Anthony Durnford was a man with strong beliefs and principles.
His statement: Of course, I could have made a glorious despatch, but it would not have been true'.
was made after Bushman's River Pass skirmish. He believed in telling the truth.
"If it is not the truth why write it? " That question paraphrases many of his stories.
Edward, had the military knowledge, he was a Retired Colonel from the Royal Engineers. Frances had the benefit of all her father's works, and notes, about the events leading up to January 1879, and had a repore with the King Chetewyo and Zulus, and blamed the Colonial government for causing the war.
She saw it as her mission to pursue every avenue in order to get certain answers. But in the end was her obsession detrimental to getting answers?
For those who read any book about the Zulu War, without the benefit of any events that were the precursor to the battle, may not have a full understanding as to the either the loss by the British, or then the fierce determination of the Officials to avenge themselves and their reputations, until they finally were successful in winning a war.
Never mind that Britain was totally against any war of any kind, and never mind that to suit themselves, orders were not followed on more than one occasion, by the very same person who made the same accusations against his dead fellow officers.
Re-capping from Post 126.96.36.199.m
22nd January 1879 Anthony is killed at the battle of Isandwhlawana 2.45pm
22nd January 1879 Chelmsfords men arrive after 4.00pm and camp for the night among the dead
23rd January 1879 They leave by dawn
24th January 1879 By inference in newspaper reports Anthony Durnford mentioned
27th January 1879 An enquiry begins into the battle
29th January 1879 Col Pulleine joins Anthony Durnford in the blame game.
abt February 1879 Anthony's dwelling is cleared, and all his papers burnt on the instructions of the Committee of Adjustment. His belongings auctioned
6th March 1879 Captain Symonds visits battlefield, letters, papers, money, photographs, cheques are all taken.
23rd March 1879 A visitor to John Colenso
13/15th May 1879 Major Black visits and finds Crealock's missing notebook and returns it to him in Durban
21st May 1879 General Marshall, with the burial party return to the battlefield
21st May 1879 Three people claim to be the first to discover Anthony's body, which was identifiable from his moustache, indicating he was laying face up with his waistcoat showing
21st May 1879 Chepstone is reported removing papers from Anthony's coat, his knife from the waistcoat and rings
21st May 1879 Anthony is buried under a stone cairn.
On 21st May 1879, when finally the burial party arrived at Ishwandhla, Anthony's loyal man Jabez discovered his body. The first officer to identify him was the Veterinary Surgeon from the 1st Dragoon Guards, Longhurst. Shepstone was seen taking papers, a knife and his rings from his body.
The Natal Witness had published a telegram on 27th May 1879 that stated that the papers and maps found on Durnford's person had been removed and a pile of stones was heaped over the body.
John Colenso writes a letter to General Durnford
Edward and Elizabeth Durnford - Their wishes regarding their son.
His parents would not have wished him to lay under a pile of stones on the battlefield, instead to be treated with dignity and buried in a cemetery, after a church service.
In June 1879, the Durnford family and Pulleine's family, the joint accused each donate 500 pounds for a memorial, as do the family of Chard and Bromhead.. Therefore 2000 pounds from 4 families.
This design called for a structure 46 feet tall, costing £ 3 000. However, when barely half that amount had been raised by March 1882 it was decided to scale down the design by a third and proceed immediately, rather than delay indefinitely for want of funds. (What happened to the family funds)
The initial fundamental obstacle was the selection of a site for the memorial. Proposals included a quadrangle at the station and sites opposite the Post Office and Church Street entrance to the Supreme Court. Both the Post Office and the Supreme Court were at the time located in the present Tatham Art Gallery. In August 1882, an application by Shepstone for land on the Market Square was refused.
On 3 July the following year permission was secured from the Lieutenant-Governor Sir Henry Bulwer for the use of a plot in the Court Gardens, at a location described as opposite Henderson and McFie’s premises. This incidentally, required the removal of several conifers planted by Colonel Durnford.
Military History Journal
Vol 10 No 1 - June 1995
The unveiling of the Anglo-Zulu War Memorial, Thursday 11 October 1883, from Church Street. In the background is the current Tatham Art Gallery
(Photo: by courtesy of the Natal Archives Depot)
Then it was wrecked.
On the previous evening, the statue had fallen victim to vandals in an act of unfortunate, though possibly unintentional, desecration.(1) Unbeknown to the unwitting vandals, the statues, of solid marble, stood unsecured on pedestals some three metres from the pavement.
In a manner that remains a mystery, one of these statues was toppled. The impact of the fall from this height shattered the marble into several large chunks and countless smaller pieces and fragments. Early on the morning of 14 April, quick-thinking staff of the nearby Tatham Art Gallery diligently gathered every last piece of debris. At the time of writing, the culprits remain at large, and the statue its awaits restoration at a cost of R 11 400.
If you decide to visit, or research, do you know whose names you probably won't see?
|Tatham Gallery oldest building|
12th October 1879 - A Burial
The day of the unveiling ceremony dawned a humid and unpleasant one, the air ‘laden with unpleasant odours’Fortunately, in the interval between severe thunderstorms (and a rainstorm) the sun broke through and the event was able to proceed. The selected dignitaries present included the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir Henry Bulwer, Theophilus Shepstone, Dean Green and Archdeacon Colley.
There were addresses by Sir Henry Bulwer and the mayor of Pietermaritzburg, Mr H Griffin. The military was present in strength. The imperial garrison at Fort Napier was represented by a contingent of the 2nd Battalion 58th (Northamptonshire) Regiment under the command of a Captain Dickinson, drawn up in Church Street.
Behind them stood The Natal Carbineers (Captain William Royston) and a small Natal Mounted Police detachment. Arrayed in Commercial Road were the Maritzburg Rifles (Captain Birkett), with the Edendale Horse (Captain Wyatt Vause) behind them. Although many otherwise absentees turned up when the weather cleared, it was, according to The Natal Witness, a disappointing turnout.
This ‘apathy’ was explained as follows: ‘The residents of Pietermaritzburg are not, as a rule, so demonstrative as their more lively coast neighbours.
Events which in Durban would cause quite an hysteria are treated very nonchalantly in the capital. It may be that the pomp of gubernatorial movements is so much part of our everyday life, that there is not the novelty in them that there is to the Durban people.’
A copy of the book had been sent to her publishers, Chapman, who then sent it to Anthony Tollope, for his comments. He wrote back on 30th August 1879.
[COLENSO, Frances Ellen]
and I. Or, Six Months in Natal after the Langalibalele Outbreak.
The general plan of my history was laid out, and the first few chapters were written, during the voyage from Natal, and upon reaching England I obtained the assistance of my friend
It may easily be understood from his name that the interest taken by him in his task would be of no ordinary kind. Colonel Durnford has written the military portions of the book, but is not responsible for any expressions of opinion upon matters strictly political.
I am far from feeling that I am the best person to undertake such a work as this, which my father himself would look upon as a serious one, and which he, or even my sister, who has worked with him throughout, would do so much better than I ; but they were not at hand, and I have thought it
However insufficient the result may prove, we shall at least hope that our work may give some slight assistance to that cause of justice, truth, and mercy, the maintenance of which alone can ensure the true honour of the British name.
The book seems to be well known as giving extensive background information for someone trying to understand the reasons leading up to the War.
This statement raises an enormous question, he would have no idea how his parents felt.
They apparently shunned Anthony's wife for supposedly running off with an officer, never to be seen again, (incorrect), and if that was their stand and persuasion, how would they have treated Frances, who was, as suggested, having an affair with their son?
No doubt Anthony had written to them about her.
He did not have an affair with Frances, or perhaps the modern day terminology attributed to "affair" is not what would be applied in the 19th century to the same wording, as is found in the definition.
typically non-sexual relationship between friends.
OR have words been taken out of context, and words from John Colenso, who referred to the events and treatment of the Zulu king 1873 simply as the "Affair" when added to Colenso, clever editing can create a totally different phrase sound like something it is not, something that today's media are extremely proficient with.
*********************************************************************************By 1880 events in London were being played out in the daily newspapers.
(which hadn't been opened for 19 months)
One thing that I have learnt since I began researching family history, is that sometimes you have to spend an enormous amount of time reading old newspapers for clues. In that period of time, reports were written about everyday happenings, and anything goes.
They did not have the luxury of being able to research, and relied on what they were told. The reports were often very challenging, and often very graphic.
It took me less than 30 seconds to realise that something was seriously wrong, and then I was determined to find not only the answers to these questions, but what had really happened.
My Durnford determination kicked in! I have always stood up for those who have been wronged, and I wasn't going to change that philosophy now.
The content of the questions didn't really mean much, but there had been mention of "no orders" but no detail, in some research available. I had no idea about the battles, nor the history behind it, nor the consequences afterwards, all that was known was that thousands were killed. I had no idea of all these Colonels, nor Generals, but what a very steep learning curve I encountered.
Now with my research I focused on some different parameters, and I was shocked, upset, angry, stunned and absolutely overwhelmed by what was discovered.
From that point on, I wiped the slate, tried to forget all those on line comments and stories and start afresh. I had read it all, even to the state of his health on 22nd January, 1879.
But by then I had also read some well written documents that concentrated on the person, including one from an Irish newspaper. Thank you to John Young for those accounts, I had tried to contact him to thank him and to let him know of my intentions.
The only way to understand events is to look at the whole picture in a logical and chronological manner.
Hopefully by including these articles they just might help someone else with their research and people might in future consider what is said about his character, as well as his family, rather than writing articles that are nothing more than character assignations.
Captain Essex's evidence distinctly shows that Colonel Pulleine did not send reinforcements to the mounted men ((c - 2260)p.83) but it did send Captain Mostyn's company to reinforce the company on picket - "Captain Mostyn moved his company into the space between the portions of that already on the hill.
From The Hampshire Telegraph 1st September 1880 Reporting from the Natal Colonist appearing in the Daily News.
As your pages are teeming with letters about a place they call Isandula, will you allow me space in which to congratulate Colonel Crealock on having found his note-book near the camp as he tells us in the Daily News of 25th. One has heard of him during the disastrous invasion of Zululand in 1879, and considering the way in which he bounded about the country he was lucky to lose nothing but his note book. One is glad to know that all the messages received by him and his unfortunate chief on 22nd January are in the hands of the authorities.
Why, in Heaven's name, those messages were not attended to, we may learn in time. Why that gallant band was kept fighting on the neck of land by the camp, until they were relieved about 4.00pm not by their general, but by Death, we may learn in time.
We may also learn why Lord Chelmsford's tongue is so tied that he cannot in a knightly fashion say, "I committed a mistake" but can only reiterate that his orders were not fulfilled, that his camp in the air, his undefended hill, which was nothing to the legs of a savage army, was left to itself, as he thinks. "The living die, the dying live" quoted one witness of the fatal field when he visited it and saw the sad tale told by the crowded "fugitive path" to Natal and the glorious tales told by the two leaders who lay with them, where they had died defending the piece of land by the camp.
No one can blame the poor fellow who ran. Out-numbered and short of ammunition, what else could they do? But England's voice should, in common justice be heard in praise of those who stood and fell in no facon de parler but literally at their post.
So on 1st September 1880, Crealock's missing notebook is in the hands of the authorities, who would that be? The War Office? The House of Lords? By now Crealock is living in London, so he had to have given it to some authority closeby.
Edward Durnford from St Albans, dated 1st September 1880.
It was this list of questions that changed my thinking.
Questions to Lord Chelmsford:
1. How did a Zulu camp of 20,000 slept within 5 miles of his camp without his knowing?
2. Lord Chelmsford was in camp between 20th to 22nd January, why did he not fortify the camp?
3. Why did he reject Colonel Glyn's advice to laager?
4. Will Lord Chelmsford publish his correspondence with Col. Glyn?
5. Does not Lord Chelmsford know that there was no anticipation of danger?
6. Will Lord Chelmsford state how many messages he received, what they were, and when received.?
Many similar and pertinent questions might be asked. An answer to most as well as a correct description could probably be obtained from the Intelligence Department if called for by some competent authority.
I am prepared to prove Lord Chelmsford *19th are not a true plain and unvarnished tale and I am bound to protect the unfair way in which he has misrepresented some of the facts and "studiously abstained from alluding to others of the utmost importance in a "true history of that unfortunate day"
*Referring to a response by L.C.
York Herald 3rd September 1880
Lord Strathnairn and Lord Chelmsford
Lord Strathnairn compared Lord Chelmsford's statement on 18th August last with his dispatch on the Isandula disaster, and asked for further papers. He criticised the conduct of the campaign in Zululand, contending that there was not sufficient reconnaissance, that the camp was improperly placed and that as it contained the depot of stores it out to have been entrenched.
The Earl of Camperdown considered these discussions were much to be regretted as calculated to give a false impression out of doors.
Lord Vivian while regarding it as unfortunate that such difference should arise between two distinguished officers, reminded the House that Lord Chelmsford had challenged Lord Strathnairn to bring the matter to their lordship's notice.
The Earl of Morely could not but think that the course taken by Lord Strathnairn was fraught with inconvenience and that his criticism if made at all should have been made while the late Government were in power. The present Government did not feel themselves called upon to express any opinion upon the conduct of the campaign nor did he think that any useful purpose would be served by the production of public papers.
Lord Chelmsford complained of unfairness on the part of Lord Strathnairn in making statements which were perfectly new to him without giving authority for them. He defended the conduct of the campaign, justified the statement contained in the despatch, acknowledged the valuable service of Col. Durnford, and declared that, while he regretted the gallant men who fell, he looked back with pride to the circumstance that the campaign, in a difficult and unknown country, was brought to a satisfactory close in six months.
Hampshire Telegraph 4 September 1880
The Late Colonel Durnford - A London correspondent writes - The friends of the late Col. Durnford are engaged in preparing a reply to Lord Chelmsford's speech in the House of Lords on the Isandula disaster. It will be shown, I believe, that a very different complexion is capable of being put upon the military proceedings that led to the disaster.
I have it on the authority of a gentleman who was a non-combatant with the British forces South Africa, that things were done and said by subordinates during the campaign that in an ordinary court would have been visited by court martial. In the recrimination that seems likely to set in we may probably get at the real cause of our humiliation in Zululand.
I thought this piece was very suited to those of use who have not only some Saxon blood, but that of good ole King William.......................................................................
The articles are just some of hundreds, the debate in the papers regarding Chelmsford's report go on for ages.
But still Chemlsford stood firm. He just maintained his stance on both Durnford and Pulleine not following orders.
By now he is sounding rather smug about the whole thing. Did he answer the questions about Crealock's missing book?
Could it be that he thinks full well that nobody will ever find the incriminating orders to Durnford and Pulleine?
After the Zulu War, Lord Chelmsford settled down to what he thought would be a quiet life in London. It proved not to be so. For the next several years he was pursued by correspondence from, and publications by, Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Durnford, who was anxious to exculpate his brother, Colonel Anthony Durnford, killed at Isandlwana, for alleged culpability for the disaster.
While this correspondence was certainly an irritant, Chelmsford was sufficiently confident in his own position to fend off the accusations that he (Chelmsford) had covered up his own incompetence by blaming Durnford’s brother for the Isandlwana disaster.
See, for example, Durnford’s letters in the Chelmsford Papers, Chelsea, 6807/386-22-5 to 7, National Army Museum. Examples of Durnford’s pamphlets can be found in Durnford. 2000. ‘Isandhlwana: Lord Chelmsford’s statements compared with the evidence’ (November 1880). In John Laband and Ian Knight, editors. Archives of South Africa 5: Zululand, The Anglo-Zulu War 1879. London: Archival Publications International: 493ff.; and in a circular written as late as 1884: 4901.44.15, Royal Engineer’s Museum, Woolwich.
By now Chelmsford must be feeling pressure!
In 1880 while in London Frances attended the Slade School of Art, and spent three months January to March in Rome away from the cold.
After the two books were published, no new information came to light about the "missing orders"
In 1881 Edward decided to publish a memoir of Anthony, which became known as A Soldier's Life and work in South Africa, 1872 to 1879.
There was however nothing of Anthony's to contribute. All his papers had been burnt, in what Edward described that as "precipitate and undiscriminating manner".
H Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Foot: Wiped out by the Zulus at the Battle of Isandlwana
|House of Lords 1880|
Questions were being asked in Parliament. The Treasury were faced with sourcing the funds to pay for the wars. Some Hansard Notes
Hansard Records are online.
|Prime Minister Gladstone|
MR. PARNELL Hansard 1879
It had been the policy of Her Majesty's Government to provoke this war, in order that it might annex portions of the territory of these Zulus. At the time of the annexation of the Transvaal this tendency of theirs was pointed out, and it was shown clearly, and proved, as far as anything could be proved, that if the Transvaal were annexed the next step, must be the annexation of a portion of the lands of the enemy. Of course, the Colonial Governor was carefully instructed as to his duties, as to how he was to get up this little war, and the name of humanity was put to shame by the proceedings of the Government. Then, after the way had been carefully prepared, and after excuses had been carefully got ready, troops were sent into the country, and these people were attacked.
He knew that the disaster which had recently befallen the troops would compel the re-instatement of the military position; and, so far as that went, he supposed nobody would object to that. But he did not apprehend, from the temper he had recently seen displayed by the people of this country, that the Government would be satisfied with the recovery of the military position. On the contrary, he supposed the Government1889 would proceed to carry out their original intentions with regard to attacking the country.
Of course, it was now clear that the panic and the alarm sedulously got up when the news first arrived of the massacre of a battalion of the 24th, and that Natal was in danger, were utterly groundless, and that the Forces on the spot were perfectly capable of defending the Colony against any attack from the Zulus.
The resistance of Lieutenants Bromhead and Chard, at the head of only 80 men, after they had had time to entrench themselves in a very slight and scanty manner, showed that the Zulus were perfectly incapable of conducting an offensive campaign against our troops. These enormous preparations, and the dispatch of these thousands of men, meant neither more nor less than a premeditated determination to annex that country, as the Transvaal had already been annexed.
He supposed that there would be no quarter given to these savages, as, in accordance with their savage nature, they had given none; that the sword would go amongst thorn, and that their villages would be burned, as they had burned the villages of the unfortunate people in Afghanistan. These poor people had displayed instincts which, in other nations, were supposed to indicate heroism, for they had endeavoured to defend their country against the attacks of foreigners and strangers.
SIR JOHN HAY
If the hon. Member would read the despatches and Blue Book, it would be found that there was not a single instance of any order from Her Majesty's Government to carry the war into the Zulu country. On the contrary, so far from there existing any desire to carry fire and sword into that country, the arbitration which had been held, under that distinguished Governor, Sir Bartle Frere, had resulted in the arrangement that a very considerable portion of territory, which had been in dispute, should be conveyed back to the Zulus.
Such an answer was very unsatisfactory to the people, and was utterly inconsistent with, and opposed to, the Constitution of this country, no matter what might be found in black-letter books on the subject. That they should be hurried into war, and have no discretion left to them but to pay when asked, was a condition of things which could not last very long. Somebody must be fixed with the blame of the Zulu War. The organs of the Government among the Press had been saying for some time that Sir Bartle Frere was the cause of the war. If that was the case, he had committed a great crime, and it should not go unpunished. If the Government made out a case, and threw it upon his shoulders, he must bear the charge; if they did not try to prevent the war, the 1908 country would revenge itself upon the Government; but if, on the other hand, Sir Bartle Frere had been made the scapegoat, justly or unjustly, the matter would not be allowed to pass. He would, if nobody else did, place a Notice of impeachment of the Government on the Paper.
MR. W. H. JAMES
inquired whether it would not be possible to have the casualties among the rank and file telegraphed in future, in the case of disaster, as well as of the officers?
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, that as long ago as last summer he had addressed a despatch to the Governors of the South African Colonies, requesting full information in the case of any casualties, and a fortnight ago he had repeated that request to Sir Bartle Frere.
SOUTH AFRICA—PAPERS AND DESPATCHES.—QUESTIONS.
§ SIR ALEXANDER GORDON
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, If he has received copies of the following documents, and, if received, whether he will lay Copies upon the Table of the House:—
and, if he will lay upon the Table of the House Copies of his Telegrams to Sir Bartle Frere, dated 5th and 18th October 1878, referred to at page 79 of Blue Book, C. 2242?
- 1. "A Despatch from Lieutenant General Lord Chelmsford, dated Rorke's Drift, 23rd March 1879," reporting the affair at Isandula on the previous day, referred to in Enclosure No. 4 of Sir Bartle Frere's Despatch of the 27th January 1879.
- 2. "Colonel Bray's very clear and useful Letters, dated Court House, Sandspruit, Umzinga, 8 a.m. and 1.25 p.m. January 23rd 1879," referred to in Enclosure No. 5 of Sir Bartle Frere's Despatch of the 27th January 1879;"
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
I have not received copies of a despatch from Lord Chelmsford dated the 23rd of March, nor of Colonel Bray's clear and useful letters; therefore, I am unable to lay them on the Table of the House.
§ SIR ALEXANDER GORDON
There is a misprint. It should have been the 1860 23rd of January, not of March. Sir Bartle Frere refers to the despatch. I beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is in possession of a despatch of that date?
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
I am really very sorry; I did not notice the misprint; I replied to the Question under the impression that the date named was the 23rd of January. I have not received any such despatch nor a copy of Colonel Bray's letters. I am anxious to give the House the fullest information in my power. I thought the telegram of the 5th of October had been already presented. I find it is not so, and I will read it to the House. It was sent by me in reply to Sir Bartle Frere's despatch of the 10th of September, which was written from Cape Town, and received by me on the 5th of October. It was, as the House will remember, the first request for reinforcements. I replied by telegram on the same day—I have received your despatch of the 10th of September suggesting reinforcement of troops. Her Majesty's Government will wait the result of your personal interview with Sir Henry Bulwer and General Thesiger before coming to a decision on the subject. I am led to think from the information before me that there should still be a good chance of avoiding war with the Zulus.The House will remember Sir Bartle Frere's despatch was written from Cape Town; he was about to proceed to Natal, where he was to meet Sir Henry Bulwer and General Thesiger. The telegram dated the 18th of October was not from me; it was simply forwarded through my Office; it was a telegram from the Secretary of State for War to Lord Chelmsford, and I believe it was included in the War Office Papers presented to the House.
§ SIR ALEXANDER GORDON
asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether he will lay upon the Table of the House Copies of his Message to Lieutenant General Thesiger, and of General Thesiger's reply thereto, both of which are referred to in the first paragraph of Sir Bartle Frere's Despatch to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, dated November 11th, 1878?
If the hon. and gallant Member will turn to the Blue Book issued this morning, he will find the Papers there—pages 6 and 17.
§ MR. MILBANK,
without in any way wishing to cast the slightest doubt on the statement made in "another place" by His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, desired to give Notice of his intention to ask the Secretary of State for War to-morrow, Whether he remembered to have seen or heard of in the War Office a letter or despatch from Lord Chelmsford to His Royal Highness to the effect that he was suffering from the strain of prolonged anxiety?
§ COLONEL STANLEY
I may as well answer the Question at once. So far as I am aware, there is no such despatch. I am making every effort to trace it both in semi-private papers, such as there have been, in letters written to officers, and letters to myself; but up to the present time no trace has been found of any such Paper.
MR. E. JENKINS
asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is true that the following telegram, stated to have been published by Lord Chelmsford, was forwarded by His Royal Highness the Commander in Chief to Lord Chelmsford on February 13th, soon after the receipt of the news in this Country of the disaster at Isandlana:—Duke of Cambridge, London, to Lord Chelmsford, Petermaritzburg.—Have heard by telegraph of events occurred. Grieved for 24th and others who have fallen victims. Fullest confidence in regiment, and am satisfied that you have done and will continue to do everything that is right. Strong reinforcements of all arms ordered to embark at once.—Feb. 13th.
§ COLONEL STANLEY
Yes, Sir; it is quite true.
MR. E. JENKINS,
s out of Order.
§ MR. E. JENKINS
There seems to be a misunderstanding on the part of many hon. Members. I think I will be able to show, if they will listen to mo, that my proposal is not so unreasonable as they think. A very strong feeling exists throughout the country in regard to the disaster at Isandula, and the continuance of Lord Chelmsford in command of the Forces in South Africa; and, in my opinion, there are very good grounds for that feeling. Now, possibly the Government have good grounds for the trust they put in his Lordship, and all I ask is—Whether they are prepared to give some explanation of the grounds on which he is to be continued in Ms command, in order that the public feeling and excitement may be allayed?
MR. E. JENKINS
denied that he was discussing the question of the policy of that war. (The hon. Member then proceeded with his criticism of the military operations, referring especially to the conduct of Lord Chelmsford in dividing his force, leaving one part in an unintrenched camp, while he proceeded in two columns into the interior of the enemy's country, without establishing a communication with the force left in the camp, the result being the capture of the camp with all its stores, and the destruction of the force left in charge; arguing, as was understood, that a General who had so mismanaged a single expedition was not fit to be left in the supreme management of a company; but the hon. Member's reading and comments were received with such continued cries of impatience and disapprobation that no consistent report is possible.) At length—
§MR. E. JENKINS
HC Deb 14 March 1879 vol 244 cc907-24
Interesting they were discussing this 6 weeks after the inquiry, one would assume that the results had been tabled in Parliament .................Or why hadn't they?
SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
Gentleman wished them altogether to avoid discussion as to the causes of the war, he did not go the right way to work, because he had spoken of the measures which had been taken—whether of
invasion or of defence was a matter depending upon what the real intentions of the Government had been—as having been necessary measures. Now, some of them on his side of the House, as far as they could judge from the information in their possession, were disposed to deny that there was any proof before them that those were necessary measures.
At the same time, he must confirm what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman as to the feelings with which they had all heard the painful news received that week of the reverse and calamity which had been recently sustained; and they could not but entertain a determination, as Englishmen, that every sacrifice should be made which was necessary in order to retrieve our military situation. He could not refer to that subject without paying a tribute of admiration to the heroism displayed by the men engaged, and of deep sorrow for the sad loss which had befallen the country. He hoped he should be allowed to make special allusion to the death of Colonel Durnford, an officer who, as all who knew him were aware, was the very soul of chivalry.
Colonel Durnford was, curiously enough, the Commissioner by whose vote the disputed boundary question was lately settled in favour of the Zulus, and it was a remarkable fact that the Commission held its meetings at Rourke's Drift, so that that gallant officer was killed at the very place where, eight months before, he had performed a great act of justice.
The House would ask for more proof than had yet been afforded whether those brave men had died for a just cause. Whether the responsibility rested on Her Majesty's Government or on the Government of the Cape was a question which must depend on information yet to be produced; but the Papers now before them showed that there was no sufficient cause of war as far as regarded its first inception. The war appeared to have been resolved upon before its cause was found.
We who had before blamed the Boers for their aggression upon the Zulus, when we stepped into the shoes of the Boers pressed against the Zulus the very territorial claims we had thus condemned. Those claims related to a disputed territory, and they were likely to be a cause of war.
HC Deb 27 March 1879 vol 244 cc1865-950 1865
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE,
in rising to move—That this House, while willing to support Her Majesty's Government in all necessary measures for defending the possessions of Her Majesty in South Africa, regrets that the ultimatum which was calculated to produce immediate war should have been presented to the Zulu King without authority from the responsible advisers of the Crown, and that an offensive war should have been commenced without imperative and pressing necessity or adequate preparation; and this House further regrets that after the censure passed upon the High Commissioner by Her Majesty's Government in the Despatch of "the 19th day of March 1879, the conduct of affairs in South Africa should be retained in his hands,1866 said, from the year 1843 down to a recent period, the Colony of Natal had enjoyed complete peace upon its Zulu Frontier; and, similarly, from 1852 downwards, a condition of general peace was the lot of the South African Colonies generally, Sir Bartle Frere used words of 1875 almost similar type, which were, equally disrespectful to the opinion of his Commissioners.
He said—Had the means then at the disposal of the Transvaal Government sufficed, there can be no doubt that Government would have been justified in ejecting the Zulu intruders and replacing and protecting the Transvaal occupants.Again, Sir Bartle Frere cavilled at the rejection of Transvaal evidence by the Commissioners, and he attacked them and the Natal Government upon this point. What did the Commissioners say, however, about this evidence which was produced on behalf of the Transvaal? They said—The next document put forward by the Transvaal Government (No. 9), purporting, with other matter, to give an account of a meeting between Sir Theophilus Shepstone, the Secretary for Native Affairs of Natal, Panda, the Zulu King, and Cetewayo, is plainly a fabrication, because Sir Theophilus Shepstone did not arrive at Nodwengu from Natal to meet Panda and Cetewayo until the 9th of May, 1861, whereas the Transvaal document is dated the 16th of March of that year.
These Commissioners were thoroughly acquainted with the facts, and as competent to pronounce an opinion as any men who could be found. They were—Mr. Shepstone, the Secretary for Native Affairs in Natal, the Attorney General, and the gallant Colonel Durnford, who lost his life afterwards at Isandlana. All the dates were given, by which it became clear that Sir Bartle Frere had the facts really in his hands in April.
The Commissioners began to sit in the early days of March, 1878, and all was over by June. By the end of July Sir Bartle Frere had all the Papers which were necessary for the consideration of the case, and by the end of July he was in as good a position as the Government of Natal to give his award on the case; but he kept back his award till the middle of December, when all his plans were prepared, and when he was ready with his troops and his Ultimatum.
HL Deb 02 September 1880 vol 256 cc1025-35 1025
§ LORD STRATHNAIRN
rose, according to Notice, to call the attention of Her Majesty's Government to Lord Chelmsford's statement in the House of the evening of the 19th August, 1880, as compared with his despatch dated Pietermaritzburg, 27th January 1879, on the Isandlana disaster;
and to ask Her Majesty's Government to place on the Table of the House further Papers on the question if they are in possession of information differing from the despatch quoted, together with a map (with proper scale of distances) of the ground on which the Headquarter Camp was pitched, and of the hills above and near it; and to submit certain mistakes in the operations in Zululand; and also to move for a Return of the ages and length of service of the soldiers and non-commissioned officers of the 1st and 2nd Battalion of the 24th Regiment.
The noble and gallant Lord said, that in his Notice he called the attention of Her Majesty's Government to Lord Chelmsford's despatch, dated Pietermaritzburg, January 27, 1879, as compared with his speech of the 19th of last month, which elicited cheers from some of their Lordships.
But in the despatch it was said of the 24th Regiment:—So long as they kept their faces to the Zulus the enemy could not drive them back, and they feel in heaps before the deadly fire poured into them. But when the Zulus got round the left flank of these brave men they appear to have lost their presence of mind, and to have retired hastily through the tents, when immediately the whole Zulu force surrounded them, they were overpowered by numbers, and the camp was lost.
The plain English of this was that they misbehaved before the enemy. But in his speech the noble and gallant Lord (Lord Chelmsford), reciting the same events, said—"What could they do more than they did, and that was to die like gallant soldiers?"
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
observed, that the noble and gallant Lord was not reading his despatch, but some printed report; and if he was going to found any charge upon it he ought to quote from the actual words of the document.
said, he must leave the noble and gallant Lord to reconcile those two opposite statements, and would only observe that they were not calculated to promote devotion or discipline among soldiers. He proceeded to submit to their Lordships what, in his humble opinion, were mistakes in the operations in Zululand, and which, he thought, were amply sufficient to account for Isandlana and other mishaps.
First, the columns invading Zululand were too far distant from one another for mutual support and communication, especially in so difficult and unknown a country as Zululand.
For instance, Sir Evelyn Wood's, the fourth column, was 35 miles distant from Colonel Glyn's headquarter No. 3 column, and, consequently, the fourth column acted independently.
The result of this was that 20,000 Zulus were enabled to pass through the interval and post themselves, on the 21st of January, unobserved, under the crest of the height commanding the left front of the camp at Isandlana, and fell like an avalanche on the left flank of the camp next day, the fatal 22nd.
Of course, if this dangerous ground had been properly reconnoitred, it was more than probable that that great calamity would never have occurred. Secondly, the position of the camp at Isandlana was commanded, as had been shown by an excellent authority, who had visited the spot.
He said—I spent many hours in examining the position of the camp, and I emphatically repeat that the camp is dominated by hills to the right and loft (a little to the right and left) rear which were within pistol-shot.
There was a glacis sloping away from the front towards the open plain; but 1027 what man in his senses could expect an enemy to advance over that when he could approach a flank under cover of a range of hills? Archibald Forbes, in his article in The Nineteenth Century, said something to this effect—"I challenge any soldier of experience to say whether any more inherently vicious position could have been chosen."
He (Lord Strathnairn) certainly considered that any disinterested person who had sufficient military knowledge to entitle him to give an opinion at all must, after seeing the ground, entirely coincide with Mr. Forbes. Their Lordships had only to look at the map to be convinced of the justice of these views; and it was this hill-commanded camp which, by the orders of the Commander-in-Chief, was not to be left, but to be defended.
If instead of that order he had previously directed that that camp, and all other camps in the line of operations, should be in safe positions to be fortified, either by intrenchments with obstacles or with waggon laagers, we should not have been the victims of surprises or defeats. Such as it was, the camp could only be defended from outside.
Thirdly, reconnaissances should have been made of the position of the enemy above and round Isandlana to any extent. The Commander-in-Chief did reconnoitre the positions to the left front of the camp, but did not go far enough or thoroughly enough; for he stated that he saw a few Zulu horsemen, who could only have been an outpost or a patrol of the 20,000 men, and he should have done all he could to take these men or follow them, or, with a reconnaissance in force, to ascertain where their main body was.
If he had done so, he would have ascertained the position of the 20,000 Zulus, and been enabled to counteract their dangerous flank manœuvre. He (Lord Strathnairn) had practical proof of the advantages of this reconnoitring in Syria and in India.
Fourthly, the camp with all its contents should have been intrenched, as he had already said, with engineering obstacles to protect it, arrest the enemy's advance, and expose them to the scientific and deadly fire of the English artillery and infantry,
Fifthly, the warning that the Zulus had shown themselves in force to the left front of the camp, given not only by the firing which was heard from the direction of the camp, but by messages received by the noble and gallant Lord and officers under him from the officer commanding the camp—
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
asked the noble and gallant Lord to quote his authority for that statement, for it was the first he had heard of it. If the noble and gallant Lord quoted his authority the House would know what reliance was to be placed on that information. It was perfectly new to him.
§ LORD STRATHNAIRN
said, he would not have made that statement to the House without authority. The noble and gallant Lord's own despatch stated that firing was heard, and that the noble and gallant Lord himself sent an aide-de-camp.
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
said, the noble and gallant Lord was entirely mistaken, as he did not say anything of the kind in his despatch.
§ LORD STRATHNAIRN
said, he was going to add that when this alarm had been heard, when messages had been received from the camp, and when the firing had been heard, the noble and gallant Lord should have caused the immediate return of the reconnaissance party to the camp, a distance of 9 or 10 miles, running two miles and walking one on the Prussian system of alarms.
But, so far from that, a detachment with guns, under Colonel Harness, who had actually seen the combat and was marching to the camp, was ordered not to go there. He need hardly observe that under all the circumstances of the case which he had detailed, and which, he ventured to think, should certainly have occurred to the Commander-in-Chief, to leave the camp unintrenched, dominated by dangerous ground, and deprived of half its garrison, as seen by the watchful Zulus, was an invitation to the enemy to attack it.
Sixthly, it would have been better not to have taken the lamented Colonel Durnford, so valuable an Engineer officer, from his special duties of superintending the fortifications of camps and of strongholds for ourselves. And it was only justice to that gallant officer's memory to represent that he had to cope with almost unexampled difficulties on taking over the defence of an indefensible camp against an enemy overwhelming in numbers, with remarkable military instinct, and holding positions insufficiently reconnoitred.
The death of this gallant officer, with some brave soldiers of the 24th Regiment, rivalling their brothers in arms at Rorke's Drift, some brave Natal Volunteers, and Native levies, while holding the important neck of land which covered the retreat to Rorke's Drift, was a fitting close of a life of devotion to the Service. While he lamented the dead, he was happy to notice the distinction that had been won by many officers who had played conspicuous parts in the campaign, among the most prominent of whom might be mentioned Sir Evelyn Wood and Colonel Buller.
It was eight or nine years ago that he (Lord Strathnairn) drew their Lordships' attention, in a long speech on military education, to the disadvantages of the British system of mechanical drill without an object—that was, without the elementary or higher rules of strategy; and he had since never failed, at the cost of their Lordships' patience and indulgence, to press it upon the House. He would not, however, detain their Lordships any longer on that occasion, particularly as the Commander-in-Chief was not present, but would at once move for a Return of the ages and length of service of the soldiers and non-commissioned officers of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 24th Regiment.
One company went off to the extreme left and has never heard of since, and the other five, I understand, engaged the enemy about a mile to the left front of the camp, and made there a most stubborn and gallant resistance.
When, however, the Zulus got round the left flank of these brave men, they appear to have lost their presence of mind, and returned hastily to the tents, that had never been struck.He would not have used the term "brave men" had he intended to have reflected upon their courage.
asked if the men retired by the orders of their officers?
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
said, that it was so stated in the evidence. They were ordered back to take up a final position under the hill, which they ought never to have left, and they endeavoured to do so. That was the reason they turned their backs to the enemy; not that they ran, or attempted to run.
In self-defence, he was compelled to refer in detail to the six mistakes which it was alleged by the noble and gallant Lord had led to the disaster at Isandlana. In the first place, he denied that the invading columns were too far apart to render each other mutual support. A reference to the map would show that the position taken up by the columns, having regard to the long frontier line, was the only one that could be properly adopted.
With reference to the position of the camp, he defied the noble and gallant Lord to show that the account he had given of its position was inaccurate in any particular. The map which had been placed in the Library of the House, and which accurately described the ground near Isandlana, corroborated that account.
With regard to the charge that the ground occupied by the enemy on the day in question had not been sufficiently reconnoitred previously, as a matter of fact, it had been carefully reconnoitred on the day before without the Zulus being discovered. Lieutenant Browne, 24th Regiment, and a party of mounted Infantry, went out by his (Lord Chelmsford's) orders in the direction from which the Zulus advanced, and he must have passed close to the spot where they bivouacked that night.
He saw, however, no traces of a large force, simply because they were not there till after dark that evening. On the morning of the attack the vedette was placed, as usual, three miles in advance; and he gave notice of the approach of the enemy long before the actual attack was made, and which, therefore, could not be characterized as a surprise.
The enemy did not advance from the direction of the mountains to the north of Isandlana; but from the eastward two of their columns, however, moved along the top of these mountains and came down upon the camp that way. In reference to the statement that the camp should have been intrenched, he had already stated that the ground in the neighbourhood of the camp was so rocky that it was absolutely impossible to make even shelter-trenches round the tents.
When the party subsequently came to bury the poor men who had fallen in the battle, they found it almost impossible to dig a shallow grave, owing to the small amount of earth. Nor were there any trees with which to make abattis. The troops had, in fact, to carry their fuel with them.
With regard to the assertion that on receiving the message that the camp was attacked, he should at once have returned with his force to its assistance, he had already explained that, by some extraordinary fatality, he never received such a message, if it had ever been sent.
All he could say, standing before their Lordships, who, he believed, would give him credit for telling the truth faithfully, was, that neither he nor any of his staff received more than the one to which he had referred at half-past 9 in the morning; and the fact that he immediately sent a messenger back to Colonel Pulleine was a refutation of the charge brought against him.
The sixth mistake alleged was that it would have been better if he had allowed Colonel Durnford to continue to discharge his special duties of superintending the fortification of the camp. In reply to this, he could only say that the fact of his sending for Colonel Durnford was evidence that he wished to have him close at hand in order that his advice might be available on engineering questions. Furthermore, he was much indebted to Colonel Durnford for the organisation of the force of mounted Natives, which was entirely due to the personal influence which the gallant officer had with the Native Tribes.
As far as the formation of the columns of invasion was concerned, the question was a purely technical one, which could not be satisfactorily discussed in their Lordships' House. To justify the strategy which he had adopted, it would be necessary to have a large map; and he would, in fact, have to give a lecture.
He would only say that in his view a division of the force into three bodies was absolutely necessary, and was not too much to cover a line of close upon 300 miles. He would, however, be perfectly prepared to discuss the point with anybody who was interested in the subject. He looked back to the campaign with mixed feelings—regret at the loss of the gallant men who fell, and for that sad day of Isandlana, but with pride at what had been accomplished.
When the nature of the country in which the troops were operating—the fact that, for military purposes, it may be said to have been a terra incognita—and the numerous difficulties of supply and transport which had to be overcome, were taken into consideration, the six months from January 11 to July 5 could not, he contended, be considered but a short time for the campaign to be brought to a close, and would contrast very favourably with the duration of former Kaffir Wars. He could not but think it unreasonable to say that undue delay had arisen in consequence of the steps which he thought it necessary to take in order to secure the completeness of the expedition. In conclusion, he thanked their Lordships for their attention, but regretted that he should have been called upon to make this explanation.
§ LORD STRATHNAIRN
said, he was very much surprised that the Under Secretary of State for War should have persistently refused to give any further Returns relative to the short-service system; and it appeared to him that there was a complete union between the Government and the Front Opposition Benches in their resolve not to inquire into the effect of that system, and not to produce the Report of Lord Airey's Commission, which everyone knew was a complete exposure of it. He denied that the noble and gallant Lord had said a word of refutation of the charge he had brought, and the fact remained that 20,000 Zulus were allowed to lie in ambush so near the camp and to assault it as they had done. Whatever might be said, there were not the necessary precautions taken to protect a camp in which most of our stores were.
Now, the hon. and gallant Member for East Aberdeenshire said that on the night of the 21st of January the Zulu Army was two miles from the camp at Isandlana.
He could not tell where the hon. and gallant Member got his information from; but having carefully studied the Blue Books without finding any information as to the whereabouts of the main body of the Zulu Army, he came to the conclusion that it was much nearer 20 miles distant on that night.
Anyone who had seen the Zulus on the path knew well the enormous distances they could travel without intermission. The first intimation of large bodies of Zulus was at half-past 7. Colonel Durnford arrived at half-past 10. The distinct orders left by the General were that Colonel Pulleine should "defend the camp;" and had those orders been obeyed, and not distinctly disobeyed, the disaster, which they all deplored, would never have occurred.
SIR CHARLES RUSSELL
The time line of Edward's quest is continued in 188.8.131.52.n.1