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 Zulu casualties

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Loneguyonthestreet
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PostSubject: Zulu casualties   Zulu casualties EmptyTue Jul 19, 2016 1:17 pm

The of Isandlwana has always interested me, but one thing i have been wondering about recently has been the apparently few casualties on the zulu side. Most experts seem to place the Zulu casualty figures around the 1,000 - 1,500 area, which is roughly the same as on the British.
So we are saying that each british soldier took on average one Zulu with him. That seems strangely low, as the battle lasted about 4 hours, from roughly 11am to 3pm, and for much of the time the British firing line held the Zulus at bay. Each British soldier apparently carried about 70 rounds of ammo, and it is suggested many used them all up, and may have been resupplied. So roughly 1,000 soldiers discharged 70 rounds each, so where did all those 70,000 bullets go ??
In addition the two field guns were heard firing up until about 3pm, you would have thought they alone would have killed many hundred in massed ranks of Zulus.
Even after the camp fell there were several last stands, including a large one of perhaps 150 soldiers who formed a square below the mountain. They would surely have accounted for several Zulus each.
Clearly my figures are very rough, but you can see my point. Anyone have any ideas ??
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impi

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PostSubject: Re: Zulu casualties   Zulu casualties EmptyTue Jul 19, 2016 7:34 pm

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Loneguyonthestreet




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PostSubject: Re: Zulu casualties   Zulu casualties EmptyTue Oct 10, 2023 12:50 pm

Yes,indeed,so the Britishs all bad shots,30-70 rounds and not a game changing.I really love this article.
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Julian Whybra




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PostSubject: Re: Zulu casualties   Zulu casualties EmptyTue Oct 10, 2023 4:34 pm

"Most experts seem to place the Zulu casualty figures around the 1,000 - 1,500 area"
Experts?  Which ones? Jackson didn't think so.
Wood calculated the losses from just four regiments to have been 2,040.
Cochrane and Davies estimated losses to have been 2,000 upwards. This opinion seems to have been generally accepted at the time.
I think a figure approaching 3,000 killed and a smaller number of wounded, say 1,000 might be more realistic.
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Loneguyonthestreet




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PostSubject: Re: Zulu casualties   Zulu casualties EmptyTue Oct 10, 2023 10:08 pm

Hi Julian,any Zulu's accounts about their loss at Isandlwana?
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Julian Whybra




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PostSubject: Re: Zulu casualties   Zulu casualties EmptyWed Oct 11, 2023 8:50 am

The only Zulu reports of losses apart from phrases like 'not enough tears to mourn the dead' were obtained by Wood in his letter to Crealock 25.2.1879 (Chelmsford Papers), as quoted above, presumably from gaps in the returning amabutho. To itemize these:
uDududu only a few
uNokenkhe 40
uMcijo 800
umBonambi 600
inGobamakhosi 600
total 2,040
Wood also gives a figure of approx. 2,000 Zulu dead from the reserve regiments which were for the most part, but not entirely, incurred at Rorke's Drift. Wood queries this figure.
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Loneguyonthestreet




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PostSubject: Re: Zulu casualties   Zulu casualties EmptyWed Oct 11, 2023 9:38 am

Thanks you Julian.I think that is a fair numbers.
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Julian Whybra




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PostSubject: Re: Zulu casualties   Zulu casualties EmptyWed Oct 11, 2023 2:26 pm

I forgot to say that Wood got his figures from information from Zulu warriors from those regiments.
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Zulu casualties   Zulu casualties EmptyThu Oct 12, 2023 11:48 am

Just out of interest, Julian, why do you have the ratio of wounded to killed, so low?

Conventionally it is estimated to be 3:1 (wounded to killed) - obviously adjusted for routs etc.

The heavier, hard hitting Martini bullets?

Thanks

Simon
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Julian Whybra




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PostSubject: Re: Zulu casualties   Zulu casualties EmptyThu Oct 12, 2023 12:35 pm

The rate is low to take into account the number of those dragged away wounded by the Zulus, taken off the battlefield, who would have died of their wounds rather than killed outright.  How then to revise my figures?  1000 killed outright, 3,000 wounded of which 2,000 died in the aftermath...?
That said, in the 70s I had dinner with a doctor who'd worked in Zululand in the early 20s and treated many old Zulus who'd participated in the battle.  He was amazed that they had survived despite visibly fearful wounds from which they really should have died.


Last edited by Julian Whybra on Thu Oct 12, 2023 1:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Zulu casualties   Zulu casualties EmptyThu Oct 12, 2023 12:56 pm

I suppose thinking about it, killed and mortally wounded (even seriously wounded) were the same thing for casualty calculations (obviously not for an individual) and light wounds (such as the scratches from various revolvers recorded) were not worth recording.

In the first 3 cases the victim would be put out of the war....
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GCameron




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PostSubject: Re: Zulu casualties   Zulu casualties EmptyFri Oct 27, 2023 7:24 pm

One thing often overlooked concerning Zulu wounded and their recovery is actually their lack of clothing is quite a decent barrier against infection. Fragments of dirty Uniform pulled into the body have been the cause of serious infection since the invention of gun powder weapons, bullets less so due to heat exposure and velocity acting to minimise infectious matter.

It’s hard to say for definite but somewhere between 1 in 10 and 1 in 15 hits is likely to be fatal either through damage incompatible with life or through catastrophic haemorrhage when we look at the MH and it’s velocity.

Wounded can probably be split around 50/50 in terms of ‘return to duty’ after a number of months of healing superficial wounds and those who’s fighting days for at least the campaign where over.

In these pre antibiotic days generally  death from infection was pretty prolific,  but 1 in 4 of those requiring the equivalent of ‘hospitalisation’ or bed rest may likely die. The Zulus did understand the importance of wound closure, they used a variety of police’s, splints and rudimentary sutures. Whilst nothing they did increased returning numbers to the field I suspect the infection deaths where likely lower, perhaps 1 in 6 due to having considerably cleaner wounds to deal with.
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Zulu casualties   Zulu casualties EmptySat Oct 28, 2023 11:39 am

Hi Gavin,

I'm obviously not in the medical profession but 1 to 10 or 15 to me seems a little low.....

With the descriptions of the wounds inflicted by the MH etc

Wouldn't any kind of torso hit have been fairly fatal or mortal - mass and velocity of the bullet and the concussive effect of bullet....I've seen videos of bullets going through ballistic jelly and everything seems to do a lot of jumping around (though I suppose the jelly is solid and a human body has airpockets - lungs etc)

Also mathematically to get 2000 dead Zulus at Isandlwana (if that is the accepted figure) there must have been awful lot wounded.

I never considered the lack of clothing would equate to a reduced infection rate.

I would have doubted that many who received more than a flesh wound (eg a hit to the bone of arm, shoulder or leg etc) would be fit for Ulundi

Cheers

Simon
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Frank Allewell

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PostSubject: Re: Zulu casualties   Zulu casualties EmptySat Oct 28, 2023 12:02 pm

I have a note from George Chadwick where me mentions a 'retainer' shot through the leg walking home afterwards. He recovered after a while and went back to work on the farm. The resilience of the zulus was remarkable, they had very little option really.
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Zulu casualties   Zulu casualties EmptySat Oct 28, 2023 12:52 pm

Hi Frank

I spose there are always examples such as that but how many of GCs retainers were shot and didn't make it.

During the ACW, Edward Wheat, the commander of the Louisiana Tiger Zouaves was shot in the chest, when told by his surgeon,  it was mortal, he was reputed to have said "I ain't ready to die yet"....he survived, recovered and was shot in the head in a later battle.....(he must have been ready that time) but his words were only recorded and remembered because he didn't die.

Now obviously his words gave gone down as a statement of defiance but could equally have been a statement of dispare....all I the tone etc....

Cheers

Sime
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GCameron




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PostSubject: Re: Zulu casualties   Zulu casualties EmptySat Oct 28, 2023 2:47 pm

SRB1965 wrote:
Hi Gavin,

I'm obviously not in the medical profession but 1 to 10 or 15 to me seems a little low.....

With the descriptions of the wounds inflicted by the MH etc

Wouldn't any kind of torso hit have been fairly fatal or mortal - mass and velocity of the bullet and the concussive effect of bullet....I've seen videos of bullets going through ballistic jelly and everything seems to do a lot of jumping around (though I suppose the jelly is solid and a human body has airpockets - lungs etc)

Also mathematically to get 2000 dead Zulus at Isandlwana (if that is the accepted figure) there must have been awful lot wounded.

I never considered the lack of clothing would equate to a reduced infection rate.

I would have doubted that many who received more than a flesh wound (eg a hit to the bone of arm, shoulder or leg etc) would be fit for Ulundi

Cheers

Simon

Hey Simon,

It’s a good question and I’ll likely answer in a few segments as I’m on shift today and may be interrupted mid type!

Let’s go hits firstly, there’s a whole science behind ballistics probability and if we took it as suggested straight shots fired into the body/head yes you’d likely get a higher (instant or relatively instant) death rate.

But alongside that we have legs, arms and then the joys of ricochet. This can be in a number of ways, firstly off the ground/surroundings where angle, velocity etc become wildly affected then of course through striking limbs, bones such as ribs etc and diverting path.

Ballistic jelly is infact as close as we can get to damage assessment to the human body (as we can’t just shoot pigs now) as it’s based on the same density even with cavities, Lungs etc.

I think as it stands or certainly back in 2010 for every 40 soldiers shot (even with HP rifles) only one would die, this in many ways underlines modern tactics of firing at areas rather than aimed shots but it does underline that most hits aren’t the well aimed, clean strikes we see in the movies. Obviously modern battlefield medicine greatly affects survival but there’s nothing that can do against perfect head or chest shots… in short, 1 hit in 40 at the very, very most (more likely 1 in 80 plus).

It’s worth looking at the RD figures for casualties v expended rounds, you then start to realise just how many shots are truest effective… there is also a great areas…. Scratches, bullet grazed etc, these very rarely make the reported figures in Victorian times.

MSF have done some fascinating studies into trauma in third world war zones and in particular the immediate use of antibiotics. They cover clothing (and all of its infectious matter) and it’s very well demonstrated that naked or pure cotton (which the body can break down eventually) casualties have much greater recovery rates. As much as the anecdotes of ‘hardy Zulus overcoming horrific wounds’ they are just normal
Human A&P and perhaps blessed a little by circumstance.
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Zulu casualties   Zulu casualties EmptySat Oct 28, 2023 3:18 pm

Hi

There were supposedly 350 or so Zulus dead at RD (which given the number of rounds expended is a poor return - however hits per round is a different topic, I suppose) added to which are a number of hundreds who were badly wounded and were killed during the aftermath by the NNIC or British (including some rumored - at least I think it is still a rumour, to have been buried alive)

So it's said that another 500 were killed in this way, so if we assume they are either OK (scratched, flesh wound etc) of seriously enough wounded not to able to walk or be helped off a battlefield with no close enemy pursuit....the number of dead to seriously wounded is roughly equal (7:10)

One thought did occur to me (just) did you mean - 1 to 10/15 SHOTS result in a fatality or 1 to 10/15 HITS result in fatality?

I once read that they say that 5% of shots resulted in a hit.

Cheers

Simon
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GCameron




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PostSubject: Re: Zulu casualties   Zulu casualties EmptySat Oct 28, 2023 3:37 pm

SRB1965 wrote:
Hi

There were supposedly 350 or so Zulus dead at RD (which given the number of rounds expended is a poor return - however hits per round is a different topic, I suppose) added to which are a number of hundreds who were badly wounded and were killed during the aftermath by the NNIC or British (including some rumored - at least I think it is still a rumour, to have been buried alive)

So it's said that another 500 were killed in this way, so if we assume they are either OK (scratched, flesh wound etc) of seriously enough wounded not to able to walk or be helped off a battlefield with no close enemy pursuit....the number of dead to seriously wounded is roughly equal (7:10)

One thought did occur to me (just) did you mean - 1 to 10/15 SHOTS result in a fatality or 1 to 10/15 HITS result in fatality?

They say that 5% of shots resulted in a hit, so I could believe that 10-15% of those hits caused a fatality.

Cheers

Simon

So for clarity we are talking ‘hits’,

Somewhere between 1-15 to 1-10 would result in let’s say ‘death on the battlefield’.

There are then those who compensate enough to stabilise, and are carried, helped away by friends etc… importantly for overall figures some of those may also die but this is through secondary associated reasons: eg infection, eventual organ failure through over compensating etc.

You can’t really separate out ‘superficial wounds’ a hit is a hit (and many ‘superficial wounds’ can through infection be deadly weeks later).





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GCameron




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PostSubject: Re: Zulu casualties   Zulu casualties EmptySat Oct 28, 2023 6:44 pm

GCameron wrote:
SRB1965 wrote:
Hi

There were supposedly 350 or so Zulus dead at RD (which given the number of rounds expended is a poor return - however hits per round is a different topic, I suppose) added to which are a number of hundreds who were badly wounded and were killed during the aftermath by the NNIC or British (including some rumored - at least I think it is still a rumour, to have been buried alive)

So it's said that another 500 were killed in this way, so if we assume they are either OK (scratched, flesh wound etc) of seriously enough wounded not to able to walk or be helped off a battlefield with no close enemy pursuit....the number of dead to seriously wounded is roughly equal (7:10)

One thought did occur to me (just) did you mean - 1 to 10/15 SHOTS result in a fatality or 1 to 10/15 HITS result in fatality?

They say that 5% of shots resulted in a hit, so I could believe that 10-15% of those hits caused a fatality.

Cheers

Simon

So for clarity we are talking ‘hits’,

Somewhere between 1-15 to 1-10 would result in let’s say ‘death on the battlefield’.

There are then those who compensate enough to stabilise, and are carried, helped away by friends etc… importantly for overall figures some of those may also die but this is through secondary associated reasons: eg infection, eventual organ failure through over compensating etc.

You can’t really separate out ‘superficial wounds’ a hit is a hit (and many ‘superficial wounds’ can through infection be deadly weeks later).



To add to the maths and % deduction you also need to consider a couple of other things:

1) multiple hits - particularly when pinned etc you tend to find those who expose draw the fire and as such multiple wounds will occur.

2) nature of the fighting (I think when you look at battles such as spion kop for example the fatality rate for the British was ridiculous due to the fact headshots where massively increased). At Isandlwana the majority of the British fire likely was against pinned Zulus sheltering, therefore high rates of ricochet and again individuals receiving multiple hits. There’s an argument potentially a higher degree of he chest, left horn received a higher potential of fatal wounds (head/upper torso)
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