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The current time is: 10/17/2017 6:26:24 PM
 (1866-1899) Other 19th Century Battles    
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Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2752

The Battle of Abu Klea!
Posted on: 4/24/2017 7:24:05 PM
The British battled Mahdist Fanatics in 1885 Sudan! What say you about this notable British Battle!?

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God save the Queen!
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5939
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of Abu Klea!
Posted on: 4/25/2017 3:44:29 AM
Good post Dave-This battle was short, lasting barely fifteen minutes from start to finish. Casualties for the British were nine officers and 65 other ranks killed and over a hundred wounded. The Mahdists lost 1,100 dead during the fifteen minutes of fighting, made all the worse by only 5,000 of the Dervish force being engaged.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2752

Re: The Battle of Abu Klea! How effective "the Square" can be?!
Posted on: 4/25/2017 8:38:39 AM
Hi Jim,

I posted this to show how effective the British defensive military formation called the Square could be!?

BTW what other British Empire Battles did "the Square," come into play, anyone??

Regards,
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5939
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of Abu Klea! How effective "the Square" can be?!
Posted on: 4/25/2017 9:15:07 AM
Dave-The defensive square was developed by the British Army in the 18th Century in Canada and North America,in Marlborough's battles such a Dettingen. Then into the 19th century during the Napoleonic Wars-most famous being Waterloo.Thereafter all over the world Persia, India, China, New Zealand,Brrma,North West Frontier,Afghanistan,Zululand and the Sudan; but its use was discontinued in the Boer war of 1899-1902.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2752

Re: The Battle of Abu Klea! How effective "the Square" can be?!
Posted on: 4/27/2017 1:10:59 PM
Hi Jim,

Did the Brits use the Square during the Battle Isandlwana, & would it have made any difference?

Also was the Commanding officer of the UK Troops really as inept as portrayed??

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Also did the British use multiple squares at Waterloo??

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Be British, mate!
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 5939
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: The Battle of Abu Klea! How effective "the Square" can be?!
Posted on: 4/27/2017 1:38:15 PM
Dave

The British tried to form square at Isandlwana; but were overwhelmed before it could be done.However -we were ready for them at the final battle of Ulundi-where the Zulus were shot to pieces

Lord Chelmsford-a favourite of Queen Victoria-was quite useless and his concocted story of the massacre was accepted by the Queen.And he prospered.

Several Squares had to formed at Waterloo to fight off French cavalry.There were of course many infantry regiments at this battle

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

John Wallace
Mostly Saudi Arabia, UK
New User
E-2 Private
Posts: 3

Re: The Battle of Abu Klea! How effective "the Square" can be?!
Posted on: 10/15/2017 8:33:12 AM
The British square was pretty effective in the days of the smoothbore musket or choppers of natiove make. But it was grossly obsolete against rifled firearms, repeating firearms or well-used muzzle-loading artillery. Border Afghans would have collapsed in merriment at the opportunity offered. In fact even against well trained 18th century infantry it was risky and rarely used. If an army in line of battle or column advances on one in square, it finds ¾ of them facing the wrong way. All are as vulnerable to bullets as ever, and if you break the near side, you win.

Its most resounding success, at Waterloo, depended on two things. One was forming them up after withdrawal just beyond the crest of the ridge, masked from artillery. The other was the great mistake of Marshal Ney, temporarily in command while Napoleon was incapacitated by some imperfectly understood health problem. Ney thought he saw a retreat to be followed up - and had already had a piece of the Emperor's mind for letting the British get off the field at Quatre Bras two days earlier. Cavalry can't go on charging forever, and Napoleon could have made far better use of the 67 squadrons broken on the squares, to hold the Prussians off later. The right thing was to send cavalry scouts forward, and then advance infantry and artillery.

Abu Klea was the subject of Newbolt's poem, which we used to quote whenever someone made a non-contractual departure from Saudi Arabia

The sand of the desert is sodden red,
Red with the wreck of a square that broke;
The Gatling’s jammed and the colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,fam
And England’s far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of the schoolboy rallies the ranks,
“Play up! play up! and play the game!”

In fact it was the Gardner that jammed, and Newbolt probably confuses it with the Battle of Tamai. Neither was as bad as he portrays it, and Abu Klea not nearly. The Mahdists could have made far better use of the Remingtons taken from Hicks Pasha's Egyptian army. Some dervishes did get into the square at Abu Klea, which is about inevitable. A square needs a reserve to deal with that, and double-parked camels inside were a help. It was rather like the famous exchange with an unidentified member of the Gordon family (not the Duke of Gordon as in the movie) on the field of Waterloo:

"I believe I saw the cuirassiers get into one of your squares, Gordon?"
"Aye, Wellington, but ye didnae see them get oot again."

At Tamai one side of the square broke in because the general ordered the Black Watch to leave it and dislodge a party of Mahdists lurking in a nearby ravine. It was mainly the Black Watch which drove them out, although their quite imaginary failure remained cause for scandal to generations then unborn, in the equally tribal world of the British army. It was said that the reason the Black Watch white spats were cut straight across was to remind them to keep a straight line. The enemy probably lost around twenty for one in both battles.

Churchill, who fought them in his cavalry charge in 1898, and the General Gordon played by Charlton Heston in "Khartoum" both saw the faults but had considerable admiration for the Mahdists, who were in rather reasonable rebellion against colossally corrupt colonialisation by Egypt at the time. They called the Egyptians "Turks", which any Egyptian in a position then more or less was.

Chelmsford splitting his force at Isandhlwana without knowing the whereabouts of the enemy was a classic military blunder, and yet shouldn't have been a fatal error. Numbers and letting the Zulus pick the time and place didn't matter with good cover, at Rorke's Drift. Poor ammunition distribution was a factor, although I have seen alleged Zulu War cartridge boxes with the little trapdoor I know from an illustration of 1886, for guaranteed access under any circumstances. But the decisive factor was assembling a wagon park far too large to be defended by ranks of men in any conformation. Even the future President Kruger of the Transvaal, who didn't like the British after annexation in 1877, sent a messenger to tell Chelmsford he must laager his wagons, encircled and joined with trek chains, anywhere in Zululand.

After the battle the British government sent orders relieving Chelmsford of his command in favour of Sir Garnet Wolseley, a commander who cast doubt on the notion that homo sapiens is a single species. But Chelmsford was lucky enough to fight the successful (but simpler) battle of Ulundi first. He received honours and administrative posts which would have been quite something to a man who wasn't a hereditary peer already - but never any other field command. Queen Victoria had been 42 years on the throne, and like the present Queen was a pretty sharp customer who had heard all the excuses before. I suspect that she thought "Not a word admitted in principle, but..." She probably liked King Cetshwayo better when she met him, and had an extremely good portrait painted by the same artist she commissioned for herself and her family. Until recently it was in the royal collection, as she ordered it should be given only to a museum of the Bantu peoples. It may have gone there by now.

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2475

Re: The Battle of Abu Klea!
Posted on: 10/15/2017 2:22:14 PM

Quote:
Good post Dave-This battle was short, lasting barely fifteen minutes from start to finish. Casualties for the British were nine officers and 65 other ranks killed and over a hundred wounded. The Mahdists lost 1,100 dead during the fifteen minutes of fighting, made all the worse by only 5,000 of the Dervish force being engaged.

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Eleven hundred dead in fifteen minutes ? Holy Cow !

That's going some !

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2475

Re: The Battle of Abu Klea!
Posted on: 10/15/2017 2:38:34 PM
Those redcoat squares at Waterloo might have been effective against cavalry, but can you imagine anything worse than being in square and then being hit by artillery fire ?

If you deploy in line, you're better able to deploy firepower....but what happens if lancers hit you in the flank ? A massacre, as happened at Albuera. ..DIE HARD, MEN !

Column works to get men forward quickly...but it's unwieldy as an instrument of firepower with only the front rank being effective.

A bloody shambles whatever choice...Mangin said Whatever you do, you lose a lot of men ...a hundred years after Waterloo, but a military truism.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

 (1866-1899) Other 19th Century Battles    
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