Meanwhile, back at The Drift, it’s dark, but the inferno engulfing the Hospital has the immediate area lit up, silhouetting the Zulu’s as they climb and leap over the mealie bag walls into the main compound.
As Chard overseas an orderly retreat, on Turn 80, we have Zulu’s from the Chest charging the front line. Covering fire checks the attacks and holds these warriors at bay, for now.
The situation is looking even more desperate as time goes on. We’ve lost 82 men, for 481 Zulu’s. Even though those men have sold their lives dearly, our numbers are dwindling fast, and our so is our morale. The boys must surely think their end is nigh, very soon now.
By Turn 81, the fall back to the biscuit box retrenchment wall has completed. Chard commands from the front.
As the Hospital situation becomes dire, at 29% devastated by fire, we manage to evacuate Patient Group 2, however their numbers have been severely culled, 2 out of 4 men remaining.
Private William Horrigan leads these wounded men speedily across the courtyard, dodging Zulu attacks as best they can.
They hobble their way to the Southern wall away from the incoming Chest – but just beyond the wall can be heard the chants and trills of the Right Horn.
Chard orders “fire at will” and the Chest in the compound take a severe pelting from the Martini-Henry response, routing them as Horrigan struggles to get to the retrenchment wall.
The Right Horn leaps into the compound and lays down fire and throwing assegai towards Horrigan and the Redcoats. Horrigan is disrupted as he almost reaches the wall.
The Hospital is now 33% on fire. We’ve lost more patients from inside. Two more men are dead. Our losses at 60% of the original defending force.
As Horrigan is pulled into the inner perimeter, the Right Horn charges the wall.
A Constant stream of fire manages to stall and rout the attack.
Reynolds looking Southwards can see the Reserve forming up either side of the dirt track road. The British soldiers remaining have formed a ‘V’ shaped line surrounding the inner mealie bag redoubt, with a small force stationed at the stone kraal wall to the east. This will be their last stand.
Chard orders Horrigan into the Storehouse for protection, and recuperation. The lads pressed against the Southern wall lay down fire heavy enough to rout the incoming Reserve.
By Turn 86, another 16 Zulu’s have been put down, without further casualty. The remaining men in the Hospital are feared lost to the flames or the encroaching Zulu’s.
Turn 87, sees a renewed push by the Reserve, and they make it to the wall. The odds are good,7/1 against the assaulting Zulu’s. They are quickly dispatched with the lunger. Some warriors clamber onto the wall, grabbing at the redcoat’s rifles, only to find a boxer cartridge chambered and ready to fire. A quick discharge of the weapon releases the assailants grasp in double quick time.
By Turn 89, the Right Horn has leapt the Southern wall near the Hospital, and a new wave of the Chest arrives at the northern wall. Attacking from two sides at the same time. However, the attacks are well skewed to the east, because of the withering fire kept up from the retrenchment side of the camp.
By Turn 90, the Right Horn make a rush to the inner perimeter wall, attacking near the join with the Storehouse. The attack odds are still in favour of the British soldiers, at 4/1.
The attackers are dispatched with cold steel once again, however we lose another man in the attack. By Turn 91, the Hospital roof has collapsed more or less, with 70% damage due to the fire. We shall see no more patients escape those ruins.
Turn 92 sees the Chest in the compound and rushing the wall. Their snapshots on the way in, disrupts the men near the Storehouse.
Anticipating a weakness in the defence, the Chest and Right Horn charge the Biscuit Box wall in force. Reynolds moves up to boost the morale of the men under siege.
On Turn 93, Chard orders rapid fire, and the heavy response routs or kills most of the Zulu’s in the charge.
Turn 94, sees a brave group of the Chest leap the biscuit box wall and dive into the men at Reynold’s position near the Storehouse. This is grave news indeed, the Zulu’s have breached the inner perimeter, with sheer determination.
Reynolds pulls back, and the men step away from the attackers, to loose a volley of fire towards the Storehouse. The brave Right Horn become routed.
The incursion into the inner perimeter has been very costly, we lost another 9 men, for 18 Zulu’s. We just can’t sustain these sort of casualties. Even the resolute Chard is beginning to think holding this position any further is becoming untenable.
The boys hearts sink, by Turn 97, the Chest reforms along the wall, and new waves of the Right Horn and Reserve move up in support.
With the Chest back in the compound, they attempt another spirited rush at the weakpoint on the retrenchment wall. But Reynolds and Chard move up to organise a well co-ordinated response, routing the Zulu’s before they make much progress across the courtyard.
By Turn 99, the Chest have rallied, in the courtyard – they are fervently determined to wash their spears in these redcoats blood. The Reserve begin their push into the compound, and up the dirt track. Some incoming fire disrupts a few men in the front line. Fire from the Reserve routs a British group, with Chard attempting to steady them back into fighting condition.
As expected, on Turn 100, the Chest rush the wall again. A contingent from the Reserve hit the wall at the dirt track entrance.
The odds are getting worse all the time, this time only 2/1 to the Redcoats.
Luckily, the line holds, through sheer British grit. Some of the men are disrupted by the horrific violence and futility of their plight. Chard is on hand to attempt to rally them.
They are the men of the 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot, this is their stand.
As the men fight, they begin to hum their Regimental march, The Warwickshire Lad.
The Reserve attack is routed at the dirt track road.
We have lost another 7 men, for 24 more Zulu Warriors. We have but 39 men left in the Drift. And yet the Zulu’s keep on coming. The Hospital destroyed.
Looking at the overview, the few British left are clustered around the redoubt inside the inner perimeter. The Zulu’s command the rest of the Battlefield.
The Reserve retreat, a few stragglers from the defiant Chest cross the compound, and the Right Horn moves inside the outer perimeter.
By the end of Turn 100, the Right Horn make a Charge on the wall.
Join me next time, to see if the devastated garrison can hold out any longer against the incessant waves of Zulu attacks.
[Onto Part 6] [Back to Part 4]