As part of my Anglo-Zulu War forces I’m adding a small force of Natal Carbineers. The NC was a relatively small force – one of the smallest of the various para-military units in South Africa, numbering I believe just 60 at the time of the war in 1879 (with a total of 71 men serving during the course of the entire war). Of these at least 22 perished at Isandlwana (along with 26 Natal Mounted Police; and incidentally 2 NMP were also present at Rorke’s Drift – one of whom also perished, the other being wounded). The figures I chose are from the (classic) Wargames Foundry range, as these were the best figures I knew of at the time compatible with my existing Foundry, Perry, Castaway, and similar figs; and they can double as Natal Mounted Police at a pinch if needed…
As the NC were a relatively small force, and I play TSATF principally, I’ve chosen to model them as half-unit (i.e. 6 figures rather than 12) to represent there small numbers.
This is also influenced by how I played Colonial’s with plastic figs back in the 80’s and early 90’s where a friend of mine went to great lengths converting ESCI & Airfix figures for these unusual units, and as a result many of them were often smaller than our standard units of the time (we played a modified version of TTG’s “Soldiers of the Queen”).
By having a half-unit it also gives me the flexibility to expand if later to a full size unit if I subsequently find another range of compatible figures with some nice characters/poses…
The photos here show both the mounted and dismounted versions – most of them have been painted and ready for almost two years but now all are done and they’ll soon (finally) have their basing completed and be ready for service on the table top in the next couple of months… The uniform is also very similar to the NMP (Natal Mounted Police), the principal difference (for wargaming purposes) being the latter had a darker Dark Grey to Charcoal-Black corduroy uniform, and their helmets had a dark blue band (rather than white), and a brass spike (rather than a white metal one).
There is a brief post-1879 summary of the Natal Carbineers at the Ladysmith History Website, and also an interesting summary of the Natal Mounted Police is there at the Ladysmith History Website. For further references the Osprey Men-At-Arms No.388 “Zulu War – Volunteers, Irregulars & Auxiliaries” is worth a look for a general overview of all such units.
On a final note there are some great photos of the later era Natal Carbineers in the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 at AngloBoerWar.com.