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 Rorke's Drift

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ymob

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PostSubject: Rorke's Drift   Mon Jun 05, 2017 1:09 am

Bonjour,
In “Rorke’s Drift, a new perspective”e by Neil Thornton, I noted that Caleb Wood gave the following testimonies:
“On 22nd and 23rd January 1879, I and a few comrades were on fatigue duty a short distance from the camp, burying some dead cattle when we heard the artillery firing at Isandlwana and also the sound of infantry volleys” (…) Having finished our work we returned to camp and had dinner” (The Ilkeston Pioneer, 26 December 1913)
In a further narrative, he gave again a similar comment (Nottingham Daily Express, 29 July 1914).
“On the 22nd I and some of my mates were out burying some cattle – cattle often die out there and you have to burry them quickly for your own health’s sake –when we heard the rattle of firearms at Isandlwana (…). We had to returned to camp, and after dinner were settling down for the afternoon …” (Nottingham Daily Express, 29 July 1914).
According to Keith I. Smith and Frank Allewell (thread: "Timeline Times"), the impi was discovered by Raw at 11h45 a.m.
So, it's plausible that Wood heard the sound of musketery before dinner.
Around 12.30 p.m., the big guns opened fire.
It's not plausible that Caleb Wood heard the sound of the big guns before dinner (The Ilkeston Pioneer, 26 December 1913) but in his second account (Nottingham Daily Express, 29 July 1914), he mentioned only "the rattle of firearms at Isandlwana", not the "big guns" .
After so many years, Caleb Wood could have been mistaken about the time, probably not about the dinner. This was probably the reason of the return of the fatigue party to the mission: to take their dinner at time.
In it’s analysis of the battle of Rorke’s Drift (“Zulu Rising” , p.478), Ian Knight stated that the first sound of musketery were heard shortly after noon:“Shortly after noon the first sounds of distant musketery from the direction of Isandlwana floated across the valley, although Chard, perhaps because of his position on the low ground by the river, appears not to have heard them. They caused a flurry of excitement among the troops up at the mission, however, and Bourne and several of his sergeants went up onto a shoulder of Shiyane to see if they could see what was going on. They were unsuccessful as the bulk of Shiyane blocks out the view from the buildings entirely, and Bourne had no opportunity to climb all the way to the top for a better look”. (“Zulu Rising”, p.477 / Source: Bourne “Listener”). Other did however … and Surgeon Reynolds and Otto Witt decided to climb to the top of the hill. They were joined by George Smith…”. It must have been about 1 p.m., and Reynolds, Smith and Witt settled down comfortably at the top to see what they could see” (p.478)
Surgeon Reynolds said that he heard the Big Guns around 1.30 a.m.
According to David Jackson, the big guns ceased firing around “1h15 p.m. or a little after” (“Hill of the Sphinx”, p.52), So, the memory of Reynolds on this point (around 1h30 p.m.) is maybe faulty. Reynolds probably heard the sound of the big guns before 1h15 p.m (“Hill of the Sphinx”, p.52)
By the way, it results from Bourne's testimony that he heard the big guns around 1 o’ clock p.m. “Of course, back at Rorke’s Drift we knew nothing of Isandhlwana disaster, although my Sergeants and I on our hill above it could hear the guns and see the puffs of smoke. But an hour later, at two o’clock , a few refugees arrived and warned us of what to expect” (Listener, 30 December 1936).

The statement of these testimonies raises two questions

1°) About Major Spalding:
Spalding made the following report:
“At 2 p.m. on the 22nd inst. I left Rorke’s Drift for Helpemekarr” (“RD’s, a new perspective”, p.73).
If the departure of Spalding was really around 2 p.m., he already knew that a fight was taking place in the vicinity of Isandhlwana since approximately two hours.
Chard would later admit that at the point of Spalding’s departure, they were aware that the camp at Isandlwana was under attack (“RD, a new perspective, footnote 23 p.177): “We knew the camp was being attached but no one had any thought of a disaster” (Chard, R.E. Journal, 1 September 1879)
Rumours were soon rife that Spalding abandonned Rorke’s Drift in the knowledge that the Zulus were approaching.
Lord Chelmford spoke out in defense of Spalding’s actions and publicly exonerated him of any wrong doing (“RD’s, a new perspective”, footnote 21, p. 177).
To defend his honor, Spalding had to bring this precision in March 1879 in “The Times”: “ I left for another part of my command just an hour before intelligence of our disaster arrived” Neil Thornton wrote about this statement : “this is consistent with Lieutenant Chard’s report”.
Chard wrote: “About 3.15 p.m. on that day, I was at the ponts, when two men came riding from Zululand at a gallop (…) I was informed by one of them, Lieutenant Adendorff of Lonsdale’s Regiment (…) of the disaster at Isandula camp” (Blue Book, c. 2260, enclosure 2 in n°13, Official report of Lieutenant J.R.M. Chard, 25th January 1879).
So the first fugitives seen by Chard arrived at RD at 3.15 p.m. effectively, a little over an hour after the departure of Spalding.
But it was the first news of the DISASTER which occurred at Isandhlwana not of the fight.
It is symptomatic that both Chard and Spalding mention in their report the first news of the “disaster”.
In my opinion, the departure of Spalding was not motivated by cowardice but by contempt for the enemy (this famous words addressed to Chard:: ‘”I see you are senior, so you will be in charge, although of course, nothing will happen, and I shall back again this evening early’. / Chard, letter to Queen Victoria, 21 February 1880).
I wonder if the official reports (Chelmsford, Chard) were deliberately "rigged" to mask the desdain for the Zulus which led to the disaster of Isandhlwana and not dirty the heroic resistance of Rorke's Drift useful to wash at home the affront of Isandhlwana.
I'm not obsessed with conspiracy theory.It's just a thought.


2°) About the reaction of the Officers in command at Rorke’s Drift.
For the Officers at Rorke’s Drift, the facts of the day are:
a°) At the arrival of Smith-Dorrien, The Officers of Rorke’s Drift knew that the day would be unusual for the central column.
Smith-Dorrien said to Bromhead “a big figtht was expected”(“Memories of forty eight years’ services”)
Ian Knight wrote about this subject: “ It had become obvious as soon as Durnford’s men had broken camp that morning, even to the private soldiers stationed there, that something had been afoot” (…)”What these movements meant to those not privy to the discussion among Lord Chelmsford’s staff was of course obscure, but it was clear that if some sort of action were imminent “(Zulu Rising”, p.475).
b°) The mission was built near the enemy's border,
c°) The garrison is not in a position to defend itself if it should be attacked.
The mission station was vital for the supply of the central column. Durnford’s move to Isandhlwana meant there were no friendly troops between the mission station and Isandhlwana.
d°) In the late morning, Chard warned that the Iandhlwana camp and even RD could be attacked.
e° ) Around noon a fight in the vicinity of Isandhlwana is known.

Before the first news of the disaster reached RD, Spalding, Chard (and Bromhead) took no steps to defend the camp.
It seems to me, to know if the reaction of the officers in command was adapted to the threat, as they knew it, we must ask ourselves if they would have reacted in the same way:
- If the enemy had been European
- or If the RD's battle had occurred in March or April 1879, after the knowledge of the Isandhlwana disaster and the fighting qualities of the Zulu army..

Regards.

Frédéric


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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Mon Jun 05, 2017 6:12 pm

Hi Frederic

In my view, it is clear that both Spalding and Chard are aware that the camp at Isandhlwana is under attack. Chard has been there himself during the morning and has seen considerable numbers of Zulus on the hills, some of whom are heading around towards RD.   Spalding's greatest priority must be to ensure the crossing is protected and in that sense the hospital complex is less important. By that time G company of the 24th should already have arrived from Helpmakaar to strengthen the defences above the ponts (not to re-inforce the hospital) and that is why Spalding decides he must return towards Helpmakaar to hurry them up. So he is responding to the fact that Isandhlwana is under attack. He also takes the trouble to check who will be in command at the hospital (Chard) - why would he do that if not to place responsibility on either Chard or Bromhead while he is gone?  I agree that he does not think anything will occur before his return in the early evening - but it is a matter of timing and judgement rather than disregard. Notwithstanding that Chard has been put in command during Spalding's absence he remains at the ponts and takes a leisurely lunch, he seems to make no effort to put preparations for defence in hand up at the hospital until Addendorf arrives with news of the disaster. I think it can be argued that Spalding is at least taking action to try and ensure the key strategic location of the river crossing is protected and that it is Chard who is being lethargic. It may be, of course, that Spalding and Chard are assuming Bromhead has put defensive measures in hand. We discussed in another thread (which I cannot now find) at what point the redoubt was started using the 200 or so NNC under Stevenson - it could have been earlier than we think.

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Mon Jun 05, 2017 11:29 pm

Bonsoir Steve,
I tend to agree with your analysis about Major Spalding.
However, in my view, taking into account the informations available to him before his depature, he is guilty at least of casualess.
In this context, his belief that anything will not occur before his return in the early evening is a nonsense.
What is the basis of this belief????
Moreover, although his initial mission was to defend the pontoons, he would have had to take into consideration the threat to the mission station and take the necessary defensive measures.
It is the role of an officer to take initiatives and to adapt to events… He was not under pressure, he had time to make thoughtful decisions

About Lieutenant Chard, his attitude seems clearly irresponsible and reckless for in Officer in command (before the arrival of the first fugitives).
You wrote; “It may be, of course, that Spalding and Chard are assuming Bromhead has put defensive measures in hand”.
It seems to me, that it would have been necessary to check. In the event of a disaster:, it’s the Officer in command who will be held responsible: he can not seriously answer for his defense: “I ASSUMED….”
Moreover, nothing in the reports of Spalding and Chard suggests that instructions were given to Bromhead by Spalding or Chard.
If Bromhead took defensive measures before the arrival of the fugitives, it was probably on his sole responsibility.

Cheers
Frédéric

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PostSubject: Rorke's Drift    Tue Jun 06, 2017 6:01 am

Hi Frederic
It's the same story again about Casualness , Lethargy etc etc , we must remember that the British never thought for one moment they would be facing a massed attack on the scale that did eventuate at Isandlwana , also there were still approximately 1,000 men left in the camp with Cannon etc , all their other experiences in the frontier wars never saw them face an attack ( except Centain ) on the scale as the one carried out by the Zulu army .Spalding , I believe , was certainly attempting to do the right thing in bringing down those troops from Helpmekaar , I don't blame Chard or Bromhead for taking it casually , without the benefit of hindsight it's impossible for those at RD to believe the Zulu Army would take the day at Isandlwana , and further more , launch an attack on RD itself , it would've been incomprehensible to the Officers at RD.
90TH Salute
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:56 am

I'm really leaning towards 90th point of view.
A few points.
The attitude of the British towards the Zulus was endemic. There was absolutely no regard for them as a fighting force, that stemmed really from Chelmsford, didn't he once comment that it would be his major worry that he couldn't engage them?
Chelmsford took half of his camp away to try and bring to an engagement the 'main force' facing Dartnell.
He left camp in the full expectation he would be fighting them.
SD had given instructions that Durnford was to move forward.
So to all intents and purpose a major operation was planned/ underway on the 22nd. Everyone in seniority at RD was aware of that.
Chard had seen the Zulu movements at iSandlwana and in spite of his later comments that he was concerned they would be heading to RD it wasn't sufficient to interrupt his lunch or induce a report of concern to Spalding. Why should it the entire 3rd column boosted by Durnford was between them and the Zulu.
When firing was heard, before Smith et al climbed the hill, it could have come from any where "in the direction of the Camp". Its possible that the early firing heard could have been reverberation from the plateau or even Chelmsfords column. Sound in that part of the country does strange things ( Wasn't it heard by Woods column).
There most certainly was not a confirmation that it was from the camp itself. Its highly possible it wasn't. So why would there be any alarm from Spalding etc? Things were going as planed, the Column was engaging the enemy and giving them a thrashing, so" lets all sit down to dinner and have a nap".
Complacency perhaps Frederic, but was it misplaced?
Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Tue Jun 06, 2017 11:26 am

Morning all

I would describe it slightly differently. The British had done a lot of work to identify the structure of the Zulu army and its method of attack - probably in greater depth than for any other potential native adversary at the time. It was not that they lacked an understanding about what they might be up against, their apparent casualness was rooted in a confidence that they could cope with it. You might say, with the benefit if hindsight, that confidence was misplaced but they learned their lessons pretty quickly when it came to the second invasion. I agree that Chelmsford has a lot to answer for in terms of setting the right tone - he was cavalier and obsessed with achieving a particularly swift outcome because he knew he was on uncertain ground politically. But there were those who took a more pragmatic view and I would now count among them Glyn.  In the past I have criticised Glyn for his apparent detachment from events and his subservience to Chelmsford. But more recently I have revised that view somewhat because of his letter to Owen after Centane and his response immediately after the disaster at Isandhlwana in the confidential report. He was certainly not lethargic or complacent but I think he was quietly contemptuous of Chelmsford's abilities (Glyn seems to have been quite close to Cunnynghame who Thesiger had been sent out to replace in 1878). Finally I come to Chard who, I believe, did display the diffidence and dullness later ascribed to him when he had been left in charge by Spalding - he needed to take action to secure his area there and then, not go and have lunch.

One glaring omission stands out for me in all these events and that is the army's failure to be able to communicate quickly over what are really quite short distances in the early days. A field telegraph line from Helpmakaar to RD and from RD to Isandhlwana (and even from Isandhlwana to Mangeni) was technically very possible, but of course Chelmsford had not given it a thought. The story could have been very different.

A few things to chew over!

Steve
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Tue Jun 06, 2017 1:57 pm

Lieutenant John Rouse Merriot Chard R.E. an ageing Lieut in
the british army with virtually no prospect of advancement
finds himself caught up in events which would propel him to
world wide recognition and fame. he had, had no choice but
to do his duty and equipped himself with honour and bravery
in what was to become ' an immortal defence ' he was then
castigated behind his back by superior officers and contemporary
colleagues.

And now we have today ' armchair generals ' joining in with
the slights and defamation... shame!.. he was just an ordinary
guy who did his best!. All honour to Chard vc.
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:34 pm

Bonjour à tous,
First remark; About Spalding.

I wrote in my first post: "If the departure of Spalding was really around 2 p.m."
This point has not been contested by any of you but both Ian Knight ("Zulu Rising" / p.425) and Neil Thornton ("RD a new perspective" / p.30) seem to think that Spalding left the mission station in the late morning.

I am not sure but it seems to me that it is a timing problem (concerning Spalding) for the continuation of the events in the afternoon....

Cheers

Frédéric




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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:45 pm

Gary Steve and Frank,
I read your messages with interest, it seems from your comments that the British (including Rorkes' s Drift Officers) showed manifest disdain for the Zulus and we rare agree on this point.

I am conscious that the points raised in my first message given the events that took place from the arrival of the first fugitives are anecdotal.

But I would have liked to know if you would be so "complacent" with the RD's Officers (except Steve)if the Zulus had attacked the mission around 3:00 pm and destroyed the mission (given the  absence of defensive measures at this time) despite the informations they had learnt during the day (objectively detailed in my first message).
If the answer is "yes", we are not of the same opinion ... and it's fun!!!    Very Happy  Very Happy  Very Happy  Very Happy
I would like to remind you that before the Isandhlwana disaster both some Imperial Officers (Melvill, Degacher, Dunbar and probably Glyn) and some Colonial Officers (Hamilton-Browne, Duncombe) disagreed with the lack of defensive measures at Isandhlwana and one of the criticisms addressed to LC  is precisely the absence of any defenses for the camp.
I suppose you have the same complacency for LC (see no offense just a little provocation) ?  Wink

Salute
Frédéric, an "armchair General"

I.E: Steve, regarding your discoveries about Glyn, I hope you post your thoughts on the forum. The subject seems exciting
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:44 pm

I think Spalding's view that nothing would happen before he was able to return that evening with re-inforcements was not "manifest disdain" for the Zulu army but I would accept that it was too casual. As to whether the general view of those at RD that the troops up at Isandhlwana would see off any Zulu attack was complacent I am not sure. With hindsight it seems to be, but they could not have appreciated the result of Chelmsford splitting his force in such a catastrophic way. It was not wrong for them to have confidence in the abilities and firepower of their main column.
I take your point about how it might have looked if the attack on RD had been at 3.00pm. But I would go further and say that had the huge Zulu force by-passed Chelmsford and the Isandhlwana camp, as they could easily have done, they would have had Natal at their mercy and RD would be just an afterthought. All arguments lead back to Chelmsford his strategy and his actions.

Steve. an armchair Field Marshall
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:49 pm

Frédéric, an "armchair General"

Little Corporal...





Steve. an armchair Field Marshall

Such rapid promotion.. Shocked
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Tue Jun 06, 2017 11:39 pm

The above was of course with tongue firmly in cheek!.

It really is a shame though that some of you feel free
to malign Chard... his place in history is assured. and
everything that we know about him has been in the
public domain for getting on a 140yrs.. and we have all
mostly read the comment's from his contemporary's,
regarding his action's post defence. i personally put most
of the comment's in two categories, sheer bitchiness and
snobbery.. and the second..envy.. I feel like i know Chard
a bit and sympathise with his situation post combat. never
mind that he almost did die a short while later.

What i would ask is that people think about Chard's role during
the defence, Along with Bromhead and Dalton, read again
what chard did!. his conduct throughout the battle, chard the
tactician as he improvised the evacuation and arranged the
final redoubt. not the actions of a slow witted man. no indeed.
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 12:05 am

Steve,
For this thread, I try not to take into consideration events with hindsight.
I only observed with objectivity the informations that the RD Officers had before the arrival of the fugitives and how they responded.
It does not matter to me that the enemies were Zulus, this is not the question in my mind since Zulus and English had never clashed in the past. In my mind, if you do not know the opponent, the normal attitude is to be suspicious and careful.
That is why, I mentioned (in my first post) if the Officers of Rorke's Drift would have reacted in the same way:
- If the enemy had been European
- or If the RD's battle had occurred in March or April 1879, after the knowledge of the Isandhlwana disaster
If the answer is no, I conclude that the Officers of RD underestimated their opponent.
As you wrote "It was not wrong for them to have confidence in the abilities and firepower of their main column", we can never agree.

Cheers

Frédéric
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 12:23 am

At Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the French had confidence in their artillery. The officer in charge of the artillery (Piroth ) had boasted of annihilating the Vietnamese's artillery. Unable to keep his promise, he committed suicide during the battle.
The same type of erroneous assertion ...

Cheers
Frédéric
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 12:27 am

Interesting thread chaps,

I agree that an air of casualness seems to have been ingrained in almost everyone from private soldier up to general (I say almost' as there were some who displayed words of caution). Chard certainly was not alone in his apparent lack of concern and cannot, in my opinion, be singled out for being slack when discounting any perceived threat. After all, if Caleb Wood is accurate in what he says, a couple of chaps were having a bath during the battle!

I included the end note about Chard's admission that he and Spalding were aware of the battle at the point of Spalding's departure as I, like others, had previously assumed that Chard was not aware of the attack on the camp, only that the Zulus were in close proximity to the camp, as he witnessed. Not that it makes any difference to the greater scheme of things but it certainly made me curious as to how and when Chard became aware that an attack had developed.

In his detailed reports Chard makes no mention of hearing gun fire emanating from iSandlwana or from anywhere else for that matter. As a result it is often assumed that he was not aware of any attack until the arrival of Adendorff (for example - see Ian Knight's comments quoted by Frederic in this thread).

However, by Chard's own admission, both he and Spalding were aware of the attack when the two held their discussion so evidently he had discovered the truth much earlier than the arrival of Adendorff. This raises a number of intriguing questions:

When and how did Chard become aware of the attack on the camp? (he doesn't mention it)
Did he hear the sounds of battle himself? (he doesn't mention it)
Did someone inform him of the sounds that had been heard? (he doesn't mention it)
Did Spalding inform Chard when the latter rode up to speak with him about what he had seen at iSandlwana? (he doesn't mention it)

In his reports, Chard's made no mention of either he or Spalding being aware of the attack at the time of their discussion but it is highly possible that Spalding knew of the attack prior to the arrival of Chard. If he didn't then the only other explanation is that Chard must have told him because Spalding left immediately after speaking with Chard, in the knowledge of the attack. However, Chard stated that he informed Spalding of the 'sighting', not of an attack... Of course, we do need to look at timings - ie what time were the guns first heard, and what time did Spalding actually leave (due to the contradictions I'm not so sure it is possible to pinpoint exact timings)

If indeed Spalding did have knowledge of the attack prior to speaking with Chard (which would seem likely) then he was clearly not concerned about it as he hadn't put any preparations in place until Chard advised him of what he had seen - ie the Zulus could make a move for the ponts.

Although not meant in any way as a slur on any individual, this does perhaps serve to highlight the overall attitude of the British and their under-estimation of the Zulus.

Apologies for going off on a tangent Frederic, I just thought I'd share some thoughts, although I guess I have only succeeded in putting forth more questions!

Neil
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 2:10 am

"It does not matter to me that the enemies were Zulus, this is not the question in my mind since Zulus and English had never clashed in the past. In my mind, if you do not know the opponent, the normal attitude is to be suspicious and careful."

My contention is that the British thought they did know their opponent.  They had done a lot of work analysing Zulu tactics and disseminated the results to all of their officers. I am sure some of them also regarded the threat as being very similar to the one they had overcome with such ease in the Eastern Cape during 1878. All of which led them not be careful or suspicious enough. Rightly or wrongly they also had faith in their vastly superior firepower - what let them down was their Generals.

I think you put your finger on it when you mention Piroth - had Chelmsford been French he might have done the same, but of course he pointed the revolver at Durnford instead.

Neil

It just goes to show that there are still things we do not know, which makes all this so fascinating.

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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 9:34 am

Bonjour,
Steve:
The reaction of Piroth (suicide) is an isolated act in the history of the French army.
About the knowledge by the British army of the specifities of the Zulu army just before the invasion, I am agree with all your points; but this knowledge was only theoretical, it was the meaning of my comment on this subject.

Neil:
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
As you wrote, "by Chard's own admission, both he and Spalding were aware of the attack" before the departure of Spalding.
The time given by the witnesses effectively is not reliable (Keith I. Smith "A question of Time").
Nevertheless, as for Caleb Wood, I tend to think that the "dinner" is a "marker" for the memory of the witnesses during the reconstruction of the events, as an un official report.
Under this assumption, I think that Spalding left Rorke's Drift after the dinner between around 1 P.M. and before the arrival of the first fugitives.
John Young in "Victoria's Harvest" wrote that Spalding left RD at 2 p.m., as indicated by himself in his report.

Cheers;

Frédéric
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 9:45 am

Neil,
You wrote: "Chard certainly was not alone in his apparent lack of concern and cannot, in my opinion, be singled out for being slack when discounting any perceived threat".
I can not agree with that thought, shared by other members.
I take a brutal and caricatural example.
If troops massacre civilian populations, you can not exonerate yourself from your responsibility in these massacres by arguing that others have done the same.
Cheers.
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 12:44 pm

Frederic
I'm not to sure of your analogy being apt. In this situation there was an endemic disregard for the 'Black' fighting capabilities, be it Xhosa Ndbele or Zulu. So to pick out one person as being a guilty party would e pointless.
I do understand your argument and that of Neil. however I would dispute

In terms of Chard knowing the camp was under attack?
In his statement/letter to Queen Victoria he merely says that he appraised Spalding of the situation ie the sighting of the Zulus. Chard couldn't have known the camp was under attack. The sounds of battle could have come from Chelmsfords Column, and quite possibly did.
Spaldings parting comment "of course nothing will happen" hardly sums up a scenario that the post may come under attack. Chard did comment that 'in the event of an attack the ponts defence would be to small', but that's hardly a definitive pointer that the post 'will be attacked.'
The fact that Chard didn't know about the attack on the camp is possiblt born out by his comments when he had heard the news from Adendorff: "I am afraid that at first I did not at first quite believe him."
If he had trouble believing the news at around 3 ish from the two men how would he have been able to inform Spalding of an attack on the camp earlier, an attack he had not personally witnessed ?

To draw any conclusion that Spalding and Chard were 'negligent in performing their duties' needs to ignore the prevailing conditions and atmosphere of the moment. I my humble opinion there was absolutely no threat to the camp and that fact was prevalent amongst the defenders. Lets face it if the main battle hadn't had its destination decided by the merest of threads that viewpoint would have been an acceptable part of history.

Cheers all.
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:00 pm

ymob wrote:


Neil:
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
As you wrote, "by Chard's own admission, both he and Spalding were aware of the attack" before the departure of Spalding.
The time given by the witnesses effectively is not reliable (Keith I. Smith "A question of Time").
Nevertheless, as for Caleb Wood, I tend to think that the "dinner" is a "marker" for the memory of the witnesses  during the reconstruction of the events, as an  un official report.
Under this assumption, I think that Spalding left Rorke's Drift after the dinner between around 1 P.M. and before the arrival of the first fugitives.
John Young in "Victoria's Harvest" wrote that Spalding left RD at 2 p.m., as indicated by himself in his report.

Cheers;

Frédéric

Hi Frederic,

I have no issue with accepting Spalding's 14:00 departure time. In fact, I actually quote Spalding's account where he states he left at 14:00 (see p. 73)

In an earlier comment on this thread, you wrote:

"...both Ian Knight ("Zulu Rising" / p.425) and Neil Thornton ("RD a new perspective" / p.30) seem to think that Spalding left the mission station in the late morning."

I have not claimed (on p. 30, or anywhere in the book) that Spalding left RD in the morning. On p. 30 I simply write that Chard informed Spalding of the Zulu movements before returning to the ponts for his lunch. For clarity, 'lunch' does not define a time.

This is precisely how Chard described the events:

"I went at once to Major Spalding on arrival, told him what I had seen, and pointed out to him that in the event of an attack on the ponts it would be impossible with 7 men (not counting the natives) to make an effective defence. (According to the orders, Capt. Rainforth's Company should have been already at Rorke's Drift.
Major Spalding told me he was going over to Helpmakaar, and would see about getting it down at once. Just as I was about to ride away he said to me 'Which of you is senior, you or Bromhead?" I said " I don't know" - he went back to his tent, looked at the Army List, and coming back, said "I see you are senior, so you will be in charge, although of course, nothing will happen, and I shall be back again this evening early."
I then went down to my tent by the river, had some lunch comfortably, and was writing a letter home when my attention was called to two horsemen galloping towards us..."

The fact that Chard spoke to Spalding prior to having his lunch does not mean it must have been in the morning. Chard had travelled to iSandlwana, remained there for some time, returned to RD and read through the morning orders before taking a quick ride up to seek out Spalding. After all that, a late lunch is perhaps not surprising.


Cheers
Neil
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:08 pm

Frank Allewell wrote:
Frederic
I'm not to sure of your analogy being apt. In this situation there was an endemic disregard for the 'Black' fighting capabilities, be it Xhosa Ndbele or Zulu. So to pick out one person as being a guilty party would e pointless.
I do understand your argument and that of Neil. however I would dispute

In terms of Chard knowing the camp was under attack?
In his statement/letter to Queen Victoria he merely says that he appraised Spalding of the situation ie the sighting of the Zulus. Chard couldn't have known the camp was under attack. The sounds of battle could have come from Chelmsfords Column, and quite possibly did.
Spaldings parting comment "of course nothing will happen" hardly sums up a scenario that the post may come under attack. Chard did comment that 'in the event of an attack the ponts defence would be to small', but that's hardly a definitive pointer that the post 'will be attacked.'
The fact that Chard didn't know about the attack on the camp is possiblt born out by his comments when he had heard the news from Adendorff: "I am afraid that at first I did not at first quite believe him."
If he had trouble believing the news at around 3 ish from the two men how would he have been able to inform Spalding of an attack on the camp earlier, an attack he had not personally witnessed ?

To draw any conclusion that Spalding and Chard were 'negligent in performing their duties' needs to ignore the prevailing conditions and atmosphere of the moment. I my humble opinion there was absolutely no threat to the camp and that fact was prevalent amongst the defenders. Lets face it if the main battle hadn't had its destination decided by the merest of threads that viewpoint would have been an acceptable part of history.

Cheers all.

Well put Frank.

Your quote - "So to pick out one person as being a guilty party would be pointless"

This is the exact pont I was making when I said - "Chard certainly was not alone in his apparent lack of concern and cannot, in my opinion, be singled out..."

If Chard was guilty of under-estimating the enemy, then so too was almost every other man involved in the campaign, and as such, he cannot be 'singled out.'


Neil
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PostSubject: Rorke's Drift    Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:15 pm

Hi Frederic
As I've always said dealing with Time Lines is fraught with danger , in my humble opinion we can never know with any certainty or semi clarity what went on at any given time , see Keith Smith , to me , it's a study case best left open . I hopefully didn't malign Chard , and or Bromhead ? , they did their job , and did it well to I might add . The thinking of the higher echelon of command ie LC ! , was what really got things going in favour of the ruination of no 3 column . As Frederic has mentioned , several Imperial Officers , and if you can believe Hamilton - Browne after the fact , Colonial Officers also had misgivings on the defensive tactics , or , as I should say the lack of such ! .
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:18 pm


"As I've always said dealing with Time Lines is fraught with danger , in my humble opinion we can never know with any certainty or semi clarity what went on at any given time.."

Absolutely Gary.

You will notice a distinct lack of pint-pointed timings in my book. I hate them... Not least because they have a tendency to come back and bite you in the arse!

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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:21 pm

Neil,
I am sorry.
According to the website "Wiktionnaire", "Lunch" means in French "repas du midi" ("dinner").
This is the reason for my misinterpretation of your comment in your book.
Cheers.
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:30 pm

It's interesting that we all take a slightly different view of this. Like Frederic, I am uncomfortable with the idea that Chard was no more nor less culpable than anyone else in underestimating the enemy. He is the one person at the drift who knows it is in danger of being attacked because he has seen the Zulus going around the north end of Isandhlwana. He returns with just that message. Spalding goes off to hurry along the re-inforcements for the same reason. As to whether they knew the camp was under attack the obvious answer is yes they did because they heard the rattle of rifle fire and the guns. It may indeed have been Chelmsford at Mangeni, but that is not the first assumption they would make. Chard's incredulity at Adendorff's message is surely because he is told the camp had been lost not that it was attacked. Chard is guilty of underestimating the speed at which the Zulu force would be on them which I think is an indication of a casual approach (no more than that) to the evidence of his own eyes.

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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:31 pm

ymob wrote:
Neil,
I am sorry.
According to the website "Wiktionnaire", "Lunch" means in French "repas du midi" ("dinner").
This is the reason for my misinterpretation of your comment in your book.
Cheers.
Frédéric

Thanks Frederic,

I'm glad it's cleared up... And no apology required!

Cheers
Neil
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:32 pm

Gary, Neil,
I know perfectly dealing with times lines is "fraught with danger", it's the reason why I quoted the essay written by KIS .
I never said that Chard and others didn't make ther job AFTER the arrival of the fist fugitives, and as Gary wrote they did it well.
Gary if you do not believe HB, you can refer to the Boers who insisted for a defensive formation in "laager" before the disaster
Cheers;
Frédéric
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PostSubject: Rorke's Drift    Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:34 pm

Hi Neil
I was quite relieved you didn't add timings here and there . We had a person with us last year on the Uncut tour , who had been working fastidiously on her timings from her earlier trips , she has a very good handle on the war , she was mortified when I said to her that I thought it was a waste of time attempting to draw conclusions re the timings . Yes , I can see where they could come back and certainly bite one's arse.... and if you weren't careful a couple of other items as well !!!! Shocked Shocked Joker Joker Joker
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:40 pm

Frank,
Steve's last message reflects my thoughts. He described them better than I could have done!
About Chard, I keep in mind his own comment: " “We knew the camp was being attached but no one had any thought of a disaster”
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PostSubject: Rorke's Drift    Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:44 pm

Yes Frederic , that's true , the Locals ( Boers ) did certainly know the advantages to fortify and Laager in Zululand , just unfortunate that some of those in command didn't realise its importance , or if they did , they didn't believe it was necessary . Certainly interesting that in the second invasion everything was entrenched , fortified , Laagered , ...probably even the Latrines ! Joker
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 2:00 pm

I note that most of you admit that the majority of officers, including the officers at Rorke's Drift, regarded the Zulus with disdain (before thie disaster of Isandhlwana).
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PostSubject: Ror   Wed Jun 07, 2017 2:05 pm

Hi Frederic
I'm not sure disdain is the word I'd use , I think indifference may be more suitable ? .
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 2:12 pm

Gary,
The qualifier that I have in mind is the synthesis of this commentary written by Frank: "there was an endemic disregard for the 'Black' fighting capabilities, be it Xhosa Ndbele or Zulu".
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:02 pm

Chard was an Engineer! not an infantry officer of the line,
he came to build.. not destroy.

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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 4:06 pm

Frank wrote, so to pick out one person as being guilty party, would be pointless".
Neil wrote: "Chard certainly was not alone in his apparent lack of concern and cannot, in my opinion be sinlet out".
So, if the Zulus had attacked the mission around 3 pm, they would have massacred the garrison in the absence of adequate defensive positions.
A culprit would have been sought, as for example for Isandhlwana or Intombi.
In your opinion, who would have been responsible for this disaster?
Chelmsford would have been accused of all responsibility for this disaster?

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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 9:32 pm

ymob wrote:
Neil,
I am sorry.
According to the website "Wiktionnaire", "Lunch" means in French "repas du midi" ("dinner").
This is the reason for my misinterpretation of your comment in your book.
Cheers.
Frédéric

Incidentally, IK's analysis tends to indicate that Chard took his lunch at the same time that Bromhead and Dunne dined together ("zulu rising" p.474)
Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:49 pm

While I recognise the reluctance to ascribe timings to these events I have to say that Frederic has a point. IK clearly states that it is "noon" when Chard sits down to his lunch in his opening sentence of Chapter 25 (page 474) of ZR. IK also tells us, as Frederic also points out, that Bromhead and Dunn were lunching at the same time as Chard ( although I can see no evidence of that in Dunn's account). At the start of Chapter 23 (page 424) IK says that Chard had reported to Spalding "mid-morning" and Spalding had left straight after. So there is around a 3 hour discrepancy between that and the time Spalding says he left. "Lunch" can of course be a flexible feast when it comes to timing but in the "early rising" army on campaign I would say that 11.30 - 12.00 is much more likely than 2.00. I do not know where IK's assertion that it was "noon" comes from. It may be that it has more to do with painting a word picture of the languor of the "hot hot day" and the "whir and click of insects" etc. etc. than a hard timing from primary sources.  But his sequence does hang together and sounds right in terms of the first gunfire at Isandhlwana. However, it leaves a long empty space in which no defensive activity takes place.

Or am I missing something?
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:11 am

xhosa2000 wrote:
Chard was an Engineer! not an infantry officer of the line,
he came to build.. not destroy.

Would this 'job description' have saved him had the Zulus caught him...... Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:13 am

Steve
Possibly go back to a time for Chards sighting at iSandlwana, link that to Durnfords arrival then move it forward to Chards journey back to camp.
Most commentators put Durnfords arrival at iSandlwana at 10.30. We do know as fact that Chard met up with Durnford on his way down to the Manzimyama. At the stream he made his men get out of the wagon and walk up with Durnfords men, NNC, from there its close to 11 miles to RD and a trot of 6miles pr hour should put him back to his own camp at around 12.30 ish. A ride up to the post and a chat to Spalding, 12.45 to 1 ish. From there back to his own camp and have his lunch organize possibly 20 minutes to 30 minutes. Lunch at 1.30 ish. Not for me to disagree with IK but for Chard to have chatted with Spalding mid morning ( 10 oclock?) would have meant him leaving iSandlwana very early on and Durnford arriving at least two hours earlier. Follow that train of thought back and try to figure out how the NNC could have marched 11 miles in that period of time!
How does that fit into your time frame, and in spite of the theory that time frames don't work its important to put ALL the various activities into a sequential framework. Just my early morning thoughts as I listen to the sounds of a massive wind and rain storm threatening to do some serious damage outside. Good thing is that the drought seems to be on the verge of being broken.


Note on Edit: Speaking of damage my solar panels have just gone for a swim in the pool
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:20 am

Frederic
Easy to reason out, 24th officer superceeded by an Engineer over time served detached from the camp. Battle fought and lost. Ring any bells?
Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy scratch
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Thu Jun 08, 2017 8:16 am

Funny that!. Brickhill and Smith Dorrient have Durnford at the camp two hours eariler.
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Thu Jun 08, 2017 8:51 am

Bonjour Frank,
I was waiting for your analysis on Chard's likely arrival time at Rorke's Drift.
Durnford arrived at Isandhklwana around 10:30 a.m.. Given his encounter with Durnford (a mile from the camp of Isandhlwana), and your estimate (6 miles per hour), his arrival is closer to noon than 12:30 pm (don't you think?), but it's probably a detail...
Under these conditions, the time indicated by Spalding in his report about his departure from Rorke's Drift (2h00 p.m.) seems coherent (and is also consistent with Chard's report).

Cheers.

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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Thu Jun 08, 2017 10:42 am

Morning LH
I half expected that. Again its important to follow back on the events. Key times are SD leaving iSandlwana to go to RD, his 2 hour plus ( plus because it was pitched dark) his arrival at the Durnford camp, Durnford being recalled back to his camp and his probable departure from RD for iSandlwana. SD and Brickhills time is just unworkable.
So Cochrane's time for leaving RD, 7:30 to 8:00 and the arrival at iSandlwana at 10:30 is the one that fits the known movements.

Frederc
Happy to go with 12 oclock,


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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Thu Jun 08, 2017 12:06 pm

Frank Allewell wrote:
Frederic
Easy to reason out, 24th officer superceeded by an Engineer over time served detached from the camp. Battle fought and lost. Ring any bells?
Very Happy  Very Happy  Very Happy  scratch

In this scenario, you forget the part of responsibility of Spalding; I see similarities with the Chelmsford-Durnford duo about the disaster of Isandhlwana but maybe with different conclusions... Wink

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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Thu Jun 08, 2017 12:12 pm

xhosa2000 wrote:
Chard was an Engineer! not an infantry officer of the line,
he came to build.. not destroy.

Would this 'job description' have saved him had the Zulus caught him..

Hi SRB1965... it's a what if!.. what happened was that there was a
massacre at Isandhlwana and that was followed up by an attack on
the mission station.. all known details are recorded. what if's and
unsubstantiated theory's and ' working hypothesises ' are all very
well and can occupy a certain amount of leeway, but usually to no
end! the known facts are all we have.. some of the posts above can
be mildly diverting but they usually trail off into nothing of any con-
sequence. i picked up on the post's where Chard's temperament and
performance was questioned, by people who had no business to do
so, only repeating what was said by some contemporary's. i ask all
to judge Chard vc by what he did do. cheers xhosa
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Thu Jun 08, 2017 4:56 pm

Thanks for the synopsis Xhosa.

I may be new (again) to the forum but I have spent around 40 years reading about the Zulu War (amongst other military subjects).

Whilst we have all currently known details/records - no doubt something new will turn up in some dusty old letter, the hard thing is to make sense of the details (wasn't it Einstein who said "any fool can know but the point is understand").

If my throw away line upset you, I am terribly sorry.

I like reading posts and trying to fathom out where the authors are coming from, I used to have an old sparing partner on a different forum who was Durnford mad.....AWD could do no wrong in his eyes....but that's another story.

May I ask you (without stirring up a hornets nest) - why was John Chard awarded the VC - I have read about Bromhead leading bayonet charges and the lads in the hospital evacuating patients, Scheiss hopping around etc but I can't recall any acts of valour that JRMC performed.

Just an honest question, not trying to provoke you, or anything.

Cheers

Simon
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Thu Jun 08, 2017 5:03 pm

Simon
We are presently in a position where some "Dusty Old Letters" have indeed been discovered. Work is proceeding on them ( Yes Plural) and full findings will be published over the next few months.
Sorry to be enigmatic.

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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Thu Jun 08, 2017 5:22 pm

frank,
Very intriguing!
I noted the "we"

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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Thu Jun 08, 2017 5:25 pm

Where these letters will be published? on the forum?
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   Thu Jun 08, 2017 7:26 pm

Frederic
There is so much still out there waiting to be found. The Archives are full of data, a lot of those old files haven't been accessed in decades. Steve has been doing the same recently, looking forward to his findings.

énigmatique
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PostSubject: Re: Rorke's Drift   

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Rorke's Drift
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