Monday, 25 February 2013

Zulu War Journal

Col Henry Harford, CB, edited by Daphne Child
Shuter and Shooter, Pietermaritzburg, 1978

The late David Rattray, conservationist, historian, storyteller and battlefield guide, counted Charlie Harford as his favourite amongst the cast of characters of the Anglo Zulu War. At the outbreak of the Anglo Zulu War, Lt. Henry Charles Harford was appointed Staff Officer to Commandant Lonsdale of the Natal Native Contingent. Rattray enjoyed recounting that Harford, an enthusiastic amateur entomologist, was seen to stop and capture a beetle specimen midway through the opening skirmish of the British invasion of Zululand.

His short journal is written in clear, engaging language – not without some humour – and reflects a careful honesty and – rare for contemporary sources – a fairly balanced view of the conflict. Its a fine read. Unfortunately, many AZW writers have quoted quite heavily from Harford's journal, and many of the key passages will be well known to readers familiar with the literature of the conflict. And with it being a fairly succinct text, I found there was not a lot of the journal I hadn't read before.

Still, I found the unfamiliar bits worth the price I paid for the book, and am glad to have it on my bookshelf.

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