Saturday, 13 October 2012

BATTLE OF ISANDLWANA part two 'Alarm & Fall In.

Carrying on from last week's post, here is the second instalment of the battle as things start to develop......

Zulus had been spotted by the outposts on the edge of the hills to the North of the camp and reports were sent back to Lieutenant-Colonel Pulleine. The 'Alarm' and 'Fall In' were sounded and the infantry companies were formed up in column in front of the camp.

The supply waggons at the Nek, were due to go back to Rorke's Drift that day, so the order was given for the oxen to be tied to the yokes.

At 10.30am Colonel Durnford rode into camp at the head of his column having just come from Rorke's Drift.

Durnford reports to Pulleine and due to his seniority in rank took command of the camp but had no intention of staying in it for long. The conversation went along the lines of - Colonel Pulleine said "I'm sorry you have come, as you are senior to me and will of course take command". Durnford replies "I'm not going to interfere with you. I'm not going to remain in camp".

By now the gunfire in the distance had been heard by almost everyone and the messages from the picquets on the hills were confusing. Durnford sent out two troops of Zikhali Horse to sweep off any Zulus from the heights. He also ordered the men lined up in columns in front of the camp to stand down. Over lunch Durnford announced that he intended to take his men out across the plain to intercept a Zulu column seen retiring in the direction of Lord Chelmsford. At about this time a company of the 1/24th - E Company under Lieutenant Cavaye - was sent up onto the ridge by the spur.
Durnford returned to his men and told them to mount up and they left the camp along with Major Russell's Rocket Battery and a company of NNC to support them. 11.15am.

Up on the ridge Lieutenant Raw's troop of Zikhali's Horse found the enemy in small clumps,retiring before them.Some of the Zulus had cattle with them and may well have been foraging parties.

Suddenly the warriors disappeared into a fold in the ground in front of them. As Raw's troop reached the crest of the ridge, they came upon some 20,000 Zulus of the main impi who were bivouacked at the bottom of the valley. The Zulus sprang up and fell upon them, Raw's troop dismounted and fired a volley into the Zulu ranks but made no impression on their advance.They mounted up and fell back before them in a fighting retreat towards the camp.   

Captain Shepstone who was with Raw and some NNC up on the ridge, rode back to the camp to warn Pulleine of the seriousness of the situation.  "I'm not an alarmist, sir, but the Zulus are in such black masses over there, such long black lines that you have to give us all the assistance you can. They are now fast driving our men this way".

Up to that moment the general opinion had been that there was no serious threat to the camp.  Pulleine sent a message to Chelmsford reporting that as heavy fire could be heard from hills to the left, he could not move camp at present. (This was in reply to an order that came in from Chelmsford to break up the camp and move it to the Mangeni)
The 24th were ordered to 'Stand-To' once more.

Cavaye's E Company 1/24th was deployed to the north of the camp along a ridge at the end of a sloping spur, which was out of sight of the rest of the camp. Due to the increase in the sound of firing coming from this direction, indicated that they, too, were engaged. Pulleine reacted accordingly  and sent another company of the 1/24th, Captain Mostyn's F Company, out to support Cavaye.

At about the same time Mostyn's men set off towards the spur, Curlings artillery was sent out to a position on the left front, just in front of the NNC camp. Just as they were setting off they were joined by Major Smith, who took over command of the battery.

Captain 'lucky' Essex (one of the five imperial officers to survive the battle) rode up from the camp to the firing being heard from behind the hill, where he saw Cavaye's company spread out to the left in extended order, firing across a low valley at a long column of Zulus who were making their way across their front. They did not advance but moved from right to left with the evident intention of out flanking the British. (The Zulu right horn)

It soon became clear that the position on the hills was to exposed, and the men on the spur were in danger of being cut off. They were to retreat to the bottom of the escarpment and Mostyn and Cavaye's Companies were formed up again along with the Zikhali Horse and NNC. To the far left of the line Captain Younghusband's C Company 1/24th had been drawn up a little way to the left rear, presumably to cover their retreat.

Pulleine sent the two remaining companies of the 1/24th still available to him up onto both flanks of the guns, Lieutenant Porteous A Company on the left and Captain Wardell's H Company on the right.

Lieutenant Pope's G Company of the 2/24th marched out to the right of Wardell's H Company, extending across the boulder strewn ground facing North.

With Lonsdale's Company of NNC in position to Pope's rear right, Pulleine had thus formed a new line at the foot of the hills.

Krohn's Company of NNC was Pulleine's only reserve left at camp.

  Pulleine's new line.

NEXT WEEK................ Russell's Rocket Battery.


  1. Just fantastic pictures all the way around and great engrossing story writing! Brilliant!


  2. Superb, just brilliant photos and a great narrative.

  3. Stunning photos!! Excellent post! Bring on part 3.

  4. Beautifully done and what a collection!! There is a really nice flow to your shots. Well Done.


  5. Bloody wonderfull!!! Your collection looks absolutely brilliant and the photos are wonderfull. There´s only one thing missing..a soundtrack. :-D

  6. As said above you have a wonderfull collection of figures! The report and pictures are fantastic. I'm wating for the next post, and the next when they say "I see zulus! Thousands of them"!


  7. Great work Pat! really looking forward to the next installment.

    Best wishes


  8. It's just llike watching "Zullu Dawn"! As Willie said on his blog, Pat, you have really increased the bar with your photos. An outstanding series of posts.

    Best wishes


  9. Thanks Gents, for your kind words and praise. I can't take all the credit for the narrative though, as a lot of that comes straight out of the excellent 'ZULU Isandlwana & Rorke's Drift' book written by Ian Knight.

  10. The plot thickens -- with more terrifically painted troops, wonderful terrain, brilliantly composed & sequenced pics! And knowing how it ends doesn't lessen the growing drama & suspense...

  11. Fantastic stuff mate.

    Any chance of a stage by stage session on painting Red Coats? Would love to see that!!!

    1. Thanks Andy. Re painting red, if you go to my 'Labels' 'Painting Figures' there is a guide there for how I paint my figures.
      The British Red coat is actually quite orange in colour and the combination of paints I use for my Zulu War British is as folows:
      White undercoat
      Base coat of Vallejo Carmine Red
      Wash (see painting figures label)
      Highlight Vallejo scarlet
      Depending on how dark you have put the wash on, you may have to paint another layer of Carmine red prior to the scarlet. You could even mix a little yellow into the scarlet for another highlight but it all depends on how much time and effort you want to spend on your figures.
      Hope this helps.

    2. Thanks Pat, that's great

  12. Thanks once again Chaps, appreciate the wonderful feedback.

  13. You are a big inspiration for me about your Painting etc

    maybe you have a look to my blog

    Im Michael an ex Games Workshop Employe and now startet a Painting Blog...maybe you find something interesting

    would be an honor to see you arround

    1. Hello Michael and thanks for your kind words. I have just checked out and am now a follower of your excellent blog.

  14. Excellent looking terrain and figures...nice work Pat

  15. Fantastic! Dunno how I missed this one?