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DateOriginal Topic
7th April 2005The Barbarian Tradition
By Paul Cubbin
Another evocative title!

It occurred to me whilst reading one of Ian Knight's books just how similar the AZW was to so many other Imperialist conflicts throughout history. The one that I specifically thought of was the Roman Invasion of Britain in the first century.

For British infantry read Roman Legionary, for Zulu warrior read 'Celtic' (yes, I know its an inaccurate label) British tribesman.

The main difference we can see is obviously the lack of fireamrs, but just look past that for a second. Compare the solid discipline, professionalism and technological superiority of the British/Roman to the raw courage of the Zulu/Celt. It has always been remarkable to me that the attackers at RD maintained the assault for so long, even taking into account the amount of veterans involved, in the face of such losses. Having said that, plenty of 'barbarian' forces are known to have performed acts of insane bravery when defeat was inevitable, so perhaps we should not be too surprised at the strength of the human spirit. Of course, plenty also folded when the tide of battle seemed to go against them, so who knows. Other examples can no doubt be plucked from history that will stand up to the comparison just as well. Rome suffered a lot of military defeats on a scale with Isandlwana in its early imperial days, but came back triumphant having learned from their mistakes. It does seem to illustrate the old adage that large armies don't win wars, good ones do.
9th April 2005Paul Cubbin
Another link could be the nature of service by each side; the Zulu/Celt being a citizen soldier with the Briton/Legionary being a professional soldier.