January 11, 1879,
Zulus army of 46 units opposed to British army of 51 units
for a battle of complexity 0.91 at Company(I) level
on a 10 Km/Hex map
for 62 turns of Half Day each.
by Mark Stevens submited on 24-01-2004
Rugged-Defense Playing Statistics
The Washing of the Spears
PBEM, hotseat or PO
This scenario covers the first month of the invasion of Zululand by the British Imperial Column No. 3 from Rorke's Drift in Natal Province. The ultimate British objective was to smash its way through towards the Zulu Royal Kraal at Ulundi, while keeping open its lines of communication and preventing a Zulu counter-attack into Natal Province, which had been stripped of troops and volunteers to mount the invasion.
The Zulu King, Ceteshwayo, despairing of a negotiated settlement, sent his main army ('impi') to oppose the British and drive them back to Natal Province.
The local Zulus along the border were uncertain whether to oppose the invasion or submit, at least until such time as the main impi approached. The paramount local chief, Matyana, had a large kraal located along the main track from Rorke's Drift to Ulundi, big enough to serve as a supply point for the main impi. Apart from this, both sides draw supply from their starting positions. To alleviate the problem, they are accompanied by supply units representing Imperial Commissariat wagon trains or Zulu cattle herds.
As the scenario covers such a short period, there are no reinforcements or replacements, although some of the stronger units will reconstitute at Rorke's Drift or the track to Ulundi respectively.
2. Imperial forces
Despite warnings from the Boer population, the British underestimated the Zulus, and believed that if they could locate the main impi and encourage it to assault the British regulars they would win an easy victory. Their chief fear was that the impi might evade the Column and launch a savage reprisal raid into Natal Province.
3. Zulus forces
3.1. Black on black - Zulus
The 'Chest', 'Loins', and 'Right' and 'Left' Horns were the regiments forming the main Zulu impi. Poorly armed by the standards of the day they were nevertheless tough, numerous, well-trained and organised far beyond the standards of the natives ('Kaffirs' - a term of contempt) who had been beaten by the British and Boers in the past.
The cattle who accompanied the impi were guarded by youths not yet enrolled into regiments, but eager to prove themselves in action.
There were a small number of mounted scouts, and many more small parties on foot.
3.2. Green on black - 'Border' Zulus
The border kraals were occupied by Zulus who had been cowed by the size of the Imperial forces, or whose fighting men had already joined the main impi at the capital, Ulundi, but who might prove menacing if an opportunity arose.
Many smaller kraals were occupied only by older men, women and children. Burning them out was a recognised strategy to terrorise the population.
The Zulu Undi regiment is a fixed garrison and represents reinforcements that would undoubtedly have been despatched from Ulundi if the British approached the capital: they also serve to prevent a single cavalry unit from riding around the impis and occupying the Victory Point hex.
The sole Zulu tactic was to find and destroy the main Imperial Column by a frontal assault with their short stabbing spears, the assegais. They were under orders not to invade Natal Province, as Ceteshwayo still hoped for a negotiated peace, although one corps attacked Rorke's Drift following the Zulu victory at Ishandwalna. Oddly enough, this was the strategy that the British feared most.
4. Victory points
The British have to advance into Zululand and, at the very least, secure both the river crossings and occupy some kraals to win even a marginal victory. At some point they can expect to face a major attack by the main Zulu army, which is moving about twice as fast.
Historically, Lord Chelmsford advanced towards Isepezi Hill but, failing to locate the main impi, split his force into two equal portions. The group camped around Isandhlwana Mountain was surprised and totally wiped out by the main Zulu impi, although at a terrible cost in casualties (perhaps 7,000 killed and wounded out of 20,000). Ceteshwayo is reputed to have said 'There are not enough tears in the whole Zulu nation to weep for the fallen of Isandhlwana' and 'An assegai has been thrust into the belly of the nation'.
Lord Chelmsford successfully shifted the blame onto Lt.-Col. Durnford, Royal Engineers, the senior British officer left in the camp, and a vast number of reinforcements from the Empire eventually enabled him to resume the advance and occupy the Zulu capital by July.
The initial defeat nevertheless caused a sensation around the world, with a similar psychological impact to Custer's destruction at the hands of the Souix and Cheyenne just three years earlier.
6. Special Rules
7. Designer's Notes
the British must not make Chelmsford's mistake of allowing the column to be attacked by the main Zulu impi while divided - this is guaranteed to produce a defeat. Use the mounted units to scout ahead, and perhaps burn the civilian kraals to distract the individual Zulu regiments. Once the main action is about to start, entrench the troops together in a defensive position (hills, dongas [wadis] or behind a river) with the artillery and rockets in support.
The Zulus simply need to locate the main Imperial force and attack with the strongest regiments, using the scouts and Local Zulus (if available) to cut the line of communication to Rorke's Drift, and to defend the kraals from raiders.
This is something of an experimental scenario using the newly designed 19th Century database, included in the zip file.
I've tried to research this thoroughly - it was my university thesis in 1979! - but whatever I do the British seem to have a very hard time of it: I'm not sure if this is my fault or Lord Chelmsford's...