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 James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance

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aussie inkosi

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James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance Empty
PostSubject: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 15, 2022 9:03 am

Hi everyone I was reading James Hamer testimony and one section of it brings up issues concerning time and distance and would love your thoughts and opinions on it 

“ A  Company of the 1/24 foot was sent to back up our horsemen who by that time had retired down the hill towards the camp.  We left our horses { for George Sgepstone and myself had rejoined the men } at the bottom of the hill and went up and attacked the Zulus on foot, we drove them back at first, but after retiring over the ridge they were reinforced and came in overwhelming numbers and we had a sharp run for our horses, which were some little distance away. We retreated to the camp”


Before the main Zulu assault begun, there was an action that took place around Mkwene and with the help of A company drove the Zulu back over the ridge, Hamer then describes the Zulus being reinforced  in overwhelming numbers this happened when he was on the ridge.

First we need to conclude who these overwhelming numbers are, I believe it is the chest but I would like your thoughts on it. This then bring up issues with timing seeing the time the first assault begun and the arrival of these overwhelming numbers could mean a time span of between 30 to 45 minutes.

I would like to know why such a large difference in time between the first assault and the main assault and why did it take so long for the chest to arrive.

I would love to hear different views and possibilities.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 15, 2022 10:27 am

Morning Aussie
As usual the difficult questions Very Happy
I think the issues like this are difficult because we are so used to thinking of the traditional explanations.
Tradiion tells us that the companies on the ridge were actually on the Tahelane spur spread out on a rough east west axis.
This we believe happened very early on, for at least one company, Cavaye, and so at that point Hamer was still meandering along the plateau. If he is refering to the second company sent up, Mostyn, Then it would mean that the forward placed zulu had already reached the ridge, possibly by passing Cavaye.
Hamer then leaves his horse at the bottom of the hill, runs up ( a damn steep climb) and forces the zulu back to a ridge point.
If again we stick to the traditional placing the only ridge on the Tahelane is a long way from the line adopted by Cavaye, and Mostyn. Thats a fare old chase and then a long way back down the slope across the bowl and over the ridge before a helter skelter down the slope to the flat Northn of the mountain.
Doesnt ring true really, but only IF we stay with the map positions in the narrative.
What if the Narrative is wrong? And Cavaye was east of Mkwene, not west, after all the historical pathways from the plain to the plateau where there, and the remains still are.
The building of iSandlwana lodge changed the topography drammatically. Prior to that build there were at least two establish tracks.
To speculate, what if Cavaye WAS east of Mkwene at the top of the slope ( pretty close to Ntshingwayo's rock) 150 yards in front was a ridge. Real estate wise it makes a lot of sense. It also makes sense that the front runners of the right chest would then make first contact, get driven of and reappear with the main force. The right horn would then be seperating and moving round the hill to attack down over the spur, possibly the horn splitting because of the hill and loosing a section of the Nokhenke to the right chest in the process.
Have a look at this scenario and see what it does to your timings?

Last time I was there in November I spent a long time wandering up and down that slope, most interesting. But not as good as the cold beer with Shane at the lodge afterwards.

Cheers
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Julian Whybra




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James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance Empty
PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 15, 2022 11:51 am

Hamer's testimony is thought-provoking. From the wording it would appear that Shepstone's NNH (both troops??) had withdrawn to the foot of the spur BEFORE A coy arrived at the top. That would be almost unconscionable! That meant that at one point no-one would have been left on the ridge defending the approach to the camp! I can't believe that that was the case. Either one troop retired and the other stayed or in reality Hamer wrote "a company" rather than "A coy" and in fact was referring to F coy.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 15, 2022 12:02 pm

Julian I would believe it was a company. As Cavaye was already 'up there' it could possibly be Mostyn being refered to? But even then, Mostyn didnt retire on his own he was recalled I believe.
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Julian Whybra




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James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance Empty
PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 15, 2022 2:54 pm

Frank
Yes, I also believe it was "a company" - it makes more sense.
Mostyn's coy was recalled rather than retired but I believe that the NNH covered their withdrawal so perhaps it would've been true to have written that when the time came Shepstone et al. did have a sharp run for their horses.
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James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance Empty
PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 15, 2022 6:35 pm

Thanks Frank and Julian

It was quite an action according to Uguku, his regiment forced the NNH out of a donga which was located very close to Baza;s kraal, Hamer mentions A company, if I remember correctly E and F company went up the Tahalane ridge. It was near this Kraal Lieutenant Roberts lost his life. Also Essex mentions the Nokenke regiment heading towards the rear of the camp.

So I presume Frank and Julian you both regard these  overwhelming Zulu numbers being the Zulu Chest about to begin their assault on the camp.

My question is if it is the chest why did it take so long to arrive some 30 to 45 minutes after the first action
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WeekendWarrior

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James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance Empty
PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 15, 2022 7:13 pm

Julian,

Why do you believe the NNH covered the withdrawal of the Imperial Coys?
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Julian Whybra




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James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance Empty
PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 15, 2022 11:01 pm

Mike
The withdrawal was an orderly one.  
E/F withdrew from the left & centre of the line, covering one another's retreat, the men of one coy firing a few volleys before moving back & passing through the ranks of the other coy then halting to repeat the process.
The NNH withdrew on the right of the line doing the same.  Raw wrote that they reached the bottom out of ammo and had to re-supply (unsurprising since Raw's men had been firing for longest).  Nyanda said they were mixed up with the 24th (indicating his troop must have been on the left of the NNH).  Hamer wrote they had a sharp run to reach their horses in time.  Vause wrote the same (his troop arrived last and presumably would have had ammo to spare) and said they regularly halted, dismounted, fired a few volleys before retreating and repeating the procedure.  I imagine his troop were the last to leave since (a) it had not run out of ammo and (b) he wrote that they had to run fast to reach their horses and were closely followed by the Zulus implying there was no-one (i.e. redcoats) between them and him.
It makes sense for the slower-moving infantry to get down in advance of the faster-moving mounted men & be covered by them.


Last edited by Julian Whybra on Thu Mar 17, 2022 7:06 am; edited 1 time in total
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WeekendWarrior

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James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance Empty
PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 15, 2022 11:12 pm

I can't say I've ever read that A Coy advanced in support of the Zikhali, aside from the short advance mentioned by Curling. I had been under the impression that this was merely to improve their fields of fire and they 'soon returned'. Is this drawn from a close reading of Malindi?

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Frank Allewell

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James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance Empty
PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyWed Mar 16, 2022 7:02 am

Mike, rather 'a company' than 'A' company.
Frank
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Julian Whybra




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James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance Empty
PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyWed Mar 16, 2022 9:20 am

Mike
I don't think anyone suggested that A coy advanced in support of the NNH - I think you must have misread something somewhere.
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WeekendWarrior

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James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance Empty
PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyWed Mar 16, 2022 10:22 pm

Julian, I think you may have made a typo in your post two above!
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Frank Allewell

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James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance Empty
PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyThu Mar 17, 2022 5:35 am

E/F?
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Julian Whybra




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James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance Empty
PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyThu Mar 17, 2022 7:07 am

Mike,
Yes, I did. E/F. Corrected!
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90th

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James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance Empty
PostSubject: James Harmer testimony concerning time and distance    James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyThu Mar 17, 2022 8:43 am

Hi Frank / Julian & Others
Yes certainly a Company...... not ' A ' Company
90th Salute
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Julian Whybra




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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyThu Mar 17, 2022 9:01 am

90th
I do wonder whether this account was what caused Morris to make his misidentification in TWOTS of A company being under Cavaye and on the ridge.
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James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance Empty
PostSubject: James Harmer testimony concerning time and distance    James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyThu Mar 17, 2022 9:11 am

Julian Possibly . I'm not home so can't check anything , not back home until April 6th .
90th Salute
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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyThu Mar 17, 2022 9:22 pm

Does this answer any questions.

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Julian Whybra




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James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance Empty
PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyThu Mar 17, 2022 10:19 pm

Admin
Thanks for the pointer. Actually it was written to his mother (his father had died) and there are some mistranscriptions from the original in that particular copy of it. BUT the important "A (indefinite article) company" as opposed to "A (letter) company" is there and it's easy to see how Morris et al. were misled by it.
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James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance Empty
PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyFri Mar 18, 2022 7:01 pm

Pte. Wilson also has a sentence beginning "A company..." in his original hand-written account. I daresay Morris put 2 and 2 together and made 5.
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James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance Empty
PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyThu Mar 24, 2022 9:20 pm

Julian Whybra wrote:
Hamer's testimony is thought-provoking.  From the wording it would appear that Shepstone's NNH (both troops??) had withdrawn to the foot of the spur BEFORE A coy arrived at the top.  That would be almost unconscionable!  That meant that at one point no-one would have been left on the ridge defending the approach to the camp!  I can't believe that that was the case.  Either one troop retired and the other stayed or in reality Hamer wrote "a company" rather than "A coy" and in fact was referring to F coy.

Did Barry's infantry NNC not support the NNH onto the plateau? If they did, or did not, when did they withdraw from the piquet position on the hill?
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WeekendWarrior

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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyThu Mar 24, 2022 11:36 pm

In one of his reports, Higginson said half of the Coy accompanied Raw's Troop. Possibly the other half was with Robert's or alternatively they remained on Mkwene; Erskine says he was with a body of Phakades men without any officers present.
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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyThu Mar 24, 2022 11:42 pm

It would follow then that the Imp Company was to replace the NNC company now accompanying Raw/Roberts?
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Julian Whybra




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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyThu Mar 24, 2022 11:54 pm

Logically yes.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyFri Mar 25, 2022 6:12 am

Hi Tig
This whole section of history is something Ive never had confidence in. For the Imperial Company to replace the the NNC would seem to signify they were/would be in the same place!
The NNC post was originally to guard the access into camp, the 'track' down the face of the escarpement. There are old photos that show there were a number of tracks and the most significant being to the east of Mkweni. One would assume therefore thats the position the NNC would have adopted.
The accepted position of the E and F companies though is to the west of Mkweni. Doesnt tie up somehow.
I know you have a particular interest in that area so just something to kick around.

Cheers

Frank
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WeekendWarrior

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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyFri Mar 25, 2022 6:30 am

Frank, I've read your essay on the matter and it's thought provoking. However, the traditional western position IS reflected on Capt. Anstey's map of Isandlwana... I don't see him being negligent when it came to the known movements of the Coy his kid brother lost his life in.
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James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance Empty
PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyFri Mar 25, 2022 6:54 am

Morning Mike
Anstey only reacted on information provided, it seems in principal from Essex. Considering his, Essex, lack of detail on his own map, I woudnt consider him the best source.
In theory Hamer also provided a map, but again a serious lack of detail.
There are just to many unanswered questions:
Why defend an area so far to the west when the brief from Durnford was to give back up to his two companies.
Why send a detachment 500m to the west?
The defence of the Tahelane spur while leaving the entire front of the ridge open again defies logic.
Anstey was a 'commentator' on history relying on reports, can those reports be said to be accurate?
Yeaah I know its the proverbial bee in my bonnet buzzing around.

Cheers

Frank
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Julian Whybra




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James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance Empty
PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyFri Mar 25, 2022 8:41 am

Frank
Another way to look at this is that you are both right. There is no reason why Cavaye's coy was static. It could well have responded to a changing situation by moving to get a better view, a better strategic military situation, moving to provoke a Zulu response or negate a Zulu threat, a better access to a hasty retreat if required, splitting to watch two separate movements, moving to accommodate Mostyn's coy., etc.
The 'fixed' positions indicated on the Anstey map or by Essex's and others' writings only pinpoint E coy's location at specific times and they are ALL 'correct' at the time of observation. One need not be 'more right' than another.
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Tig Van Milcroft




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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyFri Mar 25, 2022 10:08 am

At around 9-00am Chard was sufficiently concerned to worry about the security of Rorkes Drift and the waggon road so as to return there and Durnford to have concerns about the security of his baggage.. Overnight Barry was aware of Zulu activity to his north, east and west. Scott was reporting largemovements towards the west. It was therefore known to both Pulleine and Durnford that Zulus were on the plateau and working their way behind the hill of Isandlwana in not insignificant numbers. It was also known that the Malakatha area was clear. So areas of unknown were roughly, Plateau, west of Talehana Spur, Qwabe Valley and NW.

It was assumed that the mian impi was approaching from Ulundi and that Chelmsfords force stood between it an the camp. The observations until the report from Raw informed all the decisions taken up until that point.

The priority would seem to me to be to reconnaisance (given that it was asumed this was not the main impi) in force to determine where and in what force any threat existed and to provide sufficient firepower to delay or prevent movement threatening the camp. Durnfords force provided the necessary mobility and firepower to provide reconnaissance element and the Imp infantry the stopping power, when co-operating. The infantry range was limited to the extent that it needed to secure its line of retreat back to the support of the camp, they needed to ensure that when over the ridge line they could not be outflanked. The infantry when on the plateau was also limited by range (say 600m for the MH) and dead ground.

I find it worrisome that the early morning known movement to the rear of the Isnadlwana Hill was not a subject of mounted reconnaissance to find out the object of the Zulu movement. That said a detachment to the Talehana Ridge would prevent a threat to camp though not to the Waggon Road. With limited resources it does seem logical to send the main reconnaissance efforts to Plateau and the Qwabe area to ensure that no threat existed or to contain the somewhat limited threat expected (i.e. not the main impi). The use of Imp infantry to replace Barry and the use of Barry to support the NNH on the plateau all very logical firepower and mobility being the equal to or better than the expected opposiiton, this also goes for Durnford's excursion towards Qwabe.

To get to the point of all this, There seems to me good reason to have infantry on Talehana for there is also good reason for being on Mkwene pretty much until Raw returned with his news. Once the Impi attacked it was necessary for everybody to return to camp as quickly as possible with a few casualties as possible in a fighting retreat. The area of the Isandlwana Lodge seems to me to be the most likely route back to camp for RAW the Imp Inf NNH & NNC and the direct route down the face of the Talehana ridge for those there.


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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyFri Mar 25, 2022 10:51 am

Tig your very correct. Durnford was told by Higginson that 5,000 Zulus went behind Isandlwana this is shortly after his arrival, and all Durnford done was to place a look out on top of Isandlwana that tells you how seriously he took the threat, then within 30 minutes a report comes in that the Zulus are retiring and Durnford accommodated this by sending hundreds out of camp to follow them up, just what the Zulu wanted, then when Durnford returned to his 4 troops to give them their orders he is then told again that another 6,000 Zulus are close by, one would think to draw your men in but what he does is go and chase them and if Durnford had his way 2 company's would have went with him.

The disaster falls on Durnfords shoulders, he was completely out of his depth.
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Tig Van Milcroft




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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyFri Mar 25, 2022 12:13 pm

Aussie, I am not convinced you can reach your conclusion logically. I think the root of the problem is lack of intelligence as to the movements of the Zulu. Durnfords first action was to to find out more. The assumptions upon his arrival were proved wrong only after the reconnaissance. The lack of suitable mounted troops prior to his arraival, and the only means thereto to gain intelligence, was not the fault of Durnford or Pullleine. There were few casualties on the retreat back to camp in the Imp infantry or the NNH Durnfords force included. An order to reduce the perimeter could have been given at any time after Raw returned. The limitation to that was the position of the camp in relation to the dead ground around it and the effective range of the MH rifle against skirmishing Zulus.
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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyFri Mar 25, 2022 2:03 pm

Tig Salute
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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyFri Mar 25, 2022 4:50 pm

AUSSIE
Also the figures you quote in your last post are selectively taken from a wide variety of numbers received - often referring to a few hundreds to 5 or 600. with such a variation in numbers it is not surprising that Durnford wanted to obtain reliable and accurate info.
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PostSubject: James Harmer testimony concerning time and distance    James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptySat Mar 26, 2022 12:56 am

Aussie Inkosi
Sorry Mate , I know you're aware of my thoughts regarding Durnford and his actions.... which certainly differ from yours , I'm with TIG , JW and Frank .
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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptySat Mar 26, 2022 6:37 am

Durnford got his intelligence and chose to ignore it. Also if Durnford was not so quick to go on the attack he would of got the intelligence from Trooper Barker in time that there is a large Zulu army only 600yards from Itusi waiting for Durnford to make his mistake, which he did.

That is 3 sources of intelligence
Lieutenant Higginson with 5,000 moving behind Isandlwana
Lieutenant Davies with 6,000 not far off  and
Trooper Barker with a large army 600 yards from Itusi, this was the reason the Zulu retired

All three sources proved to be correct

The problem is not the lack of intelligence the problem was the one receiving the intelligence.
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Tig Van Milcroft




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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptySat Mar 26, 2022 7:50 am

Aussie, Nowhere have I seen any accoiunt that gives any impression or belief at all that the camp was directly at risk of an attack from the main impi, prior to receiving the news from Raw. In that context all of the independent forces were able to manoeuvre, resist and retreat if necessary to the security of ther camp. None of the detachments sent out by Durnford were anything other than reconnaissance they could not attack a large body of Zulus in the numbers reported, without great risk of encirclement, attack was not an option.

In the comment above you quote Barkers report, with the ancillary that this was the reason the Zulu retreated, could you pleasde alaborate the reasons you believe this to be the case?
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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptySat Mar 26, 2022 8:48 am

Hi Tig

Barkers find has been ignored by all the experts for far to long. Once you discover the location of Trooper Barkers find then you will find out why those 3 columns were retiring and what the Zulu where up to.

here is Trooper Barkers testimony 
 . Shortly afterwards, numbers of Zulus being seen on all the hills to the left and front, Trooper Swift and another were sent back to report. The Zulus then remained on the hills, and about two hundreds of them advanced to within three hundred yards of us, but on our advancing they retired out of sight, and a few of us went up to this hill where the Zulus had disappeared, and on a farther hill, at about six hundred yards’ distance, we saw a large army sitting down. We returned to Lieut. Scott, who was then about three miles from camp, and reported what we had seen. Hawkins and I were then sent back to camp to report a large army to the left front of the camp. On our way back we noticed the Zulus advancing slowly, and when about a mile and a half from the camp we met the rocket battery, who enquired the enemy’s whereabouts. We advised the officer to proceed to where Lieut. Scott was stationed, but he asked if he could get up a hill to his left. We informed him that the Zulus were advancing towards that hill, and most probably would be seen on it within half an hour. The officer decided to proceed up this hill, and the battery was, half an hour afterwards, cut up to a man, just as they arrived, I believe, on the top of the hill in question.


Firstly that report { Zulus retiring } that Durnford acted on, came from Mkwene about 1 mile from Mkwene is a ridge line which covers a great deal of dead ground, Frank can confirm this. The Natal Carbineers which Trooper Barker belong to were videttes  to the right of Mkwene. Frank and I place Barker on Itusi the reason we came to this conclusion is the following from Barker


. As Hawkins and I were returning to the vidette outpost we noticed the mounted Basutos to the extreme left of the camp in skirmishing order, and masses of the Zulus on all the hills. Firing was then heard for the first time, as although we had been within two hundred yards of the Zulus, we had strict orders not to fire the first shot, and no shot, up to then, had been fired on either side



He sees Raw and Roberts just before he hears the first shots these shots indicate the discovery not them returning from Mabaso.  The only place Barker can see Raw and Roberts Basutos is from Itusi or close to it, he even gives us a clue to his "extreme Left " the discovery took place there and those retiring Zulu columns were last seen there


Those three retiring Zulu columns wanted the British to follow them up, to lead them into the Large Zulu army Barker discovers. Also notice Tig Barker warns the rocket battery not to go up the ridge this confirms Barkers report arrived at HQ after the rocket Battery has left, Durnford has already made his moves. Also notice Barker warns the Rocket Battery not to go up the ridge why because Zulus would be there in 30 minutes,  Tig  How did Barker know that ? it turned out to be true. 


All that intelligence Durnford got was correct  those 6,000 Zulus Lietuenant Davies confirms are most likely these same Zulus Barker discovers.


Would you have sent Raw, Roberts the Rocket Battery and another two troops out to follow up these Zulus if you knew there was a large Zulu army waiting for them. I think not, Durnford did.
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Tig Van Milcroft




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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptySat Mar 26, 2022 10:55 am

Aussie, The Vedette information and its promulgation has been an object of interest of mine for quite a while. Thanks for posting the testimony, the more the better. I agree on a lot of points, but with specific reference to Durnford, he was not aware of Barkers information when in conference with Pulleine, after which the reconnaissance parties were sent out.

It places Lt Scott 1.5 miles past Conical Hill, and the Rcoket battery somewhere presumably just north of Conical Hill, it does not locate Durnford. I am away from home for a few days something I will have a think about whilst I get back.

The bottom line here is that the reconaissance found the Zulu main Impi, and that the disposiiton of the Column forces were not in a configuration that eneabled them to withstand the assault. If we assume that ignorance of the Zulu position would have materially improved the defensive posture of the Imp forces then there would be a case for suggestion the reconnaissance was rash. I do not hold to this position for I cannot see that a surprise attack by the main Zulu Impi fully deployed on the camp would have materailly improved the chances of a successful defence, I think the contrary posiiton to be the more likely outcome.

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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptySat Mar 26, 2022 11:56 am

Tig 
You can find Barkers full testimony in Rev Stalker's book  Natal Carbineers.

Durnford was aware of the 5,000 moving behind Isandlwana when he was with Pulleine, and its when he was with Pulleine he got that report the Zulus are retiring, then Durnford made up his mind in the actions he would take, it is then he left Pulleine and gave his orders to Raw and Roberts then at this time Lieutenant Davies confirms he following

A native spy came in and reported in my hearing to Colonel Durnford that he had seen a great many of the enemy on the left of the Camp, some distance off, saying he thought there were about 6,000 of them. Colonel Durnford immediately ordered Captain G. Shepstone with Lieutenant C. Raw to take No. 1 Troop, Sikali’s Horse (about 52 men), and skirmish the ridge on the left of the Camp; also telling Captain W. Barton and Lieutenant Roberts to take No. 2 Troop, Sikali Horse (about 55 men), and skirmish the valley beyond the ridge taken by Shepstone and Raw

So the second report  of him being told Zulus are in large numbers was when he gave the orders to Raw and Roberts the above statement confirms this.  Durnfords mind is made up as he was giving the orders to Raw and Roberts he was told a second time of large numbers and still sends out Raw and Roberts and 15 minutes after that the Rocket Battery, This Durnford done while being told twice of large masses of Zulus close by.

Barkers report arrives when Durnford is not with Pulleine sometime after 11am, but he has been told twice already once in Pulleine presence and the second time in Davies presence and still he sends them out.

You make a good point here
 and that the disposiiton of the Column forces were not in a configuration that eneabled them to withstand the assault. 


That was the purpose of drawing them out of camp, to put them on the back foot from the beginning.
The British should have been in defensive positions preparing for an attack after the first report which means striking down the tents and forming a square with their backs towards Isandlwana mount itself and ammo close by. The distance between them and the dead ground is around 500yards the Zulu muzzle loaders where only effective up to 100 yards the Zulu would have exposed themselves to come in hand to hand combat. Zulu testimony clearly states they avoided the bayonet
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Tig Van Milcroft




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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 29, 2022 11:49 am

Aussie, Back home. Your points include some assumptions that may or may not be correct, we will probably never know. But to eleborate.

That 5000 Zulus were moving north of the camp was the reason the Durnford instructed a reconnaissance. 5000 Zulus were not likely to overcome the firepower available in the camp. Even less so if their position and strength was understood before there approached it.

Until Durnford's arrival in camp a reconnaissance was not possible because there were so few mounted troops left by Chelmsford. That infers that there was no serious threat to camp anticipated by the commanding officer Chelmsford. Orders were left to "defend the camp" though I have not seen a transcript of the full order. No experienced officer would leave a camp denuded of reconnaissance troops, and with more than half of its firepower mobilised to attack a "stronghold" 12 miles remote formt he camp, if there was any risk of the full force of the enemy army could be applied to the camp in its absence. That was the mindset of everybody engaged in the British force prior to Raw's discovery.

Pulleine himself may have instructed a similar reconnaissance if he had the forces able to carry it out prior to Durnford's arrival, I think this is likely, he had experience of mounted forces and their uses.

The only point of difference was the disagreement about taking Imp Infantry. The outcome would have been very different if RAW,Durnford Barton and Roberts had drawn 5000 Zulus in to attack the camp rather than the 20,000 that actually did.

To take you second point about standing back to back etc, Pulleine could have ordered this, at any time after receving Raws report. He did not, the responsibility for not doing so is his. That is not to say that what you suggest was or was not the best option. The "drawing of men out of camp" caused few casualties amongst Imp Forces and we know many more in the Zulu forces, especially those facing the retreating Basutos in the Dongas. Concentration may still have been an option even late on, before it became the last ditch option for individual companies prior to complete rout.

The "Back to back" stance you describe would be completely appropriate, if you believe you were deploying in advance to face 20,000 Zulus, that was sinmply not the case here. Pulleine deployed to "Defend the camp" not the the forces. To lose the camp and livestock aone would destroy the ability of the force to move, to lose the ammunition and supplies would be to lose the force. The "Defend the Camp" order was the reason for the loss of the men Pulleine never had enough men to achieve the task, though he possibly could have ensured the survival of some of his troops.

I am still of the view that reconnaissance in force to determine what the Zulu forces intentions were was the sensible thing to do given the "mindset" described above. If the whole force had been present instead of the most pwerful part conducting operations 12 miles away to no effect, we would be having a different discussion.
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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 29, 2022 12:12 pm

Tig
There is no transcript of "the full order" as you describe it. There is only Clery's recollection of what was ordered as stated at the CoI, viz.
"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 still far advanced."
Clery also told Pulleine to keep a waggon loaded with ammunition ready to send out to the General if he required it.
And later:
"What I wished to convey was this - 'keep a sharp look out with your Cavalry. Get your Infantry outposts back closer to your Camp. Fight compact if you are attacked. Act strictly on the defensive and hold the camp."
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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 29, 2022 12:25 pm

Tig
There were around 104 mounted men left in the camp.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 29, 2022 12:35 pm

Frank, Some would be required for the Vedettes, some for communications a larger force would be required should Chelmsford send for the Ammunition, some would be temporarily out of commission. A minimum force of 50 would be required to mount a reconnaissance in any direction, less would have insufficient firepower. Pulleine also expected the arrival of Durnford.
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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 29, 2022 12:46 pm

Sorry should have added this:
Natal Mounted Police 34 Men
Newcastle Mounted Rifles 17 Men
Buffalo Border Guard 8 Men
Natal Carbineers 29 Men
Mounted Infantry 21 Men
Even allowing for the sick lame and lazy there was still enough men there to 'explore in depth' the plateau. Pulleine had around 2 to 3 hours before Durnford arrived available to do a reconnaissance.

So yes:
Quote,"I am still of the view that reconnaissance in force to determine what the Zulu forces intentions were was the sensible thing to do given the "mindset" described above."
I agree.
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Julian Whybra




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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 29, 2022 12:47 pm

There were 85 Volunteers and NMP in camp and 20 IMI (plus another 10 arrived with Gardner)
About 20 for vedettes and their replacements, a score for convoy escort, some sick or their horses sick - let's say a dozen, and half a dozen messengers.  That's 56.  It would leave enough for a reconnaissance of 50.


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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 29, 2022 12:48 pm

Sorry. We overlapped.
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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 29, 2022 12:49 pm

We cant loose sight of the fact that a very large percentage of these men were used as a mobile force against the advancing zulu on the plain below the ridge. ( Mehlokazulu )


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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 29, 2022 12:55 pm

Points to the camp management really, with the reports coming in frequently about activity on the plateau. Sufficient to warrant Pulleine to send of a messsage, around 8ish, advising Chelmsford.
That he didnt think to send of a few mounted patrols wasnt good real estate management.
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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 29, 2022 1:14 pm

Frank, That Pulleine did not deploy what force he could afford then was probably due to his (under) estimation of the threat. Thanks also for the numbers and the detail. My thanks also to Julian for for confirming that the actual "defend the camp" order is a post disaster recollection rather than a statement of the actual order.

Pulleine was probably not alone in that threat estimation, unlike Durnford whose first thought was to determine where the enemy actually were, rather than assumed to be. Chelmsford, Glyn and Clery were all responsible for choosing the position of the camp and for the arrangements for its outposts, piquets and Vedettes.

Clery in particular has much to say on the positioning of such things as piquests, vedettes, and the usbject or reconnaissanc ein particular.

In his book Minor Tactics he asserts, "To frame dispositions without providing for due notice of events that may thwart them, is to grope in the dark and trust blindly to chances. To remain contentedly in ignorance of what an enemy may be preparing to carry out against us is simply to surrender our fate into his hands. For effective action it is essential to know how the enemy is prepared to meet that action."......"The surest way to have accurate information of the enemy is, to keep constantly in contact with him with your own light troops." he goes on "If he is advancing and still at a distance, similar parties should be thrust forward to meet him. If he is retreating he should never be lost sight of. This principle is old and its application in war is abundantly met with" Clery, Minor Tactics, P38

The only commander who actually carried out this logic was Durnford. Had Chelmsford et al had equal perspicacity all of the force may well have been able to configue much as Aussie suggests, and may well have survived to tell the tale. They did not.



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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance   James Hamer testimony concerning time and distance EmptyTue Mar 29, 2022 1:30 pm

Tig My 'niggle' is that Pulleine thought sufficient of the situation to inform Chelmsford but not enough to find out more about the level of threat.
The camp, whilst established by Clery, was chosen by Chelmsford in the face of objections from I think Fynn, he reccomended a site further out on the plain. And of course the camp itself was abused by a number of officers including Hamilton Browne.
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