WWW.1879ZULUWAR.COM

Film Zulu Quote: Lieutenant John Chard The army doesn't like more than one disaster in a day. Bromhead Looks bad in the newspapers and upsets civilians at their breakfast
 
HomeHome  CalendarCalendar  GalleryGallery  PublicationsPublications  FAQFAQ  SearchSearch  RegisterRegister  Log inLog in  
Latest topics
Captain David Moriarity, 80th, KIA Ntombe
This photograph taken when he was in the 7th Regiment prior to his transfer to the 80th. [Mac & Shad] (Isandula Collection)
The Battle of Isandlwana: One of The Worst Defeats of The British Empire - Military History
Search
 
 

Display results as :
 
Rechercher Advanced Search
Top posters
90th
 
littlehand
 
Frank Allewell
 
ADMIN
 
rusteze
 
1879graves
 
Chelmsfordthescapegoat
 
John
 
Mr M. Cooper
 
impi
 
Fair Use Notice
Fair use notice. This website may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorised by the copyright owner. We are making such material and images are available in our efforts to advance the understanding of the “Anglo Zulu War of 1879. For educational & recreational purposes. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material, as provided for in UK copyright law. The information is purely for educational and research purposes only. No profit is made from any part of this website. If you hold the copyright on any material on the site, or material refers to you, and you would like it to be removed, please let us know and we will work with you to reach a resolution.
Top posting users this month
rusteze
 
John Young
 
Frank Allewell
 
SRB1965
 
90th
 
ymob
 
Julian Whybra
 
aussie inkosi
 
1879graves
 
paul mercer
 
Most active topics
Isandlwana, Last Stands
Pte David Jenkins. 'Forgotten' Survivor of Rorke's Drift Returned to Official Records
Durnford was he capable.1
Durnford was he capable.5
Durnford was he capable. 4
The ammunition question
Durnford was he capable. 3
Durnford was he capable.2
Pte David Jenkins. 'Forgotten' Survivor of Rorke's Drift Returned to Official Records
The missing five hours.

Share | 
 

 The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.

Go down 
Go to page : 1, 2  Next
AuthorMessage
rusteze

avatar

Posts : 2770
Join date : 2010-06-02

PostSubject: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sat Aug 11, 2018 12:21 pm

Much has been written about the demise of the Rocket Battery on this forum and we await new evidence that might yet throw more light on some aspects. So it is with some trepidation that I embark on a new discussion. But a wider question has been churning around in my brain - how did Durnford end up with such a totally out of balance force at Isandhlwana?  He arrived on the morning of the 22nd January with a force consisting of five fully armed fully mobile mounted units plus a tiny Rocket Battery protected by two companies of NNC foot soldiers which, using the rule of thumb of 1 rifle for ten men, had 25 firearms between all of them and 100 rounds of ammunition.

It is often said, with some justification, that Durnford should carry the blame for the demise of the slow moving and vulnerable Rocket Battery that morning. But this short analysis of the period leading up to the battle seeks to  throw a little light on how that situation came about. I have drawn mainly on Droogleever”s “Road to Isandhlwana” - but the thoughts and conclusions are my own. I believe insufficient regard has been given to the consequences of decisions taken during the few days and weeks before Isandhlwana and the limitations they imposed on Durnford.

In September 1878 Durnford had been appointed commander of the 1st NNC Regiment assigned to the Middle Drift. The 2nd and 3rd NNC Regiments were assigned to the Lower Drift and Rorke’s Drift respectively. At first, Chelmsford intended that the NNC would act as a border force to watch and guard the crossings against possible invasion. Durnford on the other hand, (who had devised the entire force of black levies) had recommended that they should be used to lead every column into Zululand to act as light troops. Durnford’s regiment was one third larger than the other two.

At the beginning of November Chelmsford changed his mind (the first of many occasions) and decided that the NNC would, after all, be used as part of the invasion force. The NNC was consequently split between No.1 Coastal Column (Pearson), No.2 Middle Drift (Durnford), No.3 Central Column (Glyn), No. 4 Utrecht (Wood) and No.5 Pongolo (Rowlands).

On 11 November 1878 Durnford wrote to his parents saying “I shall have 3,000 men, infantry, cavalry and a rocket battery". My contention is that the subsequent paring away of Durnford’s command by Chelmsford in the weeks that followed led inexorably to the impossible situation of the Rocket Battery on 22nd January.

It may well be that the allocation of the area of the Middle Drift contributed to the gradual de-construction of Durnford’s command. He was in something of a “dead” area between the action in the east by the Coastal Column under Pearson and in the west at Rorke’s Drift under Chelmsford and Glyn, hence Durnford’s command was to be drawn in two directions. Chelmsford had given Durnford permission to cross the Buffalo only when Pearson had secured Eshowe but that was not to happen for some time. He was also permitted to cross to prevent a Zulu attack but was then required to return to Natal.



SALAMI SLICING DURNFORD'S COMMAND.

In the first instance Chelmsford ordered Durnford to send 1 battalion to Thrings Post to support Pearson. The rest of his column was to march to Entumeni and open communications with Glyn. Already Durnford had lost 1000 infantry.

Durnford was then ordered to send his two strongest battalions to Sandspruit to stop possible raids (Chelmsford is again wavering between using the NNC as a defensive or an offensive force). 50 horse are to be left at Middle Drift and the rest join the two battalions at Sandspruit. At this point Durnford is rebuked by Chelmsford for planning an attack across the river - it does not happen.

By then Chelmsford is about to cross into Zululand with the central column at Rorke’s Drift. He instructs Durnford to move towards RD in support with 1 battalion of infantry, rocket battery and Natal Native Horse leaving two battalions at Kranskop. Three companies of 1/1 NNC, the whole of 2/1 NNC (Bengough) the rocket battery and the Horse to be ready to join the central column. The plan seems to be to use Durnford’s force to assist in clearing local tribes (Matshana) and then man the first line of communications from Mangeni.

Early morning on 22nd January at Isandhlwana camp the pace begins to quicken. Chelmsford is to take half of the central column out of the camp in support of Dartnell and to engage the Zulus. An order goes to Durnford at Rorke’s Drift - “You are to march to this camp with all the force you have with you. Bengough to move to RD”.

But Bengough was to get no further than Sandspruit. Chelmsford then re-directs him towards Eland’s Kraal where he thinks Bengough will be well placed to support Dartnell’s reconnaissance. Bengough does not receive the order in time. But another whole battalion of infantry is thereby detached from Durnford’s command.


So the force that Durnford is able to bring up to Isandhlwana is overwhelmingly a mounted one, best suited to skirmishing, reconnaissance and swift actions to locate and delay an enemy while allowing the main force to take up defensive or offensive positions. Which is just the kind of force that Durnford seems to relish commanding the most. But stuck on its side like a carbuncle is a very small, slow moving, support unit that really has no business being there. It made absolute sense when Durnford’s command was 3000 strong, consisting predominantly of light infantry, to have a rocket battery (if you can’t have proper guns). It made no sense at all on the morning of the 22nd January at Isandhlwana.The question is what could Durnford (or for that matter anyone else) have done with such a force?

There is no obvious way the RB could have been incorporated into his mounted actions without putting them in just the kind of danger they experienced.  Is that perhaps why Durnford asks for two companies of the 24th to establish a fall back line with the RB?

Did he really intend the RB to slowly follow him all the way around the end of the Nyoni Ridge?  Or go up onto it following Raw and Roberts? In my view the outcome for the Rocket Battery was inevitable. It is of course fair to say that nobody expected to be faced with the entire Zulu army that day and so the outcome wasn’t likely to change whatever steps were taken. Nevertheless I believe the rot had set in for the Rocket Battery some considerable time before the events of the day.

Suppose though that Durnford’s command had not been sent to the four winds in the days before Isandhlwana. What difference might it have made to the defence if he had arrived on the morning of 22nd with his 3,000? How might he then have handled it?


Steve Reinstadtler


Last edited by rusteze on Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
The author of this message was banned from the forum - See the message
rusteze

avatar

Posts : 2770
Join date : 2010-06-02

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:04 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Back to top Go down
The author of this message was banned from the forum - See the message
Frank Allewell

avatar

Posts : 7039
Join date : 2009-09-21
Age : 71
Location : Cape Town South Africa

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sat Aug 11, 2018 7:40 pm

Steve I would be tempted to agree, on the face of it Durnford had launched a mounted/speedy action to try and bring the sighted Zulu to battle, Chelmsfords avowed intent. Durnford had left his wagons behind and was to all intents and purposes intending to return to camp. Remnants of his force were left behind, ergo Stafford, so why want the RB, a pretty insignificant and cumbersome force, to attempt to join up with his mounted force. With every minute that passed he would have drawn further away, the chances of the RB catching up were minimal.
IF he hadn't met up with any resistance and had retired on the camp he would have met the RB wending its weary way forward and compelled them to return. So why?
The approach work you highlighted is illuminating. Bengoughs move to Elands Kraal is the only really sensible and logical decision made.

Cheers
'
Back to top Go down
The author of this message was banned from the forum - See the message
rusteze

avatar

Posts : 2770
Join date : 2010-06-02

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:03 pm

I agree Frank that the Bengough move was a perceptive one and could have worked well if Chelmsford's plans had borne fruit. But there must be a good argument that the RB should have gone with Bengough in those circumstances. They were never going to be of any real assistance to Durnford's mounted force. The idea that Durnford's independent command "went where he did" is patently not the case (and that is the point I endeavoured to bring out), fully three quarters of it had been diverted elsewhere by the time he reaches Isandhlwana.

Steve
Back to top Go down
The author of this message was banned from the forum - See the message
The author of this message was banned from the forum - See the message
SRB1965

avatar

Posts : 619
Join date : 2017-05-13
Age : 53
Location : Uttoxeter - the last place God made and he couldn't be bothered to finish it.....

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:50 pm

I think the problem is/was - without being the 'Master of the Bloody Obvious' - the rocket battery was in reality an infantry 'unit' trying to catch up and keep up with a mounted force.....Yes they were horse/mule mounted but more for the ease and convenience of the crew rather to act as 'horse artillery' (and of course their attached supports - the NNIC were on foot, further reducing their mobility)

Its a command nightmare - 3 elements to a 'brigade' - each with different movement 'speeds' but the desire to follow up in all haste but support each other - something has to give (support or speed of advance?)

It seems (to me) that AWD was a Engineer Officer with a Cavalry Officers mentality - I can not recall if it is recorded but did he issue orders to Russell to 'come along' or was it Russell who decided to follow him up....? I may be rather wrong but I feel that any orders to the RB/NNCI would have been rather vague (if any at all).

Personally I don't mind further discussion/masturbation - it may be pointless but its good to hear/read others ideas....

Cheers

Sime (MBO)


Back to top Go down
rusteze

avatar

Posts : 2770
Join date : 2010-06-02

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:06 pm

Sime

Exactly so. That is not something I fully understood before writing the piece. All of this is of course ultimately pointless - but that's not the point!

Steve
Back to top Go down
Frank Allewell

avatar

Posts : 7039
Join date : 2009-09-21
Age : 71
Location : Cape Town South Africa

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sun Aug 12, 2018 7:33 am

Many years ago in the days of sports boycotts South Africa was called a nation of masturbators, as no one wanted to play with us we had to ply with ourselves. Im more than happy to carry on the tradition.
Sime
Yes there were specific orders issued to 'follow on', well witnessed and commented on in original statements.

I believe firmly that if there had been the attitude of, 'nothing more to learn, the AZW would have stalled at Morris. But it didn't Jackson revisited the self same sources and came to different conclusions, Knight et al have since refined those concepts and so it carries on. JW has very successfully imparted additional information on personel. Kate has done the same with Gardner, as has Neil Thornton with RD. Charles Aikenhead has come up with some very interesting thoughts based on lengthy discussions over the bar. Shortly to be published.
There is more to be gained from discussion and research than being dismissive of original thought.
The point of pointless is exactly that
Back to top Go down
SRB1965

avatar

Posts : 619
Join date : 2017-05-13
Age : 53
Location : Uttoxeter - the last place God made and he couldn't be bothered to finish it.....

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sun Aug 12, 2018 9:37 am

Frank Allewell wrote:
Many years ago in the days of sports boycotts South Africa was called a nation of masturbators, as no one wanted to play with us we had to ply with ourselves.

I dunno - Geoff Boycott played with you in the early 80's......I spose it was a case of Boycott boycotting the boycott......
Back to top Go down
Frank Allewell

avatar

Posts : 7039
Join date : 2009-09-21
Age : 71
Location : Cape Town South Africa

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sun Aug 12, 2018 9:43 am

Point taken Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy agree
Back to top Go down
rusteze

avatar

Posts : 2770
Join date : 2010-06-02

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sun Aug 12, 2018 9:46 am

That's not an image you would want to retain.

Steve
Back to top Go down
Guest
Guest



PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sun Aug 12, 2018 11:14 am

Can't see the point of a forum if we are not going to discuss stuff.
Personally I enjoyed reading your opening post Steve.
I love hearing other peoples points of view and ideas. I may not always agree with some of them but I still find it fascinating discussing them.
So back to the AZW.
I wondering, was the RB given to Durnford by Chelmsford just to 'tick a box' so that each column had artillery support. Rockets weren't highly regarded by many officers and Durnford wasn't highly regarded by Chelmsford nor was his force.

I think we see one of the correct applications  of Tremlett's rockets at Hlobane.
Though they weren't very successful there, I have heard a story from a Zulu source that one was let off on top of the mountain.
It was, as we all know on this site, their ability to give a limited artillery support to a force  over rough terrain inaccessible to wheeled transport.
Rough terrain which generally led to everything moving at a snails pace. The RB was possibly initially give to Durnfords force for this very reason.
The plain stretching out in front of Isandlwana where mounted men could move quickly was not the place for it to be used. It got left behind on the way to Isandlwana which should have set alarms bells ringing in Durnfords head but luckily got into the camp.
Where, in my opinion, it should have stayed.
Just a thought and taking it one step further back should it not really have remained at the Middle Drift? Especially as the Column Durnford was going to join had its own artillery support.
One wonders if, fearing missing all the glory of a set piece battle, Russell asked to go.
Was Russell's ardor and dash a reason why it ended up where it was?
Just a thought.
Kate Very Happy
Back to top Go down
Frank Allewell

avatar

Posts : 7039
Join date : 2009-09-21
Age : 71
Location : Cape Town South Africa

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sun Aug 12, 2018 11:21 am

Kate I would tend to agree on your comments about Russell. It could be argued that he disobeyed Durnford in deciding to become involved in the fight on the plateau.

Frank
Back to top Go down
Frank Allewell

avatar

Posts : 7039
Join date : 2009-09-21
Age : 71
Location : Cape Town South Africa

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sun Aug 12, 2018 11:24 am

Just a point relative to time frames, did Durnford know that he would be joining Chelmsfords column when he moved up to RD? Would he have been in a position to leave the RB behind using that reasoning Kate?
Back to top Go down
Guest
Guest



PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sun Aug 12, 2018 11:38 am

Interesting thought Frank, which opens up another avenue.
What did Durnford know of the force left behind to defend the Drift?
Did he know it was only a company?
He would of known of the make up of Chelmsford's force and that he had guns.
Might he have thought that Chelmsford would have left two behind to the defend the Drift, as he goes on to do when he leaves the camp at Isandlwana for his little jolly.
Durnford is excited at being called to join No3 Column. The only reason for such enthusiasm must have been, to a man like Durnford, the prospect of action. I don't believe Durnford thought he was just going up north just to sit on the banks of another river guarding some mealie bags.
I believe he knew he would be 'washing his rifles'.
By taking the RB with him Durnford was depriving the force he left behind of any artillery support, leaving them more vulnerable.
Very interesting.
Kate
Back to top Go down
Frank Allewell

avatar

Posts : 7039
Join date : 2009-09-21
Age : 71
Location : Cape Town South Africa

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sun Aug 12, 2018 11:50 am

Ah, good point. But reading ( between the lines) of the letter he wrote home the night before the battle it could be construed that he did think he would just be sitting on the riverbank and waiting, rather than joining the other column. He was aware that at some point he would be 'operating against the Matanyas' but he was pretty much left in the air.
But considering the position Durnford took up in Zululand, some two miles away from RD he did have to have some inkling of his future roll, or was that position more of a forward defensive roll?
The mind boggles at the potential of an impi attacking along the lines of the river and separating Durnford from RD, now that could have been an interesting fight !
Back to top Go down
90th

avatar

Posts : 9877
Join date : 2009-04-07
Age : 62
Location : Melbourne, Australia

PostSubject: The Destruction of the RB - The bigger picture    Sun Aug 12, 2018 11:55 am

Kate and others
For what it's worth , I doubt very much that Durnford would entertain any thought(s) that LC would leave any guns , let alone 2 at the drift , LC wanted to Pummel the Zulu Army quickly , Durnford being well aware of that , would probably have been very surprised to have seen any guns at RD . The thought processes of the time being that they wanted to bring the Zulus to battle ASAP , all were concerned that this may not eventuate as quickly as LC wished . I doubt defending the drift was in anyone's thought processes until mid afternoon on the 22nd Jan ! Shocked Shocked
90th Very Happy
Back to top Go down
Frank Allewell

avatar

Posts : 7039
Join date : 2009-09-21
Age : 71
Location : Cape Town South Africa

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sun Aug 12, 2018 12:01 pm

But he did leave two behind at iSandlwana?
Back to top Go down
90th

avatar

Posts : 9877
Join date : 2009-04-07
Age : 62
Location : Melbourne, Australia

PostSubject: The Destruction of the RB - The bigger picture    Sun Aug 12, 2018 12:16 pm

Frank
Well there were orders to '' defend the camp '' , which , after all , was in Zululand , certainly I doubt Durnford , or anyone , would be thinking there would be guns at RD .
90th Salute
Back to top Go down
The author of this message was banned from the forum - See the message
SRB1965

avatar

Posts : 619
Join date : 2017-05-13
Age : 53
Location : Uttoxeter - the last place God made and he couldn't be bothered to finish it.....

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:56 pm

I'm never sure in my own mind if the British knew what to do with the Natal Natives - they had recruited them, 'armed' some but did not know what to use them for and employed them in a most unsuitable role.

Perhaps the same with the Rocket Battery - it was flung together the previous year - not particularly effective as 'artillery' (with no explosive warheads) but apparently they were scary and could set kraals ablaze......

I often think it was a case of we have the equipment, so we may was well use it and it will "keep Russell out of trouble".

Back to top Go down
Guest
Guest



PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sun Aug 12, 2018 2:36 pm

It does make one think of that old train of thought that seems to rattle through various stations within our little AZW world that Chelmsford did not expect the camp to be attacked hence not laagering  his wagons (and getting them ready to go back to RD)
If that is  the case why leave a third of his artillery behind?

Anyway back on topic
What would we think of Durnford had the RB been wiped out on the road from RD to Isandlwana?
Because if this had happened he would have also lost his supplies which were also trailing behind.
Perhaps then a lot of people would be a lot less complimentary about his abilities.
Kate:D
Back to top Go down
The author of this message was banned from the forum - See the message
rusteze

avatar

Posts : 2770
Join date : 2010-06-02

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sun Aug 12, 2018 3:40 pm

I am glad you enjoyed the piece Kate. In terms of your question I think we need to assess Durnford's situation in light of the events I outlined. Chelmsford changes his mind about how best to deploy Durnford 3 times between 8th - 18th January. First he is to remain with his force in defensive mode on the Natal side once Chelmsford has crossed and not follow until the central column is well established in Zululand - by which I take him to mean at Mangeni. On the 10th January we get the first change - Durnford is to join Glyn's column with his Horse and the RB (so Chelmsford orders the RB to accompany). But Bengough's battalion is to stay at RD and "Watch the Gates of Natal". On the 18th, Chelmsford redirects Bengough to a crossing further down at Sandspruit. But Durnford is now to make all haste to Isandhlwana which of course he can do with his Native Horse - but not with the remnants of his command. So he has to take a calculated risk by leaving them to wend there way up to the camp from RD pretty much unprotected. Had they been wiped out at that stage his calculation would have backfired - but you might say he was placed in an impossible situation. He was ordered to bring the RB with him but he could not afford to move at their speed.

Steve


Last edited by rusteze on Sun Aug 12, 2018 3:42 pm; edited 2 times in total
Back to top Go down
SRB1965

avatar

Posts : 619
Join date : 2017-05-13
Age : 53
Location : Uttoxeter - the last place God made and he couldn't be bothered to finish it.....

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:02 pm

I think the whole thing was very badly handled - it strikes me that Lord C didn't know what he wanted to do - he obviously seemed convinced that he could take on the Zulu Army with half (roughly) of his column, with no reserve ammunition - should the occasion arise.

I wonder why he thought if he did engage the Zulu army at or near Mangeni - the reserve ammunition would have got through what was essentially enemy territory - I assume it would have to be escorted perhaps by some of the mounted troops from the camp.

I can't remember how long it took Lord Cs force to get to Mangeni but say it was 2.5 hours - so a galloper rides back to the camp (going like stink) - maybe an hour, then a short time to get the reserve ammunition and escort ready (saddled up & horses on to the wagon - I doubt that the draft animals would have been in their traces waiting), then a further 2.5 hours to get the ammunition out to Lord C - it would still have been a good 3.5 to 4 hours from when Lord C called for the ammo to it arriving......



Back to top Go down
rusteze

avatar

Posts : 2770
Join date : 2010-06-02

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:25 pm

I think he was really torn between two imperatives. Particularly with the native levies, he swings like a pendulum between using them in a defensive capacity and using them offensively. He is haunted by the prospect of the Zulus getting around him and invading Natal. His reluctance to agree to Durnford's proposals for the NNC is only overcome when he is convinced there are still sufficient Natal natives to provide a defence. But he is also acutely aware that his imperial and colonial forces are insufficient in number to be confident of success - hence the pressure to act very quickly to engage the main Zulu force (and the mistakes he makes - not least in the early morning at Isandhlwana). Plus he understands that the NNC must also be used to augment his imperial force even though the colonists won't allow them to be properly armed. So a whole series of contradictory changes of plan and precipitate decisions are taken. Add to that his inability to delegate command which has him undermining both Glyn and Durnford and you have all the ingredients for the disaster that occurred.

Steve
Back to top Go down
Guest
Guest



PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:37 pm

Well put Steve.
You miss out one final element, though. Bad luck.
Clery himself (a friend of Wood's) says:-

'Lord Chelmsford has been most unfortunate- I mean unlucky. My firm private opinion is that had the Zulu army gone against Wood or Pearson, the same thing would have happend to them'

Chelmsford wasn't doing anything his other commanders weren't, he was just unlucky. They were all ambling about all over the place, over confident and preparing to use tactics ill suited to the Zulu way of fighting.
On the day the Zulus were better than us. Simple as that.
Kate Very Happy
Back to top Go down
The author of this message was banned from the forum - See the message
barry

avatar

Posts : 876
Join date : 2011-10-21
Location : Algoa Bay

PostSubject: Criminal neglect   Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:48 am

Hi Xhosa,

Hear hear.
Nothing short of criminal incompetance , I would say.
That man was off on an ego frolick, at the cost of many hundreds of lives and expense to the British tax payer. This all was done  in defiance of SO of the BA about laagering and being advised by the likes of the friendly Boer Black Uys and other very knowlegable Colonials, about that same subject, too.
The reverse that this buffoon suffered at Isandlwana had absolutely nothing to do with bad luck but everything to do with arrogance and far too much gung ho.
This was born out by the fact that when Chelmsford announced on 21/01 that the NMP would not be reporting to Dartnell, there was a mutiny and the 133 NMP  were saddling up to ride back to Maritzburg, because, they said, they would will all be killed there by Imperial incompetence, ie no laagering.  They were all prepared to face military discipline over their decision. LC saw a serious  problem resulting from this and relented, leaving only 33 NMP in the camp  the next day and the balance rode out with their very capable commander Maj Dartnell .
The final outcome  was disgraceful and very sad.

barry
Back to top Go down
The author of this message was banned from the forum - See the message
Frank Allewell

avatar

Posts : 7039
Join date : 2009-09-21
Age : 71
Location : Cape Town South Africa

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Mon Aug 13, 2018 11:36 am

Clery as a professor of tactics should of course be in a position to comment. He is however far to close to the seat of power to be objective in any assessment, he also had a lot to protect by not being to controversial. Woods had a totally different viewpoint on Chelmsford that is probably closer to reality.
Chelmsford was the author of his own luck Im afraid.
Possibly Clery should have remembered that Woods did face a sizable Zulu army.....and survived to tell the story.

Regards
Back to top Go down
rusteze

avatar

Posts : 2770
Join date : 2010-06-02

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:00 pm

I rather go along with Durnford's estimation of Chelmsford following their first meeting in 1878. He wrote that "he is not a clever man", but approachable and friendly. "A pleasant man, a gentleman and one can do a great deal for a man of that type".

There is another major factor in the mix and that is the close control by the British parliament of the purse strings. It has not changed to this day. British forces are always undercooked, always trying to do too much with too little. If you have a dictatorship you can direct unlimited resources at a whim - Cetshwayo, Napoleon. Not if you have a parliamentary democracy.  Once things go pear shaped of course there is immediate  back tracking by the politicians, money and resources magically become available. That's what happened in Zululand.

The real bone I pick with Chelmsford is his actions post Isandhlwana. There had to be an element of luck - he had to take risks and he was not a good judge of that. But criminally negligent is overdoing it in my view.

Steve
Back to top Go down
Guest
Guest



PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:44 pm

Dear Xhosa
Like those brave soldiers during the campaign who dodged the Zulu spears, you have missed the point.

If you re read Steve's message above of 4.25pm and then mine immediately afterwards you will see that I'm not saying he was a brilliant leader who just happened to be unlucky.

I am agreeing with Steve that he made fundamental errors of judgement that led to the disaster.
The 'unlucky' bit was that Cetshwayo chose his column to attack rather than any of the others.
Just thought I'd clarify that old chap
Cheers
Kate Very Happy
Back to top Go down
The author of this message was banned from the forum - See the message
Chelmsfordthescapegoat

avatar

Posts : 2567
Join date : 2009-04-24

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:25 pm

Durnford wasn't the least bit interested in the RB, no doubt he saw them as a pain in the arse. He was in command of a mounted force. Why he dragged the poor souls with him when he decided to disobey orders and leave the camp we will never know. The good Lord Chelmsford had nothing to do with actions of Col Durnford, Durnford worked alone it was his actions and his actions alone that cause the loss of isandlwana. He weaken the camp when he left, and over stretched the lines when he realised his plan to be a hero had failed. The lost of the RB was down to Dunford.

"7th Evidence.—Captain Nourse, Natal Native Contingent, states : I was commanding the escort to the Rocket Battery, when Colonel Durnford advanced in front of the camp on the 22nd to meet the enemy. Colonel Durnford had gone on with two troops, Mounted Natives. They went too fast, and left us some two miles in the rear. On hearing heavy firing on our left, and learning that the enemy were in that direction, we changed our direction to the left. Before nearly reaching the crest of the hills on the left of the camp, we were attacked on all sides. One rocket was sent off, and the enemy-was on us; the first volley dispersed the mules and the natives, and we retired on to the camp as well as we could. Before we reached the camp it was destroyed."

Did the good Lord Chelmsford leave orders for Durnford to leave the camp. Did anyone leave orders for Durnford to leave the camp. Was Durnford not ordered to move to the camp. The only thing Lord Chelmsford was guilty of was giving the rouge Col Durnford a second chance, he should have stripped him of his command when he decided to attack sometime earlier.
Back to top Go down
impi

avatar

Posts : 2308
Join date : 2010-07-02
Age : 38

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:58 pm

CTSG. Your back! Lol

"Dear Durnford,
Unless you carry out the instructions I give you, it will be my unpleasant duty to remove you from your command, and to substitute another officer for the commander of No. 2 Column. When a column is acting SEPARATELY in an enemy's country I am quite ready to give its commander every latitude, and would certainly expect him to disobey any orders he might receive from me, if information which he obtained showed that it would be injurious to the interests of the column under his command.  I trust you will understand this plain speaking and not give me any further occasion to write in a style, which is distasteful to me."
Back to top Go down
rusteze

avatar

Posts : 2770
Join date : 2010-06-02

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Mon Aug 13, 2018 10:06 pm

Hooray! Christmas has come early!

Steve
Back to top Go down
The author of this message was banned from the forum - See the message
The author of this message was banned from the forum - See the message
Guest
Guest



PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Mon Aug 13, 2018 10:29 pm

Sorry Xhosa
That was not meant to be patronising.
I was just trying to be pleasant in a happy friendly sort of way.
Kate Very Happy
Back to top Go down
The author of this message was banned from the forum - See the message
littlehand

avatar

Posts : 7059
Join date : 2009-04-24
Age : 50
Location : Down South.

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Mon Aug 13, 2018 11:37 pm

7th Evidence.—Captain Nourse, Natal Native Contingent, states : I was commanding the escort to the Rocket Battery, when Colonel Durnford advanced in front of the camp on the 22nd to meet the enemy. Colonel Durnford had gone on with two troops, Mounted Natives. They went too fast, and left us some two miles in the rear. On hearing heavy firing on our left, and learning that the enemy were in that direction, we changed our direction to the left. Before nearly reaching the crest of the hills on the left of the camp, we were attacked on all sides. One rocket was sent off, and the enemy-was on us; the first volley dispersed the mules and the natives, and we retired on to the camp as well as we could. Before we reached the camp it was destroyed."

Stupid question. But was Dunrford really aware the RB moved out with him? It seems a bit odd, that he would expect them to keep up. And if he had known would he really had left them some two miles back.
Even if he wasn’t aware of what would meet him, is that justification for go so far ahead.

Brickhill commented that due to not having field glasses he could not say if the rocket battery had accompanied Durnford.
Back to top Go down
Frank Allewell

avatar

Posts : 7039
Join date : 2009-09-21
Age : 71
Location : Cape Town South Africa

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:40 am

Littlehand
He gave express instructions before he left camp for the RB to follow on. In addition when he was riding down the Quabe valley he asked where they were.
As said earlier by Steve its an unexplained mystery why he didn't leave them in camp.
CTSG
In answer to your last paragraph. no he didn't. BUT as the second part of impi's post points out Chelmsford was prepared to give latitude when the situation demanded. As Chelmsford wasn't there t the time the senior officer deemed that point had been reached and took action. I do notice there is no criticism of Durnfords actions in sending the two troops onto the plateau ? that's part and parcel of the whole issue.
Chelmsford again gave Dartnell that same latitude when he disobeyed his orders in not returning to camp.
Durnford cant be seen in isolation, the title of Steves post sys it really, The Big Picture.

Good to have you back.
Back to top Go down
impi

avatar

Posts : 2308
Join date : 2010-07-02
Age : 38

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:56 am

Frank Allewell wrote:
Littlehand
He gave express instructions before he left camp for the RB to follow on. In addition when he was riding down the Quabe valley he asked where they were.
As said earlier by Steve its an unexplained mystery why he didn't leave them in camp.
CTSG
In answer to your last paragraph. no he didn't. BUT  as the second part of impi's post points out Chelmsford was prepared to give latitude when the situation demanded. As Chelmsford wasn't there t the time the senior officer deemed that point had been reached and took action. I do notice there is no criticism of Durnfords actions in sending the two troops onto the plateau ? that's part and parcel of the whole issue.
Chelmsford again gave Dartnell that same latitude when he disobeyed his orders in not returning to camp.
Durnford cant be seen in isolation, the title of Steves post sys it really, The Big Picture.

Good to have you back.

Frank where can i find the source for this information.
Back to top Go down
Frank Allewell

avatar

Posts : 7039
Join date : 2009-09-21
Age : 71
Location : Cape Town South Africa

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:20 am

Hi Impi
"Lieut. Davies:
“Colonel Durnford rode up, telling us to mount our men and follow him”

Private D Johnson of 1st Battalion 24 th Regiment was seconded to the Rocket Battery and had arrived about fifteen minutes after the main Durnford force.

Private Johnson:
“We halted there about ten minutes, when Colonel Durnford came down from the camp of the 1st Battalion 24th Regiment, and gave orders that as the Zulus were retiring fast, the mounted men should advance up a hill about two and a half miles from camp, and that the Rocket Battery, supported by the infantry of the Native Contingent should follow in the rear of the mounted Basutos.”

The above statement from Johnson is in TNA (PRO) WO 33/34

Also the statement of Harry Davies re the discussion of the whereabouts of the rocket battery is in
TNA (PRO) WO 33/34
"he asked me here the Rocket Battery was, I told him a very long way behind."

All the extracts are from my Essay on the RB

Cheers
Back to top Go down
SRB1965

avatar

Posts : 619
Join date : 2017-05-13
Age : 53
Location : Uttoxeter - the last place God made and he couldn't be bothered to finish it.....

PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:03 am

Hi,

This is all 'ifs/but/maybes' -

I wonder what everyone would have thought of AWD had he sat on his butt eating breakfast with HBP, whilst the Zulus 'chopped' Lord Chelmsford while he was eating his picnic.....

Would the cry have gone up that he should have supported Lord C when he 'knew' the Zulus were advancing on him (i.e. retiring from the Isandlwana area)?

I spose its easy now because we know the 'BIGGER' bigger picture and every wargamer, historian or armchair general would not make the same mistake.......though in two refights of the Alamo - I failed to capture it and didn't hold it......earning my nickname (for the first game) as El Incompetante

I believe that AWD carried out his actions with his best intentions - given the intelligence available to him (at the time). Would a Courts-Martial found him guilty (in the event of him surviving)......I dunno

If you think about it, it was down luck......luck that the Zulus were not in a position to attack Lord C (with his command scattered, no reserve ammo...) and attacked the camp instead.

Cheers

Sime (El Incompetante)

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
Back to top Go down
Sponsored content




PostSubject: Re: The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.   

Back to top Go down
 
The Destruction of the Rocket Battery - the bigger picture.
Back to top 
Page 1 of 2Go to page : 1, 2  Next

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
WWW.1879ZULUWAR.COM  :: GENERAL DISCUSSION AREA-
Jump to: