Zulu Wars

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The Matabele Wars

We know the story. Goaded into a hopeless war by an expanding colonial empire, thousands of warriors rise against their oppressors – and inadvertently spawn a legend. There is a twist: this action takes place in present-day Zimbabwe. While we are very familiar with the struggle for South Africa and the desperate encounters at Isandhlwana, Rorke’s Drift, and Ulundi during the Zulu War of 1879, this was only the beginning of a generation of brutal conflict across the ‘dark continent’.

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Chakdara: the other Rorke’s Drift?

The epic defence of Chakdara is intriguing. It lasted a week (26 July-2 August 1897), involved 240 men defending an isolated post against up to 8,000 tribal warriors, and had a big impact on the British public back home at the time. But no VCs were awarded, and the action is almost totally forgotten today. Why?

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The British Army at Isandlwana, Anglo-Zulu Wars

Redcoats The battle of Isandlwana represented a clash of two radically different military systems – a modern, Western, technologically-advanced professional army pitched against an indigenous African tribal army of part-time warriors armed primarily with shields and spears. The British Army was in a state of flux in the 1870s, and many attitudes and practices which […]

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Zulu Warriors – 1879

The organization of the Zulu army was profoundly different to its professional British counterpart, a part-time citizen militia, the means by which a nation of herdsmen came together periodically in national service. At the heart of the system were guilds known as amabutho (sing. ibutho). The amabutho were a means of exercising central control over […]

What was Anthony Durnford’s real role in the Zulu Wars?

In the ‘blame game’ which followed the Zulu battle of Isandlwana, Anthony Durnford quickly emerged as the principal scapegoat. A complex figure who arrived on the battlefield trailing a good deal of emotional baggage, Durnford had been born in Ireland in 1830 to a distinguished military family. He was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in […]

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3 Popular Myths of Isandlwana – 1879 Zulu War

The Battle of Isandlwana on the 22nd of January 1879 was one of the most devastating defeats suffered by Britain at the hands of local inhabitants. The clash between British Troops and Zulu Warriors led to a brutal battle that has been retold numerous times, however much of the  tale has proven to have more […]