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DateOriginal Topic
5th April 2005Location ? .
By Graham Mason
While not claiming to be an expert ( getting better every day ! ) i am still fuming as to the Hastings article and it`s attack on Chard which has prompted this mail .

I have a copy of the order dated Jan 21 1879 in which a communique was sent to the mission station at Rorkes Drift that all the Sappers at the station were to return to the column at Isandlwana WITH IMMMEADIATE EFFECT . At this time the only Royal Engineers in camp were Cpl Gamble and three Sappers .

They of course went to thier collective fates while Chard and Robson ( driver RE ) WERE OUT OF THE MISSION STATION . Chard had Robson as his batman as is known but i am slightly confused as to exactly where Chard was at this time.
If he was at Isandlwana during the 21st Jan 1879 would he have not stayed there , sent Robson with the message to Cpl Gamble ? , and who ( if known ? ) delivered this message ? . According to Hastings Chard " was merely a visitor " ( how quaint Max ! ) at the drift on the 22nd .

Much as the exact location of Adendorff , the person who called out " Here they come , thick as grass and as black as hell " and the exact number of particiapants at Rorkes drift on Jan 22nd 1879 the break down of Chard and Robson`s location during the 21st Jan 1879 still has not been totally explained to me . Can someone please let me know the movements of Chard and Robson from 6am Jan 21st to at least 4:30pm Jan 22nd 1879 , thank you and i hope we never have to read such an attack on a man who lets face it was hurled onto the world stage through the actions as well as ineptitudes of others , and thank goodness the Zulu war community is at last acting as one body on this issue and petty issues put aside hopefully forever , Graham .
5th April 2005Basil
does Chard not explain this on his account of events (left of page) or have i missed your point
i agree with your comments on Hastings btw
5th April 2005Basil
does Chard not explain this on his account of events (left of page) or have i missed your point
i agree with your comments on Hastings btw
5th April 2005Paul Cubbin
I had always thought that Chard was back and forth between Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift on the 22nd.
5th April 2005L.J.Knight
in the 'bible' Morris has quite a lot to say about Chard's movements.regards L.J.Knight
5th April 2005L.J.Knight
p.s.i call it the 'bible', i reckon i have, and have read and digested dozens of books on this subject and i must confess to having 20 different edition's of t,w.o.t.s.,and i always maintain for its sheer breataking scope and panaramic vision it makes for me the most readable account of one of Victorias
's little war's, to think it was written and researched by an active c.i.a. agent in his spare time in post war,cold war Berlin is to me astonishing.a life changing book. i was ten,we all seen "Zulu",but hands up all those who's life was changed for ever after reading it. i seem to be the only champion of Morris on this site,an astonishing tome,are some of us so petty and dare i say "un-british" about Morris's achievement in placing a difinitive account of The South African Campaign within reach of an international audiance.or is it just because he was a yank! anyone care to respond. regards L.J.Knight
5th April 2005Coll

The first copy of 'The Washing of the Spears' that got my attention was in a second-hand book shop, it was hardback and after looking through it, especially the chapters on Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift, bought it.

At the time it suited what I was looking for, an AZW book that covered a great deal of the campaign, describing the battles in a way that appealed to me.

I found it a great book, the fact that it informed me of other aspects of the AZW rather than just the two battles I was interested in.

I eventually updated it with the paperback version which I purchased new from a bookshop, and still have it as part of my collection.

However, I knew I wanted other views on the AZW, the battles, the participants, the battlefields and definitely more photographs, so I never really considered just having 1 book as my 'bible', but a collection from which I could make up my own mind about the battles, the people involved in the campaign, etc., I guess you could say that my AZW 'bible' is in my head, being what I consider to be the real story leading up to - during - and after the events of 1879.

I place great value on books, documentaries, etc., and the contributors on this site who let me know their opinions, ideas, especially the replies to topics started by myself.

I've seen mentions on previous topics about Morris, but as I say, we all have our own opinions, it just isn't possible to 'make' people see it the same way.

There may be many people that view this site who like the book as much as you.

6th April 2005Graham Mason
My point is that Chard`s recall of his movements may be confused as it has been intimated that Cantwell DCM was the man who complied the roll call , Chard had a Chief clerk available but not called upon to compile a list of participants and his version of events may have omitted certain parts . I was trying to ascertain INDEPENDANT views as to his movements on the 21st & 22nd Jan and just who delivered that order telling the SAPPERS to return to the column . Did Chard ever see the order and did Robson who was technically a DRIVER ( RE ) as opposed to a SAPPER.

I wanted to see if there was a clearly defined ( non Chard ) version of his movements in that period as each book that comes out has variants on the last. Thanks , Graham
6th April 2005Robert Jones
You are not alone in thinking that The Washing of the Spears is a fantastic read--admittedly, we know now that there are mistakes in it but I also think that some of the critics on this forum should take into account the circumstances under which it was researched.
It is one of the few books that if I start reading it I can,t put it down and the only other book that for me compares is John Laband,s Rise and fall of the Zulu Empire which, of course , is much more accurate.
Well done for speaking out, Mr Knight---Donald Morris deserves a word of praise now and again instead of all the criticism he seems to be getting.
Robert Jones
6th April 2005Martin Everett

I have my doubts over the so-called Chard roll. I do not think it deserves its profile as a sourse domuent. An original document actually signed by Chard has never been located - maybe it is in an archive in RSA.

The Roll (+copy) which the Brecon Museum holds - was not drafted at the time - presented to Brecon in 1935 - remember there was a shortage of paper at RD - but drafted sometime (even years) later - maybe by Cantwell himself (his name is strangely underlined - is he making a point?).

The earliest rolls of RD defenders were published in local Natal newspapers - see 'The Red Book' republished in 2001 by Quantrill and Lock. There is also a roll published in brochure for the exhibition of de Neuville's painting of The defence by the Fine Arts Society (dated 1880).

Please remember that Chard as a sapper (and Cantwel a gunnerl) would not have known any of the 24th soldiers personally - on the other hand Colour Sergeant Bourne would have been keeping the pay and muster rolls of B Comapny for the previous year and would have known every man by name.
6th April 2005Glenn Wade
Do you think it is possible that Bourne knew the men who had used alais's by the their real names. Eg. Lewis-Owen, Williams-Feilding etc?
All the best
7th April 2005Graham Mason
I think Bourne would have had a better knowledge of his men rather than an RE officer who only by circumstance became CO on the 22 Jan . Even saying that Bourne had two lists and the 4th list compiled by an officer not even there ! .

My reason for posing the question ( yes i was aware of Chards report ect ) was to see if there was a report confirming Chards recollection of events . After all rumour control says that Cantwell compiled a list which is very odd when Chard had a Chief Clerk to call upon and did not . Did Bourne compile a list which as we know was later amended on his own or was it one that Spalding by rights should of had BEFORE he rode off .

Chard hardly had time to know the men at the mission station , Spalding had ridden off and did Bromhead order his C / Sgt to compile a list because to my knowledge Bromhead did not submit a roll call if i recall . This is why the EXACT participants is still a subject of heated debate today .

Even at 23 and a C / Sgt i doubt if Bourne knew the aliases of certain men under his direct command because he had to resort to an amended list later on and again C/ Sgt Mabin whose very job was to do this sort of thing could have given us the DEFINITIVE list of defenders and so put an end to speculation once and for all , Graham .
7th April 2005Martin Everett
It is possible that the so called Chard roll was drafted by Cantwell some time (years) later based on an original document in South African archives or even based on Newspaper lists. Norman Holme does suggest the Cantwell did NOT compile the roll at the time.

I am not sure how fit and well Maybin was at the time of RD to perform the role of clerk.
7th April 2005Julian Whybra
Re Chard's movements: when the order to go to Isandhlwana was received, Chard and the corporal and the the 3 sappers went to Isandhlwana. Chard delivered them there but found that the order did not relate to him personally - he was to keep the ponts in working order - so he returned to Isandhlwana (carrying an note for Durnford en route). Thus he arrived back at RD in time to earn his VC.
7th April 2005Graham Mason
The role of Mabin over the years has never been fully explained at the drift . True he was a Chief clerk and true for whatever reason(s ) he was not called upon to produce a roll call . I don`t think in any of his recalls did Mabin mention this and certainly never questioned as to why he was refered to as Sgt when quite clearly he was a C/ Sgt ( promoted in 1875 ) .
Thanks to Julian for the Chard movements explanation and fate decreed that he and Robson were sent back to the mission station and so into folklore .

One day we may well know just how many were actually there on the day but one thing is for certain , there were not 4000 impi attacking the station Mr Hastings , NOR INDEED 20, 000 impi attacking the troops at Isandlwana earlier in the day ! , thank you , Graham .
11th April 2005Bill Cainan

As I understand it, Mabin, a Staff Clerk, was specifically responsible to Maj Spalding. As Spalding was in charge of the lines of communications of the Centre Column, then Mabin would have been involved in the administration of that task. I would doubt very much if he had any involvement at all with the garrison company at Rorke’s Drift – B Coy 2/24th and, indeed, why should he? Any clerical work that needed to be done in B Coy would be done “in house”. At this time there was no such thing as a designated “Company Clerk”. Bourne, as Colour Sergeant, would have the responsibility, but could well have delegated more basic clerical tasks to those of his JNCOs with the necessary literary skills. I suspect that there were even Privates who were capable of producing basic lists – eg Pte Camp was noted as a “clerk” on enlistment!” Bourne calling the roll ? Certainly – well within the scope of his duties.