The Battlefields of South Africa – The Anglo-Zulu War

on the 22nd January 1879, about 41 years later after the Zulu’s were defeated at Blood River.

The war was a result from a number of factors, particular the fact that King Cetshwayo was seen by the British High Commissioner in South Africa, Sir Battle Frere, as being a significant stumbling block, to his achievement of his ideal of a confederation of white states in Southern Africa. That objective would secure British dominance in the region, politically and economically. He chose a meeting between the Natal Colonial authorities and Zulu Inzinduna ( traditional leaders), to present the King with an ultimatum. The wording of that ultimatum made it impossible for the Zulus to comply with the majority of the terms.

The building (Make shift hospital) that defended. 130 odd British agains 4000 Zulu’s

The ultimatum was given a 4 week validation, as fron the 11th of December 1878, and if no favourable reply was received by the Zulus, the invasion of Zululand would take place on a Saturday the 11th of January 1879.. the first action took place the following day, when the homestead of Chief Sihayo at KwaSokhexe was attacked, and the column continued its advance, arriving below the Sphinx-shaped hill called Isandlwana on the 20th of January 1879, and camp was established it was a temporary camp and believed not to be attacked, with the results no entrenching took place, which worried some officers. Patrol parties were established, and the camp was left in the command of lower ranked officers, under leadership of Lt. Col Henry Pulleine.

The camp before the battle had a total of 1768 man stationed. Patrol parties left camp, to search for the Zulus, and when one of the patrol parties under leadership of Lt Charles Raw spotted a large number of Zulus nor far from camp and fired on the Zulus, but the Zulus decided to go for it, and marched straight for the Britsh camp. Raw’s man withdrew, and headed to camp to warn Palleine of the impending attack, reaching camp at about 12:15.. the Zulus started their attack at about 12:30, with approximately 20.000 strong, and 4000 reserves, (who never partook of the main battle). It took not long, till line after line of the British defence fall, , due to the sheer numbers of the Zulus, and the far stretched line that the Britsh had to defend soon it became a close combat fight, and a partial solar eclips during the height of the battle made it a gloomy scene.

Now it became a case of pure survival, by about 15:00, th a camp was overrun and orders were somewhat ignored, and the British started to flee, and in total 70 British survived, as the jumped on the horse’s and fled towards the saddle between Isandlwana and Mhlabamkhosi.( Black koppie). One of the last man standing, was Lt Young husband, who was pushed up the hill of Isandlwana, but he and his man died at that spot. A marker indicate their position today. An estimated 1360-1400 Britsh soldiers died within 1.5 hours, and an estimated 3000 Zulu. The Britsh lost, purely through mistakes upon mistakes by wrong decisions of not barricating camp, to far stretched out defence lines, among other things.

The dead bodies laid there for quite a few months, and when eventually they decided to burry them, they put them in mass graves. But many had been eaten by wild animals and vultures. It was a big blow for the proud British army, but it was not over yet as in the late afternoon, that reserve army of 4000+ Zulu soldiers, that watch the battle from a high hill site, watched towards Rork’s drift, a mere 16km away as the crow files, and attacked a British camp, with a total of 139 man inside. That is an other story.

The building (Make shift hospital) that defended. 130 odd British agains 4000 Zulu’s