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Work in Progress.  A new Rorke's Drift painting by artist Jason Askew.

Rorke's Drift - The Battle :

Defence of Rorkes Drift.  After the British Defeat and the Zulu victory at Isandhlwana, Zulu Chief Cetawayo entered northern Natal that night. On a tributary of the Tugela River stood the British garrison of 140 troops under the command of Lt Chard at Rorke's Drift. the Zulu force of 4,000 attacked the garrison repeatedly, using their assagais, (also with Rifles form the hillside,  taken form the dead British troops at Isandhlwana.) The attacks lasted all night through the 22nd into the 23rd. In the morning the Zulu withdrew, but only having lost 400 dead in the fighting. The British suffered 25 casualties. for this achievement of holding Rorke's Drift a total of 11 Victoria Crosses were received. 

By about 6pm the Zulu attacks had extended all around the front of the post, and fighting raged at hand-to-hand along the mealie-bag wall. Lieutenant Chard himself took up a position on the barricade, firing over the mealie-bags with a Martini-Henry, whilst Lieutenant Bromhead directed any spare men to plug the gaps in the line. The men in the yard and on the front wall were dangerously exposed to the fire of Zulu marksmen posted in the rocky terraces on Shiyane (Oskarsberg) hill behind the post. Several men were hit, including Acting Assistant Commissary Dalton, and Corporal Allen of the 14th. Surgeon Reynolds treated the wounded as best he could despite the fire. Once the veranda at the front of the hospital had been abandoned, the Zulus had mounted a determined attack on the building itself, setting fire to the thatched roof with spears tied with burning grass. The defenders were forced to evacuate the patients room by room, eventually passing them out through a small window into the open yard. Shortly after 6pm Chard decided that the Zulu pressure was too great, and ordered a withdrawal to a barricade of biscuit boxes which had been hastily erected across the yard, from the corner of the store-house to the front mealie-bag wall. In this small compound the garrison would fight for their lives throughout most of the coming night. 

Text supplied by Zulu War Author Ian Knight.

Jason Askew's new Rorke's Drift painting on the easel in his studio.

 

Below are a couple of detail shots from the incomplete painting

An overview of the whole painting by Jason, around 80% complete.  

 

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