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3rd April 2002Rorke's Drift Doctor by Lee Stevenson
By Alec Weston
I have just enjoyed reading Lee Stevensons well researched book about Surgeon Reynolds. Well done for a very interesting book.
I was, however, concerned at the number of mistakes in the section about the Zulu War credited to Mr John Yound who 'double checked' this section - p.11 Could I please ask Mr Young about a number of points that I think he has got wrong?
1. Asante War or Ashanti War? p.39
2.Map on p. 57. Where is Kambula? My books have it spelled as Khambula. And Helpmakaar should, surely, be spelled with an 'e' as used by the Dutch and also original and modern maps. And did the railway line really go as far as Pietermaritzberg - I don't think so as Eugenie could not get there by train even after the war was over.
3. What does this mean" waylaid by the dregs of Natal's wagons and oxen" p. 58
4. Oscarberg should be Oscarsberg! It was named after King Oscar and must be spelled, as other maps do correctly, with an 's'.p. 59 and all through the text.
5.Sihayo's homestead or krall? two sentances and two descriptions next to each other. p. 64
6. Bad one this. "eight companies of the 1st 24th left at Isandlwana? I don't think so Mr Young - I can only find evidence of 5 plus 1 of the 2nd 24th. p. 65
7. Who on earth is Col. Pulliene? Do you mean Co, Pulleine? And you state tthat Durnford arrived' just as the attack began' at Isandlwana - not according to all the other books I have read. And how on earth did the Natal Native Horsep get there when they weren't formed until 1906. (See Hurst p. 136) All these jems are on p. 66
8. On p. 74 you refer to the 1st Battalion 24th, then the 1st/24th and then the 24th Foot - not very consistant.
9.Where is Fugitive's Drift? I know only of Fugitives' Drift. p. 77
10.Reynolds' patients and Private's John Waters? Didn't you get your grammar checked?
11.I see that John Williams was a 'terrified young Welshman'. I don't think so as Monmouth did not become part of Wales, however much the Welsh claim otherwise, until, I believe, 1974 under the Boundary changes.
12. Reynolds attention p 84 and Private's Robert Jones - grammar again. p. 85
13. 'The stricken Sergeant' - who may I ask is this, or should this be 'sergeant'? p. 87
14. Who is Sergeant Millne? Never heard of him. Confused with Milne perhaps?. p. 91
15, Last one for today as I'm getting tired. When did Bromhead dine with the Queen? I can't find any reference to this event. I know Chard did and I can't find anyone to confirm this interesting fact. p. 119.

All for the moment.
Alec Weston.
DateReplies
3rd April 2002Lee Stevenson
Alec,

Well that's quite a list!!

If you can bear with me I will read through it over the next few days and do my best to respond in due course.

Glad you enjoyed the book anyway !!

Lee

3rd April 2002Richard Doherty
Before criticising the grammar of others one should ensure that one's own grammar is beyond reproach. Alec Weston's grammar is quite atrocious. His spelling is but marginally better.
3rd April 2002John Young
Alec,

I hate to disappoint but I am not the author of 'The Rorke's Drift Doctor...', Lee Stevenson is; and many of the points that you raise should correctly be addressed to Lee, and not to myself.

However, I will take issue over certain points that you mention. I will use your numbering of points and I will answer them to the best of my ability. But please bear in mind I have no academic qualifications in the subject of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, to be frank I have no academic qualifications in the subject of history at all, I am merely an interested enthusiast.

1, The correct spelling is Asante. The Asante are members of the Akan cluster of ethnic group. Their former domain covered much of modern-day Ghana. They were formerly alluded to as 'Ashanti' or 'Ashantee', in much the same way that King Cetshwayo kaMpande was called 'Cetewayo', or the battle of Hlobane, was formerly styled 'Zlobane'. Thankfully in 2002, we now learned respect the idioms of indigenous peoples.

2, Sadly I did not see the map on p. 57, or for that matter any of the appendices until the book was actually published. So, I feel that you should correctly be addressing your remarks not to me, but to Lee. Frankly, I prefer to style 'Kambula' as Khambula, yet others such as Ron Lock, have dispensed with the 'h' is entirely, I assume, a personal preference based on their knowledge.

I fully aware that the railway did not fully extended from D'Urban to Pietermaritzburg.
On 4th September 1878, it had only reached Pinetown. By 24th March 1879 the line was as far as Botha's Hill. The line between D'Urban and Pietermaritzburg was not however formally open until 1st December 1880.

I am prefectly aware how to spell Helpmekaar, again do not pose the question of spelling to me, address it to the author.

3, Might I refer you to the comments of Captain Walter Parke Jones, 5th (Field) Company, Royal Engineers, which appear on p.55 of Frank Emery's 'The Red Soldier' - '...all the transport is exhausted and but sorry beasts can be supplied me. ...' But again, it is not a question you should be address to me, rather to the author of the work, which you appear to praise in your opening comments, and then decide to deride because you appear to attribute the errors to me. How wrong you are!

4, If you read my detailed account of the Defence of Rorke's Drift which appears on this site, you will see that I term the mountain known to the amaZulu as Shiyane - the eyebrow. However, when Witt gave it the name of his choice, I have styled it 'Oskarberg' meaning, or so I was reliably informed by someone with a modicum of knowledge of Scandinavian dialects, 'the mountain of Oskar'. Witt's homage to King Oskar of Norway & Sweden. John Laband & Paul Thompson in their work 'The Illustrated Guide to the Anglo-Zulu War' term it as 'Shiyane (the Oskarsberg)'. Where as in his work 'From the Land of the Zulu Kings' J.L. Smail opts for the spelling that I favour, 'Oskarberg'.

5, Again, this is not a point you should address to me, but Lee. On a personally note though, when I wrote my own book 'They Fell Like Stones...' I used the expression 'kraal' and 'kraals', given my increased knowledge and awareness of the amaZulu, it is not a phrase I would use now; rather I would refer to it as his homestead, or as his umuzi or his stronghold.

6, Yes, it is indeed a 'Bad one is.' It is an obvious mistake, but again direct your comment to Lee.

7, Again these are matters you should rightfully ask the author. However, I believe I am correct in saying that parts of Durnford's command were still arriving as other troops were already engaged in combat.

On a more technical point when did the Battle of Isandlwana actually commence? Is it when Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel H. B. Pulleine initially deploys his forces at about 8.00 a.m. in response to the report of 'Zulus are advancing in force from left front of camp.' his famous note timed at '8.5 a.m.'? Or is it when Lieutenant Charles Raw discovers the Zulu force by the Ngwebeni? Perhaps you, or someone can kindly answer that one for me?

Sadly you have once again placed your reliance in G. T. Hurst's work 'The Volunteer Regiments of Natal & East Griqualand'. A work I believe you cited in a previous discussion in this forum, once again I have to inform you that you are incorrect. How is it that on p.169 of the reprint of 'Narrative of the Field Operations connected with the Zulu War of 1879', first published in 1881 there appears the title of 'Natal Native Horse [Cochrane]'. I do not purport that I am any authority on the subject of the Anglo-Zulu War, but I can clearly see that a text published in 1881, pre-dates your '1906'.

Other authors have previously used the expression 'Natal Native Horse' in their works, I cite Ian Knight, John Laband, Paul Thompson, F.W.D. Jackson and Adrian Greaves. Might I ask why you only now decided to raise the issue?

What may I ask are 'jems' by the way? Is it some colloquial expression?

8, Again, yes it does appear to be inconsistant, but again it is not I you should be challenging on this.

9, Likewise, I only know of Fugitives' Drift.

10, It is not 'my grammar' but that of the author, was not asked to edit the book for grammatical errors, that was tasked, I believe, to another person.

11, Elsewhere on this forum I have expressed my own opinion on Monmouthshire - 'Monmouth' is actually the county town, not the county by the way. John Williams V.C. was actually born in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire.

Might I suggest that you visit a site I discovered the other day, sadly I did not record the full title of it, but I found it on a search. On that site two obviously well-informed local persons argue the point either way - was Monmouthshire - English or Welsh?

12 & 13, Again please address your opinion to the Lee Stevenson.

14, Sergeant Frederick Millne, 2nd Battalion, 3rd (East Kent) Regiment, known as 'The Buffs' due to their facing colour, he was actually the chap who offered to moor the pontoons mid-stream at Rorke's Drift and defend the crossing from there. Sorry you are unaware as to how his name was actually spelt. May be the sources that you have chosen accept have again mislead you, perhaps?

15, I believe that Lee answers, or at least gives an indication as to where he discovered this fact in his footnote.

I welcome any further discussion on any points I have raised, but I again feel you would be better served by asking Lee, and not I.

John Young,
Chairman,
Anglo-Zulu War Research Society.
3rd April 2002John Young
Before the brickbats fly - the phrase I used when addressing the first point 'Thankfully in 2002, we now learned respect the idioms of indigenous peoples.' Should read; Thankfully in 2002, we have now learned to respect the idioms of indigenous peoples.

John

4th April 2002Alec Weston
Dear John,

Many thanks for taking the time to answer my points. I would not have bothered you but it does clearly state in the acknowledgements of Lee's truly excellent book that you 'checked the interpretation of the historical facts' - hence my presumption that this was the case.
Please, one last question to you. I just can't find any reference to Bromhead dining with Queen Victoria at Windsor. Ian Knight's books state that only Chard had this honour. As you seem to know quite alot about the Zulu War, can you throw any light on this as it must be recorded somewhere?

many thanks,

Alec Weston.

4th April 2002Alec Weston
To Mr Richard Doherty; Sorry if I offended you - whoever you are. I think I was raising valid points as a reader of a book, and not every reader of Mr. Lee's book, or every visitor to the forum, can possibly be up to the high standards of Mr. Lee himself. The intro credits Mr Young with having checked the facts and some are clearly wrong - hence my questions to him - which he has graciously answered.
Alec Weston
4th April 2002Lee Stevenson
Alec

I see that Mr Young has responded to a number of the comments directed at him, and hopefully I can now add a little more as the author of the book in question.

Some of my reference points include;

No 1. see “Queen Victoria’s Enemies - Northern Africa” by Ian Knight, Osprey Men At Arms Series

No 14.
a). “The Manchester Chronicle, c.1905 -
“A Life’s Adventures. - Story of Rorke's Drift Hero, Sergeant Millne”
b). Sotheby’s Catalogue 8th February 1990
Lot 312: “South Africa, 1877, I clasp 1879 (2260 Sergt. F. Millne, 2/3rd Foot”
c). Obituary The Manchester Chronicle, c.1924
“MILLNE, - On the 5th inst. at 5 Lofas Street, Moss Side. FREDERICK AUGUSTUS the beloved husband of ....”

No 15.
The Times 19th May 1880 - “Court Circular, Windsor Castle May 18”

“Her Majesty’s dinner party included Princess Beatrice, the Grand Duke of Hesse, Lady Southampton, the Dowager Marchioness of Ely, the Earl of Beaconsfield, K.G., Lord Rowton, C.B., Sir Theodore Martin, K.C.B., and Lady Martin, Major General Sir M. Biddulph, K.C.B., Major Gonville Bromhead, V.C., and Captain Edwards, R.E.”

As to the other comments. Well you have discovered that I have a problem with apostrophes, for which I have no excuses except to blame my old English teachers!! You have also highlighted a selection of the typos and spelling mistakes and or variations of spellings, which, despite my best efforts at the proof reading stage still managed to slip by.

I am more than happy to answer any further questions you might have with regard to the “Rorke's Drift Doctor”.

Regards

Lee Stevenson

5th April 2002Alec Weston
Dear Mr Stevenson.
Thank you for your most helpful replies. The book is truly excellent and will, I am sure, sell very well. It is a credit to you. It does seem that recent authors of Zulu War material have run into the same grammatical problems - I guess it's all down to modern computers. Anyway - a super book.

Alec Weston.
5th April 2002Julian Whybra
It seems to me that Mr Weston's criticisms fall into three categories.
First, grammatical: personally I find these sort of errors very irritating however I know only
too well that when one gets a book or article published one is at the mercy of modern printing
technology (even after proof-reading!). Although they may detract from the historical text, in
no way do they invalidate the historical commentary. I am sure Mr Stevenson is just as
annoyed as the next man.
Secondly, orthographical: I have done post-graduate research in and worked as a lecturer in four universities in
this country and abroad. In all cases they have the same approach, viz. that when writing historically a place/people is referred
to by the name by which it was known at the time. So one writes historically of Breslau,
Londinium, Grunwald, Petrograd, Salisbury, Isandhlwana, the Tugela, Natal Kaffirs, and
Kambula. Personally I prefer this and one gets into the habit of working this way; I find the
total absence of political correctness in history very healthy. However I recognise that other
writers prefer to use contemporary Zulu and other orthography; hence kwaJimu, Isandlwana,
etc. I have no problem with this. The important element is consistency. At the end of the day,
Mr Stevenson was writing an historical commentary not a treatise on Zulu orthography and his historical analysis is not devalued thereby.
Thirdly, factual inaccuracies: if one is going to criticise a writer on the basis of their
scholarship then one has to be absolutely certain of one’s ground. Sadly in two of Mr Weston's
criticisms (Natal Native Horse nomenclature and Millne) he is plain wrong. Millne can be checked in the primary source records and NNH appears in comtemporary records, newspapers, and personal accounts.
18th April 2002Ron Lock
Contained in the rather fatuous criticism of Lee Stevenson's book 'The Rorkes Drift Doctor' was the question 'did the railway reach as far as Pietermaritzburg?' John Young (not 'Yound') in reply, correctly pointed out that by 24 March 1879 the line had only reached Bothas Hill. On the 28th June 1879 a Durban Newspaper reported the arrival of Sir Garnet Wolseley (See 'The Red Book' pages 264-6) and went on to inform its readers:
'The special train which convey ed Sir Garnet Wolseley to Bothas Hill on Saturday consisted of an engine, state saloon carriage, one ordinary carriage and breakdown van. The start from here was made at 9.40 a.m. and reached Bothas Hill station at 11.25, the run having been done in one and three quarter hours, the fastest yet made!'

As I live on Bothas Hill perhaps visitors to rorkesdriftvc.com would like to know a little more about the area which is not lacking in history. The hill itself is a typical African flat topped koppie (hill) nineteen miles from Durban on the way to Pietermaritzburg and is approximately 2600 feet at the summit. Contrarily to popular belief the hill was not named after P. R. Botha, the grandfather of General Louis Botha, who once farmed hereabouts, but after one Captain Cornelius Botha, a seafarer who, in the 1850's ran an acommodation establishment, 'Botha's Halfway House' at the bottom of the hill. The Old Main Road still zigzags its way up the hill past the spot where Botha's establishment once stood, en route to Pietermaritzburg some 45 miles beyond. The old railway station, no longer functioning as a locomotive stop has been turned into a wayside restaurant. However, once a month local railway enthusiasts run a passenger steam train that chugs its way from Hillcrest to Drummond and back, passing Bothas Hill Station just before the halfway mark.

The Old Main Road that passes the station was once the highway into the interior and it was along this route in 1838 that the Voortrekkers made their way to Port Natal and the fate that awaited them at Mgungundlovu. In the 1970's I had a property on the summit of the hill from where, on particularly fine winter days, the Drakensberg Mountains could be seen a hundred miles away. The property sloped down to the Assagay (yes, that is the correct spelling in accordance with locall maps, road signs and title deeds) Valley and the Umhlatuzana stream which in the old days was the only source of water for many miles. In its time the hillside was traversed by thousands of wagons and in certain light and when the grass had been burnt, the ruts formed by the wagon wheels can still be seen. The body of the Prince Imperial was brought this way and its last resting place before raeching Durban was at the bottom of the hill, a spot marked until recently by a laarge oak tree. It has often been an intriguing and poignant thought to me that the men of the 24th had marched past my front door on their way to Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift. However, they were one of many regiments to have passed this way and Lt. Carl Muller of the Kaffrarian Vanguard (or Rifles), en route to join Col. Evelyn Wood's No. 4 Column, left a lively reminiscience of passing over Bothas Hill in December 1878.
'...there were large numbers of mambas about the Natal coast and many men died of snake bite. There were also many puff adders and cobras' ... 'and we killed many on the march. The next day braought another adventure. We had stopped to rest near Bothas Hill which in those days was the end of the line for the railway. I was writing in my tent when I was approached by the Commandant who asked if I knew the whereabouts of my men. It was so quiet that I thought them to be sleeping but their tents were empty. We discovered that the whole corps had made their way to a nearby canteen to sample the Natal rum; some officers had also made their way there so the Old Man and myself followed suit to where a drunken brawl was taking place as a result of the bad liquor. We closed the canteen and arrested the owner and let the men sleep off their drunken stupour. Without any further adventures we arrived in Pietermaritzburg on December the 2nd.'

However, let me assure anyone contemplating a visit to these parts that we no longer drink Natal rum at Bothas Hill and its been a couple of years since I last saw a puff adder.

Incidentally, if common usage of the way a word is spelt makes it correct then spellings such as Tugela, Kambula, Pongola etc. are right for such is the way these names are spelt on current maps and road signs throughout KZN. Nevertheless one must acknowledge that the same words spelt Thukela, Khambula and Phongola are more academically correct. Yet it seems to me that when writing in an historical context the istorical form of spelling is preferable. Some authors go as far as discarding historic spellings altogether, thus, for instance, the Buffalo and Blood rivers are referred to as the Umzinyathi and the Ncome. That is all very well but one would think that if such changes are made, the same should apply to all historical names that have a Zulu language alternative: thus the Battle of Rorkes Drift would become the Battle of kwaJimu!

Ron Lock.
18th April 2002Ron Lock
Contained in the rather fatuous criticism of Lee Stevenson's book 'The Rorkes Drift Doctor' was the question 'did the railway reach as far as Pietermaritzburg?' John Young (not 'Yound') in reply, correctly pointed out that by 24 March 1879 the line had only reached Bothas Hill. On the 28th June 1879 a Durban Newspaper reported the arrival of Sir Garnet Wolseley (See 'The Red Book' pages 264-6) and went on to inform its readers:
'The special train which convey ed Sir Garnet Wolseley to Bothas Hill on Saturday consisted of an engine, state saloon carriage, one ordinary carriage and breakdown van. The start from here was made at 9.40 a.m. and reached Bothas Hill station at 11.25, the run having been done in one and three quarter hours, the fastest yet made!'

As I live on Bothas Hill perhaps visitors to rorkesdriftvc.com would like to know a little more about the area which is not lacking in history. The hill itself is a typical African flat topped koppie (hill) nineteen miles from Durban on the way to Pietermaritzburg and is approximately 2600 feet at the summit. Contrarily to popular belief the hill was not named after P. R. Botha, the grandfather of General Louis Botha, who once farmed hereabouts, but after one Captain Cornelius Botha, a seafarer who, in the 1850's ran an acommodation establishment, 'Botha's Halfway House' at the bottom of the hill. The Old Main Road still zigzags its way up the hill past the spot where Botha's establishment once stood, en route to Pietermaritzburg some 45 miles beyond. The old railway station, no longer functioning as a locomotive stop has been turned into a wayside restaurant. However, once a month local railway enthusiasts run a passenger steam train that chugs its way from Hillcrest to Drummond and back, passing Bothas Hill Station just before the halfway mark.

The Old Main Road that passes the station was once the highway into the interior and it was along this route in 1838 that the Voortrekkers made their way to Port Natal and the fate that awaited them at Mgungundlovu. In the 1970's I had a property on the summit of the hill from where, on particularly fine winter days, the Drakensberg Mountains could be seen a hundred miles away. The property sloped down to the Assagay (yes, that is the correct spelling in accordance with locall maps, road signs and title deeds) Valley and the Umhlatuzana stream which in the old days was the only source of water for many miles. In its time the hillside was traversed by thousands of wagons and in certain light and when the grass had been burnt, the ruts formed by the wagon wheels can still be seen. The body of the Prince Imperial was brought this way and its last resting place before raeching Durban was at the bottom of the hill, a spot marked until recently by a laarge oak tree. It has often been an intriguing and poignant thought to me that the men of the 24th had marched past my front door on their way to Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift. However, they were one of many regiments to have passed this way and Lt. Carl Muller of the Kaffrarian Vanguard (or Rifles), en route to join Col. Evelyn Wood's No. 4 Column, left a lively reminiscience of passing over Bothas Hill in December 1878.
'...there were large numbers of mambas about the Natal coast and many men died of snake bite. There were also many puff adders and cobras' ... 'and we killed many on the march. The next day braought another adventure. We had stopped to rest near Bothas Hill which in those days was the end of the line for the railway. I was writing in my tent when I was approached by the Commandant who asked if I knew the whereabouts of my men. It was so quiet that I thought them to be sleeping but their tents were empty. We discovered that the whole corps had made their way to a nearby canteen to sample the Natal rum; some officers had also made their way there so the Old Man and myself followed suit to where a drunken brawl was taking place as a result of the bad liquor. We closed the canteen and arrested the owner and let the men sleep off their drunken stupour. Without any further adventures we arrived in Pietermaritzburg on December the 2nd.'

However, let me assure anyone contemplating a visit to these parts that we no longer drink Natal rum at Bothas Hill and its been a couple of years since I last saw a puff adder.

Incidentally, if common usage of the way a word is spelt makes it correct then spellings such as Tugela, Kambula, Pongola etc. are right for such is the way these names are spelt on current maps and road signs throughout KZN. Nevertheless one must acknowledge that the same words spelt Thukela, Khambula and Phongola are more academically correct. Yet it seems to me that when writing in an historical context the istorical form of spelling is preferable. Some authors go as far as discarding historic spellings altogether, thus, for instance, the Buffalo and Blood rivers are referred to as the Umzinyathi and the Ncome. That is all very well but one would think that if such changes are made, the same should apply to all historical names that have a Zulu language alternative: thus the Battle of Rorkes Drift would become the Battle of kwaJimu!

Ron Lock.