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 Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan

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Julian Whybra
Tig Van Milcroft
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Tig Van Milcroft




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Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan Empty
PostSubject: Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan   Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan EmptyTue Mar 01, 2022 10:04 am

When Chelmsford decided in the early hours of the 22nd Jan it was clearly a rushed decision. By the time his column, the most powerful half of the available forces, had reached Dartnell's position, movements of Zulu towards the North and North East of the camp were being detected and reported to the Pulleine, who then advised Chelmsford.

The Vedettes on Qwabe Hill and Ngutu were being turfed out of their positions by bodies of Zulus by about 7-00am. Events that were occurring were taking at least 2.5hrs to reach Chelmsford. Chelmsford either decided to leave the camp as Coms HQ or forgot to rewire the connections.

There is much argument over orders and their interpretation, but no dispute about where such orders should come form. Chelmsford by removing himself from camp also removed a large degree of "latitude" from subordinate commanders who were not in direct contact, he was in practice the directing brain of the wohle project. We know for example that Chelmsford found on Hlazikazi a very different circumstance from the one he expected. He decided to stay and press on with chasing groups of Zulu over the hills and selecting a new camp. Whilst he was doing this he was, he says, entirely ignorant of developments at the camp.

Three questions arise from this in my mind.

1, There was a period after breakfast when Chelmsford was not to be found approx 1 -2 hrs. 11-00am - 1-00pm, thereby removing his guiding hand from the entire column for that period. I have some ideas of where he was and why he was not contactable. Where was he?

2, The failure to rewire the battlefield Coms was in my view a very serious omission, messages from Qwabe, and Ngutu, were conflated with information about what was happening to the camp. This resulted in the famous terse message from Pulleine to Chelmsford. There were other messages but..... Chelmsford effectively blinded himself by not ensuring he received promptly first level intelligence direct from the vedettes. If Chelmsford had been aware at Magogo that all of his Vedettes had been displaced by the Zulu, especially those on Ngutu, (let alone large bodies of Zulu moving westwards across Talehane ridge) at 8-05am the time it would have taken to reach him from Scott on Conical Hill. Would he have stayed where he was?

3, Julian has argued in another thread that the Zulus got lucky, was this luck?
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Julian Whybra




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PostSubject: Re: Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan   Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan EmptyWed Mar 02, 2022 8:47 am

Tig
First, you state a number of incidents above as fact when they are not. You have to deal with situations as they are known to be, not as you would like or imagine them to be. One cannot base questions on baseless situations.
Secondly, I have nowhere argued that the Zulus were 'got lucky'.
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Tig Van Milcroft




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PostSubject: Re: Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan   Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan EmptyWed Mar 02, 2022 9:38 am

Julian,

Please then correct me where I am incorrect I want to understand my errors.
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Julian Whybra




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PostSubject: Re: Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan   Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan EmptyWed Mar 02, 2022 10:44 am

Tig
It is not my intention to correct. Merely to point out that not all things have been established as fact. If one then bases arguments on what is not so established then all argument then becomes a bit too hypothetical.
For example, we cannot say that LC's decision was a 'rushed decision' with all that that entails. We have no idea what deliberations took place surrounding that decision. There was nothing 'clear' about it.
There is no evidence whatsoever that there were vedettes on Qwabe.
There is no evidence that by 7 am vedettes were being turfed out of their positions.
2.5 hours? No. 8.05 to 9.30, that's one hour 25 mins.
When LC left the camp, Pulleine was "in command of the camp" - no doubt about that.
When Durnford arrived, he had seniority, LC's orders were handed over to him.
Why do you assume LC's whereabouts were unknown between 11 and 1?
Where does the notion come from that there WERE messages from Qwabe?
Why do you assume Pulleine's message was 'terse'?
Why on earth would LC arrange direct communication between himself and the vedettes? It was more appropriate to have this between them and the camp.
Where do you get the idea that all the vedettes by 8.05 am?
Why do you assume that Scott was (all the time) on Conical Koppie?
etc.
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Tig Van Milcroft




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Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan Empty
PostSubject: Re: Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan   Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan EmptyWed Mar 02, 2022 1:11 pm

Julian

Thanks for the questions they are useful and I will answer as fully as I can and go back and check my information where necessary. I agree, facts are the basis of all interpretation. With this subject facts are very slippery indeed.

To provide some clarity for now.

Rushed? Chelmsford received information via Clery at 1-30am according to the Narrative and by Chelmsford at 2-30am, on receiving it ordered over half his force to leave camp within 3 hours. Established orders regarding wagons and resupply were countermanded, troops were turned out and left camp at 4-00am. That all looks rushed to me.

Qwabe, I took my information from Zulu Victory - Ron Lock p169. He says that Scott met Barker & Hawkings at some point between their (disputed) Vedette position around 7-30am, inferring they were turfed out sometime around 7-00am. At this time Whitelaw and partner also appeared. Soon after Zulu appeared all along the Ngutu Ridge. How could the vedettes be on the ridge under these circumstances?

This is also the basis of my comments about Vedettes being turfed out. By 7-00am, for them to meet Scott on the plain that seems a reasonable proposition.

2.5Hrs - The distance from Scott's base on Conical Hill, (I did not mean to infer that he was there all the time, form the above we know that not to be the case). to Chelmsford was about 8 miles direct from CH to Camp about 1.5 miles. This adds 3 miles and "Friction" I do not need to explain to you what I mean by "Friction" I know you understand the term. A direct sight of primary source intelligence much like history is more enlightening than a second hand, post analysis synopsis of current events. A rider leaving CH on a direct line to Chelmsford would arrive in something like 1.5hrs. That would mean he has information from the Camp perspective (9-30am) and the Lt Scott perspective (by say 8-15/30am). I postulate that Chelmsford may have behaved differently in that context.

Command of the Camp, indeed he was, no dispute at all there. When those orders were left there was no perceived threat to the camp. That all changed whilst Chelmsford was away. It is possible that had Chelmsford's force been still in camp or able to reinforce the camp things may have turned out differently. Or consider that if Chelmsford had informed the camp that the main Impi was still undetected would Pulleine or Durnford have acted differently? I am not interested what ifs, I am trying to point out that these decisions have consequences.

Chelmsford location, Hamilton Browne, why else would Chelmsford not be found to deliver a message to? Who can tell me exactly where Chelmsford was on his route from Breakfast to Magogo?

Messages from Qwabe? As above Ron Lock. Delivered to camp by a Trooper under orders to do so from Scott.

Terse - A 15 word message with time 8-05am, conveying information sparingly and abruptly.

Why would Chelmsford etc - Simply because he gets first hand information earlier and he is the Commander responsible for the safety of the entire force. What is appropriate for a single unified command may not be so for a divided command, neither camp nor expedition could support each other after 10-30am (ish) on the 22nd.
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Frank Allewell

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Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan Empty
PostSubject: Re: Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan   Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan EmptyWed Mar 02, 2022 2:04 pm

Hi Tig
If you tie back Barkers statement with Mehlokazulu it pretty firmly establishes Barker as being on iThusi rather than Qwabe.
I was always suprised that Ron and Pete placed a vedette on Qwabe. Pete is on the forum, hopefully he can shed some light on that.
In terms of heights and outlook, iThusi is much higher with cosequently a much wider and longer view point.
I would agree that early morning session with Chelmsford being called on to make a lot of decisions, he didnt really believe in delegating, would have been a bit hectic. Hence him instructing Clery to issue orders to a Colonel, that was only stopped by 'the wasp', Crealock. And again he didnt issue orders to Pulleine, he was damned relieved to find out later that Clery had. I would agree that in that rush a lot could have been overlooked, including misleading orders to Durnford. Its evident that his original order to Clery went through a bit of a change before it was given to Smith Dorrien.
Great to explore these issues.

Cheers
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90th

90th


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PostSubject: Battlefield communication on 22nd Jan    Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan EmptyWed Mar 02, 2022 2:21 pm

Hi Frank
I posted here or elsewhere only recently that Barker has put himself on Qwabe with Hawkins , he states he was 6 miles or so from camp , and that he was out the furtherest , it's in Dennis Baker's book .
90th You need to study mo
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Frank Allewell

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Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan Empty
PostSubject: Re: Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan   Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan EmptyWed Mar 02, 2022 2:37 pm

Hi Gary
He said a lot of things but his judgement of times and distance was pretty dismal. I firmly believe in the activities Barker has written of but not those times and distancies. Its a relativly simple exercise to disprove them.
Cheers
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Julian Whybra




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Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan Empty
PostSubject: Re: Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan   Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan EmptyWed Mar 02, 2022 3:02 pm

Tig
To answer just a couple (I'm in a rush):
Pulleine's first message to LC was timed at 8.05.  It was received at 9.30.  Time = 1 h 25 m.
If you are relying on L&Q's book for information, well, that is not evidence for anything.  That is their opinion and it's not all backed up by the evidence I'm afraid.  Quoting from a secondary source does not provide evidence of anything when trying to prove something - otherwise we'd still all be quoting Donald Morris and what a mess we'd be in!  Primary source evidence cannot be (easily) disagreed with.  L&Q unfortunately fail to provide it much of the time.
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Tig Van Milcroft




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Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan Empty
PostSubject: Re: Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan   Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan EmptyWed Mar 02, 2022 3:56 pm

Julian,

I am really not trying to be pedantic here. That Scott sent a trooper to camp about Zulu movements I do not think is disputed, nor that "activity" was being reported around the Magaga piquet. All of this was summarised in the 8-05 message (or not). The problem to me is that the message necessarily conflates information by summarising the two sources of information without making clear to Chelmsford what and where the information was emanating from. In any event it does not give a full or clear picture of the tactical position, merely a statement of fact.

In terms of time, indeed the message took 1hr 25mins, we do not know how long it took the information to reach Pulleine nor do we know how much time he spent considering the import of the information.

We also know that both Chelmsford and Pulleine at the time had an incomplete understanding of the tactitical posiiton vis a vis each other movements, or that so fas as was known of the Zulu. That combined with the obvious fact that the force as a whole was stronger than the parts defensively, that becomes critical information.

I fully take your comments about secondary sources, but lack of evidence does not mean it was not there, I do not suggest that should lead to the conclusion that it was. Ron Lock clearly thought that it was. I will research it more.

Indidentally I was not trying to prove anything, I was asking a question.
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Tig Van Milcroft




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Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan Empty
PostSubject: Re: Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan   Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan EmptyWed Mar 02, 2022 4:21 pm

Frank,

Thanks for your comments re Barker, I clearly need to read a bit more.

You have obviously seen much more on the ground than I can possibly have. My main insight for better or worse is google earth. Using it it seems to me that elevaton alone is not necessarily the thing here. I spend a lot of time tramping around the hills in Scotland long distance views are great but go 400yds and there is just dead ground. To get a good view off a Scottish hill you have to move down, I tried this on google on Ngutu it looks the same there.

The vedettes seem to have a problem, they need to be sighted by camp and or Conical Hill, so if you are placing a Vedette it all depends on what your greatest risk is and where and what you are looking out for.

Two men sent out miles from camp I think, on one axis, would be staying pretty close to the ridge line and making sure they have enough visibility to absolutely ensure they have time to mount up and leg it out. The other axis of course is carrying out their function.

I think that leaves a lot of dead ground. You have been there, what do you tihnk?

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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan   Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan EmptyWed Mar 02, 2022 4:40 pm

Tig, Could not agree more. Aussie and I have spent literally years discussing the dead ground in the area. I can give you a lot of photos that illustrate the views, dead ground etc. But if you will forgive me, Ill wait untill Ive not only sold a few more books but also had them delivered. I believe in that regard the books for the UK distributor have arrived.
Again Aussie and I have looked at the vedette positions and we dont agree that the positions shown in the narrative are 100% accurate. These guys were a bunch of veld savvy men well used to being in the saddle and covering territory. Im sure they were on the move.
In terms of Barker being on Qwabe, one simple exersize, see how far it is from camp on Google. I did that exersize with Dennis Barker, the result shocked the hell out of him. In simple terms camp to Mangeni is 12 miles, so according to Barker he was on vedette half way to mangeni. Not even close Im afraid.
There are a number of points that place Barker, Mehlokazulu, Norse plus a couple more.


Cheers
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Tig Van Milcroft




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Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan Empty
PostSubject: Re: Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan   Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan EmptyWed Mar 02, 2022 4:52 pm

Frank,

Agreed, they stay mounted and move, horse condition allowing.
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aussie inkosi

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PostSubject: Re: Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan   Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan EmptyWed Mar 02, 2022 6:28 pm

Frank
The videttes were placed on the Nyoni ridge as Barker confirms on the map Direct front of camp 3 to 5 miles out these distances are wrong it can not be both direct front and 3 miles out, They the videttes were positioned on the Nyoni ridge From Mkwene to Itusi covering the entire front of the camp. Know concerning if they moved around, I dont think so the distance from Itusi to Barkers hill is less than 1 kilometer and that impi remained hidden for almost 3 hours which clearly implys the pickets did not cross Barkers hill and you need to be on Barkers hill to see the all the dead ground at the foot of Mabaso.

Frank if the videttes moved around it was not beyonf Barkers hill that is for certain.

One other thing, The Zulus moved the videttes of their locations this is confirmed by Trooper Barker on several occasions, So yes Frank they moved at the desire of the Zulu.
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Julian Whybra




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Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan Empty
PostSubject: Re: Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan   Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan EmptyThu Mar 03, 2022 7:34 am

Tig
The only reliable info re positioning of vedettes is from Mansel's map plus the map in the Narrative and as a broad guideline Chelmsford's Instructions to Column Commanders.  A few accounts of surviving vedettes are helpful but are generally too vague to pin down locations and therefore too open to interpretations.  Basically L&Q's reasoning for vedetteson Qwabe and Nyezi is their geographical location.  That can be discounted because the view is the same or better from Itusi.


Last edited by Julian Whybra on Thu Mar 03, 2022 9:44 am; edited 1 time in total
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Tig Van Milcroft




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PostSubject: Re: Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan   Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan EmptyThu Mar 03, 2022 9:04 am

Julian,

I take your point on L&Q.

I have to rely upon google so everything is predicated upon that. It appears to me that Qwabe gives a better view towards the iSipezi ridge and down the valley running SSE than Ithusi. The column knew the direction of approach of the impi it also knew of the activity in Mangene. All of that makes it important to know what is or not going on there. Hence I see a strong argument for one being there along with L&Q but it is, it seems, speculation, wanting evidence.

The iSipezi ridge I regard as you are aware a critical observation position for both the British and the Zulu. It seems to me to be more critical to the Zulu than the British who may have chosen to rely upon iThusi vedette alone.

The Zulu had two forces they could use to sweep the iSipezi ridge, the impi "spies" quoted yesterday or the elements of the Zulu facing Dartnell. We seem to know very little of either the numbers of ther Zulu in front of Dartnell in the evening or the morning, or the route they took to leave the area. Russell comments on the footprints which according to my location for these activites fits into this narrative very well.

It would make sense that if a force moved north from the front of where I think Dartnell was, and if a vedette was on Qwabe it would be turfed out. Too much speculation of course based on too few facts.
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John Young

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Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan Empty
PostSubject: Re: Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan   Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan EmptyThu Mar 03, 2022 9:38 am

Julian,

Mansell?  Come on now surely you mean Mansel?

I’m at my von ClauseWITZ’s end...

JY Joker Joker Joker
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Julian Whybra




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Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan Empty
PostSubject: Re: Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan   Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan EmptyThu Mar 03, 2022 9:46 am

John
Apologies. A slip of the finger, not of the brain (though that happens too from time to time). I thought we'd all agreed a moratorium on von Clausewitz (to clause him down)?
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Julian Whybra




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PostSubject: Re: Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan   Battlefield Communication on 22nd Jan EmptyThu Mar 03, 2022 9:50 am

Tig
Re the view from Qwabe, Frank posted photos just recently showing that that is not the case, and from his personal observation (correct me if I'm wrong, Frank) remarked that nothing can be seen from Qwabe that cannot be seen from Itusi. If I recall correctly, he wrote that the view from Itusi was better even.
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» 22nd January 1879 135th Anniversary.
» The Camp at Isandula, on the Morning of January 22nd.
» Remembering the Zulu dead from the War of 1879
» Remembering all  those that were K.I.A 22nd / 23rd Jan 1879. 136th Anniversary.

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