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"Quick Question, Ratio of Zulus with firearms" Topic


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323 hits since 11 Aug 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Fettster 4211 Aug 2017 9:07 a.m. PST

Says it all really. What would be a reasonable ratio of muskets in a zulu force.

Would 25% be too many?

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2017 9:38 a.m. PST

As discussed previously, by the time of the Anglo Zulu War, almost all Zulu warriors were armed with some sort of rifle or musket. In battle it was common practice to fire a volley, discard the rifle and charge in with the spear. Zulu small arms fire was extremely inaccurate due to many factors, including lack of practice, poor weapon maintenance and poor ammunition. I would say 25% would be too many in a big battle, but okay in a small action like Rorke's Drift.

Fettster 4211 Aug 2017 10:17 a.m. PST

Thanks it's for a skirmish with some modifications for sharpe practice tonight. Hopefully be about right.

Next time might let them all have a single volley.

GreenLeader11 Aug 2017 10:43 a.m. PST

From what I was told on a Battlefield visit to Isandlwana, about one-in-four of the Zulus (ie. 5000) had some sort of a firearm in that action.
Nick's point about taking a shot and then discarding the rifle is an interesting one would they really be so keen to chuck away a valuable item like a musket or rifle?

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2017 11:01 a.m. PST

From Combat 3 British Infantryman Versus Zulu Warrior by Ian Knight: A few Zulu had been trained to use guns by the professional hunting parties that operated in Zululand from the 1850s, but most had not and had only the haziest idea of how to get the best results from their weapons. As a result of these factors, observers noted that Zulu musketry was often heavy in battle – but very little of it was accurate. Many Zulu, indeed, regarded a gun as merely an extension of their throwing spears, and rather than engage in prolonged fire-fights they preferred to advance and close as possible to the enemy, fire a shot and then throw down their firearm, and rush forward with their stabbing spears.
GreenLeader – good question since Ian Knight also mentions that guns were a luxury item. Many Zulu decorated the stocks of their rifles, perhaps that was an attempt to make them easier to find after the battle. Another thought is that, especially after Isandlwana, the Zulu warrior could hope to exchange his discarded firearm for a more modern one if he was victorious.

GreenLeader11 Aug 2017 11:14 a.m. PST

Interesting thoughts, Nick.

The impression I always had was that some Zulus were employed as 'marksmen' (for want of a more appropriate word!) while the rest simply surged forwards with nothing but the old cold steel.

I shall have to delve a little more deeply into this now.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2017 11:23 a.m. PST

At Rorke's Drift, the Zulu definitely employed marksmen on the Oskarburg Terrace. Also, IIRC, almost all the fatal wounds the Imperial defenders at Rorke's Drift received were from gunshots, not spears.

Durban Gamer12 Aug 2017 2:02 a.m. PST

When gaming Sihayo's Kraal you can give nearly all Zulu's muskets. Also the Zulu hilltop defenders at Hlobani probably had a high proportion of firearms.

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