Friday, 2 November 2012

THE BATTLE OF ISANDLWANA. part five The Butcher's Bill.

The fifth and final instalment of the battle and annihilation of a force of 1,500 British Regular and Colonial troops camped at the remote African crag called Isandlwana, by a tribal people armed very largely with spears.

The Butcher's Bill.

While the 24th were being driven in, Durnford made a stand on the right.

When the line had collapsed the men breaking away had fled over the nek, on the road towards Rorke's Drift. The terrible sight which greeted them was the right horn of the Buffalo, as Zulus poured down in great numbers from the back of the Isandlwana hill, thereby cutting off the retreat.    Parties of the 24th, meanwhile, were still fighting desperately towards the nek. One party of soldiers came out from among the tents and formed up a little above the ammunition waggons. They held their ground there until their ammunition failed them when they were nearly all assegaid.

Younghusband's company had got on the steep slope behind the camp and the Zulus were shot or bayoneted as fast as they came up. Eventually they made a last desperate rush down the slope trying to link up with surviving groups on the nek and beyond. The bodies of both Younghusband and his subaltern, Lieutenant George Hodson, were found in the group at the foot of the mountain.

When the loss of the camp seemed quite certain Colonel Pulleine called Lieutenant Melville, and said "Lieutenant Melville, you as senior Lieutenant, will take the colours, and make the best of your way".
Any surviving groups were pushed over the nek and into the donga's on the far side, where they were met by the Zulu left horn and pushed along the valley where they made their last stands and all perished but a few who had horses.  The victorious army had utterly ransacked the camp. The green grass was red with the running blood and the veld was slippery, for it was covered with the brains and entrails of the slain. The bodies of black and white were lying mixed up together with the carcasses of horses, oxen and mules.
The Butchers Bill - The Zulus lost perhaps 1,000 men killed though many more were wounded. Of the 1,500 force of British troops and African auxiliaries, about 1,300 were killed, most of them Europeans, including field commanders Pulleine and Durnford. Only five imperial officers survived.

Most of the information of this account of the battle comes from the excellent book ZULU Isandlwana & Rorke's Drift 22-23 January 1879. by Ian Knight.
Any mistakes or misinterpretation are all down to me.
I used quite a few different companies for the following -
Figures - Empress Miniatures, Redoubt, BTD, Foundry, Warlord, Old Glory.
Wagons/Limbers/Animals/Tents - Empress, Redoubt, Perry, Dixon, Front Rank, Curtney, Renedra.
Flags - Flags of War.
Movement trays- Warbases.
Other bits and pieces scratch built or converted.
Apoligies if I have missed out anyone.

NEXT WEEK.......... At Rorke's Drift the garrison left to guard the supply depot was still blissfully unaware of the storm about to break over them.


  1. A fitting and poignant conclusion to what has been an outstanding series of posts - truly inspirational, many thanks Pat.

  2. Excellent work! A fitting end to the report, looking forward Rorke's Drift!!

  3. Fantastic conclusion! This has been awesome and I too look forward to Rorke's Drift.

  4. Glorious! brilliant conclusion to a great series.

    so whats next on your table? ;o)

  5. Absolutelty wonderful stuff! Eagerly waiting for the next update.

  6. Amazing! Excellent pictures and report, a great work!

  7. You shoudlpublish this a book,with all your pictures!
    Thoroughly engaging tale,and inspired photos again

  8. I´ll second Dave´s comment about a book. Mix it with pics from theperiod..add moreinfo and! It´d be a winner.

  9. One hell of a set up...great action, color, terrain...nice work Pat

  10. Absolutely top class work!! I've really enjoyed everything to include the painting, background and story. Just real wonderful work and I'm keenly looking forward to Rorke's Drift!


  11. Thanks very much Chaps, I am glad you have enjoyed the posts so far.

  12. Fantastic series of posts on Isandlwana. Looking forward to Rorke's Drift!

  13. Pat, I love what you did here with the pics & narrative. Great, original work!

  14. Wow. Pretty awesome job. I'm especially impressed by the "calm after the storm" pics filled with only casualties, debris, and black smoke. Though pictures of little soldiers, they carry some real impact. Re: your next chapter -- I knew you had the Empress Rorke's Drift character figures, but didn't know you had the buildings as well. As others have said above, I'm now looking forward to seeing them in action!

  15. Second time today I came back for a look Just brillant!!
    Best wishes

  16. What an end! And this is where the movie "Rorke's drift" starts!

    Thanks Pat for sharing this with us! And I relooked the five episodes to see the whole story!