n Historia - Every history can only present a partial reconstruction of the past
Lord Chelmsford and the Zulu War, Major the Hon. Gerald French : book review

Volume 60, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0018-229X



The Anglo Zulu War was a controversial war. British forces invaded Zululand in January 1879 in an ill-disguised rush for territorial aggrandisement. Three columns converged on Ulundi, the capital of Zulu king, Cetshwayo ka Mpande. All seemed to be going well as the columns, comprising imperial and colonial units, crossed the Thukela River. The central column halted at Isandlwana, while a reconnaissance in force went ahead to reconnoitre and locate the main Zulu army. However, executing a masterly outflanking manoeuvre and maximising strategic surprise, a Zulu impi of 24 000 warriors under the dual command of iNkosi Ntshingwayo ka Mahole Khoza and iNkosi Mavumengwana ka Ndlela Ntuli, struck the British camp beneath Isandlwana hill on 22 January. Surprised and caught in the open, the British camp was overrun and the troops given no quarter. The battle, a shattering blow to British arms and imperial pride, was one of few reverses suffered by British forces in the that century and the most severe experienced at the hands of a technologically inferior African force equipped chiefly with the short stabbing assegai.

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