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  Durnford's Rocket Battery

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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Sat Feb 03, 2018 1:00 pm

Julian Whybra wrote:

 Politics?  Me?  Nah, that's for cissies.  

Drummer Boy is currently trying to survive his 3rd year getting a Politics degree and does not need to see this kind of negativity when he looks at the forum instead of doing his uni work Rolling Eyes Very Happy
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:46 pm

Dear Cissy,
Actually politics is also cut and thrust but history is simply cut and thrust continued by other means.
You want to try sitting in front of bunch of history dept professors and delivering the first chapter of your Ph.D. for them to tear it apart, now there's blood and gore (or was that all part of the politically-correct, acceptable ritual? Come to think of it, one of them was South African, white and of European origin of course; does that count?).
Julian
P.S. Good luck with the surviving!
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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:32 pm

[quote="Frank
IK is unsurpassed in his knowledge so for me to get close to him is pretty mind blowing. We have corresponded in the past on other issues but never discussed this one.

[/quote]
Bonjour Frank,
In this case you are probably very proud. To my knowledge, it's thé 2nd time that IK wrote a similar view after some "new" thoughts written by you. I am impatient to read your full essay (i have already two questions in mind).
Amitié
Fred
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:24 pm

Julian Whybra wrote:
P.S. Good luck with the surviving!

90th has provided hangover tips so i may just make it Salute
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Tue Feb 06, 2018 9:41 pm

Just for interest, I have put together a panorama of the ridge from the plain. Isandhlwana on the far left, Amatutshane (Conical Hill) slightly further to the right ( below the level of the ridge) and the (N)notch clearly visible as quite a long dip in the skyline above the village. Significant dongas below Itusi on the right and swinging back around towards the village. As I understand it, thinking is now that the RB headed more to the left of the notch (which is where the current road runs and was then probably easier ground), than to the right as originally thought and which is difficult ground.

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Steve Reinstadtler
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ymob

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Tue Feb 06, 2018 9:52 pm

Bonsoir Steve,
Very well done!
After the attack of the Rocket battery, Nourse lost his horse . I wonder what is the distance between the location of the RB and the conical hill when he met Dunrford's troopers. Nouse was "on foot" pursued by the Zulus...
Cheers
Fred
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xhosa2000

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:46 pm

Great bit of stitching Steve.. below maybe a tad clearer.

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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:55 pm

Excellent photos you two!
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:36 pm

Hi everyone. This is my first post on your forum though I have being viewing it for some time.
(Being a luddite I'm not a great one for forums to be honest)
This thread however made me join at last as I have a real interest in the RB and the news of Talylor's letter is really exciting.

The location of its final demise has intriged me for many years so I have followed this thread with great interest.
I hate to rain on anyone's parade here but the idea of the notch being north of aMatutshane rather than further east in the location of the historical Notch  is not a 'new' theory. I came across these maps  when I was doing my Rocket Battery research for my partially completed book about them.
If anyone has these books and I'm sure you all do check out the following pages.
1/ The Zulu War 1879 by Alan Lloyd 1973 page 75
2/ The Zulu War  A Pictorial History by Michael Barthorpe Published 1980 page 51
3/ How can men die better by Mike Snook 2005 p84
4/History of the Zulu war and its Origins by F.E. Colenso fold out map page 255 from 1881!!

I have been to the battlefield on several occasions and in 2014 looked at this area with Ian Knight. Then in 2015 I went back and carried out some serious research looking at both n/Notches, timing how long it took to reach both from the camp and the topography of the terrain in relation to how easy it would have been to traverse with rocket carrying mules.
The historical Notch, in my opinion, is impassable (though there is a track up through the trees to the west of the gorge which travels through a wooded area which has a winding path past the remains of a substantial farm building.)
Also the timings to reach the historical Notch would throw all the other timings we have, out the window. In my opinion the notch north of aMatutshane (north of the new road)is where I believe they were were overun,with Nourse falling back and being picked up to the south west of aMatutshane.
The route Frank mentions in Julian's book of them travelling to the north of aMatutshane seems a little improbable looking at the terrain and the donga's in that area. As we know they  had been marching all morning, why make life hard for themselves battling through dongas when they had just seen saw Durnford gallop off down a servicable track. (I appreciate over 139 years  the landscape may have changed though the main dongas are shown on maps of the time so were obviously there.)
But thats just my little old opinion.
I look forward to seeing if this letter brings anything else to light in relation to the RB.
Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:23 pm

Gardner
I would suggest that the probability of the RB trying a northern route is actually very strong PROVIDED they did not know the country (which they didn't). Any of the carbineers or those on picquet duty would have told them that there was a way up/across to the north of Amatutshane - indeed Barker himself told them so. Nourse also stated that the Battery took "a short cut" rather than follow Durnford to try to make up the 2-mile gap between them.
The text in the books you mention certainly don't endorse a Defile location rather than the traditional Notch and Barthorp's map definitely shows the Notch and not the Defile, ditto Snook.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:27 pm

Hi Gardner1879, welcome.. great first post.. yeah, why flog all over those donga's,
does not make sense, and remember the RB knew they might find them self-self's
in action.. you my friend have no doubt put the cat among the pigeon's. nice one.
xhosa2000
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:51 pm

Hi chaps
Thanks for the welcome replies.
I thought, Julian, the shortcut was the RB turning north from their easterly path and heading towards the iNyoni ridge to (hopefully) join Durnford who had disappeared around Itusi.
The Barthorp map though crude shows were they were overrun after having made the turn north towards the low point in the ridge north of aMatutshane.

For them to progress north of aMatutshane, the carbineers would have had to have spoken to them very early on in their travels. Russell would have initially tried to follow his commanding officer and only after they outsripped him (which would have taken a certain amount of time) and disappeared off into the distance  would they then think 'hang on we need a short cut' at which point the Carbineer spoke to them and then they turned north. This happened just as they were passing aMatutshane.
I hope this makes sense. As I said in my first post I'm not great with forums.
Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 07, 2018 8:11 pm

Welcome Gardner, it's always good to have a new contributor who has actually walked the ground. And you make absolute sense. But I don't see a text anywhere that sets out which part of the longish (N)notch area the RB tackled, or indeed any text that announces a change of mind on behalf of any author, so what exactly is the "theory" that you believe is long standing? . As far as the maps are concerned, I attach an enlargement from the Colenso/Durnford book of 1881 which places the demise of the RB at the foot of the escarpment (18), when we know from the testimonies previously quoted that they got further up before they were engaged. Whether they initially went north or south of Amatutshane I still do not know, but I can see the argument why they might have gone north - but that's why we need the new theory.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 07, 2018 8:42 pm

Hi Rusteze thank you for your welcome.
This is how I see it. As it stands there are 3 theories.
The conventional history says the battery headed east and then just before arriving at Itusi turned north and started climbing the 'historical notch' shown on many contemporary maps. Unlikley due to the time it would take to get there and the terrain of the gorge.

The new theory, to my thinking, is that they didn't get that far. They had just passed the southern side of aMatutshane before getting a message and heading north towards a low point in the ridge( hence taking a short cut) which is north(slightly east) of aMatutshane. It is this theory which is not in fact new but has already been explored by previous historians.

The new new theory (Franks) as far as I understand is that they didn't head east passing south of aMatutshane and then turned north but headed between aMatutushane and iNyoni which I find hard to believe looking at the terrain. As I said the carbineer would have had to have spoken to Russell early on for that to happen and would Russell take the word of a carbineer or try and follow his commanding officer for some time before realising he was being left behind?

I think the second theory is the most probable looking at the terrain and how long it would take to get there. The battery crew were weary and footsore (I've walked from RD to Isandlwana during my research as I'm sure many on this forum have). They would have been knackered. There late arrival meant they hadn't had a chance to eat or chat to their mates in the camp before they were setting off again.They would have followed Durnford on the track of least resistance rather than the unseen pitfalls waving in the long grass. The shortcut was only needed AFTER they had been left behind.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:11 pm

Thanks for that, I tend to agree that it is between option 2 and 3. A very basic question, but I am not sure of the answer. Were the RB crews on foot leading the mules or were they mounted themselves? I realise the NNC escorts were on foot. And would they not already have been left behind by Durnford, who had left before them, by the time they reached Amatutshane?

Steve Reinstadtler
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:11 pm

There late arrival meant they hadn't had a chance to eat or chat to their mates in the camp before they were setting off again.They would have followed Durnford on the track of least resistance rather than the unseen pitfalls waving in the long grass. The shortcut was only needed AFTER they had been left behind...From Gardner1879....

|Gardner1879, again a good point, but just so everybody is aware, some people are endeavoring to
pinpoint the EXACT point of contact between the RB and the Zulu. now that is a tall order, some might think it impossible!.. this is going to run and run, with i expect a few surprise's in the wing's.
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Gardner1879

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:30 pm

If you sit on top of aMatutshane and look north at about the 1230 on a clock face there is a low point in the iNyoni ridge.
The battery were half way up heading towards this low point as it was the path of least resistance when they were hit.
Your right though Xhosa without any archaelogical evidence its hard to pinpoint exactly.

Apparently they arrived at camp and were directed to the front of the NNC camp just as Durnford was about to leave. Muttering and cursing with the mules whinnying they would have been ordered to push on.
Russell was obviously mounted and one of the survivors talks of holding horses. However why horses would have been issued to the 24th crew when the battery could only move at the pace of a walking man leading a mule, I'm not sure of.
I've done some indepth research into the mules (its amazing were this interest takes you)and with the rocket panniers they would have been pretty much at their maximum carrying capacity. They too would have been pooped and it would have been difficult to have pushed them hard after the mornings work. (poor things)
Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:14 pm

All
I am sorry but you are missing out one essential point which negates your first two theories. Barker was taking a message from Scott back to the camp about the Zulus on the plateau.
Scott was on iThusi. He was not on conical koppie (he couldn't see anything on the plateau from there).
Barker's route back from iThusi as made clear in my essay would not have been east and then along the south of Amatutshane.
Instead it was the obvious route (see my essay).
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:38 am

I should know by now that the essay needs careful reading! In a nutshell, it proposes that Barker came down the "defile" from Itusi and it would make absolute sense for him to then head for the camp by the direct route north of the Conical Koppie - where he meets the RB and directs them up the defile that he has just come down. I now get that, but what I am left wondering is why the RB chose to go north of the Koppie in the first place when Durnford had gone south. Are we are saying that Durnford understood the difficulty of the terrain they would encounter on that route while the RB did not ? - they certainly didn't know they were about to bump into Barker when they made that decision. Perhaps we should wait for Frank's further essay which I know is more wide ranging than just this particular detail.

Steve Reinstadtler
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:50 am

All
I am sorry but you are..... Julian, you refer to all... i have my own opinion which i have yet
to share.. i as a rule have never attached more than a cursory nod to minutiae, i understand
the need to dissect, and maybe revise and if necessary challenge primary sources... but that
is very difficult when the precise location of the Rocket Battery can not be determined, unless
the area is scientifically scoured. that will never happen.. so lets see how this all pan's out. i
thought you might have given Gardner1879 a warmer welcome.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:34 am

Gardner1879 wrote:

Russell was obviously mounted and one of the survivors talks of holding  horses. However why horses would have been issued to the 24th crew when the battery could only move at the pace of a walking man leading a mule, I'm not sure of.
Very Happy

Hi and 'welcome' to the cauldron Gardner,

Leaving aside the terrain and other variables....I assume the RB were mounted because in the normal state of affairs, the mules could move faster than a walking man - when led by a man on horse. On the day the RB were accompanied by a company of NNIC but this was just an ad hoc set up and not the norm....probably only because the Nourse's Coy had come in with the RB and were part of the same 'column'.

I believe the RB had been mounted since its inception and there must have been a reason - other than the comfort/fatigue level of the gunners/crew.

Its quite possible that the artillery limbers were mule drawn - one of my colleagues (sorry forget who) on this forum has said that mule shoes were found amongst the bones of the RA 'horses' in the donga.

We love to see in films (or to imagine) cavalry units galloping willy-nilly across the land but horses have to be walked at intervals (they can only gallop for a couple of miles before getting tired, they can go on with walk breaks at the canter for hours).....and horse walking pace is around 4mph.....very similar to walking pace for a man on foot (excluding terrain)

Cheers

Sime

ps before someone mentions the 4 miles of the Grand National course.....we weren't talking about racehorses..... Rolling Eyes
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PostSubject: Gunner William George Taylor    Thu Feb 08, 2018 7:20 am

Welcome Gardner 1879 . Hope you have a great time here on the Forum .
90th Salute
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:07 am

Gardner
May I ask you a question since you obviously are aware of the precise location you have in mind for the final position of the RB i.e. its furthest extent from Isandhlwana.
Would it have been visible from the camp or would it have been beyond the escarpment-koppie connecting nek and out of sight?
P.S.  Welcome to the forum, it's good to have some new blood on the site (I don't mean that literally!)
P.P.S.  Nod to Xhosa.

xhosa
You are quire right.  I should have sent Gardner a welcome note.

rusteze
You are also quite right.  The evidence presented in the essay does need to be look at very closely.  The devil is indeed in the detail.  But Frank will have more to say on this subject.  And so shall I.  It should make its appearance in two further related essays.

SRB
You are I think correct in your assumption that the battery was mounted, but was walked. RBs were originally detachments of the Royal Horse Artillery. The only drawing I can find of them has the men leading their horses with what appear to be troughs fastened to the rear of the saddle (although I cannot be certain from the drawing). The mules are following behind with rocket-boxes on either flank. Russell's RB had a European muleteer with it but what happened to him I've been unable to discover.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:02 pm

Julian,

Can you point me in the direction of the illustration please? As I have an interest in the rocket batteries at present.

The Hale’s rocket trough apparatus only weighed 27lbs., so in my opinion not too great a weight for a mule to carry, given those in mountain gun batteries were carrying parts weighing between 150lbs to 200lbs.

Each field battery carried the 9lb’er Hale’s rocket equipment. By 1879 they were no longer exclusive to the Royal Horse Artillery, and the system had improved greatly from the original Congreve rocket system which was carried in rocket carts not unlike those used by the Naval Brigades in 1879.

Simon,

I was the person who mentioned about the mule shoes discovered during the dig at iSandlwana. Colonel Ian Bennett was convinced that N/5 was mule-drawn rather than horse-drawn. There were a number of mules listed in battery’s losses.

JY
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:12 pm

John
I've e-mailed you.
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Julian Whybra



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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:14 pm

For info.
The men of the Rocket Battery had four horses between them.
In addition Russell and Taylor had a horse each.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:29 pm

Hi,
So they did not have a horse each? I didn't know that, I assumed (which you should never do, I spose) that each man had a horse. The fellow, I refer to as 'X' - the man, accordingly Hamer, from the rocket crew, who helped Hamer, he had a horse + a spare, could he be an unrecorded horse holder. It seems strange that the rocket crew should be partly mounted.

Cheers
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:48 pm

Very odd. 8 troopers in total plus Russell and Taylor? So two troopers per horse - did the other one ride a lead mule I wonder.

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:16 pm

rusteze

Russell, Taylor, Goff, 8 1/24th men

Symons states categorically that that the RB had four horses between 8 men.  
Taylor was holding Russell's horse (horse 1) and his own (horse 2).  At Russell's order, Taylor gave him his horse, mounted and escaped but then saw Russell's horse pass him riderless.  Taylor must have caught it to retrieve Russell's sword and belongings.  
Grant was holding the battery's four horses (horses 3-6) and said he got back to camp with three of them.  Grant must have escaped on one of them (horse 3).  He gave the other two to Trainer and Johnson (who'd escaped on foot) once they reached the camp (horses 4 & 5).  
Grant's last horse (horse 6) might have broken loose and been caught (or may have been taken from Grant) by the unnamed RB man who helped Hamer.  Certainly by the time this man met Hamer on the Fugitives' Trail he had acquired another spare horse en route.
Actg Bbdr Goff, who'd chased after the mules, must also have escaped on foot.  Once in the camp he seems to have got a horse from somewhere, perhaps Russell's horse from Taylor (horse 1) or a spare horse from the NNH.
Horses for courses, as they say.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:22 pm

'Curiouser and curiouser!” Cried Alice.......

Looking at it objectively, what was the point of mounting 60% of the battery?

It completely negates any advantage of speed or more importantly endurance of the unit, unless the other members did ride the lead mules (as Steve mentioned).

A quick look on the Internet reveals that the top speed of a mule (presumably unencumbered) is 15mph but it trots at around 8 or 9, a horse trots at between 8 and 12mph - so there is not a lot of difference in trotting speed

A US Army manual says that an 'American' mule (don't ask, I dunno) can carry 20% of its body weight (150-300lbs) for 15-20 miles per day.......probably more than enough to keep up with a horse mounted man.....on campaign, so perhaps a mule mounted remainder is not impossible.....

cheers

Sime



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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:42 pm

Simon,

To make good the mule losses at iSandlwana an officer from the C. & T. Department was sent to the southern United States to purchase mules. It would appear that the ‘American mule’ was a preferred beast of burden.

JY
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:46 pm

Couple of examples of mules and their loads from around the same time, but army in India. The second one carrying 4 copper wire coils weighing 160 lbs.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:06 pm

And if push came to shove they had a supercharged version!
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:10 pm

]Hi All
Julian thank you for the welcome.
I welcome the lively debate and am more than willing to change my point of view if suitable evidence comes to light.
My RB publiction should have come out last year but someone else got in the way and I'm am only now restarting my writing on the RB.
To be honest I'm not overly interested who finds out the information first nor about attempting to claim the RB as my own. (after all none of us have a copyright on history)
As a historian I just want to know the truth and if we all, in our little community put our heads together and come up with the answer then I will be well pleased. Very Happy
For me its just nice to see the topic of the RB being discussed at long last.

I have looked at the comments above and will deal with them one at a time.
I still believe they took the well used track when leaving the camp before heading off across country when the track turned south.  Putting aside Zulus, can I put forward a  hypothetical situation. Here it goes (stick with me it is relevant) :-

Imagine you have been out on a nice walk heading east along a well walked path through a lightly wooded area. After about 5 miles you come to the edge of the woodland and can see the track disappearing off across a heavily ploughed field covered in patchy long grass.
To your left about 10 minutes from the track you see a lovely little clearing and decide to walk there to have your sandwiches and a nice cup of tea. Once you'd finished your little picnic what would you do?
a/ Immediatly continue heading east across the heavily plough field with all its pitfalls and unknown hazards
b/ Spend 10 minutes walking back to the well worn track and continuing along there.
I suggest we would all pick 'B'

Why? Because it is human nature to take the path of least resistance. Durnford and the rocket battery had travelled 8/9 miles on said track making relatively good time. They knew it was there.
At a walking pace of 1.9 mph it takes 13 minutes from in front of the NNC camp to go back to the old track they  had arrived on. Half that for mounted men. Lets say 6 minutes for fleet footed ponies.
6 minutes to use a well known track or striking out immediatly across rough terrain. The latter just  doesn't make sense.

Johnson, Grant and Trainer talk about being at least 2 miles away from the camp before turning. That would put them well past aMatutshane.
Following Franks new route they would have had to have lost sight of Durnford very early on for them to be considering a short cut and wether you go north or south of aMatutshane makes very little diference if you are heading east.
It only makes a difference as a short cut if you wish to go north over the iNyoni ridge which early on they had no intention of doing so. Their job was to follow and support Durnford who was heading east. In fact if you head north of aMatutshane you run into all the finger like tributaries of the Nyanga donga.
If they turned north that early Durnford would still have been travelling across the plain and would not have been engaged.
I appreciate Barkers comments but why should we believe him over the survivors from the battery?

I suppose my theory is a mixture of old and new using human nature, survivors accounts and common sense.
They  headed out on the old track together. Russell fell further and further behind and as they passed on the south side of aMatutshane which is approx just under 2 miles from the camp a vidette told them of a short cut over the iNyoni ridge. This was just past aMatutshane (not further east were many contemporary maps show the historical notch just west of Itusi. This is too far away and the terrain is too bad). They then  headed north towards the low point ( I think its the defile or Kloof on the pictures in you book Julian) of the Inyoni ridge and whilst half way up were hit by the Zulus.
When I did my research in 2015 it was 2.8 miles to the geographical point of the battery being overrun going to the south of aMatutshane and then turning north, at an average speed of 1.68mph and which took me 1 hour and 41 minutes. These timings fall in roughly with the other timings for the battle.
So really I'm agreeing with Frank as to were they were attacked but I don't beleieve they went to the north of aMatutshane.
As I say a bit of old and new.

One last little comment about your book Julian. As i say the RB fascinates me and I was really interested and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The only thing that I found slightly odd was the last comment about Frank withholding information.
Surely if you are taking a case to court to gain a guilty conviction you don't go along and only disclose half the evidence.
I don't understand that. Is there a reason anyone?
Thanks chaps, I'm really enjoying this.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:14 pm

Hi John
The mules were at their maximum carrying capacity.
The saddles and pannniers (one each side each carrying 10 rockets, hence 20 rockets per mule) plus trough equates to 258lbs pretty much near an average mules maximum carrying capacity.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:27 pm

Gardner
I'm sorry but your scenario doesn't fit with the available evidence.  How would Barker bump into the rocket battery while en route from iThusi to the camp.  Such a deviation via the south of Amatutshane doesn't make sense.  I also feel you should look carefully at Nourse's account re the route.  A route such as you suggest would involve going back on themselves towards the camp before coming to the Defile.
Grant & co talk about being 2-3, 3-4 and 2 and a half miles from camp when they began to ascend the Defile, not before they began to turn to the north.
Thanks for the compliment re the book - glad you enjoyed it.  Frank asked me to withhold certain info because he wishes to publish something shortly.  And that is his prerogative.


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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 7:21 pm

The low point on the Inyoni ridge which I believe were they were overun is to the northeast of aMatutshane
If sitting on the aMatutshane it is about 1230 if 12 o'clock is north.(Franks picture on page 24 shows this)
Heading to it doesn't involve heading  back to the camp.
Johnson:-
"We were about two miles out we met a vidette of the Natal Carbineers who reported that the mounted basutos were heavily engaged on the opposite side of a hill on our left, at the same time offering to show us a shortcut to the place were the engagement was going on"

Two miles out before being shown a short cut over the Inyoni ridge. With the slow moving battery this would have given Durnford time to disappear from their view around iThusi. The shortcut was bypassing  Ithusi not travelling north of aMatutshane.

I've looked at Nourses accounts.His later one says of Durnford:-
" He took two of his Zulu companies and rode due east...........I was detailed to support a rocket battery commanded by Major Russell which was to follow in the Colonels wake, bt with discretionary powers"
When we proceeded two miles a vedette rode DOWN (my emphesis)to us from the hill and said if you want some fun come to the TOP of the hill"
His court of enquiry statement says roughly the same, with Russell being ordered to follow Russell. Both tie in with my theory.
When they retreated I believe they went between aMatutshane and the inyoni ridge but not on the approach.
Of course I could be talking utter tripe if Frank has a detailed statement from a survivor saying
"We went between the conical Koppie and the Inyoni ridge"
but at the moment we don't know. Its a bit frustrating, i must admit.
I know you can't post it on the forum Julian for copyright reasons but could you send me the section of Barkers statement relevant to this so I know we are both looking at the same evidence (there is only a short part of his statement in your new book)
Fascinating stuff, really fascinating.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 7:28 pm

Julian......I'm sorry my scenario doesn't fit the evidence.....I can't actually recall what my scenario is.....but should I ever think of a scenario, you will probably be right.... Shocked

Gardner......you have obviously never had the 'joy' of a 'Brown' family route march.....our motto is "If you can't go through, over or under - go around"
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 7:46 pm

Oh and talking of RB horses back at the camp.
check out page 184 of In Zululand by Norris Newman (Greenhill Books)
"Among the forty wagons brought away there were two water carts, three Scotch carts, one gun limber and a rocket battery cart;"

Hmm nice
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:09 pm

I have always been fascinated by the rocket cart.

However I came across this in the South African Military History Society:-

Maj Russell of 11/7 Battery was detailed to organise a Rocket Battery. Personnel consisted of Maj Russell and one Bombardier of 11/7, and eight men of 24th Regiment.

No 3 Column (Col R.T. Glyn)
N/5 Battery (Lt Col A. Harness)
Six 7 prs
Two rocket troughs
The rocket troughs accompanied N/5 during the campaign, but they were seldom mentioned in contemporary accounts.


The rockets above are separate to Russell's Rocket (mentioned first) that were with Number 2 Column.

Is it possible that there were unused troughs of N/5 battery in camp?

Here's a short cut to the full article, and I must admit, I find it confusing.

Cheers

Sime

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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:08 pm

Simon,

There’s an obvious error in Major Hall’s sentence:
Maj Russell of 11/7 Battery was detailed to organise a Rocket Battery. Personnel consisted of Maj Russell and one Bombardier of 11/7, and eight men of 24th Regiment.

Acting-Bombardier - substantive rank Gunner - 2766 George Goff, was not a member of 11th Battery, 7th Brigade, Royal Artillery.  He was from ‘N’ Battery, 5th Brigade, Royal Artillery.

As to ‘N’/5’s two rocket troughs I suspect that they were out with Harness and the two sections of the battery under his immediate command.

JY


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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:37 am

Hi John,

I never noticed that - to be honest I was not even concentrating on the Russell part.

It was N/5 rockets that I was worrying about.

Maybe there was a couple (or more) rocket carts - one of which went out (with limited ammo etc) with Harness and other with additional stuff was left in camp.

One cart to carry troughs, rockets, pots, pans and spoons etc does not seem a lot.

For once in my AZW forum life, I thought I had discovered something new - that N/5 had rockets.....

Oh well.....

cheers

Sime
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:03 am

Or could the mystery cart have come in with Durnford? The RB must have had some kind of baggage.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:31 am

SRB
Apologies, the 'scenario' post was intended for Gardner.  Not you! (Since corrected!)
Gardner et al.
A response to follow later today.


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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:52 pm

There have been a number of posts over the last two days which, I feel, have been based on false premises and have muddied the waters of Frank’s theory so here is a detailed response to them all, the devil being in the detail.

Gardner
Re your post yesterday, you made a number of assumptions and errors on which to base your arguments for Durnford’s and Russell’s resumption of a journey ON THE TRACK.

First, the track on which you suggest Durnford’s troops continued would not take them where they wanted to go.  Why waste time going south, back to the track, in order to proceed along it a short way and leave it again just beyond Amatutshane to venture up the Qwabe valley?  It just doesn’t make sense.  In terms of its being a ‘track’ it was not remotely similar to the European’s idea of a track, it was just a place where occasionally a trader’s waggon had passed.  Note that Malindi stated that Durnford passed close to his coy and close to the southern edge of Amatutshane, NOT on the track.

Secondly, you wrote that RB members stated they were 2 miles away from the camp before altering their route.  That is not so.  The three privates stated they were 2-3, 3-4, and 2 and a half miles from camp when they began to ascend the escarpment, NOT when they altered course.  The distance on my map (p. 20 – Allewell’s suggested route) is about 2 miles to that point.

Thirdly, you wrote that my/Frank’s suggested route took the RB across the finger tributaries of the Nyogane.  This was not in my book.  If you look carefully at p. 20 you’ll see the suggestion was that the RB crossed the Nyogane before altering course from a south-of, to a north-of, Amatutshane route.  
It is true that eventually if they had got farther they would have met the headwaters of the Nyanga (although if they’d stuck close to the base of Amatutshane they would only have had to cross the main donga once before proceeding up the Qwabe valley).

Fourthly, you’re assuming that Barker’s testimony is somehow at odds with the battery survivors’ testimony.  It is not.  The statements I quoted from Barker’s testimony in the book were all cross-referenced with and corroborated by other witnesses.  Unless you can prove that Barker lied or was at fault in these then you cannot dismiss his testimony or suggest that his remarks might be less truthful than those of the RB 24th privates just because they contradict your theory.  I note that you wrote that you haven’t read Barker’s testimony (apart from the sections I quote in my book) but at the same time state that your theory is based on human nature, common sense and survivors’ accounts.  
(If you’d like to pm me your e-mail address I will scan and send Barker's account to you.)

Fifthly, you state that a vedette ‘appeared’ 2 miles out just beyond Amatutshane and told them of a short cut over the iNyoni ridge.  Nourse makes it clear that the RB had already taken a short cut long before this to try to catch up with Durnford, not to get on to the ridge (first Nourse quotation my book p. 13)
After they had committed to this short cut, the RB met Barker, it was then that they proceeded up the escarpment whence Barker had come (second Nourse quote my book p. 13).
So, there was FIRST a short cut (to try to catch up Durnford), THEN there was a forward uphill movement (toward the enemy).
You have confused the two and melded them into one.  Nourse is quite specific.
Barker had ridden down from iThusi with a message for the camp regarding the plateau Zulus.  Coming down the Defile heading for the camp he would have cantered smack bang into the RB.  Why would he be south of Amatutshane?  What would he be doing there?
As for the line from Nourse which you quoted (“When we proceeded two miles a vedette rode DOWN to us from the hill and said if you want some fun come to the TOP of the hill”), you have interpreted this as being a vedette (it can’t be Barker) coming DOWN from Amatutshane.  By the evidence of your same quotation he would appear to be telling Nourse to go to the TOP of Amatutshane.  And that would make no sense at all.

Sixthly, you have suggested that you and I/Frank are actually speaking about the same location, -ish, for the destruction of the RB.  We are not.  My map (p. 20) and Frank’s photos (pp. 22-24) clearly show the track of the suggested route and Frank’s Defile on the western side of the nek connecting Amatutshane to the ridge.  Your suggested ‘notch’ is on the eastern side of the nek and is invisible from the Nyogane donga where Barker watched the destruction of the RB and invisible from the camp where there was another eye-witness to the RB’s destruction.

Seventhly, you wrote “they headed out on the old track together.  Russell fell further and further behind and as they passed on the south side of Amatutshane…”  Where is there any eye-witness testimony that the RB took this route?

Gardner, John et al.

If you look at pp. 29-30 fn. 49 you will find the sources for N/5 carrying two rocket troughs and a rocket cart and these being found in camp.  These were not the property of Russell’s RB.
Rothwell p. 145 states that Russells’ RB had three rocket troughs and no tubes.  It took 2 men to operate a rocket trough.  That’s 6 men, 2 others held the horses and mules.  And the NCO.
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:05 pm

Julian,

Little point in referring me to a document do not - as yet - possess.  

The Narrative... page 145 relates to 11th January 1879, and not 22nd.

The same work, page 156, which relates to 22nd January 1879, and states Royal Artillery, 2 rocket tubes [sic] under the heading Officers it lists 1, and under N.C.O. and men it lists 9.  The Officer in command is given as Major Russell.

From Further Papers respecting the Affairs of South Africa (In continuation of [C.-2222] of February 1879.) [C.-2242.]

No. 14. Frere to Hicks Beach, it is a copy of Lord Chelmsford’s dispatch to Lord Stanley. Dated 27th January 1879.  Chelmsford gives his ‘I regret to report a very disastrous engagement...’ report. ‘...and in spite of gallant resistance made by five companies, first battalion 24th, and one company second battalion of the same regiment, two guns, two rocket tubes, 104 Mounted men, and about 800 natives, they overwhelmed them,’

From the Natal Mercury of 13th January 1879.  ‘The second column is planted at Krantz Kop... It consists of three battalions, and is supported by two rocket tubes under Lieut. [sic.] Russell, R.E. [sic.]

Given that Russell’s infantrymen were not trained cavalrymen, I would suggest it takes more than one man to hold the six horses that you have mentioned elsewhere, let alone one man to hold the number of mules required to carry - as you contend - three rocket troughs and their associate ammunition.  Whereas nine men (ten if we include Taylor.) could easily operate two rocket troughs and attend to the required mounts and baggage animals.  

Yes it could take two men to operate the Hale’s rocket apparatus, but also another Gun Number was required to supervise its operation, and yet another Gun Number might even be used to resupply the missiles. Based on that and the contemporary evidence I submit that Russell commanded two rocket troughs, rather than three.

JY
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:28 pm

Hi,

One thing I have considered is,  if in a set piece battle - the use of horse/mule holders would be not be required - they could have been piqueted behind the lines or have NCs holding them.

The main problem was that the rocket battery was caught on the move and did not have time to prepare fully, nor have a good field of fire - though its recorded that the rockets were fired at a range of 600 yards.

I personally believe (and it is only a belief) that there were 3 troughs but the whole compliment of men (maybe not Russell) would normally be expected to operate them, and the horse holding was a necessary evil due to the tactical situation that they found themselves .

Just out of interest, although the NNIC were not normally attached to or with the RB, if the NNIC were drafted in as ammo (rocket) carriers - could they not have been drafted in as mule wranglers?

I did think that the cart in the camp was from N/5s rockets.

Was (or is) the baggage from No2 Column recorded (in detail) because I believe the RB would have had some cart amongst that.

Cheers

Simon


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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:39 pm

john
Symons says 3, Taylor says 3, Cochrane says 3.
The RB men speak of troughs...
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:13 pm

Julian,

Which Symons? William Penn or the Natal Carbineer? Whichever one please point me in the direction of the source.

Cochrane states the following, ...On this message Colonel Durnford sent out two troops mounted natives to the top of the hills to the left, and took with him two troops of rocket battery, with an escort of one company Native Contingent.... Again please indicate the source that you are citing for Cochrane?

Troughs yes this is the plural rather than the singular. So I don’t understand your closing comment, unless you are trying differentiate between the use of the words tubes and troughs. Which is why I have used sic erat scriptum above.

JY
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PostSubject: Re: Durnford's Rocket Battery    Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:08 pm

Hi Julian
Thank you for your reply. Could I ask you to pop onto the previous page and re read my post and then look at the bullet points below. I feel you may of got the wrong end of the stick with my previous long post so will try and clarify and will do so dealing with each of you r points one at a time here we go. Firstly:-
1/ “Why waste time going south back to the track?”
If you look at my timings it would have taken approx 6 minutes to get back to the track. 6 minutes to get back to a well worn track travelled on earlier that morning by Chelmsford’s force . 6 minutes to get onto a track in order to cover just over two miles at speed rather than risking going off country. Okay I know they would have eventually left the track to continue east but still..and I’ll say again ..6 minutes.
I know its not the Pennine way but its much better than trying to go over rough ground with horses.

2/ Norman Holmes p193 Pvt Johnson “About 2 miles out we met a ‘vidette’ of the Natal Carbineer’s......at the same time offering to show us a short cut”
Pvt Trainer “When we had gone from  two to three miles to the front we met one of the Natal Carbineer’s, who offered to show us a shortcut”
At no point do any of the survivors talk about making two deviations as shown on your map in your book on page 20. The statements above are the first they mention of changing course and when between 2 and 3 miles out. Which would take them beyond aMatutshane before changing direction.

3/ A bit confused with your reply post on this one.
My quote “In fact if you head north of aMatutshane you run into all the finger like tributaries of the Nyanga donga.”  If they continued east to, as you are saying, catch up with Durnford they would indeed have run into the Nyanga donga. I don’t mention Nyogane Donga at all.

4/Thanks for the offer Julian of Barkers account I will ping you an e-mail with my address.
Re his statement contradicting the others see  point 2 above. They headed out following Durnford and changed direction 2-3 miles out. If Barker says something else then I suppose it does contradict them. Human nature and common sense. If you’ve been over there which I’m sure you have. (I’m assuming Frank lives over there) you’ll know of the terrain. What you should have on your map is a symbol to show rough terrain. Why struggle over unknown rough terrain before and AFTER  the Nyogane Donga  when there was easy option 6 minutes away.Thats just common sense in my eyes.
My assumptions are based on having studied the ground and thought about what they would have done. What’s the easiest. Rough ground or track. Risk a horse breaking it leg or travel at speed?

5/Sorry don’t follow you with this one either. I’ve re read your Nourse account as well as the two I have. Russell is given orders to follow Durnford. In attempting a shortcut they are attacked.
That’s all he says. In my opinion. Durnford rides out, they attempt to follow, lose site of Durnford round iThusi and try and rejoin him by taking a short cut over the iNyoni ridge. That’s what that says to me and its reinforced by the other rocket battery survivors.
Could Barker or another Vidette posted on the Inyoni ridge not have ridden down specifically to tell Russell of the Zulu on the other side of the ridge. They would have seen him trudging east as he passed to the south of aMatutshane.
Where in Nourses account does he say they already made a short cut? He only talks of one deviation which would be the same one spoken about by Johnson and Trainer 2 miles out.
“In attempting a short cut we were attacked by an enemy in overwhelming force just before reaching the crest of a hill”
That’s all I can see unless I’m missing something? As I said why take a short cut so early on when Durnford was probably still in sight?
I keep reading my complete Nourse account that you have taken your book account from and  all it says is:-
“I was detailed to command a rocket battery commanded by Major Russell which was to follow in the colonels wake but with discretionary powers. When we had proceeded about two miles a vedette rode down to us from the hill and said- I quote his words- ‘If you want any fun come to the top of the hill. They are thick up there. We decided to go.
The ‘top of the hill’ is obviously their interpretation of the ridge.
Am I missing something here Julian?

6/ I wish I knew how to post photos on this forum as I have shed loads from my research. The low point they headed towards (and once more the common sense path of least resistance) is in the 1230 position of a clock face if the clock was on top of aMatutushane and north was 12 o’clock.
If this is not what Frank is alluding to then our positions do differ.
When you climb up towards this low point you can still see the camp. I know this as I have a photo of it. In fact it made me wonder why there were not more survivors from the camp who witnessed them firing as you can see it for most of the way up. AND you are visible from the Nyogane donga.

7/” I suppose my theory is a mixture of old and new using human nature, survivors accounts and common sense.
They  headed out on the old track together. Russell fell further and further behind and as they passed on the south side of aMatutshane”
That’s my theory Julian I’m not quoting anyone??

I am more than happy to be shown the error of my ways if I’m wrong but I just can’t see it at the moment with the ‘NEW’ evidence before me.
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