he was trying to relieve pressure rather than just a fighting retreat? The extent of his knowledge was very localised, with of course the exception that there was a reported chance he could have been surrounded in which case a fast retreat would have made more sense

Cheers

Bonsoir Frank,

What is the reason to make a fighting retreat when you can easily flee the danger and take refuge in a camp consisting of Imperial Infantry and guns?


Cheers

Frédéric
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Sun Nov 06, 2016 6:02 am

Hi Frederic
A lot to go through there. But to make a start. The native messenger. Take a look at Keith Smiths 'Studies' pp 148 where he puts forward that the native was in fact from Hamilton Brown. As a second point to that Newman mentions a mounted native arriving at the new camp site who has 'seen' that an attack on the camp was being made.
Fynn and Newman were part of Chelmsfords party so the possibility exists that this native was the same as witnessed by Crealock, and Newman, plus another officer. If that message was delivered as Newman says when they were at Mangeni it has to be after 12.30 ( the time Chelmsfords party got to that area). If that Native had come from the camp, around one and a half hours ride away he would have left at 11 oclock, virtually at the time the battle started. His report that the camp was demolished would then be untrue.
If however he was with Durnford again he would have left the camp at around 1 to 1.30 to be able to say the camp was demolished. He would then have arrived with Chelmsford around 3 in the afternoon.
The times just don't work.
Lock and Quantrill have jumped to some strong assertions in the sentence you refered to without due diligence. Im sure that Major Gosset identifies that native as from HB. ( Have a look at French, Lord Chelmsford and the Zulu War).
Im still trying to track down Symonds meeting with Durnfords Natives.

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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Sun Nov 06, 2016 7:31 am

Frank,
I didn't write the messengers seen by Crealock or Fynn was sent by Durnford when he met the left horn.
My intention was to show that all the messengers sent the day didn't appear in the official reports.
About the black native, see the report from Milne (c.2454);
"We then went on to look for bivouacing for the night and had not gone far when one of the Mounted natves cam and reported heavy firin at the camp."
In the same report, Milne wrote ( note n 8): "Un fortunately the messengers sent by Commandant Brom (sic /HB) failed to find the General".
If you study the timeline of all the messengers sent by HB, you can see that the Black messenger sent by HB didn't work.
Cheers
Frédēric
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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Sun Nov 06, 2016 8:03 am

Frank,
I have also in mind (rightly or wrongly) a testimony written by a native of Durnford (he said Durnford sent messengers to LC) but actually I can't find it.
It's not Jabez Molife.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Sun Nov 06, 2016 8:24 am

A mounted native described by Norris Newman and Milne: 
Edward Durnford assumed  that for that reson he must have been one of Colonel Durnford's men.
Hill of the Sphinx p. 54 note p.3
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Sun Nov 06, 2016 6:51 pm

A couple of questions.

Why would Durnford send a message to Chelmsford? Was it because he initially thought the left horn was headed towards Mangeni rather than Isandhlwana?

Frank

How long would Durnford have been engaging the left horn before he realised that companies of the 24th were in contact on his left (would he have heard their fire from beyond the conical hill before he came around it)? At that point, the camp must surely have been aware of the attack and did not need a message from Durnford.

Steve
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:11 am

Frederic
We do know that the Mounted Native was reported by, Fynn, Newman and Gosset. The message he delivered has been recorded as
A) He had seen the camp destroyed
B) The camp was demolished.
So three confirming reports that there was a Native messenger.
Chelmsford got back to the Mangeni plain around 12.30, again well reported.
He spent time looking at the camp site and eventually rode up to the lip of the plain to look across at iSandlwana in the distance.
Some time over that period the Native messenger arrived, variously reported as from Durnford, HB and the camp.
None of the times work because of the distance travelled or as you quite rightly point out the HB attitude to Natives, and the facts that all his, HBs, messengers were white and a minimum of NCO level.
So a theory to play with:
Chelmsford with his party, that would include Newman, Fynn and Gosett are on the the Eastern side of the Mangeni Gorge looking at the proposed camp site. A group of officers are observing iSandlwana from the lip, they see whats happening at the camp and send a mounted messenger across to Chelmsfords party, around two to three kilometres away but in sight. That messenger then reports to, say, Gosset, that the camp is under attack its been destroyed etc.
Would that scenario fit the known facts?

Steve
Im going to put up a suggested time line for the Durnford, Left Horn and camp attack a bit later on today. Just as soon as the Aussies have been well and truly thrashed. Very Happy Very Happy
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:51 am

This is a view from the lip of the Mangeni plain looking back over the gorge towards that flatish area that was going to be the new camp site. So with my theory Chelmsford would have been over that side with his entourage. I took the photo just before the time the area would have been looked at by the officer group. The cairns painted white are very visible so its strange that the tents, similar size and colour wouldn't have been very clear, or maybe they were demolished, hence the report.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
View from the lip back to iSandlwana with a telephoto to match a telescope. Standing on the lip this is where the various officers would have looking back to the camp and from here a 'messenger' would have been sent backwards across the plain to the new camp site.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:52 am

Bonjour Frank,
In your scenario, what is the unit of your mounted messenger?
You seem to consider as  dogma that there was only one mounted native in the Mangeni.
Who were the natives seen by Symons?
The testimony from Gosset is inacurate on several points.
The testimonies written by Gosset and Fynn have been written after 1900.
Cheers
Frédéric
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Mon Nov 07, 2016 7:10 am

Morning Frederic
Its highly possible there were more than one mounted Natives in the area, but Im suggesting only one took a message. I have no idea who he was or what unit he belonged to.
I have no idea who the natives seen by Symonds were.
Just because there are inaccuracies does not mean an entire testimony can be discounted.
There were many accounts written after 1900, Smith Dorrien for one. Do we discount all of them because of timing?
Are you suggesting that there was no Native messenger, or possibly expanding your belief that he came from Durnford?, to do so you would have to completely discount 4 separate statements and show how a man could ride for close to 12 miles in an incredibly short time, bypassing on the way HB and his NNC and the Guns and supporting company. I really look forward to that. Suspect
Quote:
"For this reason (and others), I am convinced that this native was a Durnford's Messenger. However, no official report of LC or senior officers who were in the Mangeni mentions messages receipted from Durnford"
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:52 am

Morning Frank

Astounded by how clear the telephoto shot of Isandhlwana is. If visibility was anywhere near as good on the day it is very hard to understand how they could have been in any doubt that an attack was taking place. Look forward to the timeline.

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:03 pm

Hi Steve
The telephoto lens was a 180mm, probably close to the telescopes of the time. It was takem towards the begining of Feb around 12.30. So pretty close circumstances. The weather of course is wildly unpredictable, and extra 5 degrees of heat could influence the waves coming of the ground.
As we have said on many occasions to try and establish any type of accurate time line with so many variables is next to impossible. But starting on an equal base of say 11 when Raw etc left camp, and assuming point X is the Zulu starting point
I would put the traveling time from the camp to the discovery of around 25 minutes with a return journey whilst mounting and dismounting and firing of around 35 minutes. That would put our base line at 12 for the attack on the camp to have begun.
At base line of 11.25 when the army was discovered most of the army sprang up and charged of after the Mounted Troops, that initial charge would have slowed to a walk after not to long ( Smith Dorien and Brickhill mention the pace). A portion of the army was held back made to form a circle and then allocated their task so that section would have been some twenty minutes behind the main army, or base 11.45 departing
As Ive argued before I believe this was the section that moved down the Quabe valley and faced Durnford.
Durnford had left camp around base plus 30, around 15 after the rocket battery arrived. Around the same time as the impi was found
I believe the position marked on the maps by Wood/Henderson to be accurate in the meeting point between Durnford and the Left Horn/Reserve To get to that point by horse at a canter would put that meeting as around 30 minutes after leaving camp or 12.00, that would give the held back section of the Zulu army around 15minutes to travel from there holding area over the ridge to meet up with Durnford.
Durnfords return down the valley would have been considerably quicker than the outgoing canter putting him back close to the notch area at around 12.10.
That would have put the attack on the rocket Battery a few minutes earlier so around 12.05. When Durnford crossed the plain the main attack had already developed, and that in the same target area, 12 to 12.10.
That's about as close as im ever going to get for a time frame but it is supported by various non mentioned statements, Barker, sighting of a portion of the army sitting and waiting etc. And also the many times Ive walked the area. But I stress It can only ever be and estimate.
To take that forward to the current discussion though. If Durnford had sent a messenger to Chelmsford, as Frederick seems convinced, he would have had a twelve mile ride and seeing the time frame that Gardiner took for his ride would have been well over an hour.
In answer therefore to your question Steve, I would believe that Durnford became aware that there was troubles at the camp when he exited the Quabe valley or just prior to meeting the rocket battery. Considering the dash along the valley, the volleys of gun fire from his troops, the reverberation from the hills, I doubt he would have been to much aware of problems at the camp.

Just something to chew over.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Mon Nov 07, 2016 2:47 pm

Thanks Frank, it makes an interesting chew! The things that initially jump out for me are as follows.
1. The timescale is very compressed, which makes the sequence very hard to be sure about given there is much we do not know.
2. Durnford makes contact in the Quabe before the Rocket Battery is engaged in the notch.
3. The Rocket Battery has only minutes to get off a couple of rockets before being over run.
4. If the end of the 24th companies line is anchored on the west side of the Conical Hill (Pope before he forms a dog leg?). Durnford must be aware of it as he exits the Quabe.
5. If Pulleine and his staff are moving along the line at that stage he is quite close to Durnford?
6. Why would Durnford send a message, and about what?

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Mon Nov 07, 2016 3:23 pm

Hi Steve
1) Indeed, certain elements are know, he was attacked from the front and the left ridge, the ridge would quite likely have been elements of the left horn. The main army was behind him, so had set of before the elements coming down the Quabe. We know that because Scott sent a message that he was in danger of being surrounded. If the Rocket battery was already overcome then Scott would not have been in position and the messenger sent would not have come down of the ridge. As I said earlier there are a lot of differing pointers that have been taken into consideration, I didn't want to bore you by listing everything.
2) Yes, see above.
3) Yes, that was seen by Barker.
4) That's Mike Snooks claim that he has now withdrawn. Between Pope and Amatutshane were a company of NNC, Nourse and Scott.
5) The closest he would have got is the top of the donga, 1 to 1.5 kilometres away
6) Something along the lines of " Im being attacked by a large impi and withdrawing on the camp, remember your promise to support me". That could have been passed verbally and sent of with one of his officers, someone with authority. I would think if he had time to worry about it and DID send of to Chelmsford it could have been along the lines of." Your bloody wrong the Zulus are here not there, told you so."

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:28 pm

Frank Allewell wrote:
Morning Frederic

Just because there are inaccuracies does not mean an entire testimony can be discounted.
There were many accounts written after 1900, Smith Dorrien for one. Do we discount all of them because of timing?
Are you suggesting that there was no Native messenger?

Bonjour Frank,
First question: No (of course); I only suggest under a traumatic event or un extroardinary event, often memories do not match the reality. This is more truth 30 years later.
2nd question: I am not suggesting that there was no native messenger.
My intention was to work together, with the members, to test the hypothesis of this thread.
As you and Steve wrote, the fighting retreat of Durnford is a genuine conundrum.

Cheers.

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Mon Nov 07, 2016 8:15 pm

Perhaps Durnford thought it better to make a tactical withdrawal? Do we know how much ammunition his men were allocated was is the same at the British, bearing in mind Durnford's ammunition supplies were back in the camp.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Mon Nov 07, 2016 8:46 pm

Okay just found out his men were issued with a bandolier of 50 rounds.

Do we know what their capabilities were! how many rounds could they fire per minute, when mounted on the move?
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:05 pm

As loading was a two handed process, would they be able to reload while on the move?
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:39 pm

That's the point Eaton.

So no doubt they would move forward, dismount fire a few mount up, move forward ect.
Which leaves me in mind they had no option by to retreat, 50 rounds per man lot of messing about mounting and dismounting. Which brings up another question ? What did Durnford have in mind when it was presumed he was going to LC defense.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:25 pm

rusteze wrote:
A couple of questions.

Why would Durnford send a message to Chelmsford? Was it because he initially thought the left horn was headed towards Mangeni rather than Isandhlwana?

Frank

How long would Durnford have been engaging the left horn before he realised that companies of the 24th were in contact on his left (would he have heard their fire from beyond the conical hill before he came around it)? At that point, the camp must surely have been aware of the attack and did not need a message from Durnford.

Steve

More to the point what would he be saying to LC ? Pulliene had already sent messages to LC informing him of the situation!
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:32 pm

"Parliamentary Papers for 1879, Further Correspondence Respecting the Affairs of South Africa. (In continuation of [C.-2367] of July 1879.)" under "Enclosure No. 10 in Cape and West Coast Station letter No. 15, of 27th January 1879.", "Sub-Enclosure. Report of Proceedings of 21st, 22nd, 23rd, and 24th January 1879.", "Sub-Enclosure. Notes on the Report of Proceedings." -

"5. On leaving the camp on the morning of the 22nd, distinct orders were given to Colonel Pulleine, that should the camp be attacked, "it was to be reduced, defended, "and not to be left" From evidence, it appears when Colonel Durnford came in from Rorke's Drift, the enemy were then in sight to the left, but some distance off. He then against Colonel Pulleine's orders sent out his basutos six miles to engage the enemy, when these men retreated, supports were sent out, to the spruit at the bottom of the camp. From evidence it appears no men at this spot fell from the rifles of the enemy, but directly our men turned to retreat into the camp, the enemy was amongst them with the assegai at once. There is a report that one gun was seen to tumble into a nullah, but whether it was spiked or not is not known."
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Tue Nov 08, 2016 1:19 pm

Bonjour,

Just before Durnford ordered a fighting retreat, according to Lt Davies, the following episode happened :

« We were here overtaken by 2 Carbineers, who had been sent wih a message from Lieutenant Scott [Natal Carbineers]...This message was to the effect that we had better return as the enemy were fast surrounding us. Colonel Durnford remarked, 'The enemy can't surround us, and if they do, we will cut our way through them'....He [Durnford] then told the two Carbineers to return and tell Lieutenantt Scott to support him with his picquet. The Natal Carbineers replid, that Lieutenant Scott would not leave his post an any account whatever, as he had strict instructions from Colonel Pulleine not to leave his post on any pretence whatever. Colonel Pulleine replied : 'I am Colonel Pulleine's senior ; you will please tell Lieutenant Scott to do as I tell him' (1).

At that moment, Durnford obviously did not realize the importance of the Zulu attack: his intention was to break the attack by a “charge forward”.

According again to Davies:
“It was during this conversation [ wih  the 2 NC] that our scouts reported the enemy in sight. We looked up to the ridge on our front and could see the enemy in great numbers about 1,500 yards, steadily advancing and firing us”.

Other witnesses described the same scene :
-« Having proceeded between 5 and 6 miles, a mounted man came down from the hills on the left, and reported that there was an immense impi behind the hills to the left ; and he had scarcely made the report when the Zulus appeared in force in front of us and to our left. They were in skirmishing order, but 10 or 12 deep, with supports close behind » (Lt Cochrane) ;
-« But when we had got about 4 miles a white man came galloping [sic] after us to say that it was a ruse on the part of the Zulus, as the great army was now appearing, & would attack the camp ». (Jabez Molife, NNH)

It is at this moment that Durnford decided to change tactic, to make a fighting retreat:

-« It was during this conversation [with the messengers] that our scouts reported the enemy in sight. We looked up to the ridge on our front and could see the enemy in great numbers about 1,500 yards, steadily advancing and firing us. Colonel Durnford gave the order for us to extend our men, and wait for the enemy to come within 400 yards of us, then Henderson's and my Troop to retire, and fire alternately towards the camp. We did as were were ordered » (Lt H.D. Davies)
-  « The Colonel called to me, saying 'What are those scouts I sent out about', he was angry. We turned, & then we heard firing over the ridge between Zikali's men  & the Zulus, & we saw very many Zulus Between us & the Camp there were two water-courses & some broken ground. We rode back fast as far as the 2nd stream , so as to get between the Camp & the Zulus who were now pouring over the ridge in great numbers, going towards the camp.
The Colonel placed us in a thin line right across the country....We fought here also on foot. After this we remounted & retreated 20 yds, always in a long thin line, then dismounted and fired, up again for another ten yards... » (Jabez Molife, NNH).

Given the informations delivered by the messengers and the view of the great number of Zulus facing him, it's possible that Durnford could realize a Zulu attack was underway on the camp. This would explain that he took the decision to begin a fighting retreat for the reason given by Steve:“I believe that all he could realistically do was to try to relieve the pressure from the Zulu left horn long enough to allow a defence to be cobbled together nearer the camp” (or in the camp).
Otherwise, what is the reason to make a fighting retreat when Durnford would have easily flee the danger and take refuge in a camp consisting of "seaoned" coys of Imperial Infantry and guns?
Keep in mind that Durnford was probably the only senior Officer in British Army in Zoulouland in January 1879 who could boast of having witnessed the maneuvers of a Zulu Regiment, even if it was in peacetime. (David Jackson; “Hill of the Sphinx”, p.19)

Cheers.

Frédéric

Note n°1 : About the order given to Scott, the testimony from Trooper Barker, Natal Carbineers is useful :
« Whitelaw [a Natal Carbineer] reported a large army avancing, 'thousands'...and he was immediately sent back to camp with the report. He would be about eight a.m. He returned with a message to Lt Scott that we were to watch the enemy carefully and send back reports of their movements ».
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Tue Nov 08, 2016 2:05 pm

Nice one Frederic, puts a lot into context
As you pointed out prieviously memories differ. Jabez molife reports a lot that no one else has done.
I struggle to put him into context and some sort of order.
He is the only one who mentions the messenger telling them it was a ruse, how on earth would a messenger know that at such an early stage of the battle.
I don't believe there was a time when there was 'many Zulus between Durnford and the camp.' At the most were the skirmishers that attacked the RB.
He seems to indicate that there was no fighting retreat in that they 'rode back fast until the second stream.'
Davis disagrees with that.
Molife also takes credit with being the man who told Durnford to turn back.
The fighting retreat, Frederic, has always been a puzzle, there seems little reason behind it. Durnford had a reason, we don't know what, and I don't believe Col Snooks comments that he had gone Cowboy.
But I do at this stage, and Im really happy to be dissuaded, believe that it was a wrong decision. A mad dash back to camp and get organised would have been the preferred tactic. Even more so IF as you have so successfully argued he was aware of the impending doom and the level of the attack.

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Tue Nov 08, 2016 2:08 pm

Given that the troopers would need to dismount and remount each time, 10 yards doesn't seem very far to travel. If each man had 50 rounds, that wouldn't cover much more than a quarter of a mile.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Tue Nov 08, 2016 2:30 pm

Hi Eaton
One of the curiosities of Jabez Molifes statement Im afraid. I don't believe that the troops did dismount on the retreat, they were all born to the saddle and were skilled in shooting from a mounted position. Im pretty sure that the phase he refers to is after they got into the donga, it was the only time that they were strung out in a long line. Prior to that they retired by company. Davis and Henderson both describe it.
Davies gives a clue that they fired every 400 yards, that makes a lot more sense. So around 4 stops per mile, 5 mile retreat and twenty firing points so by the time they got to the donga only 30 rounds per man left, hence they could only defend for around 30 minutes or so.
There was however a regulation procedure for dismounting and firing at an enemy, every forth man was dedicated to holding the reins for three men who dismounted knelt and fired. It is a possibility that occurred. A further possibility that was learned from the Boer was to dismount and wrap the reins around the right arm, fire then remount and retire.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Tue Nov 08, 2016 2:32 pm

Bonjour,
Frank,

About Molife, (memories differ), Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy , you are right!(I.E: the testimony from Molife is not dated).

You believe that the decision taken by Durnford was a wrong decision...unless he sent a message to Pulleine during his fighting retreat warning him of the attack?

I keep in mind that Durnford used te same (victorious) tactic as the Boer .

A friend to me , a specialist of the AZW wrote on anoher thread:

"Somewhere in the dim recesses of the mind is a battle that was fought between the Boer and either the baPedi or Mzilikazi [ a Zulu] where around 100 horsemen turned an army of around 8 to 9000. It was probably more in frustration that the impi turned and 'retreated' being stung with a pretty solid volley time after time and not being able to catch the horsemen took its toll.
There was an interesting situation when Piet Retief visited Dingaan and his small squad of men rode around an assembled impi shooting at full pace, firing just for effect, Dingaan christened them 'the wizards'. So there was a bit of superstition about the horsemen".

Cheers.

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Tue Nov 08, 2016 3:02 pm

Interesting quotes Frederic. I quite like Molife's version.

1."At four miles a white man came galloping after us' - a warning from the piquets on the conical hill that they are being surrounded?

2. "Durnford begins the fighting retreat which brings him back down the Quabe valley.

3. "We hear firing over the ridge between Zikali's men and the Zulu". These are Durnford's men he sent up earlier.

4. Durnford emerges from the Quabe Valley and now has a view to his left along the foot of the ridge (before he rounds the Conical Hill). Here Molliff sees "very many Zulus between us and the camp". Credible because the attack by the Zulus over the ridge towards the out flung lines of the 24th had begun 20 minutes before the left horn came down the Quabe.

5. Durnford defends the Donga.

The reason he doesn't high tail it back to the camp is he knows the firing line is now as far forward as himself.

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Tue Nov 08, 2016 3:09 pm

Bonjour Steve,

Unfortunately (I.E: for the hypothetis), it seems to me that the point 3 refers to the natives of Nourse (with the rocket battery).

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Tue Nov 08, 2016 3:19 pm

...and I enjoy indeed your points 4 and your conclusion! Very Happy Wink
Cheers

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Tue Nov 08, 2016 4:52 pm

Hi Frederic

Your right about 3. Zikali's men with the Rocket Battery, not those with Barton and co.

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Tue Nov 08, 2016 11:33 pm

Frank Allewell wrote:
Frederic
We do know that the Mounted Native was reported by, Fynn, Newman and Gosset. The message he delivered has been recorded as
A) He had seen the camp destroyed
B) The camp was demolished.
So three confirming reports that there was a Native messenger.
Chelmsford got back to the Mangeni plain around 12.30, again well reported.
He spent time looking at the camp site and eventually rode up to the lip of the plain to look across at iSandlwana in the distance.
Some time over that period the Native messenger arrived, variously reported as from Durnford, HB and the camp.
None of the times work because of the distance travelled or as you quite rightly point out the HB attitude to Natives, and the facts that all his, HBs, messengers were white and a minimum of NCO level.
So a theory to play with:
Chelmsford with his party, that would include Newman, Fynn and Gosett are on the the Eastern side of the Mangeni Gorge looking at the proposed camp site. A group of officers are observing iSandlwana from the lip, they see whats happening at the camp and send a mounted messenger across to Chelmsfords party, around two to three kilometres away but in sight. That messenger then reports to, say, Gosset, that the camp is under attack its been destroyed etc.
Would that scenario fit the known facts?

Very Happy Very Happy

Frank,
I can’t agree with your analysis:
Fynn wrote that a mounted native told to him: "The Zulus have taken and demoslished the camp at Sandlwana completely".
The narrative of Fynn was given in 1913.
As I wrote previously, under a traumatic event or an extroardinary event, often memories do not match the reality. This is more truth 30 years later.
Other witnesses have written a very different version
Major Gossett: “When thus engaged a native came with a report from Commandant Browne who was with his native battalion watching the road between us and the camp that a large force of Zulus was in their front near Isandhlwana”.
This account was written in 1906 with the same reservations written about the testimony of Fynn.
Norris newman wrote; “One of our mounted natives came galloping down from the opposite ridge, whence the camp could be see, and reported to a Staff-Officer that an attack was being made on the camp, as he had seen heavy firing and heard the big guns. On this being reported to LC (…)”.
Crealock wrote: “About 1.45 p.m., however a native appeared on a hill above us, gesticulating and calling. He reported that heavy firing had been going on round the camp. We galloped to a high spot, where we could see the camp”.
Milne wrote: We then went on to look for bivouacing for the night and had not gone far when one of the mounted native came and reported heaving firing at the camp”.
According to Milne’s reported times this occurred after 1.30 pm.
There are also the group of native mounted seen by Trooper Symons (Natal Carbineers).

Ultimately, only one report (Fynn) mentions the destruction of the camp.
Milne added the following clarification in its report "Unfortunately the messengers sent by Commandant Brom (sic /HB) failed to find the General".
Keep in mind that according to NN the native’s report was brought to the knowledge of LC and Crealock. the principal Staff Officer of LC acknowledges having receipted this report.
So, for  these reasons and others (in particular the aversion of HB for the natives), I suspect that the native messenger was not sent by HB.
Anyway, we are agree on this point.
With the exception of the narrative from Fynn, the others testimonies evoke only “heavy firing”.
LC met Harness (bearer of the oral message of Develing sent by HB) ONLY after he receipted the report from the native (Norris Newman). LC said to Harness “: he had received a report of the state of the camp but nothing like so strong as the message I received’.
The message received by Harness was:" I received a message from the camp saying that the camp was surrounded by Zulus and, unless it had assistance, much be taken”
It’s an indication that the testimony from Fynn is not accurate.
Only Durnford could be the sender of the message and the timeline works with the notion of “heavy firing”.
Cheers
Frédéric
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Wed Nov 09, 2016 6:55 am

Morning Frederic
Your statement:
"Norris newman wrote; “One of our mounted natives came galloping down from the opposite ridge, whence the camp could be see, and reported to a Staff-Officer that an attack was being made on the camp, as he had seen heavy firing and heard the big guns. On this being reported to LC (…)”.
Crealock wrote: “About 1.45 p.m., however a native appeared on a hill above us, gesticulating and calling. He reported that heavy firing had been going on round the camp. We galloped to a high spot, where we could see the camp”.
Milne wrote: We then went on to look for bivouacing for the night and had not gone far when one of the mounted native came and reported heaving firing at the camp”.
According to Milne’s reported times this occurred after 1.30 pm."

Noggs was an experienced reporter well used to recording situations and events. The observations you make point to an alternate source other than Durnford. Both Noggs and Milne record it as "our native", unfortunately not "Durnfords.". I would believe that you can dismiss testimony based timings and even dialogue, but not events, especially first hand witnessed. Noggs for me is something you have to go around to more firmly establish your theory.

The scenario I painted in the Mangeni thread answers the questions and fits all the known facts and fully agrees with Noggs.

Cheers

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Wed Nov 09, 2016 11:10 am

Bonjour,
Frank,
You are severe and harsh with my previous post!!!!! Very Happy  Very Happy  Very Happy  Very Happy
My intention is never to dismiss "events, especially first hand account" without honest reason, especially when a testimony is corroborated by other(s).
Before dismissing the testimonies from Fynn and Gosset, I tried to show that the testimony from Fynn was unreliable (the meeting between LC and Harness) and that the messenger could not be a man of Hamilton-Browne (according to Gosset) after reading the report from Milne and the aversion of HB for the Natives.
I submitted this "analysis" to your approval and the other members
The 3 others testimonies (Crealock / Milne / NN) were in my mind similar.
In my  mind (with the problem of translation English-French), "our native" meant only (and apparently wrongly) "native rallied", but I understand now your point.
Incidentally, you wrote: "Both Noggs and Milne record it as "our native": Please, where Milne wrote "our native"? In my copy of his testimony, Milne wrote "one of the mounted native".

I understood you scenario but I am not convinced by it.  Very Happy
but I try to keep an open mind :I admit that your scenario is possible. Wink... if you/we can demonstrate that some natives (in the Mangeni) were mounted. As you know, there are not native mounted units in the Mangeni with LC.
You wrote in a previous post that you have no idea about the unit of this native.
If this native is not a Durnford's trooper,  I wonder if he could be a native attached to Drummond.
Amitié.
Frédéric
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Wed Nov 09, 2016 12:43 pm

Sorry Frederic. I meant neither.
Im more than happy to expect 30 year old accounts to have memory lapses, Iv found generally though that those lapses are more likely to be in terms of times and conversations, utterances etc. In general actual actions, although frequently taken out of context, do seem to be more factual. There are exceptions, such as Newman. I have no doubt at all that he spent most of his life writing notes ready for his 'copy' to be sent of to his paper. He did in fact get copy away very fast from RD. Wasn't his the first news to break in Cape town? In view of that im more than likely to believe his version, as in his book, so when he comment it was OUR native and dictates where he came from it has to have a ring of truth. Sorry Im in error when I mention Milne's comments do seem to indicate a proprietal side to claiming the Native. Milne also mentions him as being 'one of' so indicating a group or minimum of a pair. As to what company they were attached to I don't know. I have no idea if that scenario is right or wrong, we never will, its just something that fits.

Cheers mon ami
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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Wed Nov 09, 2016 2:41 pm

Frank,
Thanks for your answer;
You are probably right about NN. He was an experienced professional journalist and in the past if my memory is not faulty an Officer in the British army.
This thread is not resolved but I am glad: Personally I learned things and I discovered other (relevant) points of view, other possibilities to explore. It's the interest of a forum!!!
Merci à vous, à Steve et aux autres membres.
Bon après midi.
Fred

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Thu Nov 10, 2016 1:35 pm

I wonder whether Newman was in fact being much more literal when he says "our" native. He is a journalist writing for a general audience after all and is much more likely to mean a "native on the British side" when he uses the term "our" in this context, than he is to mean, more narrowly, "one of those out with Chelmsford". I don't think it necessarily gets in the way of Frederic's case at all.

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PostSubject: Re: Durnfords retreat.   Thu Nov 10, 2016 2:22 pm

Steve your quite right, its all open to interpretation. There is however no pointers to the rider being a Durnford man. Don't you think Noggs would have been a tad more precise in saying so?
My issues with that theory are all based on time and distance. As we have gone through a time frame in the Quabe valley, the attack on Durnford could not have been before 12 oclock as we have postulated earlier in the thread.
Gardner estimates he left the General around 10.30 getting into camp between 12 and 1. As he waa there when Shepstone arrived with the news of the attack that puts him closer to 12. So garden arrives virtually the same time as Durnford is attacked. Its taken him 90 minutes to ride back from Mangeni. From the position Durnford had reached its a tad closer to Mangeni so a riding time would be between 75 to 90 minutes going flat out, no road from the valley mouth so all across country and the dongas. That would put a messenger from Durnford at Mangeni as a minimum of 1:30. Noggs, that seasoned observer, puts a time of 12.30 on the first sounds of battle being heard from the ridge And notice being passed to Chemsford shortly afterwards. Timing doesn't work Im afraid. My second objection is the number of detachments that Native messenger would have passed through to get to the Mangeni lip. Firstly HB and his merry men plodding back to the camp, no mention of this from HB, in fact he gets much closer to the camp before realising there is a problem. Secondly Russell had returned from iThusi area and had off saddled below the hills, and thirdly between Russell and HB was Harness and a Company of troops. Harness doesn't mention any warnings from Durnford, only HB. The nays are much stronger than the ayes.

Cheers

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