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|Subject: The Evening Star: WITH WHICH ARE INCORPORATED The Evening News.FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 1879. Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:08 pm|| |
The Evening Star: WITH WHICH ARE INCORPORATED The Evening News, The Morning News and The Echo.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 1879.
For the cause that lacks assistance, For the wrong that needs resistance, For the future in the distance, And the good that we can do.
"The Zulu war has opened with a frightful disaster to the British arms. StAr special cable despatches which are published to-day convey the startling intelligence that an entire British army corps, composed of British troops and native auxiliaries, has been destroyed at Bourke'e Drift. The numbers of the killed, as given in the latest despatch, are 30 officers and 570 men. The attacking Zulu force is estimated at 20,000, and of these 5000 are said to have fallen in the fight, which was probably of the most desperate character. The number of Zulus placed hors de combat seems lar^e in proportion to the British loss, but this may be accounted for by the supposition that the British were closely surrounded, and fought almost to the last man; and in such a struggle the Martini-Henry rifle, the bayonet, and the light field batteries would do terrible execution in the densely-packed ranks of an attacking enemy.
That the victory of the overwhelming Zulu army was complete, is proved by the fact that 100 waggons, 1,000 rifles, and a quantity of ammunition fell into their hands. The 24th regiment is said to have lost its colours. This is a disaster so rare in the British army, that it will be regarded by all branches of the service as a disgrace which can only be wiped out by the infliction of a terrible vengeance upon the enemy. So far as we know there is only one other instance recorded in the annals of the British army of an Imperial regiment losing its colours in battle. This was the 33rd at Waterloo. The Iron Duke so sternly resented this reproach on the British army thajt he caused the 33rd to be stripped of the facings of their uniform, and from 1815 to 1858 the regiment carried no colours. But in the assault on Lucknow that gallant: corps retrieved its laurels by a brilliant assault and thereupon was restored to, its'forraer: honourable status, with the addition, of jOne year's extra pay to each officer and soldier. The disaster, in Zululand is another instance of that fatal1 Munuering which has characterised the military policy, of Great Britain. during the prebenit century. The early history ol almost evety campaign upon •which she has1 entered haa.been marked, by t severe reserves, incompetent! generalship, inadequate resources, and absence oi fore-, thought and want ofcalciil^jlonbf Jmeans to the ends sought to be accomplished. Wars have rbaen be,gun with totalliy "inadequate forces, 'iU-jegula,ted,,.ajad inaaeqwßte^bm-' missariat, and Hoi until after a series of blunders and disasters has the nation been aroused to the necessity of putting out its strength. This fatal characteristic marked the early history of the Peninsula war, when the operations of the Duke of Wellington were hampered by want of men and money. It was apparent to an extraordinary degree in the Crimean War, where thousands of our best troops perished of cold and insufficient nourishment in the frozen- trenches, while piles of military stores were rotting on the beach at iJalaklava.
The outbreak of the Indian mutiny found Great Britain utterly unprepared. The disaster of Puketekaun, and other reverses, had befallen our arms m New Zealand before reinforcements were sent out; and similar features would doubtless have marked the Abyssinian and Ashantee campaigns had not the generals in command been left entirely unfettered as to the means and strategy they employed. The correspondent of the "London Times" at Utrecht, in the Transvaal, describes the position of affairs on the Zulu frontier on the 20th November last. At that time the combined British and native forces were disposed in three divisions, with the design of entering Zululand by three separate main lines of operation, a somewhat hazardous piece ot strategy, to say the least of it, when the character of the country, and the opposing force, estimated at between 40,000 and 60,000 -warriors, are taken into account. General Cnelmsford was at Ladysmith, in Klip Kiver State, 70 miles from Bourke s Drift, on the Buffalo river, on the Zulu frontier. Colonel Parnell, with anoiher division,, was at Greytown, in Umvoti, 30 miles from the Tugela river, also on the ■Zulu', frontier; and Colcnel Wood was at Utrecht,, near the river Bloed, on the South Western border of Zululand, and at least 150 miles from Port Natal. The distance between the headquarters at Ladysmith and the latter post is about 60 miles in a north-easterly direction, and Greytown is about 70 miles south-east of where General Chelmsford was encamped.
It will thus be easilyjseen that the three divisions were too much isolated to render auy immediate mutual support. Troops were also moving northward from Maritzburg (marked on the maps Pietermaritzburg), where they had been detained by the prolonged drought and the difficulty of transport. Maritzburg is the capital 'town of the province of Pietermaritzburg, in the Colony of Natal, and is distant about 45 miles south of Greytown. Every effort was being made to reinforce the 'troops on the frontier with native contingents and it was hoped that General Lord Chelmsfordwouldshortly have at his disposal a total of .12,000 men, of whom about 4,000 would-be Europeans. The German farmers living near the Zulu border, in "the Luneberg district, had become alarmed by the threatening attitude of their native neighbours, and had been reinforced by-two companies of the 90th and 2 gnns.
The regiment of Buffs was at Fort Williamson, within a few miles of the mouth pf>the Lugela river, on the Zulu frontier,! and liml been joined by the Ist battalion of th" 24th Regiment and two guns, under Colonel Pearson. The column which advanced from Greytown to Bourkc's Drift, and which has met with the disaster described in bur telegrams, wascomposcd of the 2nd Battalion 24th, Harness's Battery, Barrow's Horse, and the Natal Mounted Police, and it was expected that General Chelmsford would make Bourke's Drift his headquarters. The force was commanded by Colonel Degacher of the 2nd Batallion 24th. While these movements wcie going on, Captain Grenfcll, D.A.A.G., with Mr J. Shepstone, Secretary for Native Affaire, was making a tour through Maritzburg, where they had received promises from the different herdmen of a native contingent of 4000 men. Colonel Law, of the Royal Artillery, was also endeavouring to raise a levy amongst the Basutos. Captain McLeod,late of the 74th Highlanders, had been scut on a mission to the Swazies—a warlike people—and inveterate enemies of the Zulus, and xunnWrng between owo and 0000 vrcii-armed warriors. It was hoped that these people would be induced te take the field against the Zulus, but their answer to the invitation was a practical one We believe in the military power of the Zulus prove to us that that oE the English is superior, [and wo fight for you. Should vc join you and are defeated the Zulus will eat us up." This reply is said to express the feeling of all the tribes throughout Natal and the Transvaal, and therefore the signal disaster which has befallen the British is likely to still further undermine their confidence in our rule, aud to turn the scale in favour of Cetawayo.
There is a singular custom observed in the Zulu army with regard to marriage. No soldier is pormitted to marry until he has "blooded his assagais (spear)," so that a war against the British is likely to bring out all the youncr men of tlie tribes. The cause of the Zulu war was explained in Parliament by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in reply to a question, as follows —"The settlers at Luneberg, a place north of the Pongelo River, to which it does not appear that the Zulu King has any right whatever, and which is outside the disputed territory inquired into by the Boundary Commission, were reported to have received notice to quit heir farms from a Zulu chief. Colonel Wood took a small body of Her Majesty's troops to Luneberg for their protection." Upon this Cetawayo, the Zulu King, mustered his forces, iind treated with contempt a demand sent to him by Sir Bartle Frere. Latest cable despatches state that fifteen ewif t steam transports have been despatched with troops to the scene of hostilities, so that in all probability speedy vengeance will be inflicted on Cetawayo's army. There will probably be within a few weeks a British force of 20,000 operating against the Zulus."