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DateOriginal Topic
15th June 2005Isandlhwana (again)
By Paul Mercer
I'm sure this has been answered before, but has anyone ever speculated on the likely outcome had Chelmsford remained at Isandlhwana with his full force? With the bulk of the Zulu army attacking it would have been interesting to see whether the Zulu charges would have been overcome by the firepower. I realise that they did in later battles, but up till then the Zulu forces had never encountered such firepower and did not really know what to expect.
13th July 2005Mike McCabe
It's a very fair question, especially as precisely that might have happened on 22 or 23 January had Chelmsford not deployed forward early on 22 January.
Depending on what piece of ground Chelmsford had decided to make a stand then the battle would have lasted differing amounts of time but would probably have ended in the same way. That is, unless Chelmsford had managed to make better use of his full complement of mounted riflemen (including Durnford's). Used in the best way, and assuming successful use, then they might have been able to harry the Zulus from the flanks and rear.

However, even if Chelmsford had managed to beat off the Zulus, they could have still prevented him from manoeuvring further into Zululand, or back into Natal - a problem only likely to be solved by Chelmsford summoning Wood's Column to assist him.

Brings home the point that Chelmsford could only defeat Cetewayo strategically by destroying the Zulu Army, or preventing it from hampering his own operations.