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DateOriginal Topic
3rd January 2005Questions for the diehards
By Mike Grigg
During the battle at Rorkes drift, what flag would be flying. Was it a full union jack, or a green flag with a small union jack in the corner.

Looking at Chards map, the Zulu's advance at the bottom of the picture came from the hills. I was under the impression they advanced crossing the road facing the verandah's. Am I reading the map the right way up.

Finally, I have just finished reading The Washing of the Spears. I'm amazed to read Ardendorf possibly did'nt hang around during the battles of Rorkes drift, infact he did not take part in any of the action. Is this true, or has the author got it wrong.
3rd January 2005Patrick
Hey, I believe the flaf was the Union Jack, as my Great-Greta-Great-Great-Grandfather brought it home with him.
3rd January 2005Ossie
Hello, in one of the books it is even mentioned that Ardendorf ran of and was later convicted for treason or desertion. If I remember well at least
4th January 2005Julian Whybra
It is high time that this nonsense regarding Adendorff ceased - I'm afraid those popular histories have a lot to answer for. There are numerous participants who witnessed Adendorff's participation at RD AND Isandhlwana. He did not leave Isandhlwana early neither did he leave RD on the quiet. Any text written by a half-decent historian will confirm this or look at the back entries on this forum.
4th January 2005David Alan Gardner
Oh Julian you don't like Mr Morris do you?

These "popular histories" are just that-they introduce the reader to the subject and give them a flavour of the subject matter.
For that alone, they cannot be so easily dismissed
4th January 2005David Alan Gardner
Oh Julian you don't like Mr Morris do you?

These "popular histories" are just that-they introduce the reader to the subject and give them a flavour of the subject matter.
For that alone, they cannot be so easily dismissed
4th January 2005Keith Smith

Quite agree with your assessment of Adendorff being at Rorke's Drift. However, I would be interested in knowing what evidence you have for asserting that he did not leave Isandlwana early, given the time of 3.15 at which he arrived at Rorke's Drift, and given that the time taken to ride there from the camp would have been some two hours.
5th January 2005Julian Whybra
I don't approve of anyone writing a history book who hasn't checked his facts orm 'invents' stories in order to make the book more saleable - as if the drama of the story of Isandhlwana needs spicing up by introducing a tale of possible cowardice and court martial. I don't mind a genuine mistake - we all make mistakes - but Morris makes so many and poor old Adendorff has really suffered because of this one. All that notwithstanding, and as I myself have said several times before, it is still largely due to Morris that the popularity of the war has arisen. Popularity isn't everything though - I wonder - if Morris had left the subject alone, we'd just have been left with Jackson's article from 1965 and perhaps a more accurate, more scholarly approach which was right first time.
5th January 2005mike grigg

Thanks for the information, just a matter of interest, who was your great grandfather, and was he at Rorkes drift.

5th January 2005mike grigg

Can you remember the book that mentioned the trial, and what become of him.
5th January 2005mike grigg

thanks for your input, I see you feel very strong about the whereabouts of Ardendorff during both battles. Before I sum up and make my own opinion on this matter, i'd be interested to know what facts you have to support your claims. I would love to think that like all at Rorkes drift Ardendorff was a true hero. After reading The washing of the Spears, I think Morris was very acurate througout the book, and find it difficult to believe that he would be so inacurate on such an important piece of the story. David and Keith are so convinced that Morris is correct. It looks like it's down to you to prove otherwise. And me i'll sit on the fence a little longer.
5th January 2005mike grigg
David / Keith,

Thanks for both of your responses, I think it only fair to wait for Julian to come back with some substantial proof.
5th January 2005Keith Smith

Sorry - I think you have misinterpreted my post. I am quite convinced that Adendorff was at both Isandlwana and Rorle's Drift. There is ample proof for both. My point was that he was at Isandlwana but probably did not fight there. His company was in reserve near the centre of the camp and did not go into the firing line. It is therefore likely that his men broke early in the attack, having a wide view od the battle field, and Adendorff may have then left the field, having no men left to command.

There is no doubt that he fought at Rorke's Drift, so his personal courage is not is question - he could have left, either with Stephenson and his NNC, or with Henderson and his Native Mounted Contingent, but instead he chose to stay. This is very different from the Morris interpretation.
5th January 2005Peter Ewart

I hope you know what you've started here. Tin helmet ready? ..... :)

6th January 2005Michael Boyle

I hope you're wrong! I wouldn't blame Julian for refusing to yet again pick up the gauntlet on this after so many previous threads!


I believe Julian is some what restricted on his ability to elucidate fully until his doctoral thesis has been presented. However if you read back postings on this forum you will find he has represented his position with admirable clarity.

Morris' work will forever remain a watershed event in my life as I had been thirsting for more than two years for further information on the AZW after becoming hooked on it through the original release of "Zulu".However he was not a scholar (in fact he was an American Intelligence Officer stationed in Cold War Berlin)( no oxymoron jokes please! ) when he wrote it and ,by his own admission,was only presenting a 'popular' history. Although his research by far exceeded any popular work yet presented at the time he did not footnote his conclusions although he included such an extensive bibliography that the mind boggles at his resourcefullness.He none the less succumbed to the very human susceptibility to 'Urban Legends' connected to the conflict.Scholarship throughout the following decades has revealed many inaccuracies in many of his sources and thus in many of his conclusions. I would suggest reading "Zulu Victory" by Ron Lock and Peter Quantrill,"England's Sons" by Julian Whybra and "Redcoats and Zulus" edited by Dr.Adrian Greaves to balance "Washing Of The Spears".



6th January 2005Michael Boyle
Oh yeah, before the attack of the pendantisizers may I suggest we drop the first 'r' from the gentleman's surname?( I have nothing against pedantics, since we may never get all the facts straight we could at least spell the various names correctly.)(When we do occasionally arrive at a consensus that is!)
6th January 2005mike grigg
to all.

If you read the battle report from Chard, he mentions Lt Adendorff who bought the news from issandlwana of the disaster played key roles during the battles at RD. As Michael said above if you drop the first R from Ardenorff, it leaves Adendorff. Well done Michael.

Chards report now proves that Adendorff did stay and fight.

Thanks to everybody for their imput.
7th January 2005Julian whybra
Mike Grigg - I have already stated the details re Adendorff elsewhere on this forum. You wrote "After reading The Washing of the Spears, I think Morris was very accurate throughout the book". I'm sorry, but 'thinking he's accurate' no justification. I suggest you READ the words of the men who were there and what they had to say about Adendorff:
Stafford, Natal Mercury 22.1.1929
Maxwell, Natal Witness Xmas number 1879
Higginson, and Chard (as already mentioned).
As just one example of Morris's lack of accuracy that you might wish to follow up yourself, try researching Lieut. Nathaniel Newnham-Davis (as an experiment) - you'll soon realize your 'very accurate' Morris confused him with Lieut. H.D. Davies. Newnham-Davis was not present at the battle, was not i/c an NNH troop, did not carry the news of Isandhlwana back to PMB, and did none of the other things Morris assigns to him, all of which credit should go to the other man.
Keith - you must forgive me for not replying immediately - you know we've helped one another out in the past - but for the moment I'm going to plead the 5th amendment (as the Americans say) on this one but I will get back to you.
7th January 2005Julian whybra
Mike Grigg - apologies , i forgot one other account - Stafford's 1939 account.
7th January 2005Julian whybra
Keith – you do of course deserve an answer to your query re Adendorff and Isandhlwana, so without giving too much away, consider the following:
1 pm Zulus charge home; artillery tries to leave camp
1-1.15 hand-to-hand fighting in the camp
1.15 Durnford & Shepstone make their stands as does Younghusband perhaps 5-10 mins later
1.30 Zulus have overrun the camp with the 24th only holding out in surrounded isolated pockets; most of those who were going to survive will have left by this time.
2.30 All serious British resistance is over.
Adendorff and (probably) Sibthorpe are seen approaching the Drift at 3.15 by Chard. By the time Chard gets to RD Camp Evans and Whelan have already arrived there and given the news of the disaster.
You state that the ride from Isan to RD would take 2 hours ( I think perhaps a wee bit less but I won’t dispute your timing). Given that Adendorff and Sibthorpe’s route would cut out a great bend of the river I suggest he would have taken perhaps ten minutes less, say 1 hour 50 mins. This would mean he left the camp at 1.25. Consider from my initial list of timings what was happening at 1.25 and who else was fleeing at that time and I don’t think Adendorff can be considered as leaving early.
He left as early as Sibthorpe, Evans, and Whelan. Evans left an account in which he describes the horrors he witnessed en route on the FT – experiences which must have been shared with Adendorff & co. given the simultaneous arrival at RD.
8th January 2005Keith Simth

Thanks for your detailed response to my query about evidence. The estimated times you have given, and those I used myself, differ only slightly, but those minutes might make all the difference and so we must agree to disagree. It is immensely frustrating, and part of the Isandlwana lure, that we are unable to get much closer to the times of variaous events during that awful day.

On a related matter, I have sent you a note off-site. Hope you can help.

9th January 2005Michael Boyle
Given the adrenaline factor involved one could imagine that the trip from Isandlwana was accomplished at a much faster rate than the trip to, thus the time involved for the return could concievably be estimated at a 'full-out' rate. (I imagine there were more than a few blown steeds at the end of that day!)


9th January 2005Julian whybra
Adendorff and his companion could not swim. According to Adendorff, once they reached Fugitives' Drift, they decided to risk travelling along the left (Zulu) bank till they reached RD - a glance at the map shows that though this was riskier it does cut out a bend in the river and should have enabled them to reach RD quicker than if they had crossed the river (time-consuming!) and travelled on the right bank. Also Chard spotted them at 3.15 in the distance approaching the Drift. All this leads me to believe that in estimating a return trip for them of 1 hour 50 mins, I have if anything, overestimated the time taken. Accordingly Adendorff fled the camp at the same time as the other fugitives and cannot be accused of desertion/cowardice/etc.
10th January 2005Michael Boyle
Getting back to the original question and realizing that this has been discussed before (though I have no retention of a concrete answer) and realizing that companies carried no standard, what was the signal flown, and recognized by Chelmsford's returning force? I seem to recall references to "the British flag still waved over the storehouse" (included in the battle info at left), that the defenders had 'cobbled' something together(though it would seem that 'cobbling' together a Union Flag would be beyond the abilities of an exhausted force who seemed to have thought that they were all alone in the world )(or at least in the central approaches to Natal) and that the recognition was the waving of service helmets and huzzahs. Today of course all established camps fly their national standard but was this the case in Victorian times?


11th January 2005Julian whybra
On Chelmsford's approach to RD, the column were unsure who was in possession of the camp. Lieut.-Col. Russell rode forward alone to reconnoitre and was met by Dunne who told him that none of the the portion of the column that had been at Isandhlwana had retired there. Thereupon, Russell lowered his head and quietly sobbed.
11th January 2005Keith Smith

I wonder whether Russell's experiences on the 22nd and morning of the 23rd affected him thereafter. One might speculate that his reaction on arrival at RD was something of a breakdown. His subsequent actions at Hlobane, which led to his being appointed to the command of the Remount Depot, certainly caused Wood to lose confiedence in him. I believe there is a fair bit of correspondece in the Chelmsford Papers at the NAM which might make interesting reading when I am there in April.
12th January 2005Julian Whybra
I believe you are right and there is.
PS I've not forgotten about the copy of the Evans account - I'm still a bit busy.