Zulu War: Rorke's Drift...

Jun 2011
19
Pennsylvania, USA
#72
It is possible of those who escaped where not wearing red and it is thought Ceteswayo (not spelt correctly I fear) had told them that you could identify British soldiers by their redcoats.

However a couple of redcoats did escape a groom by the name of Williams (I think), some of the mounted infantry. Smith-Dorien (who survived and very effectively commanded the Corps of the BEF in 1914) escaped and he may have been wearing red (officers had a nice blue patrol jacket).

Anyway as I think about it I was wrong and you were right (well sort off) a couple of wounded redcoats (guards of the rocket battery) did escape on foot but they were not in the main camp. About 6 of the 24th escaped

Not sure what jacket Chard had pretty sure the RE at the time wore red but you could easily be correct.

Love the film Zulu but its OK i suppose historically when compared to some (really bad) ones. But as you say not realy very accurate.
Smith-Dorrien was wearing a blue patrol jacket at Isandhlwana and there fore escaped the same scrutiny that the Zulus were applying to the redcoated soldiers.
 

Kevinmeath

Ad Honoris
May 2011
13,893
Navan, Ireland
#73
Smith-Dorrien was wearing a blue patrol jacket at Isandhlwana and there fore escaped the same scrutiny that the Zulus were applying to the redcoated soldiers.
Wont argue and it was often pointed out as a reason they escaped but on the other hand many who did wear a redcoat escaped.

IMO opinion to escape you needed luck and ideally a bloody good horse.
 
Jun 2011
19
Pennsylvania, USA
#74
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.
I think it was a .45 cal Martini Henry, wasn't it?. It packed a great punch and was devastating at the range encountered at Rorkes Drift.
 
Jun 2011
19
Pennsylvania, USA
#76
A matter of great debate did the Zulu have any Martini Henry's?

CSM Bourne said they did historians say no
I think the general concensus is that they had few, if any. The regiments at Rorke's Drift had not fought at Isandhlwana, so had little opportunity to scrounge them from dead British soldiers.
 
Jun 2011
19
Pennsylvania, USA
#77
Wont argue and it was often pointed out as a reason they escaped but on the other hand many who did wear a redcoat escaped.

IMO opinion to escape you needed luck and ideally a bloody good horse.
No argument there. I think the vast majority (a misnomer, as there were few who did so) of British soldiers who escaped were mounted. Being on foot was a death sentence, for escaping a fleet Zulu warrior while running in army boots was impossible.
 

Kevinmeath

Ad Honoris
May 2011
13,893
Navan, Ireland
#78
I think the general concensus is that they had few, if any. The regiments at Rorke's Drift had not fought at Isandhlwana, so had little opportunity to scrounge them from dead British soldiers.
Many historians deny it ( as I said in an earlier post not to labour a point) the medical record are interesting on the one hand many wounds failed to break major bone causing horrific injuries but would support the idea of low qualitiy ammunition and weapons.

However some did and witness' report death shots that can only have been by high powered weapons. So?

Greaves makes a point that an isolated platoon (20+) may either have cut their way out of the disaster or been posted in an extreme picket which could have been over run by the reserve regiments.

CSM Bourne stated that he was fired upon by Martini Henrys.
 

SPERRO

Ad Honorem
Mar 2011
3,480
North East England
#79
Smith-Dorrien was wearing a blue patrol jacket at Isandhlwana and there fore escaped the same scrutiny that the Zulus were applying to the redcoated soldiers.
In the Book "Brave mens Blood" by Ian Knight, there is reference to Chard wearing a Khaki bush coat (for want of a better description), over which he was wearing a Sam-Browne belt etc. The standard white Infantry helmet was stained tea brown.

JC
 

okamido

Forum Staff
Jun 2009
29,885
land of Califia
#80
Giving this thread a 134 year anniversary bump. Cheers to the men who fought on both sides at Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift...........that battles that made the British Army discontinue the use of drummer boys.
 

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