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  • Zulu Dawn Battle of Islandlwana

    On January 22, 1879, Isandlwana was the site of the Battle of Isandlwana, where approximately 22,000 Zulu warriors defeated a contingent of approximately 1350 British and Native troops in the first engagement of the Anglo-Zulu War.[2] The force was largely wiped out by the Zulus under Cetshwayo. The battle remains the single greatest defeat for the British Army at the hands of a native army.

    Strength
    8,000 Main Column:
    1,400 to 2,000 engaged
    2 of 6 RA cannon
    1 Rocket Battery

    20,000 Zulu
    10,000 to 15,000 engaged
    4,000 to 5,000 to Rorke's Drift

    Chelmsford left five companies, around 7080 fighting men in each, of the 1st battalion and one stronger company of around 150 men from the 2nd battalion of the 24th behind to guard the camp, under the command of Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pulleine. Pulleine's orders were to defend the camp and wait for further instructions to support the General as and when called upon. Pulleine also had around 500 men of the Natal Native Contingent and approximately 200 local irregulars who were mounted. He also had two artillery pieces, with around 70 men of the Royal Artillery. In total, some 1300 men and 2 guns to defend the camp.

    All of that above is taken from Wikipedia for reference sake. I watched the movie via YouTube this past weekend and wondered, how could the British have saved themselves from slaughter? From the movie, the British camp was on a slope of the large hill with a mountain behind them. They stretched their lines out so far, it seemed easy for the Zulu to maneuver in between as they did.
    I'm thinking they should have set up a tighter defensive position with the two artillery pieces in place to fire in 180 degree's as needed with the mountain behind them. Put those rockets up above on the forward slopes of the mountain with marksman to cover the rifle companies that should have been in heavy defensive positions the natural ravines before them. Then use that 200 mounted force as an outer force to attack the Zulu's rear to keep them off balance. Hopefully, get that idiot back with the other 2500 British regular infantry to attack from the rear. The British mindset at the time was still very arrogant and 'proper' about fighting but the Commander should have had his Natal forces scouting heavily before any advances into Zulu territory. Thoughts? Scenarios?
    "Never push the red button" Daffy Duck

  • #2
    Originally posted by M1A1BP View Post
    On January 22, 1879, Isandlwana was the site of the Battle of Isandlwana, where approximately 22,000 Zulu warriors defeated a contingent of approximately 1350 British and Native troops in the first engagement of the Anglo-Zulu War.[2] The force was largely wiped out by the Zulus under Cetshwayo. The battle remains the single greatest defeat for the British Army at the hands of a native army.

    Strength
    8,000 Main Column:
    1,400 to 2,000 engaged
    2 of 6 RA cannon
    1 Rocket Battery

    20,000 Zulu
    10,000 to 15,000 engaged
    4,000 to 5,000 to Rorke's Drift

    Chelmsford left five companies, around 7080 fighting men in each, of the 1st battalion and one stronger company of around 150 men from the 2nd battalion of the 24th behind to guard the camp, under the command of Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pulleine. Pulleine's orders were to defend the camp and wait for further instructions to support the General as and when called upon. Pulleine also had around 500 men of the Natal Native Contingent and approximately 200 local irregulars who were mounted. He also had two artillery pieces, with around 70 men of the Royal Artillery. In total, some 1300 men and 2 guns to defend the camp.

    All of that above is taken from Wikipedia for reference sake. I watched the movie via YouTube this past weekend and wondered, how could the British have saved themselves from slaughter? From the movie, the British camp was on a slope of the large hill with a mountain behind them. They stretched their lines out so far, it seemed easy for the Zulu to maneuver in between as they did.
    I'm thinking they should have set up a tighter defensive position with the two artillery pieces in place to fire in 180 degree's as needed with the mountain behind them. Put those rockets up above on the forward slopes of the mountain with marksman to cover the rifle companies that should have been in heavy defensive positions the natural ravines before them. Then use that 200 mounted force as an outer force to attack the Zulu's rear to keep them off balance. Hopefully, get that idiot back with the other 2500 British regular infantry to attack from the rear. The British mindset at the time was still very arrogant and 'proper' about fighting but the Commander should have had his Natal forces scouting heavily before any advances into Zulu territory. Thoughts? Scenarios?
    Too trusting of technology, too trusting of their own ability, too trusting of their view on a backward people, too stiff upper lip and rubbish tactical ability.

    Remove just a few of these and the result may have been different.

    Saying that, the Zulus could not have played their hand any better, so hats off to them.

    If you want to know really what went wrong there is a museum just up the road from me at Brecon. It has all the information on the South Wales Borderers you will ever need. And it holds no punches about what went wrong. Well worth visiting .

    http://www.rrw.org.uk/
    How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
    Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

    Comment


    • #3
      The real problem is the British fought as a modern European army of the 1870's. The 6 British companies (ca. 700 rifles) formed up a perfect skirmish line (the 2 guns in the line), with their auxiliaries refusing the left flank. They opened an effective fire around 800 yds and, during the charge and subsequent melee around 6,000 Zulu warriors (50% of strength) were hit.

      The Zulus were not the norm for Africa, most African armies fought with guns, and the Zulus had plenty of guns (indeed Rorke's Drift was prettymuch a standup firefight between 2 infantry lines with entrenchments) but had a culture of charging in close order. At Isandlwana the Zulu impi had consumed Bushman Poison Bulb (a morphine like painkiller) and a local mushroom much like Fly Agaric. They were so doped they ignored the massive casualties and kept coming. The British were very thin on the ground (a single rank with 3m between men) and were thus overwhelmed.

      It should be noted that Isandlwana was a disaster for the Zulus. 3 of their 4 divisions were engaged there and suffered 50% casualties. The other division hit Rorkes Drift and suffered similarly at Rorke's Drift the next day. In the space of two days the Zulu army had been utterly wrecked and was not capable of much further resistance.
      "[T]he worst that could be said of the Peninsula campaign was that thus far it had not been successful. To make it a failure was reserved for the agency of General Halleck." -Emory Upton

      Comment


      • #4
        Simply, the British troops had been fighting for centuries in a square formation. Heavy weapons at the corners, ammo in the center as was the command group, and horse mounted troops to follow up when the emeny broke.
        According to survivors no orders were issued to form squares and the various troops fought independent small battles unsurported by other groups...and were over ran.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by LtCol View Post
          Simply, the British troops had been fighting for centuries in a square formation. Heavy weapons at the corners, ammo in the center as was the command group, and horse mounted troops to follow up when the emeny broke.
          According to survivors no orders were issued to form squares and the various troops fought independent small battles unsurported by other groups...and were over ran.
          That can be extended to Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pulleine's situation & the deployment of Chelmsford's army. The brigades were to far apart to support each other effectively. Had Pulleine's small brigade been covered by others on each flank the Zulu army would have encountered more Brit fire, and been unable to execute its standard double envelopment tactic as it did against Pulleine's brigade.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by 67th Tigers View Post
            The real problem is the British fought as a modern European army of the 1870's. The 6 British companies (ca. 700 rifles) formed up a perfect skirmish line (the 2 guns in the line), with their auxiliaries refusing the left flank. They opened an effective fire around 800 yds and, during the charge and subsequent melee around 6,000 Zulu warriors (50% of strength) were hit.

            The Zulus were not the norm for Africa, most African armies fought with guns, and the Zulus had plenty of guns (indeed Rorke's Drift was prettymuch a standup firefight between 2 infantry lines with entrenchments) but had a culture of charging in close order. At Isandlwana the Zulu impi had consumed Bushman Poison Bulb (a morphine like painkiller) and a local mushroom much like Fly Agaric. They were so doped they ignored the massive casualties and kept coming. The British were very thin on the ground (a single rank with 3m between men) and were thus overwhelmed.

            It should be noted that Isandlwana was a disaster for the Zulus. 3 of their 4 divisions were engaged there and suffered 50% casualties. The other division hit Rorkes Drift and suffered similarly at Rorke's Drift the next day. In the space of two days the Zulu army had been utterly wrecked and was not capable of much further resistance.
            So if they opened fire at 800 yard they had about 3 minutes to engage the Zulus before Melee. I am assuming that most Zulu Warriors could do the half mile at the same speed at most sort of trained high shcool track athletes. So how many shots is that for canons. I am guessing 10 to 15 for inf

            Comment


            • #7
              The 1/24th of Foot fought like were fighting an European army . No adapting tactics to local conditions . They ignored the fact that the Zulus had a long military tradition. The Zulus were able to travel distances and then fight . The European armies don't seem to have had that capacity. Also there was an mind set that kept Ammo from being distributed except from the QM appointed for your company.There also appears to have a problem with getting the ammo boxes open. And having that as a problem in the middle of a pitch battle
              is a headache no CO needs.
              Contrast is the elements from 2/24th at Rorkes Drift . They seem to have pulled it all together and pulled off a good job of defence . And on the Zulu side the units that attacked Rorkes Drift did so against orders
              indeed they were suppossed to be a reserve force. Guess they just couldn't stand to be left out of battle.


              Originally posted by 67th Tigers View Post
              The real problem is the British fought as a modern European army of the 1870's. The 6 British companies (ca. 700 rifles) formed up a perfect skirmish line (the 2 guns in the line), with their auxiliaries refusing the left flank. They opened an effective fire around 800 yds and, during the charge and subsequent melee around 6,000 Zulu warriors (50% of strength) were hit.

              The Zulus were not the norm for Africa, most African armies fought with guns, and the Zulus had plenty of guns (indeed Rorke's Drift was prettymuch a standup firefight between 2 infantry lines with entrenchments) but had a culture of charging in close order. At Isandlwana the Zulu impi had consumed Bushman Poison Bulb (a morphine like painkiller) and a local mushroom much like Fly Agaric. They were so doped they ignored the massive casualties and kept coming. The British were very thin on the ground (a single rank with 3m between men) and were thus overwhelmed.

              It should be noted that Isandlwana was a disaster for the Zulus. 3 of their 4 divisions were engaged there and suffered 50% casualties. The other division hit Rorkes Drift and suffered similarly at Rorke's Drift the next day. In the space of two days the Zulu army had been utterly wrecked and was not capable of much further resistance.

              "To all who serve , have or will serve , Thank You"

              Comment


              • #8
                the brits were silly. pure and simple.

                shoulda done what the dutch did
                Task Force Regenbogen- Support and Paras

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by strathnaver View Post
                  The 1/24th of Foot fought like were fighting an European army . No adapting tactics to local conditions . They ignored the fact that the Zulus had a long military tradition. The Zulus were able to travel distances and then fight . The European armies don't seem to have had that capacity.
                  Yes they did. The Zulu's march pales compared with some of the forced marches the British did during the Mutiny for example.

                  Also there was an mind set that kept Ammo from being distributed except from the QM appointed for your company.
                  Nope, you could draw on any company wagon.

                  There also appears to have a problem with getting the ammo boxes open. And having that as a problem in the middle of a pitch battle
                  is a headache no CO needs.
                  Nope, you smash the top with your rifle butt as was common practice (all the screws recovered by archeologists were bent from this).

                  Contrast is the elements from 2/24th at Rorkes Drift . They seem to have pulled it all together and pulled off a good job of defence . And on the Zulu side the units that attacked Rorkes Drift did so against orders
                  indeed they were suppossed to be a reserve force. Guess they just couldn't stand to be left out of battle.
                  Rorke's Drift is actually a lot less heroic than in the film Zulu.

                  I suggest you read Snook:

                  http://www.amazon.com/How-Can-Man-Di.../dp/185367656X
                  "[T]he worst that could be said of the Peninsula campaign was that thus far it had not been successful. To make it a failure was reserved for the agency of General Halleck." -Emory Upton

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by craven View Post
                    So if they opened fire at 800 yard they had about 3 minutes to engage the Zulus before Melee. I am assuming that most Zulu Warriors could do the half mile at the same speed at most sort of trained high shcool track athletes. So how many shots is that for canons. I am guessing 10 to 15 for inf
                    The 700 rifles of the 24th fired ca. 56,000 rounds at the Zulus, ca. 80 each (more than the 70 rds carried, of which battlefield archeology shows 35 ea. were fired before the 24th started to fire and maneouvre back), and hit a high estimate of ca. 4,000 of them (ca. 1 in 14, constrast with 1 in 850 by the US 7th Cavalry at Little Bighorn)
                    "[T]he worst that could be said of the Peninsula campaign was that thus far it had not been successful. To make it a failure was reserved for the agency of General Halleck." -Emory Upton

                    Comment

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