The Aftermath - The timeline from 1880
Events from 1880.
Colonel John Rouse Merriott Chard VC (21 December 1847 – 1 November 1897) was a British Army officer who received the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" that can be awarded to members of the British armed forces. He earned the decoration for his role in the defence of Rorke's Drift in January 1879 where he commanded a small British garrison of 139 soldiers that successfully repulsed an assault by some 3,000 to 4,000 Zulu warriors.
Seeing what my duties were, I left the camp, and a quarter of a mile, or less out of it met with Colonel Durnford R.E., riding at the head of his mounted men. I told him what I had seen, and took some orders, and a message all along his line at his request. At the foot of the hill I met my men in the wagon and made them get out and walk up the hill with Durnford’s men. I brought the wagon back with me to Rorke’s Drift, where on arrival I found the following order had been issued.
The copy below was given me, and preserved from the fact of its being in my pocket during the fight:
Camp Rorke’s Drift
Camp Morning Orders
22nd January 1879
1. The force under Lt. Col. Durnford R.E., having departed, a Guard of 6 Privates and 1 N.C.O. will be furnished by the detachment 2/24th Regiment on the ponts.
A Guard of 50 armed natives will likewise be furnished by Capt. Stevenson’s detachment at the same spot. The pontoons will be invariably drawn over to the Natal side at night. This duty will cease on the arrival of Capt. Rainforth’s Company 1/24th Regiment.
2. In accordance with para. 19 Regulations for Field Forces in South Africa, Capt. Rainforth’s Company, 1/24th Regiment, will entrench itself on the spot assigned to it by Column Orders para.-dated-.
H. Spalding, Major
He was the son of Lewis William Forbes, D.D. (died 1854), minister of Boharm, Banffshire, and his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Archibald Young Leslie of Kininvie. He was born in Morayshire in 1838.
After studying at the university of Aberdeen from 1854 to 1857, he went to Edinburgh, and after hearing a course of lectures by (Sir) William Howard Russell, the famous correspondent, he enlisted in the Royal Dragoons. While still a trooper he began writing for the Morning Star, and succeeded in getting several papers on military subjects accepted by the Cornhill Magazine.
On leaving the army in 1867, he started and ran with very little external aid a weekly journal called the London Scotsman (1867–71). His chance as a journalist came when in September 1870 he was despatched to the siege of Metz by the Morning Advertiser (from which paper, however, his services were transferred after a short period to the Daily News). In all the previous reports from battlefields comparatively sparing use had been made of the telegraph.
Forbes laments his own supineness in the matter of wiring full details from the scene of operations. But the intensity of competition rapidly developed the long war telegram during the autumn of 1870, and no one contributed more effectively to this result than Forbes.
Edward Durnford continued with the preparation of his book of memoirs. From the various newspaper reports, he was tireless in his pursuit to prove that no orders were disobeyed.
Following his questions about orders and perhaps after hearing rumors from one of Chelmsford's staff that the genuine order contained in Crealocks "missing" notebook, sent to Durnford on 22nd January may have been concealed, or subsequent to the matter having been presented to the House of Lords in August 1880, contact was made between Edward and Crealock to view his notebook and the orders and this occured in 1882.
Quite clearly in September 1880, Crealock's orders are mentioned in the press, and according to the report on 22nd August, 1880 that notebook was in the hands of the authorities. But were the orders of 1880 being discussed, the same orders of 1882?
Crealock does not seem to mention the orders at all, but maybe the notebook between 1880 and 1882, was still in the hands of the authorities and Edward was not able to see it until the book was returned to Crealock. Following his quest for the truth, it seems unlikely that he would have, out of the blue, decided to approach Crealock. He would though, if he had found other evidence.
Edward visited his home, and read the order in the notebook:.
You are to march to this camp at one with all the forces you have with you of No 2 column. Major Bengough's Battalion is to move to Rorke's Drift as ordered yesterday. 2/24th Artillery and mounted men with the General and Colonel Glyn move off to at once attack a zulu force about ten miles instant.
From Edward's point of view, the order proved conclusively that Durnford had not been ordered to assume command of the camp. Chelmsford, had deliberately concealed it when reporting to the Parliament on 20th August, as the newspaper records show.
A copy of that order was then included in a second release of the book, History of the Zulu War, which must have taken place after the death of her father in July 1883, according to the postscript in the front written by Mary Buchanan.
In fact a copy of the book is available, with this order attached to it.
COLENSO, Frances E., & Edward Durnford.
History of the Zulu War and its Origin.
A previously unrecorded addendum leaf headed “Colonel Durnford’s Orders” is loosely inserted, having formerly been pinned in before the second appendix of the same title. This reprints Crealock’s last order to Col. A. W. Durnford, the text of which is widely believed to have been deliberately concealed in order to incriminate Durnford.
When rediscovered in recent years by researchers at the Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham, it proved that “Durnford was never ordered to take command of the Central Column Camp at Isandlwana” (Greaves, Crossing the Buffalo). Anthony Durnford, had died at Isandlwana—”the central figure of a knot of brave men” (ODNB)—in a last stand against the overwhelming Zulu force, and had been made scapegoat for the humiliating defeat.
The somewhat ambiguous order to “march to this Camp at once with all the force you have”, sent to him “at daybreak by the hand of Lt. Smith-Dorrien … and handed to him by that officer … [is the] last entry in [Crealock’s] Note-Book, left in his tent … recovered from the Field of Sandlhana [sic]” and sent to Crealock in England.
The addendum is attested a “True copy of Statement received by me [Edward Durnford] from Colonel Crealock on the 18th of May, 1882″. The order is now generally considered to exonerate Durnford from accusations of failing to act on an explicit instruction to take command of the camp.
Frances Ellen “Nell” Colenso was the daughter of the Bishop of Natal, and a noted Zulu sympathizer, who was also deeply in love with Durnford, a man “already trapped in an unhappy marriage”.
Working with Durnford’s brother Edward, she “endeavoured through … writings and public lobbying to rehabilitate his reputation”. This brief and enigmatic emendation, issued with maybe just a handful of copies of the book, if more widely distributed, surely would have settled the dispute over Durnford’s supposed insubordination sooner. An uncommon book in collectible condition, and highly desirable thus.
Physical Description Octavo. Original brown cloth, title gilt to the spine, blind rules to the boards, brown surface-paper endpapers. Large folding coloured map at the rear, folding plan of Isandlwana, A little rubbed and soiled, some judicious restoration to the joints and hinges, foxing and browning, particularly to the prelims, the folding map with some surface soiling, occasional splitting and repairs to the folds, the folding sketch of the battlefield also with a professionally repaired tear, no loss, remains overall a very good copy.
In the notebook, it is stated that it was retrieved from the battlefield and sent to me in England in 1879. J Crealock. However many have stated that the book was given to him in South Africa, and perhaps that is the more likely story.
Were the orders the newspapers reporting on, the same orders that he later showed to Edward Durnford, or did he in effect put forward for scrutiny in 1880 orders which referred to a different officer?
Armed with a copy of the order, Edward corresponded with the Secretary of State for War and the Duke of Cambridge, in July 1880, he failed in that attempt, and has written about it in his book A Soldier's Life and Work in South Africa.
Recapping 1879 to 1884:
- The Inquiry in January 1879 is told what happened, and the stories from each of the participants is printed in the newpapers
- Crealock looses his diary on the Battlefield January 1879
- Several people visit the Battlefield between 22nd January and May 1879
- Anthony Durnford's papers in his quarters are burnt
- John Colenso sought permission to bury the dead, or in Chelmsford's words "the bones"
- The diary is found May 1879 and returned to Crealock
- Shepstone seen taking papers from AD, and witnessed, reported in newspapers
- Further successful battles against the Zulus
- Crealock, Chelmsford leave South Africa August 1879 and return to England 1879
- 20 Aug 1880 Chelmsford presents to the House of Lords his report about 22nd January, 1879
- 21 Aug 1880 the newspapers were reporting on the fact that Chelmsford had just been told about Crealocks note book, and admits a change to his original statement.
- 21 Aug 1880 The newspapers report that the notebook is in the hands of the authorities.
- 24 August 1880 Edward Durnford asks questions about the Military aspects of the day
- 1881 The Book co-authored with Frances Colenso is released
- 1882 Crealock shows Edward his notebook and he copies the order
- 1882/3 Edward releases an updated volume of the book including map and copy of the order
- 1882 Edward begins "A Soldiers Life"
- 1882/1884 Crealock and Chelmsford say nothing at all.
In South Africa sentiment about who was responsible had shifted from Anthony, whom they printed an eulogy in their paper of May 1879, and turned towards Chelmsford, They reviewed the pamphlet that Edward wrote and supported his claims.
Edward was now aware that one of the soldier's in the burial party had seen Shepstone take from Durnford's body a "packet of letters" and that they were taken from a coat pocket.
Both Frances and Edward had heard this story in 1879, and again it was reported in the press.
The man who first made that statement was Longhurst, who was a vet. He had written to his family, and they had sent the letter to Edward. Edward then tried to contact Longhurst, who was now in India. As Longhurst had failed to provide Edward with a report on three occasions he wrote to Col Marter his commanding officer, and received a report from Longhurst.
The report stated that Durnford did have a coat on, and it was blue.
Longhurst sent back a full account of what he had seen on 21st May 1879, including the assertion that he saw Captain Shepstone distinctly take from Durnford's body two finger rings and a pocket knife and also a packet of letters from his coat pocket.
Other members of his regiment, he said remembered seeing Durnford's body and he wore a coat. A separate witness who disinterred his body in October 1879 for burial in Pietermaritzburg confirmed that he was wearing a coat.
She however was well aware that Mr Shepstone had never felt warmly towards Durnford during his life, since the volunteers were condemned and Durnford highly commended by the Court of Inquiry upon the Bushman's River Pass affair in 1873.
When Frances challenged Shepstone about Longhurst's claim that he had seen him removing papers from the body, Shepstone replied, "Captain Longhurst's statements as regards papers is a deliberate untruth, I took no papers of any kind from Durnford nor where they taken from him in my presence".
His denials did not sit with her and she then tried to force his wife Helen, her friend, to make him tell the truth. Earlier in 1881, Shepstone had written to Edward denying that he had found papers. With this new information, Edward asked the Bishop to approach Shepstone who produced three sworn affidavits to prove his innocence.
Edward and the Bishop accepted that must have been the case.
Frances however, now becoming ill, would not have that, and it stirred her even more.
She remembered a remark that Shepstone had made to her in 1881, in which he said "that Chelmsford had not stood by him, so he did not see why he should stand by the General."
He also told her that he had certain important information to give Edward about Isandhlwana but did not reveal to her what that was.
She was convinced that Chelmsford had asked Shepstone to find vital papers on Durnford's body and to keep silent to protect the General's reputation.
Perhaps she had taken that remark out of context but her opinion was that Chelmsford had asked Shepstone to find papers on Durnford's body and to keep silent on the matter to protect his reputation.
She convinced Edward that there was grounds for her accusations against Shepstone and he gave her his support.
During 1882, Frances stayed with her brother Robert and his wife in Durban, as she did in the winter months, and took up her painting, while still working to get a hearing.
August 1882, the deposed Zulu monarch Cetshwayo kaMpande arrived in London to plead for the restoration of his kingdom, from which he had been deposed following the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. Despite the ferocity of the war, particularly after Britain’s humiliating defeat at the Battle of Isandhlwana in January 1879, the newly elected Gladstone government sought to repudiate larger imperial goals and reversed their decision, approving Cetshwayo’s restoration.
The newspapers also reported on particular exchanges that Cetshwayo had with his fellow travelers upon leaving:
A clergyman, holding out his hand, said very heartily, ‘Goodbye, King.’Recognizing the importance of the press to both hinder his cause as well as to amplify his own position on southern African politics, Cetshwayo “declared in emphatic tones that there never ought to have been any war, and ascribes the conflict to ‘the little grey-headed man’ (Sir Bartle Frere) and the newspapers, against the majority of which he is deeply prejudiced
‘Goodbye,’ responded Cetywayo, in excellent English; then turning to one of his companions, he said, in his own language, ‘He is going home now he has come to his own people and is going to leave us.’ (“The Arrival of Cetywayo”)
The Colenso's were staunch supporters and their books and phamplets influenced others.
Edward Durnford and Frank Colenso visited the King.
Towards the end of 1882, Frances sought the support of Colonel Hawthorn, Commanding Officer of the Royal Engineers to help, and while agreeing to help he doubted her case.
In 1883 Edward's book - A Soldier's Life in South Africa 1872 - 1879 was published.
Before he published it, he asked John Colenso his opinion,
Both are in the UK, in rare book shops, however Edward in 1883, also gave a copy of his book to Queen Victoria, and it is held in the Royal Library, so probably not available to borrow.
But this review of the book, by the Archive Spectator 4th August 1883, reveals a little of the contents.
COLONEL A. W. DURNFORD.*• .A Soldier's Life °at Work to South Africa, 1872 to 1879. A Memoir of the Late Colnel A. W. Durnford U.E. Edited by his Brother, Lieutenant-Colonel E. Durnford. London : Campeon Low and Co.
It is not for us to pronounce upon this warmly-debated question, but while unwilling to accept the idea that those in authority could be guilty of " wilfully and deliberately" [traducing the dead, we are bound to state that Colonel Edward Durnford brings forward a formidable mass of evidence in his brother's favour ; and it is difficult to believe that a man to whom duty had ever been a guiding star could all at once, and for no conceivable reason, have been guilty of neglecting orders.
In point of fact, why should he have done so at Isandhlwana, since at Bushman's River Pass he preferred going through terrible suffering to failure in carrying out his instructions, although it is clear that he would in that case have been entirely exempted from blame ?
A Soldier’s Life and Work in South Africa. 1872–1879.
Physical Description Octavo. Original red decorative cloth, rebacked in red cloth with a tan morocco label. Mounted “Woodburytype” photograph portrait frontispiece and folding coloured map. Light browning, a couple of pages reinforced at the fore-edge, a few neat annotations to the text, map with one or two short splits at the folds, one old paper tape repair verso, but overall very good, the cloth a little rubbed and spotted.
Continuing the timeline:
In 1883 Frances was a witness at a libel trial against F.R. Statham editor of the Natal Witness, whereby John Wesley Shepstone claimed that the paper had published reports of coercion and violence in the Reserve where he was a commissioner. Frances was a witness for Statham, a family friend, and Shepstone was successful and awarded 500 pounds against the paper.
John Wesley Shepstone was the younger brother of "Offey" Shepstone.
After her father's death, he had left her some headings in which to commence another book, but her health and her grief affected her ability to commence writing. At the time, she had hoped that Edward would help her with the book, but he also was ill, and each chapter was sent to her brother which he checked and sometimes Edward assisted.
Frances referred to her father, in writings and letters as "Him"
He adds: "Esteeming it to be my duty to clear my brother's memory from unjust reproach I have from time to time urged the case upon the notice of the authorities - H.R.H. the Field Marshall Commanding in Chief and the Secretary of State for War - with the only result that I have been informed that it is not considered "desirable to re-open the question of the responsibility of the late Colonel Durnford Royal Engineers, in connection with the disaster at Isandhlwana"
Shepstone’s family immigrated in 1820 to Cape Colony, and he was educated in his father’s mission school. At an early age Shepstone acquired great proficiency in the native dialects and culture and learned Xhosa. He served on the staff of Benjamin D’Urban, governor of Cape Colony, during the Cape Frontier War of 1834–35 against the Xhosa and was appointed British resident in a Xhosa group in Kaffraria (now in South Africa) in 1839.
In 1845 he moved to Natal, where he first served as a diplomatic agent (1845–53) and later as secretary for native affairs (1853–75). He was responsible for delineating reserves for Africans, for introducing the hut tax (1849), and for ruling through chiefs loyal to himself. He believed that Africans should be governed separately from the white settlers and that African land-tenure systems should be maintained in the reserves (which became the basic approach in South Africa during the apartheid era of the 20th century), but he provoked opposition from white settlers who coveted further African land.
Shepstone was active in regional affairs. He attempted to impose a pretender on the Ndebele people following the 1868 death of their king, Mzilikazi, which was a source of trouble for Mzilikazi’s successor, Lobengula. Shepstone also vied with the president of the Boer South African Republic (SAR), Marthinus Pretorius, in making claim to much of the African interior not already occupied by Europeans. He was present at the coronation of the Zulu king, Cetshwayo, in 1873 and negotiated with him. Also that year, Shepstone led the attack on the Hlubi chief Langalibalele, who had ignored orders to give up his people’s firearms.
In 1876 the British colonial secretary, Lord Carnarvon, consulted with Shepstone as to how best to bring about a federation of the Southern African colonies. It was in working toward that goal that in April 1877 Shepstone annexed the SAR to Great Britain as the crown colony of the Transvaal. The annexation and Shepstone’s subsequent role as administrator in the Transvaal (1877–79) have given rise to considerable controversy.
Critics insist that Shepstone was a crafty, secretive “South African Talleyrand” whose “soaring ambition” led him to employ deceit and intimidation with the Transvaalers when he took over their land and that his high-handed, autocratic rule contributed much to the successful rebellion of the Boers (1880–81).
After the rebellion, relations between the Boers and the British were poisoned for generations. Also during this time, Shepstone fomented war against Cetshwayo’s Zulu and, together with the high commissioner of Cape Colony, Sir Bartle Frere, was largely responsible for the British ultimatum to the Zulu in December 1878 and the resulting war in 1879.
Shepstone retired from public life in 1880 but in 1883 served briefly as administrator in Zululand, where the Zulu called him “Somtseu” (the “father of whiteness”).
Shepstone became increasingly unpopular with the Colonial Office in London. British Native commissioners were trying to control the black people in the area, but they could not get Sekhukhune and the Pedi to pay the fine he owed to the Transvaal Republic because they did not have enough soldiers to force him to do so.
Shepstone also failed to control the Zulus on the southeastern border of the colony and many farmers had to leave their farms. Sir Owen Lanyon replaced Shepstone as administrator in 1879.
In September of the same year Sir Garnet Wolseley was appointed High Commissioner of South East Africa and governor of Natal and Transvaal.
18 Feb 1887 - Feb 1889 Theophilus "Offy" Shepstone, Jr. (b. 1843 - d. 1907)
Feb 1889 - 10 May 1889 Allister Miller (b. 1864 - d. 1951)
May 1889 - Dec 1889 N.H. Cohen
Chairmen of the Government Committee
Dec 1889 - Sep 1894 Theophilus "Offy" Shepstone, Jr. (s.a.)
Sep 1894 - 21 Feb 1895 George Herbert Hulett (b. 1864 - d. ....)
Resident Adviser and Agent
21 Oct 1889 - 8 Sep 1894 Theophilus "Offy" Shepstone, Jr. (s.a.)