Naval Brigades during the Zulu War

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Re: Naval Brigades during the Zulu War

Postby jf42 » 13 Nov 2016 01:08

Coming to this thread late, I have to ask, was Condy's mixture available in India as well?

As I mentioned in a thread on early khaki dying techniques- crude experiments demonstrate that tea tends to a reddy brown while coffee produces a more grey brown with blue undertones.

It may seem like a blow beneath the belt but the Wilkinson Lathams do belong to an earlier generation of student and I have found that Robin can be not wholly reliable.

Finally, I just have to share my joy at the phrase "At Inyezane the blue-jackets were in white with white helmets." The fact that we take such sentences for granted is what makes this subject a constant pleasure.
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Re: Naval Brigades during the Zulu War

Postby ED, in Los Angeles » 13 Nov 2016 02:38

I just came to this discussion late also. I have no opinion but............

Look at the first page of this discussion. At halfway down the page, there is a 1874 picture of Lieutenant Lord E.F. Gifford. He is wearing a blade bayonet with no apparent hanger around his waist! Look between his legs and you can see a post that had boards or metal strips attached to it behind the back of the individual being photographed. The subject used the boards or metal strips to position himself and help him stay in place for the long exposure time of the photographic process. The photographic appliance was adjustable. The bayonet is either attached to the appliance or Lord Gifford has the bayonet shoved down the back of his pants for effect.

I see stuff like this in old photos all the time.
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Re: Naval Brigades during the Zulu War

Postby Isandlwana » 13 Nov 2016 07:36

Ed,

I would suggest Gifford is wearing a belt beneath his patrol jacket, and like other versions of the patrol jacket there is a back vent, and it from that vent the Elcho bayonet is protruding.

Just my opinion.

John Y.
Not theirs to save the day but where they stood, falling, to dye the earth
with brave men's blood for England's sake and duty...
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Re: Naval Brigades during the Zulu War

Postby jf42 » 13 Nov 2016 11:05

John's observation I think explains the image. There is another photograph from the same session that shows Lord Gifford wearing a sword, with the slings emerging from beneath the frogged jacket, evidently suspended from a waistbelt. I believe this was the standard method of wearing a sword with the 1867 Patrol Jacket and red frock in undress

Gifford's coat is a tropical version of the Patrol Jacket, prototypes of which we see being worn in India around the time of the Mutiny. There is a painting of Evelyn Wood post-Ashantee wearing a similar jacket in blue-grey. He wears a sword on a waistbelt over the jacket with no shoulder strap (it was perhaps worn only for the portrait). In 'Infantry Uniforms from 1660,' Michael Barthorp includes a Pierre Turner illustration of an officer of the 4th (King's) also wearing this form of light, frogged jacket on Napier's Abyssinian expedition of 1867-8. He too wears his equipment over the coat. The colour shown there is a grey toned sage green, apparently representing the shade of improvised khaki, or drab, worn by certain Queen's regiments on the expedition, created by staining the regulation white Indian summer clothing, although presumably an officer might well have had his jacket made up specially.

Most other Ashanti officer portraits I am aware of show subjects wearing various styles of light shooting jacket, with pockets, some with Norfolk pleats, as recommended by General Wolseley for Ashanti service, with belt and Sam Browne worn over the jacket and the bayonet hanging on the left hip.
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Re: Naval Brigades during the Zulu War

Postby Albert J » 13 Nov 2016 11:34

mike snook wrote:General Order 194, dated 15 Nov 1878, is of relevance and will be of interest:

'Mixture for dying the white helmets of the troops in the field having been received, the Assistant Commissary-General will cause the same to be at once distributed in proper proportions for the use of the different corps wherever now stationed, accompanied by specimen pieces of material giving the approved shade. Commanding Officers on receipt thereof will immediately cause every officer's and man's helmet to be dyed according to the pattern shade.'

(Smith, K., Local general orders etc...relating to the AZW (2005),13).

As ever

M


Mike,

Is there any insight provided as to the dying method employed?

James
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Re: Naval Brigades during the Zulu War

Postby jf42 » 13 Nov 2016 13:24

That is certainly an interesting snippet. Given the range of measures still being used during and after the Afghan campaign, and the complaints of the troops about their khaki clothing in the years immediately following, the mixture referrd to can't have been particularly effective. It took Gatty's patent chemical dye patented in 1884 to achieve the first permanent khaki cloth.
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Re: Naval Brigades during the Zulu War

Postby mike snook » 13 Nov 2016 14:39

Hi James, None at all I fear. The order stands resplendently mysterious. It does rather give the lie to the coffee, mud and mimosa bark story - which I'm sure held good earlier. As you will appreciate the order post-dates the 9th Cape Frontier War (marginally), when many of the very same troops that fought in the first phase of the AZW were in the field with helmets dyed in the old ways. I would add the cautionary note that it is one thing to give a force-wide order and another for it to be meticulously carried through when that force is dispersed over a wide geographic area with no lateral lines of communication (for transport and stores) between its centres of gravity. I dare say there would have been part sof the force where the old dying mediums continued in parallel with whatever mysterious substance it is the G.O. refers to. Possibly the idea of an approved shade arose because his Lordship felt there was too much lack of uniformity in the Eastern Cape - but in that regard I speculate.

As ever

Mike
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Re: Naval Brigades during the Zulu War

Postby jf42 » 14 Nov 2016 10:02

Is it possible that 'the mixture' was simply what was understood to be the formula of the correct proportions of mimosa and copperas (let us say) necessary to achieve the desired, uniform shade- rather than a new method hitherto unknown?
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Re: Naval Brigades during the Zulu War

Postby mike snook » 14 Nov 2016 11:08

jf

Looking at the language - in particular the word 'mixture' - I would judge that there is every possibility of that being so. When I say 'gives the lie to' etc...I mean the idea of half a dozen or so soldiers brewing up a mess tin of coffee to 'do' their helmets, or perhaps gathering round a muddy pool to do so. The G.O. implies a much more systematic (and hence uniform) approach across whole battalions (or wings thereof) or entire minor units at a time, supervised by the quartermaster, at the behest of the CO, in response to general orders. I imagine that the 'mixture' would have been derived from whatever successful practices, (presumably there had been unsuccessful ones too!), had earlier been followed in preparing the men's kit for for bush fighting in the Transkei/Ciskei over the 1877-8 period. So in a sense this seems to be about making the new boys on the block, (including presumably the newly mobilized units of mounted volunteers - Natal Mounted Police, Natal Carbineers, Newcastle Mounted Rifles etc and so forth), look like the old ones.

There is a G.O. of only three days later than the one I have cited which announces the arrival and commital of HMS Active's Naval Brigade. John's evidence shows clearly that the Naval Brigade failed get a grip of their dress until after Inyezane and had good reason to regret not having done so earlier. As is so often the way, lessons learned in the past had been forgotten - there was a wholesale disaster in 1857 - and I do mean disaster - when an attempt was made to relieve a small besieged outpost at Arrah and the regiment concerned (a wing of HM 10th if I recall correctly) had failed to dye their white clothing. Ambushed by the mutineers in twilight and then pursued through the night, they took the most terrible mauling. This unhappy passage of events was attributed in large part to their white clothing, although I would perceive a certain amount of tactical ineptitude and flawed decision-making as being the larger contributory factors.

But I digress...I know you are the master of the dyes and I concur entirely with your suggestion that the word 'mixture' is significant and might well have included some of the agents you suggest - mimosa, coppera etc. I think we have to add the caveat that it is impossible to tell for 'certain-sure' from the limited data available. I cannot immediately bring to mind corrobating primary sources describing the dyeing of helmets in the field, but I feel sure they will exist somewhere. I am about to re-scan Sir Arthur Cunnyghame's My Command in South Africa in connection with matters 'kit' (see my separate thread on 1/24 and P1871 equipment) and will report back if he says anything of significance - though I think it unlikely. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

As ever

M
Last edited by mike snook on 14 Nov 2016 17:56, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Naval Brigades during the Zulu War

Postby jf42 » 14 Nov 2016 15:41

Yes, that all makes sense to me.

"Master of the dyes'- updating my CV as I write!
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