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 Fates of Individual Companies at Isandlwana

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WeekendWarrior

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PostSubject: Fates of Individual Companies at Isandlwana   Sun Apr 08, 2018 6:24 pm

This is my first post on this forum and I would like to say that I am grateful to be able to seek the expertise of such a wide variety of historians and experts on this small, nearly-forgotten South African conflict.

My question is this;

There are tantalizing small pieces of evidence regarding the fates of the various companies of the 1st and 2nd BN, 24th Foot annihilated at Isandlwana. From the positioning of cairns to the bits and pieces of accounts offered by eyewitnesses (Younghusband's Charge, Reverend Witt's statement regarding a body of 24th men surrounded in a kraal near Lieutenant Anstey's last position near the Manzimyama, an unknown company falling back in a stand near the ammunition wagons) there emerges some semblance of understanding of the movements of various elements after the last of the fugitives fled the camp.

Do we know the fates of any other individual companies/elements of the 24th Foot at Isandlwana?
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Fates of Individual Companies at Isandlwana   Sun Apr 08, 2018 7:53 pm

Hi,

As far as I know - it all got very confusing - we have a quite good idea where the companies started off in the firing line (or at least there relative positions) but once the line collapsed it all gets a bit messy.

Mike Snook in his book How Can Men die Better - used the starting positions and the cairns to try and track the movements of the companies - I do not know if he was the first to try this or successful.

Some individuals were recognised - Col Sgt Wolfe (for one), a couple from G etc and some of the cairns are associated with officers - Pope & Wardell (but I am not sure this is correct).

I feel that when the line collapsed most of the companies (maybe apart from C & G 2/24th) got pushed or forced into each other, and all order broken in the area of the camp. Men would have ran to the nearest friend, regardless of unit or regular/colonial.

G Company I feel was either destroyed near it original position of whilst moving back towards the Saddle and C Company is well documented.

There is a tale about 2 companies being nailed on the spur but I do not know the story - I think Frank knows the story.

Someone on the Forum will be able to give you more info, for I am one of the non experts in the room......

Welcome

Sime
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WeekendWarrior

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PostSubject: Re: Fates of Individual Companies at Isandlwana   Sun Apr 08, 2018 8:31 pm

I do agree that Colonel Snook does a great job of attempting to outline the last moments of the 24th in HCMDB. I tend to agree with a lot of his theories, although he is a little short on footnotes and obviously he has a deeply rooted pride in his regiment.

If the order to retire was given before the Zulus managed to close with the companies of the 1/24th, it stands to reason they would have been able to retire into the camp in rally square formations in some semblance of good order. At this point, from Zulu accounts, it appears many were broken up and overran.

From the positioning/paths of retreat of the different companies up to the moments in which they were annihilated, I'd be curious to see if any trace of Colonel Pulleine's (or, possibly Degacher's) Commander's Intent for the withdrawal can be discerned. Obviously, a battalion rally square around the ammunition wagons seeming the most likely.
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Fates of Individual Companies at Isandlwana   Sun Apr 08, 2018 8:56 pm

Hi

Apparently some kind of order was given to retire because one of the Zulu accounts says that the British stopped firing, stood up and fell back towards the camp and then something along the lines of "we dashed amongst them"

I'm not a fan of MS - his books are good reads and drag you along with the story but I (personally) feel he is 'over proud' of his regiment.....at the expense of all others.....just my view

I have always had the opinion (without a jot of evidence) that the Nek was the area that the 24th wanted to get to - a fairly good field of fire, protected by Isandlwana on one flank and to a lesser degree by The Stony Kopie on the other, and also some protection from the wagons......possibly why Melvill had the Colours up there and his statement about trying "to make a rally"....obviously the Zulu right horn put the mockers on that.....

Cheers

Sime
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WeekendWarrior

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PostSubject: Re: Fates of Individual Companies at Isandlwana   Sun Apr 08, 2018 9:04 pm

Hi Sime,

There's also evidence of bugle calls to retire being sounded down the line which would indicate that this retreat was coordinated in advance by the Battalion Commander, with company commanders possibly being alerted by the ADCs of the CO's Intent for the withdrawal. I concur, the Nek does appear the most likely place to form a rally.

Snook does tell a good story, but it's definitely at the expense of the others who gave their lives at Isandlwana! The hatchet job he does on Durnford is truly appalling... I'd rather not get re-open that can of worms, though!
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Fates of Individual Companies at Isandlwana   Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:01 am

Hi,

Yes, I believe that the retirement was pre-determined (as you say be ADCs - apart from presumably - the survivors Essex, Gardner etc - who were acting extra staff, who would have no doubt mentioned it) - along with a location/destination.

I believe the initial 'destination' point was somewhere between the rocky ridge and the tent lines - a contracted frontage (slightly) and a clear field of fire (once the Zulus are over the ridge) and a reduction in return casualties (also nearer to the ammo - if this was ever an issue - which I personally doubt)  This would also give the Zulus some respite and cover (in the dead ground) but it is very hard to motivate people in cover and (safety) to break it into beaten zone - so this may have worked in the British favour.

I doubt very much if the Nek was the original destination - that became a destination - when it all fell apart (it would be too far to attempt to get there initially) and there was a need to try and make a rally.

Yes probably better of leaving those 'worms firmly canned' - though I think many people on this forum would probably agree with you.

Cheers

Sime
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Fates of Individual Companies at Isandlwana   Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:17 am

Morning Weekend Warrior/Simon
There are small snippets that pop out of the woodwork on occasion that fill in a couple of seconds of the battle and give pointers to the flow of the battle. As it stands at the moment we just don't know. Snook has done a pretty good job of re building the ebb and flow but so much is guess work, he says military opinion, that it tends to become a more fictional account. Like Morris he has filled in the bits with conjecture.
There is a brilliant essay by Charles Aikenhead on the front line and the withdrawl. Again its conjecture, but it works, so shouldn't be discounted.
In terms of Durnford there is a mass of available material that has been overlooked by Snook, to the Gentlemans detriment as an author. I don't believe Durnford was blameless but....................and that's a discussion for another day.

Cheers
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WeekendWarrior

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PostSubject: Re: Fates of Individual Companies at Isandlwana   Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:28 am

Thanks for your response! Do you know where I can find this Charles Aikenhead article?
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Fates of Individual Companies at Isandlwana   Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:59 am

Hi Frank

I have not read that either - was it part of his lecture circuit talks?

Cheers

Sime
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Fates of Individual Companies at Isandlwana   Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:29 am

Hi Simon
Yes it was. Its set to be published I think this month. I will keep you informed.
WW
As per the comments above.

Regards
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Fates of Individual Companies at Isandlwana   Mon Apr 09, 2018 11:40 am

Thanks a lot, Frank.
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