Wednesday, November 27, 2013

More Tinkering with Zulus

How do you solve a problem like an impi?
The Zulu nation had created a formidable military machine. Shaka created a regimental system based on age. The regiments (ibutho) were populated by men of the same age from the kingdom. An ibutho contained anywhere from 400 to 1000 men. The number difference would depend upon the experience of the regiment, being the more experienced the regiment was, the fewer of them there would be. The regiment was commanded by a inDuna. The regimental commander was assisted by an assistant and two wing officers.

Each regiment had a unique shield design. The coloration of the shields depended upon if the soldiers were married or not. White in the shield denoted battle honors. Red/brown denoted if the soldier was married. Black was for unmarried troops. Each regiment developed a distinctive look/uniform to give them a similar appearance within the regiment. The shields themselves were property of the state and only issued in wartime. They were stored in military kraals for each regiment. Woe be it to the soldier that returned without their shield.

Marriage was only permitted by troopers that were at least 40 years of age or had won marriage as an honor from the king for service rendered. Unmarried men wore their hair in a spiked configuration while married troops had a ring of cloth around their heads, earning the nickname ring-heads.

The regiment was formed from one or more companies (iVioy). There was no limit to the number of iVioy that would be present in the ibutho. Each iVioy was commanded by a captain (iNtanga). Depending on the company size, one to three subordinate officers would be assigned to an iVioy. The company was typically the size of a circumcision group of 50 to 100 men.

The regiments would be banded together in groups of three to five to form an impi or corps of troops. The impi was the basis of the field army that the British faced in the field.

The Zulus would send out scouts to identify enemy formations. Once identified, the followup forces would rush to contact. The force was divided into four parts: a left and right horn, the main body and the reserve. The two horns would attempt to flank the enemy while the main body advanced directly at the enemy. The reserves would be held back to either support a breakthrough or prevent a retreat.

In the initial advance, the Zulus would rush forward in an open order which frustrated British gunnery as it minimized the effect of British volley fire. As they closed on the enemy, they closed ranks to maximize the effect of their charge when it landed on the enemy. Their weapons of assegai (thrusting spear) and knobkerrie (war club) were well suited melee weapons. They had a number of firearms but these were of limited use. Skirmishers would probably have firearms within their numbers.

So how do we do this on a table top?
The Black Powder rules have just issued a supplement for this very thing. But to use Sharp Practice, we would need to have modifications to allow this to work. I want to match the unit organization used by the Zulus and will have to come up with some sort of scaling to make this work. I just don't know yet how I am going to handle this. Probably using largish group sizes for the Zulus. This way they can absorb a considerable amount of casualties before breaking and running.

My order from The War Store just arrived today. That was very fast service. The Pendraken Zulus look great. I can't wait to get these mounted on sticks so I can put some primer on these. I am actually excited about painting these. Lets see if I still feel the same way after painting 100s of them. Unrelated
Well, I also received the two Corvus Belli command packs. These look great. I will get them painted up with the Rebel command pack and post some pictures by next week.

Have a very happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you have all the trimmings that makes the holiday special for you.

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