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 A mystery caused by the scant number of survivors.

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gardner1879

gardner1879


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A mystery caused by the scant number of survivors. Empty
PostSubject: Re: A mystery caused by the scant number of survivors.   A mystery caused by the scant number of survivors. EmptyFri Feb 25, 2022 12:11 am

I've been enjoying reading your posts with some interest Tig. Thank you
Just addressing your last post I think the majority of us on this forum know why the battle was lost and acknowledge the fighting capability of the Zulu and the failings of our own commanders.
I think what fascinates us is the mystery. A mystery caused by the scant number of survivors, extended period before the battlefield was re visited and scarcity of Zulu accounts, as the victors, when looking at the overall numbers involved.
To use an analogy its a bit like a 300 page detective novel were some one has torn out the middle 200 pages. We know why the crime was committed and by whom but what we don't know is the circumstances, and oppertunities that allowed it to take place in the first place.
(and before anyone starts jumping up and down, I am not referring to the Zulu victory as a crime, its just an analogy!)
This is an 1879 Zulu War forum but if you notice Hlobane, Kambula, Ulundi or even Rorke's Drift hardly seem to get  mention and I think it is because of the lack of mystery and the sheer number of survivor accounts that are out there that relate to those battles.

What facinates me personally is trying to fill in the blanks, to piece together the events leading up to the defeat, to study the character traits and personalities of individuals  and try and work out what we did wrong and what perhaps we could have done right.
(Its probably why the subject attracts so many serving and ex coppers.)

I don't think we will ever fill in all the blanks unless some startling new evidence comes to light which is getting more and more unlikely as time passes by.
Its really interesing trying to find those missing pieces though and I think many of us on here will continue pouring over books, wandering the battlefield, and visiting archives until the sunsets on our own camp and the reveille is heard no more.
Welcome to the forum Salute
Kate Very Happy
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Tig Van Milcroft




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Join date : 2022-02-21

A mystery caused by the scant number of survivors. Empty
PostSubject: A mystery caused by the scant number of survivors.   A mystery caused by the scant number of survivors. EmptyFri Feb 25, 2022 1:39 am

Gardner1879

I agree there is something of a mystery around Isnadlwana, and like you, that caught me. I read quite a bit, clearly, nowhere near as much as some. Once your head is full of stuff then you look at detail and check information,fill in the detail, check sources, motives etc, no I am not a copper.

It does not take too long to realise that the contemporary politics around this Battle were poisonous, that has consequences.

So I start from a position of thinking about what information I would expect to see, and what I do see, and then ask why am I not seeing this. Much recorded stuff that we do see is written in such a way as to appear to say something but actually is quite ambiguous.

I agree there are inexplicably "missing pages" pronbably as I see it because some people figuratively tore them from history, of failed to ask or answer questions. The why is the poisonous politics.

One example is the famous order to "Defend the camp" apparently written/added by Clery almost as an after thought, (I forget where I read that) not that that is material to my point, but if true material in itself for other reasons.

What is meant by camp? The camp was at least a rectangle of 800 x 300 yards, plus an area on the nek and ground which held the wagon train all 300 of them and the 1500 or so oxen to pull them. It is fanciful to think that there were no stores on the wagons, the oxen may be outspanned but the wagons were essential stores so had to be defended as well. The dispositions of the camp ensured that it was indefensible. The Nek was not defended because Chelmsford had convincedhimself that there were not Zulus behind him and none couold get there in force without him knowing and stopping them. For sure if all combatants had stood shoulder to shoulder they may well have survived, but the "camp" would have been lost. Neither Pulleine nor Durnford had any chance to "Defend the camp". Why? Because the Zulu executed a good plan perfectly, and got lucky due to the missteps of the British leadership.

Ntshingswayo was never asked about his opinion as to strategy.

The court of inquiry left much unasked.

I have reached the conclusion along with others I think that the answer in much more prosaic. The Zulu on the day had the better plan and executed it to perfection. On the British side there were careers and reputations to protect, there was also the reputation of the Army to protect, prestige was very important.

The missing pages may be out there to answer all the missing details, I doubt they are. But the fact remains on the day the Zulu destroyed the camp, because on the days of the campaign they were the army that performed its function at the level required to destroy the opposition. That was no mean feat.







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ADMIN

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A mystery caused by the scant number of survivors. Empty
PostSubject: Re: A mystery caused by the scant number of survivors.   A mystery caused by the scant number of survivors. EmptyFri Feb 25, 2022 6:16 pm

I have to agree with Julian. This topic deserves it's own discussion.

This discussion taken from this discussion.

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Last edited by ADMIN on Sat Feb 26, 2022 11:18 am; edited 1 time in total
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gardner1879

gardner1879


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A mystery caused by the scant number of survivors. Empty
PostSubject: Re: A mystery caused by the scant number of survivors.   A mystery caused by the scant number of survivors. EmptyFri Feb 25, 2022 7:19 pm

Hmmmmm not sure why you have done this Pete.
However you're the Admin.
Can I just ask in order for my post above to make any sense would you mind starting this new topic from Tigs 9.55pm post of yesterday to which my post was a reply.
Thanks
Kate
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