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Rorke's Drift Revisited

After returning from a month away, wargaming action returned yesterday with a chance to lead half of the Zulu army attacking Rorke’s Drift.

Attacking from the west, my cunning plan was to feint to the south to draw some of the enemy away from the well defended northern perimeter, then move the bulk of my warriors against it.

The British complied sending a detachment from the northern perimeter to cover the gap between the hospital and storehouse in the south.

Using the buildings for cover the feint attack was able to close without suffering a deadly volley. Defending a barricade of crates and mealie bags, the British threw back our first attack and also a second. But with each attack the British detachment became worn down and eventually was forced to give ground.

Meanwhile Dabulamanzi kaMpande sent in waves of warriors against the Kraal on the opposite eastern flank. Many were mown down before they could reach the wall. Whilst they could sustain casualties Lt Bromhead’s detachment could not and they were becoming dangerously thinned out.

Eventually the Kraal wall was breached and Bromhead’s men had to fall back on Lt Chard’s detachment which still held firm.

My main attack faltered at first under withering fire directed by Colour Sergeant Bourne. Several of my impis were wiped out to a man. Those that did reach the mealie bag barricade were sent reeling back. However, the feint attack had worked, leaving undefended sections of the northern barricade for other impis to cross over without casualties.

Once inside the perimeter barricades the Zulus could engaged in hand to hand combat on relatively even terms. The remaining British defenders were overwhelmed and although the Zulus had suffered horrendous casualties, the day was ours.

The wonderful figures and terrain features were from Martin Waller’s collection.

I now have a burning desire to re-watch the film Zulu. It was the first film I ever saw in the cinema, taken there as a young lad by my father many moons ago.

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It was a cracking game, as the Zulu induna on the eastern side we lost a lot of men, with entire units being destroyed but we drew the British fire and whittled them down. Once over the barricades it was hand to hand and bloody.

Like Lions They Fought on Both Sides - brave men.


The rules used for the game were The Men Who Would Be Kings (TMWWBK) by Dan Mersey. I had played two previous games with them so I had a reasonable idea of the mechanics, but I don't own a set, so I'm not sure where we adhered to the 'rules as written' and where we strayed/used scenario-specific rules. That said, the encounter was relatively balanced and I believe B Coy of 2/24th Foot defending the farmstead could have achieved an historical result if they'd had a little more luck in the crucial melees. So, although the British Army doesn't like two disasters in one day (according to the famous line from the movie), that is exactly what happened in our…

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From the Zulu perspective it felt right if a little frustrating at times trying to get over the barricades. But once inside the odds changed signiificantly. We would not have made it without open places to cross and at least a couple of impis still in tact -- we were down to our last few when that occured.

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