"One commentator has put the proportion of potential letter-writers at about 15,4 per cent.(9) This is much too low. I would argue that at least half of the NCOs and private soldiers serving in Zululand were capable of scribbling some kind of letter from that campaign; 50 per cent of (say) 20 000 gives us a possible total of 10 000 letters. Not all would have bothered to write. Indeed some had no one to whom to write, so let us bring that figure down to 5 000. Not all of those would be preserved for us by being printed in a local newspaper, so we can reduce that figure to
1000. So far in my use of such sources (soldiers' letters appearing in print in newspapers) I have read about 300, so there is every incentive to continue the search for the remaining 700. But even this figure is probably too conservative. Archibald Forbes, the war correspondent, insisted that he had never seen so much letter-writing done by troops on active service in the field as he saw in Zululand; there was little else for them to do when off duty."
Source: The South African
Military History Society