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Anglo-Zulu War

Anglo-Zulu War fought in 1879 between Britain and the Zulu nation.

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Disputes of the causes of the war which broke out on January 11, 1879 concerned, chiefly, territory which in 1854 was proclaimed the republic of Utrecht, the Boers who had settled there having in that year obtained a deed of cession from Panda. In 1860 a Boer commission was appointed to beacon the boundary, and to obtain, if possible, from the Zulu a road to the sea at St Lucia Bay. The commission, however, effected nothing. In 1861 Umtonga, a brother of Cetywayo, fled to the Utrecht district, and Cetywayo assembled an army on that frontier. According to evidence brought forward later by the Boers, Cetywayo offered the farmers a strip of land along the border if they would surrender his brother. This they did on the condition that Umtonga’s life was spared, and in 1861 Panda signed a deed making over the land to the Boers. The southern boundary of the strip added to Utrecht ran from Rorke’s Drift on the Buffalo to a point on the Pongolo. The boundary was beaconed ia 1864, but when in 1865 Umtonga fled from Zululand to Natal, Cetywayo, seeing that he had lost his part of the bargain (for he feared that Umtonga i might be used to supplant him as Panda had been used to supplant Dingaan), caused the beacon to be removed, the Zulu claiming also the land ceded by the Swazis to Lydenburg. The Zulu asserted that the Swazis were their vassals and denied their right to part with the territory. During the year a Boer commando under Paul Kruger and an army under Cetywayo were posted along the Utrecht border. Hostilities were avoided, but the Zulu occupied the land north of the Pongolo. Questions were also raised as to the validity of the documents signed by the Zulu concerning the Utrecht strip; in 1869 the services of the lieut.-governor of Natal were accepted by both parties as arbitrator, but the attempt then made to settle the difficulty proved unsuccessful.

Such was the position when by his father’s death Cetywayo (q.v.) became absolute ruler of the Zulu. As far as possible Cetywayr, he revived the military methods of his uncle Chaka, and even succeeded in equipping his regiments with firearms. It is believed that he instigated the Kaffirs in the Transkei to revolt, and he aided Sikukuni in his struggle with the Transvaal. His rule over his own people was tyrannous. By Bishop Schreuder he was described as “an able man, but for cold, selfish pride, cruelty and untruthfulness worse than any of his predecessors.” In September 1876 the massacre of a large number of girls (who had married men of their own age instead of the men of an older regiment, for whom Cetywayo had designed them) provoked a strong remonstrance from the government of Natal, inclined as that government was to look leniently on the doings of the Zulu. The tension between Cetywayo and the Transvaal over border disputes continued, and when in 1877 Britain annexed the Transvaal the dispute was transferred to the new owners of the country. A commission was appointed by the lieut.-governor of Natal in February 1878 to report on the boundary question. The commission reported in July, and foun,d almost entirely in favour of the contention of the Zulu. Sir Bartle Frere, then High Cornmissioner, who thought the award “one-sided and unfair to the Boers” (Martineau, Life of Frere, ii. xix.), stipulated that, on. the land being given to the Zulu, the Boers living on it should be compensated if they left, or protected if they remained. Cetywayo (who now found no defender in Natal save Bishop Colenso) was in a defiant humour, and permitted outrages by Zulu both on. the Transvaal and Natal borders. Frere was convinced that the peace of South Africa could be preserved only if the power of Cetywayo was curtailed. Therefore in forwarding his award on the boundary dispute the High Commissioner demanded that the military system should be remodelled. The youths were to be allowed to marry as they came to man’s estate, and the regiments were not to be called up except with the consent of the council of the nation and also of the British government. Moreover, the missionaries were to be unmolested and a British resident was to be accepted. These demands were made to Zulu deputies on the 11th of December 1878, a definite reply being required by the 31st of that month.

Cetywayo returned no answer, and in January 1879 a British force under General Thesiger (Lord Chelmsford) invaded Zululand. Lord Cheln.isford had under him a force of 5000 Europeans and 8200 natives; 3000 of the latter were employed in guarding the frontier of Natal; another force of 1400 Europeans and 400 natives were stationed in the Utrecht district. Three columns were to invade Zululand, from the Lower Tugela, Rorke’s Drift, and Utrecht respectively, their objective being Ulundi, the royal kraal. Cetywayo’s army numbered fully 40,000 men. The entry of all three columns was unopposed. On the 22nd of January the centre column (1600 Europeans, 2500 natives), which had advanced from Rorke’s Drift, was encamped near Isandhlwana[?]; on the morning of that day Lord Chelmsford moved out with a small force to support a reconnoitring party. After he had left, the camp, in charge of Col. Durnford, was surprised by a Zulu army nearly 10,000 strong. The British were overwhelmed and almost every man killed, the casualties being 806 Europeans (more than half belonging to the 24th regiment) ‘and 471 natives. All the transport was also lost. Lord Chelmsford and the reconnoitring party returned to find the camp deserted; next day they retreated to Rorke’s Drift[?], which had bean the scene of an heroic and successful defence. After the victory at Isandhlwana several impis of the Zulu army had Rorke’s moved to the Drift. The garrison stationed there, under Lieuts. Chard and Bromhead, numbered about 80 men of the 24th regiment, and they had in hospital between 30 and 40 men.. Late in the afternoon they were attacked by about 4000 Zulu. On six occasions, the Zulu got within the entrenchrnents, to be driven back each time at the bayonet’s point. At dawn the Zulu withdrew, leaving 350 dead. The British loss was 17 killed and 10 wounded.

In the meantime the right column under Colonel Pearson had reached Eshowe from the Tugela; on receipt of the news of Isandhlwana most of the mounted men and the native troops were sent back to the Natal, leaving at Eshowe a garrison of 1300 Europeans and 65 natives. This force was hemmed in. by the enemy. The left column under Colonel (afterwards Sir) Evelyn Wood, which had done excellent work, found itself obliged to act on the defensive after the disaster to the centre column.2 For a time an invasion of Natal was feared. The Zulu, however, made no attempt to enter Natal, while Lord Chelmsford awaited reinforcements before resuming his advance. During this time (March the 12th) an escort of stores marching to Luneberg, the headquarters of the Utrecht force, was attacked when encamped on both sides of the Intombe river. The camp was surprised, 62 out of 106 men were killed, and all the stores were lost. News of Isandhlwana reached England on the 11th of February, and on the same day about 10,000 men were ordered out to South Africa. The first troops arrived at Durban on the 7th of March. On the 29th a column, under Lord Chelmsford, consisting of 3400 Europeans and 2300 natives, marched to the relief of Eshowe, entrenched camps being formed each night. On the 2nd of April the camp was attacked at Gingmn.hlovo, the Zulu being repulsed. Their loss was estimated at 1200 while the British had only two killed and 52 wounded. The next day Eshowe was relieved. Wood, who had been given leave to make a diversion in northern Zululand, on the 28th of March occupied Hlcbane (Inhlobane) mountain. The force was, however, compelled to retreat owing to the unexpected appearance of the main Zulu army, which nearly outflanked the British. Besides the loss of the native contingent (those not killed deserted) there were 100 casualties among the 400 Europeans engaged. At mid-day next day the Zulu army made a desperate attack, lasting over four hours, on Wood’s camp at Karnbula; the enemy—over 20,000 strong—was driven off, losing fully 4000 men, while the British casualties were 18 killed and 65 wounded.

By the middle of April nearly all the reinforcements had reached Natal, and Lord Chelmsford reorganized his forces. The 1st division, under major-general Crealock, advanced along the coast belt and was destined to act as a support to the 2nd division, under major-general Newdigate, which with Wood’s flying column, an independent unit, was to march on Ulundi from Rorke’s Drift and Kambula.~ Owing to difficulties of transport it was the beginning of June before Newdigate was ready to advance. On the 1st of that month the prince imperial of France (Louis Napoleon), who had been allowed to accompany the British troops, was killed while out with a reconnoitring party. On the 1st of July Newdigate and Wood had reached the White Umfolosi, in the heart of the enemy’s country. During their advance messengers were sent by Cetywayo to treat for peace, but he did not accept the terms offered. Meantime Sir Garnet (afterwards Lord) Wolseley had been sent out to supersede Lord Chelmsford, and on the 7th of July he reached Crealock’s headquarters at Port Durnford. But by that time the campaign was practically over. The 2nd division (with which was Lord Chelmsford) and Wood’s column crossed the White Umfolosi on the 4th of July—the force numbering 4200 Europeans and xooo natives. Within a mile of Ulundi the British force, formed in a hollow square, was attacked by a Zulu army numbering 12,000 to 15,000. The battle ended in a decisive victory for the British, whose losses were about 100, while of the Zulu some 1500 men were killed (see ULUNDI).

After this battle the Zulu army dispersed, most of the leading chiefs tendered their submission, and Cetywayo became a Wolseley’s fugitive. On the 27th of August the king was captured and sent to Cape Town. His deposition was formally announced to the Zulu, and Wolseley drew up a new scheme for the government of the country. The Chaka dynasty was deposed, and the Zulu country portioned among eleven Zulu chiefs, John Dunn,2 a white adventurer, and Hlubi, a Basuto chief who had done good service in the war. A Resident was appointed who was to be the channel of communication between the chiefs and the British government. This arrangement was productive of much bloodshed and disturbance, and in 1882 the British government determined to restore Cetywayo to power. In the meantime, however, blood feuds had been engendered between the chiefs Usibepu (Zibebu) and Hamu on the one side and the tribes who supported the ex-king and his family on the other. Cetywayo’s party (who now became known as Usutus) suffered severely at the hands of the two chiefs, who were aided by a and of white freebooters. When Cetywavo was restored Usibepu was left in possession of his territory, while Dunn’s land and that of the Basuto chief (the country between the Tugela and the Umhlatuzi, i.e. adjoining Natal) was constituted a reserve, in which locations were to be provided for Zulu unwilling to serve the restored king. ‘This new arrangement proved as futile as had Wolseley’s. Usibepu, having created a formidable force of well-armed and trained warriors, and being left in independence on the borders of Cetywayo’s territory, viewed with displeasure the re-installation of his former king, and Cetywayo was desirous of humbling his relative. A collision very soon took place; Usibepu’s forces were victorious, and on the 22nd of July 1883, led by a troop of mounted whites, he made a sudden descent upon Cetywayo’s kraal at Ulundi, which he destroyed, massacring such of the inmates of both sexes as could not save themselves by flight. The king escaped, though wounded, into the Reserve; there he died in February

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