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» ISANDLWANA SURVIVIORS
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» The Zulu dead at Isandlwana
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» Zululand population 1879?
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» Melvill and Coghill Victoria Cross query
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» Yet another Hill of the Sphinx thread
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» Zulu War Chess Set
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» Joshua Harrod - Which Battles
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» Zulu War to Boer war. Those who served in both.
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» Lance Sergeant Armstrong Victoria Mounted Rifles
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» You tube Video "Fredrick Hitch"
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» Prince Imperial visited
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» Isandlwana Casualty - John William Jones Davies
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» Colonel W. P. Collingwood
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» (Lieut: R. F. Westmacott. 77th. Foot.)
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» HARRY WILLIAM DAVIS,
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» 90th foot sgt T. Collins 214
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» Midshipman Coker photo
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» Isandlwana Bugle
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» Lambert, James Drummond (1835 - 3/3/1905)
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 Could it have been an even bigger disaster?

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paul mercer



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Join date : 2018-12-02

Could it have been an even bigger disaster? Empty
PostSubject: Could it have been an even bigger disaster?   Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptyThu Jun 24, 2021 7:56 am

I have just finished reading Ian Knight's book 'The Zulu wars then and now' and often wonder if Isandlwana was a disaster waiting to happen even if Chelmsford had not split his forces and gone looking for the Zulu army.
It seems to me that even if he had organised his troops into a square with largered wagons that 25000 Zulus attacking from all sides could well have overwhelmed his army.
Also, I did wonder what might have happened if the Zulu army had split their forces and attacked Chelmsford and Isandlwana at the same time, bearing in mind that Chelmsford's men only had the ammunition they were carrying with no backup -it could have been an even bigger disaster, particularly if the Zulus had then reformed and attacked Rorkes Drift.
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Frank Allewell

Frank Allewell

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Age : 74
Location : Cape Town South Africa

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PostSubject: Re: Could it have been an even bigger disaster?   Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptyThu Jun 24, 2021 11:05 am

Hi Paul
Just as a thought consider a defensive square at iSandlwana with the east facing side on the steepest face of the Rocky Ridge (Thats towards the North) the north side would overlook the dongas and have a clear field of fire of over a kilometer, the south would look across the face of the camp, again a clear field of fire and the west looking towards the camp and the mountain with the tents collapsed. The 2/24th camp and their ammunition supply would not be that far away and could have easily have been stockpiled in the centre of the square.
Pretty impregnable defence point! My cash would have been firmly on the Brits.

Cheers
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90th

90th

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PostSubject: could it have been an even bigger disaster    Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptyThu Jun 24, 2021 12:23 pm

Sorry Frank I disagree , there's plenty of dead ground at Isandlwana... which was precisely why the firing line was set up where it was , the dead ground would've allowed the zulu to get close to any said square , there just wasn't enough Imperial troops there . dont forget it's impossible to see the village in the centre of the plain when you are in the camp area . Kambula had many more imperial troops which were in Lagaar as Wood knew they were coming , even Wood said it was a close run thing , the ground was much more favourable to the defenders at Kambula than it was at Isandlwana ! . Paul the Zulu army weren't concerned about splitting their force , they wanted to attack the camp full stop , if the conditions had been favourable instead of being near 35 deg cel , and had they managed to have had a decent meal . or able to hydrate , there's no doubt LC would've been chopped , LC had his troops spread out like Brown's cows trying to locate the Zulu Army .
90th
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Frank Allewell

Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Could it have been an even bigger disaster?   Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptyThu Jun 24, 2021 1:58 pm

Allways happy to hear a different opinion but possibly your not picturing the site i have in mind. The eastern face of the 'square would be on top of the ridge looking down into the village. the north face would be overlooking the dead ground and upper donga area. The east and west faces have virtually no dead ground.
Your point of the village being invisible would therefore be pretty mute, my square isnt in the camp area. Around 800 armed men, 200 per side there fore 3 firing lines of close to 70 men, controlled volley fire? As it was the zulu were very close to giving in and that was against an extended firing line of close to 2.5 kilometre.
All hyperthetical of course.
Im trying to understand your comments on the temperature and lack of water, where does that come from? Average temp is around the mid 20's at that time of the year.
I stand by my bets being on the Brits.
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90th

90th

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PostSubject: could it have been an even bigger disaster    Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptyFri Jun 25, 2021 2:41 am

We agree to disagree , when I was at Isandlwana for the 140th Commemorations it was 40 deg , not sure where you were ? lolll . The Avge min temp is 20 in Jan.... certainly not the Max which is over 31 or so , and as we know it was 35 deg or so on the day of the battle . I'm having difficulty with your location of your square , can you post a photo and show where you'd position it ? . Salute . I still think there isn't enough fire power , a 70 face square isn't very large when you have 20- 25 K rushing at you , lets not forget the British did have the pick of the ground where they were positioned in their firing line , they had clearish or the best fields of fire , but they had to be the 800 or yards from the camp to attain this advantageous position .
90th Salute
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Frank Allewell

Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Could it have been an even bigger disaster?   Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptyFri Jun 25, 2021 5:34 am

At the 140th I was busy buying you cold beers, also suffering in the heat, but, that was a January aberation. I cannot recall a mention of 35 degrees for 1879 any where, what I do have on record is the RD situation 1 day after the battle, of the cold wet survivors crouching under the eaves of the hospital building. Ive been there on many occasions in January with cold wet weather.
Like you I have a technical deficit when trying to post photos, the location isnt that difficult to locate though. Walk east from the zulu memorial after a few hundred yards you will stand on the edge of the drop overlooking the village, to your left are the two remote cairns.
As to the 20 to 25 K impi thats a very disputed figure, with over 5000 as the reserve and half of the right horn chasing fugitives its even less again.
The point I made to Paul was that there were alternates to the 'ad hok' defence line, and the square I propose would have clear fields of fire in excess of 800 metre as the north and east faces would occupy a position pretty similar to the so called 'knuckle' of the original line. Its certainly a speculative issue but an interesting one.
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90th

90th

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PostSubject: could it have been an even bigger disaster    Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptySat Jun 26, 2021 2:02 am

Hi Frank
Yes never enough Beers my friend ! . Yes I've read of the temperature being very hot on Jan 22 1879 , can't find where , was possibly in the weather archive ? , Symon's out with LC describes the 22nd as warm , said it was like a desert out near Mangeni , no visible sign of life , not even an animal . He also mentions how one can and was wet through during the early part of the campaign , the sun was a welcome relief until it become unbearably or scorchingly warm . Yes always a speculative subject the Lagaaring etc , I still agree to disagree that a Square would've held the day , no matter where it was situated . I see your cases are approaching 20 K ! , not looking good , where has it broken out ....in the Western Cape ? , what are the figures for KZN ?
Cheers Mate
90th Salute
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Frank Allewell

Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Could it have been an even bigger disaster?   Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptySat Jun 26, 2021 6:01 am

Morning Gary
The main area hit by the 3rd wave is Gauteng, 0ver 12000 per day. KZn is starting to feel the brunt of living next door with their cases starting to rise. The Cape is still relativly fortunate with our daily rise under 1500. But with the slow roll out of the vax we are in for a hellish few weeks. Just waiting for Cyril to impose a lock down to level 4 or 5.
Im not to sure how secure your October trip will be at this stage, to early to call mate. I had breakfast with Cam earlier in the week he is raring to go.

Cheers and stay safe.
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paul mercer



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Join date : 2018-12-02

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PostSubject: Re: Could it have been an even bigger disaster?   Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptySat Jun 26, 2021 9:43 am

Many thanks for all your replies, they certainly give some food for thought!
I do think the Zulu army missed its chance to destroy the British army altogether by not attacking Chelmsford first and then going on to Islandwana (or for that matter, doing it the other way around), it seems to me that by taking many of his troops with little or no backup in the way of ammunition that Chelmsford seriously underestimated not only the Zulu army itself, but the sheer numbers that they had available .
As for the battle itself, I think Pulline was put in a no-win situation when Chelmsford went off in search of the Zulu army, I still do not understand why he did not form squares immediately rather than posting men away from the camp making for an extended firing line. I understand that he probably did not have time to lager the wagons and that the camp was extended of quite a distance, but I wonder what might have happened under a more experienced commander - or if Durnford had been there with his men and taken charge.
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Frank Allewell

Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Could it have been an even bigger disaster?   Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptySat Jun 26, 2021 10:45 am

I think Paul that the square is a much more important asset than is generally acknowledged. a basic tenant with a square is to force the attacking force in a concentration or funneling effect. With the possibility outlined above there would have been a side of some three ranks of 70 men, something between 70 and 90 rounds per man of ammunition without the potential of resupply from a central stck moved from the company wagons. thats something akin to 14000 rounds per side of approximatly 70 metre. The number of attackers could be any number, but their front of 70 metre would not account for more than 50 to 60 at a time, there would have been quite possibly a crush to get to the Brits causing the 'funneling' effect and sqeezing more into the front rows. Now think of a sustained continued series of volley's 70 rounds every 10 seconds poring into those massed ranks. It destroyed the impi at Ulundi and there wasnt the same crush there. There comes a point in any engagement when the backup lines suddenly realise that all the front ranks are being decimated, again that point was almost reached at isandlwana, that stage would not take long in facing the compact square envisaged. Take that a little further, because someone is bound to bring up the spectre of running out of ammunition, a round fired every 30 seconds ( three ranks firing in order) would mean that the 70 rounds would last 700 seconds or around 12 minutes of massive sustained fire. That, even without resupply, would be devastaing. If the square was sighted as proposed overlooking the sharp rocky drop down to the donga in the east and also the sloping approach and broken ground from the north the advancing impi would have a massive disadvantage. The Boer forces proved that at Blood River.
As Gary and I agreed its all speculative and hind sight. The key point against it was of course Pullein's orders to 'defend the camp' and by taking the opinions outlined that would not have happened, the camp itself would have been wide open from the south and west.

Cheers
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SRB1965

SRB1965

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Location : Uttoxeter - the last place God made and he couldn't be bothered to finish it.....

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PostSubject: Re: Could it have been an even bigger disaster?   Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptyMon Jul 19, 2021 6:48 am

Theoretically, whilst we can calculate the number of rounds fired, estimate the number of hits etc, the hardest thing to assess in any battle is when the attackers think 'bugger this for a game of soldiers' and break off the attack - there are many variables - number killed, tactical situation. leadership casualties, plus the general morale of the army. Look at the battles of the second invasion - the Zulus did not press home the attack with as much determination as at Isandwana (probably because they knew from an early stage, they would not prevail) Normally we say 3 wounded per fatality. I have discussed with Frank that the Zulus were very close to breaking at Isandwana. The casualties on the chest and left horn, were mounting to an almost critical level......its all about morale... except its all about biscuits now..... a hot bakery awaits..... bye
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gardner1879

gardner1879

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PostSubject: Re: Could it have been an even bigger disaster?   Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptyTue Jul 20, 2021 8:18 am

Very well put Frank
Even in their hastily formed, broken company/odds and sods squares towards the end of the battle they were still a formidable breakwater.
Zulu survivors stated they could only get in to finish them off when their ammunition was expended.

As we are playing hypotheticals....
Imagine the entire camp force in a square with ammunition wagons in the centre, the two guns spitting canister, Russel's rockets screaming over head and mounted men eager to sally forth and exploit a weakness (Kambula/Ulundi) led by a dashing cavalry officer then I think the Zulus would have broken leaving the field strewn with dead and wounded.

Kate


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SRB1965

SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Could it have been an even bigger disaster?   Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptyTue Jul 20, 2021 9:46 am

🔥And do we have a 'dashing cavalry officer' in mind? 🔥
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Frank Allewell

Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Could it have been an even bigger disaster?   Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptyTue Jul 20, 2021 9:49 am

Wasnt it Gardner that commented, he could have cleared the field with a squadron of Cavalry? Just thinking of the fear the lancers instilled at Ulundi.
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SRB1965

SRB1965

Posts : 887
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PostSubject: Re: Could it have been an even bigger disaster?   Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptyTue Jul 20, 2021 10:07 am

A Zulu commented that, when his people fled, there was no stopping them but when the British fled they rallied and fought on. It was notoriously hard to rally tribal armies (even back unto the days of Caesar). A lot of people's images of battles come from movies - Zulus rush towards the enemy, heedless of casualties.....I'm sure the 'average' gang of 10 Zulus having had a couple of mates shot would begin to think.... "Mmmm...who has got a plan B" .... As well you know Frank - nobody likes at mounted man up their rear.....
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gardner1879

gardner1879

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PostSubject: Re: Could it have been an even bigger disaster?   Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptyTue Jul 20, 2021 10:11 am

SRB I might have Wink
It was indeed Frank. As you know that wide open plain south and east of Amatutshane is ideal cavalry country. (they would have had to have been careful of the large dongas though.)
One dreads to think of the carnage that would have been wrought upon a  Zulu army by a squadron of Lancers or Hussars on that plain.
The statement about cavalry was in Alan's second official account sent back to the UK on the 9th February and it is my opinion it was put in there on Lord Chelmsford's request to make sure a squadron or two of regular cavalry was amongst the reinforcements.
Kate Very Happy
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Frank Allewell

Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Could it have been an even bigger disaster?   Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptyTue Jul 20, 2021 10:28 am


So potentially a casual thought dropped into conversation, Chelmsfords light bulb moment, then the suggestion Gardner emphasises it.
Interesting take Kate. Salute
Simon Im sure your biscuits are burning! Shocked
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SRB1965

SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Could it have been an even bigger disaster?   Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptyTue Jul 20, 2021 12:22 pm

Frank biscuits are fine but we've had 2 people pass out due to the heat.... On one of the lines, yesterday tea time, it was 38° - combination of weather, heat off the ovens and heat from the biscuits.... Dangerous game is biscuit making....
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Frank Allewell

Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Could it have been an even bigger disaster?   Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptyTue Jul 20, 2021 1:56 pm

I shall treat my chocolate digestive with a tad more respect in the future. Salute
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SRB1965

SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Could it have been an even bigger disaster?   Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptyWed Jul 21, 2021 6:10 am

Chocolate digestives..... Now if only you knew the trouble they are in the summer months.... Tacky chocolate... scuffed chocolate.... dull chocolate ....that's why my colleagues on 'Line 16' are all insane.....
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Frank Allewell

Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Could it have been an even bigger disaster?   Could it have been an even bigger disaster? EmptyThu Jul 22, 2021 8:46 am

Keep them in the fridge then break in half and dip in the mornings G and T. Salute
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