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Durnfords orders
Mel


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 345
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Just got round to reading Julian's "Studies in the Zulu War " vol 1.

On page 5 he says that the 19th Jan. order to Durnford from Spalding "makes it clear that Durnfords column is to co operate with Column 3, viz. Bengough's battalion is to operate from the west into the Mangeni Valley; his wagons are to accompany Durnford's men indicating a planned rendezvous later." (The underlines are mine)

However, on reading the order, I don't see that conclusion.

The order states that (1) Durnford is to move his troops under his immediate command viz: mounted men, rocket battery and Sikeli's men to the Zulu side of the Buffalo on the 20th.

The order states that (2) no. 3 column moves tomorrow to Isandlwana.

(3) Major Bengough with his battalion Native Contingent at Sand Spruit is to hold himself in readiness to cross the Buffalo at the shortest possible notice to operate against the Chief Matyana. His wagons will cross at Rorke's Drift.

(4) Information is requested as to the ford where the above battalion can cross so as to co operate with no. 3 column in clearing the country occupied by the chief Matyana.

The "above battalion" implies Bengough not Durnford.

There is no mention that Bengoughs wagons are to accompany Durnford.
Durnford had been ordered to Rorke's Drift. No more, no less. (My words)

Crealock's order to Durnford on the morning of the 22nd states "You are to march to this camp at once......"
"This camp" could only be Isandlwana as the camp at Mangeni was not yet established.

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Mel
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Keith Smith


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 540
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Mel

I find your post most interesting but, having done a quick search of my files, I don't seem to have Chelmsford's order of 19 January complete. I have two references to it, however, with some of the order:

'One of Colonel Durnford’s regiments will cross the river from the Sandspruit Valley, whilst his mounted natives will co-operate with us from Rorke’s Drift, where they will be to-morrow (20th).' (C. 2260, p. 16)

I would be grateful to hear where the actual order may be found, when I might be able to comment on what you have already written.

KIS
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Mel


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
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Keith
The order I refer to is the written order signed by Major Spalding on the 19th and sent to Durnford at Helpmekaar.
Julian shows an image of the original order on page 6 of his "Studies" volume 1.
This order forms part of the Durnford Papers, file no. 4901-44/1.


It has been discussed on this forum how, upon arriving at Isandlwana, Durnford was of the mindset that he was just "passing through".

However, I cannot see anything in the orders of the 19th or 22nd which states that he should have reported for further orders other than at Isandlwana camp.

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Mel
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Keith Smith


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
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Mel
Thank you for your pointer to the source of the order, which I have now found, badly filed, in my own database.

This order must be read within the context of the series of orders received from Chelmsford by Durnford over a number of days. The first of these was on 8 January, and the pertinent passage reads as follows:

On receipt of this Memorandum you will at once remove your two strongest regiments to Sand Spruit Valley, and take up such a position as will best ensure the protection of the Natal border from raids made across the Buffalo River between Sand Spruit and the junction of the Buffalo and Tugela rivers.
Should you consider that a counter-move across the Buffalo River will be efficacious in preventing an inroad of Zulus into Natal, you are at perfect liberty to make it, but with the understanding that it is made with a purely defensive purpose, and that the force making it returns to its former position on completion of the duty entrusted to it.
About 50 horsemen should be left with the battalion at Middle Drift, the remainder should accompany the two regiments. (BPP C. 2242, Encl. 3 in No. 9.)

The next order was delivered personally to Durnford when the latter visited Chelmsford on 11 January at Rorke’s Drift, the general having just returned from a meeting with Colonel Wood. In a report to Frere, Chelmsford wrote:

6. Colonel Durnford, R.E., commanding No. 2 Column met me on my return to camp, as he wished personally to report on certain matters connected with his command. He informed me the country to his front was quite quiet, the women and old people in their kraals, but the army with the King. This information is confined [sic=confirmed] up to date.

I directed this officer to move one of his three battalions [Bengough’s] to watch, and eventually cross at the gates of Natal between Rorke’s Drift and the Umsinga Mountain, while he and the mounted men and rocket battery were to join me with No. 3 Column. I directed the remaining two battalions to cross at Middledrift, as soon as Colonel Pearson with No. 1 Column had reached Ekowe. (BPP C. 2242, Encl. 8 in No. 20.)

Despite two orders to move up to Sand Spruit, on 13 January Durnford and his 1st Regiment NNC were still at Kranskop. It was on this day that Durnford decided to use the second paragraph of his 8 January order as the justification for taking part of his force down to the Middle Drift to cross into Zululand, only to be warned against such an action by an eleventh-hour note from Chelmsford. Thus came Chelmsford’s furious excoriation of Durnford, and his threat to sack him if such an action was repeated.

On 17 January, Durnford finally marched out of Kranskop for Sand Spruit with three companies of the 1st Battalion (now combined into two under Nourse and Stafford) Major Bengough’s 2nd Battalion, five of the six troops of the Natal Native Mounted Contingent and the Rocket Battery, arriving there on the following day. (The rest of the 1st Regiment, consisting of seven companies of the 1st Battalion, the 3rd Battalion, and a single troop of NNMC, remained at Kranskop under the command of Durnford’s Staff Officer, Captain Geoffry Barton.)

Chelmsford’s next order to Durnford was dated 19 January and read as follows:

1. You are requested to move the troops under your immediate command, viz. mounted men, rocket battery and Sikali’s men to Rourke’s [sic] Drift tomorrow t[he] 20th inst., and to encamp on the left bank of the Buffalo (in Zululand).
2. No. 3 Column moves tomorrow to the Isandhlana [sic] Hill.
3. Major Bengough with his battalion [N.N.] Contingent at Sand Spruit [is to hold] himself in readiness [to cross the] Buff[al]o at the shortest [possible notice to] operate against [the Chief Matyana] &c. His wag[gons] [will cross at Rour]ke’s Drift.
4. [Information is requ]ested as to t[he] for[d whe]re the above battalion can best cross, so as to co-operate with No. 3 Column in clearing the country occupied by the Chief Matyana. (RE Museum, Chatham, (A31) 4901.44.1a. File 4901.44 was badly damaged when it was found by David Jackson and Julian Whybra, the lost words in this order being reconstructed in square brackets.)

Durnford left Bengough at Sand Spruit so that he might cross the river as previously ordered, and continued to Rorke’s Drift, arriving there on the 20th.

Perhaps I should now comment on Mel’s queries.
1. While the order of 19 January did not state that Durnford was to ‘co-operate with No. 3 Column’, the order of 11 January most certainly did.
2. The order of the 19th actually states: ‘His wag[gons] [will cross at Rour]ke’s Drift.’ This must refer to Bengough’s wagons, since it comes at the end of the paragraph containing Bengough’s instructions. On that basis, one must assume that there was an intention that Bengough would later join the 3rd Column under Chelmsford.

I wonder, Mel, if you tried to read too much into what Julian had to say? I’m sorry if this has been too long-winded.

KIS
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Mel


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
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Keith
Thanks for that information.

However, orders can be ammended or changed by further orders.
I was just wondering how Chelmsford now viewed Durnfords role following his (Durnfords) hasty decision to move his troops over the border on the 14th in responce to Bishop Schreuder's letter.

The orders of the 19th and 22nd indicate that Chelmsford was now keeping very tight control on Durnford and not giving him the latitude to "co operate" as, perhaps, originally intended. In other words, Durnford was now operating only under the direct orders of Chelmsford. The "co operation" element had now been removed.

Durnford, himself, thought that he had been left behind at Rorke's Drift, perhaps his co operation no longer required?

His orders on the 22nd were to report to the camp at Isandlwana. They certainly did not indicate, (as Bengoughs orders did) that he was required to co operate with No 3 column against the Matyana's.

How's the weather in your neck of the woods Keith? Not too hot I hope. Smile Like a few others, I'm trying to start some kind of discussion here to while away the miserable, cold, early dark evenings. I sometimes wish that I could hibernate.

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Mel
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Keith Smith


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
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Mel

Yes, I think the relationship between Chelmsford and Durnford changed dramatically after the latter's foray down to the Middle Drift. I'm sure you are correct in believing that Lord C. wanted to keep Durnford close to him to prevent any further headstrong actions. However, when summoned to Isandlwana he was still an independent commander of No. 2 Column and Chelmsford was already some 12 or 15 miles away when he arrived there, with no further orders. It seems that Durnford had learned nothing since 1873, or even in the last couple of weeks.

I quite approve of your attempt to get another intelligent thread going; there seems to have been quite a lack in recent times.

Whilst you freeze (or drown) in the old Dart, we here are having a very hot start to our summer, with temperatures reaching the mid 40s in some places and even here, on the north coast of NSW, today (Sunday) is promising about 32.

KIS
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Alan
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It's about 32 here. 32°F.

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Durnfords orders
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