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|1st August 2005||'Zulu Victory'|
By Paul Mercer
Have finished reading this book and it appears that as Chelmsford had apparently left the bulk of his ammunition behind with orders that it should follow later, he was very lucky that the Zulus did not attack him as well!
Also, had they then attacked Rorkes Drift with their full force they might easily made the score 3-0
Any thoughts on this angle, also on the book, which I thought very good (from a non historian point of view) although perhaps the experts may think differently.
|1st August 2005||tom|
Many men from both sides gave up their lives on that day.
It wasn't a football match.
|2nd August 2005||Dawn|
If its true it does seem to fit in with the tally-ho attitude you sometimes read about. After all Chelmsford did take half the band with him - as stretcher bearers admittedly. It also shows that if the troops had been able to draw in around the ammunition wagons, the battle may have had a different outcome. I haven't heard of the book. Who's the author and where did you get it from?
|2nd August 2005||Dawn|
Paul, ignore the last sentence. Just found it on the internet. Pays to look before you speak!
|2nd August 2005||Paul Mercer|
No, it was'nt a football match and I was not trying to pretend it was. For anyone else who's sensabilities may have been offended I'll rephrase it for you. If Chelmsford did not have his main ammunition supplies and the Zulus had attacked his columm and Rorkes Drift in the same overwhelming numbers as Isandlwana they might well have pushed the British troops right back accross the river for some considerable time - at least until reinforcements could have been brought in. OK?
|2nd August 2005||Dawn|
I agree with you. The Zulu definitely had the advantage and could logically have wiped out the whole Birtish force in the area. I think what we sometimes have difficulty with is the fact that, at the time, no one had any idea that the Zulus would attack the camp at Isandlwana which was a rest camp and store depot. Its easy, with hindsight to say, how could they not know? To use a modern example, who would have hesitated to get on a plane on Sept 11? The signs were there but until something happens, we don't believe it will happen to us. Probably the same with Lord Chelmsford, confident he was going to meet the Zulu at the Mangeni Gorge (the signs were all there) and not anticipating that they were in the north. As I said, hindsight is a wonderful thing!
|3rd August 2005||Dawn|
Paul, I wrote above on the assumption that Chelmsford must have thought he could call on the ammunition supplies at Isandlwana if he got into a fight. Were any reasons given for him doing this? (I could think of a few)
|3rd August 2005||Paul Mercer|
I'm not sure, I would'nt have thought that he could have called them up very quickly given the state of the tracks and the pace that oxen pulling wagons travel at. I get the feeling from 'Zulu Victory' (have you bought it yet?) that he underestimated the size of the Zulu army and their fighting prowess. It appears from most accounts that I have read that the volley fire put up at Isandlawna certainly kept them at bay for a while, but the Zulu 'Horn' tactics eventually surrounded our men - and that was that. I cannot help but think if the Zulu army was really around 20,000 and deployed against Chelmsfords divided force then it may well have defeated him as well and would have had little trouble with Rorkes Drift either. However, had Chelmsford remained at Isandlwana and fought a pitched battle then I reckon the firepower of the Martini and the available cannons would have carried the day. Read the book and let me know what you think.
|4th August 2005||Dawn|
I'll have to get a copy which may be hard in my part of the world (New Zealand). Buying over the internet has worked well however. I believe that Chelmsford thought that he was going out to face a force of 2000 Zulus, thinking that the main army was at Ulundi. Also, he left very early in the morning and there may have been a delay in yoking up the oxen in the transport wagons. As Dartnell believed that he would be attacked at dawn, I guess Chelmsford thought speed was more applicable at that stage. That's why I mention hindsight. It makes you wonder though, whether the Zulu deliberately used diversionary tactics to draw the force out in which case Chelmsford was not only overwhelmed by numbers but out-smarted too.
|4th August 2005||Paul Cubbin|
Both - OK, this is getting too darn interesting for me to stay out of.
From a purely personal point of view, I think, and always have, that Chelmsford is at least 60% responsible for the disaster at Isandlwana. Now, Durnford and Pulleine (not to mention Bartle-Frere) can come in for some flack too, but I'm afraid that ol' C gets the lion's share.
Why? Well, for the fact that he completely contravened a very basic military tenet, one that is drummed into every Sandhurst recruit. Never, but NEVER divide your force in the face of an uncerain enemy. He knew neither the disposition nor the strength of the Zulu army yet he split his available force roughly in two without properly scouting the immediate camp location of eitther. Really, really, crap generalship. This is something that every ensign on the planet knows, but Chelmsford forgot. Sure, Pulleine could have drawn on his companies; sure, Durnford could have made a firm decision as to command, but Chelmsford was the Officer Commanding, and the rather bloody buck stops with him.
|4th August 2005||Dawn|
Good on your for saying it out loud. History is full of Generals making mistakes. Bonaparte thought he could invade Russia in winter, Hitler thought he could subjugate Britain with bombs. I'm reminded of a lyric from a Pink Floyd song: "'forward, he cried from the rear and the front rank died." In this case, "lets go forward and let everyone else die." (not that he knew). Very, very stupid.
|4th August 2005||Paul Cubbin|
Don't get me wrong, generals make mistakes all the time. I think the business of soldiering is very unforgiving and a general is a human too. When a banker makes an error, money is lost; when a general makes a mistake, lives are lost. This is why wars are best avoided where possible. But Chelmsford chose the life and accepted the responsibility. It was bad that he made the error and, to my mind, unforgivable that he didn't admit it.
|4th August 2005||Dawn|
And let others take the blame when they couldn't defend themselves because they were dead. He was quick to rush off to Frere afterwards. Perhaps they wanted to make sure they had their story right before facing the enquiry.
|4th August 2005||Dawn|
Paul, just ordered my copy of Zulu Victory from England. Should be here next week. I'm looking forward to reading it.
|5th August 2005||Michael Boyle|
Right, now that I seem to have my internet connection back, though really slow, I'll jump in as well. The 'big guns' here, having run round this topic so many times, will perhaps find interest in us 'pellet guns' having a go at it (and will hopefully jump in if we get too far afield from the facts.)
I will always wonder what was going through Lord Chelmsford's mind the evening of 21 Jan. On the face of it he seems to have planned a campaign that was "all Sir Garnet" perhaps in emulation of him and with an eye toward pulling off another relativley painless Ashanti type campaign and recieving similar accolades. (The irony being that Sir Garnett was subsequently sent to supercede him and Chelmsford was forced to disobey Wolseley's direct orders to cease the advance in order to enable him pulling off a 'Gough' rather than a 'Wolseley' type victory.)
It has been pointed out that rarely if ever had a colonial campaign begun with such a wide ranging array of intellegience. Chelmsford had published a pamphlet detailing not just Zulu tactics to be expected but the names of their "regiments", "corps", "uniforms", commanders and relative stregnths. He also published his detailed 'Field Regulations' which, if followed by himself, would perhaps have precluded the reverses he suffered.
Aside from splitting his force, as pointed out above, on the morning of the 22 Jan. he not only set off without his ammunition supply but without his men carrying the prescribed extra 30 rounds per man 'when expecting contact with the enemy' (or words to that effect). What was he thinking? He knew that the Zulu Army could field an effective force of 35- 40 thousand men, he could expect to meet at least half of them. He had intel that they were on the march but did he really expect to meet that many of them? I've read references that state that John Dunn, prior to the outbreak of hostilities, had advised King Cetshwayo to gather his impis and hold them at Ulundi, out of harm's way as it were, perhaps in the hope that some accomodation could be reached politically if no battle were offered. (Though expecting an army to sit idley by while an invading army rampages through their homeland would seem wholly unrealistic!) Presumably Dunn informed Chelmsford of this. Could that scenario have maintained a place in the General's thoughts? All we know is that he set off in silence and in such a hurry that he didn't take the time to even distribute the battalion reserve ammunition. Why?
To be sure, on the evening of the 21st he was less than happy with Dartnell for not returning to camp, as ordered, from his recon patrol but was perhaps heartened that a force of Zulus had finally been spotted. As I recall, Dartnell's first message appraised him of this and asked permission to attack in the morning only to be superceded but another message stating that their were too many Zulus and could he please have a couple of regular companies sent out to help him. This left Chelmsford in an unanticipated fix.
I tend to think that Chelmsford was then in a state of severe frustration. After getting off to a smashing start with the battle at 'Sirayo's Kraal' (which seems to have misled him on what to expect of Zulu fighting ability and determination) he then was forced to endure an appalling rate of march that resulted in only ten miles gained in ten days due to the difficulties of the track, putting him well behind his timetable. Time is money and perhaps since he was well aware that he and Frere had 'pulled a fast one' on the government by starting this war he was beginning to despair the mounting costs being incurred furthering their disapproval if he couldn't wrap up the campaign quickly. Thus I think that he allowed his frustration to overcome his judgement.
Of course given the seemingly odd nature of the Victorian Officer Corps' aversion to continuing military studies in favour of personal bravery and promotion to General rank often based on affiliations and 'who's turn is it next?', their judgement could perhaps be summed up in another Pink Floyd lyric- "We don't need no education..."
|5th August 2005||Dawn|
Well summed up! (Love the Pink Floyd) I believe Major Clery had a lot of education but had come on this campaign to gain some fighting experience. I wonder how much influence he had on Chelmsford's decision?
|5th August 2005||Michael Boyle|
Thanks, I do tend run on though and anticipate being brought to task!
It's true that by the late 1870s Staff school was beginning to achieve credibility, in spite of HRH Duke of Cambridge's antipathy toward it and some regiments seeming to have prided themselves in ignoring it and any further military education. Clery does seem to have proved one of the exceptions. (In fact there were nick names for officers who spent time reading anything other than newspapers, gentleman's magazines and Hart's Army List.)
I'm unsure yet of the influence Clery had with Lord Chelmsford as the Major was ostensibly Principal Staff Officer to Col. Glyn, though he seemed to have recognized on which side of the bread the butter lay and afforded himself great leeway. Neither he nor Col. Crealock seem to have done much to recommend themselves' to history though (although Crealock was a fair hand with an artist's pallette). I've often wondered if the General wasn't entertaining the idea of using the Zulu war as a springboard to a "Chelmsford Gang" to add to the British Army cliques. At any rate both officers proved quite valuable towards Chelmsford's defence, particularly when recalling things from memory. Like you I tend to view Lord Chelmsford with a marked degree of cynicism but I do try to incorporate any information or insight I can glean to temper that. The fact that in an age when everyone's Uncle Bob were writing memoirs of their life's experience, and the good General didn't, makes it all the more difficult.
|5th August 2005||Dawn|
Cleary did seem to have difficulty remembering the orders he left with Pulleine, didn't he? Selective amnesia?
|5th August 2005||Paul Cubbin|
Mike - yup, you've hit the nail on the head I think when you said it was money - "Money, its a crime..share it fairly but don't take a slice of my pie," - that was a big factor in just about all the problems occuring. Who was it who said that the Government would forgive a general for a lost war, but not an expensive one. Perhaps it was also in the back of Chelmsford's (and his staff's) mind that Wolsely had his famous 'Ashanti Ring' (not a stomach complaint from poor local diet) and that clouded their judgement in trying to make a name for themselves.
|6th August 2005||Dawn|
Just love these Pink Floyd clips. One last one for the road. . . "everything under the sun is in tune...but the sun is eclipsed by the moon."
|6th August 2005||Mike McCabe|
You need to ask yourself what they were supposed to be studying that was new. The American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War were effectively wars between enormous 'continental' armies - though the elder Von Moltke dismissed the former as 'Not war, simply two armed gangs chasing each other around the countryside."
By policy, the UK had not developed an Army capable of fighting a contintal war - concentrating defence expenditure instead on the Fleet and guarding its strategic anchorages and coaking stations and colonial policing. There were also no permanently constituted deployable brigades and divisions, except in India.Similarly, there were few truly significant advances in technical weaponry, and pure parsimony led to moribund medical and logistic services, the latter assumed in most cases to be locally procurable under contract. So, apart from studying their 'regimental and technical' profession at Sandhurst/Woolwich (more thoroughly incidentally than officer candidates do today) what were these guys supposed to be studying that might prove a realisable development in the deployable field army of the time. There were also prominent examples of individual study, suggesting that 'study' itself might not be unusual (Wood trained himself as a barrister, William Robertson was studying, in India officers had to pass their language exams, and inspecting officers were required to test the military knowledge of field and junior officers as part of inspection regimes in force).
|7th August 2005||Paul Cubbin|
Perhaps in the same way that criticism is aimed at those who attempt to apply 21st century morality to a 19th century conflict, we should hesitate to judge the professionalism of the British Army in the same way.
Today the modern soldier is encouraged to learn, to better his/her understanding of his/her role and the technology and systems he/she uses. In the Victorian era this was rarely the case; indeed, an individual who showed an enthusiasm for learning his craft beyond the boundaries of his training and/or personal experience was often regarded as a troublemaker. It was, and is, an unfortunate side-effect of the collective British psyche (whatever that may mean) that during relative 'peacetime' the Army is neglected, economised and generally left to wither as the need for its existence and improvement is not recognised. How many times in Britain's history have our soldiers suffered unnecessary disasters because they were simply unprepared for war? This is a cycle that I fear we will continue to suffer and then forget. Now we hear that Civil Liberties groups are starting to bemoan the tightening of security in the light of recent events. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe my primary Civil Liberty is to be protected against murder by my government.
|7th August 2005||Michael Boyle|
Good eye (or ear), how very appropiate towards Chelmsford's thinking that day and the unfortunate outcome!
Difference in cultures perhaps, but many of us old-fashioned types here feel our primary Civil Liberty is to protect ourselves and our loved ones and that charity as well as responsibility begins at home.
I would argue that, from the mid-nineteenth century on (at least), there was much that was new. European and American armies certainly encouraged their officer corps to broaden their military education through the study of their own and other's victories and defeats. Von Moltke's comments could be a type of 19th century sound bite as the Prussians seemed to have learned much of value from the modern logistics, communications and armament advances (and the deadly effects they had on Napoleonic troop dispositions) neccessitated by the US Civil War. Of course the American armies couldn't compare to Prussian or British disciplinary standards, Americans having had only an economic (and yes, rascist) class structure and an independant disposition due to a less encompassing government authority, but they were hardly "armed gangs". (Except during the earliest stage of the war!)
One thing British officer's could have learned was how to field a large effective army from scratch and in short order. (Based of course on European drill as well as "American Ingenuity" and mistakes.) More apropos to 1879 would have been a review of the many treatises published after the disaster at the Little Big Horn in 1876. Although reverses at the hands of native troops went all the way back to Gen. Braddock and beyond, LBH became a clarion call and was never repeated by American forces (let's not bring MacArthur into this!). The first lesson being that brashness and overconfidence are not military virtues (we'll leave Montgomery and Patton out as well!) and the second being that by proper position and entrenchment you can deny your enemy a 'clean sweep', although Reno and Benteen's ability to save the other two- thirds of the 7th Cavalry may have owed as much to 'fortune' and Chard and Bromhead managed it on their own. (Of course from a British perspective perhaps a Frank Zappa lyric would be in order-"It can't happen Here".)
From my reading it seems that Le Marchant's idea for a Royal Military College was opposed by the Duke of York due to the officer corps' aversion to 'professionalism' (seemingly due to a gentleman's prejudice against being involved in a 'trade') and that even the Duke of Wellington thought military education 'nonesense'. I understand that at the time the course at Sandhurst varied at 1-2 years and Woolwich 2 years unlike foreign military schools which lasted 4 years and provided a degree (of sorts). The prime requisite for a British officer seems to have been a 'good' family and a public school education with it's emphasis on personal bravery and adherence to tradition rather than a well grounded and encouraged appreciation of military science, which could have obviated the hard lessons of the latter 19th century and brought home so very dearly in the Great War.
That said, it is difficult to argue with (overall) success!
|7th August 2005||Mike McCabe|
Firstly, before and after 'purchase' and until fairly recently, British Army officers could be expected to come from fairly good schools. Secondly, the routine of regimental life was designed to be physically and characterfully testing. An officer was expected to be vigorous and manly, and to bear the hardships of his men. He as also, after the demise of 'purchase' expected to be professionally competent - or he would be 'eased out'. The 1879 period is characterised by almost breathtakingly simple military technology and tactics, though with a flexible readiness to improvise, if subordinates were alowed that discretion.
Study depends on having a means of study, and you can usefully ponder on how that might (generally) have been achieved. Also, what profit in studying something that the British Army itself had no immediate intention of considering or adopting - either due to inappropriate conservatism and lack of vision at the top, or, a recognisable complacency in much of the officer corps.
And, supposed overall success needs some examining. A not particularly well (or very unevenly) trained or equipped army can still appear to succeed in not very demanding operations. I would agree that the British underestimated the problem of rapid expansion of the Army for continental warfare and was desperatwely short of competent staff officers for the period from 1905 onwards, many of the brightest and best being lodged in the Indian Army.
I do not agree that such robust parallels exist between the American experience and the needs of the British Army. There was no intention of forming or deploying a continental army, much before the turn of the 19th/20th century. The LBH is simply a proof of Custer's personal foolishness in deploying a miserably overmatched lightweight mounted infantry unit with little indication of competence. The various Indian Wars and the WAr of Independence were good examples of Home Government policies being militarily unsustainable from the outset, or, making limited and temporary gains in what can now be seen as largely fortuitous circumstances.
Education by itself is not decisive, the required mix of professional skill and personal qualities and competence are generally more important in the long run. A few Wolseleys go a long way, and only if they reach positions of influence do they make an actual difference. It's instructiveto see how little real reforming action Wolseley took as Commander in Chief, though his powers were clearly failing and he himself was already a kind of anachronism.
|7th August 2005||Michael Boyle|
Lest anyone think I'm in any way impuning the character or ability of the British Army Officer Corps let me assure you that I am not. The more I read the more amazed I am at the overall effectiveness, overwhelming disregard for personal safety and undeniable positive effect those officers had in setting the example that ellicited such respect, devotion and accomplishment from their troops. I'd be hard pressed to find any comparable, wide ranging example in any other nation's officer corps.
However I would argue that although the government may not have developed an army capable of fighting a European war (the Navy having always been the first line of defense) they certainly trained the army to fight one. The doctrinal change from 'advance the skirmishers' to 'advance in skirmishing order' that proved so disastrous at Isandlwana and led to a return to close order that proved so effective in subsequent 'native' conflicts only for it in turn to prove disastrous when continued into both Boer Wars seems to show a lack of tactical adaptability on the part of generals and their staffs. I can't help but feel that continuing military education could have alleviated that. One of the reasons that the army was so short on competent staff officers was the inordinate death rate of promising junior officers in combat throughout the period, partly because so many insisted on wearing uniforms that made them stand out as targets. This too I feel could have been alleviated more through education than suggestion.
Granted it is often easier to learn from one's own mistakes than from other's, it is none the less not an insurmountable obstacle and can be overcome through an encouragement towards continuing education. Victorian officers did have a good education through the public schools but a 'classical' education would seem to provide little in the way of military acumen, though the emphasis on sports and physical prowess certainly seems to have stood them in good stead.
I agree that LBH was proof of Custer's foolishness but the tactical mistakes he made seem to have been repeated line by line by Chelmsford and although I know it is unrealistic to expect that such a stragically insignificant event would have impacted any foreign military thinking, the lessons were none the less there for the taking. (This subject has been widely discussed elsewhere in this forum so I won't belabour it here.)
Yes, poor Wolseley, he did more to advance the British Army than anyone since Cardwell but the cost of going up against the Duke of Cambridge seems to have been to be forever left him out of the Queen's good graces and when finally acceding to that position finding it's power greatly curtailed.
Although I see the 'war crimes' discussion in another topic here as a philosophical debate, I see this more as an educational exercise.
(Besides, once I get that blasted time machine up and running I plan to go back and change a few things!)
|9th August 2005||Paul Mercer|
Thanks for all your comments on this, I still believe that given Chelmsford's divided and under ammunitioned army the Zulu's could have not only defeated him at both sites,but would have almost certainly overrun Rorkes drift by sheer weight of numbers. That really would have given the Government a headache!
|9th August 2005||Michael Boyle|
That's where the real speculation lays. The Zulu army does seem to have been pretty much done up by the battle at Isandlwana, there are accounts that much of the impi stayed in the area for three days afterward getting their strength back while those who could returned to their homesteads with their booty for after-action 'doctoring' while the indunas seemed to have taken their time returning to Ulundi. So it would seem there was no chance of coming to grips with Lord Chelmsford's force. The attack on RD would seem to have been more of a fluke as King Cetshwayo had forbidden any forays into Natal.
That said, had the battle not occurred until the following day, as many Zulu accounts attest was the plan, then they would have fallen on No. 3 column from the rear, placing themselve's between Chelmsford, his lines of communication and Natal. That eventuality would have put Chelmsford in quite a quandry. Simply by deploying their forces out of range of British guns they could have forced Chelmsford's hand by forcing him to attack them in order to protect Natal. Of course such subtley was not the Zulu way and their orders were to attack at any rate. (Though Cetshwayo had also forbade them attacking entrechments there's no reason to believe that the indunas could have restrained their troops there any more than they were able to historically.) How that battle would have played out is difficult to say.
Chelmsford's hope was that he could get the Zulus to attack him, but beyond his field regs that camps be laagered and entrenched, (which he would presumably have done at the new 'permanent' camp) I wonder how he would have deployed his forces. I don't have a firm grasp on the lay of the land at his new camp and how he would have layed it out. I suppose one could safely assume it would have been better than at Isandlwana and he could have held off the attacking impi, but would the indunas have continued to press home the attack knowing their strategically superior position?
Previously Chelmsford must have known something was in the wind because he had re-deployed Durnford's column to RD. Presumably, if Chelmsford's (Glyn's) entire column had advanced to the new camp he would have sent Durnford back to the Drift. If that were the case then poor Durnford would have been left swinging in the wind as the only force between the Zulus and Natal. The indunas would have known this and after having been bloodily repulsed by No. 3 column could have turned their attention back to the Drift knowing that Chelmsford in his entrenchments would be forced to come out in the open in order to try and stop them (as seemed to have been the plan at Khambula) thus making him more vulnerable. Even if Chelmsford decided not to advance in square he would be unable to overtake them before the damage at the Drift was done and he would be left with no supply route (and severely diminished supplies on hand) and no safe line of communication unless he abandoned Natal and tried to link with one of his other columns.
This scenario of course posits that the Zulus would not have routed as they did at Khambula, which I don't think they would because here they would have been in a strategically and tactically superior position, with a back-up plan, thus able to fall back and regroup before critical demoralization occurred. At any rate No. 3 column didn't seem to have a sufficiently strong mounted contingent to follow them up anyway.
(That's one theory at least!)
|10th August 2005||Dawn|
So, Micheal, that's would have, could have, should have? Sorry, I couldn't help myself.
|10th August 2005||Michael Boyle|
"Would'a, could'a, should'a" may lay at the heart of all human experience, it certainly layed at the heart of contemporary (and modern) criticism of Cols. Pulliene and Durnford's handling of the battle. If they "would'a" known they were going to be attacked by half the Zulu army they "could'a" entrenched and stood in close order and then they "should'a" won. All of which is facile at best.
There is no way they would have (or could have) known what was about to transpire. There is no way they would have been able to entrench (there were no large stacks of mealie bags and biscuit boxes close to hand), they had no 'laager commandant' because they were unable to find one willing to accompany them (and the wagons were in various stages of inspanned and outspanned at any rate) and primarily because they simply didn't have the time for it once they finally knew what was up.
As for 'close order', that seems to have been relegated only to the parade ground as everyone from the Duke of Cambridge on down felt confident the new 'open order' combat formations coupled with the disciplined use of 'rapid fire' Martini-Henry's could defeat all comers. Even if they had decided to revert to close order would that have prevented the disaster?
The British troops at Isandlwana amounted to the equivalent of an under-strength battalion. Look at the many contemporary photographs of battalion squares to see how much ground they protect (barely enough for the staff, bandsmen and an ammo cart) and look at a contemporary photograph of a battalion in line (the best I've seen is on page 36 of "The Colonial Wars Source BooK" by Haythornthwaite). It appears that a battalion in line was @80 meters long. Even changing that line from double to single would only give you @160 meters. Adding Durnford's horsemen and the colonial horsemen (unmounted and in single line) perhaps 300 meters. What would you do with the untried NNC? Perhaps intersperse the (fire) armed members throughout the line to bring it to maybe 320 meters and hold the rest as a reserve (hoping for the best). Then there were the many civilians to take into account, even if you were willing to risk placing the armed ones in the line I don't see you having more than 400 meter firing line. Adding the two guns and rocket batteries (with their 'extra' troops armed with rifles) to the line and maybe you could stretch it to 450 meters. Now look at the size of the camp Pulleine was ordered to defend. No way No how.
Perhaps if Lord Chelmsford had given no orders to Pulliene then the Colonel could have opted to protect his troops rather the camp and just possibly managed to hold out. That is by no means certain and if he were then forced to affect a fighting withdrawal back to the Drift it would be Chelmsford left swinging in the wind and forced on the defensive with inadequate supplies.
I have yet to come up with a scenario where everyone lives happily everafter!
|12th August 2005||Sean Sweeney|
Unfortunately we have to live with the History as it as been etched in stone, (or in Victorian ink), given no new discoveries of original source material, and no living survivors.
'Alternative History' is nothing new, though,
sort of the 'Spotters' version of 'Science or Futuristic Fiction' .
Military History has been well represented over time.
The earliest known complete work was Napoleonic, although I think there were earlier Roman and Greek speculative short works.
If you want everyone to live happily ever after, you could do well to emulate Louis Geoffroy, who speculated what the World would have been like if Napoleon had not met his 'Moscow' or his 'Waterloo'.
Geoffroy, (and France in denial) had him as conqueror of All Europe, and England, (having defeated Wellington), as well as Constantinople, Egypt, North Africa, and the East.
Destroyed Mecca, abolished Islam and forced all the Jews to become Catholics.
(and made his Uncle Pope.)
Now that's a guy with some imagination and a sense of humour.
Might be an idea for a new book, Dawn ?
And then get Mr Zamoyski to review it !
and post it on Elizabeth Hogan's web-site.
Cheers, and keep up the good work.
|12th August 2005||Dawn|
Sorry, Sean, I'm into writing history, not re-writing history!
|12th August 2005||Michael Boyle|
As fadcinating [sic] (...careful Paul...) as the novel ideas based on those as well as the Confederacy winning the US Civil War or Hitler winning W W II are, I try to confine my AZW speculation. I've read reams of criticism on the the actions of Chelmsford, Pulliene and Durnford but I've yet to read anything that approaches a successful alternative plan of action that would have proved satisfactory given the historical circumstances.
(Perhaps I should give up the attempt of putting tongue to cheek and try to get it to protrude from my forehead !)
|12th August 2005||Dawn|
I once sat next to a guy in a writing class who had an idea for a novel where Kennedy lost the election. I wondered how far that would get, especially when I found out he hadn't even started it. I like history too much to start to try and change it!
PS. Tongue protruding out of forehead...niiiiiice!
|14th August 2005||Sean Sweeney|
Unfortunately, us junior officer cadets were never taught the insights of military/campaign planning, (jealously guarded secrets) so I am unable to even attempt an alternate plan, other than to respect my enemy, sack my Intel Officer, get the hell out of there, and wait for the cavalry, artillery, (and air support) to arrive. (albeit a long trip from India, Horse Guards, or Brize Norton)
What they did teach us though, was a sense of humour !
A very necessary skill for survival in today's Urban jungle ! (and Africa !),
which no doubt the Victorian Army General Staff were totally devoid of !!!