The Shangani Patrol

On the banks of the wide Shangani,
Neath a dark and leaden sky,
In a glade of green mopani
A patrol went forth to die.

They crossed the rising river
On the trail of wayward Chief,
With orders to reconnoitre
And the coloumn would bring relief.

They thought they were trailing a section;
But there in the morning light,
Was the bulk of the rebel nation;
So they withdrew in a running fight.

Although they were desperately few,
Outnumbered a hundred to one.
They voted on what they should do,
To stand by their wounded, or run.

With no Maxims, only issue Martinis,
As the warriors came like a flood,
They turned to face the impis,
And the earth was drenched in blood.

Surrounded, outnumbered, abandoned,
They sang of a faraway Queen.
But they held their ground to the very end
and the grass was red that was green.

The Matabele said, "they were men of men"
And unmolested the bodies lay
As the shadows began to lengthen
At the close of an epic day.

by Douglas Gird

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