ANGLO-ZULU WAR, RORKE'S DRIFT & CETAWAYO Diary of Major Henry Sparke Stabb, deputy assistant quartermaster-general of the 2nd Division, 32nd (Duke of Cornwall's) light Infantry, Durban to Fort Victoria, 14 June to 3 September 1879

This lot has been removed from the website, please contact customer services for more information

Lot 6
ANGLO-ZULU WAR, RORKE'S DRIFT & CETAWAYO
Diary of Major Henry Sparke Stabb, deputy assistant quartermaster-general of the 2nd Division, 32nd (Duke of Cornwall's) light Infantry (later staff officer to Colonel Whitehead), written in pencil in a field notebook, Durban to Fort Victoria, 14 June to 3 September 1879: '6.20. 2 LARGE BODIES OF ZULUS SEEN... 9.40 ZULUS IN FULL RETREAT': An eyewitness account of the battle of Ulundi, an encounter with Cetawayo and a visit to Rorke's Drift six months after the famous defence.

Sold for £ 3,812 (US$ 4,663) inc. premium
ANGLO-ZULU WAR, RORKE'S DRIFT & CETAWAYO
Diary of Major Henry Sparke Stabb, deputy assistant quartermaster-general of the 2nd Division, 32nd (Duke of Cornwall's) light Infantry (later staff officer to Colonel Whitehead), written in pencil in a field notebook, covering his time in Zululand, including a minute-by-minute account of the battle of Ulundi on 4 July 1879 ("6.20. 2 large bodies of Zulus seen... 8.35 Firing in front for short time... 8.50 Big guns at work & heavy & continuous rifle firing from column... 9.10 Enemy everywhere retiring, rifle firing ceases, cavalry in pursuit... 9.40 Zulus in full retreat on ridge on left. Artillery shelling ridge... 10.15 All quiet. 11.5 Round Kraal fired. Zulus retired to top of hill... 11.25 Bullers men in gallop to Kraal... Rode over battlefield saw many corpses but think report exaggerate enemy's losses (about 700-1000 probably) our loss...12 men killed, 82 officers & men wounded... About 500 of our men had been engaged, enemy estimated at 20,000 & a large reserve on hill top..."); the retreat of the 2nd Division to Fort Marshall and its aftermath ("No message yet from Cetawayo... What is now to be done, & how is it now to end?..."); a visit to Rorke's Drift on 21st July which he found "most satisfactory"; the hunt for and capture of Cetawayo, describing how the King spent a night at Fort Victoria under strict guard and departed the next day via a secret route; includes a pencil sketch of the square battle formation with note "35,000 oxen used, 12,000 died" and several pages of expenses and addresses, 59 leaves (3 leaves excised), small 8vo (140 x 90mm.), black calf, worn, pencil missing, Durban to Fort Victoria, 14 June to 3 September 1879

Footnotes

  • '6.20. 2 LARGE BODIES OF ZULUS SEEN... 9.40 ZULUS IN FULL RETREAT': An eyewitness account of the battle of Ulundi, an encounter with Cetawayo and a visit to Rorke's Drift six months after the famous defence.

    The battle of Ulundi was the last major battle of the Anglo-Zulu War and the action which effectively broke the military power of the Zulu nation. As described in detail here, the British troops abandoned their usual 'thin red line' and formed themselves into a square formation with mounted troops covering the sides and rear. The Zulu regiments were therefore obliged to charge directly into "heavy and continuous fire" from rifles and shells, and could not get within striking distance, fleeing, as Stabb describes, to high ground where they were overcome. Chelmsford's men razed the royal kraal of Ulundi to the ground and forced the Zulu King Cetawayo to flee. On 29th August Stabb writes that he had word that Cetawayo had been captured, news which was apparently received with relief by his own people – as he notes "Prisoners say that Zulus are utterly demoralized... Everybody at Kraals seemed pleased when we told them of it saying 'we may now plough again'...". Two days later he received the King himself - "In evening Cetywayo came in under escort...passed night here... very dignified and collected – Fine, kingly looking man with very good eye, only about 45 years old..." and recounts an amusing retort from Cetawayo to the British soldiers gazing at him, "What are they looking at, a big fat man, only I have eaten bigger & larger ones..."

    On his retreat from Ulundi, Stabb takes the opportunity to visit Rorke's Drift, a mere six months after the battle there; "Saw many skeletons of men (principally Zulus & natives) & horses, with no end of boxes, litter, tents, waggons, baggage, stores, Rocket shells etc still lying about... place very similar to description – kopjie 20000 yds in front of hill; high ground to left... Found...cap with badge of 24th which later carried away as trophy – Piles of letters & books torn Matthew bibles & prayer books all lying about... could only detect place of 2 graves... tools of all sorts, & shields in abundance but no assegais lying about..."

    Stabb's last entry is on 3rd September 1879, shortly before he left Fort Victoria ("...dined & had my 2 remaining bottles of claret... disturbed night."). He was mentioned in dispatches and received the medal with clasps for his services in the Zulu War and in 1880 commanded the party that erected a memorial cross on the site of the death of Prince Louis Napoleon in June 1879 (he notes in our diary that he "passed dead Zulu girl about 2 miles beyond spot where Prince [Louis Napoleon] was killed, [and] saw place where occurrence took place"). He died in 1888 as Officer Commanding the Troops in Natal and Zululand. The notebook has remained in the family until now. It was digitised in 2019 by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts & Culture Museum Service and a typescript is held in the Johannesberg Public Library (Strange Collection MSA535). See also Major Henry Stabb, To the Victoria Falls via Matabeleland, ed. Edward C. Tabler, 1967.
Contacts
ANGLO-ZULU WAR, RORKE'S DRIFT & CETAWAYO Diary of Major Henry Sparke Stabb, deputy assistant quartermaster-general of the 2nd Division, 32nd (Duke of Cornwall's) light Infantry, Durban to Fort Victoria, 14 June to 3 September 1879
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories, buyer's premium excluding Cars, Motorbikes, Wine and Coin & Medal sales, will be as follows:

Buyer's Premium Rates
27.5% on the first £2,500 of the hammer price;
25% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £2,500 up to and including £300,000;
20% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £300,000 up to and including £3,000,000;
and 13.9% of the hammer price of any amounts in excess of £3,000,000.

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

For payment information please refer to the sale catalog.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Lot symbols
Exempt from tax

Zero rated for VAT, no VAT will be added to the Hammer Price or the Buyer's Premium.