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 A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?)

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Hobbes

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PostSubject: A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?)   A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?) EmptySun Apr 14, 2024 8:01 pm

I've come across this interesting article, titled "A Hungarian warrior against the Zulus", from an 1879 volume of an old Hungarian newspaper, Vasárnapi Ujság:
"From Gyula [town in Hungary] emigrated to America a young lad named Császár Gy. He was long believed to be dead, when during the last couple of days, a letter was received from him, sent from London. In this letter he says to his mother that he undertook English military service, and by the time of writing the letter, he was sent to the troops fighting against the Zulus. "
Do any other records support this claim, or the presence of other Hungarians perhaps? The article for me also bags another question: how common was it for eastern european soldiers to be present in the British Army? As far as i know, in the two centuries before the zulu war, many foreigners served there, mostly protestants from countries that were England's allies at the specific time. I tried looking the matter up specifically for the later half of the 19th century but did not manage to find much. Thanks in advance.
P.S.: Other contempoary newspapers write about at least three Hungarians who saw action in the AZW, with one appearently dying on the 22nd of April. Most of these had taken part in the revolution of 1848, and were running from the revenge of the Habsburgs.
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?)   A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?) EmptyMon Apr 15, 2024 12:15 pm

I can't add much to this question but I think there would be more chance of him fighting as a volunteer, either in the NNC or mounted troops.

Someone will give you a more precise answer but one mounted volunteer killed at Hlobane was an Austrian (believe he was a 'Count' or something).

Cheers

Simon
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?)   A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?) EmptyMon Apr 15, 2024 2:25 pm

Hobbes,

No trace of Császár Gy on the medal rolls.

Which other names do you have?

JY
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Hobbes

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PostSubject: Re: A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?)   A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?) EmptyMon Apr 15, 2024 7:23 pm

John Young wrote:
Hobbes,

No trace of Császár Gy on the medal rolls.

Which other names do you have?

JY
There is a certain "Dezső Kohn", who allegedly served in an unit named "Northern Border Horse", and died on the 22nd of April 1879 in " the battle of Cabus Camp". The newspaper quotes a letter of the Honorable Thomas Upington, in which the administrator details Kohn's heroic actions and death. He says he died while trying to save one of his fellows from that unit, and dubs him as one of the most gallant soldiers, whom he really admired.
The newspaper also cites a Cape Town newspaper "Standard and Mail" (sic), as the source of their information.
There is an extract from the letter:
"Lieutenant Kohn's death causes me a great deal of sadness; he was a man whom i always held in high regard. He died as a gallant warrior, while trying to save one of his comrades, from the Northern Border Horse. The enemy was hiding behind ramparts which could only be approached, with quite some difficulty, trough a deep ravine. As our men reached the ravine, the "Coronnas" (sic) fired a volley from around 30 yards. One of the victims of this volley was the aforementioned comrade, whom Kohn tried to save, until he was mortally hit by two bullets."

Some of these reports are such a mess, i could not find anything about the "Cabus Camp" or the so-called "Coronnas", and I am starting to think that they got the war wrong (despite the title of the article reading "A Hungarian against the Zulus"), as there was an unit with the name "Northern Border Horse" present in the frontier wars, apparently. They also wrote about a third Hungarian guy, but his name was not revealed, just that he took some part in the fighting.
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PostSubject: Re: A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?)   A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?) EmptyMon Apr 15, 2024 8:01 pm

Hobbes,

Another blank I’m afraid. The Northern Border Horse were only a small northern Cape Colony unit that saw no action against the Zulu. Mainly 1877-8 bar medals. The only apparent casualty appears to be a Trooper J. Tippett, who died of wounds previously received in Rietfontein on 6th March, 1879.

JY
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Hobbes

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PostSubject: Re: A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?)   A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?) EmptyMon Apr 15, 2024 8:14 pm

John Young wrote:
Hobbes,

Another blank I’m afraid.  The Northern Border Horse were only a small northern Cape Colony unit that saw no action against the Zulu.  Mainly 1877-8 bar medals.  The only apparent casualty appears to be a Trooper J. Tippett, who died of wounds previously received in Rietfontein on 6th March, 1879.

JY
Yeah, that was what I suspected. The Zulu War was a frequently talked about topic at that time even in Hungary, so I could imagine they just made these stories up to sell their papers. Thanks for your efforts anyway. I looked through some of these archived papers and there are interesting and sometimes quite funny accounts of both the English and the Zulus, I will upload some of those here soon, I think they offer a different perspective than the English narratives, someone out there might find them enjoyable.
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PostSubject: Re: A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?)   A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?) EmptyMon Apr 15, 2024 8:46 pm

Hobbes,

I have found a Lieutenant Kohn being dangerously wounded in skirmishes in the Victoria West area of Cape Colony, the reports appear in a couple regional newspapers on and around 24th May, 1879.  However, the reports are merely reproducing the initial report with no real details.

Apparently according to a further report he was an officer in the Clanwilliam Light Infantry.  Clanwilliam is about 200km north of Cape Town.

Sorry best I can do!

JY
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PostSubject: Re: A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?)   A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?) EmptyMon Apr 15, 2024 9:08 pm

I found this in the 1879 German Newspaper “Gemeinde-Zeitung”.  The automatic translation from German to English was awkward, so I made it easier to read but, without changing the spelling of any names.

“A Hungarian who died in the Zulu War. Defider Kohn, a young man born in Tallya in Zemplin County in 1852, died on April 22nd. died in battle near Cabus Camp as an English soldier in the Zulu War. Kohn went to Germany at the age of 18 and was an accountant there. Last year he went to the Cape, where he worked for the Goldschmidt and van Dick company for some time before finally joining an English volunteer corps. He soon promoted to lieutenant.”

Tom
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PostSubject: Re: A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?)   A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?) EmptyMon Apr 15, 2024 9:36 pm

Well, I did not expect that! Thanks to the both of you! About the Clanwilliam part, the article which i quoted (partially) mentions the same unit, of which Kohn was a lieutenant, so it seems to be confirmed. The same is true for Goldschmidt and Dick, their names appear in the article as Kohn's employers.
The question remains though, what do we know about the skirmish itself...none of my e-books or other sources mention the unit, or Cabus Camp. I guess they must have been so insignificant that save for the mentioned local newspapers, no one bothered to tell about them. I am sure there were many interesting "forgotten battles" like this, which were lost to time due to their strategic insignificance.
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PostSubject: Re: A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?)   A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?) EmptyTue Apr 16, 2024 1:23 pm

Hobbes,

The “Cape and Natal News”, 22 May 1879, contained the following.  I think this will help clarify things for you.

“The Colonial office has issued the following, dated Cape Town, April 28, 1879:  Copy of telegram received from Colonial Secretary from Commandant Taggart’s camp, opposite Cabus Orange River, via Victoria West:  I have the honour to report, for the information of his Excellency the Governor, and the Hon. the Colonial Secretary, that I made this morning a combined attack upon one of the islands upon which, the enemy was in full force.  One division was under Captain Maclean, composed of the Orange River Rangers and Zulu Contingent, with the other, under myself, composed of a portion of Southey’s Rangers, Clanwilliam’s Light Infantry, and Northern Border Horse.  I succeeded in dislodging them from their fortified position, but, I am sorry to say, not without casualties on our side as follows:  Wounded – Lieutenant Kohn, Clanwilliam’s Light Infantry, very dangerously; Private White, Southey’s Rangers, dangerously; Private Makee, Southey’s Rangers, slightly; Trooper Thorpe, Northern Border Horse, severely; Corporal Piet, Zulu Contingent, severely; Private Leon, Zulu Contingent, slightly.  Loss on the enemy’s side:  Eight bodies found, besides many shot in the river, and several wounded taken as prisoners, one European names McCarthy, supposed to have been leading the enemy; also two Kerranas, three youths, and thirty-six women, with thirty-nine children, all Kerranas with the exception of one.  I completely routed the location, and cleared the island, the enemy throwing away their arms.  The men made their escape by swimming to an adjacent island.  Captured one horse and seventy-four head of live stock, large and small.  The wounded are progressing as well as can be expected, under the able treatment of Drs. Smith and White, who accompanied the patrol, and were very attentive to the wounded in the field.”

Tom
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PostSubject: Re: A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?)   A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?) EmptyTue Apr 16, 2024 5:17 pm

Try 'Korannas'.
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PostSubject: Re: A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?)   A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?) EmptyTue Apr 16, 2024 8:58 pm

Petty Officer Tom wrote:
Hobbes,

The “Cape and Natal News”, 22 May 1879, contained the following.  I think this will help clarify things for you.

“The Colonial office has issued the following, dated Cape Town, April 28, 1879:  Copy of telegram received from Colonial Secretary from Commandant Taggart’s camp, opposite Cabus Orange River, via Victoria West:  I have the honour to report, for the information of his Excellency the Governor, and the Hon. the Colonial Secretary, that I made this morning a combined attack upon one of the islands upon which, the enemy was in full force.  One division was under Captain Maclean, composed of the Orange River Rangers and Zulu Contingent, with the other, under myself, composed of a portion of Southey’s Rangers, Clanwilliam’s Light Infantry, and Northern Border Horse.  I succeeded in dislodging them from their fortified position, but, I am sorry to say, not without casualties on our side as follows:  Wounded – Lieutenant Kohn, Clanwilliam’s Light Infantry, very dangerously; Private White, Southey’s Rangers, dangerously; Private Makee, Southey’s Rangers, slightly; Trooper Thorpe, Northern Border Horse, severely; Corporal Piet, Zulu Contingent, severely; Private Leon, Zulu Contingent, slightly.  Loss on the enemy’s side:  Eight bodies found, besides many shot in the river, and several wounded taken as prisoners, one European names McCarthy, supposed to have been leading the enemy; also two Kerranas, three youths, and thirty-six women, with thirty-nine children, all Kerranas with the exception of one.  I completely routed the location, and cleared the island, the enemy throwing away their arms.  The men made their escape by swimming to an adjacent island.  Captured one horse and seventy-four head of live stock, large and small.  The wounded are progressing as well as can be expected, under the able treatment of Drs. Smith and White, who accompanied the patrol, and were very attentive to the wounded in the field.”

Tom
It certainly does answer many of my questions! However, I have some difficulty with placing this event in a broader historical context, or find a war of which this skirmish might have been a part of... The river itself, even at its closest points, is quite far away from where the fighting between the Zulus and the British took place, or any other colonial conflicts I know about, even tough there is no exact location of the skirmish mentioned.
I'd appreciate some further help with this matter. Sorry, this confuses me very much...
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PostSubject: Re: A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?)   A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?) EmptyTue Apr 16, 2024 9:09 pm

Hobbes,

An alternative name for Korannas people is the Griqua.

The region where Griqua people lived was annexed by Britain. Some Griqua resisted the British annexation with force, it is during the course of the imposition of British rule that Kohn meets his fate.

JY

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PostSubject: Re: A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?)   A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?) EmptyWed Apr 17, 2024 8:04 pm

John Young wrote:
Hobbes,

An alternative name for Korannas people is the Griqua.

The region where Griqua people lived was annexed by Britain.  Some Griqua resisted the British annexation with force, it is during the course of the imposition of British rule that Kohn meets his fate.

JY

Excellent, got it now. Many thanks!
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PostSubject: Re: A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?)   A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?) EmptyThu Apr 18, 2024 6:13 am

This all refers to the Koranna War of 1878 and 1879. There was a 'mistake' in the promulgation of the 'war events' (ie the different but concurrent wars in South Africa at that time) and regulations approved for the issue of the South African General Service medal which covered the years of 1877, 1878 and 1879. The Griqua War in the Northern Cape near Uppington was fought during the years of 1878 and 1879. The medal regulations referred to the fighting in 1878 only and those who fought in that year received the medal with the clasp 1878. There were also a number of medals awarded to members of 'Southey's Rangers' who received the medal without clasp - these presumably awarded to those members who only took part in the fighting in 1879 but not 1878.
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PostSubject: Re: A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?)   A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?) EmptySat Apr 20, 2024 1:58 pm

Aren't the Griqua and Korana different groups with the Griqua being all of mixed descent while the Korana were largely Khoikhoi with some runaway slaves and others of mixed descent? They are certainly presented as such by South African History Online at [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

The Kora

"The Kora originated from small groups of Khoikhoi who had lost their land to the Dutch in the south-western Cape. The groups included runaway slaves and people of mixed European and Khoikhoi descent. Most of the first Kora people had worked on Dutch farms and spoke Dutch. They knew how to use guns and ride horses. They lived in groups along the Gariep River in the central parts of southern Africa.

The Kora kept close contact with the Cape Colony. They got goods from the

Cape like material for making clothes, flour for making bread, and tobacco

that the Dutch farmers grew. The Kora traded these goods with the different

groups living along the Gariep River and beyond. They also traded pack

oxen, which they got from the Cape.

The Griqua

The Griqua were a group of people of Khoikhoi, slave and European descendants who had left the Cape in the late 1700s (18th century). They owned cattle, had guns and horses and used ox-wagons. They usually wore European style clothes, spoke Dutch and were Christians. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Griqua settled north of the Gariep River, in an area that later became known as Griqualand West. They were first group from the Cape to settle north of the Gariep River.

The Griqua took their name from the Khoikhoi group the Guriqua. The Griqua saw themselves more as Khoikhoi than Dutch. They traded material, flour, tobacco and oxen. The Griqua traded mainly with southern Tswana groups."

As Kohn received his dangerous, obviously fatal, wound in 1879 that would have been in the rebellions of East and West Griqualand as the SAHO page on the Kora gives the last conflict involving them as taking place in 1869, or at least starting then and I can't think it would have continued for ten years - [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

"In 1869, the Frontier Armed and Mounted Police and a small detachment of the Royal Artillery arrived in the area - led by Sir Walter Currie. Together with 400 mounted Boers and Basters, 100 Xhosa and 200 regulars, Currie was soon able to scatter the Korana – but the eluded capture. Klaas Lukas eventually captured the Korana 'raid' leaders and handed them over to the colonial authorities, who banished them to Robben Island. Later, a prolonged drought forced White settlers and Coloured farmers, as well as the Korana, to move closer to the Gariep River. Such a conglomeration of herds close made it easy for Korana 'raider' groups to prey on the herds, and their activities aroused the ire of the district.

Klaas Lukas, who was initially neutral, gathered together 1,000-armed men to defend their livestock. His supporters included the majority of the Korana, the Nama Afrikanders led by Jacobus Afrikander, and a number of Griqua rebels under Gamka Pienaar. The Korana 'raider' groups were defeated and came under the control of the Cape Government. Those Korana who rejected a future under colonial rule trekked further into the Kalahari. The Cape Government settled the Basters near Upington to form a buffer between the Boers and the Korana. Today, the Korana have almost completely disappeared as a separate group through assimilation with the population in the area."
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Eddie




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A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?) Empty
PostSubject: Re: A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?)   A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?) EmptySun Apr 21, 2024 11:28 am

Hi All

Basil G Royston has posted a thread on Ian Knights FB page in relation to this subject. He mentions a letter that may help with a few avenues of investigation.
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A Hungarian soldier in the Zulu War (?)
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