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|Subject: Lieutenant & Adjutant Henry Charles Harford, 99th Regiment Wed Dec 16, 2009 8:21 pm|| |
Colonel Henry Charles Harford. The Beetle Collector Hero of the Zulu War, Soldier and Entomologist.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]Crawley Down Parish Churchyard, West Sussex, England
Much is known about Henry Charles Harford, firstly due to his exploits during the Anglo Zulu War but also because he came from an eminent family linked through marriage to the Scott family of Outlands in Devon. Captain Robert Falcon Scott - Scott of the Antarctic - was Harford’s cousin. Charlie Harford, as he was popularly known, played a significant role in the Anglo Zulu War of 1879 and his eye-witness accounts, writings and sketches on the subject have only recently been discovered. Harford was well known to his colleagues for his intense interest in nature, especially of beetles, butterflies and moths, an interest which matched his enthusiasm for military life. Harford participated in a number of important actions during the Zulu War and was at Rorke’s Drift where he witnessed and recorded the fortification of the Mission Station prior to the invasion of Zululand. As an experienced Lieutenant attached to the Colonial Natal Native Contingent from the 99th (Wiltshire) Regiment, he led the first attack against the Zulus under the watchful eye of the British Commander, Lord Chelmsford during which he caused some confusion in the heat of battle by famously pausing to collect a rare beetle. For his calm bravery Harford earned the respect and admiration of his fellow officers while modestly shunning suggestions he would be suitably decorated. Within days he wrote a remarkable and detailed account of the engagement which, beyond his immediate family, remained unread. Harford then accompanied Lord Chelmsford on his ill-fated reconnaissance from Isandlwana which left the British unprepared and unaware of the approaching Zulu Army, and he scrupulously recorded the chaos and confusion in the hours leading to the Zulu destruction of Chelmsford’s main camp. He witnessed the aftermath of both the destruction of Isandlwana and the Zulu attack at Rorke’s Drift where, just days later, he supervised the disbandment of the Natal Native Contingent. At the same time Harford’s senior officer, Commandant Lonsdale, gave him custody of two officer deserters, Lieutenants Higginson and Stephenson; both officers had abandoned their men in action against the Zulus and the situation caused Harford some perplexing moments. Following the eventual Zulu defeat on the 4th July 1879 Harford was part of the force that searched for King Cetshwayo and following his capture the King was given into the custody of Harford until his exile to Cape Town. Harford meticulously recorded and sketched his experiences and these feature for the first time in this remarkable new work. Harford was extremely lucky to have survived to old age, he eventually died at the age of 86.
He was born in India where he immediately developed fever and was given into the care of an Indian family as he was not expected to survive. He was subsequently returned to his parents fit and well but prior to his second birthday he managed to fall out of an upper window and was impaled on spiked railings. Again, he was expected to die of his injuries but he survived and recovered. His account contains many unusual hair-raising experiences. His childhood was spent largely exploring, hunting and shooting, both in England and then in Natal, South Africa and his diaries are illuminating, amusing and exciting. His accounts of fishing and hunting trips, often in unmapped areas of Natal, make wonderful reading, as do the escapades and pranks which were a feature of his life. Harford possessed a wonderful sense of humour which shines through his accounts. Throughout his writings, he expresses his love of nature and wildlife yet at the same time he begins to note the way of life of the native population he mixed with. His childhood friends in South Africa included such young notables as Cecil Rhodes, Spencer Drake (descendent of Sir Francis Drake), Robert and Frank Colenso, and the feral youth John Dunn (later to become adviser to King Cetshwayo). He also formed many friendships with British army officers, friendships which drew him to an army career at an early age. As a youth he learned to speak fluent Zulu and when in his twenties, as the Adjutant of the 99th Regiment then serving in England, he was well aware of the looming war in Zululand. He offered his services to the War Office, services which were promptly accepted and he soon found himself back in Natal in time for the Anglo-Zulu War. After service in Zululand, Harford remained in the British army and served variously in the UK, Bahamas and India. He retained his interest in collecting rare specimens and he meticulously recorded these and sent the best exhibits to the Museum of Natural History in Durban. A number of rare items were also presented to the British Museum in London (then latterly to the Natural History Museum). Like many dedicated military officers, he married late in life but tragically lost his new young wife to fever in India. He was left with an infant daughter, Sweetie, and never re-married. (by Ian Knight)
Henry Charles Harford's wife's grave is in Quetta, Pakistan.
The inscription reads: Sacred to the memory of Florence. The darling wife of Lieutenant Colonel H C HARFORD. Commanding 1st Wiltshire Regiment who left this earth 12 Sep 1900. Enteric Fever. The mortal remains of the dearest, sweetest and most thoughtful and loving wife rest beneath this stone.
His headstone at Crawley Down, Sussex is inscribed: 'In loving memory of my Daddy, Henry Charles Harford, 31st December 1850 - 25th March 1937, Late in Command of the Wiltshire Regiment (99th) "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God" And Baby'. "And Baby" refers to Colonel Harford's stillborn grandchild).
Source 'AZWHS' 4th edition