Battle Report

Battle Report: 21st October 1990

1879 British ~vs~ 1879 Zulu

(Robert Avery ~vs~ Richard Avery)


1879 British



Fig.'s Org. Class Weapons Pts/Fig Points


Foot 1st Bttn 24th Foot 40 8x5 RegC blr   480
  78th Highlanders 40 8x5 RegB blr   520
Cavalry Dragoon Guards 8 2x4 RegB blc,s,p   156
  Durban Police 8 2x4 RegC blc,p   122
Artillery 1st Btty Royal Artillery 2 2x1 RegB light blrb FA   196
  2nd Btty Royal Artillery 1 1x1 RegA hmg   96
Train Wagons & Mules           105

1879 Zulu



Fig.'s Org. Class Weapons Pts/Fig Points
  Induna Enkulu


  Induna 1         100
Left Horn Impi 1 40 1x40 FanA sp,sh   345
  Impi 2 40 1x40 FanA sp,sh   345
Right Horn Impi 3 40 1x40 FanA sp,sh   345
  Impi 4 40 1x40 FanA sp,sh   345


Impi 6 60 1x60 FanA sp,sh   265


Impi 5 40 1x40 FanA sp,sh   345
. 1879 British 1879 Zulu
Foot 1600 5200
Horse 360 0
Guns 2 0


The British were caught unawares by the speed of the Zulu approach, and were charged whilst still forming their firing lines. On top of this, an unwise decision to retreat the artillery crews from the firing line as the Zulus charged, to prevent possible melee casualties, deprived the British of much of their firepower.

Despite this, the British held their right flank firm:  repulsing a Zulu regiment with heavy casualties. On the left, however, the Zulus punched a massive hole through the 24th Foot:  routing four companies at first impact, and over-running the fleeing artillery crews.

The Highland battalion and the remnants of the 24th Foot were forced to form two small squares, which were immediately charged by the Zulus. The lower square was overrun by sheer weight of numbers, with their attackers going on to assault the wagon train and pack animals.

The upper square held, and repulsed its opponents, again causing heavy casualties but, just as it seemed things might be taking a turn for the better, the British CinC strayed too far in front of his firing line, and was torn from his horse and horribly disembowelled by the Zulus. This grim sight sent a wave of panic through the superstitious Scots, who broke under the next Zulu assault.

Whilst all the above was going on, the Durban Police had dismounted and set up a firing line, but had been annihilated. The Dragoon Guards, however, had broken two Zulu impi's.

Eventually even the Dragoons were overwhelmed and with them disappeared the last hope for the British army. 


The British force was completely destroyed:  with only about 100 cavalry making good their escape.

The Zulus lost about 3000 warriors: a high price to pay for victory. 


A total victory for the Zulus. 


On reflection, the British did not have a chance from the very start. Out-pointed by the Zulus, they saw their enemy too late to do anything about them. The decision to try and save the artillery crews was a bad one: they should have taken their chances and added their weight of fire to the defence of the main British line.