Summer grasses / All that remains / Of soldiers' dreams. - Basho.
Excerpt from personal diary, Lieutenant John Rouse Merriot Chard, Royal Engineers.
22 January, 1879. 2 P.M.
Have assumed command of the station at Rorke's drift, which has been requisitioned as a supply depot and hospital. Contingent consists of elements of B company, 2nd Battalion, 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot and assorted native levies. I have been in the process of repairing the pontoon bridge on the drift over the Meezinyathee [sic] River when word reached us of the defeat of the Centre column at Isandlwana. No precise details are forthcoming, but it appears from the reports of Lieuts Adendorff and Vaine of the 3rd Natal Native Contingent that a large Zulu force is approaching. In conference with Lieutenant Bromhead, commander of company B, and Acting Commissary Dalton, we have elected to fortify the station in anticipation of receiving casualties from the column.
A company of Natal Native Horse has volunteered to screen the probable line of advance of the Zulus; I have doubts as to their steadfastness, however, and have posted my own pickets.
22 January, 1879. 3 P.M.
I have had the men construct a defensive perimeter of biscuit boxes and mealie bags, encompassing the storehouse, hospital and incorporating a stone kraal at the east side of the enclosure. No word yet from the column.
22 January, 1879. 4:15 P.M.
Surgeon Reynolds, Padre Smith and Otto Witt have come down from Oscarberg. They reported that the Zulus are fording Fugitive's drift to the southeast and are no more than five minutes away. On hearing this news, the mounted natives fled their post along with many of our Natal levies. The lookout, Pte Hitch, reports four to six thousand approaching. We will be under attack shortly. Wait - they are beating their shields - they are... [entry trails off]
22 January, 1879. 5:20 P.M.
First wave at south wall was a feint. Northwest wall attacked in force - several casualties. We opened up at 500 yds. They are still massing at north wall, but have also attacked south side of hospital. Reports of fire inside the hospital. I have given order to evacuate the wounded. We have sustained murderous fire along the north wall from the hilltops - many wounded, at least two dead.
Cpl Allen, Ptes Cole, Dunbar Hitch, Horrigan, Williams, Hook, and several Jones have managed to spirit the wounded out of the hospital. Unfortunately at least eight men of the thirty-five convalescents cannot be accounted for. The northwest wall and the hospital are lost, but the structure is in flames and should collapse soon. Bromhead is leading a large party in double-rank ready to volley-fire anyone who tries for the water cart. I fear Colour Sergeant Bourne may have fallen while assisting with the wounded. Ammunition is down to 4,000 from 12,000 rounds.
Night is falling. I fear that we cannot expect respite with the evening, for the Zulus are feared night-warriors.
The hospital has collapsed. I heard screams from within as it fell. I pray that none of our men were among those who were entrapped, though I wish a death by fire upon no man, black or white.
They are making a play for the kraal. Have given order to fall back by ranks to the interior perimeter from the kraal. Bromhead is still holding them from coming across in the centre. Water is almost gone.
23 January, 1879. 1:49 A.M.
Brief respite. A.C. Dalton is making the rounds with ammunition and rum. They have focused mostly on the northwest 'til now, with occasional feints from north and south. No serious attempts made on Bromhead's flying squad on the south wall. Have managed to relieve wounded at south wall as well as northeast. The light from the burning hospital is fearsome, casting a cruel red-orange light over the living and the dead. One more push and I fear they will have us.
They came from north. Out of the darkness like Hell's own army. Forced back from northeast wall and kraal. Men still firing from storehouse roof. Have ordered wounded into the redoubt and I have dressed the line for a volley fire.
They came spilling over the N wall and we gave them hell, drove them back. Less than 900 rounds left. Storehouse coming under attack as I write.
4 AM ??
Dn to less than 2 dozen fit. Defense centred around storehse & redoubt now that Bromhead w/drwn from wtr cart. Recm'd VCs for Bromhead, Bourne, Hitch, Dalton; too many others - no time. no time. Where is relief col'n? almost light - no diffrence [sic] now.
? [no time or date noted.]
This isit. here they come. I - [manuscript ends]
Lieutenant Chard's diary was found tucked into his uniform tunic by scouts from the vanguard of Lord Chelmsford's relief column. Curiously the bodies of Chard as well as all his men were not despoiled of possessions as had been other defeated British units in the Zulu War. Indeed, they were left untouched where they had fallen, as if in tribute.
- Last edited Mon May 25, 2009 9:11 pm (Total Number of Edits: 3)
- Posted Mon May 25, 2009 8:49 pm
Ice-choked tower, Mondavia, Nanglangka.
That was fantastic. I'm impressed anyone has gotten beyond 2am as the British - it's yet to happen in any game that I've played.
Fun report Kozure -- I've been trying to find a copy of this recently...
That's Karl on the left. Eternity on the right.
I love Melissa, but don't tell her. It's a secret if she can find this. Shhhhh....
Excellent presentation. Very creative. Although this was played quite sometime ago, I've only found this game recently. I still need to learn the rules & such, however, this game report is giving me some motovation to do that sooner than later. Well done & thank you.