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DateOriginal Topic
20th January 2005Shotguns at Isandlwana/Rorke's Drift ?
By Coll
I am aware that various makes of revolvers, carbines and rifles were used, but I was curious to know if shotguns were owned by the irregular troops or civilians (wagon drivers, etc.), especially in the action at Isandlwana.

If so, what types were they (makes, single-barrelled, double-barrelled, hammer, hammerless) and I'll use the word 'customised', as in sawn-off, pistol-grip, etc., as I think many of them would have purchased their own weapons.

I would appreciate any information.

20th January 2005John Young

I've got the remains of a London made 'E.B.' 12-bore pin-fire shotgun cartridge recovered from Isandlwana in 1899, by a forebear serving in that neck of the woods in the 2nd Anglo-Boer War.

I know that doesn't help with makes or whether they were 'customised' or not. But pin-fire was certainly pre-dates 1879.

John Y.
20th January 2005Paul Cubbin
Do any of the experts know how much shotguns were used in combat at this time? I was under the impression that, like today, they were reserved for mainly sporting and law enforcement use due to their lack of lethality at longer ranges. But given the varying nature of the Victorian battlefield, it must have at least been considered at some point. Certainly a good couple of blasts from a custom scattergun would have have come in handy at Rorkes Drift.
20th January 2005Coll

Thanks for your reply.


Yes, they would have made an ideal firearm for close range, that is why I thought maybe wagon drivers, etc., might have acquired this type of weapon, as they would never be on the main firing line and probably were not the best of shots with rifles or carbines anyway, but if the Zulus got close enough, as at Isandlwana, you could almost guarantee hitting the target.

In John's comment above he sort of covered what was going to be my next question which was - ' Has any metal parts of shotgun cartridges turned up at Isandlwana, especially in the camp area, wagon park or Fugitives' Trail, where this type of weapon would have probably been brought into action as the Zulus poured through the tents and from round the back of the mountain.

If there had been shotguns in use during this battle and archaeology discovered parts of shotgun cartridges, unlike the rifles and carbines used by most of the british defenders where thousands of rounds were fired, we might, at least, have been able to place where the owners of the shotguns put up a fight and maybe could trace their steps.

But that is just wishful thinking.