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Lt Melvill The 1/24th Flag Bearer At Isandhlwana

Joined: 22 Nov 2017
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In the next few weeks I hope to be acquiring a couple of books about the flag bearers of the Union and Confederate forces in the ACW, widely shown in paintings of the battles. At Isandlwana I know as Adjutant, Melvill was responsible for the Colour, but at no time was it unravelled and located in a chosen position, should the companies have to rally, meaning for all he was concerned about the camp earlier, nobody was assigned this task in the event the Zulus broke through, so the soldiers in the retreat had no point of reference where they could head for together, but fell back where they could, mostly as individual units. In these books, the blurb talks of when the person holding the flag falls another took his place and so forth, so it never lays on the ground out of sight, only in the case of the last extremity it has to be saved from the enemy's hands. Therefore, were the flags present at Isandlwana only meant as a sort of regimental ornament, rather than having the expected practical use, defeating the idea of being there to begin with if not to rally the troops

Last edited by Colin on Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:56 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Joined: 26 Feb 2007
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This is all theoretical and relies on the belief of the following account.

There is an account of the battle of Isandlwana, recounted by Muziwento (recorded by Swinney)

One line in particular grabbed my attention:-

"We were told also that there was a soldier at lsandlwana who carried a flag. He just waved it backwards and forwards. He fought not; he feared not (perhaps he put his trust in other soldiers)"

Given that the Queens Colours of 1/24th were cased with Melvill, the Regimental Colours elsewhere. So (if we believe the anecdote to be true) the only flags available were the Colours of the 2/24th (both of which were lost) and (maybe) one marking Lord Cís HQ.

As far as I know, no other Zulu account mentions flags and the only flag mentioned in British accounts is the one with Melvill.
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Lt Melvill The 1/24th Flag Bearer At Isandhlwana
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