» The Anglo Zulu War 1879

The increasing strengthening of the independent Zulu nation by King Cetshwayo was perceived as a growing threat to the Colony of Natal by the British High Commissioner Sir Bartle Frere and in December 1878 the British government represented by Frere issued an ultimatum that was impossible for the Zulu Nation to accept as it would have required them to disband their army and swear allegiance to Queen Victoria.

When these demands were not met, three British columns, under the overall command of Lieutenant-General Lord Chelmsford, who despite considerable experience in the field nonetheless made the fatal mistake of underestimating the fighting ability of the Zulus, crossed the Thukela and Buffalo rivers on the 12th January 1879 and invaded Zululand.

The Zulus retaliated and on Wednesday 22nd January 1879 the Zulu Army, comprising approximately 20 000 warriors, attacked and overran the British camp at Isandlwana, killing 1357 Imperial troops, colonial volunteers and native levies. Survivors of the route fled along a torturous route now known as the Fugitive’s Trail crossing the swollen Buffalo River at what became known as Fugitives’ Drift. Among these were Lieutenant Teignmouth Melvill who had attempted to save the Queen’s Colour and Lieutenant Nevill Coghill who went to his assistance. Both were killed on the Natal bank of the river as they scrambled up the hillside. (They were posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross).

After the Battle an additional force of approximately 4000 warriors led by King Cetshwayo’s half-brother Prince Dabulamanzi went on to attack the British garrison at the Swedish Mission station at Rorke’s Drift, that was being used as a commissariat and hospital. Here the “heroic hundred” repelled the attackers after an 11 hour battle. The British lost 17 men and won 11 Victoria Crosses.

Places of Interest

Nyezane Battlefield
Nyezane Battlefield, Eshowe Area, KwaZulu Natal

402 | 22 January 1879 The British coastal column moving up the north coast towards Ondini via Eshowe, crossed the … Read More

The Siege of Fort KwaMondi
The Siege of Fort KwaMondi, Eshowe Area, KwaZulu Natal

403 | 23 January to 3 April 1879 On the 23rd January Col Pearson’s Column reached the abandoned Norwegian Lutheran … Read More

British Military Cemetery at KwaMondi
British Military Cemetery at KwaMondi, Eshowe Area, KwaZulu Natal

404 | Situated on southwest-facing slope about 500m beyond Fort Ekowe. Enquiries Zululand Historical Museum Fort Nongqayi. There is no … Read More

Isandlwana Battlefield
Isandlwana Battlefield, Nqutu Area, KwaZulu Natal

405 | 22 January 1879 On the 22nd January 1879 the British Camp was attacked and overrun by some 20 … Read More

Fugitives’ Drift
Fugitives' Drift, Dundee Area, KwaZulu Natal

406 | 22 January 1879 The Fugitives’ Trail is the route taken by survivors of the Battle of Isandlwana who … Read More

Rorke’s Drift Battlefield
Rorke's Drift Battlefield, Dundee Area, KwaZulu Natal

407 | 22-23 January 1879 After the Battle of Isandlwana the Zulu reserves, along with one regiment of the right … Read More

eNtombe Battlefield
eNtombe Battlefield (Myer's Drift), Paulpietersburg Area, Mpumalanga

408 | 12 March1879 At Myer’s Drift on the eNtombe River, in the very early hours in the morning a … Read More

Hlobane Battlefield
Hlobane Battlefield, Vryheid Area, KwaZulu-Natal

409 | 28 March 1879 In the early hours of 28 March 1879 two British columns mounted an attack on … Read More

Khambula Battlefield
Kambula Battlefield, Vryheid Area, KwaZulu Natal

410 | 29 March 1879 On the29 March 1879 some 22 000 Zulu warriors attacked the fortified British position at … Read More

Gingindlovu Battlefield
Gingindlovu Battlefield, Eshowe Area, KwaZulu Natal

411 | 2 April 1879 In the early morning the Zulu Army attacked Lt Gen. Lord Chelmsford’s relief column en … Read More

Prince Imperial Memorial
Prince Imperial Memorial, Nqutu area, KwaZulu-Natal

412 | 1 June 1879 Louis Napoleon, the Prince Imperial of France, then exiled in Britain, begged Queen Victoria to … Read More

Ulundi Battlefield
Ulundi Battlefield, Ulundi, KwaZulu-Natal

414 | 4 July 1879 On the 4 July 1879 Lt Gen. Lord Chelmsford crossed the White Mfolozi River and … Read More

Petrus Lafras Uys Memorial
Petrus Lafras Uys Memorial, Kerk Straat, Utrecht, KwaZulu-Natal

416 | Petrus Lafras Uys was one of the original settlers in this area in 1847. He was the first … Read More