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Lord Chelmsford, with what remained of the central column, arrived, as has been already mentioned, at Rorke's Drift on the morning of the 23rd January.  During the day the improvised fortifications at 'this place were strengthened, and as they were now held by a garrison of some 700 men, the post was perfectly secure from assault.

The confidence of the Native Contingent, however, had been rudely shaken, and on the night of the 23rd January many of those whose comrades had fallen at Isandhlwana; deserted from the two battalions at Rorke's Drift.

Lord Chelmsford determined to proceed at once to Pieter­maritzburg, and at 9 A.M. on the 24th January started from Rorke's Drift.  On arriving at Helpmekaar, he found that the battalion of the Native Contingent at that place had refused to march to Umsinga as ordered, and it was only by making it clearly understood that deserters would be shot, that obedience was secured.

At 2 P.M. Lord Chelmsford left Helpmekaar, and, proceeding by way of Ladysmith,* arrived at Pietermaritzburg on the evening of the 26th.

After the General's departure from Rorke's Drift, the whole of the Native Contingent who had remained at that place deserted, those who had rifles, however, being previously dis­armed.

On this day the artillery and mounted men were moved to Helpmekaar, so that at Rorke's Drift there were only seven companies of the 2/24th, viz., the one which had defended the post, and the six which had been out with Lord Chelmsford on the 22nd.

At Helpmekaar were two companies of the 1/24th, and these were joined by half the 5th Company R.E., the other half of this company moving on to Rorke's Drift.

Of the 2/4th Regiment which had left England a few days after the 99th, three companies had been sent to Cape Town, and the remainder had disembarked at Durban on the 13th and 16th January. These companies were moving up country to occupy posts on the line of communications when the news of the Isandhlwana disaster was received, and four of them were sent to Helpmekaar, one being left in garrison at Grey-town.

In the period immediately following the withdrawal from

  *    After the Isandhlwana disaster, the working parties and wagon drivers who were     employed on the Greytown-Helpmakaar road, deserted en masse and refused to return. This road accordingly ceased to be used,

  Zululand of the centre column, a purely defensive attitude was assumed by the troops in this part of Natal.  Helpmekaar and Rorke's Drift were strongly fortified, and no offensive movement was attempted.                                              

On the 4th February a small party under Major Black 2/24th Regiment, went from Rorke's Drift down the course of the Buffalo River to the spot known as the Fugitive's Drift, where the greater number of those who had escaped from Isandhlwana had endeavoured to cross over into Natal.  Near this spot the bodies of Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill were found and buried, and the Queen's colour of the 1/24th was recovered from the bed of the river, and on the following day was restored to the custody of the regiment.

While about this time a few marauding parties crossed from Zululand into Natal and caused serious alarm, Ketchwayo's in­tentions remaining unknown, and no reliable information was forthcoming as to the position of his army which had fought at Isandhlwana.

Under these circumstances very grave fears of invasion were felt, not only in the more exposed portions of Natal, but also in regions remote front the frontier.   At Pietermaritzburg and Durban, as well as at Utrecht, Greytown, Stanger and other towns and villages near the border, central post or laagers were prepared in which in case of need the white inhabitants might assemble, and where they might stand a siege.

Lord Chelmsford on his arrival at Pietermaritzburg took measures for informing the Secretary of State for War, both by telegraph and by despatch, of the Isandhlwana disaster, and at the same time asked for reinforcements.  South Africa not being in telegraphic communication with Europe, the General's message had to be conveyed by steamer from Cape Town to St. Vincent, the vessel being despatched on the 27th instead of on the 28th, in order that the news might be delivered as speedily as possible.

When the information reached Cape Town, arrangements were promptly made for having the duties carried on by the colonial troops, and for sending to Natal the three companies of the 2/4h Regiment, which had formed the garrison.  These companies leaving Cape Town on the 26th January arrived at Durban on the 30th, and marched into Pietermaritzburg on the 2nd February.

Four companies of the 88th, which had been on the eastern frontier of the Cape colony, on being relieved by Volunteers from Cape Town, proceeded by sea to Natal, and arrived at Durban on the 8th February. The Headquarters of the regiment and one company went to Pietermaritzburg, two companies to Stanger, arid one remained at Durban.  Those which went to Stanger, relieved two companies of the 99th, which moved on to Fort Pearson.

Lord Chelmsford, who had arrived at Durban on the 6th February; and had sent messages thence to Colonel Pearson - proceeded on the 11th to Fort Pearson.  At this time Colonel Pearson's return from Etshowe with a portion of his force was contemplated, and it was proposed to aid him, if attacked on the march, by a force from the Lower Tugela.  The two companies of the 99th from Stanger arrived on the 14th, and the force available was thus raised to five companies of the 99th, two of the Buffs, and the "Tenedos" Naval Brigade, with Barrow's mounted infantry, the Volunteers, and the Native Contingent, the whole being under the command of Lord Chelmsford himself.

As has been already mentioned, no portion of Colonel Pearson's force left Etshowe at this time, and Lord Chelmsford, after remaining at the Lower Tugela for about a week, returned to Pietermaritzburg, where he arrived on the 21st February.

In consequence of a request from Colonel Wood, the mounted infantry and Natal Carabineers which had remained at Helpmekaar since the 24th January, marched on the 14th Feb­ruary to join the left column, and on the same day two com­panies of the 2/4th Regiment also left Helpmekaar for Utrecht.

By the middle of February, the fears' of an invasion of Natal were considerably allayed, and Lord Chelmsford's efforts, on his return to Pietemaritzburg, were principally directed to the collection of transport to replace that lost at Isandhlwana, and to the reorganisation of the Native Contingent, now formed into five battalions.  Additional native levies were also enrolled, and the mode in which they should be employed led to a long corre­spondence between Lord Chelmsford, Sir Bartle Frere, and Sir Henry Bulwer.

It was finally decided that the bulk of these levies, which were enrolled for the defence of Natal, should not cross the Zulu frontier.

In the meantime, however reinforcements were on their way to Natal.

On the 6th February the news of the Isandhlwana disaster reached St. Helena, and it was determined that the garrison of the island, consisting of a battery R.A. (8/7) and a company of the 88th Regiment, should be at once embarked on board Her Majesty's ship "Shah," which was in port at the time, and be conveyed to Durban.  The "Shah" was on her way home from the Pacific station, but under these circumstances her commander, Captain Bradshaw, considered himself justified in changing her destination.  In addition to the troops, a naval contingent of about 400 men could be furnished from this vessel, so that a reinforcement of some 650 men would in this manner become available.  Coal was purchased at St. Helena, and the voyage was performed under steam.  On the 23rd February the "Shah" arrived at Simon's Bay, and, after coaling, proceeded to Durban, which was reached on the 6th March.

Lord Chelmsford's telegram of the 27th January reached the Secretary of State for War early on the 11th February, and before the day was over the reinforcements to be sent out had been detailed, and the preliminary measures for their transport and supply had been taken.  It was decided that these rein­forcements should consist of two regiments of cavalry, two bat­teries of artillery, and an ammunition column, one company of engineers, six battalions of infantry, three companies Army Service Corps, and one company Army Hospital Corps.  Two of the troop ships sailed on the 19th February, and the remainder followed, as shown in me table forming Appendix B.

Prince Louis Napoleon, son of the late Emperor of the French, accompanied the expedition, and went out in the steamship “Danube."

At the time when the news of Isandhlwana was received in London, the 57th 'Regiment, which had been in garrison in Ceylon, was about to be relieved by the 102nd Fusiliers, who had proceeded from Gibraltar in Her Majesty's ship " Tamar." Orders were sent by telegraph for the " Tamar " to convey the 57th to Natal, and this regiment having embarked on the 22nd February, landed at Durban on the 11th March.

The next reinforcements were furnished from Her Majesty's ship "Boadicea," from which a naval brigade 200 strong was landed on the 15th March, and on the 17th March the 91st Regiment disembarked from the " Pretoria," which had made the voyage from Southampton in 26 days.

Lord Chelmsford had returned to Durban early in March, and on the arrival of the “Shah” had proposed to send forward a column from the Lower Tugela towards Etshowe to co-operate with Colonel Pearson, who was to sally out with a portion of the garrison.  This relief column, under Lieutenant-Colonel Law, R.A., was to have been composed of detachments or the Buffs, 88th; and 99th, with seamen and marines from the "Tenedos and Barrow's mounted men, and, as mentioned in the account of the blockade of Etshowe, was to have started on the 12th March.

This scheme was, however, abandoned, and the relief of Etshowe was postponed till the arrival of further reinforce­ments should allow of its being carried out by a column of a strength sufficient to bear down all probable opposition.

During the months of February and March heavy floods came down the Buffalo and Tugela, and this fact to a great extent accounts for the inaction of the Zulus in the period fol­lowing their success at Isandhlwana.  The scene of this disaster to the British arms remained unvisited by any Europeans till the 14th March, when about 25 mounted men,* under Lieutenant-Colonel Black, 2/24th Regiment, proceeded from Rorke's Drift by the track followed on the 20th January, and reached Isandhlwana unopposed.  On passing over the neck of land, which has been previously mentioned, the wrecked camp was before them.  A few natives were seen running away from a kraal.

  * 3 officers, 1 Sergeant 2/24th Regiment, 13 officers Natal Native Contingent, and 10 troopers Natal Mounted Police.

  near at hand, but the ground on which the struggle had taken place was deserted.  The Zulus had removed the bodies of many of their comradet, but here the remains of the British soldiers lay unburied and decaying.  The tents had been taken away or destroyed, and the site of the camp was strewn with books, papers, and other articles of no value in the eyes of the Zulus, but neither arms nor ammunition remained.   Of the missing colours not a trace could be found, and the two 7-pr. guns had likewise disappeared.

Having ascertained that the whole of the transport appliances, baggage and effects of what had been the centre column was now represented by a certain number of uninjured wagons, the little party returned to Rorke's Drift unmolested.

The arrival at Durban of six companies of the 3/60th Rifles on the 20th March, completed the reinforcement which Lord Chelmsford considered necessary for undertaking the relief of Etshowe

These troops were at once sent forward to join the column on the Lower Tugela, of which Lord Chelmsford took personal command on the 23rd March.

The force assembled near Fort Pearson consisted of the 57h and 91st Regiments, six companies of the 3/60th, five com­panies of the 99th, and two companies of the Buffs, with a naval brigade formed of men from the " Shah," " Tenedos," and Boadicea."  In addition to these, there were the mounted infantry and Volunteers with the 4th and 5th Battalions of the Native Contingent, so that the strength of the column amounted to 3,390 whites and 2,280 natives, with two 9-pr. guns, four 24-pr. rocket-tubes, and two Gatlings.

Two brigades were formed, of which  one was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Law, R.A., and the other by Lieutenant-Colonel Pemberton, 60th Rifles.

On the 28th March this force, together with 122 carts and wagons containing provisions, was assembled on the left bank of the Tugela, and the advance commenced at 6 A.M. on the 29th March.

The route adopted was not the same as that by which Colonel Pearson had marched in January, but was nearer the coast, and passed through a more open country.  Heavy rain had fallen on the 27th and 28th, and progress was slow, but by midday the Inyoni river had been reached.  Here an entrenched camp was formed, the wagons being drawn up in a square with a shelter trench at about 20 yards distance outside.  No tents had been taken, and the troops bivouacked in the space between the wagons and the shelter trench.  The oxen, which had been sent out to feed as soon as the column had halted, were collected at dusk and driven within the wagon enclosure for the night.

On the following morning the column again moved forward, and in the afternoon formed a similar entrenched camp on the right bank of the Amatikulu.  This river was crossed on the 31st March, and a fresh camp established "about a mile and a half beyond it.

About noon on the 1st April the column having marched some 6 miles, occupied a slight eminence about a mile from the Inyezane river, where an entrenched camp, like those of the Inyoni and Amatikulu, was formed.*  The Gingihlovo stream ran close to the site of this camp, which was surrounded by country generally free from bush, though clothed with long grass, affording a considerable amount of cover.

On the 1st April, some large parties of Zulus were seen in the distance, and during the following night the numerous fires on the hills to the northward made it evident that a considerable force of the enemy was in the neighbourhood.

The night, however, passed without any alarm, and at dawn on the 2nd April the mounted men were sent out to reconnoitre, while the infantry stood to their aims within the entrenchments. It was not intended that the column should advance this day, and the cattle were about to be turned out to graze, when, shortly before 6 A.M., information was sent in by the mounted men and by the advanced piquets, that the Zulu army was approaching, and exactly at 6 o'clock the enemy came in sight of the camp.

Two columns appeared on the farther bank of the Inyezane, and, after passing this stream at different points, rapidly deployed outwards and assumed a loose formation, which allowed all advantage to be taken of the cover which the ground afforded.

The right of these two columns advancing from near the ruined mission station soon became engaged with the front or north face of the laager, while the left, whose point of crossing had been lower down the stream, was hastening forward to attack the north-eastern angle.

These two columns formed the left ‘wing’ of the Zulu army, and the right wing was but little behindhand in coming into action.  This wing advanced in column from the westward, and on emerging from the bush to the north of the Umisi hill, deployed and embraced the southern arid western faces pf the laager in its attack.  In the assault on the latter the co-operation of the right column of the left wing was received, as this checked in its first attempt, had circled round to its right, and was now endeavouring to make an impression on the western face:

Thus, within a short time after the commencement of the action, the defenders of the camp were on three sides hotly engaged with an enemy, who, pushing on in spite of the deadly fire of breech-loaders and Gatlings, at some points got to within 20 yards of the shelter trench.  Closer than this it was impos­sible to approach, and when the Zulus had realised that this struggle was one in which the assegai would be useless, they

  *Wagon enclosure a square of about 130 yards side.

  recoiled from the hopeless attack. On the first sjgns of wavering in their rank, , the mounted men under Major Barrow, were directed to move outside, and assailed the right flank of the

enemy.  A few shots were fired at the advancing horsemen, and then the Zulus turned and fled

In the pursuit which now took place, the fugitives suffered severely from the mounted infantry, who, following for about 2 miles, used with good effect the sabres with which they had been armed a short time previously.  The Native Contingent were also sent out after the flying Zulus, and killed considerable numbers.       

In this action, which lasted about an hour and a half, and which resulted in such a complete victory for the British, their loss was 9 killed and 52 wounded.

The Zulu army was about 10,000 strong, and had only arrived in the neighbourhood of Gingihlovo on the previous evening.  It was commanded by Dabulamanzi, who was ignorant of the real strength of the relief column.  The Zulu losses in this engagement amounted to nearly 1,200.

Congratulations from Etshowe having been received and acknowledged by signal, the troops of the relieving column passed the remainder of the 2nd April at Gingihlovo, engaged in reducing the size of the laager and in strengthening its defences, as Lord Chelmsford had determined that a part of his force should remain here, while he advanced to Etshowe with merely a flying column.  Lord Chelmsford also decided that Etshowe, on account of its inaccessibility, should be abandoned, and orders were flashed to Colonel Pearson to prepare for its evacuation as soon as he was relieved.

At 8 A.M. on the 3rd April, Lord Chelmsford's flying column, consisting of the 57th, 60th, and 91st, with part of the Naval Brigade, left Gingihlovo for Etshowe.  These troops escorted a convoy of 58 carts of stores for the garrison, and on the march were preceded by the mounted infantry and Volunteers, under Barrow, and by a number of native scouts organised by Mr. John Dunn.*

By road the distance to Etshowe was about 15 miles, and the route led up the right bank of the Inyezane as far as the crossing-place near which Colonel Pearson's action of the 22nd January had been fought.  From hence the ranges near Majia's hill were ascended by the track followed after that action, and by this track, though it was in two places partially destroyed, Lord Chelmsford's column eventually arrived at the commence-merit of the new road to Etshowe, which had been formed by the garrison.

During this march the country was found quite free from any hostile force, but the progress of the column was much delayed

  * Mr. John Dunn had been a resident in Zululand for many years previous to the outbreak of the war.  His knowledge of the country was accurate, and proved of great value during the campaign.  At its close, he was appointed chief of one of the district, into which the country was divided.

  by the difficulties of the road.  But little saving of time was effected by the use of the short cut, as the ground was in bad condition from the heavy rain which had fallen, and it was 6 P.M. before the mounted men reached the fort, and nearly midnight before the main body arrived, and thus accomplished the relief of Etshowe.