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Keith Smith


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 540
Location: Northern NSW, Australia
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I have thus far refrained from entering this debate because I wanted to see what arguments our two colonels would put forth. (Welcome back to Mike McCabe, by the way, in his own write!) It seems that at least one of these two gentlemen may be resiling from the TWOTS orthodoxy so long prevailing in secondary accounts of Isandlwana since 1965. In view of the kind comments from those who have read my paper Discovery of the Zulu Impi, perhaps you would allow me to set out my position when it was written in 2004 (and published in JAZWHS in December of that year).
In May 2002, I was in KwaZulu-Natal for my second visit and on 2 May I met Ron Lock for the first time at the home of Nicky van der Heyde. There Ron told me about his (and Peter Q’s) forthcoming publication of Zulu Victory, which was published later that year. He laid out for me their contention that the battle of Isandlwana actually began in the very early morning of 22 January, when two pickets were driven from their posts very shortly after having arrived at them. Those posts, despite attempts by Lieutenant F.J.D. Scott, commanding the pickets, were not recovered. L & Q argued from this that the battle began at that time. My own response in Discovery was:

From this point, Lock and Quantrill’s thesis that the battle had begun founders on its biggest problem. Apart from movements observed from the camp that caused the troops to stand-to on two occasions, the battle proper did not commence until about noon. Why, if Ntshingwayo now had the initiative, did he not then continue his attack, rather than waiting for another five hours?

This was, of course, the catalyst for L & Q’s paper on The Missing Five Hours, which seems to have been under constant revision ever since.
The purpose of my Discovery paper was quite simple: from a close examination of the evidence, I became convinced that the discovery of the Zulu army did not take place on the lip of the Ngwebeni ravine, as espoused by Morris, and I was greatly irritated that so many able scholars of the Zulu War had followed him like lemmings to a cliff. It seemed that no-one looked past him towards the primary evidence:

The Zulu plan, I now [believed], was to more closely invest the camp by moving out of the Ngwebeni Valley to occupy the newly-created dead ground east of iThusi and its northward ridge until the early morning of the 23rd.

You will, I am sure, understand that this was quite a modest thesis, and was well-supported by the evidence. I think I have bored you long enough, but will give some thought towards taking the story of my researches further, in a second response.

KIS
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mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
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'The Zulu plan, I now [believed], was to more closely invest the camp by moving out of the Ngwebeni Valley to occupy the newly-created dead ground east of iThusi and its northward ridge until the early morning of the 23rd.'

Hmmmmm.

My Barbarossa moment perhaps. Ah well....in for a penny in for a pound. I'm sorry Keith but for very obvious reasons this is no less (militarily) untenable as a proposition than the Lock-Quantrill deliberate attack commencing at dawn postulation. In fact probably more so. Both hypotheses have the Zulu Army departing a brilliant place of concealment at ridiculously early times in order merely to hang around pointlessly. Your theory, Keith, (which I have just re-read), is flawed for reasons which are the mirror image of your justification for rejecting TMFH.

Only three models of commander's intent are possible:

1. Ntshingwayo always intended to attack at about midday on the 22nd, in which case the army was compromised as it was moving into position for that attack.

2. Ntshingwayo did not intend to attack until the 23rd and adhered to that intent, in which case the discovery (or imminent and inevitable) discovery took place at the army's brilliantly concealed bivouac site.

3. Ntshingwayo did not intend to attack until the 23rd, but changed his mind during the course of the morning, in which case the reason was because:

a. He concluded, or was possibly persuaded by other indunas, that parts of the army had compromised the main impi's presence during the 0930-ish false start and delaying until the morrow would surrender the initiative and harm the prospects of mounting a successful attack.

b. He learned during the course of the morning that the British force had divided.

c. Both of the above.

A fourth possibility exists to the effect that Ntshingwayo was in fact an inept military commander who really didn't know his posterior from his funny bone. Only if this were true could he move his assets about in such a way as to so badly mangle his management of time and space, as to conform with the Lock-Quantrill or Smith hypotheses.

Taking as read that nobody really believes that option 4 applies, any hypothesis which is irreconcilable with Commander's Intent Variants 1, 2 or 3 above ain't worth the paper it's written on.

Sorry chaps but there you are. Your theories have to reconcile commander's intent in a credible way in order for them to even begin to hold water.

Regards

Mike
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Mike McCabe


Joined: 05 Sep 2013
Posts: 20
Location: UK
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Being very willing to be thought boring on this point, I cast back to my earliest post on this in the belief that it would now be even better were we to break out this discussion into two distinct parts:
-TMFH1. Discussion of the PQ and RL Thinkpiece titled TMFH, which says what it says. And, in effect, has had its chance.
-TMFH2. The discussion that I think is now underway here, wherein 'Five Hours' should not really be taken literally (it would have an unfortunate skewing effect) and TMFH2 is more intended to conceptualise the period between first light and the start of close combat on the camp's extended perimeter. Though this roughly equates to 0500-1000hrs (+/-) its selection as a workframe serves to draw out useful points.
Problematically, any attempt at discussing TMFH2 does require some developed thinking on what happened in (roughly) the 12 hours preceding it. And, arguably, taking a measured view on how the Zulu Army moved forward after its overnight bivouac of 20/21 January.
MC McC
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Peter Quantrill
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" Thinkpiece titled TMFH, which says what it says. And, in effect, has had its chance."

The implication being, (if read correctly, otherwise apologies) is that 'it' (TMFH) has failed in its objective to seek acceptance. We do not believe that this is the case.

In addition,we have yet to respond to the question raised by Mel and will reply, in due course, under TMFH.

Peter
Mike McCabe


Joined: 05 Sep 2013
Posts: 20
Location: UK
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Peter,
My argument is that TMFH1 is a composed piece of work in its own right. If you like, a building block argument and thesis.
However, it neither benchmarks nor defines a much wider discussion and I don't think that you intended that it should. TMFH1, as is, finds support or it doesn't, and it's wiser and more helpful to continue with TMFH2 here.
I cannot answer for others here but I would think it very unlikely that this website could (or indeed should attempt to) provide a vehicle that somehow gave 'acceptance' to something. And, I would simply not agree with you - if it is your view - that your TMFH1 piece scopes or defines the potential totaility of broader discussion that should now develop on its own terms.
It (TMFH1) has, in effect, had its chances. Others would need to say how persuasive they did, or didn't, find it. but there have already been some eloquent silences if you look at the back trail.
TMFH1 doesn't 'own' the whole discussion and it should prove possible to discuss TMFH2 without being occupied by what TMFH1 does or doesn't say. This might seem a rather academic distinction to apply but I doubt whether there is much health in continued discussion that is just expected to indicate whether people agree with you and Ron, or not.
Mike
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Damian


Joined: 12 Aug 2007
Posts: 98
Location: Pietermaritzburg KZN
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TMFH sounds quite plausible to me.
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Peter Quantrill
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Mel,
You have asked to show how a deliberate first light attack developed to attack the camp on 22 January? I take it that we are agreed on the contents of Map 2, the Wood annotations, and his version of the battle? Wood’s exact words, quoted in TMFH but worth re-emphasizing:
“Next morning I conducted Sir Redvers [Buller] over the battlefield of Isandwhlwana(sic) which he had never seen, and we had the story told by combatants who took part in the fights: Englishmen of the Natal Police, by Basutos, by friendly Zulus fighting on our side, and by two or three mounted officers of Cetewayo’s (sic) army, which overwhelmed our forces. Their respective accounts tallied exactly; indeed it seems as if uneducated men who cannot write are more accurate in their description of events than are the Western nations.”
This surely makes Wood’s version of the battle more than plausible.
TMFH then used primary source material to show Zulu movements and sightings from virtually first light onwards. (Barker, Whitelaw, Bricckhill, Essex, Chard, Higginson, Hillier, et al.)
To more specifically address your question, it is common cause that the regiments moved into their ‘Assembly Area’ located in the deep Ngwebeni Valley. An excellent Assembly Area, hidden from any existing picquets or vedettes. Now the crisp question is, if they did not intend to attack on 22 January, they could and should have remained hidden in their Assembly Area throughout the day. They did not, why?
Clearly offensive action was intended: First by the aforementioned sightings; second, by a pre-planned move out of the ‘Assembly Area,’ into the area annotated by Wood. The regiments, all designated by Wood on Map 2, sourced again from the aforementioned, had been ordered to move out of the relatively safe Assembly Area and into pre-determined FUP’s or indeed ‘Start Lines’ in the valleys of the lower plateau; well hidden in dead ground from Magaga Knoll and iThusi hill. The discovery at point X is, despite Mike’s difference of opinion, is a ridge; primary source for the use of the word? Hamer, .......’we tried to capture some Cattle.They disappeared over a ridge.’ (Sorry to shout.) Next Nyanda, who stated, ‘All of a sudden, just as Mr. Shepstone joined me on the crest of a ridge.’ Well. certainly not ‘grass!’

Here is some interesting fresh material, ex- Chris from an earlier posting.
Adams, of the Buffalo Border Guard, was at Isandlwana and on vedette duty. Quote from Adams relating the story some years later.
“He told me that he[Adams] and his half-section when on vedette duty early on January 22, saw from a high hill overlooking a deep valley, [Qwabe? Unlikely to be the Ngwebeni as no known videttes posted that far?] saw the Zulu army, which he estimated to be between 25,000 and 30,000 being divided into two ‘horns’ to surround the camp at Isandhlwana.............They [Adams and ‘half-section’] immediately returned to camp and reported to an Imperial officer, who was still in bed in his tent. The man pooh poohed the idea that the Zulus would attack the camp. Adams said that when he and his half-section realised that practically no heed was being taken of what they had seen and reported, they made up their minds, that as soon as the Zulus attacked they would take the first opportunity to make a dash to escape. They did this together with others of the Border Guard.”
Adams may well have been talking of events some years later, but the essence of his memory and recollection of events is clear, namely the Zulu intent to do battler on the day and his direct report of his sighting being ignored.
In summary: First, the move out of the ‘Assembly Area,’ absolutely uncalled for unless driven by the need to attack that day. Second, the tactical movement into the very offensively sighted ‘Start Line.’
It can only be speculated that had Raw not made it to point X, what time had Ntshingwayo planned the ‘Advance to Contact?’ Late afternoon or that night? The right horn was already in position.
We shall never know, the sadness being that the British failed to interrogate Ntshingwayo post war. Pure conjecture – deliberate to avoid further embarrassment?

Peter
mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
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Peter

Evidently not a quote from Adams as you assert but from some third party recounting a conversation with Adams. Whose words are these? When and it what circumstances were they committed to paper? It is on these facts that historians will 'weight' the evidence, contextualise it and interpret it.

It may or may not be worth the paper it's written on - without the contextual background I reserve judgement. But it strikes me that, true to form, you take a perfectly valid description of what might well be the Mabaso/Ngwebeni feature and insist it has to be something else. It would be more appropriate and sustainable history to advance 'not Qwabe', as we know who the outermost vedettes were, that they were driven off by horsemen, and that they were unable to regain Qwabe when they took their officer back to look. But no....it can't be Mabaso/Ngwebeni because that doesn't fit with TMFH.

A 'half section' is likely to be a patrol. It is plainly not a vedette pair. Moreover the BBG was not on vedette duty; the Carbineers were. Thus, in order to have BBG on the high ground this event might well have occurred later in the morning than a first, uncontextualised reading might suggest. What if said imperial officer (unnamed perhaps because deceased I would conjecture) was Coghill? He was the only column staff officer left in camp and had been working all night. He might justifiably have turned in for a snooze later. Perhaps Chris would be kind enough to make this (secondary) source more widely available; in full and without breaks would be nice.

As to the rest of your most recent post, you once again attempt to dictate to a third party, in this case Mel, what he thinks; and suggest that it is in some way incredible that he could possibly disagree with you. I'm sure he will respond for himself but I was irritated enough on his behalf to observe how you try to sheep-dog people into your pen. 'Wood's version of the battle' (?!!) on which 'we are agreed' (I think not!): the former must have passed me by...unless you mean the substantially uncontextualised pencil marks on that map you seem so obsessed by. Don't you get that there is no evidence arising from the map that the Zulu regiments were positioned where the marks are from early morning. Even if the contact was at x, a point on which the annotator was manifestly uncertain, (vide 'I believe'), and even if the regiments were disposed as shown at the moment of contact, you have no way of knowing whether they had been at that location since six a.m. or since eleven-thirty a.m., or any point in between those two times for that matter. If they were disposed as shown at the moment of contact (unlikely, see my remarks on time and space), there is every possibility, as I have already explained, that they were there because Ntshingwayo changed his mind, or had his mind changed for him, about waiting for the 23rd on the grounds that the presence of the army had been compromised.

Once again you evade the key question. If a deliberate attack all along, why the long, long, long, long, delay in executing it. A commander will move his troops into position to attack (by occupying the forming up place or FUP) with as short an interval as possible between being ready and executing. It is a fundamental of the military art. If you tarry in the FUP you hugely magnify the likelihood of discovery and the consequent sacrifice of both surprise and the initiative.

Mike McCabe has suggested to you that there is merit in a wider discussion, which I personally think is a very sensible proposition. Alternatively you could type out 'Ron and I are right you fools', probably in block letters would be best, and then use your cut and paste tool to interpose the expression between all other contributions to the thread (Only joking).

Regards

Mike
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mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
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Further to my last, and subject to correction by Julian Whybra who is the guru on such things, there were eight members of the BBG present, 5 of whom survived. Whilst judgement remains reserved, I should say that my hunch is that the imperial officer in bed thing might well be a survivor's yarn designed to justify not dying. Doesn't necessarily mean the rest isn't true (or not!) Work out the double negatives in that sentence!

M
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Peter Quantrill
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Mike,
A somewhat abrasive response. I suggest that you let Mel give his views as my posting was in answer to his specific question, and how wrong to suggest that I was 'dictating' to him. What nonsense. Out of order and report to the Brigadier's Office 0830 tomorrow.
Suggest you contact Chris for the paper.
Half-Section in the context of Adams statement? You are wrong, Quote:
"He succeeded in getting clear ,but he never saw his half-section again - he was one of those who fell." So yes, in this instance, it was a vedette pair.
And of course much of his statement was told to a third party and published in The Cape Times in 1951. Yes, that long after the event, so it may not be worth the paper it was written on, but not all fiction, I suggest.
The five survivors are listed in Julian's work, 'England's Sons' page 179 in my copy. Both Adams and his son are mentioned as having survived.

Enough from me.
Peter
Peter Ewart


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

You won't be surprised at Mike's hesitation in accepting the reported anecdote involving Adams of the BBG as readily as you may have, mostly for the obvious reasons he includes above, and I suspect you, too, must immediately have wondered about the provenance and consequent reliability of the anecdote before using it to support TMFH. It may well (eventually) hold water and it may well (eventually) support your hypothesis, but I'm slightly surprised that you should use it without providing chapter & verse on its origin and provenance. I would have expected its comparative reliability to have been evaluated first as an absolute necessity before "launching " it, as - in its present state - it would surely have to be considered almost worthless.

At the risk of repeating one or two of Mike's points, I think there are a number of facts to be established as an essential first step before its use can even be considered:

1. Acknowledge that it is an apparently reported anecdote rather than a quote. The anecdote is from a third party, not Adams the claimed participant.

2. When was the anecdote reported? In what form does it survive - letter, other MS document, family or other oral tradition, published/printed account? Who is the third party?

3. The anecdote reports a claim made by Adams - when? Was it originally made in 1879, or a year or two afterwards, or in Adams' dotage, or when? There were a number of well known, evocative "memories" which surfaced in the Natal press in, for example, 1929 on the 50th anniversary (McPhaill, BBG etc) some of variable reliability. The longer the passing of time between January 1879 and the claim by Adams - let alone the later recounting of the anecdote - the rapidly less reliable it can be considered - as of course you'll know. It sounds fairly specific but if related many years later - perhaps repeatedly - it can have little value, especially as Adams or a third party had by then had access to any number of published accounts of the battle and/or had (quite naturally) discussed it with other colonists ad infinitum. Access to these accounts routinely corrupts eye-witness memories - unfortunate but a fact nevertheless.

4. Where is the source and what is its reference? A Natal library, university, KCAL, other SA repository, etc etc? Who recorded the anecdote? Who deposited it? When?

5. Does it form part of a wider collection? AZW related? Colonial life, etc? Why was it compiled or collected? Circumstances of the relating of the "quote" and recounting of the anecdote? Purpose, background & context (as already queried by Mike)? These are vital.

6. Has it been used before? Was Adams quoted at all in the published BBG works by Henderson, Laband & Thompson? I believe there were three named Adams in the BBG?

7. When these have all been established, its value can be considered. Was Adams reliable then - and later in life? Did he have an "axe to grind" (or an "agenda" as they say these days!)? How much was this (understandably perhaps) a colonist's anecdote (albeit by a survivor) falling into line with the standard colonial view in Natal after their losses at Isandlwana and Khambula (again, understandably)? Barker was another eye-witness to vital events who also had his reasons to be miffed but the reporting of his oral testimonies handed down the family betrays the general feeling of colonists towards the imperial forces (again perhaps justifiably in many cases). How many times did Adams natter to his BBG mates - in a 19th century equivalent of a MOTHS Shellhole perhaps? - during the years after 1879 before this anecdote surfaced?

8. I understand the surviving BBG men escaped by RD then Helpmekaar, a route which may support the idea of their early withdrawal.

9. The imperial officer "still in bed" may well have been Coghill, whether after a working night or because he was still resting up his gammy knee, able to ride but still finding it very difficult to walk unaided, as he himself recorded in writing that very morning. Perhaps he was on his cot rather than in it?

If you or Chris can come up with these points, or as many of them as possible (and quote from the anecdote in full - I appreciate you were abbreviating probably for space or relevance) it might be possible to evaluate the material more reliably. It may well eventually be in the interests of TMFH if you can do so, as at present it can't (in my opinion) be considered as a source of any sort at all.

Meanwhile, many thanks to you and Chris for passing it on.

Peter


Last edited by Peter Ewart on Tue Sep 17, 2013 8:00 pm; edited 2 times in total
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mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
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A tadge abrasive you are right, sir, for I fear I am driven to distraction by banging my head against an upright brick construction. I will reprimand myself and seek medical attention.

Regards

Mike
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Mel


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 345
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Ron L wrote:
Mel,


At 0700 hours Chelmsford and a small escourt had only recently arrived at Dartnell's bivouac whilst much of the column was yert to make the rendezvous. Chelmsford's column, with its cavalry was still a danger. The mounted infantry, volunteers and police could be ordered about turn and be back at the camp in less than an hour; a forced march by the artillery and guns was an equal danger. No, until Chelmsford's column was neutralised by luring it into the hills and valleys north of Mangeni, it would it would not be prudent to attack. So my contention is that Ntshingwayo held his hand until he was satisfied that Chelmsford was no longer a threat.

How did Ntshingwayo outgeneral Chelmsford? The simple answer is by winning the battle brought about in at least one instancae, by decoying Chelmsford into a wil'o'the wisp pursuit as mentioned above.


Ron.


Peter,
The only reason put forward, so far, for the delay in launching the Impi attack is described by Ron above. Do you concur with Ron's views including the decoy premise?

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Mel
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Mike McCabe


Joined: 05 Sep 2013
Posts: 20
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Peter (PQ),
You have written above:

"This surely makes Wood’s version of the battle more than plausible".

Where is this version provided? As far as we can determine safely Wood simply adds his fairly limited manuscript annotation to the maps - maps already showing the Zulu regimental layout and lines of advance.
There is no appearance of Wood providing a coherent E2E explanation of the battle here.

Mike
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Peter Quantrill
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Peter E.
You and Mike are correct. I was not at liberty to give any more information that was mentioned in my post. I have today, now obtained permission to release further details.
The newspaper page has a reference KCM 0217|1117. Cape Times November 17th '51.
The article is written by Thomas Henry Newmarch and it sub-titled, "Durnford Arrives.' It includes the quote I made.
Peter Newmarch's , Great Grandfather's brother was Thomas Newmarch and Peter has the relevant files on family matters during the period, including letters etc.
Peter lives in Durban North, virtually down the road from me and is now quite happy to release these details.
How did Thomas Newmarch get the data from Adams? Quote from the article:
"I was told this by Arthur Adams, a member of the Buffalo Border Guard who was present." [At Isandlwana.] The year 'told' is verified as 1886.
And of course its value still needs analysis.
Hope that this clarifies and helps.
Peter
Missing Five Hours
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