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"The Battle of O'Malley's Drift" Topic


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505 hits since 15 Apr 2020
©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2020 6:08 p.m. PST

Clearly the most forgotten battle of the AZW was the clash between the Zulus & the British at O'Malley's Drift on the 3rd of July, 1879. The final battle of the Zulu Wars, Ulundi, fought the next day has tended to overshadow this desperate fight.

To re-create the battle, using a modified form of Steve Burt's Zulu War Rules, I set up the table to show the temporary encampment of the 3 companies of the 24th regiment, a troop of NMP, an RA field piece and divers other British soldiery.

Shows the encampment & the field hospital before the main force's arrival.

The Zulus were placed on 4 entry points in roughly equal numbers. To begin, a black playing card determined whether they'd move or, on 5-6, if a rifle-armed force could additionally deploy.

A relief force would enter at the far North corner. This represents its head but you could simply use a marker as the Zulus will not attack the force. Upon turning an Ace of Hearts, the entire Relief column is deployed. On a second appearance of the Ace, the British are relieved & the game ends.

In what turned out to be a significant tactic, the NMP were dismounted & deployed on a bluff to the NE of the encampment.

Waiting for the chanting to cease & the Zulus to attack.

The Zulus mass. Under the rules, each force has a commanding Induna. His presence determines whether a charge can close and aids in the morale rolls that follow casualties.

Charges on the east & north faces are met with withering fire. If the British have their company commanders present, they can have two Actions per Red Card turn. These can be 'Fire' X2, which can be devastating.

The Zulus close. Normally, they are devastating in melee but defending mealie bag walls gives the British some hope. However, one company is mauled and dispersed. The British commit their battalion commander & CSM Bourne to the fray (which gives extra dice) & hold off defeat.

At this point the NMP, after fending off a Zulu regiment from their bluff, mount up & re-deploy to pour fire into the Zulu flank.

Things still looked grim, when:

The Relief Column's arrival forced the Zulus to retreat.

Even the most patriotic British soldier would agree that but for this fortuitous event, a second Islandlwana was a distinct possibility. The Battle of O'Malley's Drift was indeed, a close run thing.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2020 6:09 p.m. PST

The above was a solo game. Lockdown has some compensations.

wmyers15 Apr 2020 9:12 p.m. PST

Those are well painted figures! I recognize many as Esci. Are the wagons Hat?

The Zulu movement trays are a very good contrast to the rank and file of the British figures. That's a good idea to have two different types of basing!

You could try a game via online (skype/zoom, etc?).

Dn Jackson15 Apr 2020 11:05 p.m. PST

Looks like a good time. I'm lucky in that I have an 11 year old who enjoys gaming with me.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2020 11:16 p.m. PST

I'm not going to claim any painting medals, but thank you. Some Esci, lots of HaT & about 40% metal.As you can see, there's still some work needed.

Dn Jackson: lucky you. My boy's now 24 and working in Central Queensland some 800 kilometers away.

At any rate, thank you for the too kind words.

John Leahy Supporting Member of TMP16 Apr 2020 6:43 a.m. PST

thumbs up thumbs up
Another great looking game! I use plastics and Ral Partha Colonials for mine. I have a lot of Boers to paint up. Recently we have been doing the Sudan with my plastics and Partha figs. Mainly doing egyptians vs the Mahdi. Tough for the Egyptians so far. Used The Men who would be Kings.

Col Durnford Supporting Member of TMP16 Apr 2020 8:01 a.m. PST

Wow, I thought the figures were 28mm and not 1/72. Great job. Looks like a fun game.

My own Zulu war collection is mainly Ral Partha in true 25mm.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP16 Apr 2020 1:41 p.m. PST

One of my Zulu regiments is actually Ral Patha. They are very good figures but this (via Ebay) has been all I've been able to get. The slightly husky-looking figures( compared to the Esci, for instance) make excellent looking Zulus.

I also use TMWWBK rules but the old Steve Burt free set made it easier to run a solo game.

Thanks for the nice comments.

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