Since the main column's move forward to Isandlwana, life had been quite at Rorke's Drift.
Lieutenant John Chard, Royal Engineers, was supervising work on the ponts at the crossing. Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead, commander of B Company of the 2nd/24th, stationed at Rorke's Drift, was returning from a hunting trip when he came across Chard at the crossing.
Bromhead: "Hot work?"
Chard: "Damned hot work."
Bromhead: "You've come down from the column?"
Chard: "That's right.They want a bridge across the river"
Bromhead: "Who said you could use my men?"
Chard: "They were sitting around on their backsides doing nothing."
Bromhead: "Rather you asked first old boy".
Chard: "I was told their officer was out hunting."
"Fall them in Corporal Allen."
The decision was made to make a stand and the men were ordered to drag out the mealie-bags and biscuit-boxes from the store, ready to form barricades.
Chard and Bromhead agreed, the garrison would make a stand.
Rorke's post consisted of two long thatched bungalows, 30yds apart. The storehouse was the bigger of the two, about 80ft by 20ft, while the hospital was 60ft by 18ft.
Rorke had built his buildings on a flat shelf which dropped away a few feet in front of them in a bank four or five feet high. The storehouse was set back slightly, and a well-built stone cattle-krall lay on its right front corner.
The two wagons were run into a line between the front left corner of the storehouse and the right rear of the hospital.
"Beg pardon Sir, about the soup Sir."
Sergeant Windridge: "Owen you've got a voice haven't you?"
Owen: "Yes sergeant, Baritone."
Windridge: "Well get up on that hill and sing out if you see anything, you too, and take your bundle you dozy Welshman."
Mounted Officer: "I'm surprised your still here, do you know there are 4,000 Zulus coming this way?"
Chard: "Throw your men out in a screen South of here, you know how the Zulus think about cavalry".
Mounted Officer: "I know how my men feel about Zulus, we only just got through."
Chard: "Bromhead if you know this man, tell him we need him. Stand fast, stand fast all of you, where the hell do you think you are going?"
Mounted Officer: "If they're going to die, they will die on their own farms."
Chard: "Dont go. We need you, damn you."
Colour Sergeant Bourne: "Sentries report Zulus to the South West, thousands of them."
NEXT WEEK................ part 2. The Initial Attack.