Today in History: First battle of the Anglo-Zulu War


On the 12th of January 1879, the British engaged the Zulus at Sihayo’s Kraal in what would become the first of many battles within the Anglo-Zulu War.

The war was a reaction by the British who saw Cetshwayo’s, the then Zulu king’s, apparent militarisation as a threat and, subsequently, in December of 1878, gave him an ultimatum in demanding that he relinquishes his power – an ultimatum which was treated with complete indifference.

After a month, and still having received no reply, the British planned for the invasion of Zululand.

Located in the Batshe (Bashee) Valley, Sihayo’s Kraal created an obstacle for the advancement of the British who, upon orders by Lord Chelmsford, engaged in battle and later saw the Zulu’s retreat.

This “victory”, however, would soon be overshadowed at Isandlwana, the centre-stage for the crushing defeat of the British on the 22nd of January in what would become known as the Battle of Isandlwana.

The Battle would see over 10 000 Zulu warriors storming the British force of around a mere 1500, resulting in the British being overwhelmed and, in essence, massacred.


Caption: Battle of Isandlwana.

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