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|7th June 2005||What WAS Included in the First Communiques?|
By Michael Boyle
Perusing the first accounts in the London Graphic about Isandhlwana I can't help wonder what information they used for their initial reports (when they were still confused about nomenclature, and the Court of (E)Inquiry hadn't begun).
"THE DISASTER AT RORKE’S DRIFT
At the time of writing but little can be added to the account given in our columns last week, for the fresh telegrams received on Saturday from Madeira contained no later news than that received on the previous Monday from St. Vincent,... So far then as we yet knew, it
would seem, as we stated last week, that Colonel Durnford, who had been left behind
by Lord Chelmsford, was tempted away from his encampment either by a feigned retreat of the Zulus, or by the simulated noise of an engagement near by, which prompted him to render assistance."
(What led them to think that Lord Chelmsford's engagements that morning were "simulated noise" and why "Colonel Durnford left behind..."?)
"The regiment lost its colours, two guns,
which, however, were spiked before being taken, 1,000 oxen, 1,000 rifles, 250 [sic] [thousand] rounds of ammunition, 102 wagons, and a large quantity of stores."
(Not too far off except for the spiking which I presume didn't come from official sources.)
"What became of Colonel Durnford’s native forces is not very clear, but from their small loss we must conjecture that they incontinently fled. Lord Chelmsford, receiving information of the fight, returned in hot haste, but he was too late to render succour..."
(All of the above, particularly the 'butcher's bill' and "Lord Chelmsford's hot haste".)
"...Rorke’s Drift, where another body of
Zulus had attacked the frontier camp, defended by a little band of 100 men, under
Lieutenant Bromhead, of the 24th, Lieutenant Chard, of the Engineers, and Lieutenant
Adendorf, of the Natal Contingent, who appear to have behaved in the most heroic manner, holding the position against 4,000 Zulus..."
(Apparently based on Lt. Chard's initial report, but why the transposition with Lt. Bromhead and why the inclusion of Lt. Adendorff as 'under' as opposed to the other British officers?) (I was tempted to say 'quasi' but they proved themselve's more than that!)
It would seem someone had already cast the die rather than saying "We don't know much yet, more to follow". (Honesty of course having no place in politics.) Were all the initial telegrams from Chelmsford or did others manage to get some in?
(Also, what was on the missing page 8?)