Monday, February 9, 2015

HISTORY or HOLLYWOOD: Zulu Dawn



1.   Frere issues an ultimatum to Cetshwayo accusing him of abusing his people.  He and Chelmsford plot together to bring on the war so the British could invade Zululand.

2.  Chelmsford’s army consists of a mixture of regulars, native militia, Durnsford’s cavalry, and colonial volunteers like Vereker.

3.  A Zulu collaborator delivers the ultimatum to Cetshwayo.

4.  Some of the British are against the invasion and question Frere’s justification.

5.  Norris-Newman is a newspaper correspondent who is critical of Chelmsford.

6.  The first contact comes soon after crossing the Buffalo River when some Zulu scouts are run down and killed.

7.  Three Zulu warriors allow themselves to be captured and tortured in order to give false intelligence about the location of the Zulu army.  They later escape to warn the Zulus.

8.  Chelmsford refuses advice from a Boer about the advisibility of laagering the camp at Isandhlwana.

9.  A Boer rancher arrives and tells Chelmsford that the Zulu army is heading his way, but Chelmsford prefers to believe the tortured captives.

10.  Durnford arrives and tells Chelmsford that the main Zulu army is heading their way seeking a battle before harvest time.  Chelmsford orders Durnford to reinforce Pulleine.

11.  Chelmsford takes part of the army to find the Zulu army and ends up camping eight miles away and stopping for a luncheon.

12.   Durnford sends Vereker to set up some pickets and in the process of chasing some Zulu herders, they run into the Zulu army which immediately moves on the British camp.

13.  The British regulars set up double lines outside the camp.

14.  The Congreve rocket battery is isolated and quickly overrun.

15.  Chelmsford receives a vague message that Pulleine is under attack, but does nothing.

16.  Durnford leads his cavalry forward  and runs into the enemy and makes a stand.

17.  Quartermaster Bloomfield is slow in distributing the ammunition.

18.  Vereker’s unit joins Durnford, but they are forced to withdraw and as soon as they make it back to the camp the Zulu’s come storming in.

19. Melville, Coghill, and Vereker try to save the colors.

20.  Pulleine commits is killed in his tent.

21.  Durnford is shot from on top of a wagon and is then speared.

22.  Chelmsford arrives at dusk to survey the disaster site.

 

1.   Frere issues an ultimatum to Cetshwayo accusing him of abusing his people.  He and Chelmsford plot together to bring on the war so the British could invade Zululand.   HISTORY   A Boundary Commission had found no evidence of Zulu intentions to expand across the border so Frere had to fall back on the killing of two of Cetshwayo’s wifes who had taken refuge in Natal.  Frere decided to take action on his own against government policy because a done deal would be accepted.

2.  Chelmsford’s army consists of a mixture of regulars, native militia, Durnsford’s cavalry, and colonial volunteers like Vereker.   HISTORY  The total force was 6,670 regulars of the 24th Infantry, 2,000 of the Natal Native Contingent, 2,000 colonials, 17 cannons, and one Congreve battery.  The force was divided into three columns and Chelmsford led the central column which is covered in the movie.  The movie does not accurately depict the hundreds of large wagons pulled by up to twenty oxen.

3.  A Zulu collaborator delivers the ultimatum to Cetshwayo.  UNKNOWN   I could not determine how Cetshwayo found out about the ultimatum, but the movie does accurately show how he decided to call out his impis and fight for their land.

4.  Some of the British are against the invasion and question Frere’s justification.  HISTORY    

5.  Norris-Newman is a newspaper correspondent who is critical of Chelmsford.  HISTYWOOD  There was a Norris-Newman and he exemplifies the embedded Victorian journalist.  They typically sided with the army that they were travelling with and it is unlikely he would have been a cynic.  There public would have been expecting pro-British articles.

6.  The first contact comes soon after crossing the Buffalo River when some Zulu scouts are run down and killed.  HOLLYWOOD  The crossing was watched by Zulu scouts but it was uneventful.

7.  Three Zulu warriors allow themselves to be captured and tortured in order to give false intelligence about the location of the Zulu army.  They later escape to warn the Zulus.  HOLLYWOOD  I assume this was inserted into the movie to develop a recognizable Zulu warrior, to show the craftiness of the Zulu, and to highlight British treatment of Zulu captives.  In fact, when two Zulu scouts were actually captured and reported the position of the Zulu army, Chelmsford insisted it was elsewhere.

8.  Chelmsford refuses advice from a Boer about the advisibility of laagering the camp at Isandhlwana.  HISTORY  Chelmsford had total faith in the power of the Martini-Henry and felt laagering the camp would be an unnecessary waste of time.

9.  A Boer rancher arrives and tells Chelmsford that the Zulu army is heading his way, but Chelmsford prefers to believe the tortured captives.  HOLLYWOOD 

10.  Durnford arrives and tells Chelmsford that the main Zulu army is heading their way seeking a battle before harvest time.  Chelmsford orders Durnford to reinforce Pulleine.   HISTYWOOD  Chelmsford sent out a reconnaissance force under a Maj. Dartnell.  When he encountered Zulus he went on the defensive and called on Chelmsford for reinforcements.  Chelmsford sent orders to Durnford to go to Isandhlwana, Durnford did not receive the orders personally from him.

11.  Chelmsford takes part of the army to find the Zulu army and ends up camping eight miles away and stopping for a breakfast.   HISTORY  Chelmsford left with 2,000 men, but when he made contact with a Zulu force he called for more force and thus ended leaving only 1,350 at Isandhlwana.  The breakfast has been overblown as there was no wagon and no fine china and silverware.
 
12.   Durnford sends Vereker to set up some pickets and in the process of chasing some Zulu herders, they run into the Zulu army which immediately moves on the British camp.  HISTYWOOD  A picket sent out by Durnford led by Lt. Raw (not Vereker) was chasing some Zulu scouts when they crested a ridge and encountered the main Zulu force.  Although the Zulu had not planned on fighting until the next day because of an ominous new moon.  The Zulu quickly adjusted and launched their attack.

13.  The British regulars set up double lines outside the camp.  HISTORY  The lines were advanced further than the movie indicates, but that is no big deal.

14.  The Congreve rocket battery is isolated and quickly overrun.  HISTORY  The rockets went out with Durnford and were only able to get off a few rounds before being swamped.

15.  Chelmsford receives a vague message that Pulleine is under attack, but does nothing.  HISTORY  Chelmsford was confident the camp could take care of itself.  He still felt the main Zulu army was in front of him.  In fact, when another more strident message arrived causing a unit to head toward the camp on its officer’s initiative, Chelmsford recalled the unit!

16.  Durnford leads his cavalry forward and runs into the enemy and makes a stand.  HISTORY  Durnford pushed forward to make contact and was forced to go to ground soon after. 

17.  Quartermaster Bloomfield is slow in distributing the ammunition.  DISPUTED  Recent scholarship has revised the characterization of Bloomfield as an officious buffoon.  He apparently was just being protective of the Chelmsford’s reserve supply and was under orders.  He was soon convinced that the crisis overrode the orders.  There has also been questioning of the belief that the British regulars were defeated due to a shortage of ammunition.  The movie does do a good job of portraying the popular view of this issue.

18.  Vereker’s unit joins Durnford, but they are forced to withdraw and as soon as they make it back to the camp the Zulu’s come storming in.  HISTYWOOD  Vereker fought on  ridge separate from Durnford.  Durnford’s retreat led to the collapse of the British right.

19. Melvill, Coghill, and Vereker try to save the colors.  HOLLYWOOD   Vereker did not participate in this.  He was in the camp horseless when the final moments arrived.  He found an abandoned horse and was going to attempt to escape when a soldier claimed the horse was his, so he gave it up and that was the last that was seen of him.  Melvill did leave with the colors but they were furled.  Coghill did not accompany him but was in the same group of escapees.  They both died trying to cross the Manzimnyama River and the colors were lost to be recovered downstream later.

20.  Pulleine is killed in his tent.  HISTYWOOD  No one can be completely sure how he died.  A Zulu warrior was eyewitness to the death of a British officer similar to how the movie depicts Pulleine’s death, but it could have been another officer.

21.  Durnford is shot from on top of a wagon and is then speared.  HISTORY  Durnford went down fighting in the chaos of the camp.  The death is a bit enhanced, but it is acceptable.

22.  Chelmsford arrives at dusk to survey the disaster site.  HISTORY   This actually happened after dark.

RATING = .68

 

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