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Part IV: Nineteenth-Century Wars in .NET framework
Part IV: Nineteenth-Century Wars
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With some justice, this area of Africa was termed the White Man s Grave because of the many tropical diseases endemic there The British War Office had very serious reservations about committing British troops, but at length it despatched the 23rd (1/Royal Welch Fusiliers), the 42nd (1/The Black Watch), and the Rifle Brigade For their own sake, Wolseley kept the troops at sea until he was ready to commence the 160-kilometre (100-mile) march to the enemy s capital, Kumasi In addition, he had available the 1st and 2nd West Indies Regiment, which had an excellent reputation and a higher resistance to disease, two locally raised regiments, and a naval brigade of sailors and marines Wolseley decided to leave the West Indians and some of the locally raised infantry to guard his line of communication while he advanced with the rest of the men The axis of British advance lay along a track that passed through thick tropical rain forest Wolseley denied the enemy the chance to mount ambushes by having his main column use the track, with subsidiary columns moving parallel to the track through the jungle The three columns pushed out skirmish lines towards each other The result was a sort of hollow square with guns or rockets on the main track and at each of the forward corners of the square The reserve was situated some distance behind and the baggage brought up the rear Forward progress was slow because of the need for units to keep pace with each other A major disadvantage was the inability to see far in any direction On 31 January 1874 the British encountered the main body of the Ashanti army near a village called Amoaful The area consisted of tall trees covered and interlaced with creepers and vines, with a dense undergrowth below At the moment of contact the Black Watch were in the lead, and they fought their way slowly forward against an enemy who contested every small rise and clump Frequently, the only sight of an opponent was a cloud of powder smoke hanging in the air As fighting spread round the square, the noise level became deafening The reason for this was that the Ashanti used huge powder charges in their ancient muskets, which sounded like small cannon when fired The Ashanti unwittingly fired high, continually showering the Black Watch with branches, leaves, and twigs After five hours of this, punctuated by British mountain guns banging away, the British reached and took the village Most of the Ashanti disappeared, but some attempted an attack on the previous night s British camp at Quarman, only for the 2nd West Indies Regiment to beat them off Estimates put the cost of the day s fighting at between 800 and 1200 Ashantis killed and the same number wounded Wolseley lost 4 killed and 194 wounded Wolseley decided to capitalise on his victory and advance immediately on Kumasi The local word was that if you were interested in human sacrifice, Kumasi was the place to be When the British reached the capital on 4 February it was completely deserted, but around a big fetish tree several thousand skeletons and decomposing bodies confirmed the place s evil reputation In King Kofi s palace they found yet more grisly souvenirs Wolseley blew up the palace, burned down the city, and began his march back to the coast before the rainy season began On 13 February Kofi came in to surrender, signed a
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16: Boots, Boots, Boots, Boots: Marchin Over Africa
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treaty of submission, and paid the British a modest indemnity By then the British troops were on their way home, and some of them were already showing signs of fever Unfortunately, two further expeditions (in 1895 1896 and 1900) were necessary before the area was considered fully pacified
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The Zulu War, 1879
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Sir Bartle Frere, Great Britain s High Commissioner in South Africa, believed that, sooner or later, the formidable Zulu army would invade the territories for which he was responsible and that the best course of action was to destroy this army as quickly as possible He was tragically wrong, as the Zulus wished to maintain friendly relations with the British King Cetewayo s Zulu army of 40,000 assegai- (spear) and shield-armed warriors was the most formidable native army in Africa Frere not only disregarded the instructions of his own government to maintain peace in South Africa, he also ignored the advice of those who knew the Zulus well He belonged to that breed of politician who are determined to go to war, however dishonest the cause and whatever the cost to those who fight it He picked on several minor issues, none of which provided any justification for hostilities, and sent Cetewayo an ultimatum the terms of which he knew were unacceptable The British Commander-in-Chief South Africa was Lieutenant General Lord Chelmsford His limitations as a commander included a lack of imagination, an inability to read a battle beyond the range of his binoculars, and, worst of all, a fatal tendency to underestimate the enemy The troops he had available included 6000 regulars and colonial volunteers, 9000 native troops raised by levy, 20 field guns, and 10 rocket launchers His plan was for three columns to penetrate Zululand from Natal and the Transvaal, then converge on Ulundi, Cetewayo s capital, there to destroy the Zulu army On 6 January 1879 British troops began crossing the Zulu frontier
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