Saturday, 27 October 2012

BATTLE OF ISANDLWANA part four-The Collapse of the British Position.

The Collapse of the British Position.

Part four of the battle and continuing on from last week with Durnford's withdrawal and the right flank of the camp left wide open.....
Several things happened very quickly at about the same time. Captain Krohn's NNC (Pulleine's reserve) in front of the camp were becoming very jumpy due to the amount of men coming in from the outlying companies searching for ammunition and, the amount of bullets dropping amongst them. A Carbineer rode by , looking for ammunition and called out that Colonel Durnford had been shot - which seemed unlikely at this stage. Also the Zulus had now swept round to the right of the camp. When Krohn's NNC saw this, nothing could stop them, they all jumped up and ran.

What remained of Barry's NNC who had been up on the left of the camp in between Younghusband and Mostyn's companies turned and fled.

Durnford had gone to Pulleine's tent and about this time someone seems to have given an order for the 24th to fall back and take up a close defensive position nearer to the tents.

At the same time a simultaneous forward movement was now made by all the Zulus.

The entire Zulu army seemed to rise up and rush forward, shouting out the war-cry "Usuthu!" It was a terrible moment for Major Smith and his gunners, the infantry were ordered to retire, whilst they fired case on the advancing enemy. Before they could get away the enemy were on them and the gunners did not mount, but run after the guns.    

On the right of the line Captain Lonsdale's NNC were ordered to retire on the camp as they were also threatened on their rear by the advance left of the Zulus.

On the right, the Carbineers and Bradstreet's men had dismounted by the road about a hundred yards in front of their tents.
After firing about a dozen shots, they heard a rush from behind and then saw the soldiers who were left in the camp literally surrounded by Zulus, who had evidently come in from the rear - Zulu right horn.

Confusion started to set in, the whole of the force, white and black, foot and horse mixed together were being assegaid, with men running everywhere.
Essex noticed that as the 24th fell back, the men became unsteady. A few fixed bayonets and the officers called out to their men to keep together and be steady. This they did, which under the circumstances, is an extraordinary tribute to their courage and discipline.
When Smith's guns reached the camp he found that the Zulus were already amongst the tents and as his limbers rattled through it towards the nek most of the gunners were killed. 

The three companies on the left tried to retire through the camp, pursued by the Zulus.

The fighting raged hand-to-hand and these companies began to suffer heavy casualties.

Wardell and Porteous seem to have managed to fall back from the rocky ridge in good order.

Two heaps of dead soldiers, amongst them the bodies of Wardell and Lieutenant Dyer, were later found in the area of the 1/24th camp, where they had tried to make a stand.

Pope's company also fell back and made a stand a little further down the slope above the road. The companies were presumably trying to draw together, but the Zulu pressure was too intense.

NEXT WEEK..........The Butcher's Bill.

There is quite a bit I have left out and am leaving out, for example the actual eclipse that happened during the battle, Colour-Sergeant Wolfe's last stand, Shepstone's defence on the rocky knoll, the fugitives flight, plus more.  I have to draw the line somewhere as this is quite time consuming, sitting in front of the computer and the hobby for me is painting the figures, although this has been very rewarding. So my apologies for this not being a complete account of the battle, next week will be the final part of the battle of Isandlwana, followed by three or four weeks of blog, covering the defence of Rorke's Drift.
I will be doing more of these in the future, time permitting, but for different periods, and if you keep an eye on the Mad Guru is planning on doing the same sort of thing on his excellent blog for the North West Frontier.  


  1. Stunning photos again. I certainly appreciate the time and effort you have put in to bring us this wonderful display. Thanks heaps!

  2. Bloody brilliant!!This really is something else. That is one stunning collection and an absolutely stunning set of photos!!!! It must of taken ages to set and move the minis about..I take my hat off to you.

  3. PS..I forgot to add..I didn´t know there was an eclipse on the actual day..not shown in the film as far as I remember. That must have made the hearts of many a british and auxillary soldier sink and been a signal for the Zulus to really go for it.

    1. A passage from the book I am reading - The Zulus burst through the lines at about 1.30 a.m. At about that time the moon passed in front of the sun. The eclipse reached its height at 2.29 p.m. and in the adrenalin rush of terror or bloodlust, the gloom added an apocalyptic touch to the confused nightmare around the foot of Isandlwana.
      Thanks Chaps for your kind remarks.

  4. Pat another fantastic episode I think this has eclipsed the others if thats possible.You really have pulled this together in a spectacular way thanks for all your effort!

    I have also been following the Mad Gurus blog some very interesting stuff going on there too!!

    Best wishes

  5. Fantastic Pat! Thanks for taking the time to do this and share it for all our enjoyment. Have you still got the large print of the battle up in your dining room?

    1. Thanks Chaps.
      Steve, The last stand of the 24th at Isandlwana is now in the garage above the games table. Kerstin decided she wanted more of a female touch in the lounge.

  6. Thrilling stuff. This is absolutely the pinnacle of what we strive for in miniature gaming and presentation.

    Really awesome. Well done.

  7. Truly magnificent!!!! Well done Pat!!

  8. Fantastic! What a superb spectacle. Cheers, Simon

  9. Amazing collection and presentation.
    The scenes are so hectic and full of gloriously painted minis.
    Well Done!!


  10. Just fantastic, brilliant photos, figures, terrain and posts!

  11. Out-bloomin-standing! Such a treat Pat to see all your fabulous miniatures like this.

  12. Just fantastic yet again!! It's great fun looking at your wonderful figures and following your narration of events.


  13. Another thrilling instalment - and superb photos. Cheers Pat

  14. This is so good!
    The best I’ve seen for ages.
    And also a great account of the battle itself.
    Thank you so much for posting this! I can only imagine the amount of effort it took to get it together (not to mention painting all those figures!).

  15. I'm enjoying this very much. Thank you for doing the effort to share this with us! Now I'm going to have a look at the last episode!


  16. War is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.