Why were British troops slaughtered at Isandlwana - Page 3




 
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November 29th, 2011  
BritinAfrica
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dombarber
Also to take into consideration this was the first time the British Army came into contact with an invisible Army
They weren't so invisible when they formed the horns of the Buffalo. 25,000 of them!
November 30th, 2011  
muscogeemike
 
In 1976 I was a guest of the 14th Field Survey Squadron, Royal Engineers, Queens Birthday Ball. The unit was then garrisoned in Dusseldorf, Germany. Prominently displayed was a portrait of Col. John Chard, I was told the unit listed him as a past officer of the Squadron. Of course they were quite proud of his accomplishment at Rorkes Drift.


I think a parallel can be drawn between the British underestimating the Zulu’s and their later underestimation of the Japanese in 1941-42. Indeed all Western military have often underestimated the “natives” they were fighting.

There is no doubt about the fighting qualities of the Zulu’s but I think it should be noted that their time in the spotlight of history was very, very brief.

“The side with the simplest uniforms wins.” Maj. Mark Cancian, director of defense matters at Harvard’s
Kennedy School of Government.
"
November 30th, 2011  
BritinAfrica
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by muscogeemike
There is no doubt about the fighting qualities of the Zulu’s but I think it should be noted that their time in the spotlight of history was very, very brief.
Very much so. After the disaster at Isandlwana the British went all out to destroy the Zulu as a fighting force.

Sir Bartle Frere was appointed British high commissioner to South Africa in 1879 to realise the Policy of Confederation. This policy was set to bring the various British colonies, Boer republics and independent African groups under common control- with a view to implementing a policy of economic development. Sir Bartle Frere saw the self-reliant Zulu kingdom as a threat to this policy, a belief which was supported by Shepstone, the Secretary for Native Affairs. Shepstone averred that the Zulu people had revived their military power under Cetshwayo, which made them more of a threat to peace and prosperity in South Africa. On 11 December 1878, under the flimsy pretext of a few minor border incursions into Natal by Cetshwayo's followers, the Zulu were given an impossible ultimatum- that they should disarm and Cetshwayo should forsake his sovereignty.


Quote:
Originally Posted by muscogeemike
“The side with the simplest uniforms wins.” Maj. Mark Cancian, director of defense matters at Harvard’s
Kennedy School of Government.
"
As Britain learned to their cost in men at the battle of the Somme, when men walking forwards carrying heavy kit that simply wasn't required while under heavy machine gun fire..

A test was carried out by officer cadets from Sandhurst. They were all fitted with kit that acknowledges if a man was hit by a blank firer fitted with a laser.

First off the cadets walked forward carrying heavy kit, while being fired on, only 20% reached their objective.

Finally they dumped their heavy kit, ran forward in two's and three's. The result was 70% reached their objective.
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November 30th, 2011  
muscogeemike
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by muscogeemike There is no doubt about the fighting qualities of the Zulu’s but I think it should be noted that their time in the spotlight of history was very, very brief.

-Very much so. After the disaster at Isandlwana the British went all out to destroy the Zulu as a fighting force.

Sir Bartle Frere was appointed British high commissioner to South Africa in 1879 to realise the Policy of Confederation. This policy was set to bring the various British colonies, Boer republics and independent African groups under common control- with a view to implementing a policy of economic development. Sir Bartle Frere saw the self-reliant Zulu kingdom as a threat to this policy, a belief which was supported by Shepstone, the Secretary for Native Affairs. Shepstone averred that the Zulu people had revived their military power under Cetshwayo, which made them more of a threat to peace and prosperity in South Africa. On 11 December 1878, under the flimsy pretext of a few minor border incursions into Natal by Cetshwayo's followers, the Zulu were given an impossible ultimatum- that they should disarm and Cetshwayo should forsake his sovereignty.-

Even before Isandlwana the Zulu’s had only been a power for about 50 years. I can not recall, off hand, any people with such a short history having so long an impact on history.
December 1st, 2011  
BritinAfrica
 
 
Shaka Zulu was the most influential leader of the Zulu Kingdom.
He is widely credited with uniting many of the Northern Nguni people, specifically the Mtetwa Paramountcy and the Ndwandwe into themZulu Kingdom, the beginnings of a nation that held sway over the large portion of southern Africa between the Phongolo and Mzimkhulu Rivers, and his statesmanship and vigour marked him as one of the greatest Zulu chieftains. He has been called a military genius for his reforms and innovations, and condemned for the brutality of his reign. Other historians note debate about Shaka's role as a uniter versus a usurper of traditional Zulu ruling prerogatives, and the notion of the Zulu state as a unique construction, divorced from the localised culture and the previous systems built by his predecessor Dingiswayo.

Shaka was an inspirational if brutal leader.

Many of the tribes today from the Zambezi in the north to the Cape in the South originated from the Zulu, such as the Xhosa, Shona and Matabele
December 13th, 2011  
Trooper1854
 
 
Some of the earlier histories of the battle used to mention that the British right flank was left exposed by the sudden collapse of the Natal Native Contingent which allowed the Zulu left horn to run in and fold up the British positions company by company.
This theory seems to have been dismissed now, especially following the recent archeological dig carried out on the battlefield revealed that the British firing line was alot further out that previously thought.
This meant that they had to be spread out to cover the front required, so they were not "shoulder to shoulder".
As the firing slackened, due mainly to stoppages caused by fouling, and torn cartridges, the Zulus were able to exploit the gaps and get in amoung the troops for hand to hand fighting.
The British severely underestimated their enemy. They were written off as a bunch of savages and anyone who tried to say different was ignored.
The dig at the site showed that there was ammunition available at the firing line.
The "ammunition myth" is believed to have come about by the establishment trying to pass the blame of the loss from the commanders, to the Poor Bloody Infantry!
The ammo boxes were specifically designed to be opened by a sharp blow from a rifle butt. A screw driver was only used when there was time to, other wise it was a Victorian fast release system.
Bent screws that show the boxes were open by being broken have been found on the field of battle.
December 13th, 2011  
Trooper1854
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BritinAfrica
Shaka Zulu was the most influential leader of the Zulu Kingdom.
He is widely credited with uniting many of the Northern Nguni people, specifically the Mtetwa Paramountcy and the Ndwandwe into themZulu Kingdom, the beginnings of a nation that held sway over the large portion of southern Africa between the Phongolo and Mzimkhulu Rivers, and his statesmanship and vigour marked him as one of the greatest Zulu chieftains. He has been called a military genius for his reforms and innovations, and condemned for the brutality of his reign. Other historians note debate about Shaka's role as a uniter versus a usurper of traditional Zulu ruling prerogatives, and the notion of the Zulu state as a unique construction, divorced from the localised culture and the previous systems built by his predecessor Dingiswayo.

Shaka was an inspirational if brutal leader.

Many of the tribes today from the Zambezi in the north to the Cape in the South originated from the Zulu, such as the Xhosa, Shona and Matabele
Until Shaka came along, tribal conflict usualy consisted of opposing forces lining up facing each other and trading insults, no actual fighting took place.
Its believed Shaka, as a young warrior, raced forward and stabbed an opponent at which point all his fellow warriors seemed to cotton on to the idea and followed suit!
He developed the use of the war shield as a weapon as well as a defensive item and developed the Iklawa version of the assegai, a short broad bladed stabbing spear named after the sound it made when it was pulled from the body
Most of the Zulu fighting techniques originate from Shaka. In european/white circles he is considered a brutal oppressor of his people. Most Zulus and other Africans consider him a great leader.
December 13th, 2011  
BritinAfrica
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trooper1854
Some of the earlier histories of the battle used to mention that the British right flank was left exposed by the sudden collapse of the Natal Native Contingent which allowed the Zulu left horn to run in and fold up the British positions company by company.
This theory seems to have been dismissed now, especially following the recent archeological dig carried out on the battlefield revealed that the British firing line was alot further out that previously thought.
This meant that they had to be spread out to cover the front required, so they were not "shoulder to shoulder".
As the firing slackened, due mainly to stoppages caused by fouling, and torn cartridges, the Zulus were able to exploit the gaps and get in amoung the troops for hand to hand fighting.
The British severely underestimated their enemy. They were written off as a bunch of savages and anyone who tried to say different was ignored.
The dig at the site showed that there was ammunition available at the firing line.
The "ammunition myth" is believed to have come about by the establishment trying to pass the blame of the loss from the commanders, to the Poor Bloody Infantry!
The ammo boxes were specifically designed to be opened by a sharp blow from a rifle butt. A screw driver was only used when there was time to, other wise it was a Victorian fast release system.
Bent screws that show the boxes were open by being broken have been found on the field of battle.
Spot on. As I stated in an earlier post, I firmly believe that if the troops had formed a square two ranks deep with an F group in the middle to plug any gaps, the Zulu could have been beaten. By forming a square the Zulu could not bring all their warriors to bear at once without tripping over each other.

As it was, the riflemen were so far apart, the Zulu only had to take out couple or so to create a gap to flood through, then with the left and right horns to out flank, "Game over."
December 13th, 2011  
muscogeemike
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trooper1854
Until Shaka came along, tribal conflict usualy consisted of opposing forces lining up facing each other and trading insults, no actual fighting took place.
Its believed Shaka, as a young warrior, raced forward and stabbed an opponent at which point all his fellow warriors seemed to cotton on to the idea and followed suit!
He developed the use of the war shield as a weapon as well as a defensive item and developed the Iklawa version of the assegai, a short broad bladed stabbing spear named after the sound it made when it was pulled from the body
Most of the Zulu fighting techniques originate from Shaka. In european/white circles he is considered a brutal oppressor of his people. Most Zulus and other Africans consider him a great leader.
No doubt Shaka deserves the credit for forming the Zulu Nation we remember, but I believe that (like Alexander did before him) he inherited the military structure he used. He used it brutally and efficiently but the part about "...no actual fighting" and him racing forward and stabbing an opponent may be more from the movie about him than reality.
December 13th, 2011  
BritinAfrica
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by muscogeemike
No doubt Shaka deserves the credit for forming the Zulu Nation we remember, but I believe that (like Alexander did before him) he inherited the military structure he used. He used it brutally and efficiently but the part about "...no actual fighting" and him racing forward and stabbing an opponent may be more from the movie about him than reality.
Actually it was King Shaka that was the architect of the Zulu military structure.

He is widely credited with uniting many of the Northern Nguni people, specifically the Mtetwa Paramountcy and the Ndwandwe into the Zulu Kingdom, the beginnings of a nation that held sway over the large portion of southern Africa between the*Phongolo*and*Mzimkhulu*Rivers, and his statesmanship and vigour marked him as one of the greatest Zulu chieftains. He has been called a military genius for his reforms and innovations, and condemned for the brutality of his reign. Other historians note debate about Shaka's role as a uniter versus a usurper of traditional Zulu ruling prerogatives, and the notion of the Zulu state as a unique construction, divorced from the localised culture and the previous systems built by his predecessor Dingiswayo.

As Shaka became more respected by his people, he was able to spread his ideas with greater ease. Because of his background as a soldier, Shaka taught the Zulus that the most effective way of becoming powerful quickly was by conquering and controlling other tribes. His teachings greatly influenced the social outlook of the Zulu people. The Zulu tribe soon developed a "warrior" mindset, which Shaka turned to his advantage.

Shaka organised the various age grades into regiments, and quartered them in special military kraals, with each regiment having its own distinctive names and insignia. Some historians argue that the large military establishment was a drain on the Zulu economy and necessitated continual raiding and expansion. This may be true since large numbers of the society's men were isolated from normal occupations, but whatever the resource impact, the regimental system clearly built on existing tribal cultural elements that could be adapted and shaped to fit an expansionist agenda.
 


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