Why were British troops slaughtered at Isandlwana - Page 12




 
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April 5th, 2013  
Rowan
 
 
A wonderful, informative thread that has just taken a dive!
April 6th, 2013  
BritinAfrica
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rowan
A wonderful, informative thread that has just taken a dive!
Such is life mate, but it can be resurrected if you are interested. I don't claim to be an expert but having visited the site and studied the battle I can maybe give you an idea what happened before, during and after the battle, and then the ensuing battle at Rorkes Drift.
March 16th, 2014  
HM2Sgt
 

Topic: Humble thanks + my two cents


Gentlemen, I hope you'll forgive my indulgence in necrothreading, but I feel I must thank you for the rich lesson. I'd just watched both the films & I thought I remembered a forensic archaeological program on TV about the British defeat at Isandlwana & the ammunition being a major element of the defeat, not unlike (as previously stated) the 7th Cavalry here in the states. I've been surfing the web looking for info based on that tenuous clue for a search & by happy accident stumbled across this site.

Sustained rapid fire heated the breech more than anybody could have anticipated causing the cartridge's brass to soften & the Martini-Henry's extractor, like the Springfield's, to cut the end of the cartridge off, thereby turning the weapons into clubs. I found this photo
of the MH's .577 cartridges; 2nd from the left is a brass foil cartridge like what must have been available to the elements destroyed at Isandlwana. To it's right is a drawn brass cartridge like what you said (1,000 days ago! I'm sure it's fresh in your mind) was available to the garrison at Rorke's Drift. I was curious; how would it be that the commisariat would provide different ammunition (logistics is such a headache. It seemed unlikely, given the standardization of the Royal Army by that time.
I found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.577/450_Martini-Henry that the superior drawn brass wasn't available until after the Anglo\Zulu war, & it's implementation was largely due to the unanticipated conditions imposed failures of the brass foil. Of course it didn't last long, with smokeless powder & higher velocity\smaller diameter\lower mass projectiles not far behind the drawn brass improvement.


On a separate note covered many pages & years ago...
I've been to battlefields around the world. I'm always humbled by the memorials that seem to be in every burgh, ville, town & city in Europe... & I'm always saddened by their lack in America. The terrain itself doesn't usually leave me with any particular feeling, but discovering artifacts is a powerful experience. From a humble mess tin to spent brass or buckles & buttons- the thought of all the hands it passed through to get to where I found it touches me. At the Little Big Horn memorial you can follow the battle by the spent brass- they've even identified individual soldiers by the marks left by the striker on the primer. In the long lost trenches & bunkers of the Great War, that caches of ammunition & ordinance are still found from time to time is wondrous & frightening. I read recently http://www.sgtyorkdiscovery.com/The_York_Gallery.php that Sergeant York's action for which he was decorated has been verified by the location of spent brass! To think that even a hundred years on there are still so many relics & remainders strewn about & hidden, sober reminders for those with the patience & wit to listen.

Best I sign off now before it gets worse than maudlin waxing poetic!
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March 16th, 2014  
muscogeemike
 
This is a most educational thread, many thanks to BritinAfrica for starting it and to all who have contributed.
Having said this - I still take issue with calling the battle a massacre - it seems to me when the losers call it this they are trying to excuse their defeat (like the Battle of the Little Bighorn or Custer’s Massacre).
March 17th, 2014  
George
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by muscogeemike
I still take issue with calling the battle a massacre - it seems to me when the losers call it this they are trying to excuse their defeat (like the Battle of the Little Bighorn or Custerís Massacre).
Considering Custer's men were killed in their entirety, unless one killed have to be unarmed for the massacre label to apply. The ammo problem was the deciding factor up in Sudan where virtually all rifles were out of action after the 2nd volley in one battle.
March 17th, 2014  
BritinAfrica
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by muscogeemike
This is a most educational thread, many thanks to BritinAfrica for starting it and to all who have contributed.
Having said this - I still take issue with calling the battle a massacre - it seems to me when the losers call it this they are trying to excuse their defeat (like the Battle of the Little Bighorn or Custerís Massacre).
I'm glad that you enjoyed the thread

In my opinion was a massacre, simply because in my opinion the officer commanding Lt-Col. Henry Pulleine failed to deploy his assets or fight the battle correctly, the result was his command being slaughtered by the Zulu. Only a very small handful of men managed to escape along what is today called "The Fugitives Trail."

Lt-Col. Henry Pulleine arrogantly believed that his troops armed with Martini Henry rifles would easily defeat the Zulu savages armed only with spears, he was proven so very wrong. The Zulu were a very effective fighting force.

British casualties.
Over 1,300 killed:
52 officers
727 British regulars
471 others including:
133 European Colonial troops
343 African Natal Native Contingent
2 artillery pieces captured

Zulu casualties
1,000 killed]
2,000 wounded

The Battle of Rorkes Drift was an entirely different matter, the Officer Commanding Lt Chard deployed his troops and his defences brilliantly.
March 17th, 2014  
HM2Sgt
 

Topic: You say tomato


I think perhaps the meaning of massacre is somewhat undefined, & while we all mean the same thing we're applying a loose meaning to ''massacre'. Please indulge my penchant for detail & specificity.

Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines massacre as:
1: the act or an instance of killing a number of usually helpless or unresisting human beings under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty
2: a cruel or wanton murder
3: a wholesale slaughter of animals
4: an act of complete destruction <the author's massacre of traditional federalist presuppositions ó R. G. McCloskey>
transitive verb
1: to violently kill (a group of people)
2: to easily defeat (someone or something)
3: to do (something) very badly : to ruin (something) because of lack of skill


While there are important differences between Isandlwana & The Little Big Horn (mostly regarding survivors?), they fit the definition as easily as the massacre at Wounded Knee; it's simply a somewhat broad term (whodathunkit?!).
March 17th, 2014  
HM2Sgt
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BritinAfrica
In my opinion was a massacre, simply because in my opinion the officer commanding Lt-Col. Henry Pulleine failed to deploy his assets or fight the battle correctly, the result was his command being slaughtered by the Zulu. Only a very small handful of men managed to escape along what is today called "The Fugitives Trail."

Lt-Col. Henry Pulleine arrogantly believed that his troops armed with Martini Henry rifles would easily defeat the Zulu savages armed only with spears, he was proven so very wrong. The Zulu were a very effective fighting force.
It was my understanding that LtCol. Pulleine was a more a bureaucrat than a tactician & strategist, & that Lord Chelmsford was unclear about tho actually commanded when he sortied. Col. Durnford certainly was the target for his blame for the tragedy... how could he be responsible if LtCol. Pulleine was in tactical command? If he was in command one can hardly be surprized by his poor performance in a situation where even a seasoned genius would have been sorely tested.
March 17th, 2014  
BritinAfrica
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HM2Sgt
[FONT="Palatino Linotype"]Gentlemen, I hope you'll forgive my indulgence in necrothreading, but I feel I must thank you for the rich lesson. I'd just watched both the films & I thought I remembered a forensic archaeological program on TV about the British defeat at Isandlwana & the ammunition being a major element of the defeat, not unlike (as previously stated) the 7th Cavalry here in the states. I've been surfing the web looking for info based on that tenuous clue for a search & by happy accident stumbled across this site.

Sustained rapid fire heated the breech more than anybody could have anticipated causing the cartridge's brass to soften & the Martini-Henry's extractor, like the Springfield's, to cut the end of the cartridge off, thereby turning the weapons into clubs. I found this photo
of the MH's .577 cartridges; 2nd from the left is a brass foil cartridge like what must have been available to the elements destroyed at Isandlwana. To it's right is a drawn brass cartridge like what you said (1,000 days ago! I'm sure it's fresh in your mind) was available to the garrison at Rorke's Drift. I was curious; how would it be that the commisariat would provide different ammunition (logistics is such a headache. It seemed unlikely, given the standardization of the Royal Army by that time.
I found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.577/450_Martini-Henry that the superior drawn brass wasn't available until after the Anglo\Zulu war, & it's implementation was largely due to the unanticipated conditions imposed failures of the brass foil. Of course it didn't last long, with smokeless powder & higher velocity\smaller diameter\lower mass projectiles not far behind the drawn brass improvement.
Thank you for your post.

You are partly correct regarding the ammunition available for the Martini Henry using coiled rather then drawn cases. The main problem with the Martini Henry ammunition was due to black powder residue build up jamming the case in the chamber, troops after firing a high number of rounds were frantically trying to pry a stuck case in the chamber with a bayonet.

The main reason I feel that the British defeat at Isandlwana was as I mentioned Lt-Col. Henry Pulleine deployed his troops incorrectly. I maintain that if he had formed a square with an F group in the middle plugging any gaps in the square, the Zulu would not have over whelmed the garrison, as the Zulu would never have been able to bring all their forces to bear.

Lt-Col. Henry Pulleine made s huge number of mistakes, tents were not struck to give an unrestricted vision of their field of fire, men and artillery were deployed too far out on the battle field, according to experts they are saying ammunition of lack thereof was not the reason for the defeat.

By the way, while the movie Zulu although very good it was not 100% correct historically, the 24th Regiment of Foot was an English Regiment, not the South Wales Borderers until 1881 two years after the battle, it was actually the 2nd (Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot, an English Regiment.

The garrison at Rorkes Drift never sang Men of Harlech, neither did the Zulu salute the garrison. The Zulu moved away because a column from Lord Chelmsford was seen approaching.
March 17th, 2014  
HM2Sgt
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BritinAfrica
I maintain that if he had formed a square with an F group in the middle plugging any gaps in the square, the Zulu would not have over whelmed the garrison, as the Zulu would never have been able to bring all their forces to bear.
Undoubtedly the square would have prolonged the action, but against such a vastly numerically superior foe wouldn't the outcome have eventually been the same? Shades of Fuzzy Wuzzy if you will. I wouldn't expect Lord Chelmsford or his collection of yes men to have responded any differently, & if they had managed to drag themselves back to the battle site I suspect it would have ccomplished little but to add their names to the roll of casualties.
 


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