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Major-General Sir William Penn Symons
( Isandula Collection)
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 Shields and Spears

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Mr Greaves


Posts : 748
Join date : 2009-10-18

PostSubject: Shields and Spears   Fri Nov 20, 2009 9:36 am

Isandlwana. The British were defeated by a nation of warriors armed with just shields and spears.

In reality just how many of the Zulu had guns at Isandlwana. Even if only a few thousand had guns, it would have had a devastating effect on the British ranks.
I mean most of the casualties at Rorkes Drift was due to gunshot. So its not quite true that we were defeated with just spears and shields is it.
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Neil Aspinshaw


Posts : 546
Join date : 2009-10-14
Location : Loughborough

PostSubject: Re: Shields and Spears   Fri Nov 20, 2009 2:19 pm

Approx 35% had guns, mainly percussion, and flint muzzle loaders. John Dunn had been trading with them for years.
At 100 yards you could not miss.

After Khambula over 280 zulu firearms were collected, only 13 were Martinis from Isandlwana (Emery). the rest a menagere of mixed hunting peices, Enfield P53 type, shotguns and smoothbores. The country was awash with firearms.

Do not get sucked into the belief the weapons being fired at Rorkes Drift were captured Martinis, apart from the few potentially collected from the bodies of McDowells RE men,Zulu's involed at RD were not involved in the main action at Isandlwana, so where would the guns have come from, the majority were a mix of the above.

Hitch was hit with a smooth calibre ball, and most of the rounds collected from around the mission were .577 or similar calibres. That is why the Zulu's were such bad shots, I doubt if they could barely understand the sight graduations?, even on a Martini, which is sighted at 1-400 yards on sliding sight bed, then 500 to 1400 by leaf it is difficult to judge, range, and hit the target at anything over 300 yards, with a smoothbore or Muzzle loader the whole thing goes to pot..why?

A Martini at 100 yards has straight trajectory, at 500 yards the bullet will go 8ft up to come down to the aiming point, that is with a measured 85 grain +/- 2 grains, if a Zulu was firing from say 500 yards, which is about the Oskerberg terrace to the Mission, without setting the sight, i.e a bead down the barrel, the bullet will hit the floor at 300 yards. A smoothbore, with dubious guessed powder load, times that by three!. it will be all over the place.

Bourne, in his report claims he was fired on by Martinis by the noise, this is doubtful, a day in the butts at a rifle range and one black powder rifle sounds like another, it is highly unlikely.
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old historian2


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Location : East London

PostSubject: Re: Shields and Spears   Fri Nov 20, 2009 4:59 pm

I believe, the zulu were renowned, for throwing down their fire arms after firing their first shot. Then going in with the spears as a follow up.

So they may have fired one volley in to the British which may have cause some casualties.
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