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 Two squadrons of cavalry would have solved the problem.???

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Dave

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PostSubject: Two squadrons of cavalry would have solved the problem.???   Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:22 pm

An Extract from a Statement by Captain Alan Gardner, 14th Hussars. Camp, Rorke’s Drift, January 26, 1879.

“I trust I may not be thought, presumptuous if I state my opinion, that had there been a regiment or even two squadrons of cavalry the disaster at Isandlana would not have occurred. The enemy's advance across our front which was requisite in order to turn our right was in extremely loose order, the ground was an open plain and could easily have been cleared by a determined charge. The enemy's shooting was so indifferent that our loss would. Have been - very small. -The result moreover of a cavalry charge would have had a very different effect on the enemy's morale to the retreating fire of mounted skirmishers, and I feel confident we could have held our own till the return of the General's force.”

(Signed) ALAN GARDNER,
Captain, 14th Hussars, Staff Officer, 3rd Column.

I personally don’t agree, what do other members think. My thoughts are based on what Brickhill Says.” Our flight I shall never forget: no path, no track and boulders everywhere.”
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90th

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PostSubject: Two sqdns of Cavalry   Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:21 am

hi Dave .
I"m with you , the plain may be flat for some distance , but there is dead ground ( below eyesight ) , dongas , boulders where
the initial firing line was . I think the ground was that difficult that Gardener mightnt have realised how bad it was , out further
from the front line . Im sure there is a village now , out front of where the camp was in 79 that you cant see from the camp
due to the ground falling from sight . ( Dead Ground ).
cheers 90th.
Neil will certainly clear this up on his return , Jamie could also clear this up .
One thing Dave , I think Brickhill is talking about the Fugitives Drift Track , not the front of the camp
in which Gardener is Refering .
cheers 90th.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Two squadrons of cavalry would have solved the problem.???   Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:45 am

Hi Dave
I agree in part with Gardner. On the plain to the right of the Koppie a squadron of cavalry would have stopped the left horn in its tracks, witness Bradsteet and Durnfords initial success. With the chest coming up against the imperial troops, Pope would not have been drawn across the plain and would have bolstered the front line. Over all I doubt if the result would have been different, the right horn was into the tents before the withdrawl of the front line. No cavalry squdron would been able to fight effectivly on the back slopes because of the terrain conditions.
What would have been interesting is the next hypothesis: The cavalry succeeds in holding back the left horn, the right horn comes over the saddle and forces the troops to retreat down onto the plain, fighting now facing the mountain, retreating over the Donga covered by the cavalry. Main factor there of course is that they would have been cut of from there source of ammunition and would have relied on the sabres of the cavalry plus cold steel from the infantry.
In terms of the terrain to the front of the mountain, between the mountain and the tented area, approx 100 yards there are broken boulders, from there virtually to the conical hill the ground is suited to horses, except for two dongas and a line of broken rock at approx 90 degrees to the mountain. Thats the rocky ridge that formed part of the front line. From the HQ tent area, the front line is not visible, and from the front line Durnfords defence area is not visible. But the plain and the donga are very visible from the HQ area.
Interesting thoughts.

Regards
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Saul David 1879



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PostSubject: Re: Two squadrons of cavalry would have solved the problem.???   Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:13 pm

The 7th Cavalry were at Little Big Horn, but the out come was the same as Isandlwana.

S.D
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90th

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PostSubject: Two sqdns of Cavalry   Thu Jan 21, 2010 4:00 am

hi SD.
A good and valid point . I dont think 6 sqdns of cavalry would change the result !!!.
cheers 90th.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Two squadrons of cavalry would have solved the problem.???   Thu Jan 21, 2010 5:38 am

SD
The 7th Cavalry fought as a dissmounted unit, not as a traditional cavalry unit.
I merely offered the scenario as a possiblity.........and being an ex Hussar, to agree with Gardner.

Regards

90th
With 6 squadrons I would have cleared the impis from Nqutu before they hit the plain.

Regards
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Two squadrons of cavalry would have solved the problem.???   Thu Jan 21, 2010 7:48 am

How many men make up a squadron.

Springbok9. Do you not think the terrain as Isandlwana was unsuitable for any sort of charging mounted unit. I have read that in some cases the Zulu's were keeping up with those trying to escape on horses. Which tell me a horse was unable to run at full speed, even if it wanted to.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Two squadrons of cavalry would have solved the problem.???   Thu Jan 21, 2010 8:15 am

Hi Littlehand
The terrain your thinking of is the ground to the rear of Isandlawana. From the saddle down the line of the Fugitrives Trail is foot passage only. However the ground to the front of the camp position is perfect for cavalry.
Broadstreet, Raw and Dunford all operated well as a saddled unit.
No reason what so ever to doubt Gardiners very knowledgable apraisal.
A squadron could be as many as a 100 strong. 4 to the regiment.
6 squadrons were in the charge of the light brigade, approx 600 men.
So to get back to my original point, an additional 200-300 fighting men well trained and mounted combined with the existing mounted forces would have been more than enough to see off the attacking force.

Regards
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Mr Greaves

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PostSubject: Re: Two squadrons of cavalry would have solved the problem.???   Thu Jan 21, 2010 3:02 pm

A Cavalry charge combined with infantry and artillery units would have achieved maximum effect. The only think that appeared to be missing at Isandlwana was the Cavalry. I think Gardner’s opinion, was correct. “Had there been a regiment or even two squadrons of cavalry the disaster at Isandlwana would not have occurred.”

G.
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PostSubject: Re: Two squadrons of cavalry would have solved the problem.???   Thu Jan 21, 2010 8:03 pm

You all seemed to be forgetting the traditional Zulu attack formation.

E.H
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: Two squadrons of cavalry would have solved the problem.???   Thu Jan 21, 2010 11:11 pm

Good point. But if one section of the formation was broken. Then the formation and zulu tatics no longer exsisted. Would the horns have carried on with their intended course. Or would they have broken off and launch an attack in order to help the section that was being attacked..
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90th

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PostSubject: Two sqdns of Cavalry   Fri Jan 22, 2010 12:55 am

Hi all.
This from a well known zulu war historian .
" Gardener is talking about a particular stage of the battle , when the left horn swung across the plain in
fairly open order, but , the zulus thickened up as more come off the hills , and I think the situation soon changed.
Would a charge have made the difference - possibly not. Two sqdns isnt many men , and after all Durnford had
only managed no more than holding them up. Its possible a shock charge by Lancers or Dragoons may have dispersed
the horn for a while, but I think they would have adapted , regrouped and shifted their line of advance ".
cheers 90th.
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Two squadrons of cavalry would have solved the problem.???   Fri Jan 22, 2010 5:00 am

Elizabeth
The formation and tactics of the Zulu was way ahead of its time. it wasnt infallible. Zwide and Mzillikazi beat it under iShaka.
If the horns were stopped from joining it left a retreat area.
Thats my point on my hypothesis.
if the left horn was stopped and turned on the plain it would have avoided the funneling effect of the troops from the front line being forced back onto the camp. An evacuation point would have allowed them to retreat away from the mountain towards the donga, good defensive point, or even better the conical hill.
Think what Buller achieved with his mounted forces and the lancers created havoc at Ulundi.
Who knows what would have happened, its what makes this war so attractive to all of us...........the what ifs!

Regards
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old historian2

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PostSubject: Re: Two squadrons of cavalry would have solved the problem.???   Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:19 pm

Springbok9.

I see your point but in reality the two squadrons of cavalry would have been dealing with a 3 prong attacked. And as you say “A squadron could be as many as a 100 strong.” So we are looking at a 200 strong cavalry unit. So that’s roughly 66 men on horseback preventing the Horns and the chest meeting up.
Cavalry are effective when charging into a static formation (Square) But the Zulus were moving and spread over a wide area. Thus causing the cavalry to separate possibly fighting on an individual bases. A bit like the overstretch firing lines.

The camp was taken due to over whelming numbers.
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Mr Greaves

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PostSubject: Re: Two squadrons of cavalry would have solved the problem.???   Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:16 pm

Do we know how many Zulu’s were allocated to the horns, was if a few hundred or a few thousand, and do we know our far they stretched from end to end over distance.

The Zulu formation was effective right up to the point when the circle was nearly complete allowing only a small portion of the British to escape, which were soon mopped up but those Zulus on the out shirts.

If Calvary had been used it would have been the same result. They to would have become come enclosed reducing the chances of a Charge to near impossible. They may have been lucky and escaped the same way the other officers did on horseback.

The Zulu had throwing spears, which could have been used to bring a horse and rider down. Not to mention their firepower.

G
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