Following on from last week - part three - Battle of Isandlwana - Russell's Rocket Battery.....
Durnford had ridden out of camp at the head of his cavalry and had ordered Captain Russell's rocket battery to follow behind with an escort of NNC. The rockets were loaded on pack-mules but the ground was difficult, seemed with dongas and strewn with boulders and Durnford's men had inevitably drawn ahead, leaving Russell and his escort alone on the plain. When they were about a mile and a half from the camp and about two miles behind Durnford's men, having just passed the Conical Koppie, they came across some vedettes who advised Russell to withdraw as there was a large number of Zulus moving in this direction. Russell however decided to press on, in the best military tradition.
The battery only had time to fire one rocket, which passed over the heads of the warriors, before Russell's command was over-whelmed.
This was happening probably about the same time that Cavaye's Company first came into action.
Durnford meanwhile, had ridden out about four miles from the camp when he received a message from some Carbineers, that they were being surrounded. Durnford ordered his men to extend and when the Zulus got to within 400yds they fired and retired alternately, slowing the Zulu advance.
Far away on the left, Essex now thought things looked rather serious, with the enormous masses facing them. "The enemy's fire had hitherto been wild and ineffective, now, however, a few casualties began to occur in our lines". The band of the 1/24th doubled as stretcher bearers.
NEXT WEEK..............The collapse of the British position.