Isandlwana testimony

February 9, 1879.
I HAVE the honour of forwarding certain documents which I was unable to attach to my letter of yesterday’s date, sent by the ” Anglian,’ viz:-1. Copies of statement of Lieutenant-Colonel Crealock, Assistant Military Secretary.
2. Copies of statement of Captain Allan Gardner, 14th Hussars ;
3. Epitome of information given by natives to the Honorable W. Drummond and Mr.  Longeast Head Quarter’s Staff, which should be attached to the documents connected with the Court of Enquiry ;
4. A. copies of two letters received from Colonel Pearson; and B. Precis of my answer;
5. Copies of reports by Colonel Wood and Lieutenant-Colonel Buller regarding the destruction of Makulusini (pronounced Bagulucini) Kraal, which was referred to in my dispatch as an enclosure also.
1. Statement of Lieutenant-Colonel J. North Crealock, Acting Military Secretary.
” Soon after 2 A.M. on the […]
Camp, Rorke’s Drift,
January 26, 1879.
2. Statement by Captain Alan Gardner, 14th Hussars.
” I LEFT the force with […]
3. Information received from Umtegolalo, a Zulu well known to Mr. Longeast, Interpreter to the Lieutenant-General, found wounded at Rorke’s Drift on the 23rd January.
Statement made by Natives regarding the Action of the 22nd January, at the Sandhlwana Hill.” THE Zulu army had […]

February 6, 1879.

4B. Precis of instructions contained in Lord Chelmsford’s letters to Colonel Pearson.

Yours of 1st received. Trust that the news that you are to be attacked and also Glyn may be true. Having been attacked, and the enemy repulsed a decision as to your future movements absolutely necessary. If you can reduce your garrison to one-half, it, will give you a strong moveable column at Lower Tugela.

Should wish to see Naval Brigade garrisoning forts at Lower Tugela. Yourself and staff ought, to be there also. After a successful action, would be your best chance of withdrawing a portion of your garrison, otherwise a risk.

Endeavour to arrange for the holding an entrenchment requiring a lesser garrison.
Your best field officers should remain in command. Bring back only what baggage, &c., is absolutely essential. The sick and wounded should come in empty wagons.
I trust that any attack made on our posts may be simultaneous. We are ready for it.

400 men 88th Regiment, expected to-day; 200 remain here, 200 go to Stanger, thus releasingninety-nine companies for Lower Tugela.

No news from Wood since 24th January. No raids have, as yet, been made into Natal, but I expect one shortly. Do all you can to hold out as long as possible with whole or part of your force, but let us know when the time-has nearly arrived to fall back on account of want of supplies. Native Contingent have disbanded themselves.
February 8, 1879.
Contents of your letter, dated 6th February, received by telegraph.
My belief is, your garrison should be at once reduced to the minimum which you consider is necessary for its defence; this will give us more time for throwing in supplies.
There will not be a force at Lower Tugela for six weeks at least, sufficient to ensure a convoy to Ekowe, and unwise to attempt it, but if you withdraw surplus garrison, you will have troops enough for a very efficient flying column at that place.
Add 100 or 200 to the 400 you suggest for garrison, but cut down your defences to meet reduced garrison.
Your own presence is absolutely essential at Lower Tugela. Mine is required all over Natal.
A Head Commander required to look after every post of your command.
Latest news, Zulus will not knock their heads against our posts, but will raid into Natal. All more necessary for a moveable force at Lower Tugela. Other columns are too weak for me to decrease them to increase yours, and each must hold on as best they can until reinforcements arrive, thus you must read my instructions.
Details I leave to you, only let us know when you propose to fall back.
A large force stated to be near Zuguin. ” It will not do to face too great odds, but you might, perhaps, manage to reach Umanidusi” (where be every available man from Lower Tugela should sent), without your move being discovered. Each man should carry 100 rounds, two days’ food.
Bring no wheeled carriage. Line of march to be most compact, and no delay on the march if a few shots are fired at you. The garrison left at Ekowe must be on the alert, as it will be imagined you have deserted the post altogether.
Lieut.-Col., Asst. Mil. Sec.
A second copy to be sent twenty-four hours after the first. Reported on 9th February that neither of these had passed through the lines.
Colonel Wood’s Column, Camp Kambulu Hill,
February 1, 1879.
I HAVE the honour to report that in accordance with orders I started with the force named in the margin* at four A.M. this morning for Makulisini Krall, at seven o’clock we off saddled for breakfast under the north side of Zingin Hill, starting again at 8.20 we shortly after hit the so called wagon road from Potter’s Store to the Makulisini. It is a very bad one, we found the country practicable for all arms up to a point about due north of the centre of Inhlobarm Interior, after that it was very difficult, and neither guns nor wagons could have traversed it, we saw a few Kafirs and cattle in the Inhlobarm.
When within four miles of this neck, from which I was told we should see the kraal, I increased our pace to a fast canter, we left thirty men in this neck and scrambled down the hillside into the basin in the centre of which the place is situated and then galloped up to it at 12.30 P.M.
The Kafirs in it fled in all directions, we took 270 head of cattle and entirely destroyed the kraal, which contained about 250 huts. About 6 Kafirs were killed. We had, I am happy to say, no casualty.
The Makulisini is about 30 miles east of this, it is in a basin entirely surrounded with precipitous hills which would be very difficult to take if held by any force. I do not think guns could be got there without men handling them.
Throughout the day I received the greatest assistance from Mr. Pict Uys, indeed without his men I don’t think we should ever have got to the place. As far as I could see I think that most of the Kafirs that were in this Inhlobarm have left it and gone to the south-east.
Lieut.-Col., F.L. Horse.
Kambula Hill, 10 P.M.,
February 1, 1879.
ON this, as on all occasions, Lieutenant-Colonel Buller, C.B., has done excellent service, and I  am greatly indebted to him and to Mr. Pict Uys.
The Bagalusini Kraal has been till now a rallying point for the most determined opponents of the British Government, and its destruction will have a good effect on all friendly or neutral natives, while the Zulus will see the spirit of the High Commissioner’s message is fully carried out, for though this, a barrack, is destroyed, no dwelling places of the inhabitants have been wilfully damaged by the Troops of No. 4 Column.

February 2, 1879, Sunday.
YOUR letter of 27th January reached me this morning, also telegram of 30th, apparently to some one at Lower Drift, asking what ammunition I have got, and detailing position of Nos. 3 and 4 Column , also your telegram to me of 28th, informing me of “Boadicea” men joining my column, asking what you can do for me, and telling me Wood has beaten 5,000 Zulus ; also telegram of 23rd, detailing poor Durnford’s defeat, and the losses sustained. It is all most sad ; and no doubt the arms and ammunition taken will be used against us. The above is the plan of the entrenchment here. Of course it is not nearly finished, but it is a formidable place even now, and we work hard at it all day. I sent you a letter yesterday, describing our situation. As last night was rainy, I hope it will reach you all right. The messengers who brought yours came by the road we followed, and did not see any one, but no doubt they were all in the bush, as we believe there are numbers of Zulus between us and the Tugela. If you could send up the two companies Buffs now at Lower Drift, and the three companies 99th, also at Drift, as well as the Stanger and Durban companies, we should be strong enough here, as I should then form an entrenched camp outside. But the difficulty would be to keep up the supplies, as convoys would be most likely molested, very likely in the neighbourhood of the Amatakula and Inyazane, where it is thick and bushy. This will be a difficult problem to solve, but now that we are here it would be a fatal mistake, in my opinion, to abandon the post, which, as I have already said, will be required as a forepost when you are ready to advance again. Indeed, if we retired to the Tugela, we should most likely have all the Zulu army at our back, and be obliged either to destroy all our ammunition and stores before we left Ekowe, or abandon them on the march if attacked, as in all probability we should be by overwhelming numbers.
We have 1,365 Europeans here all told, and about 100 Natives, including pioneers, but exclusive of leaders and drivers, the number of whom I don’t quite know. We have in round numbers 1,200 rifles and 332 rounds of ammunition for that number, also 127,000 rounds Gatling, 37 Naval Rockets, 24-pounders (shot; not shell rockets), 46 Rockets, (shell) for 7-pounders, also for 7-pounders 200 Shrapnel, 254 common shell, 20 double shell, and 33 case. It in almost impossible to get an accurate return of food, but I think we must have over three weeks’ supply, the cattle, however, may be swept away at any moment, as of course they have to be kept in the wagon laager outside. I am keeping a small reserve in the ditches, where we stable the horses also, although commanded, the ground is perfectly open round here, except one or two small patches of wood, which would give cover, but which are being cut down as fast as we can do it. The brushwood, however, is all destroyed, the road to Ekowe from the Tugela is a mere beaten track, and. at this season of the year very bad in places, especially this side of the Inyazane, which is often very steep, narrow, and sloping towards the valley (where cut on the side of a hill) thus rendering a wagon liable to upset. The latter defect we remedied en route, but as there is no stone in the country I am afraid it will never be possible to do more than for each convoy to repair the road for itself. There is nothing to repair it with except logs and brushwood, which of course won’t stand the traffic of a large number of wagons. I know of no place between this and the Lower Drift where a depot could be advantageously formed, nor even fortified posts. The camping ground on the left bank of the Umsindusi is, however, nice and open, but it is commanded at one point toward the Amatikulu. Our camping ground at the Inyoni was on a knoll, but it is only nine miles from the Tugela. You ask if a Zulu can climb over our parapets here without assistance ? I fear he can in some places, but we are working hard at deepening the ditches. We want medicines, and I have written to Tarrant about them, as I have told you what food and ammunition we have got, you will be able to judge of what we can do. I find it quite impossible to get information. Cur Kafirs won’t do spy. They are afraid of being taken.
Thanks for your good wishes. Has there been any raid made on Natal?
Sincerely and respectfully yours,
Send this letter to the General, by special mounted messenger if possible, to Durban, first telegraphing the pith of it to him. Send the enclosed small piece of paper to Dr. Tarrant. Tell Major Graves the following officers and non-commissioned officers Natal Native Contingent are here : —Captain Sherving’on ; Lieutenants Orwin and Webb ; Interpreter Grieg; Sergeants Swann, Behrends, Sherrer ; Corporals Adams, Whiffler, Schulter, Schmidt, Meyer, Crossman, Phillipe, Fayard, Westphall, also twenty-six natives. Send us news whenever you can. Dark nights and rainy weather is the time.
Yours sincerely,
The position generally is weak, being slightly commanded on three sides by hills within musketry range, but the whole of the front has been traversed by wagons, cornsacks, &c. The water (very good) is under the fire of the fort within  150 yards, and efforts (which show good results) are being made to obtain water by sinking on the site itself, the troops bivouac at the alarm posts shown.
February 6, 1879.
I RECEIVED yesterday morning your letter of the 2nd instant and a Telegram from the Deputy-Adjutant-General of the 4th. In the latter I am reminded of the inadvisability of reinforcements being sent to me as they would only help eat our food. When I wrote upon this subject I was not quite clear as to the immediate future course of this column. I now quite recognize our position and I quite see, too, the mistake which would be made by reinforcing us.
We are now very strongly intrenched. Good thick parapets, ditches no where less than seven feet deep and ten feet wide. In places they are both deeper and wider, the ditches are partly flanked as well, either by flanks, stockades, caponnieres or cuttings in the parapet. Enfilade and reverse fire have been well considered and traverses have been constructed to protect us from both. The batteries are masked and spare sand bags provided to protect the gunners from fire upon any point from which the gun is not actually firing.
Trous-de-loups are being made on the glacis, and a zig-zag will be made to the watering-place about 60 yards from the fort, to ensure the safety of the watering party. We have three entrances, a main entrance over a drawbridge, over which carts or unloaded wagons can pass ; this is drawn back at night; a small foot bridge to the watering place which is topped up on the alarm sounding, and a trestle bridge, also a foot bridge, which is dismantled at retreat. Near the main entrance is a sally port leading into the ditch where at night we have some earth closets, as, of course the day latrines are some distance from the fort. In a hollow below this face are two cattle laagers built of wagons chained and reined together. The circular one holds the slaughter cattle, and the other most of the trek oxen.
These are protected by an L shaped work, nevertheless, the cattle are a constant source of anxiety to me, as they might be taken away during a dark night if the Zulus should be enterprising, at least so it seems to me. I trust I may be wrong
We are better off for food than I thought we were, and, if our cattle are left to us, we shall be able to get along for over three weeks from this day, and, with many essentials for some time longer. Heygate has sent a pretty accurate return to the Commissary General, which he must have received, as it went with my letter which you have acknowledged.
Our resources in the way of ammunition you also know. As regards dividing our entrenchments, so as to defend our stores efficiently in the event of the garrison being reduced, I am afraid it could not well be done without very, materially altering everything. Every building is now within the fort, and was preserved in the belief that all your columns were to have been fed from. this line, and that, consequently, stores on a large scale would be required, also a fair sized garrison. I mean some three hundred or four hundred men, for, of course,  it was not then contemplated that the garrison would have to deal with any large bodies of Zulus.
As it is, it is highly probable, I suppose, that Cetywayo may make a supreme effort to drive us out and bring the bulk of his army this way. I trust he may do so and he will find it a very hard nut to crack indeed. We have got all the distances measured and this afternoon a table of ranges will be issued to the troops. If we have time the distances will all be cut on the hills which slope our way, and the cuttings filled in with white clay, which we get out of the ditches, so as to make the figures visible.
As regards our immediate future, I am of opinion, and I trust you will forgive me giving it frankly that, a convoy of wagons not exceeding 20 in number and all with good spans of 20 oxen, and none with larger loads than 4000 lbs. should be sent us, as soon as you can get an escort together, equal to a battalion of 600 or 700.
The wagons to contain nothing but food for men and a little more ammunition, especially for guns and rockets, which we want and would not be much good to the Zulus if it fell into their hands. The escort would not require tents, and could carry two days’ provisions on their persons, which would gave something. I would ask to have the two Companies Buffs, now at the Lower Drift, sent up, and with the return wagons I would send back the three companies and Head quarters 99th, half the company Royal Engineers, the Native Pioneers, the odds and ends of Volunteers, Native Contingent, and drivers and leaders still here. In fact the latter have signified their intention to bolt, the first opportunity. If the escort reported the road pretty clear, I would also suggest sending back the sick and wounded, who are fit to travel, and some of the trek oxen which I should be very glad to get rid of. The drivers and leaders could take charge of them. I most respectfully hope you will remember that I am only giving my opinion. I am ready to reduce the garrison to any limits you may choose to order, and to take my chance with the remainder, but having pretty well studied our position, I hope from every point of view, I do not think (unless we see no chance of being attacked by a very large body of the enemy) that it would be prudent just yet to reduce the garrison beyond the limits I have suggested.
In making the above suggestions, I have studied to reduce the number of mouths, and to retain, at the same time, all the fighting men I could. It will be better too, to keep units, i.e., battalions together. The Natal Pioneers will be useful in repairing roads between this and the Tugela and the half company Royal Engineers will be necessary, should any intermediate station be fixed upon as a fortified post. I know of no place as I have already told you. The Inyone dries up in winter generally, and what water remains is brackish. Perhaps our camping ground on the left bank of the Umsindusi might do. The water is beautiful, but it is commanded, as I think I also told you, from the high ground towards the Amatakula, only in that direction, however, so perhaps the Engineers might manage to defilade it. The locality as regards the distance between Ekowe and the Tugela would be a very convenient one, I am speaking of places on the road, but I remember none adjacent to it. A few hundred men could cut down the bush along the road for several hundred yards on either side between the Inyone and Umsindusi, but I do not know whether it would not be too big a job to attempt to do so about the Amatakula and Inyazuue. It would be a grand thing if it could be done. I think any escort coming up will have to look about them very carefully nearly every where between the Umsindusi and the high ground on this side of the Inyazune. On some places the bush is pretty thick ; a few mounted scouts with the convoy would be of great use.
As regards the composition of a column, I have come to the conclusion that, although mounted men, if the horses could be fed in this country, would be of immense value, yet, considering that all their forage has to be carried, their utility is much lessened by the fact of the column being materially increased in length by the additional transport.
The Native Contingent, too are of little or no use, unless all the men have firearms; when, perhaps, they would be as dangerous to friends as foes ; and the officers and non – commissioned officers can speak Kaffir.
In the 2nd Regiment, scarcely one could do so, and I could never get anything done I wanted. The men were always grumbling at doing fatigue work, notwithstanding that they saw the soldiers working alongside them, and said they were enlisted to fight, and not to work. Yet, when they had the chance, they did not do over well.
We should be very glad of a newspaper or two giving an account of No. 3 Column. About what number of Zulus did poor Durnford’s party kill before they were overpowered and slaughtered ?  Did the two guns fall into the hands of the Zulus ? Did the plucky company of the 2nd Battalion 24th at Rorke’s Drift (I suppose it was guarding the Depot) beat off the 2,500 Zulus whom they fought for twelve hours ? How very foolish of poor Durnford’s detachment to scatter about so far from the camps. Has any raid been made on Natal ? The men here are very savage at the thoughts of so many of their wounded comrades being butchered, for, of course, as all were found dead, the wounded must have been murdered.
We are all still in very good health, and the work will not be so hard now I hope, as all the heavy work of the entrenchments is completed. 37 on the sick report to-day, two of the Buffs rather bad with the diarrhoea, one of them, Oakley, the married man whose name I sent the other day, is not so well, he had only fever then. Wounded doing very well. We had some rain last night and the night before a very heavy thunderstorm. To-day it has been exceedingly hot. I am going to send this letter off to-night. The messengers say the road is thoroughly watched, but I cannot hear of any large force of Zulus being between us and the Tugela.
Sincerely and respectfully yours,
War Office,
March 15, 1879.
THE following Despatch has been received by the Secretary of State for War from Lieutenant-General Lord Chelmsford, K.C.B., Commanding the Forces in South Africa:—
Durban, Natal,
February 8, 1879.
From the Lieutenant-General Commanding in South Africa to the Right Honourable the Secretary of State for War.
I HAVE the honour to forward herewith the proceedings of the Court of Inquiry held to take evidence regarding the disastrous affair of Isandlwana.
The Court has very properly abstained from giving an opinion, and I myself refrain also from making any observation or from drawing any conclusions from the evidence therein recorded.
I regret very much that more evidence has not been taken, and I have given instructions that all those who escaped, and who are able to throw any light whatever upon the occurrences of the day, should be at once called upon for a statement of what they saw.
I deem it better, however, not to delay the transmission of the proceedings, which will no doubt be awaited with anxiety.
I have directed my Military Secretary, Lieutenant-Colonel Crealock, to append a statement of the facts which came under his cognisance on the day in question, which may possibly serve to throw some additional light on what, I fear, will still be considered very obscure.
It will, I fear, be impossible to furnish an absolutely correct list of all those who perished on the 22nd January, as every record connected with the several corps belonging to No. 3 Column has been lost.
Colonel Glyn is doing his best to furnish what is required.
Since writing the above the printed list of killed and wounded has reached me, several copies of which I beg to enclose.
Adjutant- General                                                              Camp, Helpmakaar, Natal,
January 29, 1879.
HERE WITH proceedings of Court of Enquiry assembled by order of His Excellency the Lieutenant-General Commanding. The Court has examined and recorded the statements of the chief witnesses.

The copy of proceedings forwarded was made by a confidential clerk of the Royal Engineers.

The Court has refrained from giving an opinion, as instructions on this point were not given to it.


Colonel Royal Engineers, President.

Proceedings of a Court of Enquiry, assembled at Helpmakaar, Natal, on the 27th January, 1879, by order of His Excellency the Lieutenant-General Commanding the troops in South, Africa, dated 24th January, 1879.

Colonel F. C. Hassard, C.B., Royal Engineers.
Lieutenant-Colonel Law, Royal Artillery.
Lieutenant-Colonel Harness, Royal Artillery.

The Court having assembled pursuant to order, proceeded to take the following evidence:—

1st Witness.Major Clery states: ” I am […]

2nd Evidence.—Colonel Glyn, C.B., states: ” From the time […]

3rd Evidence.Captain Alan Gardner, 14th Hussars, states: ” I accompanied […]

4th Evidence.Captain Essex, 75th Regiment, states: ” I hand in a written statement of what occurred, I have nothing to add to that statement. This statement is marked A. ”

5th Evidence.Lieutenant Cochrane, 32nd Regiment, states: ” I am […]

6th Evidence.Lieutenant Smith-Dorrien, 95th Regiment, states : ” I am […]

7th Evidence.Captain Nourse, Natal Native Contingent, states : ” I was […]

8th Evidence.—Lieutenant Curling, R.A., states: ” I was left in camp with two guns, when the remaining four guns of the battery went out with the main body of the column, on 22nd January, 1879. Major Stuart Smith joined and took  command of the guns about twelve noon. I hand in a written statement (marked B). I
have nothing to add to that statement. ”

F. C. HASSARD, Colonel, Royal Engineers, President.
F. T. A. LAW, Lieutenant-Colonel, R.A.
A. HARNESS, Major R.A. and Lieutenant-Colonel.

Attached Statement A.

Rorke’s Drift,

January 24, 1879.

Captain Essex’s Evidence.

” Sir, I HAVE the honour […]

Attached Statement B.

Rorke’s Drift,

January 26, 1879.

From Lieutenant Curling to Officer Commanding No. 8. Helpmakaar

” Sir, I HAVE the honour […]


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