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Based on 25,000 rounds fired. (Don't think so)
HARMAN
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139 defenders fired an estimated 20,000 and 25,000 rounds during the defence of Rorke's Drift,

Based on 25000 Rounds that’s roughly 179 Rounds fired per defender.
(Some would have fired off more rounds than others due to death and injuries of other defenders)

351 Zulu’s were buried by the British and let’s say 400 died of wounds later on.
Total 751 (Not necessarily of gun shot wounds)

So out of 25000 rounds fired 751 Zulus were killed.

24,249 Rounds fired missed their targets.

139 defenders each fired off 174 rounds without hitting his target.

The other 5 rounds fired by each defender found its target.

I think the history books exaggerate the amount rounds fired during this battle.

By the way I have not taken into account the Zulu’s that died at point of bayonet?


Does anyone know how many rounds were fired at Isandhlwana? (Estimated)

Harman P
John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 982
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Peter,

139? What sort of figure is that in the light of on-going research?

As for
I think the history books exaggerate the amount rounds fired during this battle.


Disprove it then!

John Y.
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HARMAN
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Jams and cartridge feeding problems with the M.H were a contributing factor to the defeat of the men at Isandhlwana. It is a fact of life with black powder

Harman P
GlennWade


Joined: 16 Jan 2006
Posts: 151
Location: Swansea
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Peter,

Martini-Henry rifles have been known to jam but if, as you claim, no doubt on the basis of a recent tv documentary, they were a factor in the British defeat at Isandlwana, why on earth did they not jam after a while at Rorke's Drift? This would have slackened the fire of the dwindling numbers and given the Zulu a respite to launch a conentrated attack. Accounts from survivors recount how the rifles became hot and volatile, it becoming necessary to wrap material over them to prevent burns, but jams in vast quantities were not reported. If this had been as serious an issue as you mentioned, we would be reading similiar reports from other engagements.

I'm afraid I can't agree old chap unless you throw some evidence into the pot. The experiment carried out on television was done so using an old rifle that had not been fired in a century probably. I have fired the same number of rounds from my Martini on a range and I have not had any difficulties.

All the best,

Glenn

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HARMAN
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Glen.
You Say "why on earth did they not jam after a while at Rorke's Drift?

That’s another good point you have raised. What was special about their rifles?

"It was now apparent to Pulleine that he was taking on the entire Zulu army. Despite this, morale was high. However, the volleys became less effective as ammunition began to dwindle, and the rifles began to jam as the barrels heated up."

Source

The Washing of the Spears (The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Nation)
Donald R. Morris
Pimlico Edition, 1994
Great Zulu Battles 1838 - 1906
Ian Knight
Weidenfeld and Nicolson: New Ed edition 1 June 2000
HARMAN
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General infoe; Ref the Martini-Henry

"During the Martini-Henry period in service, the British army were involved in a large number of colonial wars, most notably the Anglo-Zulu War

In 1879. The rifle was used by the company of the 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot present at Rorke's Drift during the eponymous battle. The weapon was not completely phased out until 1904.

While the Martini-Henry was state of the art, in the African climate the complex mechanism tended to overheat after heavy use and it would eventually become impossible to move the breech block and reload the rifle. The fragile construction of the rolled brass cartridge was also a hindrance. Evidently the manufacturers did become aware of this problem at some point - in later models of the rifle the lever is much longer than the original, applying a greater torque to operate the loading mechanism, and the cartridge was switched from weak rolled brass to stronger drawn brass"
GlennWade


Joined: 16 Jan 2006
Posts: 151
Location: Swansea
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Hello Peter,

The Morris source is a secondary one, I am after some report from 1879 that indicated jamming as a major concern. Thanks for posting it as your own source, anyway.

All I am saying is that I have not come across a single source from an Isandlwana or Rorke's drift survivor that places any blame on jammed rifles. Yes, they did jam, all rifles are prone to that after a certain length of time, but not in the huge numbers that it has been suggested. The collapse of the British line at Isandlwana was due mostly to an overextended deployment, the premature abandonment of the right flank and a general underestimation of the situation.

As for Rorke's Drift and the huge amount of rounds fired, this engagement lasted much longer than Isandlwana and, for most of the time when night fell, the defenders were shooting into the dark. Their intention was to keep the warriors back with a heavy fire, marksmanship had long gone out of the window by then.

All the best,

Glenn

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HARMAN
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Not sure what you mean posted as my own source. Can’t you see the quotation marks and the authors from where the source came from?

Anyway I am sure somewhere there is reference to rifles jamming –overheating at Rorke’s drift

But there is evidence stating that rifles were jamming at Isandhlwana and as you point out the rifles at Rorke’s Drift sustained fire a lot longer than they did at Isandhlwana.

I guess they got a bad batch of rifles at Isandhlwana or dodgy ammo.

You Say

“Accounts from survivors recount how the rifles became hot and volatile, it becoming necessary to wrap material over them to prevent burns”

Could you point in the right direction? I would like to read these accounts.

Regards

HARMAN P
Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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Peter

You included a quotation but cited two different works. Well, which of these two do you mean? Did both use exactly the the same sentence? Neither of these authors can be the original source for the understanding that the rifles jammed. They may have stated this happened but would have relied upon a primary source for any statement they made. (Well, IK would - not so sure about Morris!!!)

Peter

P.S. You'll find that the question of the number of rounds fired at R/Drift in relation to the casualties sustained by the Zulu has been gone into in great detail in the past on the forum. A very quick search will find this material and, while it's obviously a perfectly good question, I doubt that the same contributors will go over it all again. I think Bill Cainan has written a superb piece in the Pot Pourri section too. Don't forget, far from every round was actually aimed at a target, either in daytime or night time. Volley fire produced results in more than one way.

P.E.
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GlennWade


Joined: 16 Jan 2006
Posts: 151
Location: Swansea
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Peter (Harman),

Fret not old chap, when I said thanks for posting it as your own source, I genuinely meant it with regard to that source being the genesis for your question. I wasn't being flippant or sarcastic , I don't tend to go down that route. Cool

I am in University at present, a great number of my books being at home, but if nobody else can back me up for now, I'll get those quotes for you when I can. Just an aside, I think 'tenuous' may describe the notion that the 24th had a batch of dodgy rifles and ammo at Isandlwana. They lost the battle through human error. 'A bad workman always blames his tools'. Not that you're the bad workman, but you get the idea.

Peter Ewart is right in what he says, just watching out for you as copyright etc. can be damned fickle.

Best,

Glenn

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Bill Cainan1


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
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Peter (Harman)

Peter (Ewart) has very kindly referred you to an article that I wrote some years ago, and now appears in the “Pot Pourri” of this site section entitled “Zulu Attack !” ? In this, I have looked analytically at the initial attack on Rorke’s Drift by the iNdluyengwe Regiment,. In particular I have looked at the theoretical ammunition expenditure. Could I also respectfully suggest you read that article ? I believe that it will provide some answers to your question.

As to the 25,000 rounds fired at RD, the reason we think that this was the case was is that according to the Standing Orders each man should have had 270 rounds available to him (70 on the person at 200 in reserve), both Chard and Bourne tend to confirm this, (270 x 100 = 27,000). Chard says they fired off most of the ammo in the boxes, but had some rounds left in the pouches - so we don't know the exact number fired but it was probably 20,000 plus. Ian Knight has a good look at this in his latest book “The AZW Companion”, and - apart from that unfortunate typo on Page 23 (where 200,000 was printed instead of 20,000 !) - quotes statistics from other battles, both within and outside the AZW.

Ian makes the point that even if they fired off all the ammo it is only 270 rounds per man (by definition), and if you take the active phase of the battle as lasting ten hours, that's only 27 rounds per man per hour - which doesn't seem so excessive. If fact it would have been fired in intense bursts, during the attacks, and lots of 'potting' in between. Also most of the Zulu casualties would have been caused in the first two hours, when it was light - after dark a lot of ammo would have been fired off into the night and not hit anyone. That doesn't mean it was ineffective though - it was essentially suppressing fire, aimed to discourage the Zulus from launching further attacks.

By the way, Hook does mention that the rifles jammed during the battle, and that fouled breaches had to be cleared with the cleaning rod. Rorke’s Drift is probably one of the few engagements in the AZW where the soldiers were allowed to fire “at will” as opposed to controlled steady firing. There is no doubt that continuous, rapid fire can cause jamming, and for that very reason, it would have been avoided, wherever possible, by the Officers and NCOs.

Ian Knight, goes into far greater depth than this in the Companion. If you haven’t got this yet, I would suggest getting a copy from Brecon. It would seem to answer quite comprehensively the points you are making.

Finally, I’m sure that the many serving and former soldiers reading this site will testify that even on ranges under ideal conditions, the percentage of hits compared to rounds fired can be quite surprising !

Bill Cainan

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HARMAN
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Thanks Bill
I did intend to purchase Ian Knights Book but I heard on the grapevine that it might be in my Christmas stocking. So I don’t want to up-set her in-doors if you know what I mean.
My observation are directed at the Weapon it’s self (Martini Hendry) would this weapon had been able to withstand the constant use it must have had at Rorke’s Drift.
You Mention Hook mentioned the weapon jamming.


As descried in South African Military History Society.
The main rifle was the Martini-Henry supplied to all troops at Isandhlwana, Rorke’s Drift, and Ulundi.
The Martini-Henry was a modified American Peabody (Patent 1862), a single-shot, hinged falling-block rifle, developed after an exhaustive series of tests during 1866 to 1871. The weapon chosen was approved in 1872, manufacture started and in 1874 delivery to troops commenced.
Frederick von Martini, a Swiss engineer, modified the Peabody by discarding the large external hammer and substituting within the breech block, an internal spring-and-lock system, which activated a centre-fire pin. Behind the trigger guard, a long lever extended which when pulled downwards ejected the cartridge case from the breech of the barrel and at the same time automatically cocked the lock.
The rifled barrel of seven grooves was developed by Alexander Henry of Edinburgh and patented by him in 1860.
Specifications
(Blockquote)Weight:- 9 lb (4,08 kg) without the bayonet.
Overall length:- 49,5 in (125,7 cm)
Barrel length:- 33,2 in (84,3 cm)
Cartridge calibre 0,45 in (1,13 cm) M1871
Cartridge case width 0,577 in (1,466 cm)
Rimmed, necked, centre fire, Lead bullet, paper patched, diameter 0,45 in (1,13 cm)
Cartridge was originally coiled brass, with an iron base head of the Boxer type.
Black powder. Muzzle velocity 1 350 ft (411 m) per sec.
The early coiled brass case was irregular and thus could jam in the breech after firing, when it would then have to be pushed out of the barrel with the ramrod supplied with each rifle. At the battles of Isandhlwana and Rorke’s Drift extraction problems occurred frequently, thus diminishing the firepower of the troops.
At Rorke’s Drift where the fire was heavy and persistent, the barrels overheated and the cartridge cases frequently jammed.

My point with no disrepect is I don’t think these weapons were capable of firing the amount the history books state.
Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 1179
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Just a related observation, but a lot of experts on Martini-Henry rifles state that a jammed cartridge had to be pushed out with the supplied cleaning rod. Is this just information being passed around like some sort of urban legend which makes for a story too good not to be true? The barrel of a MH is over 33 inches long and the cleaning rod is 32 7/8 inches-- push all you want, it simply isn't long enough to clear anything out of the barrel. I imagine one could sort of throw the rod down the barrel, but it seems a lot easier to pry it out from the open breech block.
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Bill Cainan1


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 107
Location: Lampeter
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Peter

Did you see the point I was making in the Pot Pourri article ?

To take up on a point that Glen has already made - most weapons have the POTENTIAL for overheating and subsequent jamming, due to the heat caused by rapid fire. To deal with this potential problem there are a number of options - air cooling, water cooling, or the control of the firing rate. In the case of the MH it was the control of the firing rate, though the situation with the MH was exacerbated by the quality of the brass cartridge case. Where controlled volley fire was the order of the day, the MH barrels could be given a chance to cool. Thus there are avery few instances in battles (in both the Cape Frontier war and the AZW) - where volley fire was the norm - of the weapon jamming. Sustained individual rapid fire was the exception rather than the rule - and this is when you would expect jamming to occur. Rorke's Drift is the classic example of where bursts of individual rapid fire would be necessary.

The legendary tailes of sustained fire by the Vickers MG in World War 1 testify to what could be achieved with a good gun, good ammunition and water cooling. The MH was (is) a good rifle. The sub standard brass cartridge did not help. However a steady rate of fire of say 6 rounds a minute should not cause a problem.

I'm sure our site MH experts could add more to this point.

Anyway Peter, when you get your "Companion" in your Xmas stocking, you will find your query answered in a lot more detail.

Bill

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HARMAN
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Bill how many rounds would each defender have had on his person Particularly the defenders in the hospital.

MH experts can you have an in-put let us know your thoughts.

May help to look at Pot Pourri article by Bill Cainan to get a good idea of where we are coming from.

Regards

HARMAN P
Based on 25,000 rounds fired. (Don't think so)
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