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Brevet Colonel Anthony Durnford (Ireland 24 May 1830-Isandlwana 22 January 1879)was an officer during the Anglo-Zulu War, and is mainly known for his presence at the defeat of the British army by the Zulu at the Battle of Isandlwana.
Of the 16 months following his arrival in the Cape, Durnford spent the greater portion at King William's Town. In a letter to his mother he wrote of the Blacks: . . they are at least honest, chivalrous, and hospitable, true to their salt, although only barbarians. They are fine men, very naked and all that sort of thing, but thoroughly good fellows. He appears to have adhered to his idealistic picture throughout the remaining years of his life.
He was later stationed at Pietermaritzburg, where he was befriended by Bishop Colenso. He saw some action against the Hlubis at Bushman's River Pass, where he showed great courage but received two assegai stabs, one in his side, the other in his elbow; severing a nerve thus paralysing his left under-arm and hand for the rest of his life. Durnford managed to shoot two of his assailants with his revolver and to extricate himself. His Carbineers had abandoned him, but his loyal Basuto troopers stood by him.
He was one of the most experienced officers of the Anglo-Zulu War --"commanding presence, untiring energy and undoubted powers of leadership", he was also apt to be headstrong, and was threatened with loss of command by Lord Chelmsford.
A Royal Engineer, Durnford was superior in rank to Brevet Lt-Col Pulleine, who had been left in nominal control of the camp at Isandlwana. Durnford was killed during the battle, and was later criticised for taking men out of the camp thus weakening its defence. Had he known what he was up against, he would certainly not have done so. His policy though, was in effect to ride to the sound of the guns, "and attack the Zulu wherever they appeared", and was well respected by his native Basutos.
Among the causes of the disaster were the ill-defined relationship between Durnford and Pulleine, brought about by failures of Lord Chelmsfords' command and control.
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