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However, Frere soon realised that uniting the Boer republics, independent black states and British colonies could not be realised until the powerful Zulu kingdom on its borders had been defeated. Knowing that London did not want a war with the Zulus they were too preoccupied with troubles in India and Eastern Europe , Frere turned to the new British governor of Natal and the Transvaal, Sir Theophilus Shepstone, for reasons to invade.

Furthermore, Shepstone expressed concern over the increasing amount of firearms falling into Zulu hands, further fuelling the case for war. In December , an ultimatum was sent to the Zulu king Cetshwayo, requiring him, amongst other things, to disband his army.

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Knowing that Cetswayo would never accept these terms, Frere arranged for an army led by Lord Chelmsford pictured to the right to prepare for invasion…. The central column heads towards the camp of a Zulu chief called Sihayo. With only British and colonial troops to defend the outpost, the protracted engagement lasts some 11 hours before the Zulus retreat.


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This siege would last for two months. Meanwhile, Chelmsford starts rebuilding his forces for a second offensive on Zululand. With only around British troops protecting the convoy, this is a decisive Zulu victory. However, as the battle begins it soon becomes obvious that the main Zulu army of 20, are fast approaching over the hills and Wood signals the retreat. Starting at 1pm, the battle sees over 20, Zulus repelled and by 6pm the battle is over with the loss of only 18 British soldiers. Zulu losses are heavy, estimated at over 1,, whilst the British column suffers only two deaths.

June — Chelmsford quickly reorganises his forces, swelled by reinforcements from Britain, and advances again into Zululand. Chelmsford, concerned about the arrival of Wolseley and wanting to redeem himself after the catastrophe at Isandlwana, refuses any such compromise. Witham Voices.

Anglo-Zulu War 1879 - Dr David Rattray

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