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DateOriginal Topic
16th April 2005The Slow Pace of the Invasion.
By Derek C
This may have been discussed before, but I can't find the link, sorry.

Apart from the muddy conditions and a brief detour to the Batshe gorge, it took the best part of 2 weeks to for Chelmsford's column to advace from RD to Isandlwana. Was this possibly the first step towards the massive defeat? A slow bundering column who's commander under-estimated the "enemy"?
16th April 2005Martin Everett
Dear derck,
I am sure whether you have travelled the route for the advance from PMB to RD then from RD to Isandhlwana and travelled the route of the 2nd invasion. All will become clearer. When you think the column could make 8 miles on a good day. The regimental histories state most of the infantry soldier's time at this peiod 11-21 January was spent on road making. To cross the Buffalo was a major undertaking - with a pont taking only one wagon or 50 soldiers at a time. And you needed sufficient stores on e the far side bank to mount the campaign.

I am sure Mike Snook will be able to add to my obervations?
16th April 2005Bill Cainan

Following on from Martin's valid comments above, you need to appreciate that the column's speed was dictated by the Colonial Ox Wagon. Loaded, this wagon would carry between 3 and 4 tons. Chelmsford's central column had over 300 wagons. You can therefore appreciate why time had to be taken to strengthen/build roads sufficient to take this volume of traffic. Each waggon occupied some 35 yards of road, so the wagons would take up nearly 6 MILES on their own, before you allow for the other "road-users". It is important not to underestimate the nightmare logistics required in invading Zululand.

16th April 2005Paul Cubbin
One of the things that must have been so frustrating for commanders is the huge periods of time needed for oxen to feed, digest and rest in between work. Ruminants need time for their food to be processed through a series of stomachs before they can begin any sort of activity. Add that to the snail's pace they can achieve along iffy roads and you have a logistical nightmare.
I wonder how many others, with full hindsight, would have agreed that smaller columns with regular fortified supply depots would have been a more sensible solution than carrying everything along in one lumbering procession. Of course, that would necessarily have prolonged the conflict, something that was not practical at the time.
16th April 2005Peter Ewart

And - or is it but? - each column (or "smaller column") had to be capable of withstanding (on its own) the full onslaught of the ENTIRE Zulu army, if the latter chose to attack in that formation. How small could a column afford to be to withstand, say, 40,000 or more determined Zulu?

The problems facing Chelmsford were fascinating and many faceted. It seems to me that - given the problems of supply and transport alone and the consequent engineering and pioneer work required as a result of the recent weather & state of the country - Glyn's column simply RACED from R/Drift to Isandlwana in record time.

He had at his disposal the equipment of the time and the transport which he had been able to purchase, and from January all the way to to July, his biggest problem (to paraphrase our current "great leader") was "transport, transport, transport."