Battle Report: 22nd December 1998

Zulu ~vs~ Late British

(Robert Avery ~vs~ Dave Lancaster) .

Zulu

Brigade

Unit

Fig.'s Org. Class Weapons Pts/Fig Points
  CinC 1         100
Head 1 30 1x30 FanB sp, sh   225
  2 30 1x30 FanB sp, sh   225
  3 30 1x30 FanB sp, sh   225
  4 30 1x30 FanB sp, sh   225
Right 5 30 1x30 FanB sp, sh   225
Horn 6 30 1x30 FanB sp, sh   225
  7 30 1x30 FanB sp, sh   225
  8 30 1x30 FanB sp, sh   225
Left 9 30 1x30 FanB sp, sh   225
Horn 10 30 1x30 FanB sp, sh   225
  11 30 1x30 FanB sp, sh   225
  12 30 1x30 FanB sp, sh   225
Misc. Skirmishers 8 1x8 FanB sp, sh, blr   119
              2919
.

Later British

Brigade

Unit

Fig.'s

Org.

Class

Weapons

Pts/Fig

Points

.

CinC

1

 

 

 

  100
1st 2inC 1         50
Brigade 24th Foot 40 8x5 RegB lbl   340
  78th Highlanders 20 4x5 RegB lbl   300
  Naval Brigade 24 6x4 RegB lbl   372
Cavalry 17th Lancers 8 2x4 RegB s, p, blc, l   164
Brigade Dragoon Guards 8 2x4 RegA s, p, blc   172
  Frontier Lght Hrse 8 2x4 RegC s, p, blc   140
Artillery RA Battery 3 3x1 RegB light blrb FA   309
  RA HMG Battery 1 1x1 RegB gatling gun   98
  Naval Brigade 1 1x1 RegB gatling gun   98
Support Ammo Wagon 1         50
  Wagons 3 3x1 RegC wagon + 2 crew    
              2503
.
. Zulu British
Foot 7360 1680
Horse 0 480
Guns 0 10
 

Report

This was a training battle for Dave’s first attempt at command: with the Zulus moving to a pre-set plan with their only option being to charge British units that moved into view.

As the Zulus hove into view, the British left their camp and formed an extended battle line. Their right flank was anchored on a steeply sloped hill: which they invested with six companies of infantry, two guns and four squadrons of cavalry in support.

The Zulus moved forward in the traditional horns of the bull formation.

Pre-warned about the Zulus’ normal outflanking tactics, the British commander moved his two wings forward. On the right, the troops on the hill opened long range fire on the rapidly approaching Zulu regiments: but the cavalry supporting them was forced to retreat as an impi charged them.

On the left, the British had sent forward a gun and the Dragoon Guards. These were also charged by an impi who, although they failed to make contact, forced the gun crew to flee and wiped out a squadron of Dragoon Guards with thrown spears.

Back on the British left, the Zulus charged the troops on the hill: who were by now formed into a forward line of three companies, supported by a second line of three companies and two guns. Three Zulu Impis charged the first line. The first was stopped by fire; the second (amazingly) bounced back on impact, but the third caused the line to flee. This however, exposed the victorious Zulus to fire from the second Zulu line - holding firmly under the command of the British 2inC - who blew the Zulus away with artillery and smallarms fire.

In the centre, meanwhile, the Zulu skirmishers had been doing unusually high amounts of damage: routing a squadron of Lancers and inflicting devastating fire on the three infantry companies protecting the British camp.

The battle had to end, unfortunately, as the Zulu main charge was about to hit. There were seven impis due to charge. The first overwhelmed two companies of infantry that had been sent to support the Dragoons: slaughtering them in melee. The second was repulsed by another three companies of Brits, under the command of the CinC. As for the others...well, they were well placed to wipe out a squadron of Frontier Light Horse and the RA Gatling Gun, but whether they could have recovered from the losses already taken is a moot point.

Casualties

The Zulus lost 1400 out of 7360 tribesmen (19%).

The British lost one section of artillery; one company of the 24th and one of the 78th; and 60 other infantry. They also lost 60 cavalry: for a total of 400 men.

Results

A winning draw for the British.

Analysis

A fun battle which had to finish too soon to reach a firm result.

The British unconsciously had their three main infantry bodies in two lines - one supporting the other - a tactic that worked well whilst opening volleys were used. Whether it would have continued to work is another matter: the isolated wings had already been overrun and the Zulu “head” was moving in for the kill.

‘Unit of the Match’ award, however, goes to the Zulu skirmishers: 60 casualties caused and rising!