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Kiwi Sapper


Joined: 05 Mar 2009
Posts: 125
Location: Middle Earth & Home of Narnia; (Auckland, New Zealand)
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I am sure that this has been well and truly "washed and hung out to dry" but my ability to find the thread and subsequent postings is not good. Sad

So, please, as the Victorian Music Hall chairman was prone to say, "for (my) edification and enjoyment", Smile could a kind soul point me to the thread where "What would the outcome have been at Rorke's Drift, if Bromhead had been senior to Chard" was discussed?

My thanks.

_________________
It was a confusion of ideas between him and one of the lions he was hunting in Kenya that had caused A. B. Spottsworth to make the obituary column. He thought the lion was dead, and the lion thought it wasn't.
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Peter Ewart


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

Not sure this question has ever been discussed before (unlike the command of another battle not a million miles away!) or if it has I've forgotten it.

My first thought is that nothing would have been very different - certainly not the outcome. The command of the post involved Bromhead as officer in command of B Coy (the vast majority once the NNC had skidaddled) & Chard in overall command with the skills & experience of a Royal Engineer and the fortunate advantages these brought. Their close liaison before & during the defence would surely have been little different if the other way round.

They each heard of the impending emergency separately but were very quickly in conference to plan their response, along with Dalton & Dunne etc. They quite properly discussed every possible alternative available, and although Dalton clearly outlined the advantage (or necessity) of remaining rather than fleeing, it is impossible to believe that the two lieutenants, faced with the choice they had, would not have come to the same conclusion after considering every possibility. Similarly, although Chard's engineering experience may have helped in the planning of the barricades, with Bromhead in charge the same ideas would have been forthcoming from Chard & Dalton, and the obvious presence of materials available for barricades could hardly have been missed by any one of them or the NCOs present, regardless of who was No 1 or No 2.

Other factors, such as the involvement & departure of Henderson's men, or the flight of the NNC, would presumably have occurred whoever was in charge. What may or may not have changed things was whether a concerted attempt had been made to ascertain what had happened to Spalding and the company expected from Helpmekaar - or what could be done to hurry them up or convey a sense of urgency. They still might not have got through however. If the "inner" partition of biscuit boxes, enabling the defenders later to reduce their perimeter was Chard's idea, then no doubt this move would still have been made on his advice as 2IC.

For myself, I think we can disregard the snide comments subsequently made in private correspondence by jealous officers who had experienced the shock and trauma of neither Isandlwana nor R/Drift. Accusations of post-battle laziness or dullness on the parts of Chard & Bromhead should surely be seen in context. One has only to look at the state of mind of the column commander, Glyn, during those next few weeks when comparing Chard's or Bromhead's alleged "inactivity." His own subsequent failure of leadership was catastrophic when Helpmekaar and R/Drift descended into a slough of despond during the rain, disease & inaction of late January, February & March.

Presumably Bromhead would not have been able to spend so much time fighting at the barricades had he been in charge. But I can't think of anything which might have been very different if No 1 had swapped with No 2, as it were , as it seems to have been something of a joint command anyway, with Dalton additionally involved in the practical planning of the defences. Two untried lieutenants proved to be competent enough when their big test arrived. If it had gone the other way I doubt if either could have been blamed.

Did you have any ideas? I've probably missed a lot!

Peter
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Kiwi Sapper


Joined: 05 Mar 2009
Posts: 125
Location: Middle Earth & Home of Narnia; (Auckland, New Zealand)
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Peter Ewart wrote:
Kiwi

Not sure this question has ever been discussed before (unlike the command of another battle not a million miles away!) or if it has I've forgotten it....................Did you have any ideas? I've probably missed a lot!

Peter


What Ho Peter,

Am I to understand that I am the first to ponder this point.........No, surely not. My thanks for your most fulsome posting. I hasten to add that I use "fulsome" meaning to "praise lavishly." not in what may be the modern day usage, the more negative sense obnoxiously full.

You have covered many aspects which never occurred to me as the whole "what if " scenario arose out of one of those innocent, idle conversations which started with Martini Henrys and ended up at Rorke's Drift.

Like the Victorian Music Hall attendee, I can now toddle off into the twilight satisfied, at having been both educated and entertained for my sixpence.

My Thanks.

_________________
It was a confusion of ideas between him and one of the lions he was hunting in Kenya that had caused A. B. Spottsworth to make the obituary column. He thought the lion was dead, and the lion thought it wasn't.
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Bill Cainan 3


Joined: 19 Feb 2011
Posts: 105
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Kiwi

Another point you might like to ponder on is the garrison's ability to flee !!!

B company had the standard company allocation of two colonial ox wagons (that were later incorporated in the south "wall") 0ne for ammunition and one for tentage. But where were the two teams of oxen that complemented these wagons ?

I would suggest that Spalding had temporarily taken these two teams to help with chronic shortage of oxen to get stores up to Isandlwana and would only have returned them to the Company when it was ordered to move. With one of the two companies coming up from Helpmekaar allocated to relieve B Company, then it is quite likely that B Company would have taken that Company's ox teams.

To move a 2 ton wagon without oxen would have been impossible. And, of course, without wagons, the hospital patients confined to their beds could not have been moved. Abandoning the patients would not have been an option.

So "stand and fight" was probably the only realistic option available.

Bill
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Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 1179
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Weren't there both oxen and horses there at The Drift? My understanding is that it was agreed that the use of the wagons to transport the wounded shouldn't be done, not that it couldn't be done. Where would they try to go with only a couple of hours head-start on an impi that could run, RUN, fifty miles in a day (and fight a battle at the end of it)?
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