Friday, 4 July 2014
"They won't be satisfied 'till I've beaten them in the open!"
Today sees the anniversary of the Battle of Ulundi, 4th July 1879. it was the last battle of the Zulu War. A British all arms division crossed the Umfolozi river in one large square, four sides composed of British Red Coats, the artillery and gatling machine guns at the corners and the cavalry, 17th lancers with 1 troop of 1st (King's) Dragoon Guards in the middle of the square.
As soon as the square crossed the river the zulus struck! A series of immensely brave but finally futile attacks were made against the square only to be cut down by rifle and machine guns, with the cannons joining in. Eventually the zulu morale broke and they retreated. At this Lord Chelmsford, the British commander, ordered one side of the square to march aside to allow the 17th Lancers out! They charged and scattered the Zulus.The regiment had last charged at Balaclava and had justified it's existence for another 20 years.
The heading quote is by Chelmsford and referred to both the Zulus and the critics of Chelmsford at home. They felt the tactic of forming laagers of wagons (defensive circles, often with trenches and barricades) was cowardly and not respected by the Zulus and they needed to be "beaten in the open".
A better topic of note than US "Independence Day".