The Zulu Army. Compiled from Information Obtained from The Most Reliable Sources, – Fred B. Fynney


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Published by Lieutenant-General Lord Chelmsford for the information of those under his command. Written by Fred B. Fynney an interpreter for the Natal government in 1876-1877 and an administrator of native law and special border agent for the Lower Tugela Division in 1878-1879. During the war, he commanded the Border Police force in his district, Colonial Defence District No. VI. In this role he reported intelligence garnered on the border to military and civilian authorities. In the opinion of Rider Haggard, he was consequently the man who, in virtue of his long service on the Zulu border, “with the exceptions of the late Sir Theophilus Shepstone and the late Sir Melmoth Osborn, perhaps knew more of that land and people than anyone else of that period.” While on the border during the war, Fynney reported on events in his district, on minor fracas across the border, sent statements collected from Zulus as a means of gathering intelligence, and worked as a translator for the military and civilian authorities. He is reported to have known “Zulus and the Zulu language well.” Morris records that Fynney used his fluent Zulu to dabble in ethnology and that while he had his faults as a border agent…he had been collecting just such information for years as a hobby. While he was certainly one of the best qualified to prepare this publication in advance of the war, Fynney was not involved in combat at any stage, though he may have spoken to those who were, or read such reports as appeared in the press. Writing in November 1878, Fynney pointed out that the ‘introduction of firearms’ was likely to have wrought ‘great changes, both in movements and dress’, upon the ‘ordinary customs of the Zulu army.’ A somewhat different account, which minimised tactical innovation resulting from the adoption of firearms, is to be found in the April 1879 second edition of this work. A  rare and important publication – it is the handbook issued to British Staff officers on the eve of their invasion of Natal and the ensuing Zulu War in 1879. It gives a detailed picture of Zulu society, individual chieftains, military tactics, warriors’ dress and history ‘compiled from information obtained from the most reliable sources’. It includes a diagram of the famous Zulu attack formation, based on the horns of cattle, in which the enemy was enveloped on both wings by two horns, while the body of the ‘bull’ was held in reserve. The detailed intelligence that the British had built up on their potential enemy listed in this eye-opening little book is quite staggering. However, in the campaign that followed, much of that intelligence was not utilised thanks to the incompetent conduct of the campaign.

Publisher: Lord Chelmsford
Date Published: 1878
Publication Place: Pietermartizburg

Condition: Very good. Professionally restored with tissue and housed in an later binding.
Binding: Bound in later half blue morocco with linen boards. Original wraps preserved.

Dimensions: 15 5 x 24.5cm, 17 pgs, with two photographic plates. One a diagram of the Zulu attack formation and the other a map of South Africa.

Additional information

Weight 1400 g