Fair use notice.
This website may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorised by the copyright owner.
We are making such material and images are available in our efforts to advance the understanding of the “Anglo Zulu War of 1879. For educational & recreational purposes.
We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material, as provided for in UK copyright law. The information is purely for educational and research purposes only. No profit is made from any part of this website.
If you hold the copyright on any material on the site, or material refers to you, and you would like it to be removed, please let us know and we will work with you to reach a resolution.
According to Chard, it has had an average of 25 rounds to kill or injure a Zulu warrior at Rorke's Drift ...
1 - Is there another fight or the shooting were more lethal for the brave zulus ? Less than 25 cartridges to kill or injure a warrior zouou ...?
The Zulus cashed say, 25% loss during the famous skirmish at Rorke's Drift ...
2 - Is there another case in the conquest or the Zulus received a percentage of losses more elevated, more than 25% loss ...?
According to Chard, Iin their first charge , the superb inDluyengwe have in 5 minutes charged 450 yards, this we made 90yards per minute , nothing extraordinary it's the movement rate of the German infantry for the Luddendorf offensive in 1918 ...
3 - Are there other historical examples of the charge rate of the zulus during the Zulu war?
4 - At Isandhlwana, there was a volley at 800 yards, for nothing, on the regiment uNokhenke, but other volley have actually begun to what ranges ?
I wrote an article a few years ago in which I did an analysis of the iNdluyenge's attack on Rorke's drift. You might be interested in some of the points I made:
The British response to any attack by natives was to rely on volley fire from their Martini Henry rifles - a single shot breech-loading rifle accurate to 1000 yards. The trained British Infantry man could get off six WELL AIMED shots a minute (or up to twelve snap shots). Effective fire was normally opened at ranges between 600 and 800 yards. In the eight minutes or so that it took a Zulu Warrior to cover the 800 yards, his red-coated opponent could get off 48 AIMED rounds. A British company of 100 men would thus fire 4,800 rounds, and a British Regiment of eight companies would fire 38,400 rounds. This weight of fire was considered adequate to stop the charge of any amount of native opponents. And of course, even if that failed, the men had their bayonets !
THE ZULU APPROACH TO RORKE'S DRIFT The iNdluyengwe Regiment, 11 companies totalling 550 men (this is conjecture, based on the fact that Zulu Companies averaged about 50 men), had formed part of the right horn at Isandlwana. They were an unmarried Regiment with an average age in the early thirties. They were instrumnental in pursuing the fugitives down the Fugitives Drift trail, and with the heat of battle probably carried on straight to Rorke's Drift (unlike the Undi Corps, whose reason for attacking may have been somewhat different).
The iNdluyengwe Regiment at Rorke's Drift approached the post from the south, around the flanks of the Oskaberg (Shyiane Hill). They formed up into their attack formation behind the hill. The right horn would move along the terraces of Shyiane Hill while the left horn swung wide around the post taking advantage of a covered approach. The chest and loins would advance directly on the post covering some 600 yards of open ground. Or, it may be possible that the Regiment did not adopt the buffalo head formation and just advanced directly on the post - arrogance breeds contempt ? The regiment's skirmishers came into sight at 1630hours at a range of 600 yards. The British moved defenders to the south wall and opened fire less than a minute later with the Zulus having advanced to about 500 yards.
To undertake the analysis, a number of suppositions have been made, which although they might not be 100% accurate, should be close enough:
• The British troops will fire six AIMED rounds a minute • The Zulus will advance at 100 yards a minute (going from cover to cover in a "steady" advance) Only over the last 50 yards will the Zulus group and launch an all out attack. • From 300 to 600 yards, British fire will be 5% effective* • From 50 yards to 300 yards British fire will be 10% effective* • The casualties will virtually all be on the lead THREE Companies of the iNdluyengwe, the one company deployed in an extended skirmish line and the two lead companies of the chest. • The south wall and two buildings of Rorke's Drift can deploy about 40 riflemen (out of about a 100 available in the post) to fire on the attack.
(* Howard Whitehouse " Battle in Africa ")
We also need to look at the effect casualties would have on EACH of the three companies, to see what actually caused the attack to fail. In a book entitled "Das Regiments Kriegspiel" Capt Nauman* of the Prussian army had outlined the results of a statistical analysis on the effects that taking casualties had on a unit. He determined that there was a variation depending on whether the unit was operating under FAVOURABLE or UNFAVOURABLE conditions. He defined those conditions as follows:
FAVOURABLE CONDITIONS When attacking or going forward When successful When losses spread over a long period of time
UNFAVOURABLE CONDITIONS When on long term defensive When losses concentrated over a short period of time When without effective leadership
The %age losses suffered by a unit could then be used to anticipate the unit's reaction:
Under Favourable Conditions Effects:
Loss of 36% = shaken Loss of 48% = out of action Loss of 60% = destroyed
Under Unfavourable Conditions Effects:
Loss of 24% = shaken Loss of 32% = out of action loss of 40% = destroyed
These statistics would apply equally well to most units in most periods.
At Rorke's Drift, the lead three companies of the iNdluyengwe Regiment were initially operating under FAVOURABLE conditions:
• When they had left Isandlwana, the main Zulu Army was well on its way to achieving a total victory - morale was therefore very high • They were intending to "mop up" a small garrison of just over 100 British troops - they foresaw no real problems • They would eventually be supported by the reserve corps - some 2 to 3,000 veteran warriors • They had taken no significant casualties prior to the attack • They had to cover 500 to 600 yards of open ground for their attack which would give them space to deploy into their standard attack formation • They anticipated British morale would be low after Isandlwana • The British had no artillery or cavalry • The Zulu military philosophy was based on a commitment to aggressive action
For the first minute of the advance (500 yards down to 400 yards), from the time the British had opened fire the Zulus had suffered about 12 casualties (8%) (240 rounds @ 5% = 12) or 4 per Company. The British had not immediately run away, but things were still favourable for the Zulus.
For the second minute (400 yards down to 300 yards) the cumulative casualties were 24 (8 men or 16%of EACH company)). The casualties were mounting, the British were still there, the advance was progressing and conditions although not as good were still on the favourable side.
For the third minute (300 yards down to 200 yards) things were beginning to change. The cumulative casualties were now getting high - 32% in EACH company. One- third of each Company were now casualties, along with most of the officers who had been leading from the front. The British were showing no signs of running away, indeed the weight of their fire was noticeably steady. Doubts would now enter into minds. However, these tactics had obviously just worked at Isandlwana, the other companies were right behind them, and the veteran regiments would shortly be there to watch them as well. One final effort should do it ?
For the fourth minute (200 yards down to 100 yards) things were beginning to falter. Cumulative casualties were now at 48% in EACH company - half the men were down, and probably all the officers. The British were obviously not going to run. The Zulu warriors were now close enough to see the glistening bayonets waiting for them. The pace instead of increasing was now decreasing - men were beginning to look for cover or to veer away from that awful fire. this was the key point in the attack
For the fifth minute (100 yards down to fifty yards) the reality had sunk home - this attack was NOT going to succeed, in the first 30 seconds of this period casualties had reached 56% per company. Despite the pressure from behind, the menin the three lead companies had stopped, those that could find cover in ditches went there. Those with no cover swung to the left (to the right was the obstacle of the Shyiane Terraces) to the left were clumps of bushes, ditches, a wall - COVER ! The three lead companies were effectively DESTROYED. The companies following up had seen the effects of the fire on the men ahead of them, they too were beginning to take casualties. There was obviously nothing to be gained by carrying on, and they too veered to the left.
50 yards was the closest the Zulus got to the south "wall".
The four remaining companies of the chest/loins and the two of the left horn (250 - 300 Zulus ?) now swept around the end of the hospital building taking advantage of a blind spot in the defences, and considered their options. The two companies of the right horn moving along the Shyiane Terraces took up firing positions among the rocks and caves and opened up a steady fire on the defenders who they overlooked, though this was well outside the effective range of their smoothbore/rifled muskets (385 yards)
The initial attack of the iNdluyengwe Regiment had clearly failed. I believe the decision was then taken to look for an easier option - to attack farms within Natal, and gain cattle. There are reports of farms burning to the south of Rorke's Drift. The veteran regimentswhen they arrived, maybe 30 minutes later, seeing the evidence of what had happened to the "youngsters" of the iNdluyengwe wisely swung immediately to the left, in the tracks of their predecessors and then wider still, overlapping the iNdluyengwe to attack the north wall of the post, where there was ample cover from which tro launch their attacks. Because of the short length of the north"wall" these attacks were probably in the form of two-company attacks - a 100 man attack, in a series of waves.
The British success/Zulu failure was clearly the result of concentrated rifle fire being directed on the lead companies of the Zulu Regimental attack. The destruction of these companies either stalled the Regimental attack or forced it to veer to a flank away from the deadly fire. The destruction of three companies out of eleven meant an overall loss of nearly 30% to the Regiment. The conditions could now be regarded as "unfavourable". The Regiment would be classed as "shaken" and would therefore not have the necessary morale to pursue the original attack.
This is of cours eall conjecture, but it is based on firm battlefield statistics. It is important to understand that it is not necessary to kill everyone attacking yout to foil that attack - you merely have to kill enough of the lead men to significantly destroy their morale and their will to continue the advance. Although the casualties inflicted on the Zulus by the amount of British fire seems low, it is in keeping with most periods and is sufficeient to destroy morale.
Hope you found this hypthesis interesting ?
Posts : 7077 Join date : 2009-04-24 Age : 52 Location : Down South.
Your article above is a translation and comes from a book written in 1877 by 'Hauptmann' von Naumann (Das-Kriegsspiel Regiments), a German (I do not know it was true or officer is not). He wrote this book for wargamers of the nineteenth century!
It does not leave his observations of reality, but the basis on which he thinks would be in the case of a European war against the French in the eighteenth century (!) - Not a colonial war against the natives in the nineteenth century.
Use these lines for a colonial wargame do not have a historical validity ...
You get some facts from most books written on the AZW (especially those written shortly after the war). It;s a case of putting these facts together. Unfortunately, I doubt that you'll get them in any one single book - that would be too easy !
For a simple, but very uesful, booklet, I would suggest you start with Howard Whitehouse's "Batlles in Africa 1879-1914". From a wargames point of view it's crammed full of useful facts and figures.