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Showing posts from October, 2013

The Siege of Eshowe

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22 January 1879 3 April 1879 Eshowe was a mission station, abandoned some months before, but now selected for an entrenched post, in preference to more open and commanding ground to the north, in consequence of the necessity of utilising the buildings for the storage of supplies. The station consisted of a dwelling house, school, and workshop, with store rooms three buildings of sun dried brick, thatched there was also a small church, made of the same materials, but with a corrugated iron roof and a stream of good water ran close by the station. Here the column encamped, and preparations for clearing the ground and establishing a fortified post for a garrison of 400 men were made.  Two companies of Buffs, two companies Native Contingent, and some mounted men, were sent back to reinforce Lieutenant Colonel Ely, 99th Regiment, who, with three companies of his regiment, was on the march to Eshowe with a convoy of sixty wagons.  On the 25th, Major Coates was sent down to the T

The Battle of Rorke’s Drift

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The garrison of the Rorkes Drift post consisted of B Company 2nd Battalion 24th Regiment of Foot (Lieutenant Bromhead), and (with officers and casuals) was of a total strength of 139. It was encamped on the Natal side of the Buffalo, where there was a mission station, one building of which was used as a hospital and one as a commissariat store. The crossing of the river was effected by what are called ponts boats used as a kind of flying bridge and there were drifts, or fords, in the vicinity. Major Spalding, Deputy Assistant Adjutant General, and Lieutenant Chard, Royal Engineers, were stationed here. The former rode off to Helpmakaar at 2 AM., 22nd January, to bring up Captain Rainforth’s company, 1st Battalion 24th Regiment of Foot, to protect the pont, leaving Lieutenant Chard in command of the post.  About 3.15 A.M., Lieutenant Chard was at the ponts, when two men came riding from Zululand at a gallop, and shouted to be taken across the river. They were Lieutenant Adendor

The Battle of Kambula

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Warning of an intended attack on Kambula was brought in by a native one of Uhamo’s men about 11 A.M. on 29th March 1879, dense masses of the enemy were seen in the distance, when all the force was assembled and the cattle driven into their laager, At 1.30 P.M. the action commenced by mounted troops, under Colonels Buller and Russell, engaging the enemy on the north of the camp. They were speedily forced to return into the laager, followed by the Zulus until they were within 300 yards, when a heavy fire from the 90th Regiment checked their advance, and they opened out round the camp.  At 2.15 the right front and rear of the camp were attacked by heavy masses of the enemy, who, apparently well supplied with Martini-Henry rifles, occupied a hill commanding the laager, enfilading it so that the company of the 13th posted at the right rear of the enclosure had to be withdrawn. The front of the cattle laager was, however, stoutly held by a company of the 13th; but the Zulus coming b

The Battle of Isandlwana

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The Battle of Isandlwana on 22nd January 1879 was the first major encounter in the Anglo Zulu War between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom. The General ordered the 2nd Battalion 24th Regiment, the Mounted Infantry, and four guns, to be under arms at once to march. The Natal Native Pioneers, about 50 strong, accompanied the force, which marched out from the camp as soon as there was light enough to see the road. Lieutenant Colonel Pulleine, 1st/24th Regiment, was instructed to take command of the camp during the absence of Colonel Glyn the force left with him consisting of 5 x companies 1st/24th and 1 x company 2nd/24th Regiment, 2 x guns Royal Artillery, about 20 x Mounted Infantry and Volunteers 30 x Natal Carbineers, 31 x Mounted Police, and 4 x companies Natal Native Contingent. An order was also despatched to Colonel Durnford at Rorkes Drift to move up to Isandhlwana. Lieutenant Colonel Pulleines instructions for the defence of the camp were, briefly, to draw in his lin

The Battle of Inyezane

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On the 22nd January 1879 the column marched at 5 A.M., crossed the Inyezane River, and halted for breakfast, and to outspan the oxen for a couple of hours, in a fairly open spot, though the country round was a good deal covered with bush. The halt here was unavoidable, as there was no water for some distance beyond, but the country had been previously carefully scouted by the mounted troops under Major Barrow.  At eight o'clock piquets were being placed, and the wagons parked, when a company of the Native Contingent who were scouting in front, under the direction of Captain Hart, staff officer attached to the regiment discovered the enemy advancing rapidly over the ridges, and making for the adjacent clumps of bush. The Zulus now opened a heavy fire upon this company, and almost immediately inflicted a loss upon it of 1 officer, 4 non-commissioned officers, and 3 men killed.  The Naval Brigade (with rockets), under Captain Campbell, the guns of the Royal Artillery, two

The Battle of Intombe

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A sad disaster occurred on the Intombe River to a detachment of the 80th Regiment on the 12th March 1879. Captain Moriarty, with 104 men of the 80th, was escorting a convoy from Derby to Luneburg. On reaching the Intombe Drift (about four miles from Luneburg) the river was found to be rising, and by the time the advanced guard (thirty-five men, under Lieutenant Harward) had crossed, it was impossible to take the wagons over. They were therefore laagered on the river bank in the shape of a triangle; and there they remained next day. About 4 A.M. on the 12th March 1879 a shot was fired, and the troops turned out, remaining under arms for half an hour, when, all being quiet, they returned to their tents it transpired after wards that the outlying sentries had been surprised and killed by the enemy. Suddenly the fog lifted, and a large body of Zulus without any warning rushed on and took the laager, driving the troops into the river. The party under Lieutenant Harward, which was encam

The Battle of Hlobane

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On March 28th, a reconnaissance by the whole cavalry force was made towards Hlobane. The Zulus were in possession of the mountain, which was ascended in skirmishing order as rapidly as possible, the enemy keeping up a heavy fire from caves and from behind huge rocks. The summit was reached with the loss of one officer Lieutenant Williams and serious fighting was kept up for some time in the endeavour to dislodge the Zulus from their secure positions. Captain the Hon. R. Campbell was killed, also Lieutenant von Sticenstron, and Colonel Wood himself had a very narrow escape.  Whilst engaged in this struggle a Zulu army was moving up to seize the approaches to the mountain, and cut off the force from the camp. Immediately on this being. Observed a retreat was made in rapid but good order, until a very steep and stony krantz was reached, where the men could only move in single file here the enemy got in amongst the troopers, causing utter confusion. The officers did their best to

The Battle of Ulundi

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On the 4th July 1879 at 6.45 A.M., the force crossed the river, leaving the camp garrisoned by the 1st/24th Regiment, a company of Engineers, and casualties (about 900 Europeans, 250 natives, with one Gatling gun).  Lieutenant Colonel Buller, with the light cavalry of the Flying Column, crossed in advance, and occupied the high ground in front without opposition the main body following, marched up the broken ground out of the valley, and formed a hollow square, the ammunition carts, etc., in the centre, and the guns in position ready to come into action without delay. The Flying Column formed the front half, and the 2nd Division the rear half of the square front, flanks, and rear covered by the cavalry. In this formation the troops advanced to the spot selected by Colonel Buller, which was about 700 yards beyond the Nodwengo kraal, and about the same distance from a stream that crossed the road halfway to Ulundi high ground, commanding the adjacent country, and with little cov

The Battle of Gingindlovu

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On 2nd April 1879, the column marched to Gingindlovu, and about a mile from the Inyczane River a laager was formed in a favourable position. From this point to Eshowe, the track, after crossing swampy ground, winds through a bushy and difficult country for about fifteen miles, the country covered with high grass, and thus affording easy cover.  Eshowe could be plainly seen from the laager, and flash signalling was at once established.  As this laager was destined to be the scene of an important engagement, we will describe the disposition of the troops Front face (north), 60th (The King's Royal Rifle Corps) Regiment of Foot right flank, 57th (West Middlesex) Regiment of Foot left flank, 99th (Duke of Edinburgh's Lanarkshire) Regiment of Foot and Buffs rear face, 91st (Princess Louise's Argyllshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot, the angles manned by blue jackets and marines, and armed with the guns, Gatlings, and rocket tubes. The night passed without alarm, and