The Anglo-Zulu War
Did you know?
The Anglo-Zulu War was waged illegally, as war was never officially declared by Britain.
There are numerous Anglo-Zulu War battlefields in northern KwaZulu-Natal. This is a result of British forces invading Zululand to subjugate the Zulu, who were led by Cetshwayo.
As with all conflicts the causes of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 are complex, but should be seen in the overall light of the British imperial intention to create a federation of states in southern Africa.
The spark for war was provided by border incidents, especially along a disputed strip of land on the Zululand border with Natal running from Rorke's Drift to the Pongola River. An ultimatum was delivered to Cetshwayo on 11 December 1878, which would expire on 11 January the following year.
Cetshwayo did not respond and Lord Chelmsford invaded Zululand in January 1879 without waiting for British authority to do so. He had 3 columns, their objective the royal capital at Ulundi, which entered Zululand unopposed at Lower Tugela, Utrecht and Rorke's Drift.
Part of Chelmsford's column advancing from Rorke's Drift encamped at Isandlwana under Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pulleine while Chelmsford moved on to join a reconnoitring party. Largely unprepared, the camp was surprised by 20 000 Zulu in what was to be their most decisive victory.
A 4 000 strong Zulu reserve group moved on from here to Rorke's Drift, but were repulsed after 10 hours of fierce battle. While the Zulu besieged Eshowe and won further battles at Hlobane and Intombi Spruit, they were eventually defeated at the Battle of Ulundi on 4 July, which brought an end to the Anglo-Zulu War.
Zululand was annexed in 1887 and a decade later incorporated into Natal. The Anglo-Zulu War in South Africa still resonates strongly and the battlefields are a popular tourist destination.
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Who to contact
For further information on Anglo-Zulu War battlefields contact the League of Researchers of South African Battlefields on +27 (0) 12 355 6405 or email email@example.com.