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Lt. Col. Pulleine: His Lordship is of the cetain opinion that it's far too difficult an approach to be chosen by the Zulu command. Col. Durnford: Yes, well... difficulty never deterred a Zulu commander.
 
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 The quality of Chelmsford's Column.

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Spudee



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PostSubject: The quality of Chelmsford's Column.   Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:41 am

As I learn more and more about the Zulu Wars and in particular the opponent forces, I wonder at the quality of The troops in Chelmsford's columns. They seem to have been quite a disparate group made up of various militia-type units, as well as the more formally structured units of the British armed forces. I would like to see comments and opinions about the preparedness of the column and its effectiveness. Were the various column units well trained and what was their level of combat experience? In other words, particularly when one considers the result at Isandlwana, were they up to the task? What about their leaders? With regard to the commanders, what experience did they have at the start of the war? Were they learning 'on the job' and if they had any formalised training, how relevant was it to the 1879 campaign?
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PostSubject: Re: The quality of Chelmsford's Column.   Sun Jan 15, 2017 12:22 pm

In my view there are no grounds for concluding that the "quality" of the British or Colonial forces was anything but excellent when measured against the standards of the time. The training and discipline of the imperial regiments and Corps was probably better than any other european force. The local knowledge of the Colonial units and their skills was exemplary and vital. I know of no reputable historian of the AZW who would say otherwise. The Natal Native Contingent was probably the least trained of the allied units, but they had only existed for a few months prior to the invasion of Zululand and were essentially armed civilians with Colonial officers. Remember that the combined British forces were successful on every occasion bar one. While it is undoubtedly the case that strategic and tactical mistakes were made by some officers (and politicians), and in the case of Isandhlwana it was fatal, the real problem was getting into a position where sheer weight of numbers told against them. Whatever the quality, an unprotected force could not survive at odds of 18 to one.

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PostSubject: Re: The quality of Chelmsford's Column.   Sun Jan 15, 2017 1:11 pm

Less we forget!..Hlobane.. another massacre!. too
busy lifting cattle to keep their wit's about them.
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Spudee



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PostSubject: Re: The quality of Chelmsford's Column.   Wed Jan 18, 2017 12:51 am

Thanks Steve. I hope I wasn't giving the impression that I was criticising the standard of the British forces during the AZW because that wasn't my purpose. I was just curious as to level of training and combat experience the troops had. As you say mistakes in command were made but this also happens today, despite the level of training by modern military forces. And I certainly take your point about the sheer weight of Zulu numbers at Isandlwana being almost irresistible. Do you think a square formed close the base of the mountain would have made any difference.
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PostSubject: Re: The quality of Chelmsford's Column.   Wed Jan 18, 2017 6:39 am

Spudee wrote:
As I learn more and more about the Zulu Wars and in particular the opponent forces, I wonder at the quality of The troops in Chelmsford's columns. They seem to have been quite a disparate group made up of various militia-type units, as well as the more formally structured units of the British armed forces. I would like to see comments and opinions about the preparedness of the column and its effectiveness. Were the various column units well trained and what was their level of combat experience? In other words, particularly when one considers the result at Isandlwana, were they up to the task? What about their leaders? With regard to the commanders, what experience did they have at the start of the war? Were they learning 'on the job' and if they had any formalised training, how relevant was it to the 1879 campaign?

If you had said quality of The officers, that's a different story. Chelmsford himself okay, but his selection of officers under his command could have been better.
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PostSubject: Re: The quality of Chelmsford's Column.   Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:51 am

Spudee

You are perfectly entitled to criticise whoever you want. I simply gave my view and what leads me to think it. Some, as you can see, believe Chelmsford was OK, not something I would subscribe to!

So far as forming square is concerned, I suspect that did happen in the final throws at Isandhlwana but it only delayed the inevitable outcome.

The engagement at Hlobane has also been mentioned which is also worth considering from the point of view of tactics. I think it is best regarded as a precursor to Khambula, where Wood had left his entire infantry force in a dug in defensive position to await the arrival of the main Zulu army (which he had seen coming). Hlobane was a miscalculation that caused 1/3 casualties in Buller's and Russell's mounted force, but most of them managed to retire on Khambula. Wood's prepared defensive position could not be taken by the large Zulu force which suffered substantial casualties. You might say it is what should have happened at Isandhlwana, where you might substitute Dartnell's force for Buller's. But of course Chelmsford had split his column to go after Dartnell and Isandhlwana had been left very exposed.

Steve
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PostSubject: The Quality of Chelmsford's Column    Wed Jan 18, 2017 11:17 am

Hi Spudee
To try and answer your question without going into to much detail , The 1 / 24th under Col Richard Glyn was stationed at the Cape since 1875 and had seen action in the 9th Cape Frontier War , they were very experienced in the Sth African conditions etc . The 2 / 24th under Lt -Col Henry Degacher arrived in the Cape in March 78 , it also saw action in the 9th Frontier War . Some of the Colonial Units , or quite possibly most of them hadn't seen to much action , the troops comprising the NNC also had yet to see any action , they were in the early planning stage midway through 78 , there wasn't any actual setting up of these NNC until latish 1878 from Memory . The main problem with Chelmsford's Column , besides him himself taking over command , leaving Glyn to languish in the background so to speak , there is much Primary Source Evidence regarding this in many of the decent works on the war , as well as what's been posted on here previously . The number of Imperial Troops in this Column ( 3 ) of Glyn's / C'fords was very small , in fact outside of No5 Column ( Rowlands ) it had the smallest number of Imperial infantry at 1, 275 men , Rowlands had just short of 900 Imperial Infantry . Pulleine had never commanded a combat force previously , he was more an administrator , Pulleine was a victim of circumstance , he was left in command when Chelmsford left with basically half the command early morning 22 / 1 / 79 , Pulleine was in charge until Durnford rode into the camp , military protocol dictated that Durnford was then in command , this command reverted back to Pulleine when Durnford rode out of the camp . Confusing isn't it ? . As for your question about forming a square at the base of the mountain , firstly , Pulleine's orders were to defend the camp , this couldn't be done if he relinquished the camp by attempting to form up on the slope of Isandlwana , secondly , the Square formation was used to defend against the use of Cavalry , the Zulus didn't have Cavalry so the square was seen as outdated , and wasn't in the tactical strategy , thirdly , Chelmsford had published a booklet in Nov or early Dec 78 , outlining the tactics which he wished to be used , in a nutshell , these were followed firstly by Col Pearson at the Battle Of Nyezane earlier in the day of the 22nd , Pulleine also set up his defences as per instructed by Chelmsford's battle strategy . Finally , had Pulleine realised earlier what he was in for ( which he never would , as they never ever thought the camp would be attacked ! ) , and decided to go against Chelmsford's directions and form a square on the mountain slope , I have no doubt the result would've been the same , just more loss on the Zulu side . This is simply because there wasn't enough imperial troops , and even with the Colonials & Mtd Infantry there simply wasn't enough firepower to hold back the Zulu's , having been there several times the dead ground would've hindered the British very badly , it isn't a flat plain you look onto , parts of the modern day Villages cant be seen from the mountain slope , this would've enabled the Zulu army to have a fair degree of cover . These Villages aren't that small nowadays . When you look at Kambula , where Wood had 400 or so more imperial infantry , didn't split his force as what happened at Isandlwana , had time to laager , and had a stone redoubt on a hill top , Pulleine had none of that , Wood stated it was a close run thing , in other words the Zulu nearly broke through . Hope this helps .
90th
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PostSubject: The Quality of Chelmsford's Column    Wed Jan 18, 2017 11:18 am

Steve our posts have crossed .
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PostSubject: Re: The quality of Chelmsford's Column.   Wed Jan 18, 2017 11:21 am

No problem Gary. We think pretty much the same.

Cheers
Steve
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PostSubject: Re: The quality of Chelmsford's Column.   Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:28 pm

Thanks to everyone for the very useful posts, particularly my fellow Aussie, 90th. I see the point about the possibility of the British forces forming a square at the base of Isandlwana; it seems that the Zulu numbers made any tactical decision pretty much useless. I feel for Pulleine having been left in charge at Isandlwana. Not only did he lack field command experience but the situation would also be untenable for even the most battle-hardened commander. Thanks all once again and this is all very fascinating for me.
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PostSubject: The Quality of Chelmsford's Column    Wed Jan 18, 2017 11:32 pm

Happy to help Spudee , although I only touched on the detail really , as I mentioned in other posts you will find a wealth of information stored here , even by using the Search Box under our Favourite web links on the extreme left , merely type in a word ie , Hlobane or Kambula , or whatever , many previous posts should swamp you ! Joker Joker Joker . Which is your home State Spudee ? , there are several '' of us '' on here ! . There is much to be read here , enjoy yourself .
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PostSubject: Re: The quality of Chelmsford's Column.   Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:08 am

90th, far north coast of the Premier State, NSW.
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PostSubject: The Quality of Chelmsford's Column    Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:09 am

Ahhh , a Gringo !! Very Happy Very Happy
90th Joker
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PostSubject: Re: The quality of Chelmsford's Column.   Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:12 am

Si, si Senor!
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PostSubject: The Quality of Chelmsford's Column    Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:16 am

Hahahahahahahhaaha Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: The quality of Chelmsford's Column.   Fri Jan 20, 2017 11:41 pm

Better than being a "Greaser"!!!! Hahahahahaha !!!! Very Happy
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