Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (23 September 2011)

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Date of Auction: 23rd September 2011

Sold for £5,000

Estimate: £4,000 - £6,000

The Zulu War medal awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel Quentin McK. Logan who, as a Lieutenant in command of ‘E’ Company 2/24th Foot, witnessed the immediate aftermath of Isandhlwana and Rorke’s Drift, his accounts of which were published shortly afterwards in his old school magazine The Cheltonian

South Africa 1877-79, 1 clasp, 1877-8-9 (Lieut Q. McK. Logan. 2-24th Foot) nearly very fine £4000-6000


Quentin McKinnon Logan was born on 23 May 1857, at Jamaica, British West Indies. He was educated at Cheltenham College and gazetted as a Sub-Lieutenant in the 24th Foot on 28 April 1875, being promoted Lieutenant on 28 April 1876. He served in South Africa from February 1878 to January 1881, seeing service in the Kaffir War of 1877-78 and the Zulu War of 1879. Having sometime attended the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, he was an Instructor of Musketry from October 1880 until 2 February 1881, on which date he was promoted to Captain. Whilst serving with his regiment in India, Logan was detached to Malliapuram on the Malabar coast, in May 1885 to suppress a Moplah rising. He became a Major in June 1886 and retired as a Lieutenant-Colonel in June 1893.

Lieutenant Logan’s letter home, dated 1 February, from Rorke’s Drift, with news of the massacre at Isandhlwana and the heroic defence of Rorke’s Drift, was published in The Cheltonian, April 1879, page 54. It began by outlining the frustrating search for Zulus that Chelmsford’s force undertook on 22 January. Logan tells of a rumour at mid-day that the camp had been attacked, and that no tents could be sent out to them that day. The reality, of course, was far worse, as described in the following extracts from his letter, more recently published in The Red Soldier by Frank Emery:

“About four p.m. we were suddenly bidden to fall in, and told, or rather I heard it said, that the camp was surrounded, and we had to relieve it. The tired men brightened up, and we marched off at a rattling pace for a twelve mile tramp, to have a slap at the niggers. About three miles from camp we halted to get water, and the General addressed the regiment. He said ‘Twenty-Fourth! our camp has been taken. I mean to retake it this night, and know how well I can rely on you. We shall very likely have to go in with the bayonet, but take it we will.’ We cheered him, and then fell in the order of attack; the guns in the centre, and three companies (24th) on each flank, with natives on our right and left flanks. With field glasses I could see some tents still standing, and thousands of Kaffirs trooping away far to our right with waggons and plunder. By the time we were a mile from camp it was dark. About 500 yards from where the camp had stood, the guns commenced shelling, to find out if it was occupied by Zulus. The infantry on the right and left marched on, and took up positions on two hills, to the right and left of the Isandhlwana Hill, without opposition. As I advanced over the very rough ground I stumbled over the bodies of soldiers and Kaffirs, but had not much attention to bestow upon anything, as I was in support of the companies in my front, and had much ado to keep native troops who were on my left from crushing in between men and the men in my front. I had to rush at them with my sword, and use every Kaffir word in my dictionary to keep them out of our ranks. The natives were panic-stricken, and, had we been attacked, would have borne my company away in their flight. Thank Heaven, we found not a living Zulu in our front.

Having thus advanced on the left flank towards Black’s Koppie, and gained the camp ground, Logan’s company settled down after being on the march, with little food, since two o’clock that morning. They rested uneasily.

Sleep was impossible for a time; but we were not worn out, and I know I slept a little. But on jumping up when some shots were fired, I fell down with cramp and shivering. We could see the Zulu signal fires all around us, and I never expected to get out of Cetshwayo’s territory alive, as we appeared from the position of the fires to be completely surrounded.

When they went on towards Rorke’s Drift at dawn the next day [23rd January], Logan felt a special excitement because he had been transferred from ‘B’ Company (the defenders) to command ‘E’ Company, and so was anxious to see how his comrades had fared overnight:

B Company fought for dear life and honour; and the Zulus, drunk with victory and plunder, could not believe that it was impossible for their savage yells and numbers to strike terror into the hearts of the few white men. The fiercest attacks were made on a small house used as a hospital. Now the Zulus by mere weight of numbers would force their way in among the patients; driven out at the bayonet’s point, in they would pour again; until at last flames enveloped the building, and before all the sick men could be got out, two were burnt to death. At daylight the savages retired, leaving five hundred dead lying around the walls.
As our column approached the fort I, who commanded the rear company of the rearguard, saw the smoke of the burning hospital; and my heart bled for my real company, whom I expected to see cut up as the men at the camp had been. It was a great relief when I could see red coats come out to greet the advanced guard who first approached Fort Bromhead. I was unlucky in not being with my own company. I should have seen some fighting, and could then call myself a soldier. As it is I have been under fire sometimes, but from what I see and hear the defence of this fort was most gallantly conducted. The men have the pluck, but without a good officer they are like sheep. I am busy (as acting Quartermaster) trying to get the men supplied with clothes, as they have lost all.”

Sold with copies of The Red Soldier by Frank Emery, and The Noble 24th by Norman Holme.