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The Battle of Isandlwana: One of The Worst Defeats of The British Empire - Military History
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 In the Defence of Col: Durnford.

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old historian2

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Mon Oct 19, 2009 10:31 pm

This is nicely put, and where the argument should end.

From the ROYAL ENGINEERS M U S E U M

The battle of Isandlwana (Wednesday 22nd January 1879) was one of the worst disasters of British military history and Durnford's part in the terrible affair has been the subject of inquiry and study. At Isandlwana the Zulu main force was resting five miles from the camp. Chelmsford's defence was dispersed and uncoordinated and overwhelmed by vastly superior forces. This was not perceived as real until it was too late. Durnford, commanding a mounted column, was ordered to Isandlwana to reinforce the troops left in camp there. Chelmsford had earlier left camp to go to the help of Major Dartnell, thus dividing his force. Durnford arrived at a critical moment and he and Lieutenant Colonel Pulleine, commanding the camp, jointly managed to misread the location and extent of the Zulu threat and misconstrue each other's orders. There is no convincing documentary evidence nor eyewitness account to explain exactly how this occurred. It remains an area of speculation. Durnford was without doubt a courageous man and a keen and loyal soldier - he also seems to have been a very unlucky one.
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Tue Oct 20, 2009 7:49 pm

Old. H
I have given your last post a lot of thought. And have come to a decision,


Durnford arrived at a critical moment and he and Lieutenant Colonel Pulleine, commanding the camp, jointly managed to misread the location and extent of the Zulu threat and misconstrue each other's orders. There is neither convincing documentary evidence nor eyewitness account to explain exactly how this occurred. It remains an area of speculation.

This is as near to the truth we can get, the text above sums up the situation that day on the 22nd January 1879 quite nicely.

Thank you for posting that article from the Royal Engineers web site.

Now lets get busy tracking down some of those campaign medals. As Mr Greaves suggested.
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Mr Greaves

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Tue Oct 20, 2009 7:58 pm

Wink

G.
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90th

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PostSubject: defence of Durnford.   Wed Oct 21, 2009 12:39 am

hi all,
This point or debate obviously touches many a raw nerve , check out the RDVC FORUM , plenty of willing
comments been thrown about Rolling Eyes . I know we have debated many times and why not :) . Glad to see
we keep OUR emotions in check. :) .
cheers 90th.
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Rundberg

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Wed Oct 21, 2009 11:22 am

Thanks to all of you for a very interesting discussion, it´s great reading for a novice in Zulu wars!
Perhaps the forum isn´t for comments like this but i relly appreciates the discussion :)
Rundberg
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Wed Oct 21, 2009 12:57 pm

Hi Rundberg.

This topic can be interesting. But it does tend to serve us with the same answers.
This disagreement as to who is to blame for the loss of Isandlwana as been going on for 130years. Will we ever know. ???
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Rundberg

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Wed Oct 21, 2009 1:39 pm

Hi 24th,
Well, the chances of me casting any light on what happened are quiet slim anyway.... :lol: :lol:
Perhaps the interest over time would decrease if one were able to find every scrap of truth in a historical matter?
Fascinating subject anyway!
Rundberg
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Wed Oct 21, 2009 4:57 pm

Rundberg.
I hope with forums like this, the subject will never decrease. One day new material will come to light, that will put this issue to bed once and for all.
And then I hope people will understand, the battle was lost due to overwhelming numbers and nothing else.
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Rundberg

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Wed Oct 21, 2009 5:07 pm

Amen to that Dave.
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:25 pm

sorry Dave , cant agree with you there - i think with better organisation the firepower of the british would have negated the numerical superiority of the Zulu , exactly as happened at RD.
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Mr Greaves

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Wed Oct 21, 2009 8:28 pm

Gentleman do we agree that the M/H was somewhat responsible for the defeat at in addition to poor tactics and numerical weakness?

The Martini Henry Rifle was the state of the art weapon, and in the African environment the mechanism had a tendency to overheat after relentless use.
Therefore it would ultimately become more difficult to move the breechblock and reload the rifle. It was not so much the Rifle itself. But the rolled brass cartridge that caused the, fouling due to the black powder.

Then if we look at the camp itself. It was not fortified in anyway. The firing lines were over extended.There was no provision in place to provide an adequate supply of ammunition to the firing lines.
It’s possible that Durnford and Pulleine were operating under different orders. Pulleine was placed in command, and Durnford was ordered to reinforce.

Then of course there was an overwhelming force of 20,000 brave Zulu warriors who continued their advance under a hail of bullets, Artillery, and Rockets.


So if we all agreed with the above.

This puts three pegs in the hole that helped to lead to the disaster.

Weapons. Tactics and Numbers.

G.
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Wed Oct 21, 2009 8:43 pm

I will keep looking for campaign medals. Rolling Eyes
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Saul David 1879



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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:00 pm

Quote :
It’s possible that Durnford and Pulleine were operating under different orders.
scratch

S.D
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:20 pm

This is a question for Neill.

Neil based on what Mr Greaves has stated with reference to the M/H and your knowledge on this weapon. Would you have been comfortable standing on the Battlefield at Isandlwana on the 22nd January 1879 with all those Zulu coming at you? With that weapon.

I'm not really sure I would.

I assuming the British Soldier of that day did not know or understand the failings of the rolled brass cartridge, I guess they thought they had the best weapon in the world.
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90th

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PostSubject: def of durnford   Thu Oct 22, 2009 6:27 am

hi olh2
Great question. :) .
Looking forward to Neils reply. If anybody would now the short comings of the M.H in a pressure situation,
It will be Neil ( Hopefully)
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Thu Oct 22, 2009 6:33 am

So did they do something to resolve the problem later in the war ? a change of tactic or a change of cartridge ?

I seem to remember reading somewhere how at Ulundi the infantry were told to "fire faster " - did the same jamming problem exist ?
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90th

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PostSubject: defence of Durnford.   Thu Oct 22, 2009 6:37 am

hi gary,
You are correct , at Ulundi Chelmsford did indeed say to the troops " cant you fire faster "
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Thu Oct 22, 2009 12:17 pm

Sorry chaps I did not read this link, Old Historian has asked me to put in my two penn'eth.. I'll be short and sweet as I am working on a tender, not wanting to sound tearse, but I'll state the facts as I see it and elaborate when I get more time.

1) Jamming, how do we know if the men were suffering jamming, apart from Col Glyns Groom, & two privates with the rocket battery, who lived to bemoan this? If so why wasn't it reported as an issue at Giginlovu, Khambula, Ulundi where the rate of fire was possibly greater. Zululand is not the Sudan, it is bone hard shale, hard earth or lush Grass, ideal conditions, not dusty/sandy with dirt ingress issues.

2) I see no issue with ammo dispersal, ammo distibution was a tried and practiced method. battalions had Mule Carts to distribute no matter how far, Essex reports this, So did Smith Dorrien. The men retired in reasonable order , if it was out of ammo and carnage why did most of the companies arrive at the saddle or its environs, not chopped to bits on the firing line?.
Sit on the summit of Isandlwana, cairns are not battlefield Markers, but a good guide to the position of deaths in its locality, why are there few ciarns out on the line?
3) Mis-informed history about 24th Quarterasters not issuing Ammo to Durnfords mem, popycock, they simply did not have Snider or Wesley Richards ammo, "sorry old boy we don't use that, so we don't have it".
4) No doubt the lines had to retract, only because the right flank (Durnford) was outflanked and forced to retire, his mounted men could only line the donga so far. Pope was caught with three sided assualt, his demised forced the inevitable, breach in the defences.
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:12 pm

I believe Neil has rasied some very good points.

Quote :
If it was out of ammo and carnage why did most of the companies arrive at the saddle or its environs, not chopped to bits on the firing line.

Cairns are not battlefield Markers, but a good guide to the position of deaths in its locality, why are there few ciarns out on the line.

They simply did not have Snider or Wesley Richards ammo, "sorry old boy we don't use that, so we don't have it".


Food for thought. ????.
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Thu Oct 22, 2009 6:49 pm

I have never looked at it this way before. But it certainly makes the point, that ammunition was getting to the lines, which of course would enable them to make a withdraw.

And if you look at Jamie's website it certainly does show very few Cairns out-side the camp. So how many soldiers actually made it back to the camp, to make thier last stands.
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:15 pm

Extract from the: Sportsmen parsons in peace and war By Mrs Stuart Manzies.

Its about Isandlwana & Rorkes Drift. A little bit about Orders and Ammunition. And it appears back in England they thought help had came from Helpmakaar.

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:02 pm

Even back then. They were unsure of what really took place. But you would have thought Chard would have put them straight before the book was published.
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:34 pm

I have to disagree with the analysis that Durnford precipitated the disaster by engaging the left horn prematurely.
A few years after the AZW British forces held off overwhelming odds in the Sudan by adopting a close square with concentrated fire power.
Now I accept that weaponary developed a great deal between 1879 and 1885, but the point remains that the line of the camp was over extended at Islandwana and the flank was unanchored.
SO whether Durnford had been there at all makes no differnce.
Pulline's deployment was faulty.
His behaviour in the period before Durnford arrived with stand to' and stand down's lead to confusion.
He remains to me a bit of a jobsworth who was a bit unsure of himself.
I feel a great deal of blame rests on his shoulders.
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:47 pm

If Durnford had not engaged the left horn when he did the battle might well have be over a lot quicker than it was. It was just unfortunate he engaged them at a forward point, which ultimately caused an over extension in the line when it was required to cover his retreat. But now we arrive at that part of the story where there were no witnesses apart from the Zulu’s to conclude what really happen in the camp.


At Abu Klea the Gardner gun blocked, and the Camel Corps units couldn't reorganize fast enough to plug the gap.
G.
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:58 am

Does Jamies site also show the rear face of Isandlwana?, nobody ever discusses the fighting on that side, sadly alot of the evidence is now obliterated due to the eroision and shale movement. We have spent hours on that face, however thick thorn and scrub make it difficult.

Cairns on the upper sides of Isandlwana and in the region of Geroge Shepstones grave prove the fighting was intense on the rear slopes, up to the wagon park. Nshingwayo was not stupid, why throw everything into a full frontal attack when the back door was wide open?

Once the line had been forced by sheer weight back to the saddle, then things started to break up, Younghusband pushed onto the shoulder, Wardell in the centre, Durnford oblique, Anstey forcing the rear, Shepstone and unknown troops on the rear face. Eventually the pincers forced the whole mass into an ever decreasing circle. Mikes How Can Man die better illustrates this beautifully.

Would forming a square have saved the day, very unlikely, with only 600 riflemen at his disposal it would not have lasted much longer, the Zulu's got to the Wagons at Khambula over 1000 yards if killing zone, Stewart had 2000 men at his disposal at Abu Klea, and that nearly failed, The Berkshires at Tofrek just held the day as they were partly sheltered by the Zeriba.
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Fri Oct 23, 2009 3:16 pm

A view to the area to the rear of Isandlwana and the area where the Zulu horn attacked uphill. George Shepstone and a company

And From the West side of Isandlwana. On this screen slope, the graves of George Shepstone and his 60—70 NNC troops lie under thick brush and scrub. Shepstone and his NNC were forced back up the Western slope of Isandlwana and fought to the death. This area had virtually no vegetation growth in 1879.

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See I never really give the rear of Isandlwana any thought. This could lead to some good topics.

I have never read How Can Man die better. But i just think i might.
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Fri Oct 23, 2009 5:38 pm

Without using hindsight I can find little wrong with the actions of Pulline, acting on the information he had deployment of the infantry was in accordance with the standard tactics of the time which may well have worked against a lesser foe than the Zulu. It is not best practise to split your force without knowlege of the location or strength of the enemy. Chelmsford was to blame with a little help from Dunsford.
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:33 pm

One of Pulleine mistakes was his failure to draw his troops back into better defensive position; He actually sent them forward in an extended firing line.

S,D
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:41 pm

This may be a stupid question. But did Chelmsford plan to dive the column before he arrive at Isandlwana. Or was it on the spur of the moment when Chelmsford found out that Major Dartnell had come into contact with the Zulu army.
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:00 pm

Extract from Court of Inquiry held to take evidence regarding the disastrous affair of Isandlwana.

3rd Evidence. —Captain Alan Gardner, 14th Hussars

“The men of the 24th Regiment were all fallen in, and the Artillery also, and Colonel Pulleine sent two companies to support Colonel Durnford, to the hill on the left, and formed up the remaining companies in line, the guns in action on the extreme left flank of the camp, facing the hill on our left. I remained with Colonel Pulleine by his order. Shortly after, I took the mounted men, by Colonel Pulleine's direction, about a quarter of a mile to the front of the camp, and left them there under the direction of Captain Bradstreet, with orders to hold the spruit. I went back to Colonel Pulleine, but soon after, observing the mounted men retiring, I went back to them, and, in reply to my question as to why they were retiring, was told they were ordered by Colonel Durnford to retire, as the position taken up was too extended This same remark was made to me by Colonel Durnford himself immediately afterwards. By this time the Zulus had surrounded the camp,”

Pulleine must have realised that he was out-number, so would it not have been a natural reaction to pull your men in, instead of sending them out.

With refrence to Neil's post. Would Pulleine have know what was going on behind Isandlwana.
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:22 pm

Here is an Extract from: “Wet With Yesterday’s Blood” by Ian Knight." It highlights some of Pulleine's commands during the Battle.

Pulleine, meanwhile, had sent one company of the 1/24th up onto the heights at about the time Durnford had ridden out. This, too, could not be seen from the camp, but the sound of firing indicated that it had come into action. Still doubting the full extent of the Zulu threat, Pulleine dispatched another company to support it. Only when the first elements of the Zulu chest - the uKhandempemvu and uMbonambi amabutho - began to appear along the sky-line did he realise that these companies were in danger of being cut off. He sent his artillery - just two light 7pdr guns - out to a low rise which commanded the forward slope of the heights, and deployed his infantry on either side. The companies on the heights were then recalled, together with Raw and Roberts' men, and brought into line. Pulleine's position therefore consisted of a long, straggling line, with the guns in the centre, with the regular 24th companies interspersed by auxiliary units who found themselves included almost be accident. There were, perhaps, 700 redcoats in the line altogether, and they were extended in open order, a yard between each man, kneeling down or crouching behind the boulders for cover. This was a deployment which had worked well enough on the Cape Frontier, and no-one in the British camp believed that the Zulus would have the nerve to withstand its fire. In between the 24th, the auxiliaries fought as best they could, though many were woefully short of firearms. When Durnford's men came into view, retreating across the plain towards Pulleine's right flank and with the left horn in pursuit, Pulleine extended his right and curved it back in an attempt to offer Durnford some support; at the height of the battle, the British line consisted of perhaps 1300 men, covering a distance of nearly two miles against a force which outnumbered them by more than 10:1.
Nevertheless, for a while this was enough to halt the Zulu attack. On the British right, Durnford’s men had reached a watercourse, and, dismounting, were defending it like a trench. The Zulu regiment facing them - the uVe, the youngest in the army - went to ground in the face of their intense fire, until supported by the older iNgobamakhosi. Nevertheless, the Zulu left could only advance by rising up and rushing forward for a few yards before throwing themselves down in the long grass. In the centre, where the uMbonambi and uKhandempemvu were suffering heavily from the artillery and the fire of the “old steady shots” of the 24th, the attack stalled. Above the din of battle, which seemed to reverberate off the face of Isandlwana and echo around the valleys, Zulu speakers in the British camp could hear the Zulu izinduna encouraging their men with references to their regimental honour, and the warriors responded by shouting the war-cries of their amabutho. “Moya!” - “wind!” - they cried derisively when the artillery fired shrapnel into them, and “Nqaka amatshe!” - “catch the hailstones” , treat the bullets with the contempt they deserve. Above it all, there were deep roars of the royalist war-cry - “uSuthu!”.

For twenty minutes, perhaps half an hour, this stalemate continued. In some places the Zulu attack seemed to be about to collapse, and Ntshingwayo sent down izinduna from the heights where he watched the battle to urge the warriors on. Then, over a period of just a few minutes, the British position suddenly collapsed. The trigger was Durnford; out on the right, his men were running low on ammunition, and there were simply too few of them to hold back the left horn, which was trying to outflank them on both sides. Durnford ordered his men to mount up and retire to the camp. One of the survivors met him as he rode in, looking for Pulleine; “he had, I think, already observed the state of affairs, for he was looking very serious”. Indeed, the rest of the British line was now hanging dangerously in the air, with nothing to hold back the left horn. The evidence suggests Durnford met Pulleine and they decided to try to pull back the whole line, to try to take up a tighter position closer to the camp. Zulu witnesses recalled bugles being sounded along the line, and the red-coats abandoning their positions and retiring towards the camp, stopping now and then to deliver a volley as they did so. Unfortunately, this move co-incided with a Zulu advance along the whole length of their line. One of Ntshingwayo’s messengers, Mkhosana kaMvundlana Biyela, an officer of the uKhandempemvu, had reached his men shortly before the British withdrawal, when they were pinned down under fire in a series of dongas at the foot of the escarpment. Dressed in all his ceremonial finery, Mkhosana strode among them, oblivious to the bullets striking around him, berating them for lying on their bellies. Making use of a phrase from King Cetshwayo's praises, he shouted out “The Little Branches of Leaves That Extinguished the Great Fire ... did not order you to do this!”. Shamed, the uKhandempemvu rose up and pressed forward, and as they did so Mkhosana fell, shot through the head. All along the line, the amabutho saw the uKhandempemvu's example, and rose up. Just then the British ceased firing and fell back.

The British position collapsed very quickly, like a wall of sand washed away by waves on the beach. The auxiliary units retired in some confusion and, with no-one to rally them, fell back through the camp, leaving gaps between the red-coat companies. The Zulus, rushing after them, pushed through the gaps, preventing the soldiers from reforming. The 24th were driven back through the camp, and tried to make a stand on the saddle below the peak of Isandlwana. By this point the battle was already raging hand-to-hand, and the Zulus were in among the tents, killing the camp personnel. No further retreat was possible, however, for as the first survivors tried to slip away, they found that the Zulu right horn was already in place in the valley of the Manzimnyama stream, behind the mountain, and had not only cut the road to Rorke’s Drift, but was streaming up to attack the camp in the rear.

For a while, the 24th put up a stubborn resistance on the saddle, and their firing was so fierce that the Zulus hung back. Gradually, however, their ammunition was exhausted, and there was no hope of obtaining fresh supplies. Still maintaining some semblance of company formation, the 24th stood back to back, holding the Zulus at bay with a bristling hedge of bayonets. At least one company was pushed over the saddle, and retired fighting down the Manzimnyama valley, only to be brought up short on the banks of the stream itself, nearly a mile from the camp. Another, Captain Younghusband’s company, tried to defend a shoulder of Isandlwana itself, until lack of ammunition forced them to try and join the others on the saddle below. Here, the Zulus gradually broke up the British formations, throwing spears at them until gaps appeared, then rushing in with their stabbing spears. In the last moment of the battle, the killing achieved levels of primeval savagery, as soldiers, unable to escape, fought on with clubbed rifles, fists, knives, and even stones
. “Those red soldiers”, recalled one warrior, “how few they were, and how they fought; they fell like stones, each man in his place”. Amidst the noise, smoke and confusion, nature added an apocalyptic touch of her own; there was a partial eclipse of the sun, and an eerie half-light passed over the battlefield.
Little is known of the fate of individual British officers. Durnford made a stand with a group of Natal Volunteers, trying to hold back the Zulu left; after the battle, his body was spotted among a clump of corpses there. There are several stories concerning the death of Pulleine; the most likely is that he died in the middle of a strong stand of the 24th which was overwhelmed on the saddle, where the 24th memorial stands today. Of the rest, including those who had drunk the toast to the memory of Chillianwallah a few days before, only odd glimpses remain, and they died in anonymity, like their men.”
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:51 pm

Very interesting. But how doe’s Ian Knight know this actually took place. I’m not disrespecting this well-known author. But this has got to be based on speculation.
There was no one left alive to say what happen.

I don’t have the privilege of owning this book but if someone has it may I ask the following.

Its say’s
Evidence suggests Durnford met Pulleine and they decided to try to pull back the whole line. From where did this evidence come from, Doe’s he say in the book?

Durnford ordered his men to mount up and retire to the camp. One of the survivors met him as he rode in, looking for Pulleine; Doe’s he give the name of this survivor.

The court of enquiry only gives evidence of what happen before the battle and what a few of them believed happen during and after.

From the Lieutenant General Commanding in South Africa to the Right Honourable the Secretary of State for War.
Durban, Natal, February 8, 1879.
SIR,
I HAVE the honour to forward herewith the proceedings of the Court of Inquiry held to take evidence regarding the disastrous affair of Isandlwana.
The Court has very properly abstained from giving an opinion, and I myself refrain also from making any observation or from drawing any conclusions from the evidence therein recorded.
I regret very much that more evidence has not been taken, and I have given instructions that all those who escaped, and who are able to throw any light whatever upon the occurrences of the day, should be at once called upon for a statement of what they saw.
I deem it better, however, not to delay the transmission of the proceedings, which will no doubt be awaited with anxiety.
I have directed my Military Secretary, Lieutenant-Colonel Crealock, to append a statement of the facts, which came under his cognisance on the day in question, which may possibly serve to throw some additional light on what, I fear, will still be considered very obscure.

It will, I fear, be impossible to furnish an absolutely correct list of all those who perished on the 22nd January, as every record connected
with the several corps belonging to No. 3 Column has been lost.
Colonel Glyn is doing his best to furnish what is required.
Since writing the above the printed list of killed and wounded has reached me, several copies of which I beg to enclose.
I have, &c., (Signed) CHELMSFORD, Lieutenant-General.

It should have been an independent Court of Inquiry.

G.
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old historian2

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Fri Oct 23, 2009 11:07 pm

Mr Greaves. Captain Essex's gave evidence and appears to have remained on the field for sometime, giving what appears to be an accurate account. He even states they he made it to the neck near the Isandlwana hill. So he must have seen quite a bit of what was going on and possibly witness the last stands.
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90th

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PostSubject: defence of Durnford.   Fri Oct 23, 2009 11:43 pm

hi olh2
In reply to your earlier post, I havent read anywhere that the good lord was going to divide his force .
Dartnell thinking he had found the zulu army and therefore he wished to attack in the morning , sent
a message to C'ford informing him of his plans , C"ford agrees , and sends the re-enforcements that
Dartnell asked for. Surprise, surprise , they couldnt find the zulus in the numbers they were the previous
day. Part 1 off the many things that went wrong for the british army on that day.
cheers 90th
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Mr Greaves

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Fri Oct 23, 2009 11:54 pm

Old H. Good point.

Part of: Interview with Mehlokazulu Kasihayo (The Battle Of Isandlwana)


Q: Where were the soldiers?

A: They were sent in several directions in companies wreaking havoc among the Zulu. The carabineers defender a position and their fire was very dense. A long time elapsed before they were overcome and we finished with them. When we managed to surround them, they all died together there. They threw their weapons to the ground when their ammunition had run out and then they started using their pistols, as long as the ammunition held out and then they formed a line, shoulder to shoulder and also to the rear, fighting with their knives. By then many of the soldiers had retreated from their positions from where they had shot at us and the uKhamdempenvu and uMbomambi were carrying out a great massacre. The carabineers and the others were in the area behind the camp and the soldiers were at the front. The Zulu Army initially joined at the front where the soldiers were. When the soldiers retreated from the camp, they did so firing and then the Zulu intermingled with them, reaching the camp at the same time.

The two wings then fulfilled their objective at the upper part of the camp and those who were in the camp were trapped inside it and the main body of the Zulu army went to pursue and kill the soldiers. When the Zulu approached, the English continued to fire strongly up to the buffalo River. They were concentrated in the upper part of the camp and the fire was so intense that they were able to open up a large gap, such that the men on horseback were able to escape through the opening. The Zulu's attention was focused on the massacre of the men on the left part and thus did not try to close the opening. So the riders were able to leave through it. There was a great mixture of men, the Edendale Kaffirs and the rest of the whites trying to leave in the direction of the buffalo River. They made an opening through the saddle in the hill crossed the current (He was referring to the Manzimmayama stream) and reach the buffalo River, This is the stream that passes through my fathers Kraal. The rock on this side is what we call the neck: the camp was on the other side. The resistance was valiant along the Dutch road (The trail to Rorke's Drift) and the English took a long time to reach there. They killed us and we killed them. They were defenceless because they had no ammunition left and the Zulu killed them.

But know one really knows what happened in the camp after that. Essex would not have been around to witness the last stands. And who could blame him..

After all he was nick named Lucky Essex. From then on.
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Sat Oct 24, 2009 4:44 pm

At 10.30 Colonel Durnford arrived and took the command of the camp. It was abundantly evident that some discussion took place between Colonel Durnford and Colonel Pulleine. Colonel Durnford said he had seen some of the enemy on his left flank, and he asked for a couple of English companies with which he would go out and look for them. "No," said Colonel Pulleine, "I dare not do so, for my orders are to defend the camp," and that, Colonel Durnfords aide-de-camp said, was repeated over and over again. Ultimately, as if the poor fellow had a strange presentiment, Colonel Durnford said to Colonel Pulleine, "If I get into difficulties will you come to my rescue?" They had the testimony of one survivor of the rocket battery, which accompanied him that Colonel Durnford attacked the enemy, with the result they all too well knew. Had the troops remained in camp and a laager been formed, which could have been done in half-an-hour or an hour—had the orders received been obeyed and the camp defended—the defence would have been complete and perfect. But it was said that the General sent back Captain Alan Gardner with an order to entrench the camp. He did so, but that was when he had found another camping-ground, which he determined to leave to Colonel Glyn, and in sending back for ammunition and provisions he added—"Entrench your camp." And why? As long as he had his mounted force at the camp he was sufficiently strong; but when he sent the order the force was divided.



The distinct orders left by the General were that Colonel Pulleine should "defend the camp;" and had those orders been obeyed, and not distinctly disobeyed, the disaster, which they all deplored, would never have occurred.
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durnfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Sun Oct 25, 2009 5:31 am

There is a cognitive psychologist at the University of Manchester called James Reason. Prof Reason is an expert (some would say father of ) in modern error theory. He has looked at many great disasters, The Herald of Free Enterprise, Kings Cross , Chernobyl to analyse teh casue of tehse disasters. He points out that the desire to appropriate blame to one individual is a very powerful one but it is not very helpful. Human beings will always make mistakes and are operating in real time with a limited view of what is going on in their environment. It is rarely a single episode of human bloody mindedness that precipitates a stuff up but a cumulation of systematic errors which align resulting in an almighty disaster. He spends his time designing systems for people like the Royal Navy who operate things like nuclear subs. You know one mistale there and half of Scotland could get nuked. So maybe we should try and apply the same approach to our own liitle pursuit.
I woudl agree with Dr Greaves that it was an alignment of many faulty decisions and assupmptions as well as some good decisions on the part of the Zulus that resulted in this great Zulu Victory/British disaster.
I do not believe my hero Durnford was the total cause of all this. I do not believe Chelmsford's decisions were the total cause of it either. Puliine made some poor decisions that made a bad situtaion worse. The assumption that the Zulus would use Eastern Cape geurilla tactics was a major underlying assumption as it was at the Little Big Horn where Custer and Tery both thought their major problem would be getting the Indians not to run away.
I personally think Col Durnford was a brave man who died on the Field of Battle doing his duty. He was also farsighted in terms of race realtions and a great friend of the African people and for these reasons I admire him.
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Sun Oct 25, 2009 1:36 pm

Thanks for your post Durnfordthescapegoat. I personally think that everyman who fought at Isandlwana was brave including the Zulu’s.

We all seem to forget, it was the British who pick the fight that day, not the Zulus. Lt Charles Raw's patrol rode up the ridge overlooking the Ngwebeni valley where they found the Zulu army, who had no intension of attacking that day.

If I can you quote an extract from Interview with Mehlokazulu Kasihayo


“Question: Where did you sleep the night before the battle?

Answer: In a valley behind Nqutu, to the east of the king's kraal. There are many shrubs and small rocks there,

Q, Did you see Lord Chelmsford's army leaving the camp on the day of the battle?

A: No, We received reports of firearms and we saw it when we returned

Q: What orders were given with respect to the attack?

A: No orders were given at all. It was not our day. Our day was the following one; we had not planned to attack on the day of the new moon. Our intention was to attack the camp the following day at dawn, but the English forces came to attack us first.

Q: Who attacked you first?

A: The white and black mounted troops attacked us. The Zulu regiments were all hidden in the valley I mentioned, but Umcityu (uMcijo) launched his reply from below the Nqutu and was sighted by the men of the English forces on horseback, who could see Umcityu, but couldn't see the main body of the army. They open fire and as one and the main body of the Zulu Army took form in all directions, hearing the shooting. The attention of the English mounted troops was drawn towards the few men who had responded to their action and before these men knew where the main Zulu body was, we got up and left like a swarm of bees in every direction. When they saw how many of us there were, they withdrew and the uKhandempenvu Regiment pursued them.

The British drew first blood. It was Strategic skill, discipline, and the sheer courage of the Zulu army that the British were defeated that day.

We all know that Politicians will always find fault and start the hunt for a scapegoat. It’s a pity the British couldn’t admit defeat as well as the Zulus did after Ulundi.

Could point the finger Lt Charles Raw, for finding and attacking the Zulu Army.After all that's what started the chain of events that lead to the disaster at Isandlwana.

Its time to stop seeking excuses for the British defeat at Isandlwana, and to start to think of it as a Great Zulu victory.

G.
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Sun Oct 25, 2009 3:43 pm

Now that is a good view on the matter.
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:23 pm

Barracks, bivouacs, and battles; By Archibald Forbes.

A view on how the diaster happened.

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Mr Greaves

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:51 pm

That sums it up excellently. And of cause he is perfectly right.
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John

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Sat Nov 07, 2009 7:17 pm

The Natal Witness of May 29th, 1879, makes some reflections on the same subject, which are very pertinent. We need not repeat its criticisms on the court of inquiry, etc. but it says: "It is notorious that certain members of Lord Chelmsford's staff there is no need to mention any name or names came down to 'Maritzburg after the disaster, prepared to make Colonel Durnford bear the whole responsibility, and that it was upon their representations that the High Commissioner's telegram about ' poor Durnford's misfortune '
was sent."

How a court of inquiry, assembled without the power, apparently, of asking a single question, was to throw much light on the causes of the disaster does not appear. Its scope was limited to the doings at the camp; and under any circumstances it could not well criticise the faults of the General. The proceedings of this court of inquiry can therefore only be considered as eminently unsatisfactory,

We might here leave this painful subject, were it not for the undisguised attempts that have been made to throw the blame on the dead.

In considering the question of blame, we must first put before us the circumstances in which the camp defenders found themselves when they were required 'to defend the camp."

Now the orders given to Lieut. -Colonel Pulleine are stated by Major Clery, senior staff-officer of No. 3 Column, thus:

" Before leaving the camp I sent written instructions to Colonel Pulleine, 24th Regiment, to the following effect: You will be in command of the camp during the absence of Colonel Glyn; draw in (I speak from memory) your camp, or your line of defence ' I am not certain which ' while the force is out; also draw in the line of your infantry outposts accordingly, but keep your cavalry vedettes still far advanced/ I told him to have a waggon ready loaded with ammunition ready to follow the force going out at a moment's notice, if required. I went to Colonel Pulleine' s tent just before leaving camp to ascertain that he had got these instructions, and again repeated them verbally to him."

As regards the force left to defend the camp, there were no Instructions to form a defensive post; the General did not think it necessary, though to him was the almost prescient remark made: " We should be all right if we only had a laager." He saw no danger; he was about to move his camp on, and a laager would be useless work, so he put the suggestion on one side with the remark: " It would take a week to make' Thus Lieut. -Colonel Pulleine was left, and he had no reason to anticipate danger, till, almost without a mtiment'swarning, he found the camp threatened by an overwhelming force; he then, after trying in vain to check the enemy's right, endeavoured to hold the donga and broken ground close in front of the camp, where his men found some cover; the camp itself being absolutely indefensible/" Colonel Durnford, as we have seen, reached the camp about 10.30 A.M., before which time Major Chard says: " The troops were in column out of camp," arid he saw Zulus " on the crest of the distant hills," and several parties moving to the left towards Eorke's Drift. Colonel Durnford takes out his mounted men to (as he thinks) assist his General, and to see what the enemy is about.

Again, some assert that Colonel Durnford’s Native Horse in the Ingqutu Hills brought about the action. Even had it been so, yet this officer's duty distinctly was to feel and reconnoitre the enemy, t When the Zulu army moved forward to the attack, he, with his handful of men, fell slowly back, gaining all the time possible for the camp defenders.

Extract from: "History of the Zulu war and its origin;"
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Sat Nov 07, 2009 7:26 pm

John very interesting by we must remember this book was written by

Frances E. Colenso. With the help of Lieut.Colonel Edward Durnford. Who spend years trying to clear Durnfords name after he disobeyed direct orders.
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Sat Nov 07, 2009 8:15 pm

Yet again CTSG. Comments without foundation. scratch
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:34 pm

This is quite an interesting take on Isandlwana. Let me know what you think.

Source: MAJOR-GENERAL W F C. F. MOLYNEUX


Before leaving the subject of Isandhlwana, which has been talked and written about much more by those who knew nothing about it than by those who were in the country, I would say a few words and ask a few questions. Is there a single English officer who, being given eight hundred white men armed with breechloading-rifles and any amount of ammunition, with a place to put his back against would not willingly face any number of natives unskilled with firearms ? If there is, we have lost our ancient renown ; but it is not so ; the need was skilful handling and obedience to orders. The orders were in writing to the effect that the vedettes were to be kept far advanced, but the line of infantry outposts drawn in closer ; and that if attacked the commander was to act on the defensive.

Now there is a valley six miles north-east of Isandhlwana hill, and there a Zulu army lay on the night of the 21st of January. Thirteen thousand Strong it had marched from Ulundi on the 17th and had reached the Isipezi hill, twelve miles east of Isandhlwana, on the 20th. Our vedettes in both these directions were three miles from our camp, and on the 20th and 21st patrols had been sent in both directions beyond the vedette-line. On the early morning of the 22nd the General with four guns, six companies of the 2nd batt. 24th, the Mounted Infantry, and the Native Pioneers, moved off to reinforce the Volunteers, Police, and Native Contingent on the Ndhlazgazi hill, south of Isipezi. He left in camp thirty Mounted Infantry, eighty Mounted Volunteers and Police, two guns with seventy men of the Royal Artillery, six companies of the 24th (five of the ist and one of the 2nd batt.), four companies of the Native Contingent, and a detachment of Native Pioneers ; and he gave orders for a force of five troops of Mounted Basutos, the rocket-battery, and two companies of the Native Contingent of Colonel Durnford's force (which had moved from Middledrift to Rorke's Drift on the advance of the columns into Zululand), to move to Isandhlwana, where it arrived at ten a.m., making the total in camp eight hundred white men and nine hundred natives. Lieutenant-Colonel Pulleine of the 1st batt. 24th was to command till Lieutenant-Colonel Durnford, R.E., arrived.

There has been printed an official account of that day, from which I shall quote:

only that the Zulus, advancing with two out-flanking columns, or horns," and a "chest," as is their method, overwhelmed the force left to defend Isandhlwana camp by two p.m. that at nine a.m. our vedettes to the north-east, three miles from ours and three from the enemy's camp, had withdrawn ; that at one time the left company of our infantry was a mile away from the camp, that at another the right company was three quarters of a mile away in the other direction ; that when the attack developed about one p.m. we were extended over three thousand yards, and at this time the mounted men with the commander were holding a position two thousand yards from Isandhlwana hill. Was this, I ask, carrying out orders ? Will anybody, I also ask, believe that a good cavalry regiment, say the 19th Hussars, as one then at home and available would have withdrawn an important vedette, or would not have discovered an enemy, thirteen thousand strong, which had been within twelve miles of us for two days, and the last bivouac of which was only three miles from our own vedettes ?





I want to reopen no wounds, to revive no quarrels ; but I want to be just to the living at the same time respecting the dead, and to say that it was the case of General Wyndham at Cawnpore over again. The party, left behind to guard, went out to fight on its own account. Fifty-two officers, eight hundred and six white men, and four hundred and seventy-one natives fell, rallying into compact bodies till, their ammunition being expended, they were over-powered and died where they stood. They fell like heroes ; that is their absolution. Those who were in Zululand unanimously absolved the Commander of the Forces ; but a scape-goat had to be found for the popular indignation, and to aim high will always pass for independence.

The opinion of one who was with the column, written shortly after, may be worth quoting :

“The whole business rests in this ; had the force been kept together in a good position they could not have been cut to pieces as long as their ammunition lasted ; they could have done as was done at Rorke's Drift. They sent their mounted men to fight, instead of keeping them to break the enemy's advance. A head was wanted; they lost their lives through overconfidence and pluck. It was when trying to get back to a good position that the Zulus closed on them, and their formation once broken they were at the mercy of an enemy vastly superior in numbers." I suppose it is unreasonable to expect that all our hereditary and elected legislators should confine themselves to subjects within their own knowledge. In both Houses men, who knew nothing of what they were talking about, were not allowed to air their theories in bitter words;"


I have quoted here the theory of one who was on the spot, who was not bitter, and knew thoroughly what he was talking about.
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:06 pm

Was Isandlwana the same as
Quote :
General Wyndham at Cawnpore over again.
Don't know this Battle if it was a battle.
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90th

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PostSubject: in defence of durnford   Fri Dec 04, 2009 4:22 am

hi littlehand.
Cawnpore is in India , I think it was during the indian mutiny.
cheers 90th.
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Fri Dec 04, 2009 6:46 am

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Indeed it was from the Indian mutiny .
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Tue Dec 06, 2011 4:46 pm

Chelmsfordthescapegoat wrote:

Frances E. Colenso. With the help of Lieut.Colonel Edward Durnford. Who spend years trying to clear Durnfords name after he disobeyed direct orders.


No evidence Idea
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PostSubject: Re: In the Defence of Col: Durnford.   Thu Dec 15, 2011 7:56 pm

littlehand wrote:
I was just looking at the debate on the RDVC. Mike Snook raises a valid point, which in my opinion must be agreed with by all.

With regards to the Zulu Army.

1. Outmanoueuvred the British surveillance effort so completely that they achieved total surprise in terms of their final avenue of approach.
2. Exercised excellent command and control over a host of 25,000 in twelve amabutho (without the benefit of radios - pretty impressive let me tell you!)
3. Launched a closely synchronized assault with such faultless timing and such great rapidity that it succeeded in entirely unhinging the enemy's decision-action cycle, compelling the British to fight, if I may express it this way, 'with their pants down'!!
4. Were not at any point defintively stalled - even when the chest was pinned momentarily against the 1/24, other amabutho kept manoeuvring for advantage on the flanks.
5. Made superb use of ground to gain the British right flank (left horn) and rear (right horn).

On the day, maybe no one was to blame. The above points by Mike Snoolk,in summary, show the Zulu completely outclassed the centre column.
No matter what last minute manouverings the column might have taken - the half at the camp, or the whole column, it was about to suffer a very bloody nose.
The only interested parties in apportioning blame, can only have been Chelmsford and Frere. They were on the hook and needed to get themselves off.
In short, they needed a scapegoat.
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