oa Historia - An exposition of the clash of Anglo-Voortrekker interests at Port Natal leading to the military conflict of 23-24 May 1842

Volume 37 Number 2
  • ISSN : 0018-229X



The causes leading to the battle of Congella between the British and Voortrekker troops are fascinating. In approximately eighteen years the predominantly British settlers/hunters/traders had developed Port Natal as an entrep�t for south-eastern Africa. The Voortrekkers had been in the hinterland for some five years and in alliance with the British had triggered off a struggle for hegemony which saw Mpande installed as King of the Zulu subject to the Voortrekkers at Pietermaritzburg. The British authorities at Cape Town became alarmed at the destabilising effect of this encounter and in April 1842 sent their second contingent of troops to Port Natal in defence of the indigenous peoples. Captain T.C. Smith, instructed to be conciliatory, adopted a rather intransigent attitude towards the Voortrekkers whose sovereignty was now threatened. Both sides were spoiling for a fight which broke out on 23 May 1842. This heralded the first of several Anglo-Boer wars.

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