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 Melvill's Revolver Cylinder

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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptySat Oct 28, 2017 10:22 pm

Hi i know i posted this several years ago but i'm sure it wasn't solved ! I've read many times that Melvill's revolver didn't work as the Cylinder was missing from it and that it was subsequently found later on. Does anyone know the source for this ? it seems very strange someone would be able to identify the owner of a revolver cylinder and Higginson did state both Melvill and Coghill shot down 2 pursing Zulus scratch

Cheers
Sam
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90th

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PostSubject: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptySun Oct 29, 2017 5:24 am

Hi Sam
This from Page 110 of ' Victoria's Harvest ; The Irish Soldiers In The Zulu War Of 1879 ' by David Truesdale & John Young
Footnote ( 7 )
In his seminal work TWOTS , D.R.Morris states that when Melvill pulled his pistol from his holster , he found that the cylinder had fallen out . It was ( apparently ) later found in the camp and it is presumed that it was dropped while Melvill reloaded before leaving . If the pistol in question was a Colt ( entirely possible ) , then the cylinder found was simply an empty one , as the quickest means of reloading a Colt was to replace the entire cylinder - much as you do with speed loads for modern revolvers . The remark by Higginson seems to imply that both men were able to shoot at the encroaching zulus .

I've seen this in several publications , have also read there were no dead ' zulu's ' found near Melvill & Coghill , have read there were ! , I'm not to sure about what to believe when it comes to Higginson ! .
90th Salute
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptySun Oct 29, 2017 9:58 am

Hi 90th

Many thanks for the reply i think Gyln mentions dead Zulu's near the bodies but again i am at a loss to the source of his revolver not working scratch The only mention to Melvill revolver is by Higginson who seems to believe both Melvill and Coghill's worked as they both shot down a pursing Zulu. It is possible Coghill fired twice and was an excellent shot but given I've seen this in several publications i'd like to solve the mystery Very Happy

Cheers
Sam
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90th

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PostSubject: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptySun Oct 29, 2017 11:46 am

Sam check my post , the source is Donald Morris in ' The Washing Of The Spears ' ! . Morris wrote the book back in the 60's from memory .
90th agree
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptySun Oct 29, 2017 2:26 pm

Hi 90th

Many thanks for identifying Morris as the source Salute  
Now i wonder where an earth he got this from? I am sceptical it is true given Morris did have a habit of making stuff up, eg Pope's dying 2nd, a dog ect. Brickhill did record Melvill asked him about seeing his sword so maybe he got confused with that.

Cheers
Sam
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Oct 30, 2017 6:33 am

I have always been fascinated by this story and also the story that the bodies of 2 mounted infantrymen were found nearby (but I dunno where I read that).

Just how close to safety where the two? Where the Edendale men nearby?

More importantly, had the two escaped would majority of the questions/mysteries of Isandlwana have been solved and the careers of futures authors/historians been ruined?
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Oct 30, 2017 9:31 am

Hi SRB1965

I don't want to risk going off topic here but Adrian Greaves had a theory that one of the men was Sgt Cooper given i'm away at Uni i don't have access to my books but i was convinced by the theory i seem to recall. Many of the answers e.g. ammunition, the distance of the firing line, Pulleine style of command would have been answered if Melvill had lived given he was by Pulleine side during the battle.

On a previous topic to this i believe it was stated that Fyln found the Cylinder but given Higginson clearly states both Melvill and Coghill had working revolvers and i don't see any evidence to suggest Fyln did find it i think it's just another myth !

Cheers
Sam
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90th

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PostSubject: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Oct 30, 2017 9:39 am

Hi DB
You must be very careful when quoting Higginson , he doesnt say they actually have '' working revolvers '' , he says something like '' shoot them , you both have revolvers '', he doesn't know they are working or not , he's only assuming ! .
90th
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Oct 30, 2017 10:44 am

Hi 90th

He says "for gods sake fire you both have revolvers," and then states both men did fire and drop their man. I know doubt has been taken with Higginson but i see no reason for him to make up a detail about them both having working revolvers. And given i see no evidence anyone found Melvill's cylinder i'm inclined to believe it was fully working.

Cheers
Sam
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90th

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PostSubject: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Oct 30, 2017 10:53 am

Hi DB
It's very tricky working out what to believe to be honest , I've read there were a couple of dead zulus found near Melvill & Coghill . other reports make no mention of any zulu bodies near them , it's just one of those riddles that we'll probably never know with certainty , one way or the other . I did post that someone believed they found Melvill's chamber in the camp , but once again we'll probably never know either way to be honest .
90th Salute Salute Salute
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Oct 30, 2017 11:06 am

Hi 90th

My reason for starting this topic was to try and track down the primary source account of the person who found Melvill's revolver cylinder in the camp and identified it as his. All that seems to have come to light is Morris claim but no primary evidence from the time to back it up and given Morris left no note of where he found this and has on occasion just made stuff up i am inclined to believe it did not happen and Melvill did indeed have a working revolver. Salute

An interesting debate !! Very Happy

Cheers
Sam
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Oct 30, 2017 11:32 am

Drummer Boy 14 wrote:
Hi 90th

He says "for gods sake fire you both have revolvers," and then states both men did fire and drop their man. I know doubt has been taken with Higginson but i see no reason for him to make up a detail about them both having working revolvers.
Cheers
Sam

Hi, can't remember the exact timeline with Higginson etc but maybe he felt better about saying he left the officers (to get horses?), if they were both armed and able to defend themselves.....not that he could have helped much, I spose.
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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Oct 30, 2017 1:14 pm

Hi SRB1965

I guess he could have lied but why would he ? its such a specific thing to make up and other people
left people behind e.g. SGT Gamble i think it was left by Brickhill.
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90th

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PostSubject: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyTue Oct 31, 2017 5:26 am

Hi All
Higginson could well've said that M & C both fired and dropped their men , this is called ' covering one's own backside ' , he said he was off to get them horses , wasnt there talk Higginson was taking off with Barker's Horse , while Barker was dismounted ? , was it Barker who saw Higginson weeks or months after the battle , and gave him a black eye for his trouble ? . Higginson's testimonies were seen to be a little shabby if I remember correctly , part of them anyway ? .
90th
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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyTue Oct 31, 2017 5:52 am

Hi,

I know its all gone a bit off topic but I always consider Brickhill's account to be the bravest one of the flight from Isandlwana - because he admitted that he left Gamble, made no excuses - in fact he probably could have completely omitted the Gamble encounter from his story and no-one would have been the wiser.

I think (well I know) that it would have taken a braver man than me to pick someone up in that situation - I spose it depends on how close the pursuit was at the time.


Cheers

Sime
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyTue Oct 31, 2017 9:46 am

Higginson composed two separate reports from Rorkes Drift.
17th February
......two Zulus came after us; when they were within 30 yards Melville and Coghill fired and killed both of them.
18th February
Coghill called out " here they come". I turned and saw two men close to us, and running to Melville said "for Gods sake fire you both have revolvers." They did so and I saw both Zulus drop.
This would imply ( Running to Melville) that he was not in close proximity. I would also assume (bad habit) that Higginson was not the type of guy to run backwards to wards an enemy, therefore would put him behind M and C and closer to the Zulus hence he 'Ran towards Melville'. Or of course he may have been to the side.
One point about Higginson, he did ride all the way to Helpmakaar while Smith Dorien jogged "300 yards behind". Not to much fellowship there, he could have shared the riding/walking with a fellow survivor.

Cheers
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyTue Oct 31, 2017 11:02 am

It is such a specific event about 2 Zulu's chasing them and both officers firing revolvers that i see no reason not to believe it and given there is no evidence Melvill's was not working.

90th i think from memory the account of Higginson taking Bakers horse is in Zulu Rising but being at uni i don't have access to my books to check Sad

Cheers
Sam
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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyTue Oct 31, 2017 11:35 am

Theres a very interesting account in 'Zulus at Bay' by Denis Barker, Grandson of Trooper Barker.
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90th

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PostSubject: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyTue Oct 31, 2017 12:30 pm

Hi Frank
I do regret not getting the Barker Chronicles , I did hear it wasnt anything special , which stopped me from getting a copy when I could've done so quite cheaply ! No Suspect Suspect Suspect
90th
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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyTue Oct 31, 2017 1:56 pm

Hi Gary
Its nothing special, a lot of errors when he strays from his Grandfather and a hell of a lot of assumptions. The areas when he recounts stories from his father about his Grandfathers memories though are pretty good value. Its for that I bought the book and frankly the only bits I refer to.

Cheers Mate
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90th

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PostSubject: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyTue Oct 31, 2017 2:24 pm

Hi Frank
Yes I see nowadays it's a ridiculous price , I wont be adding it to the library in a hurry . I'd need to fluke finding one very cheaply on ebay , which won't happen , possibly I may get a cheapie from Bidorbuy !

90th
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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyTue Jun 16, 2020 7:45 pm

The missing cylinder was mentioned in H Fynn Jr's memoir.
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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyFri Jun 19, 2020 3:37 pm

Hi WeekendWarrior,

Do you happen to know the quote or how they identified it was Melvill's?

I just don't understand how a revolver cylinder could be identified as belonging to a specific person given the amount of them that would have been left on the battlefield.

Many thanks,
Sam
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90th

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PostSubject: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyFri Jun 19, 2020 5:41 pm

Hi Drummer Boy 14
Yes I've often wondered how did they know it was melvill's (?) , then again... I suppose it depends on the firearm Melvill was using , as Officers did purchase their own forearms, and was the cylinder from the make of weapon which Melvill used ? , although I'm far from an expert in the small arms that were possibly used at Isandlwana , there being several makes that were available and used .
90th
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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyFri Jun 19, 2020 6:13 pm

Bonjour Drummer Boy,
John Young and David Truesdale wrote a possible explanation in Victoria"s Harvest.
Cheers
Frédéric
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90th

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PostSubject: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyFri Jun 19, 2020 6:29 pm

Ymob I posted the JY / Truesdale footnote back in 2017 .
90th
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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyFri Jun 19, 2020 6:45 pm

fine
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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyFri Jun 19, 2020 7:17 pm

Cylinders would normally have a serial number that related to the frame and other component parts - certainly all the Adams, Tranter, Webleys and Colts of the time would have been easily available and if a revolver was recovered it could be matched to a cylinder - I doubt anyone as a Regular was carrying a Colt percussion conversion there as opposed to the better action and more modern ones.
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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyFri Jun 19, 2020 9:18 pm

About the hypothesis in "Victoria's Harvest", John Young wrote on this forum (thread; "Coghill and Melvill issue), 23 May 2017,
"As to our theory, this is based on the pair of us having used speed loaders operationally. The theory relates to use of pre-loaded cylinders of weapons such as the Colt Navy and Army patterns during campaigns prior to 1879".
Frédéric
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WeekendWarrior

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyFri Jun 19, 2020 9:25 pm

“… (Coghill’s revolver was nickleplated, Melville’s (sic) was an ordinary army revolver.) They were killed there and the Cape boys. The chamber of Melville’s revolver having fallen out of its socket, probably in attempting to reload had fallen and rolled to the rocks near, and there was subsequently found by me…”

Henry Fynn account, published serially from January 21, 1913, in the Natal Witness.

Best Regards,
Michael
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timothylrose



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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptySat Jun 20, 2020 11:20 am

By this period no one was using additional pre loaded cylinders as they were very obsolete even the Colts by now were using the Colt Cartridge conversion units in either .36 and .44 introduced in the late 1860's. Colt had also introduced the 1873 and there is an example of British Army purchase of this for possible issue in the Zulu War second invasion out there - nickel plating is typical of some private purchase items - I have a Webley MP model in .450 done like that - the Adams would have been the "Army issue" revolver of the time - if I was to speculate then possibly it would have been a Mark 1 or 2 conversion rather than the Mark 3 (I have one of each here) which had an improved internals to lock up better but I will leave it to the experts to have more of an input. Again though going back to the original how do they identify it they are stamped with matching numbers.
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Jun 22, 2020 10:01 am

[quote="WeekendWarrior"]“… (Coghill’s revolver was nickleplated, Melville’s (sic) was an ordinary army revolver.) They were killed there and the Cape boys. The chamber of Melville’s revolver having fallen out of its socket, probably in attempting to reload had fallen and rolled to the rocks near, and there was subsequently found by me…”

Thank you all for the replies Very Happy

The above quote seems to suggest the revolver cylinder was found near Melvill's body which would explain how they knew it was his. This would also work as I believe Higginson stated both Melvill and Coghill both fired their revolvers so the cylinder being found near the body also works with his statement.

This issue has bothered me for years so it's great to finally have an answer! Very Happy
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Jun 22, 2020 11:41 am

Also suggests they did make a stand with Melvill trying to reload after expending his load. Interesting points.
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Jun 22, 2020 2:23 pm

Agreed Frank!

I also recall Melvill saying to someone he lost his sword so it would have been incredibly bad luck to have a useless revolver also!

Many thanks,
Sam
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Jun 22, 2020 2:53 pm

They reckon it comes in threes, sword, flag and revolver. Rough day at the office?
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Jun 22, 2020 2:57 pm

What is really interesting is that Higginsons statement(s) come together. If he hadnt had a panic attack with Barkers horse the world would probably have looked on him slightly differently.
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Jun 22, 2020 4:47 pm

It certainly is interesting to be able to see Higginson was telling the truth about the revolver. It seems many people just looked at this as another way to discredit him when in fact he was telling the truth!
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WeekendWarrior

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Jun 22, 2020 5:49 pm

What I find interesting is that Morris has Fynn finding the cylinder in the camp at Isandlwana on the night of the 22nd/morning of 23rd. Much of Morris's work is artistic and carries a lot of literary license... but this is just misleading!
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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Jun 22, 2020 5:59 pm

The fact they said they found the cylinder in the camp is the main reason I questioned this as it just did not make sense. How an earth would they have identified a revolver cylinder on a field covered with thousands of bodies, ruined tents ect.

The fact the cylinder was found near his body makes complete sense and suggests he put up a fight and was maybe killed while trying to reload. Or a Zulu messed around with the revolver and the cylinder fell out.

Regardless it is very nice to answer this little mystery!

Many thanks,
Sam
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WeekendWarrior

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Jun 22, 2020 6:24 pm

Hi Sam,

And to contribute to the discussion on personnel found near M&C, here are a few quotes:

Col. Glyn: "Below them (M&C) a soldier was lying, and below him again a number of Zulus."

Lt Hillier: "They (M&C) lay behind the bodies of two soldiers, where they had made a stand."

Henry Fynn: (M&C) reached the top of the first plateau, with some Cape drivers, when they were overtaken by the Zulus."

Mills, 17th Lancers: Positively identified Gunner William Marshall #1683 20 yds from the Buffalo and 150 yds to the left of Melvill and Coghill.

Additionally there is apparently a note in the original Hartford diary (4 bodies) in parentheses. Source for this is the Adrian Greaves article in the AZW Historical Society journal.
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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Jun 22, 2020 6:26 pm

I personally don't see much, if any, evidence for Cooper being among these late KIA personnel.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Jun 22, 2020 6:34 pm

Most of Greaves writings tend to lead towards his theories on Cooper.
Dave Rattray always swore that the cairns below M and C are originals.
Sam Ive been doing a lot of work on Higginson he is an interesting man who lead a pretty blameless life except for his one lapse of judgement.
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90th

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PostSubject: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Jun 22, 2020 6:48 pm

I'm still up in the air about the whole cylinder affair , I think all stories can be taken with a grain of salt , we don't know with 100 % accuracy as to which story is factual or not ? , not sure I'd put much stock into Higginson to be perfectly honest , it's one of those things which will never be resolved with clarity , as hard as we try to make things fit . Seems parts of revolvers are all numbered , and can be identified with their ' other' parts , so I believe is the case ? .
90th
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WeekendWarrior

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyMon Jun 22, 2020 6:54 pm

It certainly is impossible to know for sure, especially as Fynn's account was taken in 1913 and contains plenty of inconsistencies. However I'd put some credence in it; his info regarding M&C is quite detailed. Furthermore it makes sense; Higginson describes the two Lts putting up some armed resistance despite their exhaustion.
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Drummer Boy 14

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyTue Jun 23, 2020 10:44 am

Hi 90th,

I think given Higginson says both Melvill and Coghill fired their revolvers at approaching Zulu's and Flyn mentions finding the revolver Cylinder near the bodies it makes sense.

Two clear bits of evidence to support this view.

As as I mentioned to Frank, Melvill has already lost his horse, sword and flag - losing his revolver cylinder before the final fight would have been too much bad luck surely!

Many thanks,
Sam
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90th

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PostSubject: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyTue Jun 23, 2020 6:46 pm

Hi Sam
Great to hear from you . Sorry I don't buy Higginson's account one bit , he , to me , is very dodgy , if you believe Barker's account... Higginson basically took his horse and left him to walk , Higginson stating M&C had Pistols and were firing at the Zulu's , it basically exonerates Higginson in getting away . I wouldn't take all the evidence on face value , to sketchy for mine ! .
90th Shocked Shocked
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WeekendWarrior

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyTue Jun 23, 2020 7:00 pm

I'd say it's far more shameful to leave two brother Officers in contact with the enemy, especially if they are engaged in an active firefight.
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyTue Jun 23, 2020 8:02 pm

Hi,

What happened to the cylinder after Fynn found it? Has anyone got any ideas.

ta

Sime
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90th

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PostSubject: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyTue Jun 23, 2020 8:04 pm

Agreed Weekend Warrior , I believe Higginson was trying to cover his own backside , he also states that he was unarmed from memory ? , a licence to bolt if the other two are armed and firing away , in his eyes anyway ! .
90th
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WeekendWarrior

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PostSubject: Re: Melvill's Revolver Cylinder    Melvill's Revolver Cylinder  EmptyTue Jun 23, 2020 10:56 pm

There's a lot of artifacts I'm curious about! Cavaye's sword and diary were recovered, off the top of my head. Pope's diary obviously. Various letters and photographs. What happened to it all?
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