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Film Zulu Dawn quote: “Excuse me, my Lord, there's something I must convey to you. I rode along the track down to Rorke's Drift. The sky above is red with fire. Your orders my Lord? Do we move to the drift?”
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Subject: Royal Navy Artillery in Zulu War Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:49 pm
I am trying to find out how the various Naval Artillery pieces would have been moved during the Zulu War.
The Royal Artillery used draught horses, or possibly draught mules, for their 7 lb guns. There was a very comprehensive article "Artillery in the Zulu War - 1879" written by Maj D D Hall and published in the South African Military History Society Journal Volume 4 Number 4 in January 1979. This says that N/6 Bty (which arrived after Isandlwana) had English horses, which remained in very good condition, only losing 8 of them during the entire war. It also says that N/5 battery (with Number 2 Column) had colonial horses. In both cases these would have been driven by mounted RA Drivers, much as King's Troop teams are today. The article does not mention the origin of the teams for 11/7 Bty (split between Number 1 and Number 4 Columns), but they would definitely have had mounted RA Drivers.
HMS Active initially landed 12 lb guns, but these were exchanged for 7 lb guns before they advanced with Number 1 Column. The original Naval Brigade with Number 1 Column came from HMS Active possibly with some men from HMS Tenedos, although most of the latter seem to have been left at Fort Tenedos). That Naval Brigade and the two further Naval Brigades (with detachments from HMS Shah and HMS Boadicea) with the Eshowe Relief Force, each had one Gatling gun and 2 x 24 lb rocket tubes. I understand that these rocket tubes were carried in light carts, as opposed to the way in which the lighter Army 9 lb rocket troughs were carried on pack mules.
So my question is, how were the RN artillery pieces (7 lb, Gatling guns and 24 lb rocket carts) drawn. They might have had limbers carried on their ships, but I am sure they would not have had horses. They could have had locally hired teams, but I presume that these would be led by foot conductors, and not by mounted drivers, since the Royal Navy would not have had any. They could even have been moved by RN sailors themselves. In 1814 RN sailors hauled their guns overland to the Battle of Bladensburg, just before they burned many buildings in Washington. The famous Naval Field Gun Competition commemorates sailors manhandling guns during the relief of Ladysmith in 1899.
Are there any accounts confirming how these RN pieces were moved?
Last edited by Rod MacArthur on Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
Posts : 3057 Join date : 2009-03-03 Location : Devon
Subject: Re: Royal Navy Artillery in Zulu War Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:25 pm
The best person to answer your question is Petty Officer Tom.
I am sure when he sees your post, he will have an answer for you.
Petty Officer Tom
Posts : 161 Join date : 2017-02-05
Subject: Re: Royal Navy Artillery in Zulu War Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:23 pm
The Naval Brigade artillery that accompanied the advance to Port Durnford in June 1879.
Six 24-pr rockets tubes. Each rocket tube, and 30 rockets, was carried in a cart drawn by 6 oxen.
Five Gatling guns. Each Gatling was drawn by mules or oxen, with 1,400 rounds carried on each Gatling’s limber. A cart accompanied each Gatling carrying an additional 9,000 rounds of ammunition.
The 9-pr guns were drawn by 8 oxen. Each gun had 2 carts, carrying 80 rounds a piece, drawn by 6 oxen.
Additionally there was a mule, which carried 1,500 rounds of Martini-Henry ammunition, accompanying each company of the Naval Brigade.
Mules were preferred over oxen when they could be obtained.
Ship’s limbers were not generally fitted for being drawn by animals. A shaft needed to be fitted for horses or mules, or with a dissel-boom if oxen were used.
(Primary source: “Naval Brigades” by Captain H. J. Fletcher Campbell, C.B., R.N., Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XXVI, 1883)
Posts : 5 Join date : 2018-02-18
Subject: Re: Royal Navy Artillery in Zulu War Sun Mar 18, 2018 5:01 pm
Tom, Excellent information. Many thanks Rod
Posts : 925 Join date : 2011-10-21 Location : Algoa Bay
Subject: The Naval Brigade Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:26 pm
Thanks for the detailed response on the Naval Brigade artillery question. Although their numbers were small they were a very valuable contribution to the AZW effort. I seem to remember about the gun carriages, used for mounting ships guns for land use, being manufactured on the RN ships by the carpenters. Somewhere there is something too about Jack Tars doing most of the pushing and pulling once journeying ashore, particularly when traversing the mosquito and crocodile infested Umlalazi swamps near mThunzini. This equipment had of course all been warped ashore, through the very turbulent breakers, in longboats onto the beaches at Port Durnford. Seeing the 1500 round (only two boxes) per company ammunition reserve provision for the Brigade's Mh's confirms the extreme naivety of the time as it roughly equates with only about 15 rounds a weapon. The spare Gatling gun ammunition probably could not have been used by MH equipped riflemen as it was very likely a heavier calibre (,65in -vs .45in- POT?), as chambered by the Naval Gatlings.