- Mar 2011
- North East England
In all probability, the troops were using volley fire at night instead of firing at will, in order to achieve the maximum number of hits.Hitch received a shoulder wound that shattered the shoulder blade into thirty nine pieces. I'd argue that some of the weapons of the Zulus carried quite a punch
Generals are great at having an IDEA of what front line combat is but few have been there. I remember the advice of my sergeant after a session of bayonet drill back in the days of Lee Enfields (yes I am that old.) " Always have one up the spout. If you're close enough to stab him, you're close enough to shoot him. If you haven't got one up the spout, then for chrissake don't be there cos he'll have one for sure." To the ordinary soldier there's no glory in war.
Three things about that "border skirmish".
One -- If the Zulus had continued next day I agree, they would have won. There were 20 000 rounds there before the "skirmish" and they were down to 900 next day.
-Two-- Reports can be conflicting. A mixed race wagon driver was hiding in the cave and saw the battle. He commented on the accuracy of the defenders fire. That is difficult to reconcile with the number of Zulu dead. He may have been commenting on the daylight fight and naturally at night the marksmanship would have been less accurate.
Three-- It does however give credance to the reputation of the Lee Enfield as a superb rifle. 150 + men firing that number of rounds is quite a feat.
Some of the buildings were ablaze and this would have hindered night vision, limiting the sight range.