Battles involving England - Anglo-Zulu War

Cetshwayo became absolute ruler of the Zulus in 1873. There were border disputes between Zululand and the Boers in the Transvaal region. A British commission enquiry on the border dispute had reported in favour of the Zulu nation. In 1878, Sir Henry Bartle Frere, who found the award "one-sided and unfair to the Boers," delivered an ultimatum to Cetshwayo. In 1879 a British force invaded Zululand.

Battle of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift 1879 (location)

Eleven days after the British commenced their invasion, a 20,000 strong Zulu army fought a portion of the British main column consisting of a mixed British and native force, 1,200 to 2,000 strong. The Zulus were equipped with the traditional Assegai iron spear but also had thousands of muskets and older rifles, though the Zulus were not formally trained in their use. The British were armed with the Martini-Henry breech-loading rifle, and a few artillery pieces. The numerically superior Zulus ultimately overwhelmed the poorly deployed British, killing over 1,300 troops, including all those out on the firing line. The Zulu army suffered around a thousand killed.

Afterwards, a party of some 4,000 Zulu reserves mounted a raid on the nearby British border post of Rorke's Drift, and were only driven off after 10 hours of ferocious fighting when British reinforcements were seen coming toward the outpost.

In the Battle of Kambula, the British held off the Zulus and after five hours of heavy fighting the Zulus withdrew. British losses amounted to 29, while the Zulus lost approximately 2,000. It turned out to be a decisive battle. The Zulus had learnt that shield and assegai were no match for artillery and the Martini-Henry. At the Battle of Ulundi, Cetshwayo's forces were decisively defeated.

An Incident at the Battle of Isandlwana by C. E. Fripp, published in 'South Africa and the Transvaal War', 1900
An Incident at the Battle of Isandlwana by C. E. Fripp, published in "South Africa and the Transvaal War", 1900

Photograph of Cetshwayo, c. 1875
Photograph of Cetshwayo, c. 1875

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