Precisely, Bill. It would appear there were several contemporary observers (among the press of both S Africa and London, in the army and among the colonial community) who "smelt a rat" at the time, possibly many more than those who can be seen to have actually put pen to paper, either publicly or privately. The combining of the official accounts of the two engagements by Wood (and the deliberate vagueness over Hlobane) in such a way that he effectively masked from the public, for some weeks, the results of his blunder didn’t, therefore, go unnoticed in London or S Africa by some, who said so. However, Frere backed him because he needed the news of Khambula to swamp that of Hlobane, where losses were around 200 – nearly four times the number at Ntombe. After Khambula, the decisive battle of the war, Wood appears to have been untouchable, his success obviously contrasting – in the public eye - with Chelmsford’s fortunes. His and Buller’s hounding of Russell and the demolition of Weatherley’s reputation appear to have been accepted without question. Buller, at least, tried to accept the blame for the losses by admitting the vagueness of his instructions to Russell, but the WO (not Wood, as I mentioned earlier in the Pope/2-24 thread) blocked this confession. Despite his VC, Buller hardly comes out of this mess any better than Wood, both during and after the defeat. Wood’s & Buller’s treatment of Weatherley & Russell makes Chelmsford’s statements on Isandlwana & Durnford appear positively friendly. Unless new material surfaces in the way that the forgotten Dennison memoir was rediscovered by Huw Jones, it seems we shall never find out where Wood disappeared to for several hours that day, nor whether the claims in some quarters that he suffered a breakdown during the battle are accurate.
Max, Wood’s “involvement” in Edward Durnford’s campaign has always been known. Edward’s pamphlet of Nov 1880 – responding to Chelmsford’s speeches in the Lords and letters to The Times – mentions the doubts about the campsite’s viability: “...I have it from the lips of an officer who served in Zululand (and whose rank is little inferior to that of Lord Chelmsford) ...” clearly pointed to Wood, who had just returned from Zululand for the second time, including his bivouac at Isandlwana with the Empress. Edward also alluded then to the Anstey & Penrose maps. However, I can still see little evidence that anything Wood said about Isandlwana (including any annotations on maps) should carry any particular weight, nor that Wood ever particularly involved himself in Edward’s campaign, other than responding to Edward’s pestering in such a way that ensured plenty of stick continued to come Lord C’s way without necessarily sticking his own neck out.