Isandlwana Staff Button

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Isandlwana Staff Button

Postby AlexReece » 13 Sep 2017 18:52

Hello Fellow Members

I have been given this relic button from a very good reliable source from the battlefield of Isandlwana.

The button was found 1984 at the battle site

Would it have been only Staff Offices or could any other have worn ? and how many Staff Officers was present at the defeat ?

I know I will never pin down who worn the button but a near miss would be excellent.

DSC_0005 (800x534) (700x467).jpg
DSC_0005 (800x534) (700x467).jpg (241.7 KiB) Viewed 653 times


Thank you

Alex
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Re: Isandlwana Staff Button

Postby Isandlwana » 13 Sep 2017 23:19

Alex,

As the person who identified the Staff Corps button to AMAFA - the organisation responsible for the battlefield - that was recovered with a partial skeleton back in 2009.

Can I suggest you look at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... utton.html

The photograph that accompanies the article is not that of Colour-Sergeant M. C. Keane. Nor am I a British military medal expert as suggested in piece.

John Y.
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Re: Isandlwana Staff Button

Postby AlexReece » 13 Sep 2017 23:42

Isandlwana wrote:Alex,

As the person who identified the Staff Corps button to AMAFA - the organisation responsible for the battlefield - that was recovered with a partial skeleton back in 2009.

Can I suggest you look at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... utton.html

The photograph that accompanies the article is not that of Colour-Sergeant M. C. Keane. Nor am I a British military medal expert as suggested in piece.

John Y.



Hello John

Ok most interesting John Y & thank you

But would some others present at this battle have wore this pattern button also ? I think it would be very doubtful that this button belonged to Colour-Sergeant M.C.Keane.


Regards Alex
Last edited by AlexReece on 15 Sep 2017 08:39, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Isandlwana Staff Button

Postby Isandlwana » 14 Sep 2017 01:01

Alex,

To my knowledge Keane was the only member of the Staff Corps present at iSandlwana.

I believe that no other unit present at the action wore that pattern of button. I will let you draw your own conclusions, as I did.

I never physically saw the button, only a photograph of it. After I gave the information to AMAFA I read some absolute nonsense about the button in question. A number of so-called experts stated it was a Royal Engineers button, or it belonged to the 'Victorian Rifles'. Whoever they were, based on the VR cypher.

Most of the Staff Officers in Chelmsford's ill-fated first invasion were regimental officers seconded on Special-Service, so I would doubt any of them would have worn a uniform with Staff Officer's buttons. There are obvious differences in the uniform that they wore that appears in any photographs I have seen but these are limited to their forage caps, and in some cases - but not all - to the pattern of patrol jacket worn.

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Re: Isandlwana Staff Button

Postby AlexReece » 14 Sep 2017 07:13

Thank you for that John Y

Its one of those questions that when you get the answer it leads to more quandaries ?

Ok John Y thank you

regards Alex
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Re: Isandlwana Staff Button

Postby Potts1972 » 17 Sep 2017 13:16

The General staff button in question is obviously not from the grave in which c/sgt.Keane's remains were discovered, as it lacks the residue left during the decomposition of the body as can be seen on the button found with him. I cant believe that the only staff buttons at Isandlwana were on the tunic c/sgt Keane was wearing when he was killed. As a senior nco who worked on lord Chelmsford's headquarters staff' I'm sure he would have had more than one jacket also a couple of spare buttons in his housewife he would have wanted to be well turned out in front of the officers he worked for, I'm sure this held true then as it did in my day,so it stands to reason that his spare jacket and buttons would have been lost during the looting of the camp, also if there were other staff corps men with Lord Chelmsford when he went to dish up the Zulu impi's he was looking for then there kit would have been in camp also as this was Chelmsford's base of operations. It would be interesting to know if there were any other men from the staff corps attached to the column beside c/sgt Keane. If anyone can throw some light on this I would love to know.
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Re: Isandlwana Staff Button

Postby Isandlwana » 19 Sep 2017 11:03

Potts1972,

No Keane was the only member of the General Staff Corps with the advancing section No. 3 Column.

The only other member of the unit with No. 3 Column was Colour-Sergeant George Mabin, who was based at the supply depot at Rorke's Drift, and was present at the defence on 22nd-23rd January 1879.

In all there were only less than a dozen - I would be more precise, but I several thousands of miles from my research - of the unit present throughout the entire campaign. Some of whom never left Pietermaritzburg, others were attached to other columns of initial invasion.

As to your suggestion regarding spare tunic/frock and spare buttons in a housewife, that is something I have already put forward myself.

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Re: Isandlwana Staff Button

Postby Frogsmile » 24 Sep 2017 18:43

Is this in reference to the Corps of Military Staff Clerks? There is much confusion online about this unit, as Britain did away with it whilst Canada, Australia and India all retained units of the same or similar name. I have really struggled to learn more about its history, although I know it was merged first into the Army Service Corps and then, much later, into the Army Ordnance Corps. I would be interested to learn more if anyone can help.
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Re: Isandlwana Staff Button

Postby maryathomes » 21 Nov 2017 06:36

Hello
The button is unique as it belonged to Colour-Sergeant M.C. Keane and he was the only member of the General Staff Corps at Analysand.

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Re: Isandlwana Staff Button

Postby ED, in Los Angeles » 21 Nov 2017 21:41

The provenance of this button has not been established just because it is from "a very good reliable source". That is not provenance.
I once bought a product from "a very good reliable source". So now I have a pocket full of "magic beans" that don't do anything!
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Re: Isandlwana Staff Button

Postby Will Mathieson » 21 Nov 2017 23:32

One assumption I find strange that some have is the notion that a body or blood can stain an artifact that is over a century old.
If one took into account science the notion would evaporate just like the "blood did over a century ago.
Just imagine the billions of deceased animals in the last 150 years if they still exhibiting residue, what a mess we would live in.
The bodies were left at the battle ground for some time until they decomposed and only bones remained before any attempt at burial. This was done so the smell and any possible disease was avoided.
No antique button or sword has "blood" remaining, just the nature of the material precludes it.
Buttons from the Crimean War have been turning up on EBay and elsewhere. Digging up graves seems to be a profitable exercise.
I'd be more inclined to believe the provenance of an item if it was documented during archeological digs with supporting photographs.
Ed there is not a bag large enough for all the magic beans out there.
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Re: Isandlwana Staff Button

Postby timothylrose » 22 Nov 2017 17:40

With due respect you don't have to dig graves in the Crimea to recover artifacts - some are lying on the surface of the sites, others need only a plastic fork and a two minutes scrape to bring them up, most buttons, shako plates etc are recovered from a number of known camps that is why certain ones are more common - the Naval Brigade, 93rd, the lads all over Cathcart Hill, the 28th, 68th and a number of other well dug places - the rubbish pits tend to be excavated and are still a deep rich seam of items (or were last time I was there in 2013) we were picking up buttons, stocks, pipes, glass and lead items, nails and tons of bullets within seconds of scratching the surface.

The African situation is somewhat different but I have done sites there and again some stuff sits on the top at places like Ladysmith or ORC - the Zulu sites are different but I am fairly confident of the authenticity of the staff button for a number of reasons I have talked over with John and the OP.

As for provenance I made sure any stuff I dug on any site has a photo taken of where it was dug, dated if thats not good enough provenance for a purchaser so be it - the old days of RRM and his "finds" are in the past.
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Re: Isandlwana Staff Button

Postby Will Mathieson » 23 Nov 2017 07:02

I don't believe I said you have to dig graves to find artifacts, I used Crimea as one example only because it is known some are or were digging up graves there. Old outhouse sites are good locations to find things.
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Re: Isandlwana Staff Button

Postby AlexReece » 23 Nov 2017 10:36

ED, in Los Angeles wrote:The provenance of this button has not been established just because it is from "a very good reliable source". That is not provenance.
I once bought a product from "a very good reliable source". So now I have a pocket full of "magic beans" that don't do anything!



Ed I do have good provenance with the Staff button but for obvious reasons I will not post that here, I'm fully aware of 'magic beans' as you say.
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Re: Isandlwana Staff Button

Postby Potts1972 » 24 Nov 2017 22:02

Having I believe and in a reasonable manor contributed something to Alex's question I feel I must elaborate on something I mentioned about the residue left on the button found with C/Sgt Keane's remains. Yes the liquid in a decomposing corpse will evaporate but a body is only part liquid and in the process of decomposition the fluids in the body and the broken down flesh gravitate downward to the lowest point and anything between that and the surface will be soaked in the fluids, it then dry's up leaving everything it came into contact with covered in the dried up remains and if C/Sgt Keane's body was laying face down the button would have been soaked in the fluids but that's only supposition on my part, ( No need to go into a diatribe about it please ). Had the body been left on the surface to decompose completely everything would have gone in time scoured away and broken down by the elements. But this didn't happen his body was after some months buried this to some extent takes out the equation of abrasion and surface elements, if left undisturbed the coating of dried bodily fluids and dirt would harden stay on the button for a very long time. I have looked at buttons dug from graves in the Crimea and Lithuania and have seen the same coating on some of them them, what I am trying to put across in layman terms was explained to me more fully albeit in broken English by a forensic Archaeologist working on a Napoleonic grave site in Vilnius, and not once during a fascinating conversation did he mention piles of non evaporating dead animals or magic beans he stuck to the subject matter and responded to the questions in a proper fashion. Also the provenance of Alex's button is in my opinion sound and very far from being one of the magic beans people seem to like talking about. I also thought that Chelmsford decision to leave the dead unburied was more of a tactical one than concern about the smell and its effect on the burial parties.
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