Battle Report

Battle Report: 27th February 1990

1879 British ~vs~ 1879 Zulu

(Robert Avery ~vs~ Andy Purcell)


1879 British



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


  Sub-General 1         50
Foot 1st Bttn 90th Foot 40 8x5 RegB blr   450
  78th Highlanders 30 6x5 RegB blr   340
Cavalry 17th Lancers 12 3x4 RegA blc/p/s/l   250
Artillery 1st Btty Royal Artillery 2 2x1 RegB light blrb FA   196
  2nd Btty Royal Artillery 1 1x1 RegA hmg   98

1879 Zulu



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


  Induna 1         50
Left Horn Uthulwana 20 1x20 FanA sp/sh   170
  UmLambongwenya 20 1x20 FanB sp/sh   150
  UmZinyathi 20 1x20 FanB sp/sh   150
Right Horn InDlondlo 20 1x20 IrregA sp/sh   260
  UShisizwe 20 1x20 IrregA sp/sh   260
  UmCijo 20 1x20 FanB sp/sh   150


INdluyengwe 20 1x20 FanB sp/sh   150
  UFasimba 20 1x20 FanB sp/sh   150
  UDlambedlu 20 1x20 FanB sp/sh   150
. 1879 British 1879 Zulu
Foot 1400 3600
Horse 240 0
Guns 6 0


The British forces were marching through hilly veldt in an approved column format, but without having scouts out either to their front or flanks. Just as they were about to exit an awkward dip, the Zulus sprang a prepared ambush.

Immediately, the British infantry snapped from column to line, and prepared to blast the tribesmen away as they came.

On the left flank this was indeed what happened:  two Zulu regiments being shattered from the first volley from six companies and a field gun.

On the right flank, however, the terrain and column of march deployment meant that only three companies and the gatling guns faced the charge of 6 Zulu impis. The rest of the British infantry, unable to shoot at the advancing enemy, hurried to form a second line of defense, protecting the left flank of the column.

Meanwhile, the British cavalry left the column, and prepared to charge the flanks of the Zulu forces. The two lead squadrons were faced by a hastily redeployed Zulu regiment, but charged downhill at them:  breaking them utterly. Unfortunately, the British cavalry elected to pursue the fleeing Zulus, effectively removing themselves from the battle as well!

At this point, the British 2inC, commanding the left, felt able to send three companies to his commander’s assistance on the right:  the forces opposing him being unable to make any headway.

On the right, the Zulus charged home, but were blasted back time and time again by three companies from the 90th Foot. As more and more British troops joined them, the Zulus became more and more desperate, but were unable to cope with the sheer volume of firepower.

After several brave charges, the Zulu impis faltered, and then retreated:  leaving their dead strewn across the battlefield. 


The British lost approximately 150 men.

The Zulus losses were estimated at about 1600 warriors. 


A total victory for the British:  more cavalry and they could have massacred the retreating Zulus as well. 


Despite the fact that the Zulus achieved an almost perfect ambush, the model marching formation of the British allowed them to deploy almost instantly to meet the threat.

Once the British had formed line, the Zulus couldn’t penetrate the hail of bullets:  although for the three companies on the right, it was a close run thing!