Sounds of Distant Drums

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Battle of Blood River

 

BATTLE OF BLOOD RIVER

 

 

 

Sixty four wagons in laager; the night mist cold and bland,

 

These Boers were merely farmers, going north in search of land.

 

Surrounded now by Zulus, their presence was foreboding,

 

Twenty thousand warriors; drumming, shouting, goading.

 

 

 

Laagered Boers for many days, upon their knees had prayed

 

“Lord help us in our hour of need, for we are so afraid”

 

At noon they made their covenant, with Spirit, God and Son

 

Being hopelessly outnumbered; two score and ten to one.

 

 

 

First light of coming morn, the fog was slowly lifted,

 

The war drums crescendo, to battle cry had shifted.

 

Boer spread out upon the ground, shielded by his wagon.

 

They lay as executioners; this was no day for flagon.

 

 

 

Boer’s wives were not at liberty, to fire upon the foe,

 

They stood beside the men, their hearts vexed full of woe.

 

The thunder of the muskets, the battle tempest fanned;

 

Flintlock barrels loaded, by females trembling hand,

 

 

 

Woman loaded muskets, with powder, shot and waste,

 

Tamping down each barrel, with calculated haste,

 

The noise of battle deafening, its smoke a screen of white;

 

Confused bewildered warriors, left the battlefield in flight.

 

 

 

Respite to reload muskets, to take stock of the dead,

 

Not one Boer was missing; they counted every head.

 

Now soon the killing ground, slow stream of Zulu blood

 

Would by the time of nightfall, be a scarlet river flood.

 

 

 

With sun now at its zenith, bloody battle resumed afresh.

 

Impi warriors advancing; human sculls adorned their flesh

 

Brandishing their assegais’, shield, spears and their staves,

 

Three cannons tore into their ranks; yet still they came in waves,

 

 

 

When the heat of battle ended, and the smoke spiraled away,

 

Three thousand dead drugged warriors, on battlefield there lay.

 

One thousand more lay wounded, proud dignities offended

 

Brave Boers to their feet arose; and to Zulu wounds attended.

 

 

 

God had given them the victory, these farmers’ kith and kin

 

For not one of His was lost, whom He had laagered in

 

He had kept them from the Philistines, for they all loved to pray,

 

And they still love and honor God… their Victor to this day.

 

 

 

Alf Hutchison

 

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