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24th April 2005The Joys of History
By Keith Smith

Hi guys

I have just returned from an extended research trip to the UK and KZN, with a bagful of papers. However, I would like to draw your attention to a new batch of documents on the AZ War. (You know, it would be nice if some new document could be discovered ...)

While I was at the NAM Chelsea, one of the staff, Simon Moody, with whom I have corresponded over a couple of years, drew my attention to a newly-made donation of documents which he had just finished cataloguing. These are the Pearson Papers, donated to the Museum last year. Simon kindly allowed me to go through them. Among them was a letter which gives valuable new evidence in the identification of the Captain Barton of Isandlwana fame.

My paper "The Several Captains Barton" (SOTQ No. 114, Sep. 2003) demonstrated that there were two Captains Barton with Colonel Durnford's No. 2 Column. Captain Geoffry (sic) Barton, 7th Foot, was Durnford's Staff Officer Officer while Captain William Barton, a volunteer, was in command of Zikhali's three troops of the Natal Native Mounted Contingent. I was able to demonstrate that it was the latter who was at Isandlwana and not the former,. Unhappily, I was not able to prove conclusively that Captain Geoofry was elsewhere at that time.

Now to the letter. NAM 2004-03-73-5-16 is a letter from Captain Geoffry Barton at Krans Kop to Colonel Pearson, dated 11th January 1879. In it, he states:
"In compliance with this memorandum (number 15) [he encloses a copy of Lord C.'s note to Pearson alluding to the order to Durnford,] Col. Durnford left at 4 a.m. today with 250 Horsemen, 1400 of the N.N. Contingent & the Rocket Battery, en route for the Sand Spruit Valley; leaving me in command at the Middle Drift."

Now I know this matter has been raised here before, including some by myself, but I just wanted to share the pleasure of finding something quite new which throws new light on a matter which has baffled me for a long time. It should also encourage those who still hope to find some new correspondence, hidden in someone's attic.

27th April 2005Peter Ewart

That's good news - if anyone was going to solve it, it was you! I won't be the only one looking forward to the results of your researches - sufficient material in that bagful of papers, presumably, for a host of new articles?

12th May 2005Michael Boyle

Perhaps an opportune time to re-acquaint us with how we may acquire back issues of Soldiers of the Queen?(And future ones as well.)

Good to know that source material continues to emerge!


12th May 2005Keith Smith

SOTQ is available thru membership of the Victorian Military Society, as are some back copies. The latter may also be found at the National Army Museum, Chelsea. Try
13th May 2005Michael Boyle
Keith, thanks I'll follow up on it. (Of course on-line archives would be a wonderful thing to offer members as well!)