Saturday, October 15, 2016

Short NonFic: British Infantryman versus Zulu Warrior" by Ian Knight

Short NonFic: British Infantryman: Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 versus Zulu Warrior by Ian Knight, 2013, 9781782003656.

Another nonfic military history paperback from Osprey Publishing. Theses books have brief background histories, battle tactics and strategy, neat illustrations and maps, and brief bio information on people involved.

The 1879 war is most well known for the Battle at Rourke's Drift portrayed in Zulu. But, that battle was fairly insignificant to the war as a whole. The victory was a moral boost for the British but involved barely any English troops and a much smaller Zulu force than the major battles.

Knight covers three big battles and the tactics and strategy used by both sides. The Zulu kingdom was independent minded but did was decided to not to start fighting unless the Brits entered Zulu land. The British advanced so the Zulu started fighting.

The Zulu employed different tactics than the African native armies the Brits fought in earlier wars. The Zulu attack was of a bull's head with two flanking attacks making the horns and the main force being the chest, the method could be very effective. But, the Zulu were nor armed with enough modern weapons. Their rifles were not uniform and were European hand-me-downs, like old Brown Bess muskets, imported by traders.

The Zulu were deadly in hand in to hand combat but had to sneak up and quickly charge to overcome the British firepower. When the British were able to place obstacles in front of the Zulu the Zulu were shot down too fast to get through.

The British would spread out their lines to give each rifleman more room and use the rifles to better effect. The Zulu bull's head tactic was difficult to coordinate on a large battle field. To be effective, the three attacking portions of the bull's head had to hit simultaneously. The had to overwhelm the British by sheer numbers. If rough ground or British fire slowed the Zulu then the attack would stall and fail.

The Battle of Isandlwana was a major defeat for the British. They were unable to stop the masses of Zulu. The Battle of Khambula was the opposite where the Zulu were stalled at different times and the British were able to move their cannons around and send out a British counterattack that stopped the Zulu from regrouping.

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