Redvers Henry Buller

60th Rifles

28th March 1879
Redvers Henry Buller VC 1879

Captain Redvers Henry Buller 60th Rifles

     THE Zulu War of 1879, though successfully carried out in the end, was responsible for terrible loss of life during the short time occupied in forcing the Zulus to submission. The disaster at Isandlwana was terrible enough, that at Intombi followed soon after, and the affair at the Inhlobane Mountain narrowly escaped equalling the first-named in appalling consequences. Hearing that vast herds of cattle were on the top of the Mountain, a raid upon them was arranged, and, on March 28, 500 mounted men set off to bring them down. The ascent of the side approached was so steep, that it was hardly passable for horses, but they succeeded in gaining the summit, and had commenced to drive the herds together, when Sir Redvers Buller saw, about six miles away, a force of 20,000 Zulus advancing upon him. This impi was known to be " on the way " from Ulundi, but it was never imagined that it could compass the distance in so short a time. There was now nothing for our men but a hasty retreat, and down the precipitous paths they had ascended (the easier road on the other side, which they had intended to use being now blocked by the enemy) men and horses struggled, fell, and crowded together. The advanced Zulus promptly fell upon them, assagaied the horses, and speared every man they could reach, and it was during this terrible time that Captain Buller performed the many heroic acts for which he was deservedly awarded the Cross. Captain D'Arcy, Lieutenant Everitt, and a trooper of the Frontier Light Horse, were all, one after another, rescued by him from the ferocious Zulus, when their horses had been shot or stabbed to death. Rallying his men, he rode, time after time, at the hordes of the infuriated enemy, and by his personal courage, cool behaviour, and undaunted resolution, held them in check and covered the retreat. Captain Thomasson, in his work on the Zulu Campaign, says that Buller is known to have saved six men that day, but it would be impossible to tell how many more owed their lives to his orders and example. Streatfield, another chronicler of that war, says that Buller was " a splendid worker, and never seemed to tire, however great the amount of hard work, and wherever the stiffest amount of work was, he was sure to be found. In action, if you could ascertain for certain where most bullets were flying, you would be pretty safe in betting that Buller would be in the middle of it."

Born December 7, 1839, Sir Redvers Buller was the son of the late James Wentworth Buller, Educated at Eton, he entered the 60th Rifles in 1858, serving in the China War, 1860 ; Red River Expedition, 1870 ; Ashanti War, 1874 ; Kaffir War, 1878 ; Zulu War, 1879 ; Boer War, 1881, acting in the latter as Chief of Staff. Was in Intelligence Department during Egyptian War, 1882, taking part in the battles of Kassassin and Tel-el-Kebir, for which he was mentioned in despatches, received the medal and clasp, 3rd class Osmanieh, Khedive's Star, and was created K.C.M.G. Served in Soudan Expedition, 1884, mentioned twice in despatches, and promoted Major-General. Was Chief of Staff in Soudan (Nile), 1884-5, again mentioned in despatches and created K.C.B. Quartermaster-General, 1887 ; Under-Secretary for Ireland, 1887 ; Adjutant-General, 1890-7, and in command at Aldershot, 1898-9. On the outbreak of war in South Africa in 1899, commanded the forces at the commencement of the troubles in that country, and, later on, acted as General Officer commanding in Natal, conducting the operations for the relief of Ladysmith, which, with that dogged and resolute way so characteristic of him, he successfully accomplished.




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