The Times published this letter from " A Sergeant Major":-
Sir, - we read that all at Isandula" the bayonet was found to be no match for the shield and the assegai"
How was that?
We have been left to believe that the bayonet has been generally relied upon to decide almost every engagement. What, then, has caused the change?
Breechloaders taking the place of mussleloaders ?
Not with the case in point, for it is stated that the heroic , though luckless, 1st battalion of the 24th, having expended all their ammunition - 70 rounds-had to depend solely on the bayonet, which, however, was found to be no match for the shield and assegai of the Zulu warrior.
How, then, is the falling off in the practice value of the bayonet to be accounted for in this particular instance?
Easily enough, though it does not appear to have been pointed out to the authorities.
Now, every soldier who has fired from his Martini Henry( or, perhaps, any other breechloading rifle) only ten rounds, with any approach to rapidity, knows that the barrel is then so heated that he is unable to "grasp his rifle with his left hand round the stock and barrel" to bring it to"the charge".
If so, what could he do after having fired seventy rounds?.
At best he could only hold his rifle with his right hand around "the small" and allow the wood under the barrel to rest on his left, pinching it as hard as possible to keep it steady, but as to using the bayonet with any hope of effect, this is out of the question, for a child could almost knock it out of his hand.
I think the noble 24th must have been in this unfortunate plight, for undoubtedly they expended their ammunition rapidly against the host of advancing Zulus.
It is easy to point out an evil, not so to remody', however the latter in this case appears simple.
Have a concaved, thin piece of wood ( or, other material) about 3in, long, fixed on the barrel between the back sight and lower band, not to thick, so as to interfere with its point-blank range; this would enable the soldier to grasp his rifle firmly, however hot the barrel, so as to be able to use the bayonet, with all its renowned deadly effect.
We're I not confident that the material across the barrel (where the hand grasps it) here in advocated is of great importance and urgently needed to be applied at once.
I should not have written this letter.
THE ABERDARE TIMES, SATURDAY, MARCH 8 1879.
Now debate how this affected the outcome at Isandlwana.