Zulus & Egyptians: a British Officer’s Experiences During the Zulu War, 1879 and the Egyptian War, 1882----Campaigning in South Africa and Egypt by W. C. F. Molyneux & The Battle of Tel-el-Kebir by James Grant
A British officer’s outstanding recollections of three Victorian campaigns
This book of military recollections is quite simply excellent and essential to every library on the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. The author was an officer of the 22nd Regiment, but was also on Major-General Thesiger’s (later Lord Chelmsford) staff. He served during the Kaffir War of 1877-8, seeing action in the field before returning to Britain. When the Zulu War broke out he returned to South Africa arriving after the disaster of Isandlwana had taken place. Molyneux soon saw service in company with the Naval Brigade, shared adventure with the legendary John Dunn, and fought at Ginghilovo. His descriptions of that engagement are both detailed and gripping. He knew the ill-fated, Prince Imperial and took part in the search for his body. Molyneux’s Zulu War concluded when he was present at the Battle of Ulundi. In 1882 Molyneux was posted to Egypt where he took part in the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir. This unique Leonaur edition includes a detailed description of Tel-el-Kebir by James Grant. With maps and illustrations.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
Next day accordingly, April 1st, Dunn and I, with my four mounted orderlies, cantered on ahead of the column to an open space near Ginghilovo Kraal, five miles from our late camp and one mile short of the Inyezane River; it was only slightly commanded on the south side, with regular glacis-like slopes on the three others. I at once placed my four mounted points: the column soon appeared; and the laager was finished and the shelter-trench marked out in no time. The distances worked out beautifully; we had guns, rockets, or gatlings, at the angles of the trench; an opening in the middle of each face to let the horses and cattle in and out, with four waggons ready to run in and close it at any moment. The men then went to their dinners before digging the trench.
Barrow’s scouts (who had done beautiful work this day) had reported that there were small but organised bodies behind the Umisi Hill to the west of us, and Dunn had an idea that there would be some to our left front up the valley of the Inyezane; so, when the laager was finished, he asked me to come out with him and reconnoitre. I got leave, was told to take care of myself, and off we rode. Now the man came out:
“I am sure that is not all mist; there is smoke with it; I want to keep along the stream, cross it at a place I know, leaving you with the horses, and see what is over the rise on the other side. Now you know we are in for a dangerous job, and as I have never been out with English officers before, I should like to be certain, before I start across, that our ideas are the same. In Africa a white man must stand by a fellow while there is life in him; if his friend is dead, then he may save himself. Do you agree?”
I managed to satisfy my companion on this score, and then we took to the soft low ground near the bush and rode on in file silently, for Zulus have eyes like vultures and ears like watchdog’s.
The rain began to fall again in perfect torrents, which was all the better for us, as any scouts about would be likely to crawl back to their fires. After a couple of miles Dunn turned off into the bush, pushed through it to the Inyezane, and stopped to listen. Not a sound was to be heard but the patter of the raindrops and the roar of the river. Beckoning me up to hold his horse, he stripped, tied his clothes up in a bundle which he gave to me, took his rifle, swung himself into the torrent and, holding on to the branches of a tree that had fallen across it, landed on the other bank and disappeared. The good old horses stood like lambs; but a Kafir crane found me out on his peregrinations in search of a dinner, and made off with rather more noise than I thought necessary.
It was rather uncomfortable work as the dusk began to fall, and I was not sorry to see my naked friend wriggling down through the grass on the farther bank. I don’t know how he managed to get back, for the river had risen ten feet in the hour, and the trunk of the tree was submerged; but he swung himself across somehow, landing blue with cold. We were soon on the march again, he drying his rifle and changing the cartridge as we made our way through the bush, and as soon as we reached the open, away we went at a gallop for the laager.
As we rode, he told me that he had seen an impi and a lot of bivouac-fires, that he had been nearly discovered by one of their scouts who, when the clattering crane rose, had advanced to within a few yards of where he lay, that he had been obliged to lie low till the fellow was satisfied and went back, and that he wanted a gallop now to warm himself.
When we reached the laager the trench was completed but full of water in places, and the state of the ground inside it defies description. When five thousand human beings, two thousand oxen, and three hundred horses have been churning up five acres of very sodden ground for two or three hours, it makes a compost neither pretty to look at, easy to move about in, nor nice to smell. There were unpleasant reptiles about also, for two puff-adders had just been killed close to our waggon. Dunn’s report, combined with Barrow’s, told us pretty well what we might expect on the morrow.
As it was clear that the ground would not permit the waggons to be moved for at least a day, it was decided that the oxen should be kept at home next morning, and that our two native battalions should be sent out to attack the enemy at daybreak, with orders to fall back behind the laager when the Zulus were well stirred up, so that the latter might come on at our shelter-trench, manned, as it would be, two deep, shoulder to shoulder, by British soldiers and sailors.