Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Historic Battle of Tegula (Zulu Wars)

Editoral note: originally written in September 2015 (!) this post was overlooked but the project still holds interest for me. As I have had nothing to post for awhile I thought I should fill in the gap....

Have no idea why my interest in the Zulu Wars but probably because I watched Zulu and Zulu Dawn movies in my early days and kept those images in my head.

Thus any magazine article about the Zulu and warfare involving that South African tribe strokes my interest.  An old wargame magazine description by Ian Knight [ Miniature Wargames  No.25 ] of the engagement between the colonists of Durban, Natal and the Zulu in 1838 had me thinking. (oh, oh, here we go off onto another "project" !! )

The abbreviated history goes something like this:

A Voortrekker deputation to Port Natal to ask the English Settlement for assistance against the Zulus was met with success. In 1838 John Cane and Robert Biggar with 14 other English settlers, 30 Hottentots and over 3000 native levies went as an expeditionary force in support to the Voortrekkers Commandos of Uys and Potgieter. (who were attacked a day before and were soundly defeated) After crossing the Tugela River the Expenditionary force came across the Zulu military kraal (camp) Ndondakusuka at the foot of the mountain but the lack of full resistance soon indicated that this was a trap and as dawn slowly appeared some 10,000 Zulu warriors appeared on the scene and fierce fighting ensued. The line of retreat across the river was cut off and the expeditionary force was surrounded. Thus on the 17th April 1838 ended the battle of Tugela,  Few of the expeditionary force escaped from this battle.
To distinguish the supporting Port Natal native troops, they were given white cloth head bands.  These "Hottentots" and some 400 of the natives were trained and armed with muskets, while the rest were armed as native warriors, some of which were Zulu expatriates.  This made the selection of figures easy and I simply added a green-stuff headband to those Natal allies. It was said that the natives would wind yards of cloth around their heads so the resulting headwear resembled a turban! This certainly helped in my modelling efforts as it is quite easy to apply too much green stuff to the small 15mm chaps.

 As with all my wargaming with the Zulu I use a heavily infused DBA style rules  (...thus far....) , so each force is of 12 elements - the Zulu look more numerous as I use double sized stands for them.  As I have yet to play this scenario I may indeed have them twice as large to equalize the effect from the Natal musket armed troops.   Because of the disproportional effect of firepower in the battles of this era, the Natal 'army' has 5 of its 12 elements as "rifle" armed, with the warriors equal to those of the Zulu.
The deployment is conjecture of course but does follow the DBA mandates.  The kraal starts with one additional defending element.  I may make the mountain smaller and closer to the Zulu side with the Natal army closer to the centre of the table.  In light of the historical battle, perhaps tell the Port Natal player that the idea is to save the army and not fight the Zulu....but the Zulu won't know this of course!
Not really pleased with the look of the table/basing and may change all this in the future but this small project is an interesting one for me.

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