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Wednesday, February 11, 2015 Col AWD The aftermath Edward Durnford Quest - 1880 - 1884 Chelmsford at Parliament - Crealock's Notebook revealed - August 1880

The Aftermath - The timeline from 1880

Events from 1880.

Col. John Chard reports  to Queen  Victoria  January 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.

The roads were so bad that in spite of all our exertions, our progress was slow, and although we got a fresh team at Pietermaritzberg, we did not reach Rorke’s Drift until the morning of the 19th January 1879. The 3rd Column was encamped on the other side (left bank) of the River Buffalo and the wagons were still crossing on the ponts.

I pitched my two tents on the right (Natal) bank of the river, near the ponts, and close to the store accommodation there for keeping them in repair. On the 20th January, the 3rd Column broke up its camp on the Buffalo river and marched to Isandhlwana, where it encamped, and the same evening, or following morning, Colonel Durnford’s force arrived and took up its camp near where the 3rd Column had been.

An N.C.O. of the 24th Regiment lent me a field glass, which was a very good one, and I also looked with my own, and could see the enemy moving on the distant hills, and apparently in great force. Large numbers of them moving to my left, until the lion hill of Isandhlwana, on my left as I looked at them, hid them from my view. The idea struck me that they might be moving in the direction between the camp and Rorke’s Drift and prevent my getting back, and also they might be going to make a dash at the pontoons.

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



From the The Isle of Wight Observer 7th February 1880, - Lord Chelmsford and the Zulu War, a paper by Archibald Forbes, reprinted from Nineteenth Century" for February.  

He clearly place blame on one person Lord Chelmsford

Archibald Forbes was a Private soldier who re-invented himself as the Premier war correspondent of the late Victorian Age. Working for the ‘Daily News' he covered the Franco-Prussian War, the Russo-Turkish War, sundry wars in the Balkans and India - and the Zulu War of 1879. His coverage was extremely critical of the British commander, Lord Chelmsford, whose ineptness, in Forbes' eyes, had helped lead to the disaster of Isandlhwana when a British force was wiped out by the Zulus. 

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:.

Maj Bengough
"22nd, Wednesday, 2.00am

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.

Signed  JNC

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.

Second Edition, with Additions.

Published: London: Chapman and Hall, Limited, 1881
Stock code: 84483
Price: £2,500

Second edition—”very carefully revised, and [with] some new important matter inserted” including the plan of Isandlwana—issued a year after the first. This copy inscribed on the front free endpaper verso, “Mary Buchanan from Frances E. Colenso. In memory of her Father, J. W. Colenso, July 1883, Bishopstowe”.

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.

Did Crealock bring it with him? in person, or was it in his trunk, and as he says, sent to him in 1879.

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.

Edward then contacted Frances, who was back home, and she approached Shepstone, about the facts.
He denied it fully, and replied to her that if there were papers, he would have given them to her, with his knife and rings back in 1879, again denied that Anthony was wearing a coat.  He only ever admitted to finding his brother George's papers "which may have given rise to the idea".

Frances who had returned to South Africa in late 1881, was exceedingly puzzled by the reference to a coat.  Not only Shepstone but members of Chelmsford's staff had always insisted that the body was found coatless.  She asked Edward to double check.  Longford was emphatic.  "I believe I was the first Officer to recognise your brother's body and I am confident he had on a blue coat.

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.

Frances met Shepstone in person and another acquaintance of Frances's wrote that " was rather struck, she wrote by the warm manner in which he spoke of Durnford and of his extreme satisfaction at having been the man to find and show respect to the body of such a hero!"

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.’
‘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”)
 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

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,

February II 1883.

"I have read through with the greatest interest and with complete satisfaction your memoir
of your brother, which I think, must produce profound impression in England, and
especially on the minds of all honourable military men."  JC


After having searched for a copy, and asking one of the people who wrote a thesis about it, I was quite disappointed to learn that presently there are two copies for sale, one for around $2000 and the other around $3000.

 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.

Creator: Durnford, Anthony William (1830-1879) (author)
Creation Date: 
23.0 x 4.0 cm

Presented to Queen Victoria by the editor, 17 Feb. 1883.

But this review of the book, by the Archive Spectator 4th August 1883, reveals a little of the contents.
Spectator Archive ... 4 AUGUST 1883, Page 19 ... the dead, we are bound to state that Colonel Edward Durnford brings forward a formidable mass of evidence in 

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.

As a record of the life of a thorough soldier, one possessing in a more than ordinary degree the love of his profession, a cultivated intellect, and the desire to benefit his kind, the work before us is of considerable interest, though, as the author frankly confesses, it has its primary raison d'eltre in the very natural desire to vindicate the military reputation of a brother who, except, perhaps, on one fatal occasion, is universally acknowledged not merely to have deserved well of his country, but to have rendered very signal service.

Even with regard to the sad event at Isandhlwana and Colonel Dnrnford's share in it, military opinion is much divided, and it is probable that the greater number of those capable of forming a sound judgment on the matter believe his obedience to have been as unfaltering as his death was heroic.

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 ? 

There must have been great misconception somewhere, and the repeated refusals to examine into the matter—for the Court of Inquiry at Helpmakaar seems to have done little or nothing towards clearing it up—are, to say the least of them, injudicious, since the public will not be slow to argue from them, though possibly erroneously, a suppression yet, having for its object the concealment of the shortcomings of those in higher position ; and the relatives of Colonel Durnford, some of them military men, have surely a right to feel injured by this persistent withholding of the scant justice of a rigorous and too-long-delayed investigation.

That the camp of Isandhlwana was placed in a practically in- defensible position without being laagered is not to be denied, while everything tends to show that Lord Chelmsford completely underrated the enemy with whom he had to contend, habitually refusing to take the most ordinary precautions against surprise; and his having allowed himself to be decoyed in an opposite direction when 20,000 Zulus were about to pour down upon the camp can scarcely exonerate him from the responsibility for the disaster, even though, according to his statement in the House of Lords, he considered that he had left behind him a sufficient defensive force.

As to the question, which in some minds remains doubtful, whether Durnford or Pulleine was in command on the fatal day, this can easily be settled if, as our author states, the copy of the order sent to the latter is yet in existence ; but there is a curious story told by a captain of the 24th Regiment, who marched out with the General's force, to the effect that neither Lord Chelmsford nor his staff left any orders with Colonel Pulleine, but that, when miles away from the camp, Lord Chelmsford asked what orders had been left for him.

This requires confirmation, but in any case it is quite clear that no anxiety whatever was felt at head- quarters for the safety of the camp ; and a strange fatality seems to have hung over it, for even Colonel Harness, who, on his own responsibility, had started with his contingent to relieve it, was peremptorily ordered back again.

That the gallant fellows who died so bravely should have been left four months on the battle-field unburied is another circumstance which might have been deemed incredible, were it not but too sadly true. The touching story of the finding of their bodies has long been familiar to us, and it affords ample proof, were any needed, of their chivalric bravery. But leaving this, painful episode in England's history, let us turn to the memoir, and see what impression it gives us of the man who, by those closely connected with him, and especially by his native following, was so emphatically pronounced a hero.

Very little is told us of the young days of Anthony Durnford, but we find that he joined the Royal Military Academy in 1846 and left it in 1848, having gained fifty-one places and lost none; while the report he brought with him from Chatham, on completing his course of instruction there, bore testimony both to his exemplary conduct and his marked ability. 

During the first twenty years after getting his commission, the young officer served in Ceylon, at Malta, and in various places in England and Ireland ; and in 1872 was despatched to South Africa, where, curiously enough, the first noteworthy event which occurs to him is his accompanying the Secretary for Native Affairs to the coronation of Cetewayo, which he describes us a scene not to be missed, the war-song by 5,000 warriors being wonderfully impressive. 

Then came the expedition against Langalibalele, and the affair of Bushman's River Pass, of which Major Durnford, with a small force of Natal Carbiniers and Basutos, was desired to take possession, as it was supposed the Chief would attempt to escape that way. He was, however, expressly commanded "not to fire the first shot." During the march up the Drakensberg, through a wild and most difficult country, Major Durnford was dragged over a precipice by the horse which he was leading, and received, besides the dislocation of his shoulder, several severe injuries, notwithstanding which, after a very short rest he continued to push forward, until be sank down at nightfall utterly exhausted by pain and fatigue. 

But when the moon rose, at about eleven o'clock, the intrepid commander again ordered an advance, although his sufferings were, say the eye-witnesses, almost more than they could bear to see. " What he had to do, was to take his men to the top of Bushman's River Pass as speedily as possible ; and there they should be, if he preserved breath enough to give his orders, and consciousness to know that they were being carried out." 

This night's experience formed, says the writer, the first link of the chain which ever after bound the affections of the little band of brave Basutos to their leader, for they found themselves for the first time treated by an English officer with consideration and sympathy, and Major Durnford soon learned to set a high value upon these brave, intelligent fellows. In the engagement which followed, when, as is known, the undisciplined Natal Carbiniers fled for their lives, Major Durnford received the assegai-wound that disabled his left arm for life ; not withstanding which, and his sufferings from the accident above described, he insisted on being lifted on to his horse the very next morning, and starting at the head of some volunteers to the relief of Captain Boyes and his party, who had been sent to his support, and were supposed to be in great danger. 

Public thanks were, of course, rendered to Major Durnford for his noble conduct on these occasions. Merciless to himself, Colonel Durnford naturally expected much endurance and self-control from the able-bodied under his command ; while he was, like almost all brave men, exceedingly tender to every one in sickness or trouble. He was also resolutely determined, so far as rested with himself, that justice should be done to all the natives, and nothing distressed or disgusted him more than anything like unfair dealing. In the struggle for right against might he was ever foremost, and this it was that made him take up so strongly the cause of the Putini tribe, who had worked so hard under his directions at the destruction of the mountain passes.

Taking pains, as he did, to understand the character of the South-African people, he was able to manage them easily by means of their good-will; and the natives said of Colonel Durnford that he was not like other white men, who shout at them and treat them like dogs. He, they said, spoke quietly, but no guilty man could stand before him. His kindness to young officers, indeed to all who needed assistance, was unbounded ; but his good deeds were performed so silently, that few, save the recipients of his bounty, ever came to know of them.

As one of the Boundary Commission appointed to investigate the land question between the Boers and the Zulus, Colonel Durnford had excellent opportunities of knowing exactly how the case stood, and of forming an opinion as to England's proper course of action ; and be maintained that a vigorous policy, in union with strict justice, might easily settle matters without recourse to war, for which, he remarked more than once in private letters, we were totally unprepared.

 But although such was his opinion, he did not fail to throw himself with all his energy into his duty as a soldier, raising and drilling three regiments of Natal natives, besides his favourite Basutos and Putini, organising native pioneer corps, and in every way preparing for the encounter, which to the last he believed would be staved off. From his letters to his mother, between whom and himself there subsisted the closest affection, we learn more of Colonel Durnford's character and occupations than in any other way ; and these letters are full of his love of work, and his eager desire to do something useful.

His last note, written from Rorke's Drift on January 21st, 1879, after Lord Chelmsford's departure for Isandhlwana, concludes with these words,—" I am down,' because I am left behind, but we shall see."

Little did he then think that the next day would see the " lion," as he was called by the Zulus, overpowered only by the overwhelming numbers of his opponents, lying on the field which he had disputed so bravely, surrounded by a heap of slain. 

Possibly, however, the death of these devoted men was the salvation of the rest of the South-African Army, for we cannot help thinking, with the faithful Jabez, that if the disaster had not occurred at Isandhlwana, it was bound to happen somewhere else, and then very probably the whole force would have been cut to pieces.

DURNFORD, Anthony William.

A Soldier’s Life and Work in South Africa. 1872–1879.

A Memoir of the Late Colonel A.W. Durnford. Edited by his Brother, Lieut.-Colonel E[dward] Durnford, Part Author of the "History of the Zulu War and its Origin".

Published: London, Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, 1882

Stock code: 39087
Price: £975
This item is on show at 100 Fulham Road 
First Edition. Uncommon account of Durnford’s service in South Africa, an apologia edited by his brother: “The court of inquiry into the loss of the camp duly attributed most of the blame for the defeat to Durnford’s rash conduct. This was hardly surprising since Chelmsford’s staff were determined to make Durnford the scapegoat for the disaster. His brother Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Durnford and Frances Colenso endeavoured through their writings and public lobbying to rehabilitate his reputation. They did not wholly succeed. Durnford’s heroic death did much to blunt public criticism of him, but there can be little doubt that his actions contributed materially to the disaster at Isandlwana. As Sir Theophilus Shepstone wrote of him, Durnford was ‘as plucky as a lion but as imprudent as a child'” (ODNB).
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 July 1883, Frances's father died. Her world came crashing down.  She idolised him, and despite making an effort to quickly hurry home from Durban, she was not there when he died.

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"

But one man prospered - Lord Chelmsford. The Queen showered honours on him, promoting him to full general, awarding him the Gold Stick at Court and appointing him Lieutenant of the Tower of London. He died in 1905, at the age of 78, playing billiards at his club


Edward Durnford voiced his displeasure at this appointment

 From Edinburgh Evening News 12 June 1884   Lord Chelmsford and Colonel Durnford

We have received from Lieutenant Colonel Edward Durnford a letter dates St Alban's 10th June, in which he protests against the appointment of Lieutenant General Lord Chelmsford as Lieutenant of the Tower of London.  He says he wishes to lay his cause before the public and thus to record a protest against an action which in its approval of Lord Chelmsford "amounts to a  positive injustice to the memory of a good soldier who willingly gave up his life in his country's service."

He enters into an account of the instructions left by Lord Chelmsford with the late Colonel Durnford in order to prove that the generals attempt to fasten on the latter the blame for the Isandhlwana disaster was ungenerous and unfair.

 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"

The situation is this:  An officer living brings charges against another officer, who is dead, which charge is proved to be entirely without foundation

The authorities decline to consider the matter, and therefore deny to the dead officer that justice which he, if alive, could and would have demanded.  As long as the living officer was permitted to remain unemployed, one could in some manner comprehend the line the authorities have taken; but now that a valuable appointment is conferred upon the living officer, what can the inference be but that his conduct is approved, and thus the injustice to the memory of the dead is bitterly emphasized


Sir Theophilus Shepstone                   British South African statesman

Sir Theophilus Shepstone,  (born Jan. 8, 1817, Westbury-on-Trym, Gloucestershire, Eng.—died June 23, 1893, PietermaritzburgNatal [now in South Africa]), British official in Southern Africa who devised a system of administering Africans on which all later European field administrations in Africa were to be based. He was responsible for the annexation of the Transvaal in 1877 and helped to instigate the Anglo-Zulu War (1879).

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”).

Sir Theophilus Shepstone (8 January 1817 – 23 June 1893) was a British South African statesman who was responsible for the annexation of the Transvaal to Britain in 1877.

Theophilus Shepstone was born at Westbury-on-Trym near Bristol, England. When he was three years old his father, the Rev. William Theophilus, emigrated to Cape Colony. Young Shepstone was educated at the native mission stations at which his father worked, and the lad acquired great proficiency in the indigenous languages of South Africa, a circumstance which determined his career. In the Xhosa War of 1835 he served as headquarters interpreter on the staff of the governor, Sir Benjamin d'Urban, and at the end of the campaign remained on the frontier as clerk to the agent for the native tribes.

Shepstone married in 1833 Maria, daughter of Charles Palmer, commissary-general at Cape Town, and had six sons and three daughters. One of his sons was killed at Isandhlwana; of the other sons HC Shepstone (b. 1840) was secretary for native affairs in Natal from 1884 to 1893; Theophilus was adviser to the Swazis (1887–1891); and AJ Shepstone (b. 1852) served in various native expeditions, as assistant-commissioner in Zululand, in the South African War, 1899–1902, and became in 1909 secretary for native affairs (Natal) and secretary of the Natal native trust. A younger brother of Sir Theophilus, John Wesley Shepstone (b. 1827), filled between 1846 and 1896 various offices in Natal in connection with the administration of native affairs.


Another of those "Stories behind the story".


Sir Theophilus Shepstone was now the administrator of the Transvaal Colony and he realised that running it was going to be much more difficult than annexing it. The British government had made promises to the Boers to allow them some self-government, but Shepstone was slow to initiate this process. The colony remained nearly bankrupt and British plans to build a railroad to Delagoa Bay had to be put on hold.

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.

Parkview home of the Commissioner

Chairmen of the Provisional Government Commission
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.)

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