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Zulu Battle Sites

A selection of recommended Zulu Wars battle sites


Shaka forged the Zulu nation into a significant and potent force in southern Africa. The region was invaded by Voortrekkers, cowed by the British, and ultimately subsumed by South Africa. The battles fought by the Zulu against the Boers and Brits stand as a testament to the quality of its warriors and the tenacity of its leaders. Consider the following battle sites of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879

When Chelmsford, acting on intelligence, split his force in the hope of engaging the Zulu, he laid the ground for the most important Zulu victory of the Anglo-Zulu War. A total force of around 1,700 men was left behind in camp, relatively unprepared for the approaching 25,000 Zulu warriors. On 22 January 1879 the camp was virtually wiped out. Isandlwana is famous for the number of memorial cairns erected to the British troops, and is probably the most visited battlefield in South Africa. Curiously it was only in 1999 that a memorial was erected to the Zulu fallen. The site is very imposing and you'll need a whole day to cover everything.

Rorke's Drift
After the massacre at Isandlwana no one would have predicted that the eight officers and 135 men at the re-supply depot of Rorke's Drift would hold off an attack by 4,000 Zulu warriors. But after 13 hours the Zulus withdrew. The 11 Victoria crosses are the largest number awarded to a single regiment, and the fourth largest for a single battle. Witt's old house now contains an excellent museum with dioramas and relics, and the building is still reminiscent of the original hospital. If you can, stay until dusk to experience the time of day when the battle was at it's height. Use the afternoon to walk up Oskarsberg Mountain for an excellent view of the site. Fugitives Drift, only 8km away, with the graves of Coghill and Melvill are on a private game reserve, get permission to visit.

Fort Eshowe, the place chosen by the British to prepare for the attack on Ulundi, was placed under siege for 10 weeks (2 February – 29 March 1879)before being relieved by Lord Chelmsford. Unfortunately the Mission station was burnt down and the place is not always now well kept, but it's proximity to other Anglo-Zulu war battle sites makes it an interesting addition to your route. Take the opportunity to visit Fort Nongqayi (and the Zululand Historical Museum) in the nearby town of Eshowe, with an excellent display on John Dunn (the only white man to become a Zulu chief, along with 49 wives) and the Bambatha Rebellion.

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