The Battle of Van Lunteran’s Farm

Fictional Background:

Following on from the dual disasters of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift the British advance into Zululand turned into full scale retreat. This action takes place a few days after the mission station at Rorke’s Drift was overrun on the 22/23rd January, 1979.

Chelmsford was forced to retreat into Natal and this battle was a rearguard action against Zulu regiments who were following up the retreating British and local white civilians.

Rules: Black Powder (Zulu Supplement)


British: 3 Companies 2/24th, a half company of 2/24th, One Battery, RA, 1 x Company Natal Native Contingent, Tiny detachment of Boer farmers and Tiny detachment of Boers guarding their wagon train.

Zulu: 6 Regiments divided into three brigades of 2, one small unit of skirmishers.

Initial dispositions:

One company of British troops defending Van Lunteran’s farmstead with a company of Natal native Contingent in support.  The small half company on look out on the kopje overlooking the battlefield. Boer civilians on the road with their wagons.

two companies of British infantry and the Artillery were off board.  They could come on with a successful command roll one unit at a time from Turn three (so one on turn 3, one turn four etc).

The Zulu could come on the board one brigade at a time from turn one on a successful command roll.

The Battle:

The battle was very frustrating for both sides at times. Reserves for both sides refused to come on and dice rolls were definitely on the poor side for both sides.

Boer farmers retreating with their families along the road – the Zulu are not far behind.
British infantry take positions behind the walls of Van Lunteran’s Farm.
A company of the Natal Native Contingent is in reserve.
A small detachment of British are in picket duty on the stony kopje.
End of British Turn 1. The Boer civilians are almost at the farm.
The first Zulu brigade appears. The pickets take aim.
Bugler – sound the alarm.
“Zulus Sir, Thousands of ’em.” “Not again, oh well, time to make a command roll to get the hell out of Zululand”
Shit! (it sounds so much more chic in French)
Zulu skirmishers (with some stand-ins) work their way around the edge of the farm.
Musketry from the pickets and long range fire from the farm cause some casualties and disorder the lead Zulu regiment.
The Zulu Induna seeing his lead regiment stalled turns to his second regiment and orders “Follow Me” and charges up the kopje into the British who really should have run away.
Somehow the British survive the combat and manage to retire off the kopje.
Another Zulu brigade arrives on the field of battle. In their first command phase the Induna rolls three moves – enough to charge the farm.
Meanwhile, British reserves march to the front.
The British detachment is caught by the fast moving Zulu and destroyed. Six unsaved hits!
The Zulu Right Horn rushes the farm. They take casualties from the British infantry lining the stone wall and also from Van Lunteran and his sons in the house (Tiny unit of Boers)
After a desperate struggle Van Lunteran and his family are evicted from the house and flee across the river. The Zulu occupy the house but are charged by the Natal native Contingent who fight to reclaim the building and barricades.
The second British company finally makes an appearance. it advances to the stream and takes up a firing position. They are joined by the remains of Van Lunteran’s clan and some wagon guards.
The battlefield. The third Zulu Regiment arrives. At the farm the Natal Native Contingent is locked in hand to hand with an attacking regiment. The other regiments re-order themselves and prepare to begin the attack again. The British fire has kept them back so far.
Reserves still marching…….
Preparing to sell their lives to give their families time to escape.
The attack on the farm is renewed. Despite taking casualties the Zulu storm forward into contact.
The fighting is fierce all along the stone wall.
The Zulu begin to flank the farm. In the distance you can see the second British company as it charges forward with the bayonet to try to push the Zulu back from their fight with the NNC.
All the British units are locked in hand to hand combat. The third Zulu brigade makes its approach.
Reserves still marching…….
Casualties are removed.
“More cartridges”
Another Zulu regiment tries to force it’s way over the wall.
The Zulu commander orders his reserves into action.
Finally the British force the Zulu around the farmhouse away. But two new regiments hove into view.
The fresh regiments charge. Closing fire is ineffective and they crash into the British line.
The defenders of the farm cannot be everywhere – where are the reserves?
Still marching…………….
Forced to fight on two fronts. Things look desperate for the gallant defenders of Van Lunteran’s Farm.
Things don’t look good on the British left either. They are pushed back to the stream, fighting with bayonet and rifle butts.
Finally the defenders of the farm fail a Break Test. But wait…they are Stubborn and get to re-roll,
Shit!!! At this stage I don’t care that it sounds more posh in French.
The British are slain where they stand and the victorious Zulu sweep forward to attack the hapless NNC.
It is spear against spear. The NNC are also destroyed.
With their backs to the stream, the last British on the field lose another round of melee and make a Break Test. Ha! Retreat? Never.
Back to back, to the end. The curtain comes down on this Victorian drama.
And the reserves? You guessed it. Still marching……

That was the game. Fun and totally enjoyable. Lessons learned. If you can get good dice rolls on shooting the British can generally keep the Zulu at bay.  The Special Rule that allows them to do two rounds of closing fire is particularly deadly – if the shooting gods are with you of course.

For the Zulu you need to keep your supports close and get stuck in. The Zulu tried a bit of shooting but it was hopeless.

I seriously think Garnett Woolsley will be taking over command of the Campaign sooner rather than later.


14 thoughts on “The Battle of Van Lunteran’s Farm”

    1. Thanks. A great period. It was an impulse buy for me but I am glad I did. Almost all my stuff is BTD. A few Redoubt in the British. A couple of Redoubt Zulu chiefs. I have been checking your blog as you post new AZW stuff. Also very cool.


      1. LoL…same here. Built a large AWI collection then one of our group said we should try Zulu I want a horde army.

        Sure, should not need that many British. Now I have over a hundred British and contributed 140 Zulu to our collective 440.

        Will look good at the large demos we plan to host at conventions.


    1. Thank you very much for your kind comment. The miniatures are almost all from Black Tree Designs. They often have 40-50% off sales which makes buying lots of metal figures affordable – and sometimes they also have free or flat rate postage which makes it almost a no brainer. I have some plastic Warlord Games Zulus and British infantry that I brought during one of their Sprue Sales but I have not done anything with them as yet. At the end of the day I just preferred the heft of the metal figures.

      Liked by 1 person

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