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22nd January 2005Zulus unimpressed with revolvers ?
By Coll
I remember a Zulu account from Isandlwana saying when revolvers were being used the bullets missed more than they hit.

Was it a general opinion amongst the Zulus that they found revolvers unthreatening ?.
22nd January 2005Paul Cubbin
I don't know if you've ever fired a modern handgun, but if you fire at anything over 30 yards range (unless you are an accomplished marksman) your accuracy and grouping can be pretty erratic. This is in a controlled firing range with a 2 handed grip, modern weapon & ammunition, in a nice, stress-free environment. Victorian revolvers (as carried by most men on campaign, as opposed to women) were large 'Manstoppers' of approximately a half-inch calibre. Manufacturers of firearms were able to cash in on the 'Noble Savage' fears of explorers, adventurers and soldiers, extolling the virtues of a personal weapon that could stop an angry rhino. They were black powder weapons with a lusty kick and iffy sights and were regarded as little more than another hand weapon by most. If you've ever seen the film 'Unforgiven' (a great, gritty western) you will have an inkling of the truth behind the legends of the Wild West. Pistols simply were not accurate (especially when fired in a panic)and were a last resort, often used in conjunction with a sword. I am always amused by the scene in 'Zulu' where Stanley Baker jabs his revolver dramatically whilst firing and succeeds in bringing down a Zulu sniper on the Oskarberg. Good shot that man!
Maybe the revolver was simply not familiar to Zulus as they were a relatively new invention(I think I'm right in saying they were first introduced to Britain at the Great Exhibition of 1851) and had not filtered through to them as yet. They seemed to have little regard for rifles as opposed to the bayonet (now, don't start that discussion again) as they did not understand the one and could very well understand the other.
22nd January 2005Coll

Thanks for your reply.

23rd January 2005Julian whybra
The Zulu accounts of revolvers at close range at Isandhlwana do not indicate that they did not treat them with respect!
23rd January 2005Coll
Did any revolvers taken at Isandlwana appear later on in the war in the possession of the Zulu warriors during other battles ?.
24th January 2005Julian whybra
I am not aware of any.
24th January 2005Coll

I wonder where they went ?.

However, on the subject of the captured revolvers I'm sure I read somewhere that they were worn as sort of trophies as part of Zulu regalia, rather than actually used.

Could this be possible as this would maybe explain the fact no accounts seem to mention a confrontation with a Zulu who was actually firing this kind of weapon, which maybe was considered somehow too valuable ?.

I'm only guessing.