|you are currently viewing: Pte. William Jones: Account of the Battle|
Account of 593
Private William Jones
About half past three o'clock in the afternoon of the 22nd January, 1879, a mounted man came galloping into our little encampment and told us that the Zulus had taken the Camp at Isandhlwana, and were making their way towards us at Rorke's Drift. We at once set to work, and with such material as we had at hand formed a slight barricade around us; this was formed of sacks of mealies (Indian corn), boxes of sea biscuits, etc., of which we had a good supply. We also loopholed the walls of the two buildings. We had scarcely completed our work when the Zulus were down upon us.
The Hospital being the first building in their line of attack, they surrounded. Having twenty-three sick men in the rooms, our Officer, Lieutenant Bromhead, ordered six men into the Hospital, myself being one of the number, to defend and rescue the sick from it. We had scarcely taken our post in the hospital when two of our number were killed in the front of our verandah, leaving four of us to hold the place and get out the sick.This was done by two (viz., Privates Hook and Williams) carrying the sick and passing them into the barricade through a small window, whilst myself (William Jones) and my comrade (Robert Jones) contended each door at the point of the bayonet, our ammunition being expended. The Zulus, finding they could not force us from the doors, now set fire to the thatched roof. This was the most horrifying time. What with the bloodthirsty yells of the Zulus, the cries of the sick that remained, and the burning thatch falling about our heads, it was sickening. Still we kept them at bay until twenty out of the twenty three sick men were passed into the barricade under the fire of our own men; the other three which I have every reason to believe must have wandered back into one of the rooms we had cleared, as they were men suffering from fever at that time. By this time the whole of the Hospital was in flames, and we could not stay in it any longer, we had to make our own escape into the barricade, by the window through which the sick had been passed. This we did, thank God, with our lives.
Published in The Strand Magazine (January to June 1891)