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DateOriginal Topic
7th March 2003adendorff
By L.J.Knight
does anybody out there know the definitive!..
answer to this question." was Lieutenant James Ardendorff the only man to have fought at both Isandhlwana and Rorkes Drift.?
facts only please.
7th March 2003James Garland
No he wasn't the only man to fight at both battles. Many of the Zulus fought at Isanhlwana and Rorke's Drift.
8th March 2003Bill Cainan
What about the Edendale Horse ? They fought well at Isandlwana until ordered by Durnford to cut their way off the battlefield. They then arrived at Rorke's Drift and offered their services to the garrison, albeit in a mounted role. They were probably the first troops to fire at the advancing Zulu column, and certainly provided Chard with the warning that the attack was beginning - as they had promised.

9th March 2003John Young

Don't go all film-like here - the Natal Native Horse which arrived under the command of Lieutenant A.F. Henderson, were a mixed bag of men from Hlubi's Troop as well as the Edendale Troop.

R.J. "Bob" Hall, the meat contractor of the Natal Mounted Police, survived Isandlwana, and with 'gentle persuasion' encouraged the Natal Native Contingent in the building of the barricades at Rorke's Drift. Fired a few shots before decamping with the cry "Here they come, black as hell, thick as grass!"

John Y.
9th March 2003Bill Cainan

Film-like ? I'm not really sure what you are getting at there ? In the film "Zulu" the cavalry that appear at Rorke's Drift are clearly all white colonial cavalry and are led by a "Stephenson/Stevenson ?" of "Durnford's Horse" (clearly mixing up this film character with Capt Stevenson who actually commanded the Company of the 2/3 NNC that was part of the garrison), and of course they refuse to stay and help the garrison.

I was merely answering the original question as to who else had fought at both Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift, and named the Edendale Horse as an example.

I agree with you totally that the Hlubi Troop under Lt Henderson had got back to Rorke's Drift. I understand that the Edendale Horse may have been more disorganised than the Hlubi and left the battlefield slightly after them, with their officer (Lt Davies) joining them on the retreat. Both troops seemed to have secured at least a partial ammunition resupply before leaving Isandlwana. In Thompson's "The NNC in the Anglo Zulu Ware 1879" he has the Edendale Troop crossing at Sotondose's Drift, but like you I suspect the troops that arrived at Rorke's Drift were a mixed bag of Hlubi and Edendale men.

Chard asked their officer (presumably Henderson) to extend the mounted men in a screen beyond the Shiyane to try and delay the Zulu approach.

After firing a smattering of shots the mounted men, "about a hundred", retreated towards Helpmekaar. As both the Hlubi and Edendale Troops started the day with about 50 men each, this would seem to confirm (even allowing for exaggeration) that Edendale Men were mixed in with the Hlubi (and there may even have been some Sikali Horse there as well).

Henderson reported to Chard that he could no longer get his men to obey him. He and Bob Hall stayed for a while, used up their remaining ammunition, and then followed the other mounted men towards Helpmekaar.

Certainly the sight of these horsemen riding off towards Helpmekaar prompted Stevenson's NNC Company to flee the post. The news that the charismatic Durnford had stayed at the camp and was probably dead may also have contributed to this flight.

We can only imagine the mental state of anyone who had survived the fighting at Isandlwana. It is therefore all the more credit to the men of the Natal Native Horse who at least made a gesture with their limited ammunition at Rorke's Drift.

9th March 2003Melvin Hunt
Bill's last paragraph reinforces my opinion that Ardendorff did not stay. He saw at Isandlwana what the Zulu was capable of. Why would he have stayed? Why would he have felt confident behind a few biscuit boxes, especially after the Henderson desertion? Would you have stayed in the same circumstances? (Honest answers please. )
Ian asks for a definitive answer. Has anyone found any definitive proof that he stayed? Surely if he had, then he would have been
singled out for the praise and respect he would have justifiably deserved?
10th March 2003L.J.Knight.
nice one!James Garden,[sarcasm+a touch of indignant irony]. so the answer is no then, none of you can give me difinitive answer! i dont often contribute to this forum with good reason, the way the majority of you descend into bitchiness, so called respected "experts"
carrying on with appalling condecension and
one up man ship.i just want to learn all i can about this " little war" sort your selfs out, this
information should be available to everybody!.
10th March 2003L.J.Knight
thank you for your contribution MrMelvin Hunt
my understanding is that Adendorff left the battlefield of Isandhlwana early, hence the time of his arreival at the R.D.crossing,wether he stayed or not is still to my mind unresolved,
there is reference to him and stephenson being arrested a few weeks later, but no formal proceedings[recorded] have as yet come to light. but its a funny old world. private
collections may well contain a wealth of material as yet unseen. would i have stayed,err,no. but consider the nature of the
colonial, these men were of a different breed,
impossible to judge them by our own "soft"ways. they knew all about what fighting the zulu entailed they had been doing it for forty odd years. my reply to James Garden does not reflect my opinion of the regular A.Z.W. enthusiasts which i sometimes
10th March 2003John Young

You have obviously taken my comment, made in jest, the wrong way. All I was trying to point out is that just to mention the Edendale Troop of the Natal Native Horse is wrong, which you obviously concur with above.

The film I was actually alluding to was 'Zulu Dawn' where everyone in the Natal Native Horse, including Simeon Kambule, D.C.M. is a member of "Sikali's Horse, Christians all..." Rather than a member of Harry Davis' troop recruited from the Edendale Mission.

Harry Davis, (or Davies, depending on who you're reading - and I've just noticed a proof error in 'They Fell Like Stones', which shows both!) reported that Henderson had with him some of his men and some of his own. (For the direct quote see 'Kingdom & Colony at War' page 138, P.S. Thompson's article on the Natal Native Contingent.) Davis does not make any mention of any of the men from the three troops of Sikali's men, but as you say we should not discount them.

You mention ammunition in your last paragraph, I have laboured this point on this and other forums. Do we know for certain what weapons the Natal Native Horse were carried? I'd venture no we do not - that they were breechloaders that may be apparent - but they could have been carrying Martini-Henrys; Swinburne-Henrys; Terrys; Sniders, even as I have seen a Sharps carbine. Of those weapons only two fired the .450 which was in abundant supply at Rorke's Drift. Their ammunition supply wagons were still not at Isandlwana, by the time the action had already commenced. By the time the Natal Native Horse quit the field no-one I contend had troubled to look for them, and replenish their supplies.

That they actually provided a mounted screen, with their limited ammunition supply is a fine testimony to their courage.

L.J. Knight,

In answer to your's and Melvin's questions. I believe that Lieutenant G.W. Adendorff did remain and fight at Rorke's Drift. You'll forgive me but I have been over this ground before several times on the forum, hopefully when Alan & Peter are back the new format of the forum will be introduced and you will be able to search on a name or a topic.

In September, 1991, at the Local History Museum, Durban, whilst going through papaers there, I found an almanac belonging to Lieutenant Henry Charles Harford, of the 99th Duke of Edinburgh's (Lanarkshire) Regiment. Harford ("the beetle collector") was a Special Service Officer, due to the fact he had been raised in Natal, he was assigned as a Staff Officer to the 3rd Regiment, Natal Native Contingent.

That document is in the Collection of the Local History Museum, and therefore I acknowledge their rights of it, and only refer to it for the purposes of this debate.

In the almanac he wrote certain facts and figures in the immediate wake of the the Isandlwana debacle. He records the following fact under '1st Battalion' - 'Lieut' - 'G.W. Adendorff' he then lists his next-of-kin's name and address.

Harford also records the fact that Lt. Adendorff had two horses killed at Isandlwana.

Now the piece of information you seek, he records the following; 'Names of off. & men who were at the defence of Rk Drf.'
'Capt. Stevenson. (bolted' [he does not close the bracket -JY] on the next line appears -
'Lt Adendorff', there is no comment or remark alongside Adendorff's name. But I feel the above comment that an 'off(icer)' was present from those listed only leaves us with G.W. Adendorff.

As to Melvin's comment about singling him out for praise, what do you know of his actions either at Isandlwana or Rorke's Drift - little or nothing, so why should he be praised? He apparently shot a Zulu with a lighted brand, who was attempting to to fire the store's thatched roof, but there is evidence that 2nd Corporal F. Attwood of the A.S.C. did the same, and he earned the D.C.M. What award could Adendorff have been awarded? The only option was a V.C. for an officer, albeit a colonial officer.

As to his arrest the main culprit for this is Donald Morris, I feel. If you believe John Maxwell's 'Reminiscenes of the Zulu War', pages 10-11, three officers from the 3rd Natal Native Contingent were arrested including Adendorff and ordered back to Rorke's Drift.
Stevenson's name does not appear in those three named.

It is Maxwell that also concludes that Adendorff quit the field of isandlwana early, if he did so then so did Trooper W. Sibthorpe of the Natal Carbineers, who we can now conclude was Adendorff's riding companion, and not Lieutenant T. Vaines, who came out through Fugitives' Drift.

As you will see I have introduced facts which are contrary to those I, myself, have previously written. The study of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, is still an ongoing thing, nearly 125 years after the event, contrary to the belief held by some.

We might never know the full truth about G.W. Adendorff's presence at Isandlwana & Rorke's Drift. But I hope I have at least cast some doubt in your mind, that what you may have previously read may well be flawed research.

I do hope that you don't count me in the ranks of those who don't share their research, look to the answers on this forum. I impart my knowledge freely to anyone who poses a question, that some people don't even bother to acknowledge what I've told them is a bitter pill, but one I'll continue to swallow, for the sake of those who do. I am an enthusiast not an expert, I have no formal training in historical research.

Personally, I don't think we can resolve the differences that exist between the varying factions that study this campaign. If we all sang from the same hymn-book, this forum would be a boring place, wouldn't it?


In answer to your question, our mutual friend, Kenneth Griffith once asked me, "Where would you like to be transported back to - Isandlwana or Rorke's Drift?" I replied without pausing to think fully - "Isandlwana." Then I added "Provided I had a good horse and plentiful supply of ammuniton, and a two mile head start on the nearest Zulu!" That was my honest answer then and I'm sticking to it!

John Y.
10th March 2003BIll Cainan

Ah, I see ! Yes, I did think you were referring to "Zulu" as opposed to "Zulu Dawn" !However, I think between us all we have gone a fair way to answering Mr L J Knight's original querry.

On re-reading my note above, plus re-reading Ian Castle's new Osprey book on the Volunteers, Irregulars and Auxiliaries of the Zulu War, I realise that perhaps I should not have collectively labelled the Edendale, Hlubi and Sikali Troops as "Natal Native Horse", as in January 1879 they were known as the Natal Native Contingent (Mounted). The term Natal Native Horse only came into being after the re-organisation in February 1879 following the defeat at Isandlwana. I thought I'd better own up to this before I got taken to task !

Ian, in his Osprey book, also makes some interesting comments on the carbines carried by the Natal Native Contingent (Mounted). He states the Sikali Horse were armed with Swinburn-Henrys; the Edendale and Jantje Horse with Martini-Henrys; but has been unable to determine what carbines were carried by the Hlubi. As these troops were all issued their carbines by the military authorities it would make sense to issue weapons that used a common round. I would have thought that Durnford, with his experience would have insisted on this standardisation.

The resupply I refer to above was quoted in Thompson's "The NNC in the AZW 1879" - he mentions Lt Davies "finding 200 cartridges in the colonials' encampment". He also mentions that Lt Henderson (having linked with his Hlubi Troop) "led them to their own waggons. They were able to get a portion of the ammunition they needed". Thompson's sources are cross referenced, though I have not checked them.

I agree with you in that the contributions from the various visitors (whether acknowledged or not)to this site are quite often priceless, and I'm sure we have all learned a lot from the various debates that have arisen. The variouis theories that abound, should keep this site open for many a long year ! Many of us I'm sure have had to re-evaluate certain long held ideas (probably formed in the days when we saw "Zulu" and "Zulu Dawn" almost as being documentaries filmed at the time !).

For myself, I have had to totally rethink my ideas on Chelmsford. Initially I thought that his command ability was seriously flawed, but after reading lots of accounts, particularly on his prosecution of the war following the early defeats, I now have a lot of admiration for how he pulled himself together, learned from his mistakes and went on to achieve the final victory.

11th March 2003Peter Quantrill
The weight of evidence shows that there is little doubt that Adendorff fought at Rorke's Drift.
1. Red Book-page 39." In the attack made on Rorke's Drift -----Lieut Bromhead,2-24th,with Lieut.Chard,RE., and Ardendorff,1st-3rd Natal Contingent who had escaped them,and 130 men succeeded in keeping off over 4000 Zulus"
2. Red Book- page 44. Report by Times Correspondent (Noggs-Norris) "The following officers were with him (Bromhead) at the time,and gave material assistance:- Dr.Reynolds2-24th, Lieutenant Chard,RE., Lieutenant Adendorff,1-3rd Natal Native Contingent"
3. Red Book--page 73. Chard's Report." I was informed by one of them,Lieutenant Adendorff,of Lonsdale's regiment (who remained to assist in the defence) of the disaster at Isandlwana camp"
4. Red -page 144. Chard's Roll, number 133-Lieutenant Adendorff, Natal Native Contingent.
5. Red Book, page 145. Poem from "Truth" February 20th 1879.
"And e'en in homes of mourning,
Where Death has stricken hard,
They talk of Gonville Bromhead,
And Adendorff,and Chard."
6. Diary of Carl Immanuel Muller, Lieutenant Commanding the Kaffrarian Riflemen(sic) formed 6th November 1879 --term of engagement, six months.It was this Regiment that Adendorff originally joined, according to Muller. The latter on page 8 of his diary recorded," Lieut.Adendorf (sic) left us in PMB as he had been offered a post in a local regiment; later in defence of Rorke's Drift he excelled himself"
7. Finally, and most conclusively, a letter written from the High Commissioner's Office,(Sir Bartle Frere) dated 25th January and published in the Natal Witness on 28th January, three days later.
" In the attack made at Rorke's Drift on Wednesday evening,after the destruction of the camp,Lieutenant Bromhead 2-24th with Lieutenant Chard,R.E. and Adendorff 1-3rd Natal Contingent ( who had escaped from the camp) and 130 men succeeded in keeping off 4ooo Zulus"
These are all contemporary reports and leave little doubt on the controversy. I have also recently spoken to a distant relative of Adendorff in the Natal Midlands. She stated that the Adendorff's arrived in the Cape in the 1840's and that the oral history handed down to the familly was that Adendorff was ordered to warn RD of the impending attack on Isandlwana, following his report to Pulleine of the Zulu advance, hence his early departure- an interesting, but unsubstantiated view point.
11th March 2003Melvin Hunt
Peter, Thanks for the answer and information.
John, thanks also for the reply. What was the almanac you read?. Was it the original version of Harfords Journal published in 1978 and edited by Daphne Child? The point I made about singing the praises of Adendorff referred to the courage of the man if he stayed and fought after seeing what had happened at Isandlwana. What did you mean when you referred to unresolved differences between varying factions?
PS. Would L J Knight please contact me with an upto date e mail address?
12th March 2003Lee Stevenson
I am in the process of compiling an 'Adendorff' famly tree in the hopes of tracking down the illusive Lt. Adendorff. To date the tree contains 150+ names dating from the first 'European' settlers of the c. late 1700's up until about the 1960's.

Peter's comment from the distant Adendorff relative is correct in that a portion of the Adendorff family did indeed settle in Natal, however a large part of the family remained in the Cape.

12th March 2003John Young

I didn't want to tread on your toes on this ongoing research. The only reason the 'new' initials have been revealed as to satisfy L. J. Knight's query.


No it isn't the same thing at all, his journal is obviously written after the campaign, on lined paper.

The information in the almanac is scribbled, much it in pencil, in this tiny notebook,- it is about 3" x 5", wherever there is space on pages.

I think ventured down the path of what the differences between the various interested parties, too many times before, not to bore everyone with them again. So you'll forgive me if I acquiesce by my silence on this occasion.


14th March 2003/L.J.Knight
thank to all who replied to me.i'm still processing the information.i did'nt know my e-mail was faulty,thank you.
7th April 2003Julian Whybra
May i add one more item to the list - i have been in touch with GW ADendorff's great-grandson - the family are in no doubt whatsoever that he fought at both battles and are proud to say so.
5th May 2003J Lewis
anyone know of any connection between the adendorff of rorkes drift and HJC adendorrf who was a trooper in the Umvoti Mounted rifles and took part in the Natal Poll Tax Rebellion campaign of 1906??