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Old December 30, 2009, 12:15 AM   #342
4V50 Gary
Join Date: November 2, 1998
Location: Colorado
Posts: 19,286
I am assagaid! I am assagaid!

If you remember the movie Zulu! or Zulu Dawn, you remember the short thrusting spear of the Zulu. Here's one gallant Englishman's panicked response at a mistaken night attack. It's not the stuff of stoic Victorian era heroics that we are normally accustomed to reading.

The Zulu's chief's peaceful protestations were merely a ruse to gain time in gathering upwards of 20,000 of his trained warriors at Ulundi for another such massacre as Isandhwwana. It might well have been another disaster had the Zulus attacked the night before the battle. As the British and their natives allies lay tense and tired listening to the chanting of weird war-songs, native guards mistook the shadow of a cloud in the moonlight for the advance of a Zulu impi. As they fired, their comrades, believing it was an attack, jumped up and ran back towards the British. The Europeans in turn, in their excited imagination, thought the 'naked devils' rushing among them were the enemy. They left their beds and sprinted for protection of the laager. In a frantic effort to get inside, some clambered over the wagons, while others crawled underneath. Behind the wagons, incompletely trained boys, many of whom had never fired a bullet before embarkation, huddled together and sobbed pitifully like children. Seasoned veterans, heeding their officers, stood their ground and vigorously thrust their bayonets into the whirlwind of howling humanity. Demon panic produced scenes that were ludicrously disgraceful. One high-ranking officer left his bed crying, 'Lord help us,' and stumbled into a bush. Pricked by a thorn, he cried, 'I am assagiad! I am assagiad!' It took some effort to hold him, and assure him that there was no danger and that he was uninjured."
This was taken from page 251 of Joseph Lehmann's book, The Model Major General: Biography of Field-Marshal Lord Wolseley. I'm still doing research in the black powder era and am enjoying this old (1964) but not ancient book.
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Molon Labe!
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