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DateOriginal Topic
25th September 2003Chard at Ulundi
By Steven Sass
It being documented that John Chard was at the battle of Ulundi, are there any accounts of his actions there?
30th September 2003Barry Iacoppi N.Z.
Like you I had hoped that some one knew the answer to this one Steven.
30th September 2003Martin Everett
Dear Steven,
The Army List just states that he was present at Ulundi. And this statement applies to a number of other officers who just witnessed the battle but took no active part. Chard (I assume) was with No 5 Company RE - 5 Offrs and 62 men. I cannot locate any reference as to the part that No. 5 Company played in the battle, other than they are shown in the middle of the British square at Ulunid behind the 2 gating guns and 5 Companies of the 80th Foot. There was another RE company at the camp with 1/24th near the Umvolosi.
30th September 2003Steven Sass
Dear Martin,

Many thanks for the information. It provides a good starting point for futher investigation and for that matter, further visualization on my part. Before yourself and Barry replied I was starting to think I was the only one curious about this.

30th September 2003John Young

I haven't replied before now because I was searching for the reference, and now I've found it.
'The order was given for the troops to form a large hollow oblong square, with Engineers' tool-cart, ammunition and bearers in the centre, under Major Chard and Captain Ainsley(sic).'

The other officer mentioned is actually Captain T.H. Anstey, Royal Engineers, the brother E.O.H. Anstey, 24th k.ia. Isandlwana.

Source James Grant's 'British Battles on Land & Sea' 1886 edition.

Hope that helps,

John Y.
1st October 2003Steven Sass

As always your expertise is greatly appreciated. Thanks again!

1st October 2003Bill Cainan

Another thought for you to consider. To what extent had Chard suffered through being at Rorke's Drift ? The stress of being officer in command through a particularly gruelling engagement must surely have told on him. I could well understand that because of this previous pressure, he may well have "sat quietly" in the Ullundi square, taking no active part.

The same may well have applied to Adendorff - he had gone through the trauma of the slaughter at Isandlwana, and may well have sat quietly in a dark corner at Rorke's Drift through the battle - could this be why there is controversy of whether he was there or not ? I believe that from the sparse documentation that he was there, but took no active part. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ?

Of course the severity of the pressure would be different in Chard and Adendorff - Adendorff had been on the losing side at Isandhlwana, while Chard would have experience the buoyancy of "winning" at Rorke's Drift.

This is og course pure conjecture - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was not recognised as such at this time (though many soldiers were diagnosed as suffering from "melancholia") and of course Officers would not be expected to show such signs of weakness !

1st October 2003Mark Hobson
Good point Bill.

Another officer who suffered after his experience at Isandlwana was Lieutenant Curling, RA. Being the only surviving officer who had fought on the front line, he must have been witness to some pretty horrendous things, and during the weeks that followed he spent much time reflecting on this. So much so that he seems to have lost all interest in his duty, a common enough trait of somebody suffering severe psychological problems. To try and exorcise his demons he began writting an abundance of letters home to his family, describing over and over the events of the 22nd. Perhaps he felt a residue of guilt - at surviving when so many of his friends had died. But as you say, officers of the day were expected to set an example and not to wallow in self pity, something drummed into them during their public school days.

The fact that their peers held little sympathy for their suffering is apparant in this extract from a comment made by Colonel Harness.

'You will think me still more ill-natured when I tell you that Curling who escaped Isandlwana has gone away ill and the doctor where he has gone says "there is nothing the matter with him". Poor fellow - I am afraid his nerves were a good deal shaken on 22nd January but what is to be done now?'

Colonel Glyn also went through trying times. He'd lost his regiment. And Lord Chelmsford likewise suffered from lethargy and acute distress.
2nd October 2003Steven Sass
It's a shame Chard did not leave behind a more complete account of his role in the war, aside of course from his official reports detailing the events at Rorke's Drift. Had he, a more complete picture of how the events at the mission station affected him may have been gleaned. We can always hold out hope though. As with the emergence of the Curling Letters, perhaps the Chard Papers are waiting to be discovered. Imagine what they would fetch on eBay!
2nd October 2003Graham Alexander
Another officer who was present at Ulundi and had witnessed the battle at Isandlwana was Captain Edward Essex. He too had seen the terrible scenes of destruction, had escaped by the skin of his teeth, and was now expected to face the same warriors again. It is virtually impossible to imagine what dark thoughts must have been going through these mens minds, as the Zulus assembled for the coming battle. I have also tried , without success, to obtain any information about the actions of Captain Essex at Ulundi. It is certain however, that they showed great will and determination to face an enemy who had accompliced such an overwhelming victory, and could very likely do so again. Captain Essex, was facing his first action at Isandlwana, and could have spoken like Stanley Baker in " Zulu " where he stated " Do you think that I could go through this Butchers yard more than once ? ". He, like Ltn Curling, not only could but did so.
2nd October 2003Peter Ewart
Ditto for Smith. Found nothing so far about his involvement at Ulundi although a couple of incidents are recorded during the time he was on the march with the 2nd Div towards the White Mfolozi. It was also either he or the other chaplain in this column who read the burial service over Pte Pearce, FLH (Peacock according to Grenfell!) very early on that morning of 4th July.

No doubt he found plenty to do in assisting surgeons & comforting wounded, just as he had immediately after - & during the days following - Rorke's Drift. Passing round the ammo no doubt not required this time! It is apparent that quite a number of those inside the square remained observers & no more throughout.

I agree with the above points, in that those who had undergone the trauma of Rorke's Drift or Isandlwana may well have wondered what was in store for them again, particularly when they appreciated that Chelmsford was deliberately going to ensure that the British were surrounded once more! They may well have had confidence in the concentrated fire power of the infantry & the cavalry available on this occasion, but I wonder if any of them wondered "But where are the barricades?"

As for Chard, I think there is a little evidence that he was greatly affected by 22/23 Jan but I think any study of this point is restricted by a comparative lack of knowledge about his character beforehand. I still have half a hankering that he, himself, wondered afterwards whether his role had merited the VC, especially vis-a-vis Dalton's role?

11th December 2003michael Champagne
hi all how do you get singed up?