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Battle Name : Isandhlwana

Date(s) : 22 January 1879

Part of : British Victorian Colonial 'Small Wars' , Zulu War ,

Outcome : A victory for Zulu Warriors over British Colonial forces

Type of battle : Land


Welsh soldiers of the British 24th regiment and South African native infantry were routed by the main force of the Zulu warriors at the camp of Isandhlwana on the Buffalo River


Isandhlwana Hill, Zululand, South Africa. (South Africa)

More details

On the 20th January 1879, Lord Chelmsford's centre column of the force advancing into Zululand made camp at Isandhlwana Hill, then at daybreak on the 22nd took the majority of the column to investigate reported Zulu warrior movements on some hills 12 miles away.

Colonel Pulleine, CO of the 1st battalion, 24th Regiment was left in charge of the camp, but made no plans for defence. No barricades, redoubts, not even the wagons laagered since no attack was considered remotely probable. Chelmsfords main worry was that the Zulu army would slip away without being brought to battle.

On the morning of the 22nd, Lieutenant Colonel Pulleine, left in charge of the camp, spotted a large force of warriors moving their way, so sent a rocket battery forward to drive them off. The entire battery was overrun and destroyed.

The warriors then proceeded to attack the camp in a wide semi-circular formation (Shaka's tactic of 'the horns of the bull'), out-flanking the defenders on both sides and overrunning the defences. Although disciplined volley-fire and canister took its toll, ammunition began to run low, and the native infantry broke and fled.

The remaining infantry of the 24th Line then fought a fierce melee to the last man.

By 3:00 pm the battle was over, and the victorious Zulu warriors proceeded on towards the mission station of Rorke's Drift.

Casualty figures

British Colonial forces

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Zulu Warriors

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