Essex Regiment & Essex Militia History

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Trumpeter Richard Stevens

Richard Walford Stevens was born on 17 October 1858 to Richard and Eliza Stevens. Richards father was a solicitor when meant that he was able to attend the nearby Felstead School.

Richard joined the 10th Essex Rifle Volunteer Battalion that were based at Witham.

Following this military experience he travelled to South Africa in 1878 and joined the Natal Mounted Police which ensured that he was involved in the Zulu War of 1879.

On 22 January 1879 Richard and 29 colleagues were involved in the battle at Isandula and by the end only Richard and 3 colleagues were still alive.

600 men were in camp, mainly from the 24th Regiment of Foot, at Isandula while the rest of the Regiment and other units under the command of Lord Chelmsford were searching for hostile Zulus when they were overrun by an army of 20,000 Zulus. Only 60 men were able to escape the slaughter.

Those killed included Mr Robert Lumley who was the brother of the Rev W F Lumley, Chaplain to Essex Prison.

Part of the Zulu army then moved to nearby Rorkes Drift where they slaughtered an outpost manned by more members of the 24th Regiment.

One of the few survivors of Rorkes Drift was Colour Sgt Ross of the 24th Regiment who lived at Heybridge.

Richard Stevens letter about the disaster was one of the first to arrive in the UK and attracted attention in the newspapers.

After the war Richard settled in South Africa living to a good old age.

His Great Grandson has since researched more details- Click here to visit his page.