Re: (long) drill cadences and/or Zulu

thomas w kavanagh (tkavanag@INDIANA.EDU)
Fri, 16 Feb 1996 12:43:13 -0500

I hate to be a nit-picker, but here goes: Re drill as dance

On Fri, 16 Feb 1996, Greg Finnegan wrote:

> On the British side, the film is
> noteworthy for this thread in the scene where infantry, with single-shot,
> muzzle-loading rifles, repell an attack through what we'd label "drill:"
> one rank fires in unison, during which other ranks are reloading and
> advancing, so that there's a continuous sequence of firing, with forward
> movement, with those vulnerable during reloading 'covered' by the other
> ranks.

The British army had the newly issued Martini-Henry (almost said
Martini-Rossi) single shot BREECH-loading rifles. Islandwana and Roark's
Drift were the first combat tests of those weapons. One problem that
immediately came to light was that the rate of fire/rate of ammunition use
was much higher than expected and there was a problem with resupply (at
Islandwana, the QM sgts refused to issue ammunition to any but their own
men, and certainly not to the Natal natives.)

But you are right that the movie Zulu Dawn does show exceedingly well the
volley firing by rank (as I recall, the scene in the movie does not include
'advancing', merely holding the position. As a manoever, it dates to the
1750s with the introduction of reliable flintlock firearms in place of the