When the British ultimatum delivered to King Cetshwayo
's representatives at the Lower Thukela Drift (on 11 December) expired - it required King Cetshwayo to dismantle the Zulu military system, a demand that the British High Commissioner, Sir Bartle Frere, knew would be impossible to accept - war broke out. British troops had already crossed into Zululand (No 4 column under Colonel Henry Evelyn Wood, crossed the Ncome river on 6 January 1879). But on this day the No 3 column, under Colonel Richard Glyn, crossed at Rorke's Drift. The next day, the first engagement between British troops and Zulu warriors occurred in the Batshe valley to the east of Rorke's Drift.