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9th June 2005Allan Lloyd's The Zulu War
By Andrew Garton
Lloyd wrote his work on the Zulu War in the early 70's I believe and I wanted to know what others here think of it.I've just picked up a copy and this is my reason for asking.
9th June 2005Peter Ewart

Well, it's been on my shelf for many years, although I'm not sure why. It is rather well written in the prose style of popular histories of the time but one particular aspect has always utterly baffled me.

Of all the eye-witness accounts of the defence of Rorke's Drift, by far the longest and the most detailed - and undoubtedly the most relied upon by historians - are those by Chard and Smith. Both men produced lengthy written accounts and both offerings were published in the press only weeks after the battle.

Lloyd cites many well known publications in his bibiography, most of which will have drawn upon Smith's account for their description of the defence of R/Drift. He cannot have failed to be aware of this, nor of the many testimonies by those present of Smith's role that day - and yet Lloyd not only omits to acknowledge or mention Smith's account but doesn't even record his presence at the post in what is a fairly full and well written account of the engagement. You'll look in vain for Smith's name in the index at all.

But that's nothing. The explanation for this comes in the caption to the top illustration facing p97. A representation of Lady Butler's famous painting is shown and Chard & Bromhead are mentioned in the caption, which continues:

"Behind them, the artist has painted the bearded missionary Smith, who was mistakenly reported to have figured in the engagement."

Anyone have an explanation for this astonishing statement?

10th June 2005Michael Boyle

That is a poser! Just a guess but perhaps he confused him with Witt who I believe capitalized on the battle with a lecture tour in Britain afterwards leaving some question as to how long he (Witt) actually stayed at RD. That of course would be an inexcusable lapse of research for an author. (Though it wouldn't be the first time!)

(But it could explain why he didn't make the cut in the Books section here!)


10th June 2005Peter Ewart

Yes, I've often wondered if he confused him with Witt, whom he correctly states as fleeing on a horse shortly before the attack commenced. However, as you say, the lapse would be inexcusable, and - in the case of someone who has clearly studied the engagement sufficiently to write about it in detail, even if only secondary sources have been used - more to the point, it is simply inexplicable.

He has, at some stage of his research, become convinced that Smith's eyewitness report was not by an eyewitness, and that all references to his presence (in the accounts of other defenders, the rolls on which he always appears, the reports from officers such as Grenfell who saw him comforting the wounded afterwards, and the many references to the defence by Smith himself in later life) were somehow mistaken. After all, if he wasn't there, he'd have had to be out with Chelmsford that day/night, or, at a pinch, at Helpmekaar if he was comforting wounded at RD on the morning of the 23rd.

His permanent chaplaincy appointment was also seen as a reward for his part in the defence and the correspondence between Wolseley & the WO in 1879 certainly acknowledges this point.

It is possible he assisted Lady Butler with the painting - I certainly believe he may have been one of those who assisted de Neuville, who gave Smith a large personal copy of his own painting at the time, and which the latter kept for a quarter of a century before giving it away.

The lapse is mystifying to the point of being perverse!

11th June 2005James Garland
If my memory serves me correctly George Smiths letter to the Argos( I think it was) was not attibuted to him, but to "our correspondent". It may well be that Lloyd knew the correspondent was in fact a man of God and not a soldier and therefore attributed it mistakenly to de Witt. Nowadays it seems to be common knowledge that the article was written by Smith because of modern writers such as Ian Knight. It wasn't such common knowledge at the time lloyd wrote his book. But it still amounts to sloppy research.
11th June 2005Andrew Garton
So is it safe to say I wasted $18 bucks?It seems the rest of the book is alright that this is the only sticking point.Correct me if Im wrong.
11th June 2005Peter Ewart

That's a good point but I don't think Smith's report hints that the writer was a clergyman (but then admittedly nor does it apparently purport to be from a soldier).

Most modern historians describe it as anonymous "but widely believed to have been by Smith", whereas there is no real need for this caution, given that Chard identified Smith as the author of that account. (Just looked in the Red Book for this confirmation but can't see it after a hurried glance, but I have it somewhere). It's a good point, though - it hadn't occurred to me that Lloyd may have read the anonymous account in the Natal press and not realised its general attribution and so not ascribed it to Smith himself (although he leaves no evidence of having examined any press reports at all).

He used many well known works, including popular histories such as Furneaux's work of ten years earlier - and Furneaux relied very heavily indeed on Smith's account, which he acknowledged but for which he didn't quote his exact source (probably using a a copy of the Natal press report or the "Diary" version in the hands of the Royal Army Chaplain's Dept., later used by Lummis).

All this is very much "by the by" as there is plenty of proof of Smith's presence. It appears that, for some reason, Lloyd went out of his way to make a point when captioning the Lady Butler picture, rather then just dropping any reference to Smith if he had some doubts.

11th June 2005Peter Ewart

I meant to add a piece for you in the above post. No, I wouldn't say you've wasted your money at all. Depends on exactly what you're after and the scope of your existing AZW library. I'm not aware of any other error of this sort by Lloyd, although I must admit to not having read it properly for over 25 years. (I see I did make a margin note years ago correcting a date on p159).

Looking at the dust jacket blurb, he appears to have been a popular history writer and this particular book, written for the "Colonial Wars Series", is one of a number of very typical popular accounts of the AZW which appeared in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. He writes in an easy, journalistic style, trying to paint a picture for the reader, no doubt the object of the series. Obviously it is not an academic work and equally obviously he had not the benefit of the last 30 years of AZW research.

12th June 2005L.J.Knight
lots of good illustrations though! but i must confess when he shows Hackett and the 13th as at Ulundi rather then Khabula..well nuff said! believe my copy is a 1973 ist ed,but ive not read it for years. just thought i would throw that in the pot, regards to all L.J.Knight.
12th June 2005L.J.Knight
oh yeah Andrew.its worth having just to see Chelmsford,regards L.J.
12th June 2005John Young

It would help if the Lord Chelmsford without the beard was the right one, though!

That's the General's father - the 1st Lord Chelmsford.

'Hackett and the 13th'? I hope not, the Orlando Norrie painting depicts the 13th L.I. at Khambula, but Hackett served in 90th L.I. But well spotted all the same!

John Y.

13th June 2005Andrew Garton
Well I feel alittle better.My library is only some 20 books on the Zulu War.Knight,Greaves,Laband,Morris, C.T.
Binn.Im 24 so I like to get advice from the more knowlegable chaps here.Mr.Young where might I find a copy of your book sir?
13th June 2005Michael Boyle
Andrew, says it can get it for you in 3-5 weeks new, but they only list one used, available sooner. (Alibris only has one used, probably the same one.)
13th June 2005L.J.Knight
cheers John thanks for the encouragement, i photocopied his dad, gave him a beard,but he still doesn't look as stern and melancholic as his lad.regards Leslie.
13th June 2005John Young

Try e-Bay, there's a copy on there at present.
Otherwise as Michael suggests Alibris, or try Abesbooks.

Regards & happy hunting,

John Y.
22nd June 2005Julian Whybra
Lloyd's book has many errors. He has basically reworked Morris's account.