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HARMAN
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John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
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Peter H.,

You're missing something that big bold wording on that headline UNCONFIRMED!

The Guardian what can you expect?

John Y.
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JY
No I didn't like I said scenario Wink
Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
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Essex does say that Dyson's section was 500 yards away from the rest of Cavaye's command with Mostyn's company between. At risk of nit picking, I'd call that "several" hundred yards rather than "a few". What evidence is there to suggest that Dyson's section made it down the spur?

Mostyn made a request to Essex to carry a message ahead to Cavaye that he (Mostyn) was bringing up his company to support Cavaye's and was intending to place it on Cavaye's left, but that Cavaye should take care "not to endanger his (Mostyn's) right". What did Mostyn consider that Cavaye could do that might imperil his own right? Was he concerned that Cavaye might initiate (ordered or at his own discretion, whatever) a retirement and thereby leave the right of his own command momentarily exposed? Is it possible that Mostyn and Cavaye both retired their companies in concert when the time came and left Dyson's section (unarguably to the left of Mostyn) momentarily exposed on the right? After all, Mostyn was concerned enough that such a eventuality could occur that he specifically warned Cavaye against allowing it to happen and Essex considered the request noteworthy enough to mention in an otherwise brief post mortem of the engagement.

It's just my opinion, but the Zulu right horn didn't have to intentionally attack Dyson's section-- he and his men might simply have had the misfortune to have been in the path of the Zulu after they made their turn to get behind the mountain. If we imagine a long line of trotting men, the leaders might pass well beyond a given point (in this case Dyson's position) before turning. The men following, however, are apt to gradually cut the corner progressively more sharply and eventually some or most of them will pass through that point which the leaders so assiduously avoided. It pretty much all hinges on exactly where Dyson's section was located and that will never be definitively known. It seems as though I've given this too much thought! Sorry.
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Peter Quantrill
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Mike,
Cue Peter? Well of course we have debated this issue with vigour in the past, so I am definitely not going there again.It's all on record.
But much evidence hinges on Essex. I do think that Captain W.P.Symons very comprehensive account submitted to Queen Victoria and written, as we all know, in March/April '79, is worthy of re-quoting, and here I refer to page 32 of his report.( Original held at Brecon.)
" The movements of these two companies [ Mostyn and Cavaye] of the 24th do not quite agree with those given by Captain Essex 75th. His account, although most clear and circumstantial, is not the same as given by MANY OTHER [my capitals] survivors."
This in itself is a tragedy, for had Symons cared to expand and explain the differences in the Essex account, and that of 'many others,' we may have a much clearer picture of events on Tehelane Spur.Thus speculation, justifiably, will continue as to the complete accuracy of the Essex report; this coupled with specultion as to whether Symons was alluding to the movements of Mostyn, Cavaye and Dyson or was it some other aspect.
And of course we shall never know.
As ever,
Peter
diagralex


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 208
Location: Broomfield, Essex
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Peter correctly mentions that we have been down this road before. The evidence gathered by Captain Symons, who himself was not present, from survivors who also did not participate in the action on Tehelane spur, somehow differs from Captain Essex's report.
Perhaps we should consider in addition to his official report, the details of a personal letter which he wrote home to his mother after the battle. He states that :-
"On arriving at the top I saw the company in extended order firing on a long line of Zulus 800 yards distance. I had been living with the 1st battalion 24th and knew all the officers very well and the men knew me. I therefore acted as a company officer, directing the men what to fire at and not to waste their ammunition ".
This clearly indicates that he immediately became involved in the company action and did not observe it from a safe distance. He continues:-
"About 12.30 the adjutant of the 1st battalion 24th arrived on the hill with an order for the line to retire......... I assisted him in calling in the line and went with the two companies down the hill"
He cannot be more definite with this last statement. There is no mention of Dyson's or Cavaye's troops becoming isolated or destroyed by enemy action. They clearly left the spur intact and were accompanied all the way down by Captain Essex.
His letter was written to be read by his mother and he naturally expands the subject in greater detail than in his official report. In both though, it is clearly evident that the troops did leave the Tehelane spur and were reported to have done so, by a survivor of the action.

Graham
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Sapper Mason


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 333
Location: ANGLESEY
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Smile ,
As any old sweat will tell you Peter when at the ranges , controlled firing lessened the chances of weapons over-heating and jamming , Bill Cainan i believe has got it right and the average seems to be with all the previous input , 27 rounds per hour which is not excessive , due to the amount of rounds available a sustained discharge of the weapons would adhere itself to less jamming and they could afford to discharge weapons at a regular and controlled rate during those 12-13 hours .

Ian Knight in one of his books has the defender numbers at c 152 which match the ones i see as being there . Also , is it possible that a number of SPARE rifles may have been held at this makeshift stores ??? , we have had much debate about the Zulu bringing rifles from the fallen at Isandlwana earlier in the day .

The first 2 - 3 hours would have been frantic in the firing rate and with due respect to Donald Morris , he would have to have been there at Isandlwana to describe in so finite detail some of the things in his book ( Washing Of The Spears ) . At the end of the day it is now accepted i believe that there was but a box and a half of ammunition left at cessation of hostlities , do the sums and it bears out what Bill subscribes to .

I have controlled enough , " butt - parties " at the ranges to know that what we called , " glory bangs " ( rapid use of spare rounds ) usually resulted in over heated and jams , if there were spare rifles could some have been cooling down while others in use ? , just a thought . Once you have seen the ranges of Bisley in action as i did many times you know what controlled firing and over- heated weapons are all about . While not quite an Annie Oakley i did manage to put a group of 5 SLR rounds in the white area of the target at 200 yards ( grouping ) , at Rorke's Drift such niceties were not necessary , just a continuous barrage ( controlled ) over 12 - 13 hours with plenty of ammunition at hand .

Foot note : Had the Zulu mounted a few more attacks the remaining ammunition would have been expended in a very short time and the garrison over-run , but i think after 12 hours at being shot at and bayoneted i think most folk would say , " That`s me lot mate ! " ,

Sapper Cool
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rich


Joined: 01 May 2008
Posts: 897
Location: Long Island NY USA
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Bill:

Earlier you noted that the Zulu carried a high proportion of firearms. Now
here's the thing. Either they were bad shots or the rifles they had were lousy. Does Mr. Knight in his Companion note perhaps why the Zulu didn't make so much headway in the utilization of rifle fire in their battles? I'd think that if they got things going in that area arguably Zulu/British battle might've had different outcomes in some cases.

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William Seymour


Joined: 07 Mar 2007
Posts: 79
Location: Kent, UK
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Sir

JY wrote "The Guardian what can you expect?"

What exactly are you infurring to about our revered Grauniad?

Disgusted, of Tunbridge Wells. Shocked
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Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 1179
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I have repeatedly read that the Zulus misunderstood the operation of the sights. They appeared to have the misapprehension that adjusting the sights to the maximum made the rifle somehow shoot "harder", obviously a desirable quality no matter what the distance to the target were it true. Misguided, I'll admit, but actually a clever theory.

Having and using a firearm presupposes that it will be maintained as well and the Zulu were noted for neglecting this fundamental concept. And there have also been many references to the miserable powder that was palmed of on the unsophisticated buyers.

Bertrand Mitford mentions that much of the empty brass he picked up at Isandlwana in '83 had not actually been fired (unstruck primers). but rather opened, probably with a good set of teeth (ouch!) and the powder and lead removed to charge muzzle loaders. It must have been a neat trick to shape the lead unless they had access to molds. I can't imagine too many of the hand-shaped slugs flew very true.
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mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
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What Graham (diagralex) said.

Quite so. Essex was there; all other officers who had been in that vicinity were killed, Melvill, Cavaye, Mostyn, Anstey, Daly, Roberts, Shepstone, etc etc It is a very long and not entirely legitimate historical stretch even to suggest that Symons was talking in any way about Dyson or anything to do with Dyson. He is not a primary source and he cannot be quoting witnesses (all deceased) in respect of that part of the action. Essex on the other hand was there.

What the other Graham (Sapper) said:

Non. In fact the number of unopened boxes left was 6 (source is Bourne) i.e. 3600 rounds. Additionally the men's pouches had been fully re-charged prior to that, and after the heavy fighting had ended. There were probably therefore 12,000+ rounds left in all - or enough to fight half the whole battle all over again. It is in urban myth that ammunition was in short supply at the end. What was in short supply was members of the Undi Corps.

The Defence of Rorke's Drift Graham was a terrifying ordeal and a stiff fight, but it was not by any means 'a near run thing' - save in one vital environmental (rather than military) detail - and that is the degree of dampness in the storehouse thatch. Only if the storehouse had caught fire too, could the battle have been lost. The secret to understanding the action is not to see the scene through the eyes of a defender looking out, but through the eyes of a lone Zulu looking in.

What Saw said.

Cut the corner? There is a socking great ridge in the way (on which Dyson was positioned), which is precisely why the Zulus steered wide through the low ground (valley/reentrant floor) at speed for the British rear.

Regards

Mike
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Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
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Regarding the "socking great ridge": Has anyone found a good topographic map of the area immediately surrounding Isandlwana? Something with detail and resolution high enough to provide an good sense of "the lay of the land" when guesstimating the movements of small and large groups of combatants? Is there an equivalent of the Geodetic Survey in South Africa in general and that KZN in particular?
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Neil Aspinshaw


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 289
Location: Loughborough
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Rich.
Bill is entirely correct, the three factors into making good shooting is understanding not only how to aim, but range judgement, windage, and trajectory.

Did a Zulu know what 400 yards as distance actually was, or the potential alien markings on the sight ladder were. If he simply pointed and fired the chance of hitting anything with a smoothbored rifle at anything over 100 yarts is practically nil. the ball will simply hit the floor and ricochet into the sky. (the same could be said of a Mk111 Snider carbine..but thats another story).

With any rifled firearm of the time, i.e all black powder, unless your leaf sight is set a 300 yards which is approx Zeroed, you will hit a potential 6ft target somewhere if the range is 200-400 yards providing your aim is true, closer and the bullet will fly over, further away and a head shot will become a groin shot. (A la Allen).

A smootbore at anything over 200 yards will give a potential 6ft cone of deviance,unless the ball is very tight fitting, and round, if it has a flat spot (the sprue,or flat area left by the mould hole) will cause it to vere all over the place. Doubtfull the Zulu had access to swaged, or pressed bullets. I was offered some zulu "Musket Balls" at Khambula, in fact they were shrapnell or canister rounds, which were pressed in a swaging machine, the lack of a sprue is the giveaway. (Is that the sound of collectors, racing to their cabinets now to see if that musket ball they bought from Isandlwana is actually a N5 Battery case round!...).

The firewerm technology of the time is light years from todays shooters experience.

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Jamie


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 149
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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Sawubona wrote:
Regarding the "socking great ridge": Has anyone found a good topographic map of the area immediately surrounding Isandlwana? Something with detail and resolution high enough to provide an good sense of "the lay of the land" when guesstimating the movements of small and large groups of combatants? Is there an equivalent of the Geodetic Survey in South Africa in general and that KZN in particular?


http://www.isandlwana1879.co.uk/index_files/Page2222.htm

Follow this link.

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HARMAN
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Ian Beckett's Isandhlwana 1879 Review By: Ian Knight

Is it really true, for example, that 2nd Lt. ‘Dyson’s section [of the 1/24th] was overwhelmed at a very early stage’ of the battle? This view is based on observations of a particular burial cairn carried out by the late George Chadwick, apparently in the 1970s. Yet the exact position of this cairn cannot now be ascertained – that part of the battlefield having been heavily disturbed – which makes it difficult to locate its context within the broader course of the battle. Moreover, Mr Chadwick himself was clearly wary of drawing too many conclusions from this cairn, for while it did indeed contain remains consistent with British dead, he was careful to note that ‘This does not necessarily indicate heavy casualties at these points’. The only evidence from survivors’ sources is even less ambiguous; Captain Essex, who took the order to Dyson’s section to withdraw from the ridge, merely noted that the Zulus ‘rushed forward as soon as our men disappeared below the crest’ – a phrase which does not suggest any direct conflict.
There is, moreover, a complete absence of direct Zulu evidence from any warrior who claimed to have attacked Dyson’s section on the ridge – despite intense rivalry among the Zulu amabutho to claim the honour of being the first to ‘stab’ the white men.

P H : "Its one of those cases where we will never really know".
Based on 25,000 rounds fired. (Don't think so)
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