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Music and the 24th's band
Julian whybra


Joined: 03 Sep 2005
Posts: 436
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On the old forum someone asked whether the regimental bands played on the march between RD and Isandhlwana. Dorehill's account records that this did happen.
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Paul Bryant-Quinn
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In his letter of 15.1.1879, this is how 312 Pte Owen Ellis describes the column on the march. I would be grateful to find out (a) if what he describes is accurate; and (b) any other references to descriptions of the same.

Many thanks,

Paul


[...] Yr ydym wedi cael ein trefnu fel hyn:—Yn gyntaf, y mae brawd Cetywayo, gyda 2000 o’i bobl wedi cael ei armio yn dda â rifles ac ammunition; yn ail, 500 o mounted men ar gefnau ceffylau gyda’u gynau ganddynt; yn drydydd, battery o’r Artillery, gyda chwech o ynau mawr, sef y [seven]-pounders; yn bedwerydd, 500 o’r Cape Mounted Police; yn bummed, 1-24th Regiment; yn chweched, 2-24th Regiment; a’r cwbl yn marchio y naill ar ol y llall fel y byddwch yn gweled y militia yn marchio, y naill gompany ar ol y llall.

[...] The order of march is like this: first, Cetshwayo’s brother with 2,000 of his men, well armed with rifles and ammunition; second, 500 mounted men with guns; third, an artillery battery of six big guns (that’s the [seven] pounders); fourth, 500 of the Cape Mounted Police; fifth, 1/24th Regiment; sixth, 2/24th Regiment; and all of them marching one after the other just like you see the militia marching, one company after the other.
Mike McCabe
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The interesting inference would appear to be that the named units were accompanied by, and guarded, their own wagons perhaps with the NNC (?) leading with the (presumably slower) main group of ox-drawn cargo wagons. These would also need the most physical effort to get them through any boggy or rocky patches.

The lighter mule/horse drawn wagons could more easily follow - exploiting or avoiding routes 'proven' or bogged-up by the ox wagons.

Surprising the guns being described as 'big' when they are actually very small. Presumably the date of 15 Jan refers to movement over the easier open spaces and with fairly long fields of fire and view.

MC McC
Paul Bryant-Quinn
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Thanks Mike.

Apologies - the translation was probably a bit too literal; *gwn mawr * [pl. *gynnau mawr* (= `big gun[s]')] is simply the Welsh idiom for *cannon*.

Paul
Mike Snook


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 130
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Paul,

The first to move off, and some way in advance of the main body, was Browne's 1st/3rd NNC who had a head start on everybody else as they were at the advanced camp on the Batshe. We know that there was a gap because Browne got to Isandlwana some way ahead of everybody else. But AW Cooper's Bn was not with Browne - so there were 1000 NNC further back which do not warrant a mention in Ellis.

So whilst Ellis is strictly speaking right to put the NNC (or least half of them) at the head of the move, I think his description is less than literal. From personal experience, a soldier writing home tends to simplify military matters for his family's comprehension, and so we have to be careful as historians about taking 'domestic' correspondence at face value. In other words, unless he as done it elsewhere in his correspondence, this is more an itemization of the army, an orbat, than an absolutely literal description of Mon 20 Jan.


You will know Paul that obviously his numerical estimates of the mounted contingents are way off course.

I think one of the interesting things about Ellis is his several references to the NNC being led by Cetshwayo's brother. To me this rather hints at a propaganda line put about the army - this is a just cause - Cestwayo is a despot - so much so chaps that one of his brothers is in our army. This will be a breeze. If fits in nicely with one of Curling's letters in advance of Isandlwana which spretty much says this is going to be a doddle.



Regards

Mike
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Paul Bryant-Quinn
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Mike S

Thanks for that. I was aware that Ellis's numerical estimates were rather iffy (here and elsewhere, numbers don't appear to be his forte!); so should I take it that the rest of his `order of march' has no basis in fact either?

Cetshwayo's brother: I have been working on the assumption that this is a reference to Sikhotha kaMpande, whom Chelmsford himself writes about as having `accompanied the contingent' for a while [letter to Sir Henry Bulwer, 4.3.1879], although the induna Ellis mentions in his letters may not have been Sikhotha himself, of course. But although Sikhotha and Mkhungo were full brothers to Mbuyazi and not Cetshwayo - Ellis could hardly be expected to be aware of this - could it not have been the case that the 24th men were at least vaguely aware of the connection between the iziGqoza contingent in 1/3rd NNC and their enmity toward Cetshwayo following the succession struggle of 1856?

As regards the propaganda aspect about Cetshwayo's `despotism' and the justice of the war itself, surely that was a line which was being fed to the men until the very end? You will remember that in a letter home, Pte Edward Hughes, E Coy 1/24 (and he only reached South Africa on 8 April), stated that `... So ended the battle of Ulundi, and with it Cetywayo's power over his people'.

Paul
Keith Smith


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 540
Location: Northern NSW, Australia
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Paul

Sikhotha kaMpande, Cetshwayo's half-brother, did indeed march with the 3rd Regiment NNC.
KIS
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Paul Bryant-Quinn
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Thanks as always, Keith: would you be kind enough to let me have the source for that? Also, do you know where Sikhotha was on the 22nd?

Paul
Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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Mike/Paul

Are we talking about the same march here - with regard to the respective order of the units on the march, that is?

Ellis wrote on the 15th, as did others. Were they actually on the march to Isandlwana on the 15th? Was Ellis describing the positions of the various units on the 15th itself, or perhaps even their position as they had crossed the Buffalo a few days earlier, or what? Surely not their position in the column's final march towards Isandlwana, which I understood took place on the 20th? Would Ellis have known that in advance? Were they strung out along the track in the same positions on the 15th in which they advanced on the 20th? Or were they "in camp" - several letters written on 15th are marked "Rorke's Drift", which I assume to be the large camp set up on the Zulu side as they settled down after the Sihayo business and the pioneers worked on the track.

Am I wrong to assume that during the week-long work on the track repairs, most of the column was fairly stationary and still within shouting distance (or within a mile or two) of the R/Drift crossing point? So that when some soldiers wrote on the 15th, they were not - and not even about to be - on the final march to Isandlwana. I have always understood that the actual main thrust of the whole column towards Isandlwana was on the 20th, with the stragglers arriving on the 21st.

So can we assume Ellis's letter describes the order of march upon Isandlwana itself - or not? Mike Snook's description above is presumably of the order of units as they moved off on the 20th, perhaps not the same arrangements as Ellis was describing (inaccuracies in Ellis's description notwithstanding). So could the question of the band playing refer to the 20th or one of the earlier days.

With regard to Cetshwayo's half-brothers, it was fairly well known within the invasion force that they were there or were represented, although whether all the ORs knew this, who knows? Among the various sources for this (there are several I think) Norris Newman, I believe, mentions them, but I can't check today. Although we'd call them half-brothers, I believe in Zulu culture they were considered the same as full brothers. Sikhotha served in the column but Mkhungo was too fat & arranged a substitute.

Peter
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Mike Snook


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 130
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Peter

You are quite right - I overlooked the date of the letter and thought we were talking about the move upcountry on Mon 20th, which as you rightly say Ellis would not have known about that far in advance as the decision to move had yet not been taken by Lord C. Nor as you rightly say had they been marching anywhere of late, other than down from the Biggarsberg to the river, which presumably is what Ellis is talking about - but Paul is the expert there. Don't know if anybody else has seen one, but I can't immediately recall any source which describes the order of march on that move.

My remarks on domestic correspondence and treading carefully about taking soldiers too literally though, still stand. In this particular case the move upcountry to the frontier and Helpmekaar was not conducted en masse. So he must be talking about Helpmekaar to Rorke's Drift, which with the front face of the Biggarsberg intervening and so many wagons to worry about can hardly have been the nice orderly procession he describes - I would suspect he is more interested in conveying some feel for the orbat rather than the scene around him.

Regards

M


Last edited by Mike Snook on Wed Nov 09, 2005 11:35 am; edited 1 time in total
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Peter Ewart


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

Paul: Harford (which I don't have) & Noggs.

See also the thread which I started on the old forum under "Mkhungo kaMpande" dated 3rd Jan 2003 for a very helpful contribution from Dave Nolan. I've since come across other sources in missionary works which allude to these two brothers and their families, but am not confident of being able to turn them up easily!

Peter
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Keith Smith


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 540
Location: Northern NSW, Australia
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Paul

The evidence for Sikhotha being with the NNC is, as Peter E. says above, Harford's Journal (ed. Child), p. 12: 'Accompanying the Contingent, by permission of the Authorities, as lookers-on or Native Staff, we had two of Cetewayo's brothers, Umkungu and Isikota'. Norris-Newman (p. 22,) says 'Umkungo, the eldest, was not there himself, being too corpulent to march far, but his son was there in his place. The other brother, Isikotu, accompanied his men into camp, and was on ther Staff of the Commandant [Lonsdale]'.

On the 22nd, Sikotha was at Isandlwana, from which he escaped. See H.C. Lugg, 'A Natal Family Looks Back, p. 25: ' Chief Gabangaye of the Chunu tribe [son of Pakade], accompanied by Cetshwayo's brother, Sikhotha, who had previously fled into Natal from Zululand, was also present, the former with a number of levies [NNC]. When Sikhotha saw that all was lost, he advised Gabangaye to flee with him, but the latter refused saying that he wished to see what his Mbungulu, or regiment of bugs, could do. Sikhotha, being recognised, was allowed to ride away unharmed, but Gabangaye, not being known, was killed' [with his brother Mbonjana].
KIS
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Paul Bryant-Quinn
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In your debt, Keith.

Harford's reference to Mkhungo and Sikhotha as Cetshwayo's 'brothers' may, perhaps, be echoed in Owen Ellis's use of the term; and it could indeed have been that it was Sikhotha whom he saw and described in his letter of 15 January.

Paul
Keith Smith


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 540
Location: Northern NSW, Australia
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Paul

Just a brief postscript on Sikhotha and his contribution; it was really quite small in the overall numbers of the 3rd Regiment NNC.

Name of Chief Where Located No. of men
Umkungo Weenen County 300
Pakade Mooi River 600
Umganu Sunday’s River/Tugela 600
Udomba Weenen 500
2000
Mkhungo, being the older brother, is mentioned alone above but the 300 included Sikhotha. (Source: General Order No. 227 dated 17th December, 1878, Times of Natal, 20th December, 1878. See also Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository, CSO 666 No. 4566 and CSO 670 No. 4536.)

These men were assigned to the three Izigqoza companies of what became Commandant George Hamilton-Browne's 1st Battalion of the regiment, of which he himself boasted. (See Hamilton-Browne, A Lost Legionary, p. 106f.)
KIS
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Paul Bryant-Quinn
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Keith

Following a tip from Julian, I've been comparing Hamilton-Browne's account with Lieut. Maxwell's campaign diary published in the Natal Witness. H-Browne refers to Zulu coys, one under its induna Mvubi ('Umvubie'), who were with him out on the plain on the 22nd. Do you know to which coys he is referring, and which was at Isandlwana with Sikhotha? Was it the one commanded by Capt. Murray?

Paul
Music and the 24th's band
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