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26th February 2002Jahleel Carey, Guilty or Not Guilty?
By John Young
I would appreciate the opinion of the forum on the question as whether they feel Jahleel Carey was guilty of any misconduct over the death of the Prince Imperial of France?

If so why?

John Young,
Anglo-Zulu War Research Society.
26th February 2002James
I have to confess this is an area of Zulu war history where my knowledge is at its worst, but from what I have read it seems to me that no one was to blame for the initial panic that followed the ambush. Any group of soldiers that have just been ambushed would behave in a similar way. What separates good soldiers from bad is the speed with which they recover from the initial shock and try and take the initiative.If any thing this is where Carey was open to critisism. When the Prince was found not to have escaped the initial assault Carey could perhaps have tried to locate him or at least investigate to see what was possible.
I believe that a large part of his Court Martial was concerned with the Prince's status and whether Carey believed he was in command or not. Personaly I think that in an age when breeding and social position were so valued Carey was in an impossible position. If he had ordered the Prince Imperial about like a subbordinate he would have been in trouble as well.

27th February 2002Glenn Wade
Hi John. I am only thirteen but having about 30 books on the Zulu War, I think I'll have a crack at this! The Prince Imperial was the heir to the throne of France, and he went to Zululand against the wishes of his family and Queen Victoria. The Queen eventually let him go as a non-combatant, non-uniformed observer but on reaching Zululand he got a uniform and set out on a patrol with Carey and a couple of troopers of ? They dismouted at a deserted Kraal and were attacked by Zulu warriors. Carey and few troopers escaped and as one trooper, rode past he shouted to the Prince to Hurry up in French but he stated in the court martial, there was no answer. A patrol later found the bodies of Louis, the Zulu interpreter and two troopers, mutilated. I therefore put forward that Jaheel Carey was guilty of desertion in the face of the enemy and leaving the Prince for dead while saving his own skin. This is my theory anyway. Bye!
28th February 2002Greg King
No young sir , I think Carey was made a scapegoat by those who were responsible for the princes safety,Chelmsford had clear instructions that the prince was not to be put into any danger . further more Chelmsford was well aware that the prince had a wild streak in him and should not let him out of his sight.If ive got my facts correct and i`m sure John will correct me if I havent, Cpt Harrison Carey`s senior,should not have allowed the prince to go off with Carey, so the blame also lies with him. I get the immpresion that Carey felt the prince took over the command of the party it was the prince also who was keen to move on when the full escort had`nt arrived. Carey maybe should have put his foot down. But we must remember that the prince was a charming dashing young man who lets face it had mananged by hook or by crook to get himself a position in another countrys war, despite political opposition , so he was going to make the most of it.Its sad but I feel his actions sooner or later would have been his undoing.If your interested like me I`m going to read the new book thats out . I Have still got the timewatch programme recorded from the early 80`s its a imformative documentry that was one of the factors that led to my interest inthe Zulu war It recreated the court martial very well using the original transcripts taken during the hearing. Well Glen I hope ive put a good case forward for Carey. Where do you stand on this matter Mr Young guilty of miss behaviour before the enemy or not.
1st March 2002John Young
Greg King,

In answer to your question my sympathies are with Jahleel Carey.

Back in 1996, in 'The Journal of the Anglo-Zulu War Research Society' Volume No.5, Issue No.1, I posed the same question to the membership of the Anglo-Zulu War Research Society, and invited them to respond by ballot.

A total of 155 of the members answered the question; only three felt Carey was guilty as charged.

I agree that Carey was made a scapegoat for the death of the Prince Imperial. I also put it forward in a discussion that we held on the subject, that I felt Brevet Colonel Richard Harrison, Royal Engineers, should have been alongside Carey at the court-martial sharing the burden of blame.

In my opinion the entire court-martial was a ‘show-trial’ – a mockery of justice. What a quirk of fate the son of a former Lord Chancellor had neglected to swear in the officers of the court. Also that there were officers present in field with qualifications as Barristers, and yet they did not take part in the case.

During the course of the Anglo-Zulu War, on different occasions officers, and men, I hasten to add, made off, when surprised or facing fearful odds. Carey & H.H. Harward, of the 80th Regiment were put on trial for their actions; yet others due to family influence would receive the Victoria Cross.

Both Carey’s & Harward’s trial served one purpose – “To encourage others.”

What purpose could have been served if Carey had rallied the men? Five more casualties perhaps?

John Young,
Anglo-Zulu War Research Society.
1st March 2002Frank Muscal

I know very little on this topic. What is the significance of 'quirk of fate'? Eventually,
didn't Carey die (ostricized?) in India?

1st March 2002Greg King
John Young,Thankyou for your support, I didn`t realise that the trial was nill and viod as well, I totally agree that if the party had rallied there would have been 5 more graves dug alongside the Prince. It seems Lord Chelmsford was beyond reproach on any short comings he had, surely the blunders he made in the first invasion warranted deeper scrutiny , than those blamed on Carey. Had the prince been any other officer his death would have been put down to the fortunes of war. I now feel quite fired up and shall puchase Ian knights new book. Has anyone else read it yet.
1st March 2002Colin W
Greg, Yes the Ian Knight book is very good. I took it into Hospital with me in December and it served me well over the few days I was there and when I was laid up afterwards. It tells the full story of the Prince's life so the bulk of it is not about the Anglo-Zulu War itself. But, as is usual with Mr Knight's books, it is a good read and goes into great detail. I learnt a great deal about this period in French/English history from it.

As for blame for the Prince's death. Well Carey does seem to have been a bit of a weak link but if he did not know who was in charge of the party it was surely down to his superior(s) to make this clear before they set out! At any rate, the Prince had managed to get himself in to that position, by fair means and foul, and his general ambition and outlook on life would have got him killed sooner or later. Read the book and see what you think. The chapters on the Prince before he went to South Africa seem to point to this reckless, devil-may-care attitude.
1st March 2002John Young

In answer to your question, Lieutenant-General Frederic Augustus Thesiger, 2nd Baron Lord Chelmsford, was the son of Frederic Thesiger, 1st Baron Lord Chelmsford. The 1st Baron was by profession a lawyer, in fact he served two terms as Lord Chancellor, the highest law officer in the British Government.

The outcome of the court-martial was sent for ratification by the Deputy Judge Advocate General James C. O'Dowd, he discovered that the officers of the court-martial had not been sworn in - thereby invalidating the trial. See War Office Papers 91/48 at the Public Record Office, Kew, London.

Jahleel Carey died in Karachi, now Pakistan, in 1883 of peritonitis.

John Young,
Anglo-Zulu War Research Society.

2nd March 2002Ian Woodason
If J. Brenton Carey was ostracised it didn't stop his regiment putting his name on the memorial they erected to those that died during their tour of duty in India - see the Keynsham Light Horse website (links left) for a picture.
I have come across no evidence that his regiment did shun him in India and would be interested to hear of any.
J. Brenton Carey was how he signed his name and how he is remembered on the regimental memorial.

4th March 2002Frank Muscal

The source is David Rattray's "The Day of the Dead Moon", Part V,
Section 4 - CD version. It also mentions that he died in India.


5th March 2002Frank Muscal

Thanks for information. I'm not quite sure why I'm interested
on where Carey died and I brought it up again in above note
to Ian:)). Perhaps it's been a long day. I need an interactive
note editor.

Tapes also mention Prince's mother intervening during trial. Is
this true?

5th March 2002Ian Woodason

Sorry, I should have made it clear that I would be interested in hearing evidence from the time that Carey was ostracised rather than something published years later that is unattributed.
I can only blame the History Teacher in me, how I am always telling the pupils to go back to primary sources rather than relying on what someone says years later.
As for Eugenie interfering at the trial - a good case in point - where is the contemporary evidence? - I would suggest this would be difficult to find as the trial took place in SA from the 12th June 1879, the report went to Chelmsford on the 17th, yet England and Empress Eugenie did not get the news of the Prince's death until the 19th!

6th March 2002John Young

Re-your above, don't forget that David Rattray relied heavily on Donald Featherstone's book 'Captain Carey's Blunder', a book which contains, as some of us now know, certain 'inventions' by the author.

David is a superb storyteller, he makes no claim to be a historian, nor do I come to that, he weaves the tale of the Anglo-Zulu War into a story, which must rank alongside the Norse Sagas, yet everytime you hear him tell the tale certain elements are 'elaborated', maybe we can count the story of Carey's ostracism as a case in point.

John Young,
Anglo-Zulu War Research Society.
6th March 2002Frank Muscal

What mines of information! Enjoyed your comments.

7th March 2002Mike McCabe
I think hindsight is working its magic. The "pure" purpose of Carey's court martial would have been to investigate the apparently grave circumstances where there already seemed to be a prima facie case for Carey to answer, form a judgement (which could possibly also have entirely exonerated him from all blame), declare a finding, and promulgate it in such a way that the expected forms of battlefield example and conduct were clear to all officers - imperial or colonial - before the "Second Invasion", so as to confirm disciplinary policy for conduct in future engagements. Though all would have seen themselves as acting in good faith, there were some very varied justifications for officers (and some formed colonial sub units) leaving the field at Isandlwana, and this would have been at the front of people's minds at the time. Also, the Melville/Coghill episode (as one example) was apparently viewed with mixed feelings - based on as much knowledge as officers in Chelmsford's force (and elsewhere) commonly knew of it at the time. Example: the rather jaundiced views of Garnet Wolseley, both in his journal and as more widely known later. By "modern" standards there are clearly irregular features to the composition of the court and its due process in so far as these were recorded for us to examine today. There was also "live" pressure to provide adequate explanation back in London, to the Commander in Chief, the Court (Prince Louis was largely present due to the Queen's own intervention), and the home government - the latter drifting closer towards political crisis as each deficiency in their policy and military arrangements for the war was exposed. There was also the "French dimension" to consider at a time when the British government was trying to calm and stabilise its relations with the Republic, realising the growing strategic might of imperial Germany as a continental power. Procedurally, Carey's defence would have had its opportunity to comment on the composition of the court and the form of charges before it was convened, and it is probable that any fundamental representation against the arrangements would have received a considerate hearing from Lord Chelmsford (he would be unalterably obliged to do so). Much of the preparatory discussions would have been "off the record", with all officers involved realising the gravity of the situation in terms of national, and Army, reputation and prestige. Ian Knight's book provides perceptive coverage of as much as can be known from surviving accounts, but there are unrecorded unknowns also. The court was hastily constituted by any standards but the field force was on active service operations, albeit between fighting phases (or so it thought), and it was imperative to resolve the matter in some way and as soon as possible. Courts martial (General and Regimental) procedures were not as carefully regulated in as much detail as these came to be in the next century, and decade. But, the coverage of key issues in the taking of evidence - as it related to the actions and possible culpability of Carey and others present - does seem generally to have been fairly searching, and the surviving records largely indicate that to be the case. It was the conduct of those present in the events that led to the Prince's death that actually mattered. The process being invalidated at the review stage, failure to administer an oath effectively rendering the evidence inadmissable under civil law, was common justice in its purest form. The confused handling of the presentational aspect of this outcome was a cause of mounting embarassment in the immediate aftermath;enabling further imputations of general incompetence, failure to take the matter seriously enough, and raised suspicions of fundamental irregularities even further. It's an amazing oversight, but possibly arose due to an unintentional muddling of the Army's procedures for Boards/Courts of Enquiry, Regimental Courts Martial, and Field General Courts Martial by a hard pressed (and in this specific instance, inexperienced)group of officers who saw themselves as having to proceed somehow. It provides us with an indication of the drama and tensions of the occasion - that such a basic error should have been made.
Battlefield discipline (and leadership) in the Evelyn Wood column was conspicuously firmer than in the Central column. In his two volume autobiography "From Midshipman to Field Marshal" Wood make curiously slight reference to these events, and includes very little in the way of actual or even implied criticism - though this was written long afterwards. His recollection of Zulu accounts by those who took part in the attack on the Prince (recounted to the Empress Eugenie during her 1880 visit) does however corroborate much of Carey's evidence on how the actual attack began and developed. Carey was both unlucky, and in the split seconds in which he might have made a conscious and deliberate decision to act differently, his presence of mind and powers of judgement simply failed him. However, the moment he and his escorts drew more than a certain distance away from the Zulu attack then there capacity to intervene was radically and unalterable neutralised. They might possibly have saved one of the troopers had they all been quick enough to act in concert with each other. However, the Prince's own fate was effectively sealed once his horse sped away from him.