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Cpl William Cotter- 17th Lancers.
Jeremy Reynolds


Joined: 11 Jun 2006
Posts: 18
Location: Cornwall
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Hi Guys.
Could anyone let me know if Cpl. W. Cotter would have been
carrying his lance with him, bearing in mind that he was the solitary Lancer on that fatefull day as escort to Lt. Scott Douglas of the 21st Regt.
Cotter was also orderly to the Lt., so was not I presume serving with the
Lancer squadrons.
Both men died after an attack by Zulu forces at the deserted
mission station of Kwamagwasa,while returning to camp after taking
an important message to Sir Garnet Wolseley from Lord Chelmsford,
due to poor weather the heliograph could not be used.
Thanks.
Jeremy.
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AMB


Joined: 07 Oct 2005
Posts: 897
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Jeremy,

I would suggest that as Cotter was away from his sqn, then he would not have carried a lance - just a sword and carbine.

AMB
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Cpl. William Cotter-17th Lancers.
Jeremy Reynolds


Joined: 11 Jun 2006
Posts: 18
Location: Cornwall
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Hi Guys.
Found interesting piece in Ian Knight/Ian Castle book Zulu War Then
and Now, which states by the Graphic of the time that the body of the Lancer
[Cotter] was still in its uniform, the only piece of equipment missing was the
Lancer`s helmet,the lance was also there in one piece.
Myself I find it strange that Cpl. Cotter would have taken his lance
considering the duty he was on that day? Surely a lance is at its most effective best when used in a squadron charge and not on its own? Perhaps
because it was a part of his kit he was obliged to carry it with him what
ever duty he was carrying out?
Jeremy.
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Peter Quantrill
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Please see Zulu Vanquished pages 232/3 that gives a detailed description of events leading to their deaths.
It would seem that Cotter was carrying his lance.
" Cotter's corporal stripes, together with his good conduct badge and lance pennant were sent to his mother, accompanied by a personal letter of sympathy from Wood."
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Wouldn't the lance, if fitted with a pennant, stand out, when in the open, as they were carried vertically were they not ?

I can't recall a lance's length, but it would be inconvenient if trying to maintain a low-profile, if either a solitary rider, or one of very few.

Not important point, I guess.

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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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If I recall correctly, they weren't too worried about being seen as they had intended to return in haste the way they'd (safely) come, rather than stay the night and return in the morning, as advised. They lost their way in the dark or mist, however, after taking a wrong turning at a fork, and no doubt stumbled upon a stray party.

Peter
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Cpl William Cotter- 17th Lancers
Jeremy Reynolds


Joined: 11 Jun 2006
Posts: 18
Location: Cornwall
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Why was Cpl. Cotters helmet missing? yet his lance was found at the scene
of the fight intact,one can only assume that the foreign service helmet was
taken by one of the Zulu warriors,yet I would have thought that the lance
would also have made a splendid trophy,perhaps the Zulu the two British
soldiers encountered were on their way to join up with the main impi at
Ulundi and didn`t want to be encumbered with unwieldly prizes like a lance
which was 9ft in length. My theory may be completely wrong,someone else
may know different.
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Jeremy

I think the lance would have been cumbersome to the fast-moving warriors.

If it was a chance encounter, and the Zulus were wanting something of the dead lancer, which they preferred to wear instead of carry, the helmet may have been selected, especially if they weren't willing to 'hang around' attempting to remove clothing, such as the tunic, etc.

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Cpl William Cotter- 17th Lancers
Jeremy Reynolds


Joined: 11 Jun 2006
Posts: 18
Location: Cornwall
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Coll.
I agree very much with your comments, yet the Graphic states that
the body ot Lt. Scott Douglas was and I quote "partially dressed",so I
guess some warriors did take the time for souvenir hunting, more so on
Scott Douglas than Cotter but they obviousley were not interested in the
Lt`s revolver or purse as these items were found near to his body. It may
be if Scott Douglas was wearing a scarlet tunic as opposed to a blue patrol
jacket this may be one reason why his body received more attention than
Cotter`s, which would have been wearing a dark blue Lancers uniform, I
don`t know at this late stage of the war whether the Zulus were still using
the red jacket theory or now saw anyone wearing a uniform their enemy
and trying to steal their country.
The unifom theory goes well out the window if the officer was wearing
a blue patrol jacket of course, probably something we will never know, if
anyone has any other thoughts please let me know.
It may be just a simple case of some warriors wanted a souvenir others
had more pressing business to attend to!
Jeremy.
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Peter Quantrill
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Jeremy,
Thought you may be interested in the full text of Brigadier General Evelyn Wood's letter to Mrs. Cotter, dated 7th July 1879, which was addressed to her, care of The Inspector Royal Irish Constabulary, City of Cork.
" Mrs.Cotter,
I deeply regret to have to announce to you the death of your son. The accomanying copy of my official report will show you all I know. So I saw by the(medal) found on your brave son's body that he was a Catholic. I sent for Father Bandry who buried him.
I have had a cross erected over the grave which was dug by soldiers of the 90th Light Infantry, my escort. I enclose herewith the Corporals stripes and good conduct badge which I had cut off his coat. One of his comrades had some of his buttons. I enclose also the flag from his lance.
I sympathise with your loss and,
I am
Yours truly,"
Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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Peter

Interesting. And I see from your ZV2 that Scott Douglas's sword ended up in the USA! Presumably it's still in the museum at Dallas?

Although it is not difficult to imagine their coming across a largish Zulu force on their return journey and being overcome by numbers despite being on horseback, am I right in presuming that no account has survived of the episode (other than Norris Newman & Montague on the finding of the bodies?) In other words, presumably only a Zulu account can tell us anything of the engagement? Is there one, do you know? Morris specifically mentions an impi of 500 being involved, which is intriguing (or disconcertingly familiar!) but unless he came across a Zulu account - which he may well have done - he can only have been guessing about everything which happened between their departure and the discovery of their bodies, even though, obviously, much may be safely presumed. The Mac & Shad account is presumably based on 1879 press reports? As far as I can see, even the date of death is unknown, although presumably they'd have arrived safely if not killed within hours of their departure.

It is also not difficult to imagine their being surprised at coming across the church if they hadn't encountered it on the outward journey. At that stage it was in ruins but a wall or two remained vertical, as well as the bell tower. Virtually all the trees which had been planted in the previous 18 years were cut down by British troops, but probably just after the war.

Scott-Douglas' father appears to have paid for his son's memorial (surely Cotter's too?) and he also paid for some of the rebuilding work of the church school during 1880, as the cost of cementing the unfired brick walls of the new little building (thereby enabling it to be painted) was met by him - perhaps from the residue of the cost of the memorials? The site was briefly abandoned again during the civil war but the graves clearly came to no harm. It seems likely that the mission staff kept an eye on them for many years afterwards, although I've only ever come across a couple of brief references to them in missionary sources.

Peter
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Cpl William Cotter- 17th Lancers
Jeremy Reynolds


Joined: 11 Jun 2006
Posts: 18
Location: Cornwall
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Hi Guys,
Does anyone have any thoughts or ideas on why Cpl. Cotter
would have been used as Lt. Scott Douglas`s orderley and not a private
or lance corporal/corporal from an infantry regiment and would his duties
have been the same as what is generally known as an officers batman or
something completley different?
Appologies to everyone if I`m boring you by going on about William
Cotter,I guess he`s not had so much interest shown in him since 1879.
Regards
Jeremy.
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John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 982
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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Jeremy,

Lt. Scott Douglas was actually on detached service from 2nd/21st R.N.B.F. and serving as Chief of Signalling Staff for Newdigate's IInd Division.

At the time of his death 2nd/21st R.N.B.F. didn't have a Mounted Infantry company, which might account for the reason for Corporal 1704 William Cotter being assigned as an orderly, as Scott Douglas' duties would have been required him to be mounted.

According to my 19th century dictionary an orderly is 'one concerned with carrying out orders.' Whereas a batman '(mil.) a Originally one who looked after the baggage; b now an officer's servant generally.'

Given that I would personally conclude that Cotter was on a par with an infantry 'runner', rather than Scott Douglas' soldier servant.

John Y.
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Peter Quantrill
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Peter,
It would be reasonable to assume that Scott Douglas and Cotter were killed during the night of 30 June. Having inadvertidly taken the wrong turning that led to KwaMagwaza, they would have continued on that path, unaware of their error. That journey would not have taken more than a few hours or so, where presumably they bumped the Zulus who were resting up for the night.
Wood's letter to Mrs Cotter, was incidentally wriiten from KwaMagwaza.
I am not aware of any Zulu primary source relating to the matter.
We tried to ascertain the current whereabouts of Scott Douglas' sword. From our inquiries, the Gallerie d'Afrique , Dallas,seems no longer to be in existence. (The original advertisement revealing the existence of the sword was dated 1972.) If so, where is the sword? Perhaps one of our American friends can throw some light on the Gallerie d'Afrique?
Michael Boyle


Joined: 12 Dec 2005
Posts: 595
Location: Bucks County,PA,US
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Peter,

I lived in Dallas in '78/'79 and recall no Gallerie d'Afrique at that time. The possibility exists that their collection could have ended up in the Dallas Museum of Art, the African American Museum or The Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University. Of course it could have just as likely been sold off piece-meal. I should finally be returning home in another week or so and will give it a shot then. However my track record is none too good at finding lost A-ZW artifacts, having managed to trace the two lost guns of Isandhlwana to a private dealer in West Virginia only to be brought up short at the last minute.

John's last post got me curious so I looked some terms up in The Military Encyclopaedia... By J.H. Stocqueler, Esq., 1853 -

"Bat, a pack saddle.
Bat-Horse, a baggage horse, which bears the bat or pack.
Bat-Man, a servant in charge of bat-horses. At present it usually means a soldier from the ranks allowed to act as servant to an officer.

Orderly Book,--Every company has such a book, in which the serjeants write down both general and regimental orders, for the specific information of the officers and men, This book is provided and paid for by the captains of companies.
Orderly Officer, the officer of the day.
Orderly Room, a room in barracks, used as the public office of a regiment.
Orderly Serjeant, and Orderly Men, are those soldiers appointed to attend those general or other officers who are entitled to have them. They are usually called orderlies.

Military Messengers, a class superior to orderly men, consisting of confidential persons, that are sent to and from head-quarters, &tc.
"

Best

Michael
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Cpl William Cotter- 17th Lancers.
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