Osprey Warrior 014 - Zulu 1816-1906 by Ian Knight

By Ian Knight

Zulu army company was once tremendous refined. Warriors have been organised into regiments with a few type of easy uniform and shields have been state-manufactured and owned. but, nonetheless sophistication, a lot of the Zulu's army outlook used to be tremendous primitive: firearms have been ailing understood, and among 1816 and 1906 the Zulu's maintained their fundamental reliance on hand-to-hand combating. during this booklet Ian Knight investigates Zulu weaponry intimately, and in addition their society, ideals and rituals, fairly with reference to ceremonies carried out prior to and after battles. strategies, dress and customs also are rigorously tested, making this a radical account of the Zulu warrior.

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Combat consisted of a short tussle as each man struggled to catch his opponent off guard. The Zulu shields were used to batter the enemy, to try to force his own shield across his body, thereby exposing the chest or stomach to an under-arm thrust. A good thrust to the abdomen would cause a horrific injury, putting a man hors de combat, and as he fell he was likely to receive further wounds. Fighting was physically exhausting and very bloody, but often quickly resolved, since it was impossible for both sides to stand indefinitely.

Indeed, the British were astonished in 1879 to see the speed and efficiency of the Zulu attack, noting the way that long columns deployed into open ranks, with knots of evenly spaced warriors running forward from cover to cover. As the 'chest and horns' closed in, the formations inevitably became tighter, but it was only when the warriors were within 200—300 yds that they broke into a last run, and presented a solid body. If the army was fighting en masse, it was usual for the younger, unmarried amabutho to make up the encircling horns, trading their speed for the experience of the more senior men, who composed the chest.

The Zulu faced this ordeal with remarkable courage, no doubt buoyed up by faith in their preparatory medicines, but inevitably, once they had passed through it, their frustration was unleashed in the final assault. Zulu accounts of the fighting at Isandlwana have an almost hallucinogenic quality, a nightmare succession of images, of twisting, struggling masses of men, of smoke, dust and noise. ' - and individuals shouted it each time they struck at the enemy. ' So surreal did this fighting seem that at Isandlwana, young men who had never seen a white man before, and had been told to kill everyone in clothes, stabbed at sacks piled up on supply wagons, while at Khambula the army - who failed to overcome the British defences retired convinced that they had seen dogs and apes manning the ramparts.

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