Hi 24th here an extract from: CAMPAIGN LIFE IN THE BRITISH ARMY DURING THE ZULU WAR by Ian Best.
For the First Invasion, Lord Chelmsford had at his disposal seven Infantry Battalions; 2/3rd, 1/13th, 1/24th, 2/24th, 80th, 90th & 99th. Most of them had
experience of campaigning, if not fighting, against the Gaikas in the recent Frontier War and were well acclimatised and confident for the coming conflict.
Both officers and men were tanned and heavily bearded and their uniforms showed the rigours of campaigning. The men’s feet were hardened from
marching over rough broken terrain and they were in generally good physical health.
Campaign life also brought men and officers in closer proximity to each other and the other ranks were quick to spot a caring officer that they
could trust as well as those whose remoteness and indifference made them unpopular. Redvers Buller was an example of an officer who was popular and respected in that he shared all conditions with his men. Trooper George Mossop recalled that; "If we were lying in the rain, so was Buller. If we were hungry, so was he. All of the hardships he shared equally with his men."
After a long drought during 1877/78, the weather broke just as preparations were under way for the First Invasion. Regiments were moved from their
posts near the larger towns of Natal and the Eastern Cape and concentrated along the Zululand border at the three crossing points.
Here they lived under the less than weatherproof canvas of the large Army bell tent, which held fifteen men arranged around the centre pole like the
segments of a dart board. There were no issue groundsheets and the men had only a blanket or greatcoat to cover themselves. Often, on the march or
after the disaster at Isandlwana, there were no tents so the men slept in the open in all weathers. Small wonder so many became victims of chronic rheumatism.
The Zulu War was the penultimate campaign in which the British Infantry wore traditional red jackets. The exception were the 60th, who’s tunics were "rifle
green". Single breasted and made of a course serge, they were less elaborate and looser fitting than those worn in earlier campaigns. The collars and cuffs had a coloured patch in the regimental facing colour; the 24th, 88th and 94th wore green, the 3rd and 90th wore buff, 57th, 80th, 91st and 99th had yellow, the 58th wore black, the 4th and 21st wore dark blue, while the 60th had red. With the exception of the 91st Highlanders, who wore tartan trews, trousers were of a thick dark blue Oxford material with a thin red stripe down the outer seam of the leg and were worn either tucked into black leather gaiters or into the tops of heavy ammunition boots.
The blue Home pattern spiked helmet had given way to a white Foreign Service version worn without the star-shaped helmet plate or spike. This was
dyed in tea to a dun colour or a foul weather cover was worn in an effort to make it less conspicuous. The whole ensemble, however, was entirely
unsuitable for daily wear for a hard campaign in Southern Africa. With the exception of socks, there was no change of clothes, so after a short while "the
Pride of the British Army" looked and smelled like a band of vagrants. The officers, on the other hand, carried with them enough equipment to make
campaign life quite pleasant. They shared tents with no more than a couple of fellow officers, slept on camp-beds and relaxed in folding chairs. Their valises contained changes of clothing and some included cricket bats and pads, hunting guns and artist’s materials. Dress regulations were relaxed and they wore a mixture of uniforms. Jackets mostly favoured were the unlined frock, still heavily laced, or the more practical dark blue patrol jacket with its
elaborate black frogging across the chest. From photographs taken at the time, officers displayed the Victorians love of headgear by wearing anything
from the tropical helmet, the glengarry, the leather peaked forage cap to civilian wide-awake felt hats and straw boaters. As officers were mounted, the
usual footwear was the elegant black leather riding boot worn to the knee. Leather was also sewn to the seat and inside leg to prevent wear in the