you are currently viewing: Discussion Forum


The Rorke's Drift VC Discussion Forum
(View Discussion Rules)


PLEASE NOTE: This forum is now inactive and is provided for reference purposes only. The live forum is available at

(Back To Topic List)

DateOriginal Topic
28th November 2003Gatling Guns for No. 3 Column
By Adrian Wright
I'm curious to know if lord Chelmsford ever contemplated having a Gatling gun/s accompany column no. three's advance into Zululand in Janurary 1879. I believe George Armstrong Custer was offered one or perhaps even two before he advanced towards the little Bighorn river in 1876. He obviously turned it down saying it would slow his advance (I believe). If the British firing line managed to keep the Zulus at bay for a decent amount of time with the Martini henry rifle, just think what could have been achieved with a couple of Gatlings.
If this topic has been raised before I apologise.
28th November 2003John Young

The problem with Gatling Guns at the start of the Anglo-Zulu War was the fact the only ones available to Lord Chelmsford belonged to the Royal Navy. Hence the reason of their attachment to Pearson's No. 1 Column - the Coastal Column, 'Jack Tar' obviously needed the sea air to remind him of where he should have been.

So in January 1879, Chelmsford's invasion force had the sum total of two Gatling Guns at its disposal, one from 'Active', the other from 'Tenedos'. The Gatling from the 'Active' was otherwise occupied on 22nd January, 1879 at Nyezane, under the command of Midshipman L. C. Coker. The Gatling from 'Tenedos', I believe, was covering the Tugela crossing at Fort Pearson.

The first use against an enemy by a British Army Gatling Gun battery, would be on 4th July 1879, at Ulundi by 10th Battery, 7th Brigade, Royal Artillery, under the command of Major J. F. Owen.

John Y.
2nd December 2003Adrian Wright
Thanks john. I am aware that the Royal Navy had the use of the two gatling guns. I was just interested to know whether Lord Chelmsford ever expressed any interest in their possible use in his military correspondence prior to the first invasion om 11th Jan.