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31st October 2003Dr. Saul David's Isandlwana
By John Young
I am now looking forward to Dr. David's tome on the Anglo-Zulu War having read, albeit briefly his account of Isandlwana in his book on military blunders, published in 1997.

In his 1997 work Dr. David has 'Melville' [sic] ordered off the battlefield by Pulleine, now doesn't that rather fly in the face of his accusations of a week ago? If Pulleine did indeed order Melvill to leave the field in charge of the Queen's Colour, then he was obeying a lawful order.

Dr. David's works of reference for his 1997 piece are somewhat limited also, he only cites Donald Morris' 'The Washing of the Spears' & Rupert Furneaux's 'The Zulu War: Isandhlwana & Rorke's Drift'. As if guided by these two works he fells into '55 European Survivors of Isandlwana' trap.

His lack of knowledge of the 2nd Baron, Lord Chelmsford's military career prior to the Anglo-Zulu War is equally surprising. He has him joining the '95th (Rifle Brigade)', and serving with them in the Crimea, the Indian Mutiny & Abyssinian campaign. Sorry Dr David, you were close, but not close enough. In 1844, Frederic Augustus Thesiger, joined The Rifle Brigade as a 2nd-Lieutenant by purchase. In 1845 he transferred to the Grenadier Guards, and served with the Grenadiers until 1858, which obviously includes his Crimean War service.

In 1858, he was appointed as Lieutenant-Colonel of the 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment, this is obviously where Dr. David has become confused. Due to the fact between 1802 - 1816 The 95th (Rifles Corps) Regiment of Foot existed, only to assume the title The Rifle Brigade in 1816.

Dr. David's opening paragraph speaks volumes of his lack of knowledge of the Zulu army in 1879, by his use of the expression '...armed only with spears...' Look at the famous photograph of Prince Dabulamanzi kaMpande taken at his brother's 'coronation' in 1873, which appears in 'The Washing of the Spears', those 'spears' look like firearms to me. However, I can't be sure as I not an 'expert'.

I would welcome Dr. David to face his critics on the 22nd January 2004, at the Royal Engineers Museum, Chatham, at the start of the museum's 125th anniversary event.

John Young
31st October 2003Peter Weedon

Can you tell us any more about the Chatham event?

1st November 2003John Young

The event will run from the 22nd - 25th January 2004. It will following the format establish in the R.E. Museum's last event May/June of this year.

The Zulu Royal House will be represented by Princes Shange & Joseph, both descendants of Prince Dabulamanzi. There will also be a descendant of Ntshingwayo kaMahole, the Zulu commander at Isandlwana present.

The Victorian Military Society's 'Diehard Company' will be there, providing their own unique version of living history.

The programme will also include lectures, including Julian Whybra giving his version of events at Isandlwana.

As well as this it is a chance to see the fine collection that the Royal Engineers Museum has.

The event will conclude with a service a Rochester Cathedral on the Sunday.

If any one would like to be involved in this event please drop me an e-mail.

John Young
1st November 2003Clive Dickens
I would love to be there but unfortunately I will be in South Africa at that time but I have no doubt that Dr David Saul will be in for a rather hot time I woud not like to be in his shoes.
2nd November 2003AMB
And who is publishing Dr David's new work?
5th November 2003Philip James
I wonder why John Young feels Dr Saul David should have to face his critics - just because some fanatics can't bear being moved on from the hopelessly inaccurate film 'Zulu' perhaps? Anoraks can always pick holes in any programme, but Dr Saul David moved the debate into new and interesting realms. When being contoversial he quoted from impeccable sources including Queen Victoria's diary and other military reports. If anyone doubts that British soldiers murdered a large number of Zulus after Rorke's Drift, then just have a look at the accounts by Hamilton-Browne or the correspondence of Frances Colenso on the matter.
Rather than criticise someone new to the field, let's take up some of his points rather than referring back to 'Zulu' or relying on grumpy John Young for his regal opinion.
5th November 2003John Young

'Grumpy' - news to me! And news to many who know me, obviously you don't!

The fact is on this post I'm referring to Saul David's book 'Military Blunders', I am dealing with matters of fact which are from equally 'impeccable sources'. Which Dr. David has ignored, and generated his own military blunders.

If you think that I'm one who feels the 'Zulu' is not without error, again with you've have got the wrong person there also.

There is no doubt in my mind that Zulu wounded were despatched without mercy, or that summary executions took place in the vicinity of Rorke's Drift and Helpmekaar for days, possibly weeks, after the event.

What is wrong with being critical with someone who purports to be an authority, yet in reality that person's work is actually at fault? Does it matter that he is 'new to the field', is he or is he not a professional historian?

What are his points anyway? That the authorities were tardy in recognising the work of James Langley Dalton - new? Even in 1879 in the pages of 'Punch' that debate was being aired.

That Chard and Bromhead considered evacuating the sick & wounded from the hospital on the available transport - I am sure they considered it.

That some officers left the field of Isandlwana, rather than remaining with their men? The programme's Assistant Director, Mina Panic actually had an article by myself on that very subject.

The cover-up after Isandlwana - Ron Lock & Peter Quantrill presented that in a far better way in their work 'Zulu Victory', than Dr. David, I also know the same assistant director had a copy of that work too.

So what was new about Dr. David's work? Frankly, as far as I'm concerned, nothing!

As for George Hamilton Browne, can we really rely on his works as evidence? His military career has been called into question previously on this forum, to say that he was at times liberal with the truth would be an understatement. So why should we so readily accept his version of events of Isandlwana and those post the battle?

I welcome you along to Chatham as well, if you'd like to hear what others have to say about the events of 1879, that's if you've got an anorak.

John Young,
Royal Zulu War Research Society
(Registered in R.S.A.)
I hope that's 'regal' enough for you.