The Drift 1879 – AAR – Part 4

We join our boys in the thick of it. In desperation I pull the men out of the Storehouse to shore up the defences at the Kraal wall. The Left Horn have gathered themselves together and are making another attack. Sweeping wider now, checking our defences for weak points.

Private Collins leads the men of Company 10 out of the Storehouse and takes up a position along the Kraal wall.

Hopefully we’ll have enough troops stationed there to hold this attack back. The stone wall of the Cattle Kraal has been a God send to the men in the Inner perimeter. Not only does it present a sturdy obstacle the Zulu’s have to climb over, it provides protection from errant incoming fire, and sets up a kill-zone inside the Kraal itself.

On Turn 61, looking at the overview, you can see we’re being harried by the well spaced out Left Horn and the Reserve seem to be advancing on the dirt track.

By turn 62, both the Left Horn and the Reserve have taken fire from inside the Drift that has forced them to cluster up. Edging back and forth, trying to pick a time and a route to snake their way up and in.

As close as the Left Horn can get, they are repelled by the incessant fire teaming out over the Kraal stone wall. British firing discipline constantly hammering away at the Left’s morale and numbers. Beyond 20 shots the Martini-Henry barrel becomes grimy with shell debris, increasing the recoil and bruising on the men’s shoulders, so the firing and cleaning  becomes an entwined dove tailed motion with some firing and some ducking behind the wall and taking their cleaning rods to their rifles to maintain equipment readiness.

By Turn 63, the Left Horn have been repelled, with a few stragglers cowering along the kraal wall.

The Reserve cluster in the open, apprehensively bobbing and weaving in the scrub, trying to inch close to the perimeter. Chard spots this furtive movement and gets himself and a few men to the wall to effect a heavier rate of fire on them.

Meanwhile, during Turn 63 the Chest charge, in the open. Many are hit and routed before they make the ditch at the front of the hospital.

Since our last check, we’ve lost six more men, for 14 Zulu dead. A heavy toll, considering the overall numbers of men involved. Some of the lads are faltering, exhausted, the initial flush of adrenalin fading, seeing their mates and their officer Bromhead fall with terrible injuries.

Colour Sargeant Bourne and Chard calmly deliver their orders to the men, “pick your targets”, “make every round count”, “we’ll not fall here!”. Having calm and order take control amidst the chaos and madness of the carnage going on around them, brings their army training to the forefront, and the men steel themselves onwards. Morale picks up a bit.

The Left Horn stragglers throw themselves at the inner Kraal wall, trying to overwhelm the redcoats bobbing up and down behind them.

On Turn 64, the stragglers of the inDlondo attempt to assault the Kraal wall. The men on the line brace themselves, and present their “lunger” bayonets .

Since I have good coverage of men on the Kraal inner wall, I bring another lunger attack in on the poor inDlondo attackers. The odds of 7 to 1 are in favour of the redcoat defenders.

Indeed, the Left Horn attackers are cut down by efficient bayonet work from the front and the side. They lie bleeding out the other side of the Kraal inner wall. The redcoats wipe their lungers clean and begin taking up their firing positions again.

Meanwhile, the Reserve have plucked the courage to scale the rocky ledge and are making a thrust towards the wall.

The brave Chest warriors are all routed before they get to any sort of cover.

By Turn 64, we’ve lost another man, but with the inDlondo assault, have taken another 11 Zulu’s out.

By Turn 65, the Reserve have breeched the wall, clambering over the rocky ledge and onto the wall itself. Some raced up the dirt track to the corner wall between the inner and outer perimeters. Chard orders the incursion to be held by rifle fire. We have no men close enough for bayonet work.

Surgeon Reynolds assembles some men from the Kraal wall to provide a blockade at the corner wall, firing rapidly into the Reserve as they get to the wall.  Chard continues ordering the rapid fire into the Reserve and finally pushes them back beyond the rocky ledge, as they hurry for cover from the bullets whizzing over their heads.

We lose another man to hurled assegai and the Zulu’s are down another 4 men.

The Reserve gather beneath the rock ledge, and surge over it once more to make a concerted push into the compound.

The Reserve counter-attack is met with crossfire from the inner perimeter, and the outer perimeter, including long range fire from men on the opposite wall (near the laagered wagons). This heavy crossfire manages to rout the Reserve and douse their  counter-attack.

By Turn 66, the Reserve are about done, but there is another attack massing by the Left Horn again, with the Right Horn collecting at the edge of scrub-land poised for another assault. It would appear they’re getting ready to test the walls on two sides at once again.

Turn 66 sees another redcoat down, and 6 more Zulu’s downed.

The push from the Left Horn becomes more and more adventurous, and a number of them get inside the Kraal itself, with one group sprinting to the dog-leg wall at the gable end of the Storehouse.

Frantically the British protecting the Storehouse wall, stab their lungers at the clambering Zulu warriors, firing point blank where they can. The line of redcoats at the inner Kraal wall, loose their deadly fire at close range, pelting the Zulu’s entering the Kraal.

The Storehouse remains defended. The Left Horn was unable to break through, as close as they got. The remaining Zulu’s in the Kraal stumble about and are disrupted and routed by the incessant fire coming at them over the Kraal wall.

By Turn 68, the Right Horn are charging the plateau and the rocky ridge, hoping to take shelter from the fire there, and then surge over the ledge into the compound. Chard commands the men grouped on the wall, to pick them off as they become visible.

The landscape here affords the incoming Zulu’s some protection, and one or two of the men are frustrated by their line of sight. Clambering up onto the mealie bag wall itself to shoot down. Taking a few Zulu’s this way is very dangerous and return musket fire and hurriedly flung spears force the British back behind the safety of the mealie bag wall.

With the speed of the attack, the Right Horn manage to make it to the central portion of the wall, stabbing vigorously over the wall itself with their spears.

The Left Horn rallies, and makes a sudden push towards the inner Kraal wall. Disrupted, but baying for blood!

By Turn 69, you can see both Horns are being engaged and we have an incoming wave from the Chest, many angling to use the cover of the Hospital to get close. There is some fire from the Hospital wall loop-holed in places. But the arc of fire from within these loopholes seem to be very limited.

The savage attack at the Kraal wall inflicts a toll on the weary redcoats there, but against all odds the remaining men execute a bayonet attack in a desperate attempt to stem the flow.

Cold steel prevails.

At another wall, a similar fight for life is in progress. Spear and bayonet Steel meet once again. With the odds well in favour of the defenders.

The heroic thrusts from behind the wall, manage to lay waste to the Zulu advances. Chard rouses the men’s spirit!

We lose two more men in the heat of melee combat. But exact a high price with 21 Zulu’s blood.

By Turn 70, we have a dissipated Right Horn, with another Reserve attack on the approach, and the Chest have made it to the Hospital walls! With one group of brave Chest Warriors at the wall near the laagered wagons.

The Chest at the Hospital wall, wrap flaming grass around their assegai and toss it up onto the roof of the Hospital. The thatched Hospital building begins to burn!

With the Hospital on fire, time is of the essence with the patients in the burning building. Approximately 4% of the building is ablaze, and this will only get worse at time goes on. Reynolds rushes to the wall as he sees his surgery begin to smoke.

Private Robert Adams  in the first patient group attempts to evacuate his comrades. It fails. It’s going to take a miracle to get these men out of here, before the whole place goes up and collapses in on them. Plus we have Zulu’s at the loopholes stabbing their assegai through the walls.

Some of the men stationed in the hospital begin bayonetting and firing blank shots at the Zulu’s at the walls.

Meanwhile outside, the Chest has vaulted the wall and have made it into the compound. Reynolds rushes in to help maintain morale – dishing out ammo and words of encouragement. “Pot that one!”

Another 12 Zulu’s are made to pay.

With the Chest at the wall repelled, men at the opposite wall are now trying to stem the flow of Reserve Zulu’s. With the crossfire from the Kraal wall and the Corner wall opposite the Dirt track hitting their mark.

Private Adams tries again to get patient group 1 out of the burning building to no effect. Every turn from now on an evacuation attempt will be made once per turn. I pick patient group 1 since they have the most men compared to the other groups. It’s a difficult decision to make, every turn, but it has to be made. As time ticks on, these other men will burn, and I need as many bodies as I can out and able to hold a rifle or pass ammo around.

Reynolds moves back into the inner perimeter to organise and distribute ammunition to the men there. Meanwhile Chard organises his men to form a barrier to repel the Reserves ascending the rocky ledge. We’re holding! Just about!

Rallied, the Reserve makes it to the wall in two places simultaneously. Luckily I have men stationed at the places about to be breached.

Chard commands men to form up behind the front line, to provide some defence in depth. If the wall gives, then the attackers face a volley of fire from the ranks behind.

By Turn 74, Chard rushes to the front of the Hospital building near the plateau, and sets up men to defend the wall there from a new wave of the advancing Right Horn.

On Turn 74, Reynolds has moved back into the Kraal to help shore up the defence there. The Left Horn have pushed their way into the Kraal itself, and are moving on inwards. Although those having leapt over the Kraal wall are now disrupted with the fire being poured onto them.

As the Left Horn rush the inner Kraal wall, the redcoats brace themselves for impact!

The Zulu’s at the wall inflict heavy casualties on us.

But, once again, the defence in depth has proved effective at stopping the onslaught by providing fire from the front, and supporting fire from the rear. The Left Horn push fails at the wall and the Zulu’s there are routed.

We lose 7 men this time, a terrible loss, with only 9 Zulu’s downed. It seems that their sheer weight of numbers is starting to grind us down. We haven’t got the luxury of being able to bring similar numbers of men into play.

The distance from the outer Kraal wall to the inner, only affords a single well timed and well aimed shot, before their spears are upon us. There’s just not enough physical distance and time to get any more fire onto the enemy!

A gap in the line at the wall sees the Right Horn vault into the compound!

Patient group 1 stagger out of the burning Hospital and make their escape successfully!

We can see here, that we have 11 Zulu Warriors in the fort itself, and Private Adams is leading the Patient group 1 out and away from the burning wreckage that is becoming the Hospital.

Adams and his others drag themselves across the courtyard. The Hospital is now 8% in flames.

By Turn 76, 3 more British men are dead, with only 7 Zulu downed.

Chard notices that the Left Horn are breaking off their attack!

The advance from the Right Horn also peters out around the plateau.

Meanwhile, by Turn 77, the Chest are at the ditch and rushing forward. The Hospital is really going up now, at 12% in flame.

Praise the Lord!

By Turn 78, we have another attack incoming from the Reserve, along with the push from the Chest.

The Chest slams against the wall, and breaches it in considerable numbers! The Hospital begins to burn speedily, at 16% now.

Chard races to the wall to lend support, along with the Adams and his patient group. We have injured men, laid on the ground, jabbing their bayonets upwards taking the rampant Zulu’s in the groin!

The fighting is fierce on the wall, whilst the Hospital burns, at 20% now.

The vicious fighting on the wall has taken another 10 British men out, for 17 Zulu’s. This attack has been most brutal, and if not stemmed it looks very bad for the rest of the men in this last stand of a Victorian British Army.

Lungers jab away at the Zulu’s clambering over the wall. Odds are good for this one.

Falling Zulu’s mount up, bleeding and moaning around the foot of the wall. The men at the left side of the wall fall back, taking the hospital patients with them. The men from the opposite wall cross the courtyard to begin firing onto the inDluyengwe Zulu’s inside.

By Turn 80, with the commotion and carnage going on over at the opposite wall, the Reserve have made it to the perimeter and they manage to rout a British group stationed there. Another Right Horn assembles in the scrub and begins to advance. There are still Chest Zulu’s inside the fort! Many of the British are disrupted.

Chard orders the command to pull back to the biscuit box retrenchment wall into the inner perimeter. A contingent of men begin marching backwards laying down suppressive fire, and the men from the walls peel off into the formation moving backwards. Some helping the injured patients backwards also.

This ordered movement is largely unimpeded by the Zulu’s in the compound, since they’re taking too much fire across the open ground of the courtyard.

Reynolds organises men on the inside of the inner perimeter to form up near the corner wall to help hold back the surging Reserve.

We’ve lost 4 more British Redcoats to Zulu fire and spear. The Zulu’s have taken a similar number of casualties! This is not going well.

The Hospital is now 25% on fire. Time is running out for the men struggling in there.

Chard figures if we can get most of the men into the inner perimeter we will at least have a set of walls we have the numbers of men to defend. The men in hospital are now trapped in a burning island, amongst a sea of Zulus. Their fates lie with God now.

As they proceed with the organised retreat, the Chest Zulu’s rush the lines.

Join me next time to see if Chard can make it to the Retrenchment barricade.

[On to Part 5].

[Back to Part 3].

 

  • Trash

    Dang, I really thought you were having a cakewalk there for awhile. The losses in the hospital however… Urgh.