The most famous engagement of the Victorian era. 11 Victoria Crosses won during a few hours of vicious hand to hand fighting, forever immortalised on film. But how much do most of us really know and understand about the battle? Was the film historically correct? In episode three of the Redcoat History Podcast, I take a long, hard look at the battle through the eyes of those involved.
To listen to the full podcast on Apple devices then click here. On Spotify try this link and for other platforms just search “Redcoat History Podcast” and you will find it.
If you’ve never been to the site of the battle then have a watch of the video I made there, it will give you a good sense of the geography and the course of the fighting.
The great thing for the visitor to the battlefield is that it is a tiny area – compact and easy to follow the course of the day.
Below is a nice little map taken from The South African Military History website – do check them out as they some excellent articles.
And this sketch was made by Lt. John Chard, Officer Commanding at Rorke’s Drift.
Researching this episode of the podcast was much easier than other episodes as so many of the participants (at least the British ones anyway) have left accounts of the battle, the site is little changed and there are literally dozens of books about it.
Some of my most referenced sources were:
Chard’s report to Queen Victoria – from the website rorkesdriftvc.com
Private Henry Hook’s account published in the Royal Magazine.
Fred Hitches account from this article on the South African Military History website.
My favourite books that cover the battle include:
Ian Knight’s wonderful and very readable book Zulu Rising.
The Official History, prepared by Horse Guards
and one of my new favourite books on the Anglo-Zulu war, Victoria’s Harvest by David Truesdale and John Young.
If you want to become an expert then these books and articles should move you in the right direction.
5 thoughts on “Podcast Episode 3: The Battle of Rorke’s Drift”
Many years ago I read “The Washing of the Spears” by Donald Morris. Has that been overtaken by later information or is it still reliable?
Hi John, I’ll have to own up and admit I haven’t read it. It’s one of the few well-known works that I haven’t consulted so I’m probably not in a position to comment on its reliability.
I’m a South African and had been looking for a good podcast about Rourke’s Drift (and South African history in general) and so glad to have found this. Keep doing the great work.
Really looking forward to your series on the (2nd) Anglo-Boer war with interest.
Thanks Frank – I really appreciate that. Will hopefully get around to the 2nd ABW later this year or next.
A couple of buddies with whom I do Civil War reenacting here in America told me about your website and podcast and I’m very happy that they did. What you are doing is outstanding! Although I’m new to your podcasts I’ll certainly continue to enjoy them in the future. Thanks so much for the effort you put into helping people around the world enjoy history.