The Colonels dead and the Gattlings Jammed

#1
Gents last night a few of us old lads where having our evening night cap down The Pub and one guy just back from a trip down The Nile, says
And I saw a Roll of Honour carved into an old Egyptian Wall Carving. Brit and dedicated to troops who died in one of the battles undertaken in the Relief of Kartoum.
He then says one of the names was Captain St Vincent and the Egyptian guide said that Brit sailors had manned Gattling Guns located at the corners of Brit Infantary Squares.
Now clean out of the blue I said
'The tale is told of a Square that broke, The Colonels dead and the Gattlin's jammed.'
Where's that from John ? Kipling I said.
Now I have never studied Kipings works (Read Kim and Jungle Book and saw both movies) but the phrase had stuck in my head.
We had quite a pleasant chat on Cpl Jones, the Fuzzy Wuzzys and They don't like it up Um, yes the booze had flowed.
I could be really dull and boring and ask Google but I would like to consult the Membership and see if anyone could/would post a more illuminating answer to some of the above.
Did a Brit Square ever break ? Captain St Vincent leader of the Naval detachment ?
john
 
#2
Afraid it's not Kipling - though I can't help on Captain St. Vincent.

It's Sir Henry Newbolt (d.1938) who wrote Vitaï Lampada

There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night --
Ten to make and the match to win --
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote --
'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

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,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the School is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind --
'Play up! play up! and play the game!'
I don't know whether any specific action inspired it or not though.

sm.
 
#3
Thank you for your help, give me somthing to throw to the troops.
One of thems sure to cheat and ask Google.
john
Which I will do if none of the Brains of the board can help.
 
#4
Jon,

If at first you don't succeed, cheat.

Battle of Abu Klea 1885

As the column approached the wells at Abu Klea, they were set upon by a Mahdist force. The troops were formed in square, with the cannon on the north face and the Naval Brigade, with their Gardner, at a corner. Several officers and men of HMS Alexandra were killed at the battle. The Gardner gun, was run out to the left flank of the infantry square to provide covering fire. The square closed behind them leaving them exposed. After seventy rounds were fired, the gun jammed and as the crew tried to clear it they were cut down in a rush by the dervishes. Out of the forty men in the Naval contingent, Lieutenants Alfred Piggott and Rudolph de Lisle were killed along with Chief Boatswain's Mate Rhodes and five other seamen and seven more were wounded. Lord Charles Beresford was 'scratched' on the left hand by a spear as he managed to duck under the gun. The weight of the rush pushed the sailors back into the face of the square. Several Dervishes were able to gain access to the square, but found the interior full of camels and were unable to proceed. The troops in the rear ranks faced about and opened fire into the press of men and camels behind them, and were able to drive the Dervishes out of the square and compelling them to retreat from the field.

The battle was remarkably 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 quarter hour of fighting, made all the worse by the fact that only around half of the Dervish force was actually engaged. British national hero Colonel F. G. Burnaby of the Royal Horse Guards was killed by a spear to the throat.
.
 
#5
oh, and.......

Battle of Tamai 1884 (think this is the battle depicted in 'The Four Feathers':

In the Sudan campaign of 1883–85, the square had proved successful but there were two occasions when such a square formation of British troops failed to maintain the all-round defence for which it was designed and, regardless of how the failure was caused, must be said to have been broken.
The first was at the battle of Tamai, 13 March 1884, when one of two British brigades, moving in separate squares with a cavalry and mounted infantry escort, was surprised by a mass attack of Mahdist troops launched from the cover of a ravine. In the confusion, one British battalion charged forward from the square, leaving a flanking unit unsupported and the square was penetrated and broken up into smaller groups of desperately fighting men. Heavy rifle fire from the other brigade square and the mounted escort came to the rescue and the surviving Mahdists were driven off. British casualties were over 100 dead and a similar number wounded. Mahdist dead on the field were estimated at over 1000.

The second occasion was at the wells at Abu Klea on 17 January 1885 when Mahdist forces tried to cut the supply lines of Wolseley’s Desert Column struggling to reach Gordon in Khartoum. The British force of some 1500 men formed a square round the large number of baggage camels and wounded that they were escorting, in order to break through and reach the wells. A mass Mahdist attack, some 5000 strong, was delivered against the left flank of the square but heavy Martini-Henry rifle fire drove it off. Despite the check, the Mahdists re-attacked the left rear corner of the square just as it was opened to let out a Gardner wheeled machine gun, which immediately jammed. The square was penetrated and fierce hand to hand fighting followed but eventually the attack lost momentum amongst the milling camels and transport in the centre, giving time for the flanking units to face inwards and support their comrades. In the brief, desperate struggle of 15 minutes or so, the casualties to both sides were half as many again as at Tamai.
I don't think that, in either case was the square actually 'broken'. In Abu Klea, it was penetrated, at Tamai it was more a case of 'taking the lid offa box' too early.

Sorry, bit of an over-Googled answer, but you did ask.


.
 
#6
Thanks for your efforts, so there does not seem to be a case of a Square breaking and the "Gattling" was a 'Gardener'.
Now where the muck did St Vincent cum into this ?
John
Last night in The Pub, I did say that Cape St Vincent was like Cape Trafalgar one promint feature on the Iberian Atlantic coast and that Sir John Jervis won the Battle of the Glourious 1st of June there, taking St Vincent as his Title on Enobelment.
We assumed his son was the officer mentioned by my boozing companion. Ah well should liven the next debate.
 
#7
Wike has a entry on infantry squares. Mention of the one that broke is
At the battle of Waterloo the four-rank squares of the Allied forces withstood eleven unsupported cavalry charges. At Lützen, despite infantry and light artillery support, green French troops easily repulsed an Allied charge. Similarly impressive infantry efforts were seen at Auerstädt, Jena, Pultusk, Krasnoe, and a number of other battles. If a square was broken, as happened at Rio Seco or Quatre Bras, the infantry could suffer many casualties — although brave and well-disciplined infantry could recover even from a break-through
Kipling, of course, mentions a square that broke but I'm too idle to source it right now. There seems to have been many occasions when attacking cavalry jumped into the square that did not constitute a break. Might be interesting to research efficiency of square with volleys of fire. Yes - I have seen Zulu!
 
#8
Idleness must be resisted. Kiplings poem was Fuzzie Wuzzies (try getting away with that today in the land of no golliwogs!). This comes from http://www.kipling.org.uk/rg_fuzzywuzzy1.htm.
The British Square

From the moment “Fuzzy-Wuzzy” was published there was dispute over this admission in the poem that the Sudanese warriors ‘…broke the British square’; with arguments over which square or squares, if any, were broken and, if so, were they actually British or Egyptian and were they really ‘broken’ or were the attackers somehow let in ?

This was because, from its use in the Napoleonic Wars as an infantry means of defence against cavalry, and especially in the repulse of repeated attacks by French cavalry at Waterloo, both the British army and its public saw the square as an almost legendary symbol of its supremacy. That it might be broken was unthinkable.

However, the ‘square’ as employed in the Sudanese campaigns was very different from the Napoleonic form and was not a defence against cavalry. Although the 1877 ‘Field Exercises and Evolutions of Infantry’ still included the square in ‘Formations to Resist Cavalry’, it had effectively been discarded as unusable in the face of an enemy using breech-loading rifles. As Lieutenant-General Sir Garnet Wolseley had written in his Soldier’s Pocket Book, breech-loaders had:

‘…rendered obsolete the fighting tactics of Frederick the Great, which, improved by the Duke of Wellington to suit the arms of his day, are still alone to be found in our Field Exercise Book.’(1877).

. This was an opinion that he had to revise when, as General Lord Wolseley, he took command of the British force sent to the relief of General Gordon in 1884.

In fact, a new form of square had been introduced by 1883 in an effort to avoid a repeat of the disastrous experience of the 1879 Zulu War [see note to line 16 of the text]. The new square was not simply infantry in static defence but a large, close packed formation of some 1,000 to 1,500 men, capable of slow movement with ranks of infantry or cavalry forming the four sides and artillery, wheeled machine guns, transport carts, baggage animals and their handlers in the centre. Such a square could only survive where the enemy were without modern firearms. Apart from some 3000 Remington rifles captured from the Egyptian army, this applied to the Sudanese.

In the Sudan campaign of 1883–85, the square had proved successful but there were two occasions when such a square formation of British troops failed to maintain the all-round defence for which it was designed and, regardless of how the failure was caused, must be said to have been broken.

See Tilbaki above.

There are two contemporary descriptions which convey something of the ferocity of the Sudanese assaults. One is a very simple verse from a piece in Punch, 11 April 1885, two weeks after Tofrek, the battle it describes, when it seemed to the surprised British troops that the desert itself rose up against them:

THE SKY WAS BLIND WITH SAND AND SMOKE,
WITH BULLETS SHRIEKED THE AIR,
LIKE WAVE ON WAVE THE DESERT BROKE
AGAINST THAT STUBBORN SQUARE.

The other is Kipling's prose description in The Light that Failed, at the end of Chapter II (Uniform Edition, page 25).
 
#9
I think the use of 'Gattling' was because it had become the generic name for rapid-fire machine guns. The Hoover of its day.

Of course, if Mister Puckle had only had a little more success it might have led to orders like "wheel out the Puckle" or even the rank of Puckleer.

Where's did I leave my coat?.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
#11
OldRedCap said:
...

Might be interesting to research efficiency of square with volleys of fire. Yes - I have seen Zulu!
Seen it ?

You were in it !






Not the flick, the scrap.
 
#13
Excellent, thank you Old Red Cap, I knew that Kipling had said something about Square Broke and Captain St Vincent was a 'junior' Army officer and not a high ranking Naval officer which myself and my compatriates assumed.
john
Enjoying this.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
#14
JW, this belongs in the Literature forum but here, mainly because I like it, is Kipling's poem in full.


Fuzzy-Wuzzy

We’ve fought with many men acrost the seas,
An’ some of ’em was brave an’ some was not:
The Paythan an’ the Zulu an’ Burmese;
But the Fuzzy was the finest o’ the lot.
We never got a ha’porth’s change of ’im:
’E squatted in the scrub an’ ’ocked our ’orses,
’E cut our sentries up at Suakim,
An’ ’e played the cat an’ banjo with our forces.
So ’ere’s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your ’ome in the Soudan;
You’re a pore benighted ’eathen but a first-class fightin’ man;
We gives you your certificate, an’ if you want it signed
We’ll come an’ ’ave a romp with you whenever you’re inclined.

We took our chanst among the Khyber ’ills,
The Boers knocked us silly at a mile,
The Burman give us Irriwaddy chills,
An’ a Zulu impi dished us up in style:
But all we ever got from such as they
Was pop to what the Fuzzy made us swaller;
We ’eld our bloomin’ own, the papers say,
But man for man the Fuzzy knocked us ’oller.
Then ’ere’s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, an’ the missis and the kid;
Our orders was to break you, an’ of course we went an’ did.
We sloshed you with Martinis, an’ it wasn’t ’ardly fair;
But for all the odds agin’ you, Fuzzy-Wuz, you broke the square.

’E ’asn’t got no papers of ’is own,
’E ’asn’t got no medals nor rewards,
So we must certify the skill ’e’s shown
In usin’ of ’is long two-’anded swords:
When ’e’s ’oppin’ in an’ out among the bush
With ’is coffin-’eaded shield an’ shovel-spear,
An ’appy day with Fuzzy on the rush
Will last an ’ealthy Tommy for a year.
So ’ere’s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, an’ your friends which are no more,
If we ’adn’t lost some messmates we would ’elp you to deplore;
But give an’ take’s the gospel, an’ we’ll call the bargain fair,
For if you ’ave lost more than us, you crumpled up the square!

’E rushes at the smoke when we let drive,
An’, before we know, ’e’s ’ackin’ at our ’ead;
’E’s all ’ot sand an’ ginger when alive,
An’ ’e’s generally shammin’ when ’e’s dead.
’E’s a daisy, ’e’s a ducky, ’e’s a lamb!
’E’s a injia-rubber idiot on the spree,
’E’s the on’y thing that doesn’t give a damn
For a Regiment o’ British Infantree!
So ’ere’s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your ’ome in the Soudan;
You’re a pore benighted ’eathen but a first-class fightin’ man;
An’ ’ere’s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, with your ’ayrick ’ead of ’air—
You big black boundin’ beggar—for you broke a British square!
 
#15
All these tales of Imperial derring-do prompted me to go and get the old Martini-Henry out: when you fix the bayonet you have about 73" (1.85m) of steel between you and the opposition. Formed shoulder-to-shoulder and four ranks deep, thats a fearsome density of bayonets - the fuzzie-wuzzies were certainly fanatically courageous (or drugged-up) to throw their loincloth-clad bodies onto such a barrier. I suppose thats why they've now changed tactics and claim asylum and housing benefits instead...

P.s. good job the Sudan columns weren't equipped with SA80 (bayonet reach about 3"...)....

"The gat' is jammed, and the Colonel.......... is at a Press conference in Whitehall assuring the public that force levels are adequate and all essential supplies are reaching the front-line troops; there is plenty of gun oil in theatre and any shortages are just temporary..."
 
#17
4(T) said:
All these tales of Imperial derring-do prompted me to go and get the old Martini-Henry out: when you fix the bayonet you have about 73" (1.85m) of steel between you and the opposition. Formed shoulder-to-shoulder and four ranks deep, thats a fearsome density of bayonets - the fuzzie-wuzzies were certainly fanatically courageous (or drugged-up) to throw their loincloth-clad bodies onto such a barrier. I suppose thats why they've now changed tactics and claim asylum and housing benefits instead...

P.s. good job the Sudan columns weren't equipped with SA80 (bayonet reach about 3"...)....

"The gat' is jammed, and the Colonel.......... is at a Press conference in Whitehall assuring the public that force levels are adequate and all essential supplies are reaching the front-line troops; there is plenty of gun oil in theatre and any shortages are just temporary..."
The fuzzie wuzzies or Hadendowahs to give them their correct name, were told by the Mahdi (blessings be upon him) that the british bullets would turn to chaff and not penetrate their bodies. This, helped by the fanaticism of the Arab sudanese made their attacks so fearless. It should also be noted that the long slightly bent martini henry bayonet had a tendency to snap which is why the later Lee Metford was a shorter one, only to be increased again in 1907 for the Lee Enfield. :roll:
 
#18
Taken from Queen Victoria's Little Wars,

The following month (March) he (General Graham) set out with a force of 116 officers and 3,216 men to find Osman Digna’s camp and encountered the Dervishes in force at a place called Tamai. Many of Osman Digna’s men were frizzle haired Beja tribesmen whom the British soldiers called ‘fuzzy-wuzzies’. It was here at Tamai that the fuzzy wuzzies, in Kipling’s words, ‘bruk a British square’. Graham described what happened in his dispatch: a large number of Dervishes, who appeared suddenly from a ravine, were cleared by a charge of the Black Watch,

"But at this moment a more formidable attack from another direction, and a large body of natives, coming in one continuous stream, charged up to the edge of the ravine, charged with reckless determination, utterly regardless of all loss, on the righthand corner of the square formed by the 1st York and Lancaster. The Brigade fell back in disorder and the enemy captured the guns of the Naval Brigade, which, however, were locked by the officers and men, who stood by them to the end.”

The square was reformed. The fuzzy-wuzzies were cut down in great numbers. The battle was won. Bt to this day the Black Watch are sensitive to the charge that they allowed the square at Tamai to be broken; to call out ‘broken square’ to these Highlanders, is to start a fight.

B Farwell (1973) Queen Victoria’s Little Wars, Allen Lane. Page 277-278
 
#19
I had heard the tale of 'Broken Square' over the years, but always thought it was an English battalion now long amalgamated.
john
Ya have ta be mental ta wind up Jock with that one.
 
#20
In his diary Wolseley would write scathingly of Grahams abilities as a commander etc etc..............but he (Graham) was certainly the cause of The Black Watch`s heavy casualties at the battle of Tamaii etc etc......................."He expected us to charge the enemy`s position and fight hand to hand,instead of meeting the enemys advance by rifle-fire," wrote Private Gordon.

(The page continues).

The Black Watch at Tamaii were in a right angle formation, providing half of the front face of the square and half of its left face. Graham, ordered them to charge.In that curious formation they drove the Sudanese back,but were at once surrounded as the main force of the enemy came out from the shelter of the gully.The remainder of the square, opened up by the charge, was similarly invaded.

Facing front and rear, and left and right, the Regiment (sic) began to force its way back to the square. The fighting was frenzied with spears and swords against bayonets and claymores; rifles could not be used because of the British beyond the enemy, and anyone who fell was stabbed repeatedly by the Sudanese, who themselves were bayoneted as they stabbed.

Capt; Scott-Stephenson, swinging his claymore furiously "Clove a piece of a mans head as one does an egg for breakfast", and Private Edwards, in an action for which he was awarded a VICTORIA CROSS,destroyed in hand-to-hand fighting a group of Sudanese trying to take a Gatling machine-gun.

As the Regiment retired, the first square came up, and under their protection,the second square re-formed, and then with rifle and machine-gunfire they drove off the Sudanese.




The above taken from P127 - "The Black Watch , The History Of The Royal Highland Regiment" by Eric and Andro Linklater - 1977.
 

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