Rorke's Drift 1879: 'Pinned like Rats in a Hole'

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Rorke's Drift sums up some of the best traditions of the British self-image: steadfastness against the odds, victory in adversity and the thin red line. The British stand deserves to go down in history as one of the most heroic actions of all time. The story of a mere 150 British and Imperial soldiers defending an isolated outpost against over 3,000 Zulu warriors summed up the experience of the colonial adventure for the Victorians. Ian Knight recounts the course of this famous conflict in which no less than ...

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Overview

Rorke's Drift sums up some of the best traditions of the British self-image: steadfastness against the odds, victory in adversity and the thin red line. The British stand deserves to go down in history as one of the most heroic actions of all time. The story of a mere 150 British and Imperial soldiers defending an isolated outpost against over 3,000 Zulu warriors summed up the experience of the colonial adventure for the Victorians. Ian Knight recounts the course of this famous conflict in which no less than eleven Victoria crosses for gallantry were won.

Rorke's Drift is possibly the best remembered of Britain's colonial battles. Immortalised by Michael Caine and the film 'Zulu' it sums up some of the best traditions of the British self-image: steadfastness against the odds, victory in adversity and the thin red line. The story of a mere 150 British and Imperial soldiers defending an isolated outpost against over 3,000 Zulu warriors summed up the experience of the colonial adventure for the Victorians and remains part of our heritage even today. In the wake of the disaster at Isandlwana it restored British self-respect and, although not strategically important, was seen by many at the time as a kind of moral victory, with the few triumphing against the many. That 'the feW' were able to do this however was a result of their being armed with the latest in military technology and being pitted against native warriors who relied mainly on their aptitude in close combat. Nevertheless, the Zulu was still a formidable warrior, as he had shown at Isandlwana, and the British stand at Rorke's Drift against forces twenty times their number deserves to go down in history as one of the most heroic actions of all time. Ian Knight recounts the course of this famous action in which no less than 11 Victoria crosses were won.

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Meet the Author

IAN KNIGHT is a freelance writer on military history and he has written widely on Zulu history and travelled extensively in Zululand. Ian was the editor of the Victorian Military Society journal for many years.
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Table of Contents


Origins of the Battle     7
Opposing Plans     12
Isandlwana
The Approach to Rorke's Drift
At Rorke's Drift
Opposing Armies     26
The British Garrison
The Zulus
Opposing Commanders     34
The British Garrison
The Zulus
The Battle of Rorke's Drift     36
The Zulu Approach
The Main Attack
The Fight for the Hospital
The Fighting Around the Storehouse
The Fighting After Dark
The Morning After
The Zulu Withdrawal and Lord Chelmsford's Movements
The Relief
Aftermath     81
The Battlefield Today     84
Chronology     86
Wargaming Rorke's Drift     88
A Guide to Further Reading     94
Index     95
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