The Battle of Isandlwana was a battle in the Anglo-Zulu War in which a Zulu army defeated a mixed British and native force on 22 January 1879, attacking their camp by surprise beneath the mountain of Isandlwana. The Anglo-Zulu War was fought in 1879 between the British Empire and the Zulu Empire. The Zulu ( IsiZulu: amaZulu) are the largest South African ethnic group of an estimated 10-11 million people who live mainly in the province of KwaZulu-Natal The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom, the UK or Britain,is a Sovereign state located Events 565 - Eutychius is deposed as Patriarch of Constantinople by John Scholasticus. Year 1879 ( MDCCCLXXIX) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common (Isandlwana is 10 miles east of the Mzinaythi ("Buffalo") River in Zululand, South Africa. Zululand, the Zulu -dominated area of northern KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa, extends along the coast of the Indian Ocean from the Tugela The Republic of South Africa (also known by other official names) is a country located at the southern tip of the continent of Africa ) The British were commanded by Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pulleine and Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Durnford. In the UK and US military brevet referred to a warrant authorizing a Commissioned officer to hold a higher rank temporarily but usually without receiving Lieutenant Colonel ( Lieutenant-Colonel in English from the French grade 's spelling is a rank of Commissioned officer in the armies Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Burmester Pulleine (1838 - January 22 1879) was an administrator and commander in the British Army in the Cape Frontier and Lieutenant Colonel ( Lieutenant-Colonel in English from the French grade 's spelling is a rank of Commissioned officer in the armies Lieutenant Colonel Anthony William Durnford ( Ireland 24 May 1830 - Isandlwana 22 January 1879) was a career British It was a major defeat — remaining the greatest British military defeat at the hands of native forces in history. 850 Europeans and around 450 Africans in British service died. Only 50 European troops and five Imperial officers escaped, in addition to several hundred Africans who fled the battlefield before the camp was surrounded.
The British presented an ultimatum on December 11, 1878, to the Zulu king Cetshwayo. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom from 1 January 1801 until 12 April 1927 The Anglo-Zulu War was fought in 1879 between the British Empire and the Zulu Empire. Events 359 - Honoratus, the first known Prefect of the City of Constantinople, takes office Year 1878 ( MDCCCLXXVIII) was a Common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common The Zulu ( IsiZulu: amaZulu) are the largest South African ethnic group of an estimated 10-11 million people who live mainly in the province of KwaZulu-Natal Cetshwayo kaMpande (kǀétʃʷ’ajo k’ámp’ande circa 1826 – February 8, 1884) was the king of the Zulu nation from 1872 to 1879 and their leader Cetshwayo did not accept, which led the British to declare war. Lord Chelmsford, the Commander-in-Chief of British forces during the war, moved his troops from where they were stationed in Pietermaritzburg to a forward camp at Helpmekaar, past Greytown. General Frederic Augustus Thesiger 2nd Baron Chelmsford GCB, GCVO, ( 31 May 1827 &ndash 9 April 1905) was A commander-in-chief is the Commander of a nation's Military forces or significant element of those forces Pietermaritzburg is the capital and second largest city of the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. Greytown is a town situated on the banks of the Umvoti River in a richly fertile Timber -producing area of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. On 9 January 1879 they moved to Rorke's Drift, and early on January 11 commenced crossing the Buffalo River into Zululand. Events 475 - Byzantine Emperor Zeno is forced to flee his capital at Constantinople. Year 1879 ( MDCCCLXXIX) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common Rorke's Drift was a mission station in Natal, South Africa, situated near a natural ford (drift on the Buffalo River at. Events 1055 - Theodora is crowned Empress of the Byzantine Empire. Buffalo River can refer to Buffalo National River (Arkansas a tributary of the White River in the United States Buffalo River (Minnesota Zululand, the Zulu -dominated area of northern KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa, extends along the coast of the Indian Ocean from the Tugela
The British under Lord Chelmsford pitched camp at Isandlwana, but because of the size of the force (precluding a laager, or circling of the wagons), the hard ground and a lack of belief that they were in any danger, did not follow standing orders to entrench. Isandlwana (isanˈdɮwana(also sometimes seen as Isandhlwana or Isandula) is an isolated hill in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, In addition, Chelmsford believed that 1,000 British infantry, armed with Martini-Henry rifles, superior weapons to the Zulus who were mostly armed with spears and cowhide shields and a few primitive muskets, could meet and overwhelm any attack through sheer firepower. The Martini-Henry (also known as the Peabody-Martini-Henry) was a Breech-loading lever-actuated Rifle adopted by the British, combining A rifle is a Firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder with a barrel that has a helical groove or pattern of grooves ("rifling" cut into the barrel walls A musket is a muzzle -loaded Smoothbore Long gun, which is intended to be fired from the shoulder However, the lack of defensive preparations proved to be a major factor in the camp's defeat by the Zulu impis (regiments) which attacked on 22 January. An Impi is an isiZulu word for any armed body of men However in English it is often used to refer to a Zulu Regiment, which is called an ibutho in Events 565 - Eutychius is deposed as Patriarch of Constantinople by John Scholasticus. It would have been possible to bring in the troops to a closer formation, with the rocky Isandlwana feature securing the rear and the overwhelming British firepower beating back the attacking force, even when this greatly outnumbered the defenders.
The backbone of the British force under Lord Chelmsford consisted of twelve regular infantry companies: six each of both the 1st and 2nd battalions, 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot which were hardened and reliable troops; in addition, there were approximately 2,500 local African auxiliaries of the Natal Native Contingent, led by European officers but generally of poor quality; some irregular cavalry units, and a detachment of artillery consisting of two field guns and several Congreve rockets. The Infantry is the oldest and most numerous of the Combat Arms in the Armed forces, and consists The Natal Native Contingent was a large force of black auxiliary soldiers in British South Africa, forming a large portion of the defence forces of the British The Cavalry (from French cavalerie) is the second oldest of the Combat Arms, and as Soldiers or Warriors who fought mounted on Artillery (from French artillerie) is a military Combat Arm which employs any apparātus machine A field gun is an Artillery piece Originally the term referred to smaller Guns that could accompany a field army on the march and when in combat could be The Congreve Rocket was a British Military Weapon designed by Sir William Congreve in 1804 Adding on wagon drivers, camp followers and servants, there were more than 4,000 men. Indeed, with a force of this size, it was the logistical arrangements of managing the supply chain and the huge number of wagons and oxen to support any forward advance which occupied Chelmsford's thoughts, rather than any fear that the camp might be attacked.
Once he had established the sprawling camp at Isandlwana, Chelmsford sent out two battalions of the Natal Native Contingent to scout ahead. They skirmished with elements of a Zulu force which Chelmsford believed to be the vanguard of the main enemy army. He divided his own force and with about 2,500 men — including half of the British infantry — set out to find the Zulus to bring them to battle, aiming to defeat them decisively, such was the confidence in British military training and firepower.
He left five companies (around 70–80 fighting men in each) of the 1st battalion and one stronger company (around 150 men) of the 2nd battalion 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot (later the South Wales Borderers) behind to guard the camp, under the command of Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pulleine. A battalion is a Military unit of around 500-1500 men usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel A regiment is a Military unit, composed of a variable number of Battalions – commanded by a Colonel. The South Wales Borderers was an Infantry Regiment of the British Army. In the UK and US military brevet referred to a warrant authorizing a Commissioned officer to hold a higher rank temporarily but usually without receiving Lieutenant Colonel ( Lieutenant-Colonel in English from the French grade 's spelling is a rank of Commissioned officer in the armies Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Burmester Pulleine (1838 - January 22 1879) was an administrator and commander in the British Army in the Cape Frontier and Pulleine's strict orders were to defend the camp and wait for further instructions to support the General as and when necessary. In addition, Pulleine had around 500 men of the Natal Native Contingent and approximately 200 mounted men, drawn from local irregulars. He also had two artillery pieces, with around 70 men of the Royal Artillery. In total, some 1,300 men and 2 guns to defend the camp. This force was, in theory, more than sufficient, provided it was deployed correctly in a tight, defensive formation, close to the ammunition stores and with its flanks guarded. Indeed, even without a laager or breastworks being formed, the Isandlwana mountain itself provided a natural barrier to protect the rear whilst the British force could be deployed in a semi-circle around it. However, the failure to secure the position and the Zulus' exploitation of the foe's weakness was to prove catastrophic for the camp's defenders.
Pulleine, left in command, was an administrator and had no experience of front-line command on a campaign. Nevertheless, he commanded a strong force, particularly in respect of the six regular infantry companies, which were experienced at colonial combat. Reports at 7am from the mounted vedettes (cavalry scouts) some 7 miles from camp suggested that bodies of Zulus, numbering around 4,000 men, could be seen. Further reports arrived into Pulleine's camp during the early morning, each reporting movements — both large and small — of Zulus. There was speculation in the camp whether these troops were intending to march against Chelmsford's rear or towards the camp itself.
Around 10:30am, Colonel Anthony Durnford arrived from Rorke's Drift with 5 troops of the Natal Native horse and a rocket battery. Colonel ( RP ˈkɜnəl GA ˈkɜrnəl is a Military rank of a Commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every country Lieutenant Colonel Anthony William Durnford ( Ireland 24 May 1830 - Isandlwana 22 January 1879) was a career British Rorke's Drift was a mission station in Natal, South Africa, situated near a natural ford (drift on the Buffalo River at. This put the issue of command to the fore because Durnford was senior and by tradition would have assumed command (Pulleine's rank was Brevet Lieutenant Colonel, in other words he was still being paid as a Major). In the UK and US military brevet referred to a warrant authorizing a Commissioned officer to hold a higher rank temporarily but usually without receiving However, he did not seem to over-rule Pulleine's dispositions and after lunch he quickly decided to take to the offensive and take the battle to the Zulu force. He may have thought Chelmsford's rear was at risk, or he may have simply wanted to gain some personal glory for himself when the opportunity presented itself (previously he had been kept in reserve at Rorke's Drift). He asked for a company of the 24th, but Pulleine was reluctant to agree since his orders had been specifically to defend the camp. It is probable that Durnford expected to face around 500 Zulus with his several hundred men and did not realise that, in fact, the main Zulu army of 25,000 warriors was close by.
The Zulu Army was commanded by inDunas (Princes) Ntshingwayo kaMahole Khozalo and MavumMengwana kaMdlela Ntuli. The inDuna Dabulamanzi kaMpande, half brother of Cetshwayo, commanded the Undi Corps, the powerful right Horn of the impi (Morris, Washing of the Spears).
While Chelmsford was in the field seeking them, the entire Zulu army had outmanoeuvred him, moving behind his force with the intention of attacking the British camp. They were discovered at around 11am by men of Lt. Raw's troop of scouts who chased a number of Zulus into a valley, only then seeing around 25,000 men of the main enemy force sitting in total quiet. There has been debate as to whether the 22nd January was the intended date of the attack (a partial eclipse of the sun was due that day which was a bad omen). However, having been discovered and with the camp too good a target to miss, the Zulu force leapt to the offensive. Raw's men began a fighting retreat back to the camp and a messenger was sent to warn Pulleine of the situation.
The Zulu attack then developed in the traditional horns and chest of the buffalo, with the aim of encircling the British position. From Pulleine's vantage point in the camp, at first only the right horn and then the chest (centre) of the attack seemed to be developing. Pulleine, therefore, rather than bringing in his troops into a tight defensive position, near the ammunition and with the Isandlwana feature protecting his rear, instead sent out first one, then all of his six companies of the 24th Foot into an extended firing line, with the aim of meeting the Zulu attack head on and checking it with firepower. Durnford's men, upon meeting elements of the Zulu centre, had retreated to a donga (dried out watercourse) on the British right flank where they, too, determined to make a stand. The native troops were kept in reserve, although many of them started to leave the battlefield at this point — hence the relatively low casualty figures in their ranks. Pulleine only made one slight change to the original disposition after about twenty minutes of firing, which was to bring in the companies in the firing line slightly closer to the camp, but still too far away and apart to be regarded as a tight defensive unit.
For some time, the disciplined British volleys pinned down the Zulu centre, inflicting heavy casualties and causing the advance to stall. Indeed, morale remained high within the British line. The Martini-Henri rifle was a powerful weapon and the men were experienced. However, unknown to Pulleine, the Zulu force was moving to outflank the position and envelop it.
Durnford's men who had been fighting longest began to retreat and their rate of fire diminished. Durnford's retreat, and the general threat of the Zulu encirclement, left the rear, right and left flanks totally exposed, which caused Pulleine to order a withdrawal back to the camp. This was performed, by and large, with discipline and the men of the 24th (with the exception of G Company, 2nd/24th, which was left totally exposed by Durnford's retreat and slaughtered relatively quickly) fought a fighting retreat into the camp and made a number of protracted if desperate last stands. Evidence of this is that many of the bodies (today marked by cairns) were found in several large groups around the camp — including one stand of around 150 men. However anecdotal evidence is extensive that during the withdrawals the British fire slackened and the Zulu were quick to recognize and exploit the opportunity by penetrating the gaps in large numbers.
The presence of large numbers of bodies grouped together suggests the resistance was more protracted than originally thought. What is clear is that the slaughter was immense and the area around the camp — and back to Natal along the Fugitive's Drift — was turned into a "charnel-house". The fighting was hand-to-hand and no quarter given. The British fought back-to-back (see Charles Edwin Fripp's painting in the National Army Museum) with bayonet and rifle butt when their ammunition had finally been expended. In the end, they fought with pocket knives and fists. The Zulus certainly had respect for their British foe, in particular the bayonet.
Debate persists as to how and why the British lost the battle. Well-equipped and well-trained British soldiers could fire 10 rounds a minute. Even assuming a poor strike rate, 1,000 men should in theory have been able to inflict 25,000 casualties in a few minutes against an enemy only equipped with spears and clubs, but the ferocity of the attack meant that all the rounds required could not be fired in time.
One of the survivors was Lieutenant Horace Smith-Dorrien, who would go on to command the British II Corps in Flanders more than 35 years later during the First World War. Lieutenant (abbreviated Lt or Lieut) is a Military, Naval, Paramilitary, Fire service, Emergency medical services General Sir Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien GCB, GCMG, DSO, ADC ( 26 May 1858 – 12 August The British II Corps was formed in both World War I and World War II. Flanders (Vlaanderen Flandre Flandern is a geographical region located in parts of present day Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. World War I (abbreviated WWI; also known as the First World War, the Great War, and the War to End All Two other officers, Lieutenants Teignmouth Melvill and Nevill Coghill, were killed after escaping across the Buffalo River 5 kilometers distant, back into Natal. Teignmouth Melvill VC ( 8 September 1842 - 22 January 1879) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross Nevill Josiah Aylmer Coghill VC ( 25 January 1852 – 22 January, 1879) was born in Drumcondra, Dublin and Both were subsequently awarded posthumous Victoria Crosses for their attempt to save the regiment's colours. See below the section "Separate Commonwealth awards" Note that since In military organizations the practice of carrying colours standards or Guidons, to act both as a rallying point for troops and to mark the location of the commander is thought Because the medal was not at that time awarded posthumously, these awards were not made until 1907. It is however unclear why Lieutenant Melvill took the colours. A story which circulated after the battle among the 24th Regiment is that when all was lost, Pulleine ordered Melvill to save the colours to prevent the disgrace of them being captured by the enemy. However, Pulleine was likely dead by the time Melvill retrieved them and so it is also likely that no such order was given. Another possible reason was that he had intended to rally the remnants of the battalion using the colours, however, if this was so, he probably would have uncased the colours and ridden towards one of the points of resistance still holding out against the Zulus. A Victoria Cross was also awarded to another survivor, Private Samuel Wassall, for the rescue of a fellow soldier; he received it the following September. A Private is a Soldier of the lowest Military rank (equivalent to NATO Rank Grades OR-1 to OR-3 depending on the force served in Samuel Wassall VC (July 1856 - 31 January 1927) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most
Chelmsford, who was by now about 11 km away had two indications that the camp was being attacked, but due to the hilly terrain had a poor view of the theatre of action. A cairn ( carn in Irish is an artificial pile of stones often in a conical form Unable to see anything amiss he apparently discounted both reports. One of the standard orders for the British, when attacked in camp, was to loosen the guy ropes on the tents so that soldiers would not get tangled up in them. This was not done and the upright tents were visible in the field glasses of the young officers with Chelmsford. Chelmsford took this to be an indication that the camp was not under attack. Chelmsford returned on the night of January 22, and his troops were forced to bivouac amongst the battle dead in what was a terrible scene — although the troops were raised before dawn to spare them the full horror of the scene. Events 565 - Eutychius is deposed as Patriarch of Constantinople by John Scholasticus. Nevertheless, many of the troops woke in the morning with the appearance of badly injured men, covered in the blood, entrails and brains of the dead. The troops also could hear the sounds of battle at Rorke's Drift and smoke could be seen rising from that direction. Rorke's Drift was a mission station in Natal, South Africa, situated near a natural ford (drift on the Buffalo River at.
While Isandlwana was a Pyrrhic victory for the Zulus because of the heavy casualties suffered, it was an immediate catastrophe for the British. A Pyrrhic victory (ˈpɪrɪk is a victory with devastating cost to the victor With the decisive defeat of Chelmsford's central column, the entire invasion of Zululand collapsed and had to be restaged. The victories of the Zulus did not end the war. As King Cetshwayo feared, the embarrassment of the defeat forced the policy makers in London, who to this point had not supported the war, to rally to the support of the pro-war contingent in the Natal government and commit whatever resources were needed to defeat the Zulu. The Zulus were poorly supplied with firearms and were not well trained with the few they had. Despite local numerical superiority, the Zulus did not have manpower resources to match the British in a series of battles.
The British government's reasoning was threefold. The first was jingoistic: no people like to be beaten by others, and national honour demanded that the enemy, victors in one battle, should lose the war. Jingoism is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as "extreme Patriotism in the form of aggressive foreign policy" The second concerned the domestic political implications with ramifications at the next parliamentary elections. Third, there were considerations affecting the Empire: unless the British were seen to win a clear-cut victory against the Zulus, it would send a signal that the British Empire was not invulnerable and that the defeat of a British field army could alter policy. The British Empire was the largest empire in history and for over a century was the foremost global power. The British saw parallels between their own position and that of the Roman Empire after the Battle of Teutoburg Forest. The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest took place in the year 9 A Until then, one of the arguments against a war with the Zulu was that the costs could not be justified. If the Zulu victory at Isandlwana encouraged rebellion elsewhere in the Empire, then committing the resources necessary to defeat the Zulu would in the long term prove cheaper than suppressing other rebellions in other parts of the Empire.
Near the end of the battle, about 4000 Zulu warriors of the Undi impi, after cutting off the retreat of the survivors to the Buffalo River southwest of Isandlwana, crossed the river and attacked the fortified mission station at Rorke's Drift. Rorke's Drift was a mission station in Natal, South Africa, situated near a natural ford (drift on the Buffalo River at. It was defended by only 139 British soldiers, but the battle at Rorke's Drift turned out very differently from the Battle at Isandlwana. The British inflicted horrific casualties upon the attacking Zulu, and successfully beat them back. Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded to defenders of Rorke's Drift, the most ever received by a regiment for a single action. See below the section "Separate Commonwealth awards" Note that since
After Rorke's Drift, the British field army was reinforced and re-invaded Zululand, defeating the Zulus in a number of engagements, the last of which was the Battle of Ulundi and the capture of King Cetshwayo. The Battle of Ulundi took place at the Zulu capital of Ulundi on July 4, 1879 and proved to be the decisive battle that finally broke the The British encouraged the subkings of the Zulus to rule their subkingdoms without acknowledging a central Zulu power. By the time King Cetshwayo was allowed to return home, the British Empire no longer considered the Zulu kingdom a threat.