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 Mystery Man, Help Needed

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1879graves

1879graves


Posts : 3362
Join date : 2009-03-03
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PostSubject: Mystery Man, Help Needed   Mystery Man, Help Needed EmptySun Jan 03, 2010 12:20 pm

Hi All
On another web site I have been reading the following:

I have been doing genealogy for more than 20 years but have been really stuck with one ancestor, my great grandfather, Charles Augustus Mathews. Family legend states he was in the Crimean War (but under an assumed name) and supposedly won the VC (I take that with a pinch of salt). However, he is mentioned in the Salvation Army Social Gazette as being a Crimean Veteran which seems to support part of the story. The only clue I have is of him in what appears to be some sort of army uniform, but it is like nothing I have every seen. I would very much appreciate it if people could take a look and tell me if they recognise this as a uniform and any information they could give me that might help me further in my research would be so very much appreciated. The jacket does appear to be at least part of a formal soldier's uniform and there seem to be sergeant's stripes on the arm, but the whole thing looks a bit wierd and I know that later on he went to Africa, so this might have been his idea of suitable clothing for that adventure. Any ideas out there?

Some other members have suggested that he might have taken part in the Zulu War Suspect

Questions
Did Charles Augustus Mathews take part in the Zulu War?
What unit or regiment was he in?
What uniform is he wearing?
What gun is in the photo?
and many more !!!

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keith4698




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PostSubject: Re: Mystery Man, Help Needed   Mystery Man, Help Needed EmptySun Jan 03, 2010 3:16 pm

Do you have a name and address of the studio where the photograph was taken, my first thought on looking
at the picture is that he is wearing studio props, could be wrong of course but it was quite common at that time
for people to dress up as a cowboy, soldier etc for a photo.

Regards
Keith
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1879graves

1879graves


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PostSubject: Re: Mystery Man, Help Needed   Mystery Man, Help Needed EmptySun Jan 03, 2010 3:35 pm

Hi Keith

:lol!: you have been reading the same thread as I have :lol!:

I think you could be correct as they have not mentioned the Studio which would be on the back of the photo.
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1879graves

1879graves


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PostSubject: Re: Mystery Man, Help Needed   Mystery Man, Help Needed EmptySun Jan 03, 2010 5:38 pm

After doing a little digging in the Medal Rolls, I have found a possible match Suspect

Under Fort Beaufort Burghers, I have found a Charles Mathews. This unit fought at Morosi's Stronghold.

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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Mystery Man, Help Needed   Mystery Man, Help Needed EmptySun Jan 03, 2010 5:41 pm

Have you considered a career as a detective? Nice one and well done. Is this the same incident.

Morosi, chief of the Baphuti, a tribe of Nguni origin, but owing allegiance to the House of Moshesh, committed various acts hostile to the Cape Colonial administration of Basutoland late in 1878, the final being the forcible removal of his son, Doda, from gaol at Quthing.

Refusing to surrender Doda, Morosi and his tribe withdrew to a mountain in southern Basutoland which he had fortified over a period of years, and there defied the Colonial government.

A Cape Colonial force with Basuto support was mobilized, and, under Col C D Griffith, reaced the mountain on 25 March, 1879. Early in April reinforcements arrived with two 7-pounder guns and some rockets. On the 8th of the month, after an artillery bombardment, the Colonial forces made an assault. This failed.

Further reinforcements under Col E Y Brabant, and a 12-pounder field gun arrived after the first assault Brabant, who took over command from Griffith, ordered a second assault on 5 June. This also failed. All this time the Colonial forces had maintained a blockade of the mountain.

In October Col Z S Bayly relieved Brabant, and after training his men thoroughly, ordered an assault on the night of 19/20 November. This succeeded, the mountain was taken, and Morosi and most of his men killed.(1)

During the course of the siege the Colonial forces had used various methods to overcome the Baphuti. Firstly, artillery bombardment, which apart from the use of a mortar, had not been effective. Secondly, they had employed a blockade of supplies, also not very effective since the Baphuti had succeeded in rushing cattle onto the mountain in September. Thirdly, three infantry assaults were made, of which the last was effective.

A fourth means of taking the mountain was by engineer methods, and for this purpose, the Colonial government commissioned a report by the Royal Engineers.(2)

The Report(3)

Major F W Nixon(4) was ordered to undertake the task. He reported to Col Hassard that he left Gape Town on 26 August with two NCOs, RE, by 55 Durban and arrived at Aliwal North on 2 September. He examined the resources of the place and found sufficient tools and materials to carry out any mining operations necessary. He requested the Civil Commissioner to get eight experienced miners. He arrived at Morosi's Mountain on 8 September.

'Morosi's Mountain is an isolated kopje, rising steeply on the south bank of the Orange River, about 1 500 feet, and connected with the range on the south by a low narrow nek.
The southern slope from this kopje to the next is about 700 yards by 100 yards. Three lines of defences cross this slope, formed of low walls built on natural ledges of rock, and flanked by walls, or scances as they are called in this country, on either side.
Below the lowest or first scance is a ledge of rock to which access can be obtained without much difficulty or exposure, and below which shelter can be obtained.
From this ledge is a comparatively flat and open space of about 200 yards to the saddle where is posted a picket night and day.
On the east side of the mountain about 50 yards beyond and 20 feet below the ends of this first scance is a cave capable of holding about 20 men, to which access might be obtained at night.

Colonel Brabant has under his command a force of about 200 Europeans, Gape Mounted Rifles and about 500 Hottentots, Fingos and Basutos. With this force he has endeavoured to invest the mountain by disposing his men in nine camps on all sides, and at the same he has to keep up constant patrols in a most difficult and rugged country. With regard to an attack upon the mountain I have the following observations to make:

I do not consider that mining operations would be of much avail.
I could hew a gallery from the cave I have mentioned in such a direction as to place a mine under the first scance. The moral effect of firing such a mine successfully might be great, but it would not materially assist the attack, because the rock is so steep that the actual effect would be to scarp it; of course the defenders would be driven from that part of it. But the difficulty of the attack would only have begun because the lines of the second and third scances are behind and could not be approached by mining, on account of the steepness.

I am therefore of the opinion that a force of 500 men, if this scance were first breached by a couple of guns of moderate calibre, 9 or 12 pounders - might be disposed under the ledge and near the cave above mentioned, and by a determined attack, but with the certain sacrifice of perhaps a tenth of their number, take the positions. But for such an attack well-disciplined men, accustomed to act together and ready to follow where they are led are absolutely necessary - for the advance from each scance in succession would have to made under fire up a steep ascent.

All their officers agree that the Colonial Forces, as at present organized and disciplined are not to be depended upon for such an attack.'

Comment

Although the report contains little of Sapper interest, it is important for other reasons. Major Nixon was a British regular and as a Royal Engineer an officer in what had always been the most professionally trained corps in the British Army. His comments are cold and factual. The last two paragraphs of his report sum up the whole matter, and interestingly enough, Col Bayly, a former British regular infantry officer took the required steps which led to success, i.e. trained his force thoroughly before the final assault.
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1879graves

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PostSubject: Re: Mystery Man, Help Needed   Mystery Man, Help Needed EmptySun Jan 03, 2010 7:13 pm

Hi littlehand

Yes it is the same incident.
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Dave

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PostSubject: Re: Mystery Man, Help Needed   Mystery Man, Help Needed EmptyMon Jan 04, 2010 1:25 pm

Keith says
Quote :
" my first thought on lookingat the picture is that he is wearing studio props,"
I'm with you on that keith.

Dave
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1879graves

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PostSubject: Re: Mystery Man, Help Needed   Mystery Man, Help Needed EmptyMon Jan 04, 2010 7:08 pm

Hi Dave & Keith

I have to agree with you both that it looks staged. I do have one question for the ones that know,
What kind of gun is it and would the bandolier hold the bullets for that weapon?

There is no evidence that the Charles Mathews I found on the Fort Beaufort Burghers Medal Rolls is the person in the photograph.
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Mystery Man, Help Needed   Mystery Man, Help Needed EmptyMon Jan 04, 2010 9:08 pm

It looks like an old flint-lock. So maybe the bandolier is just for show, which again swings it to being studio props.
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