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|18th June 2003||Durford's Last Stand, and other questions|
I don't really know a lot about Colonel Durnford's actions at the battle of Isnadhlwana apart from that he defended a dry river bed, but I really want to know the following:
Where did Colonel Durnford make his last stand?
Did he have his own regiment of loyal native cavalry, as shown in Zulu
How did he die?
|20th June 2003||A.Maniac|
To the best of my belief Durnford's last stand was a quarter of a mile east or south-east of the foot of the col. He was accompanied by about thirty loyal members of his mounted soldiers and he was shot while boldly challenging the Zulus to come and get him!
|20th June 2003||Mark Hobson|
That is a really BIG question you've asked! I could go on for page after page in trying to supply an answer, the reason I suspect why most people have shied away from responding. I'll try and give you a brief reply
When Durnford decided to leave the donga he was defending in order to try and form a coherent defence with Pulleine closer to the camp, he and his men retired towards the nek, or saddle, between Isandlwana and a rocky hill immediately to the south. Durnford tried to find Pulleine but whether he actually met up with him is hotly debated amoungst historians. Whether he did or not, Pulleine would have been aware of Durnford's withdrawal and he likewise ordered the Imperial Infantry to fall back. After that, things became very mixed up, with units intermingled and men fighting for their lives. Durnford managed to rally his men (the Natal Native Horse) close to the track immediately infront of the nek, along with a few white colonial horsemen and some individuals from the 24th Regt. Here they tried to hold back the Zulu Left Horn, to prevent the enemy from completely surrounding the British camp and to allow a few people to escape. They managed this for a short while, but it cost them their lives. Once their ammunition ran out, they resorted to using their rifle butts as clubs and their hunting knives to hold back the Zulus. The exact manner of Durnford's death remains a mystery. Some have him fighting in a waggon (like in Zulu Dawn) but more likely he died in the centre of his men. Certainly when his body was found it was surrounded by those who had rallied around him, both black and white. The site of their stand in clearly visible on the battlefield today, where a large cluster of cairns marks the spot. Durnford's body was taken away and buried in Pietermaritzburg.
|22nd June 2003||A.Maniac|
Can you tell me how far out from the camp was the Donga at which Durnford made his first stand? I know that he was about four miles out when the Zulus rushed at him.
|22nd June 2003||Mark Hobson|
The Nyogane donga where Durnford tried to hold back the Zulu Left Horn is just over a mile from the nek.
Durnford did actually return to camp at one stage earlier, before he and his men withdrew, perhaps to confer with Pulleine. He then returned to the donga. A short while after this he sent Lieutenants Davies and Henderson back to camp to try and bring in fresh supplies of ammunition, but they could not find their units own ammunition waggons. They only managed to acquire half a box from the Carbineers camp, not much when you consider the rate that the men in the donga were firing. They carried it all the way back out to the donga only for Durnford to almost immediately order his men to retire in one body to the camp.
Some people suggest that it was Durnford's withdrawal that percipiatated the British collapse, with it having a domino effect, but he really had little option. He was being outflanked to the south, Zulus were slipping passed to the north, and he was almost out of ammunition. He probably thought a tighter defence centered around the camp was tactically the best option.
There is an excellant book available which tells Durnford's life story, culminating with a very detailed analysis of his actions at Isandlwana. It is "The Road to Isandlwana - Colonel Anthony Durnford in Natal and Zululand" by RWF Droogleever. ISBN 1-85367-118-5
|23rd June 2003||A. Maniac|
Many thanks MarK
|24th June 2003||Andrew|