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TOWARDS ULUNDI


It may be remembered that Lord Chelmsford's original idea had been for Colonel Pearson's :column to march from Eshowe to the chief's kraal at Ulundi. In  consequence of the disaster, however, Colonel Pearson decided to remain where he was. He constructed a fort for the protection of the garrison against an army of some 20,000 Zulus lying in wait between Eshowe and Tugela. Qn the 3oth of January all the troops came  within this embryo fort, and as tents were forbidden, officers and men had to make the best of what shelter the waggons afforded. The troops spent the time in completing the fort and cutting roads, and early in February  excellent defences were completed. Though in hourly expectation of attack they seem to have kept up their spirits, for an officer in Eshowe wrote

"The troops inside consisted of three companies of the 99th Regiment, five  companies of the second battalion of the 3rd Buffs, one company of Royal Engineers, one company of the Pioneers, the Naval Brigade, a body of Artillery, and nineteen of the Native Contingent, amongst them being several  non-commissioned officers, whom we found exceedingly useful, two of them being at once selected as butchers, whilst two were 'promoted' to the rank of 'bakers to the troops.' Others attended to the sanitary arrangements of the  garrison, and altogether they were found to be also exceedingly useful. As a portion of the column, the company of Pioneers under the command of Captain Beddoes did a great deal of very important work. This company was composed  of ninety-eight natives, one captain, and three lieutenants, and their proceedings in connection with the making of the new road were watched with much interest. They worked with the Naval Brigade, about three companies of  soldiers, and several men of the Royal Artillery. This road was found useless, in consequence of the numerous swampy places at the foot of each of the numerous hills which occurred along the route. Very thick bush had to be cut  through, and at first but slow progress was made. The road, as is generally known, took a direction towards the Inyezane. Whilst out on one occasion, the road party saw a torpedo explosion which took place about three miles  from where the party was working. It had been accidentally fired by Kaffirs, who were unaware of the dangers connected with the implement, and it is believed that several of them were killed. The road was altogether a bad one.  The relief column used it on their way up, but only the Pioneers and the mounted men went by that route on the way back. In fact, it would have been useless to have attempted to use it for the passage of waggons. Whenever the  road party went out they were fired on by Kaffirs, but of course shots were returned, and many a Zulu' warrior was knocked over whilst the work was being proceeded with. Everything in camp was conducted in a most orderly  manner. We were roused at half-past five sharp, and at eight o'clock, sharp, lights were out. For one month we existed very comfortably on full rations, but at the end of that time we were put on short rations, made up as  follows :-One pound and a quarter of trek-oxen beef, six ounces of meal, one ounce and a quarter of sugar, third of an ounce of coffee, one sixth of an ounce of tea, one ninth of an ounce of pepper, and a quarter of an ounce of  salt.

"Life of course was very monotonous. The bands of the two regiments played on alternate afternoons, and every morning they were to be heard practising outside the entrenchment. The most pleasant part of the day was  just after six o'clock, when we used to be enlivened in the cool of the evening by the fife and drum band playing the 'Retreat The water with which we were supplied was indeed excellent, and the bathing places, I need not say,  were very extensively patronised. The grazing was not nearly sufficient for the cattle, and from the first they must have suffered very much from want of nourishment. You will have heard of the fate of the eleven hundred head  of oxen and the span of donkeys which we sent away from the camp in expectation of their reaching the Lower Tugela. They left us in charge of nineteen Kaffirs, but at the Inyezane they were attacked by a large body of Kaffirs.  The natives in charge of the cattle decamped and reached the fort in safety, and the enemy got possession of the whole of the cattle, which they drove off. The donkeys were all killed with the exception of one, and this  sagacious animal surprised everybody in camp by returning soon after the Kaffirs had come back"

The prices of food at this time were scarcely in keeping with those of the London market. A bottle of pickles fetched 25s.,  and a ham £7, 10s. ! Milk was purchasable for 23s. a tin, and sardines for 12s.

As may be imagined, the arrival of Lord Chelmsford at Eshowe was a matter for general thanksgiving. One who was present records in Blackwood's Magazine the joy on the arrival of the first outsiders: "On the afternoon of the 3rd of April, the column detailed on the 31st of March (about 500 whites and 50 blacks, and the mounted infantry, with one  gun) left the fort under General Pearson, to meet the relief column. . . . A solitary horseman was seen towards 5 P.M. galloping up the new road to the fort. He had an officer's coat on, and we could see a sword dangling from  his Who is he? . . He proved to be the correspondent of the Standard. 'First in Eshowe,' he said, 'proud to shake hands with an Eshowian.' A second horseman appeared approaching

The fort his horse apparently much blown, Who is he? . . . The correspondent of the Argus (Cape Town). They had a race who would be first at Eshowe, the Standard winning by five minutes!" Thus ended happily  the crushing anxiety under which Colonel Pearson and his party had lived, and the foretaste of the future triumph seemed' already to remove the memory of many weeks of bitterness.

Serous differences of opinion soon arose  between Lord Chelmsfor d and Sir Henry Bulwer, the Governor of Natal, but on the intricacies of these it is unnecessary to dwell; suffice it to say, that they were in a measure the cause of Sir Garnet Wolseley's arrival on the  scene somewhat later, as Sir Garnet united in his own person both supreme civil and supreme military power.

A complete account of the movements of the various columns during

the dreary months that elapsed before the final  victory at Ulundi on the 4th of July cannot be attempted here. The history of skirmishes and raids, of daring sorties, of captures of cattle, and of troops, of hopes and disappointments, of successes and scares, of hardships  and horrors, would fill many pages that must be otherwise occupied.

Yet one tragic and memorable event of the war cannot be passed over, for we lost a gallant volunteer whose young life was full of promise and distinction. At  the beginning of June the Prince Imperial of France, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, having studied at the Military College at Woolwich, and desiring to see war in all its reality, was attached to the Quartermaster-General's  department at General Newdigate's camp. He set out with a reconnoitring party consisting of Lieutenant Carey of the 98th Regiment, six men of Bellington's Horse, and a Kaffir. The place they intended to reach was situated  between the camps of Lord Chelmsford and General Wood. Having gained a picturesque spot near a brook, which forms a tributary to the Tlyotyozi River, the Prince decided to sketch. He was a clever draughtsman, and had some  ability in recognizing the capabilities of positions. The party afterwards moved on, examining various empty kraals by the way. At one of these they halted, and the Prince gave orders to ".off-saddle" for an hour. The  place seemed deserted; there were remains of a recent cooking fire, and a stray dog or two sniffed suspiciously at. the strangers. Round this spot near the river tambookie grass about six feet in height formed a screen. The  officers made coffee, turned out their horses to graze, and lay for a short rest in the peaceful security of a complete, or seemingly complete, desolation.

But unknown to them, fifty Zulus, tiger-like, had crawled from ambush  and were preparing to spring. It was from the cover of the river vegetation that they eventually burst forth. A hurried order to remount, and the crash of rifles at a distance of twenty yards followed. The tragic scene is well  described by Mr. A. Wilmot in his "History of the Zulu War"

"At this time the party were standing in a line close to their horses, with their backs to the kraal and their faces turned eastward, the Prince being  in front and nearest to the Zulus. Then with a tremendous cry 'Usutu' and 'Lo, the English cowards!' the savages rushed on. The horses immediately swerved, and some broke away. An undoubted panic seized the party; every one who  could spring on his horse mounted and galloped for his life. There was no thought, no idea of standing fast and resisting this sudden attack. The Prince was unwounded, but unable to mount his charger, which was sixteen hands  high and always difficult to mount. On this occasion the horse became so frightened by the firing and sudden stampeding as to rear and prance in such a manner as to make it impossible for the Prince to gain the saddle. Many of  the others saw the difficulty, but none waited or tried to give the least assistance. One by one they rushed their horses past, Private le Tocq exclaiming as he went by, lying across his saddle, ~DerpeAchez vous, s'il vous  plait, monsieur!' The Prince, making no reply, strained every nerve, but, alas! in vain, to gain the back of his horse, holding his stirrup-leather with his left hand and the saddle with his right. With the help of the holster  he made one desperate effort, but the holster partially gave way, and it must have been then that the horse trod upon him and galloped off; leaving his master prostrate on the ground. The Prince then regained his feet and ran  after his friends, who were far in advance. Twelve or thirteen Zulus were at this time only a few feet behind him. The Prince then turned round, and, sword in hand, faced his pursuers. From the first he had never called for  help and now died bravely with his face to the foes, fighting courageously to the last. "It is thought that the Zulus hurled their assegais at him, and that he quickly fell dead, pierced through the eye by a mortally  wound."

There is a certain sad satisfaction in remembering that this noble youth, the hope of France, the worthy descendant of a great name, should have died as a soldier and without more than a moment's suffering.

The  rest of the party had galloped off at full speed, thinking each was engaged in the business of getting away. Lieutenant Carey who has been blamed for not having stood by the Prince in his perilous position, shouted orders and  imagined they were followed and in his hasty retreat had not time to do more than believe whole party thus surprised were galloping away together.

Arguments regarding this deplorable affair have been so many

That it is best to quote the evidence taken at the court martial and the statement of Lieutenant Carey

"The Court is of opinion that Lieutenant Carey did not understand the position in which he stood towards the Prince,  and, as a consequence, failed to estimate aright the responsibility which fell to his lot. Colonel Harrison states that the senior combatant officer, Lieutenant Carey, D.A.Q.M.G., was, as a matter of course, in charge of the  party, whilst, on the other hand, Carey says, when alluding to the escort, 'I did not consider I had any authority over it after the precise and careful instructions of Lord Chelmsford as to the position the Prince held.' As to  his being invariably accompanied by an escort in charge of an officer, the Court considers that the possibility of such a difference of opinion should not have existed between two officers of the same department. The Court is  of opinion that Carey is much to blame for having proceeded on the duty in question with a portion only of the  escort detailed by Colonel

The Court cannot admit the irresponsibility for this on the part of Carey, inasmuch as he took steps to obtain the escort and failed in so doing. Moreover, the fact that Harrison was present upon  the Itelezi range gave him the opportunity of consulting him on the matter, of which he failed to avail himself. The Court, having examined the ground, is of opinion that tile selection of the kraal, where a halt was made and  the horses saddled, surrounded as it was by cover for the enemy, and adjacent to difficult ground, showed a lamentable want of military prudence. The Court deeply regrets that no effort was made the attack to rally the escort,  and to show a front to the enemy, whereby the possibility of aiding those who had failed to make good their retreat might have been ascertained.-Signed by General MARSHALL; Colonel MALTHUS, 94th Regiment; Major LE GRICE, R.A."

On this report a court-martial was summoned by Lord Chelmsford for the trial of Lieutenant Carey for having  misbehaved before the enemy on the 1st June 1879, when in command of an escort in attendance on the Prince, who was making reconnaissances in Zulu-land; in having, when the Prince and escort were attacked by the enemy, galloped  away, and in not having attempted to rally them or otherwise defend the Prince. The Court, under the presidency of Colonel Glyn, consisted of Colonels Whitehead, Courtney, Harness, Major Bouverie, and Major Anstruther.

Judge-Advocate Brander prosecuted, and Captain Crookenden, RA was for the defence.

When the Court opened the plan of the ground was proved.

Corporal Grubb said the Prince gave the order "Off saddle" at the kraal,  and "Prepare to mount." The Prince mounted. After the volley he saw Carey putting spurs to his horse, and he did the same. He saw Abel fall, and Rogers trying to get a shot at the Zulus. Le Tocq passed him and said,  "Put spurs to your horse, boy; the Prince is down!" He looked round and saw the Prince under his horse. A short time after the Prince's horse came up, and he (Grubb) caught it. No orders were given to rally.

Le Tocq  was called and said: The Prince told the natives to search the kraals, and finding no one there they off saddled. At the volley he mounted, but, dropping his carbine, stopped to pick it up. In remounting he could not get his  leg over the saddle. He passed the Prince, and said in French, "Hasten to mount your horse." The Prince did not answer. He saw the Prince's horse treading on his leg. The Prince was in command of the party. He  believed Carey and the Prince would have passed on different sides of a hut in fast flight, and it was possible that Carey might have failed to see that the Prince was in difficulties. It was 250 yards from where he saw the Prince down to the spot where he died.

Trooper Cochrane was  called and said: The Prince was not in the saddle at the time of mounting. He saw about fifty yards off the Prince running down the donga with fourteen Zulus in close pursuit. Nothing was done to help him. He heard no orders  given, and did not tell Carey what he had seen until some time after Re was an old soldier. He did not think any rally could have been made.

The Court then adjourned to the next day. On reassembling, the first witness called was

Sergeant Willis, who stated that he had seen Trooper Rogers lying on the ground by the side of his horse, close to the kraal, as he left  the spot. He thought he saw the Prince wounded at the same time that Trooper Abel threw up his arms. He thought the Prince might have been dragged to the place where he was found after death, and that a rally might have been  made twenty yards beyond the donga.

Colonel Harrison being called, stated that Carey was senior combatant officer, and must therefore have been in command of the party. Carey volunteered to go on the reconnaissance to verify  certain points of his sketch. The Prince was ordered to go to report more fully on the ground. He had given the Prince into Carey's charge exaimined 'by the Court, Colonel Harrison stated that when the Prince was attached to  his department he was not told to treat him as a royal personage in the matter of escort, but as any other officer, taking due precaution against any possible danger. Dr Scott (the Princes medical attendant) was then called,  and stated that the Prince was killed by eighteen assegai wounds, any of which would have been fatal. There were no bullet wounds.

The Prince died where the body was found. This closed the case for the prosecution.

The  defence called again Colonel Harrison, who testified to Carey's abilities as a staff officer, and said he had every confidence in him.

Colonel Bellairs was also called, and stated that it was in consequence of the occurrence  of the 1st June that Carey had been deposed from his staff appointment the day previous to his trial.

Lieutenant Carey here submitted that. his case had been prejudged, and that he had been punished before his trial.

The following wis Lieutenant Carey's statement

"On the 31st May I was informed by Colonel Harrison,. A.Q.M.G., that the Prince Imperial was to start on the 1st June to ride over the road selected by me for the advance of  the column, for the purpose of selecting a camping-ground for the 2nd June. I suggested at once that I should be allowed to go with him, as I knew the road and wanted to go over it again for the purpose of verifying certain  points. To this Colonel Harrison consented, reminding me that the Prince was going at his own request to do

this work, and that I was not to interfere with him in any way. For our escort, six Europeans of Bettington's Horse  and six Basutos were ordered. Bettington's men were paraded at 9 A.M.,but owing to some misunderstanding the Basutos did not turn up, and, the Prince being desirous of proceeding at once, we went without them. On arriving at the ridge between Itelezi  and Incenci, I suggested waiting for them, but the Prince replied, 'Oh no; we are quite strong enough,' or words to that effect. We proceeded on our reconnaissance from there, halting about half-an-hour on a high hill  overlooking the Ityotyozi for the Prince to sketch. From here the country was visible for miles, and no sign of the enemy could be discovered. We then descended into the valley, and, entering a kraal, off saddled,  knee-haltering our horses. We had seen the deserted appearance of the country, and, though the kraal was to the right, surrounded by mealies, we thought there was no danger in encamping. If any blame is attributable to any one  for this, it is to me, as I agreed with the Prince that we were perfectly safe. I had been over this ground twice before and seen no one, and the brigade-major of the cavalry brigade had ridden over it with only two or three  men; and laughed at me for taking so large an escort. We had with us a friendly Zulu, who, in answer to my inquiries, said no Zulus were about. I trusted him, but still kept a sharp look-out, telescope in hand. In about an  hour-that is, 3.40 P.M.-the Prince ordered us to saddle up. We  went into the mealies to catch our horses, but took at least ten minutes saddling. While doing so, the Zulu guide informed us he had seen a Zulu in the distance, but as he did not appear concerned, I saw no danger. The Prince  was saddled up first, and, seeing him ready, I mounted, the men not being quite ready. The Prince then asked if they were all ready; they answered in the affirmative, and he gave the word, 'Prepare to mount.' At this moment I  turned round, and saw the Prince with his foot in the stirrup, looking at the men. Presently I heard him say, 'Mount,' and turning to the men saw them vault into their saddles. At this moment my eyes fell on about twenty black  faces in the mealies, twenty to thirty yards off and I saw puffs of smoke and heard a rattling volley, followed by a rush, with shouts of 'Usutu!' There was at once a stampede. Two men rushed past me, and as every one appeared  to be mounted, I dug the spurs into my horse, which had already started of his own accord. I felt sure no one was wounded by the volley, as I heard no cry, and I shouted out, 'Keep to the left, and cross the donga, and rally  behind it!' At the same time I saw more Zulus in the mealies on our left flank, cutting off our retreat. I crossed the donga behind two or three men, but could only get beyond one man, the others having ridden off; Riding a few  hundred yards on to the rise, I stopped and looked round. I could see the Zulus after us, and saw that the men were escaping to the right; and that no one appeared on the other side of the donga. The man beside me then drew my  attention to the Prince's horse, which was galloping away on the other side of the donga, saying, 'I fear the Prince is killed, sir!' I immediately said, 'Do you think it is any use going back?' The trooper pointed to the  mealies on our left, which appeared full of Kaffirs, and said, 'He is dead long ago, sir; they assegai wounded men at once.' I considered he had fallen near the kraal, as his horse was going from that direction, and it was  useless to sacrifice more lives. I had but one man near me, the others being some 200 yards down the valley. I accordingly shouted to them to close to the left, and rode on to gain a drift over the Tombokala River, saying to the man at my side, 'We will keep back  towards General Wood's camp, not returning the same way we came, and then come back with some dragoons to get the bodies.' We reached camp about 6.30 P.M. When we were attacked our carbines were unloaded, and, to the best of my belief, no shots were  fired. I did not see the Prince after I saw him mounting, but he was mounted on a swift horse, and I thought he was close to me. Besides the Prince, we lost two troopers, as well as the friendly Zulu. Two troopers have been  found between the donga and the kraal, covered with assegai wounds. They must have fallen in the retreat and been assegaied at once, as I saw no fighting when I looked round."

The court-martial condemned Lieutenant  Carey, and he was sent home under arrest. But eventually, owing to the intervention of the bereaved Empress, and many sympathetic friends, the unfortunate officer was released. The news of the calamity was received with  profound grief throughout the country. Some mourned the death of a Prince, some sighed over the extinction of Napoleonic hopes, officers regretted the loss of a promising comrade, and mothers spent tears of sympathy for the  great lady, Empress and mother, who had thus been bereft of her only child.