Thursday, 6 April 2023

A Hasty Retreat from Zululand - a 28mm wargame

Good Afternoon All

Monday night saw the return to the Anglo Zulu War for an entirely ficticious battle titled 'A Hasty Retreat from Zululand'. 

In terms of background the players were informed that following the defeat at Isandlwhana the Commander of the 6th column (did not exist) Sir Reginald Smythe elected to return to the safety from where he had come. Fearing that his column might suffer the same treatment as his compatriots forces he turned around his force and march straight out of Zululand.

The Crossings of the Easyane (rather appropriately the Zulu poster is in the background)

In the confusion of this sudden retreat his forces became spread out across the veldt and only began to converge when they neared the crossings of the Easyane Rive.  The British forces comprised of

Infantry Force 1 - Commanded by Captain James Pringle (CR 9)

2 x Companies of British Infantry (standard BP units)

Infantry Force 2 - Commanded by Captain Harry Styles (CR9)

2 x Companies of British Infantry (standard BP units)

Cavalry Force 1 - Commanded by Major Timothy Nesbitt (CR9)

1 x Lancer Unit (standard BP)

1 x Sikhali Horse (sml unit)

1 x Natal Police (sml unit)

1 x RHA Horse Battety

Cavalry Force 2 commanded by Pieter van Engels (CR9)

1 x Boer Infantry Unit (mounted std unit)

1 x Mounted Infantry Unit (small unit)

1 x RHA horse Battery

Naval Forces Defending Fords commanded by Lieutenant Gerald Trump (CR9)

1 x Royal Marine unit (sml)

1 x Royal Naval Sailors (sml)

1 x Gatling Gun

Wagon Train commanded by Captain John Black (Cr8)

4 x Ox drawn wagons

1 x Rocket Battery (in wagons but can be deployed)

Notes on Wagons - Each wagon has a stamina of 3 and morale save of 4+ - when shaken wagon is destroyed. Wagons may move once per turn at 6" or the wagon train commander can roll for orders - a failure means wagons don't move. A blunder means one wagon has lost a wheel and is lost from game. Wagons may only move on tracks. At ford a wagon gets stuck on a 6 (d6 roll) - this causes a disorder and wagon must reroll again next turn 

The British Force has no break but any unit driven off the table is lost permanently.

Looking across the 17ft table - Zulus enter from the right

Unbeknownst to Colonel Smythe is the fact that a Zulus impi has already crossed the Easyane river and has set a classic ambush on the retreating allied forces. Commanded by Prince Inyasi (ficticious cousin to the Zulu King) the Zulus want to inflict a bloody nose on the invaders and most importantly capture/destroy their supplies.

The Zulu Forces are quite simple

6 War parties each consisting of five warbands - the sum total of 30 units. These are all regular warriors with the bloodthirsty trait. Each War party has its own commander (CR8). Prince Inyasi has a Command Rating of 8.

Objectives of the Game

The British win if they rout the Zulu army (achieving 16 units shaken or routed at any time), the Zulus win if they destroy all the wagons.

The game started with the Naval forces deployed in three redoubts at the fords and the Wagon train entering at the road. Attached to the wagon train is a rocket battery.

At the end of turn one we had determined by dier rolls that the wagon would be screened by the Boers and Mounted Infantry. The Centre of the British would be the Line cavalry and Sikhali horse with unfortunately the Infantry deployed on the right wing.

The Zulus entered from turn 2. In the picture below the cavalry are beginning to screen the wagon train by taking the high ground from approaching Zulus.

The Zulu right wing advanced rapidly quickly driving off the Boer cavalry. A few placed rifle shots dropped a few of the native chaps.

The Zulus surged forward forcing the rest of the cavalry to fall back.

By now the Zulu centre had surged forward and quickly overran the jammed gatling gun (don't they always !!). The war party then turned its attention to the plucky sailors of the naval contingent.

More Zulus were dropped but the second redoubt was quickly despatched.

Across the field the Zulus charged forward. The Rightwing washing their spears in the hapless advanced heliograph party. (This was added as set dressing and served no role in the game - but it made the Zulu commanders happy)

By now the British line were beginning to deploy in the centre ready to receive the Zulu onslaught

Across the field the mounted skirmish troops had been driven back and were now launching their first attack on the wagon train - five hits inflicted on the poor oxen. Five saves !! The Zulus had failed even wound the first wagon. Many cheers across the allied side of the table.

Despite leaving the wagons to defend for themselves the mounted troops were still playing their cat and mouse game with the advancing Zulus. Each turn more Zulus were dropped and key units disordered.

Over at the ford all redoubts had been takern but the Zulus were now taking some bloody punishment from the British redcoats

At this point the Zulu left wing was positioned top charge the thin red line.

More Zulus poured forward (The table held about 60% of my Zulu units)

The British line in the distance looked incredibly fragile to the Zulu commander

Even more Zulus entered the fray at the ford

Back at the Wagon train the first cart had been destroyed but the Zulus had to deal with a new threat. Both the artillery and rocket batteries were opening fire. Rockets in black powder have a nasty habit of either misfiring or hitting friendlies - in this game the Rocket battery did a stirling job - hitting Zulus every round it fired. Not only did this cause tremendous disruption but also serious casualties. 

The second wagon was destroyed leaving the Zulus with two to go and having only lost about six units they looked good for a victory.

With their spears held aloft they charged across the table...

Crashing into the British troops - this was bloody, messy and brutal. Despite taking serious casualties the line held and more Zulus were consigned to the Allied victory pool.

A fierce melee erupted across the hill in the centre - this was tense. Casualties mounted on both sides

As the firefights and melees concluded a tally was made. The Zulus had two wagons to destroy but their break point had been reached. A victory for the British but only just !!

A cracking game and one enjoyed by all - a big thank you to Glen, Vince, Mark, Sven and Tony for participating.

More soon


  1. Splendid looking battle 👍

  2. Great to see a game that was so awesome and looked so balanced. The use of the mounted units was well played. Poor gatling crew and heliogaph party.

  3. What a stirring sight of a battle and so close. A joy to see the Shed back in action on a grand scale!

  4. A great game and a highly disputed victory. It is a joy to see a well-arranged table, in which to be able to play games like this. Congratulations

  5. What a great looking game- loved your post- thanks for sharing!